The Queen's Riders, often referred to simply as "the Riders," is a cavalry organization in service to the Tortallan Crown. It was established by Queen Thayet in 442 HE to defend the less accessible places of Tortall, enforce the law, and teach defense to locals. The Queen's Riders is considered a fighting force of irregulars and accepts men and women of any social class into its ranks. They use ponies for mounts in order to reach places that can't be easily reached by soldiers riding warhorses.
The Riders often works in conjunction with the King's Own, knights, and the army. Their smaller fighting unit size and use of ponies allows them to act as scouts and to cover more difficult terrain. Their headquarters is located in the capital city, Corus, between the palace and the Royal Forest.
The Queen's Riders is divided into fighting units called groups. Each group is made up of six to nine men and women, with at least one member who has the Gift. By 449 HE, six Rider groups have been established. By 452 HE, there are at least seventeen known Rider groups.
Each group is officially known by its number, although many groups have created alternative names for themselves and these have become equally well used for identification.
- First Riders Group - "The First"
- Second Riders Group - "Ghostwind"
- Third - "Webspinners"
- Fourth - "Queen's Rabbits"
- Fifth - "Clouds"
- Sixth - "Thayet's Dogs"
- Seventh - "Nightbreath"
- Eighth - "Soft Lightning"
- Ninth - "Ogre Bane" (entire Group killed in 450 HE)
- Tenth - "Royal Arrows"
- Eleventh - "Trollwatch"
- Twelfth - "Spiderdeath"
- Thirteenth - "Razors"
- Fourteenth - "Gret's Shadows"
- Fifteenth - "Stickers"
- Sixteenth - no nickname
- Seventeenth - "Group Askew"
Command Structure and Known Officers
The Riders utilizes a looser, less traditional command structure than Tortall's other military forces.
- Commander: the head of the Queen's Riders.
- 442 to 452 HE: Queen Thayet, founder
- 452 to 460 HE: Buriram Tourakom, co-founder, promoted after Thayet stepped down during the Immortals War due to being too busy with other queenly duties
- 460 HE: Evin Larse, promoted after Buri stepped down before her marriage
- Possibly Musenda Ogunsanwo, as Pierce reportedly has said he was Commander after Buri (Citation needed; old link to Sheroes Central on Musenda's article is a broken link)
- Second in Command: also called assistant commander, a nominal position under the Commander, usually held by a Group Commander.
- 442 to 452 HE: Buriram Tourakom
- Group Commander: the leader of a Rider group, supported by a group second in command
- Training Master: oversees the training of new recruits, called trainees
- By 449 HE: Musenda Ogunsanwo (called Sarge)
- Horsemistress: responsible for the Riders' ponies, including acquisition, instructing trainees in their care, and general management. The position is filled by a civilian expert and is often accompanied by an assistant
- Others: additional civilians such as healers and tailors who work for the Riders by educating trainees and acting as support staff
In order to join the Queen's Riders one must be at least fifteen years old, be healthy and in possession of all body parts, be single and without a spouse or children, have good reflexes, and be able to read and write. Those who can't read or write will be provided with interim employment in the palace until they can do so. The ability to ride is not required.
Training starts at the March full moon at the Rider headquarters. Each trainee is provided with two ponies, which they select themselves from the available herd. Training involves morning and afternoon workouts, evening academic lessons, meditation, and chores. The training curriculum includes poisons, medicines, edible plants, tracking, hunting, terrain, cartography, battle tactics, weapons, hand-to-hand-combat, teaching combat and tactics, veterinary medicine, field medicine, and magical training for those with the Gift.
Trainees participate in a summer training camp at an alternate location in Tortall. At the end of the fall they are placed into Rider Groups and begin their trial year. At the successful completion of their trial year, trainees are assigned to permanent Groups.
Uniform and Insignia
The Queen's Riders' emblem is a crimson horse rearing on a bronze field.
Uniform for the Riders consists of a brown tunic and trousers or breeches, white shirt, and riding boots. The badge on group commanders' uniforms is circled by a crimson ring. Group second in commands have a crimson ring with a narrow black stripe in the middle. The Commander's badge is circled by a gold ring.