Ur'zan Drakgaard is the current Captain of the Salamanders' 6th Company. A fierce and uncompromising leader, Ur'zan Drakgaard is a battle-hardened veteran that has served his Chapter faithfully for more than a hundred years. His body, as well as his face are a conglomeration of scar-tissue and cauterized wounds -- each and every one of them a testimony to the captain's courage, some would even dare to say recklessness -- in battle. Ur'zan bears his wounds with pride, even though his face is heavily scarred and locked in a perpetual snarl, exposing teeth through the holes of his ravaged flesh. Even if he seems unaffected by his disfigurement, Drakgaard is most readily seen wearing his drake-scaled battle-helm as to better process the myriad information being forwarded to him in times of war. Although a sound tactician, Ur'zan Drakgaard's true place is at the forefront of the battle-line, where he and his personal Command Squad -- the "Serpentia" -- can wreck a bloody toll on their enemies. Despite having the feeling of being overshadowed by the Chapter's captains of the other Battle Companies, such as Pellas Mir'san or even Adrax Agatone, Drakgaard's resilience, determination, singularity of purpose, as well as his utter refusal to capitulate, have garnered him much renown within the Chapter. His only true flaw lies in his erroneous perception of himself -- as he sees himself as an unremarkable officer -- which he tries too hard to alleviate by covering himself and his company with glory on the field of battle -- a penchant he has always denied, stating that he has always put the Chapter's interests and reputation above his personal glory -- a lie that would be revealed in the ruins of Canticus.
As a veteran warrior, Ur'zan Drakgaard has seen many battles however, his first year as a Neophyte and Initiate remain somewhat sketchy. It is generally assumed that Drakgaard had been trained under Master of Recruits Prebian, although Drakgaard himself has neither confirmed nor denied this fact. Although his pragmatism betrays his identity as one of the Fireborn, Drakgaard's utter lack of sense of beauty and his unshakable determination have given rise to the joke that he would, in fact, better belong to the stoic Iron Hands rather than the Salamanders. Upon concluding his training with the 7th Company, Ur'zan Drakgaard was promoted to full battle-brother, although again, it remains unclear as to which company he was assigned. What we do know is that he participated in the gruesome Badab War, as he gained his first major wounds during that conflict. As the Salamanders' involvement limited itself to a single if augmented Battle Company -- the 2nd -- this would mean that Drakgaard had either served directly under Pellas Mir'san as part of the 2nd Company, or as part of 6th Company's units. Furthermore, Drakgaard distinguished himself during the Second War for Armageddon against the savage Orks that had invaded this vital Hive World. Following his promotion to Captain of the 6th Company, Drakgaard, along with other commanding officers of his Chapter, formed the Pantheon, which presided over the fate of the ill-reputed Lexicanium, Hazon Da'kir, the dreaded Ferro Ignis, which came close to destroying Nocturne. Drakgaard participated in the Defence of Nocturne at the head of his entire Company until a long-awaited change of fate put his star in ascendance.
The Promethean War
With the events leading up to the Defence of Nocturne, the 3rd Company came under close scrutiny by the rest of the Chapter. The circumstances surrounding the death of both its prior captains, the known betrayal of one of its members as well as the desertion of one of its former squad sergeants, forced Chapter Master Tu'Shan to order further inquiries into 3rd Company, and so, they were recalled in its entirety, from the front lines. Thus when word reached Nocturne that the Ecclesiarchy World of Heletine had come under attack by the Forces of Chaos, and petitioned the Salamanders for help, the 6th Company was ordered to make ready for war.
Augmented by two of the best assault squads the 4th Company could spare, which included -- Assault Squad Iaptus, more commonly known as the "Wyverns," and the legendary "Targons," a veteran Centurion Assault Squad -- as well as a sizable deployment of the Chapter’s Armorium, the 6th Company travelled with all haste to Heletine to relieve the almost overwhelmed Cadian 81st Regiment. Having gained much renown since the events of the Scorian Prophecy, the famous Chaplain Elysius was also appointed to oversee the Company's integrity and spiritual well-being against the temptations of Chaos. The Salamanders established their headquarters in Canticus, Heletine's capital city, only to find that their enemies were legion and well dug-in. Of the Chaos Space Marines comprised of the Black Legion and Children of Torment, they saw precious little, though they frequently encountered their mortal followers, the temptations and promises of Chaos having corrupted much of the civilian population and the Heletine Planetary Defence Forces. Leading the deployment from his command outpost, Drakgaard divided his forces as to better contest the world's remaining cities, but focussed his efforts on retaking Canticus. In these early stages of the war, Drakgaard was far from reckless, analysing terrain, reconnaissance reports and countless missives to ascertain the enemy's weaknesses. Much to his dismay, he found none. The maze of streets and bridges of Canticus favoured the numerical superiority of the followers of Chaos. With no swift victory to be gained, and the enemy commander yet to rear his ugly head or show his hand, the Promethean War almost immediately became a war of attrition. Heletine, and especially Canticus, would need to be purged by flame, yet Drakgaard did not possess the manpower necessary for such an operation. Biding their time, the Salamanders instead concentrated on inflicting casualties on the enemy and retaking the strategic initiative. Captain Drakgaard devised a plan in order to retake much of the city's western districts.
After many weeks of such fighting -- of constantly losing ground and re-gaining it back and inflicting massive casualties upon the enemy -- new allies made themselves known. These were the Sisters of Battle, from the Order of the Ebon Chalice, led by their Canoness Angerer, to save and reclaim the holy relics of the Ecclesiarchy. With the Canoness requiring their support in reclaiming the relics, Drakgaard was confronted with a new imperative. He had seen the Orks grow bolder on Armageddon by defiling Imperial places of worship and erecting their own stinking and brutal effigies in their stead. Could the Chaos horde intend to do the same here on Heletine? Or worse yet, attempt to open a Warp Rift and summon forth their daemonic allies? Admonishing himself for allowing the enemy too much time to prepare, Drakgaard's fury was awakened. With these new reinforcements now available to him, he would take the initiative and cleanse Canticus of the taint that had befallen it.
Despite the warnings of Chaplain Elysius not to overextend the line or venture further into the city without proper reconnaissance, Drakgaard did just that. The reinforcements of the Adepta Sororitas had given him the necessary manpower -- the one decisive great push that would break the already weakened enemy. Casualties had been mounting steadily amongst the Fireborn, and now would be the time for the traitor's reckoning -- these were Drakgaard's convictions. He could not have been more wrong.
Heletine was an ancient world. Once the capital world of a powerful splinter-empire of humanity during the Great Crusade, Sixty-Three-Sixty, as it was then called, had been liberated by the Luna Wolves Legion in one of their greatest moments of glory. The world's primary output was then valuable Promethium, but the wells and pockets had long run dry, so the Ecclesiarchy had claimed Heletine as their own. Here, in subterranean mass-graves and catacombs that spanned under the entire city of Canticus, rested the bones of countless minor saints, cardinals, preachers and missionaries, in a little explored, and too quickly dismissed underworld -- because it was here that the Traitors had hidden from the Salamanders' wrath and patiently awaited the moment to strike.
Despite being an obvious trap that was being set for them, the Salamanders' first assault on Salvation Bridge was a success. The Wyverns successfully cleared the cultist-manned gun nests in order to allow an armoured column of the Chapter to advance. The Wyverns' assault even prompted a reaction of the Black Legion, which deployed its Chaos Terminators onto the bridge via Thunderhawk Gunship. With battle flaring up between the two contingents of Astartes, the Seraphim of the Order of the Ebon Chalice arrived as reinforcements, cleaning the bridge of the remaining cultists and forcing the Chaos Terminators to flee. With no immediate threat to them, the dozer-equipped Predators of the Chapter quickly cleared the bridge, thus opening the way for their junction with other ground troops. Believing the enemy to have been bled out, Drakgaard personally led the foray within the eastern districts of Canticus, not realising that he had overextended his line. Elsewhere in the city, the Cadian armoured column was cut in half when a mighty pillar had fallen, blocking the road. The Salamanders armoured support had then had no other choice other than to make a great detour in order to reach the main advance, or risk being ambushed and trapped in Canticus' narrow streets. Despite being informed of this major delay, Drakgaard pressed on -- after all, he still had the Adepta Sororitas to back him up, or so he believed.
Unknown to Drakgaard, Canoness Angerer had ordered her sisters away, abandoning their position to fulfill their own agenda as they undertook their own covert mission, effectively betraying both the Salamanders and the Cadians. Somehow sensing that something was amiss, Chaplain Elysius advised caution, urging Drakgaard to halt the advance and to properly scout the way ahead. The Imperial advance was now entering one of Canticus' eldest and most sacred districts, known as "the Cairns," a holy road passing eighteen massive pillars of stone which were believed by the locals to be the very foundations upon which heaven rested. Planning upon advancing on the Sanctium Vius, Drakgaard ordered the Targons to the front, confident that their superior protection would hold against anything the depleted enemy would be able to throw at them. Again, he was wrong. The Targons were lured into a deadly trap, when two civilians they attempted to rescue revealed themselves to be two unidentified psykers, which detonated in ætheric fire and lightning. Left in shock and reeling from the surprise blow, the Chaos Space Marines sprung their ambush, attacking the far more massive and slow-moving Centurions at close quarter, killing all of them save for their sergeant. Fuelled by anger and a desire for vengeance, Drakgaard ordered the advance not to falter.
This was the moment the Traitors chose to strike. Having lured the Sisters of Battle of Canoness Angerer and ambushed them separately, the Black Legion collapsed the causeway beneath the combined advance of Cadians and Salamanders, disrupting the armoured column and killing most of the human soldiery at the same time. The scattered survivors, both Astartes and human barely had time to register what had happened that the crazed hordes of cultists, led by Traitor Marines rushed them. Far from being beaten, the Chaos forces had laid in wait patiently within Canticus’ uncharted catacombs, springing their trap at the most opportune moment. The forces at the front of the Imperial advance fared the worst, effectively falling into the subterranean level, cut off from help and disoriented. Still the Salamanders fought on, often sacrificing themselves to protect their Cadian allies. Drakgaard and the Serpentia had also fallen into the unnatural gully and quickly reformed, with the enemy finally rearing its ugly head, Drakgaard unleashed his wrath, hacking, slashing and wrecking a terrible toll amongst the enemy. Yet his valour alone could not save the day. When Drakgaard himself was wounded, Chaplain Elysius ordered the Serpentia to form up on him and retreat, many dying to protect their wounded captain, but fortunately for the Salamanders, reinforcements arrived in the form of the badly battered Salamanders armour and Seraphims of the Sisters of Battle, the only Adepta Sororitas that had dared defy their Canoness’ orders to abandon their allies. These unexpected reinforcements kept the defeat from becoming a rout, and thus bloodied and bruised the Salamanders survived. Their losses had been high but enough remained to still continue the fight against the servants of Chaos.
As a commander of the Space Marines, Ur’zan Drakgaard has been granted an ornate suit of Power Armour, which given the talents of the Salamanders’ forgemasters will undoubtedly prove superior to normal Power Armour and maybe even rival Artificer Armour. As an officer of his Chapter, Ur’zan has slain one of the mighty Salamanders of Nocturne during his ascension and wears the drake’s hide as a tabard. A tooth of this mighty beast also serves as pommel and grip of Drakgaard’s Kaskara sword. Kaskara-swords are traditional Nocturnean blades that distinguish themselves through their single straight edge, the other edge being serrated. This makes the "sword" more akin to a sabre or cleaver than a true sword and in Drakgaard’s hands it has proven to be a fearful weapon indeed, causing uncounted deaths in the ranks of the enemy. Although not powered, the superior craftsmanship of the blade is such that it has proven equally effective against power-armoured enemies and less severely armoured targets. Drakgaard’s sidearm is a common Bolt Pistol.
Notable "Serpentia" Members
With Drakgaard's predilection for hand-to-hand combat, it made sense that the battle-hardened Captain of the 6th Company would surround himself with a Command Squad, or Honour Guard Squad, to follow him into the thickest of the fighting. This squad, of which all members have been hand-picked by Drakgaard himself, quickly became known as the "Serpentia." On Heletine, the Serpentia would pay a heavy toll to extract their beloved Captain from the ambush he had so carelessly run into, their honour forbidding them to retreat unless facing certain death. So it was, even when facing a horde of cultists and many times their own number in renegade Astartes, the Serpentia stood their ground. Before the dire events on Heletine, the Serpentia was known to count eight members, including:
- Apothecary Kratus Sepelius - Apothecary Sepelius was the only member of the Serpentia who was absent during the fearful fight of the Sanctium Vius, having been ordered to extract the direly wounded Sergeant Bar'dak of the Targons following his unlucky encounter with the psyker-bomb.
- Banner Bearer Tul'vek (Deceased) - Brother Tul'vek was the first Salamanders of the Serpentia to die in the unnatural ravine formed by the collapsed causeway of the Sanctium Vius. Tul'vek was almost entirely beheaded by a blow from a Chainsword, but kept his banner aloft long enough time for Chaplain Elysius to grasp it, honouring the Chapter's sacred colours with his dying breath.
- Company Champion Her'us - Perhaps unusual for a man in his position, Company Champion Her'us preferred to wield a heavy Thunder Hammer in lieu of more common-place twin energy-blades. In battle, Her'us's place was at the right side of his Captain, where their fighting styles complemented one another. Charged by Chaplain Elysius to keep Drakgaard alive at all costs, Her'us stood at his side until the exhausted Captain was wounded, enabling him to sound the retreat to his fellow Salamanders.
- Pyre Warden Zetok (Deceased) - Completing the Serpentia's fighting wedge, Zetok's place was at his Captain's right side, protecting Drakgaard's off-hand with his Storm Shield. This role, commonly known amongst the Fireborn as Pyre Warden, was a position of great honour and respect for Zetok, whom had always been much appreciated for his skills as a warrior amongst his Company. In his other hand, Zetok carried a master-forged Chainaxe, whose teeth had been replaced by the fangs of one of the fearful Salamanders of Nocturne, from which their Chapter draws its name. On Nocturne, these blades were known as "Burning Blades" for they burned hotter than the heart of a forge, causing the tooth-particles to ignite, and effectively surrounding the axe-head in cleansing fire. Such a weapon was easily capable of piercing Power Armour but also proved proficient against the cultist, whose large robes were highly flammable, surrounding Zetok and the Serpentia with the bodies of their burning foes. Zetok died surrounded by three Black Legion Chaos Space Marines after a blow had severed his shield-arm at the elbow. Unable to defend himself properly, he was literally hacked apart by the infuriated worshippers of Chaos.
- Pyroclast Onagar (Deceased) - Battle-Brother Onagar carried the honorary title of Pyroclast, the old title of the Legion's specialists dating all the way back to the days of the Great Crusade. Carrying the squad's Nocturne-pattern Flamer, Brother Onagar had an innate understanding of flame which made him an unparalleled warrior within his specialisation. Despite having his body and faced ravaged by fire, Onagar always displayed a deep sense of humour, often jesting and laughing, even when half of his face was ravaged by fire when his battlehelm was blown apart on Heletine. Brother Onagar sadly died after a lucky ricochet penetrated his fuel-tank, engulfing him in white-hot flame and blasting apart the Serpentia's defensive circle. Fortunately for the Fireborn, the blast also threw back their enemies, giving the Salamanders a short-lived reprieve from the press of bodies.
- Battle Brother Kaladin (Deceased) - Brother Kaladin was the Serpentia's anti-armour specialist, being equipped with an ornate Meltagun whose mouth he had personally fashioned to resemble a leering dragon. In close combat, he fought in the Serpentia's rear line, steadying and supporting Zetok whenever the need arose. Kaladin was overwhelmed by Traitor Marines while fighting clear of the ravine in Canticus.
- Battle Brother Tseg'un (Deceased) - Brother Tseg'un's weapon of choice was a Power Fist, easily capable of ripping apart the best protected foe. In battle his place was at the edge of the battle-line, safeguarding both his Captain’s and Her'us's backs from flanking attacks, and where he had enough room to swing his massive Power Fist. Although wounded early on in the ambush when a Traitor Marine slashed at his clavicle, Tseg'un held his place in the defensive line until succumbing before the enemy onslaught.
- Battle Brother Vervius - Brother Vervius was the only one of the Serpentia to favour the Plasma Pistol as his sidearm, most other members preferring the far less capricious Bolt Pistol. Usually fighting in the Serpentia's rear rank, Vervius took up the honour of carrying the Company's standard after Chaplain Elysius had let go of it following Brother Onagar's fiery demise. Alongside He'rus, Vervius defended the banner amongst a growing mount of corpses before the Wyvern's timely arrival saved them from a lumbering Helbrute, thus allowing the Salamanders to retreat and regroup.
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