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Vlad von Carstein was the first and greatest of the Von Carstein Vampire Counts of Sylvania, a province of The Empire in the Old World. Extremely physically powerful, and a skillful general, he corrupted the nobility of Sylvania with vampirism, then led his Human and Undead armies of Skeletons Ghouls and Zombies in a black crusade against the Empire. Vlad's rampage was only ended by the sacrifice of the Grand Theogonist Wilhem at the seige of Altdorf. It has been speculated that he is the progenitor of his bloodline but assumed the name von Carstein in order to attract less attention in his rise to power. Vlad's story is chronicled in the novel Inheritance by Steven Savile.
Vlad von Carstein was a towering figure with a mane of black hair and piercing eyes. He had a feral charm and was extremely intelligent, but had an evil temper that could turn into a berserk fury. He carried with him the "Sword of Unholy Power", an enchanted, vampiric blade that granted its owner great magical power, and wore the infamous "Carstein Ring" on his finger which granted him immortality.
He loved his wife, Isabella von Carstein, and she was his most valued confidante. She was the only one who could temper Vlad's fits of rage, Isabella later went insane after his true death after the removal of the Carstein Ring.
In the year 1797 IC Otto von Drak, last of the mad von Drak Counts of Sylvania, lay on his death bed. With no male heir and none of the aristocracy of Sylvania worthy to marry his only daughter, Isabella von Drak, his brother, Leopold, would inherit. Otto swore he would sooner let a daemon marry his daughter rather than letting that happen. No sooner had these words left his mouth, a great black coach stopped in front of the keep and out stepped Vlad von Carstein. Vlad, his accent foreign, maybe from Kislev, recited his noble antecedents and claimed Isabella's hand. Otto obliged and Victor Guttman, a priest of Sigmar, immediatly performed marriage. Soon after, Otto died and Leopold was thrown from the highest tower of Castle Drakenhof after Vlad ripped out his heart. Victor Guttman disappeared.
Most of the other noble families objected to the thought of having an outsider rule them, but these dissidents were quickly silenced. The new count seemed less oppressive than the von Drak's of old, who were suspected of the crime of using Dark Magic and Daemon worship, and soon the people shut their eyes to the count's eccentricities and to the cloaked foreigners visiting and the strangers from the east that replaced the household of Drakenhof. His popularity was assured when he cut down Bernhoff the Butcher, who had demanded tribute, and his mercenary company.
Vlad long resisted Isabella's request to join him in the undead, but when Isabella fell ill from wasting sickness, Vlad dismissed the failing doctors and granted his wife the Blood Kiss. What had started as a marriage of convinience had grown in something more and Vlad could not stand the thought of losing her.
Vlad eagerly rebuilt his country that was left neglected during the von Drak reign, but strange things happened, especially to those who opposed the count in one way or another. Baron Heinz Rothermeyer was eaten by wolves, Baron Pieter Kaplin was found dead in his room, died of stark terror, bandit lord Boris Eatbiter was found hanging upside down and drained from blood, young girls disappeared and undead were seen attacking those that disobeyed the count's orders. Soon Vlad had Sylvania in a strong grip and the province prospered.
For two hundred years Vlad ruled over Sylvania, using different names so that none would grow suspicious of him. More and more of the nobility fell to the same disease as Isabella had and returned inflicted by vampirism. Temples of Sigmar were closed and many Witch Hunters investigating the matter vanished never to be seen again.
Rise and FallEdit
On Geheimnisnacht in the year 2010, Vlad stood atop the battlements of Drakenhof Castle, and recited from the Nine Books of Nagash, raising a vast horde of Undead after he and his "Family" killed and fed off over two hundred nobles gathered in his hall, ironicly for a feast. He had thrown down the gauntlet to the three Emperors claiming rule over the Empire, precipitating the Wars of the Vampire Counts. He led not only the undead, but the regular army of Sylvania as well. The first city to be attacked was Talabheim, where the Ottilia (one of the three claimants for the throne) dismissed von Carstein's demand for surrender. At the Battle of Essen Ford, Vlad crushed the Ottilia's armies and executed every captive to reanimate them as undead. However, during the battle, Vlad had been cut to pieces with his own sword by Hans Schliffen, commander of the Talabheim army. Vlad returned that very night and executed Herman Posner who had claimed leadership in Vlad's absence. Many battles followed and in many of them Vlad was struck down ever to return. He was defeated and killed by Jerek Kruger, leader of the Knights of the White Wolf, at the Battle of Schwarthafen, but killed Kruger within the year at the foot of the Middenheim Spire. Vlad was struck by five lances at the field of Bluthof and the Count of Ostland stabbed him with his Runefang, but he was seen three days later. A cannon ball shot his head off at Bogenhafen Bridge but Vlad returned within the hour. Thus roaming the Empire, Vlad sacked Stirland and ravaged the Ostermark. After these victories Vlad turned his gaze toward the heart of the Empire, Reikland, and for forty years, his armies rampaged across the land.
In 2051, Vlad laid siege to Altdorf, his armies swollen during the long years of fighting the Imperial armies. Ludwig, the claimant of the Imperial throne, wanted to surrender and serve Vlad while living, but Grand Theogonist Wilhelm III convinced him not to and claimed to have received a message from Sigmar about the source of Vlad's immortality. The siege lasted for many months, and the Imperial hope began to wane. The night of the final battle, Wilhelm had despatched Felix Mann, the greatest thief of the age, to steal Vlad's ring, which was the source of his immortality. After slipping by curiously inactive guards (the vampires had become arrogant), Felix Mann stole the ring, and ran off with it instead of returning to Altdorf. Wilhelm and Vlad met in combat atop the very walls of Altdorf.
Vlad swiftly gained the upper hand, fatally wounding Wilhelm. The priest saw Sigmar's people beginning to waiver in the face of evil, and the Vampire before him howling with triumph. With a prayer to Sigmar on his lips, Wilhelm summoned his last reserve and charged Von Carstein. Even as Wilhelm took Vlad's blade through his chest, he gripped Von Carstein and bore him over the battlements. Both men were impaled on the stakes surrounding the streets below, Vlad landing first, Wilhelm landing on top, driving the vampire down further. With a terrible scream, the Count expired for the last time. Whether this was by lack of the ring or whether Wilhelm's holy blood kept him from reincarnating is a subject of discussion.
With Vlad gone and many of his undead servants dead during the siege, the Sylvanian forces retreated to their homes. Ludwig would have liked to pursuit and purge the evil county, but his army had taken a terrible blow during the battle and the other two claimants of the throne soon took all his attention.
The last casualty of the Siege of Altdorf was Isabella, who, rather than carrying on through eternity without her husband, impaled herself on a stake and shrivelled to dust, right in front of the eyes of the soon-to-be-Emperor Ludwig and his bodyguards.
Wilhelm was interred and to this day people pray to him when dealing with the undead. The copy of the "Nine Books of Nagash" and the "Liber Mortis" which had been in von Carstein's possession were placed under lock and key within the Temple of Sigmar.
- Warhammer Armies: Undead, Games Workshop, 1994
- Warhammer Armies: Vampire Counts, Games Workshop, 2001