The Black Armor is the one of most prominent of the Boons of Sourros, a series of gifts granted by the God Sourros to the people of Gala. The Black Armor is impervious to conventional weapons and many other hazards, yet it is no more cumbersome than heavy clothes, which grants its wearers unrivaled protection without significantly impeding their agility. Only Galavar himself and each member of the Guard of Galavar possess a suit, and there is no known way of manufacturing it.
When Sourros gave Galavar his blessing to undertake the Galan Conquest, Galavar asked for a suit of armor to protect himself against enemies and misfortunes alike. Sourros answered by granting Galavar the very first suit of the Black Armor. It fit Galavar perfectly and protected him not only against weapons but against many other dangers besides, from insect bites to missiles to the extremes of cold upon the Landstorm and heat amid the Sand Ocean below.
For a time Galavar possessed the only suit, and it was seen as a part of his incomparability as the Holder of the Meretange. But when the Guard of Galavar was conceived, Galavar decreed that each Guard must be like unto himself, and therefore must possess suits of the Armor of their own. Sourros, in reply, prepared a gift of a unique suit of the Black Armor for each Guard upon his or her successful assession to the Guard.
Sourros has never granted a suit of the Black Armor to any other petitioner. Most notably, when General DeLatia asked that her army be outfitted, the God refused. Sourros has never explained why the Armor should continue to be so rare.
The Black Armor is similar in appearance to (chain) mail, consisting of thousands of tiny interlocking rings that form a thick, flowing mesh. The rings appear metallic, and have similar thermal properties as steel; however, they are more supple and lighter, and immensely stronger, than any known Relancii alloy.
As its name suggests, the Black Armor is distinctly black. Depending on the angle of the light the blackness can range in intensity from the darkest jet black to a rich gray. The rings are uniform in color, giving the Armor a consistent appearance, with two exceptions:
First, some of the black rings are tinted and others shaded. These lighter and darker rings form various patterns, mainly abstract geometries, along each suit, mainly on the backside of the torso. Some of the patterns exist on all the known suits, while others are unique to a given suit. Most distinctly, each suit has a line of darker rings along the left and right rims of the body, from underarm to ankle, as well as on each shoulder down to the wrists.
Second, each suit has subtle highlights of color, with each specific suit of armor featuring a different color. These colored highlights are most prominent on the underarms, flanks, and calves. The colored rings are heavily shaded with black, blunting their contrast with the rest of the suit. The color is prepared by Sourros, but follows the preference of the wearer.
The inside of a suit of Black Armor consists of a completely separate ring mesh, made of much smaller, thinner rings of the same material. These rings are so small that they number in the hundreds of thousands per suit, and have the feel of a stiff fabric. Aside from this inner mesh, when supplied by God the Armor lacked any internal padding or lining. Since further lining was necessary to avoid skin damage, and since each piece of armor is invertible, Galavar and his Guards subsequently installed lining for themselves. Most of them settled on heavy interpardin or linen, though Silence, who by far got the most practical use out of her suit, chose a mixture of full-grain leather and suede, with the former going on high-wear areas for durability.
Each suit of the Black Armor weighs roughly a pound per square foot. The largest suit belongs to the heathodwarf Gregor and the smallest to the slight-statured Jemis. Gregor weighs more than three times what Jemis does and has more than twice the body surface area, and thus his suit of the Armor is likewise more than twice as heavy as Jemis', about thirty-six pounds to the latter's sixteen.
The Armor is smooth to the touch, shiny but not reflective, and has never been observed to either rust or corrode, despite harsh wear and even deliberate attempts on individual rings to see whether it can be done. It is very hard and resists nearly all scratching, though it can be scratched and occasionally is.
It should be no surprise that the Armor thwarts slashing and piercing attacks, as this is the core function of ordinary mail. Truly extraordinary however is that, despite having the appearance of mail and flowing easily, and despite being nearly form-fitting, crushing blows are dissipated with ease. This shouldn't be possible under ordinary mechanics, and is the most significant divine aspect of the Black Armor. It isn't without its limits: Gregor once suffered broken ribs when caught in a building collapse while wearing his suit. Nor does the Armor prevent a Guard from being physically displaced if the force is sufficient to do so. Nonetheless the Armor has consistently protected its wearers from offenses such as hammer strikes and pelted rocks.
Nearly as important is the Armor's resilience against all conventional weaponry and most elite weapons. This again challenges the Kindred understanding of mechanics. Generally, materials can be tested for strength and flexibility. Metals, and indeed all materials, must strike a balance between suppleness versus softness on one extreme, and strength versus brittleness on the other. The Black Armor accomplishes this remarkably well: It is exceedingly difficult to deform or cut, yet almost never chips or shatters. The only weapons ever to have seriously compromised it were themselves divine in some way.
The Black Armor also protects its wearer, to a limited extent, against blood loss, extremes of the weather, rashes and irritation, and luminance and radiance. Bafflingly, it even has a calming effect against emotional instability.
Galan scholars have speculated that the tangible armor itself may not encompass the entirety of its protective power. As well as the conundrums listed above, there is also the fact that the Armor seems to be able to distinguish its true wearer from both impostors and inanimate dummies. Though loath to risk losing or impairing any of the armor in experimentation—as it is presumed irreplaceable—Galavar and others have assented to various, limited tests on their armor which showed that the Black Armor protects its true wearer better than someone else of virtually identical proportions.
One of the Black Armor's most curious properties is its variable physical dimensions. It always fits its true wearer perfectly, even amid things like temporary swelling, weight gain and loss, and hair growth (in the case of the helm piece). In particular, General DeLatia's suit of armor continued to fit her perfectly even after she lost nearly half her body weight, with no excess material left over and no apparent contraction of the rings or the space between them. The armor lost weight along with her; a great part of it simply, gradually vanished. Weight gain among other Guards, notably Arderesh in the paunch, likewise caused no loss in functionality. The armor simply grew, or extended itself, despite never being observed to do so. The matter remains under investigation.
If another person wears a given suit of the Armor, it will not resize itself for them. For this reason, anyone attempting to wear the Black Armor must be similar in size to the true wearer in order to have a proper fit.
One seldom-discussed but critical property of the Black Armor is that each suit has a special property unique to that suit. This is discussed below.
Finally, the general assumption in Gala is that the Black Armor has further properties which have not yet been made manifest.
The Black Armor, when not attired, consists of four separate pieces: a shirt, a pant, and gauntlets. The shirt is the largest piece and has a bit of skirt. The pant is also large, as it must cover the wearer's trunk as well as their legs.
There is a fifth “piece,” a helm, which can only be conjured upon the wearer's head when the rest of the armor is already sealed on, and does not exist as a separate piece. The helm differs from the rest of the suit in that it isn't a mail; it consists of a single, solid piece of a different and unknown material that closely fits the wearer's head. The helm appears jet black from the outside, but from the inside is breathable and fully transparent.
Together these five pieces can cover the entire body except for the feet and ankles. When Galavar inquired of Sourros about the obvious omission in coverage, the God gave no explanation. The most commonly accepted interpretation is that the armor is durable and in a strange sense immutable, yet to cover the feet it would have to go outside the wearer's shoes or boots, and this footwear would change over time. Though the Armor is known to accommodate changes in the body itself, perhaps it would not do the same with external objects.
After putting on their suit of armor, the wearer can then seal themselves into the armor using the numenate practice of repostulation. This binds the gauntlets and pant to the shirt, creating a single, continuous coverage of armor. The helm piece can then (and only then) be apparated as well. The helm and the sealing lines are both intrinsic to the Armor; they are not separate additions by the wearer.
When another person wears a given suit of the Black Armor, it is still possible for them to seal themselves into it, although that person must know how to do so. Conjuring the helm is more difficult and has proven difficult to teach.
The reverse process, dispelling the seal, requires willful intent but is otherwise effortless. This makes it possible to remove the Armor in a state of serious injury or illness, so long as the wearer is conscious. (And the helm will dissipate if the wearer falls unconscious, as its apparition requires continual effort.) This was the result when Zirin was killed in her armor. Because her armor was otherwise still sealed, there was no way to remove it from her without destroying her body, and no way in any case for someone else to put it on.
There are eight known suits of the Black Armor. Each one has a special property, a part of Sourros' gift to that person, based on their character and needs.
Each wearer of the Armor has given their own suit two names: a public name knowable by anyone, and a private name known only to the wearer. It is this private name that affirms the wearer's true ownership of their suit, although ownership itself is assigned by Sourros and never changes. Nonetheless Sourros has cautioned that it is possible for an individual to lose ownership, even if no one else should be able to seize it in their place.
Galavar's suit came first, by some years. Galavar favors his armor so much that he wears it more often than not. He sees it as a symbol of the Meretange, and to wear it for him underscores his merit to rule over Gala. He also wears it as protection against misfortune, wary of being killed by some random malady. Its highlights are a rich blue.
Galavar's suit of armor allows him to walk upon the air. Galavar was always enamored of flight, and in his youth even constructed his own means of flight for his demonstration, in the form of an enchanted cape. When gifted the original suit of Black Armor, Sourros imbued the suit with this power of levitation even though Galavar had (understandably) not thought to ask for such a thing from a suit of armor.
The ability to walk in the air, aside from its flamboyance, grants certain practical advantages. Among other things it has inured Galavar to the risk of falling to his death from the many dazzling heights of the Fortress of Galadrim.
This power of levitation is not true flight. Galavar is still limited by the speed at which he can walk or run, and the levitation only works within a relatively short distance of solid relance. It does not carry over to animal mounts, and his carrying load remains limited by his own strength and stamina.
Its highlights are a vivid white—the only instance among all the existing suits to completely eschew the Armor's characteristic blackness.
Its highlights are a deep red.
Its highlights are a dark green, and hard to see in lieu of strong direct light.
Silence suffers from the metabolic hyperactivity disorder called shallancy, which requires her to consume large amounts of food to maintain her physique and renders her highly susceptible to overheating. Her suit of the Armor helps with the latter by continually drawing heat from her body whenever she wears it. This drainage is attuned to her metabolism and thus, even though the rate doesn't change from moment to moment, seldom draws away too little heat or too much.
This allows Silence to operate in the infernally hot Sodaplains with near impunity, and to perform countless physical exertions without any risk of heat exhaustion or heatstroke. It also helps prevent dehydration, as it greatly diminishes her profuse and nearly constant sweating. In fact Silence finds her armor so helpful that sometimes she wears it purely for health and comfort.
Unbeknownst to all but a handful of individuals, this drained energy isn't dissipated into the environment but remains stored within the armor itself, to be called upon at her will. It isn't much—usually a few tens of watts at a time—but because she almost never draws upon this energy it has built up over the years into a considerable reservoir. This theoretically enables occasional outbursts of great energy, in addition to what she herself can draw from the numen.
Its highlights are a light sky blue.
Because it could not be removed, Zirin was interred with her armor in the Mausoleum of the Eternities, where her armored body is chemically preserved and displayed in a place of honor in the Gallery of the Meretange Elites—so named only after she was put to rest there.
Its highlights are a calm yellow.
Its highlights are a rusty orange.
Its highlights are beige.