"These Knights are vital components of the Taghmata that protect Forge and Fane, yet despite their pride, they are but one tool among many and they will bend to the Omnissiah's will or be broken by it."
- — Noted comments of Archmagos Yelav Draykavac upon the rediscovery of House Atrax, ca. 3447.853.M30
Archmagos Yelav Draykavac was the principal warlord of Forge World Cyclothrathe at the time of the Horus Heresy. Unheard of before the events that would split the Imperium of Man asunder, the Archmagos would rise in fame and infamy to become one of the most powerful and feared representatives of the Dark Mechanicum. Declared Heretek Ultima by the Great Synod of Martian Unification and being held responsible for such atrocities as the Genocide of Goth, the Lucine Travesty and the death of the seventeen worlds of the Donia League, as ruling Sovereign-Prelate of House Atrax the self-stylized "Bringer of Perfection" would lead the once-proud Knights of this household into a series of bloody pogroms and massacres which earned him his dire reputation. The Imperium has thus far been unable to ascertain Draykavac's ultimate fate, even if most historians agree that he either died or was lost in the Warp onboard his personal vessel, the Sacra Astra.
Though he would become one of the most reviled of the Dark Mechanicum, Archmagos Draykavac was an all but unknown figure before the civil war wrought by the Warmaster Horus' betrayal of his father the Emperor sundered the Imperium. Such records as still exist agree that Yelav Draykavac was already Cyclothrathe's most proficient warlord at the time of the annexation of Arrian and the subsequent discovery of House Atrax around 3447.853.M30. However no information is available on the real age or former position of Draykavac before his rise within the command structure of Cyclothrathe's Taghmata. With customary brutality, Draykavac forced the then still-independent House Atrax into utter submission, installing himself as Sovereign-Prelate and devising means to ensure that none of the surviving Knights would ever pose a threat to his rule. While nominally House Atrax still had its own Seneschals and Masters, in reality the House was little more than a puppet of the utterly callous and inhuman Archmagos. Draykavac's appearance was designed to inspire fear in those that would oppose him: a tall yet brooding figure dressed in black robes whose face was obscured by an equine skull which he customarily wore in place of a face-mask. Within Cyclothrathe's Taghmata his power was absolute, and only the sombre masters of the Forge World's ruling synod could give him orders. Draykavac was notoriously harsh and unforgiving, even by the standards of the Adeptus Mechanicus. When on the Agri-world of Numinal civilian unrest and Loyalist-led guerillas threatened to slow down Servitor-conversion of the entire civilian population, Draykavac's first action upon setting foot on planet was to rip out his subordinate's organic cortex and submit her body to the Magos Mortifex for ulterior reconversion.
Cyclothrathe at War
As Cyclothrathe's principal war leader, Draykavac was instrumental in his Taghmata's victories during the war of conquest led by his Forge World after the fall of Port Maw and that of the Manachean Commonwealth, both campaigns he had nothing to do with. Having honoured their pact with the Archtraitor Horus, Cyclothrathe was let loose and began its long anticipated war of conquest amongst the worlds of the Coronid Deeps. With cold logic and casual brutality the Cyclothrathine Taghmata were rapidly victorious, preying on those worlds isolated by the rout of the Loyalists. Wherever the shadow of his personal flagship the Sacra Astra, a towering Mechanicum war-ark, fell untold bloodshed and atrocities would follow. Seemingly obsessed by the idea of further expanding his own military might every planet was ransacked of any precious resource it could yield, mineral wealth and human flesh being the two most valuable currencies.
The conquest of the Agri-world of Numinal stands as an exemplar to those worlds that would fall beneath the iron foot of Cyclothrathe's baleful rule during the Horus Heresy. Having been quite easily vanquished and expecting only limited resistance on Numinal, Draykavac left behind a potent force to secure this new addition to the Cyclothrathine Holdfast. On the dust-moon of Numinal V, Quachil, the Taghmata built an extensively fortified complex to house the new navigation beacon and astropathic communication nexus they would need. A fortified base from which to rule over Numinal was also constructed on the planet's principal archipelago. Numinal was an Agri-world and although its production was to be upheld, Draykavac ordered the harvesting of a far more unusual resource than mere crops or fish: human flesh. Through Servitor conversion or adsecularis lobotomisation, Numinal's civilian population was to swell the ranks of the Cyclothrathine Mechanicum.
Resistance, however, had not fully ceased and the forced reconversion processing of the civilian population had spurred many to take up arms against their new ruler. It is a testimony to Draykavac's ruthlessness and organisational skills that within a few short solar days of his planetfall, processing operations returned to normal; each island and archipelago would be processed in turn; the civilian population accompanied under heavy escorts to specially-commissioned amphibious crawlers where the lobotomisation process would be performed. Each of these crawlers was equipped with Servitor-manned charnel-surgery chambers, corpse sluice and protein recovery vats so that nothing would go to waste. Each of these inhuman machines would be guarded by Imperial Knights of Draykavac's personal thrall-house of House Atrax, a menace that no force on Numinal could hope to overcome.
It was perhaps by chance or by the whim of fate that in the year 009.M31 Archmagos Yelav would indirectly meet with the man that would become his most earnest and able opponent: Ireton MaSade, Protector of Agathon and leader of the Loyalist effort in the Coronid Deeps. Seeking vengeance for the death of his granddaughter at Port Maw, Ireton MaSade had taken war to the Cyclothrathine Mechanicum and the first blow was to be dealt on Numinal.
Upon learning of the Loyalist attack, Draykavac acted with cold logic: his troops were scattered over the entire surface of Numinal and he would need time to assemble them. Even Draykavac was surprised by this attack, the truth that a full-scale counterinvasion was now on its way had not entered the strategic equations of the Taghmata Cyclothrathe. The orbit was already lost, his own Escort craft having been defeated by deceptive-looking outdated Warp-dromons and macro-haulers, even his own flagship had had to retreat, no match for the turncoat Rogue Trader vessel, the Hammer of the Deeps. Releasing emergency command overrides, Draykavac took direct control over all Mechanicum forces on Numinal, his mind commanding thousands of bodies and automatons. In merely two solar hours, he had arrayed a force he judged sufficient to lead a counterattack. Yet the landing of some 40,000 Solar Auxilia did not seem to bother him excessively. The enemy had failed to mount an immediate attack, which indicated that they intended to liberate the planet rather than perform a simple raid. However, in the two hours he had needed to assemble his forces, these enemies had strongly fortified their landing zone. Draykavac would direct the attack from the shelter of his command compound, merely a hundred kilometers distant from the battlefield, his djinn-skein allowing him to look through a thousand eyes and targeting arrays and command entire divisions by himself. After the first force's hasty retreat against the unprecedented defensive fire from the Agathean Cohorts, Draykavac had to act quickly as secondary incursions and insurrections now threatened his rule. Ordering his Knights to assemble, Archmagos Draykavac left his command vault and ascended onto his Battle-Abeyant, his personal bodyguard of Thallax Cohorts forming up around him. Quickly reaching the battlefield, a second Mechanicum force, even larger than the first one, awaited his orders to crush the defiant Agatheans under the heavy footsteps of his Knights. A stalemate could still be achieved, which he was confident he would be able to break given reinforcements from Cyclothrathe, the Agatheans surely being unable to blockade Numinal once his owns battleships could be recalled. All he needed to do was annihilate the invaders and retake the landing zones, thus securing the planet.
As battle was joined, Draykavac did not realize that he had been tricked: the enemy commander, Ireton MaSade had had intimate knowledge of how Mechanicum Taghmata fight after having fought at their side during the Great Crusade. He knew that Draykavac's battle-plans would follow the prognostications or his logic-engines, which made Draykavac's tactics all too predictable. On a short command, the Agathean's supporting Knights dropped from orbit and outflanked the Mechanicum host. Coming under direct attack from an unexpected quarter, Draykavac had to defend himself against a rampaging Knight-Castigator of House Hermetika, weakening the towering war machine with fire from his Graviton Gun enough to be brought down by swarming Vorax-class Battle-Automata. Draykavac himself tore the living pilot from his Throne Mechanicum before liquefying his flesh. When the Agathean Cohorts pressed home their advantage, the facts were indisputable: Draykavac had lost the battle. Almost immediately, the Knights of House Atrax formed a hexagonal defence, protecting their lord and master from harm as they and the remaining Taghmata forces were ruthlessly sacrificed to preserve Draykavac's life. Once within his fortified command bastion, he made good his escape, a concealed salvation-rocket taking him to safety to the Sacra Astra from which he would leave the system.
Despite this severe defeat, Archmagos Draykavac stayed in command of the Taghmata Cyclothrathe, a position he held for the entire duration of the Horus Heresy. Draykavac would secure many victories in the grim years of conflict and bloodshed that lay ahead and would cause countless woes to the Imperium's loyal defenders.
Even though he secured many victories for his Forge World and he perpetuated a great many misdeeds and massacres during his years of rampage through the Imperium -- amongst them such infamous atrocities as the Genocide of Goth, the Lucine Travesty and the death of the seventeen worlds of the Donia League -- it is ironic that the vaunted Archmagos is most prominently remembered for his failings.
His role in the Liberation of Numinal has not been forgotten, especially within the worlds of the Coronid Deeps, but to the Imperium as a whole, Draykavac is remembered as something far more trivial: a source of information. It would only be after the Great Scouring that the floating wreck of Draykavac's flagship, the Sacra Astra would be discovered adrift in the Maelstrom region. The identity of its attackers or the destinies of its crew remain a mystery to this day, but in the entrails of the Sacra Astra the Imperium discovered a most precious boon: Draykavac's entire personal archive, computed from his very own data-cores. This "Draykavac Archive" as it has since been called, provided the Adeptus Terra and military branches of the Imperium with precious knowledge regarding the function, the organization and methods of the Dark Mechanicum, an insight that would prove most valuable on countless battlefields in the millennia to come.
As commander of Cyclothrathe Taghmata, Yelay Draykavac has heavily augmented his body in order to be able to stride on the battlefield unharmed and overcome his enemies. His wargear includes:
- Paragon Blade - Weapons forged of consummate artistry or irreplaceable relics of the ancient might of the Dark Age of Technology, Paragon Blades are few in number and may take many forms. Archmagos Draykavac's Paragon Blade is a monstruous halberd bearing the sacred cog emblem of the Mechanicum.
- Machinator Array
- Mechanicum Protectiva - This term covers a variety of energy field and defensive shield projectors devised by the Magi of the Mechanicum to protect themselves both on the battlefield and from assassination by their rivals. For this reason, the frequency and modulation of each device is a closely guarded secret.
- Cortex Controller - This control and signaling device uses data-djinn to command robotic Battle-automata fitted with cybernetic cortex systems, allowing the wielder to witness the battlefield through the automata's own senses, as well as monitor their status and exact precise control over their actions.
- Graviton Gun
As a powerful Archmagos of a Mechanicum domain it was not unheard of for Yelav Draykavac to stride into battle mounted in a battle-Abeyant such as he did during the Liberation of Numinal. Likewise, Draykavac often commanded Cyber-occularis.
- The Horus Heresy - Book Four: Conquest by Alan Bligh pp. 40, 55-63, 76-77, 248-249, 300
- Forge World Horus Heresy Character Series - Archmagos Draykavac