The Imperial Drakes
Sworn to protect the Emperor of Turelion and Kelbonnar and Imperial Property across Kelbonnar, the Imperial Drakes are the elite troops of the Empire of Turelion. They are equipped with the finest weapons and arms money can buy and dedicate their life to training, making them the most formidable fighting force in the whole of Kelbonnar.
At any one time there are around 35,000 Imperial Drakes, though their force is not concentrated in a single place, but are instead scattered across the Empire. Imperial Drakes maintain core garrisons around 2,000 strong in all eleven Imperial Provinces. These garrisons are based in the Provincial Capitals, and serve as a reminder to the Satraps that at the end of the day it is the Emperor, not them who hold the reins of power in Kelbonnar. In addition, garrisons of 500 strong are based at each of the 11 provincial mints to protect the facilities and to escort their shipments. The Imperial capital of Meltaro also has its own garrison of Imperial Drakes, at least 2,000 strong to protect the Imperial District. The remaining 2,500 troops are split across several duties. A detachment of 500 of the best troops in the Drakes, known as the The Sentinels always travel with the Emperor and are the personal bodyguards to the Imperial Personage. Additional garrisons of around 200 regular Imperial Drakes are based in each of the main Imperial Residences so that they are constantly guarded, including the Imperial Palace at Meltaro and the palace complex on Mallenar's Isle. The remaining 1,000 troops are formed into a specialist formation called The Drake-Wing Corps, who are based in the Firewing port of Orthax’s Peak in the Heavenspire Mountains. Drake-Wings are specially trained in rapid deployment from Falcon Model Firewings and shock tactics. They are used as a rapid deployment fighting force that can deploy anywhere within the Empire if needed to provide emergency support, or to launch lightening raids.
All Imperial Drakes are equipped with heavy plate and mail armour which has been specially crafted to provide them as much protection as possible from projectiles ranging from arrows and the balls fired from Blackpowder Weapons, to any melee weapon imaginable. Each set of Drake armour is also enchanted with a variety of arcane wards in order to give them protection from elemental and magical damage. As all Drakes carry a Blackpowder weapon of some description, they always carry enough powder and shot to see them through a sustained fire fight.
Imperial Drakes carry a mixture of weaponry, with different individuals fulfilling different functions within the overall formation, principally however, these can be divided into two categories: Mêlée Troops: Imperial Drakes geared up for mêlée will carry two-handed weapons, normally halberds or great swords. In addition they will have a secondary weapon, normally a longsword and each will carry at least one Blackpowder pistol. Whilst the pistols give even mêlée Drakes some ranged capacity, they are not designed or meant to be particularly accurate. Instead, they are most frequently discharged just before a charge, to unleash a wall of lead designed to keep their opponents’ heads down so they are less prepared to receive the charge. Ranged Troops: Drakes who serve primarily as ranged troops are normally equipped with a long arm Blackpowder Weapon, Imperial Pattern Rifles are the most commonly used by the Drakes. These weapons are slow to load but can be incredibly accurate, especially when compared to a musket or pistol, whilst being much more devastating than crossbows or bows. Ranged Drakes are also issued with a pavise, a large shield that is set up before the soldier, which gives them almost full body cover, and all carry a side arm, generally a longsword.
Imperial Drakes have access to a variety of vehicles, but they generally tend to use Military Class Firewing. For especially long journeys that require a large number of them to travel they will tend to favour travelling on ships of the Imperial Navy. As Drakes are so heavily armoured they very rarely fight or travel as mounted troops. They are all trained to be able to ride horses, but this is generally regarded as a last resort, as they would have to abandon a great deal of their protective gear to enable any animal weaker than a cart horse to carry them.
The Imperial Drakes are a highly structured formation which is laid out as follows: Imperial Colonel – The Commanding Officer of all of the Imperial Drakes. They coordinate all of the Drakes’ activities and will generally accompany the Emperor at all times as a core part of the Imperial Court, unless pressing duties require their attention elsewhere. Imperial Majors – Command the Garrisons of Drakes spread out across Kelbonnar. They answer directly to the Imperial Colonel. Imperial Captains – Command detachments of up to 100 Drakes in the field and take on some other administrative duties as required by the Imperial Majors. Imperial Lieutenants – Command detachments of up to 50 Drakes in the field. Imperial Sergeants – Command detachments of up to 25 Drakes in the field. Imperial Corporals – Command detachments of up to 5 Drakes in the field.
The heavy armour and weaponry of the Imperial Drakes means that they are unable to undertake covert missions or guerrilla tactics, but they were never formed with that in mind. Drakes were created to be both the Emperor's shield and their mailed fist. Typically formations of Imperial Drakes will fight defensively, trusting in their superior armour and whatever defensive positions they can find until their adversaries have been worn down to the point where they strike rapidly, brutally and decisively against them. Imperial Drakes do not always fight attritionally, they are also well capable of being deployed very dynamically, especially when fighting an entrenched enemy. Detachments of Imperial Drakes have been employed particularly effectively in siege battles, or in open engagements where they are required to punch through stubborn formations of the enemy. Any Drakes that display a natural affinity with magic are sent on secondment to the Imperial College of Arcanists, where they receive specialist training in war magic.
In order to join the Imperial Drakes, one must have first served in a Provincial Army for at least five years, after which potential recruits must undergo a gruelling selection process during which many candidates are killed. After this they spend months undergoing additional training to bring them up to the elite level required by the Drakes. Even once a recruit has been accepted into the Drakes, they enter a life of constant training. Every day Drakes drill for hours on top of their normal duties, making them the most highly trained force in the whole of Kelbonnar.
As well as the garrison force itself, each Imperial Drake base has a bevy of cooks, cleaners, porters, medics and any other required support staff to ensure that the garrison is well taken care of, and need only think of their duty to the Emperor. When Imperial Drakes are ordered away from their garrisons, a bevy of these support staff will accompany them so they need only concentrate on their objectives.
The military system of the Empire has been designed deliberately so that officers of the Imperial Drakes outrank their equivalents in the Provincial Armies, whilst also ensuring that Provincial Army officers have no jurisdiction over either officers or rank and file soldiers of the Drakes. This means that a force of Imperial Drakes have the authority to draw in Provincial troops wherever they are to act as auxiliaries for their formations, regardless of what the Provincial troops’ current orders are. Though this power has proven effective in certain situations where lighting action is required, it has also been abused more than a few times.