The Imperial Dragon

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The Imperial Dragon

Postby Athelassan » Thu Jul 05, 2012 1:25 am

This is a small fluff vignette I came up with in response to a putative background/painting contest on another website. Any opinions welcome.

Ath


The Imperial Dragon

In 2429 the Imperial ambassador in Marienburg approached the leading trading houses with a proposition for Marienburg to purchase its independence. The burghers in turn approached the Sea Elf community of that city for a contribution towards the gold price the Emperor was demanding. Doubtless the elves could have mustered a quantity of gems and gold to drown the ambassador given time, but time was of the essence and the leading elven families pooled their resources to meet the price expected of them. Included among the gemstones and elven artwork was a single dragon egg, of a relatively obscure and unfavoured bloodline.

When news reached the electors of the Empire of the deal with Marienburg, they were outraged. Emperor Dieter was overthrown, with his chief prosecutor, Wilhelm Holswig-Schliestein of Reikland, being elected in his place. Most of the treasure barges carrying the Marienburger gold were intercepted before they could reach Nuln and their contents appropriated for the vaults of the palace at Altdorf. Perhaps the river patrols which seized the booty considered the egg to be merely a large and unusually-shaped gemstone, or maybe they gave it no consideration at all. In the confusion surrounding the deposition, the precise accounts of the deal were lost and the egg disappeared, with nobody any the wiser.

Some years later, early in the reign of Karl-Franz's grandfather, a legend reached the ears of the Emperor of the guardian of the treasure vault. Lights were seen where there were no lanterns; the palace was also reportedly unusually clear of rats, and soon the clerks were refusing to enter the lowest levels of the vaults. The Emperor commissioned a series of Dwarf slayers to investigate, none of whom ever returned. By now concerned, Emperor Mattheus asked for volunteers to descend and find out at least what had happened to the slayers, and whether there was indeed something under the palace which required his attention.

The first to volunteer was Captain Fulk Reiklander of the Reiksguard, a descendant of an old provincial family and also the brother by marriage of Mattheus's heir Luitpold. Taking with him a group of fellow Reiksguard knights and Dwarf tunnellers, he descended into the vaults to discover whether there was any truth to the legend.

Two days later he returned to make his report. There was indeed a monster living under the palace, which had claimed one of the storage vaults for its lair. However, the monster was not wholly unintelligent, nor did it bear any particular ill will towards the humans which seldom disturbed it. Reiklander had come to an arrangement with the monster that food would be provided for it on the condition that it never harm a member of the Imperial household. This had apparently been a cause of some negotiation and a number of the Dwarfs in Reiklander's party had been assumed to form part of this arrangement and eaten before the matter could be cleared up (which may explain why the name of Fulk Reiklander appears in the Book of Grudges of more than one prominent Imperial Dwarf family).

This arrangement apparently continued in a satisfactory manner, and after some persuasion the Imperial family made their way to visit the monster so that he might know them, with new members of the family being presented in turn, soon after their birth. Of all the children, Luitpold's eldest son Karl-Franz was most taken with the monster and would frequently visit it, becoming its closest point of human contact, especially after the death of his uncle Fulk.

When Karl-Franz became Emperor in turn, he suggested to the monster that it might be better served to have its lair in the open confines of the Imperial Zoo rather than trapped under the vaults. After he agreed that its hoard could be moved with it to the Zoo, the monster agreed and Karl-Franz led it out under the open sky for the first time. In truth, it was not an impressive dragon, by the standards of dragons. It was still young, but years of living underground in cramped conditions had left it stunted, and its wings barely strong enough to hold it aloft. Nevertheless, it was a dragon, and the folk of Altdorf marvelled at it.

The dragon is now sworn to the protection of the House of Holswig-Schliestein and each new member continues to be presented to it in turn. Many rumours circulate about the dragon, including that it is a former member of the family transfigured by a sorcerer's spell, that it has been adopted into the Imperial family, that it holds the position of captain in the Reiksguard, and that the Emperor's cousin Graf Falken Reiklander has been seen visiting the dragon's new lair alone. However, neither the Imperial household nor the dragon are forthcoming about the nature of their arrangement.

Emperor Karl-Franz occasionally rides the dragon into battle, although it lacks stamina and probably will until it reaches greater maturity. Karl-Franz thus usually prefers his trusty griffon Deathclaw, unless the circumstances call for the presence of the most awe-inspiring member of the Imperial Zoo.
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Re: The Imperial Dragon

Postby Ghurlag » Thu Jul 05, 2012 1:55 am

Interesting. I like the muted approach - it's not a kickass dragon that Karl-Franz can whup everybody with, it's 'just a dragon'. However, and this isn't a failing of your work in itself, I've often wondered exactly how many battles Karl-Franz has been in - there can't be many where he's ridden a dragon rather than a griffon, unless he's truly battle-scarred.

Was this excerpt inspired by an image? It'd be interesting to see the inspiration if so.

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Re: The Imperial Dragon

Postby Athelassan » Thu Jul 05, 2012 2:45 am

It was inspired by a model, in fact - the one I will (once it's finished being stripped) use for the Imperial Dragon. I'm planning on painting mine a sort of golden colour, but this is the figure:
Image
It's the classic Citadel Great Imperial Dragon from the late 80s (in lieu of the ultra-classic Imperial Dragon from the early 80s); I picked one up a few months ago. It's not a pretty model, which suggested the rather subdued take on its capabilities.

I'm inclined to agree with you about Karl-Franz's battle record. I prefer him as a rounded statesman who can swing a hammer when he has to but doesn't get out of bed for anything less than "horde" scale. Unfortunately the modern background has shifted very definitely in the direction of "superhero" with the latest army book giving no indication of what he does all day other than fly around hitting things.

I don't fully approve of the Imperial Dragon as a concept: I don't really see what was wrong with Deathclaw and with DC being beefed up anyway in the new book there isn't even that much of a tactical advantage to using the dragon. But it's been a Thing now for a few years and it needs some background, so I came up with something that I was comfortable with.

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Re: The Imperial Dragon

Postby schaferwhat‽ » Sun Sep 30, 2012 1:13 pm

I for one like it. Like you Ath I have misgivings about the Imperial Dragon (and Karl Franz action Emperor) with my personal view being that my love of the Imperial Zoo should just have a captive dragon rather than one that is occasionally taken into battle.

This however is a nice origin story that makes sense of the mess that is the fluff in a way I find very agreeable. Well done Ath. You've saved the warhammer world from itself once more.
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Re: The Imperial Dragon

Postby Blinded » Thu Nov 08, 2012 11:17 pm

Well, I prefer the "Monarch" Franz over "Hero" Franz too. In my view his should be more of an awe-inspiring leader (and a leader on a Dragon's, albeit a normal one, back is sure awe inspiring) surrounded by the talented and the exceptional, not a "Sigmar reborn+epic mound" with hammer and heroic stuff and all.

Good stuff.
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Re: The Imperial Dragon

Postby Gaius Marius » Tue Nov 27, 2012 3:23 am

I like this one. I'd say that there really shouldn't be much point of Franz fighting personally when he's got generals like schwarzhelm or Huss on his side. I like the idea of a dragon too.
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Re: The Imperial Dragon

Postby LordLucan » Tue Dec 04, 2012 4:19 pm

I think the Imperial dragon should be a gnarled old thing that looks unhealthy. Consider those dodoes europeans brought back to europe. They soon ended up bloated and almost disfigured through not being given the right food.
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Re: The Imperial Dragon

Postby Gaius Marius » Thu Dec 06, 2012 2:47 am

LordLucan wrote:I think the Imperial dragon should be a gnarled old thing that looks unhealthy. Consider those dodoes europeans brought back to europe. They soon ended up bloated and almost disfigured through not being given the right food.


Or like Cortez' horse that the Aztec's captured, which then starved to death on a diet of chickens in its lavishly built temple.
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Re: The Imperial Dragon

Postby schaferwhat‽ » Sun Dec 09, 2012 5:40 am

Apart from the fact that Dragons live in the old world climates (the fey Dragons of Athel Loren) and even on Ulthran they go into the mountains to sleep in caves (big caves mind and they fly about when not sleeping). Dragons can live anywhere and eat anything, they're hardy.
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Re: The Imperial Dragon

Postby Xisor » Sun Dec 09, 2012 4:25 pm

schaferwhat‽ wrote:Apart from the fact that Dragons live in the old world climates (the fey Dragons of Athel Loren) and even on Ulthran they go into the mountains to sleep in caves (big caves mind and they fly about when not sleeping). Dragons can live anywhere and eat anything, they're hardy.


I dunno, I'm inclined to think that, whilst that might be true, they might be bizarrely particular about their habits. As you note: they're fey.

From Dragonmage MASSIVE SPOILER

Spoiler: That they're no-longer the inherent lords of lizardman kind, having been supplanted by the Old Ones and replaced with Slann. At least in their role with the Elves and, say, in the company of villainous types, they're allowed a bit more freedom to forge dominion and act (and interact) in the proper, comfortable ways. The treatment and amenities offered for the Imperial Dragon might be wholly insufficient to keep it's 'morale up'.

Or to put it another way - the Imperial Dragon might well be severely psychologically damaged.



In any case, I could easily see the Imperial Dragon being a very sorry sight. Depressing, if you know anything about dragons (which we, as the reader, likely know a hell of a lot more than those Zoo Keepers in Altdorf).
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