Their training and discipline in life was enhanced by the unnatural speed and strength of the vampiric curse. Blood Knights were nigh indestructible, riding with fangs bared through storms of arrow and shot. Such was their honour that they would refuse no martial challenge, and would fight at the forefront of an Undead army without question. It was said that even the fabled Grail Knights of Bretonnia could not match the Blood Knights lance for lance upon the field, although such beings had proven to be a deadly anathema to Vampires. Their armour is encrusted with images of death and slaughter. Their blades are fell weapons inscribed with dark runes, chased with precious metals and fashioned in the likenesses of evil beasts. The knights do not ride mortal steeds, but charge across the field upon evil Nightmares that are clad in thick barding painted with disturbing icons of necromantic power.
To Blood Knights, every Human in the world can be broken down into two categories: a worthy opponent or a training dummy. The only time a Knight might show mercy is if he encountered an opponent who has great potential to one day be a worthy opponent; it may be better to let such a mortal become something interesting rather than snuff him out with the rest of the vermin. Despite their aloof nature and singular obsession, they sometimes attract followers. If a Blood Knight finds fame with his particular approach to the quest or a devastating new combat style, others may flock to imitate and learn. So it is that new orders spring up or take root in already existing orders or organisations. The infamous Red Duke of Aquitaine was such a creature, beginning as a lone knight but ending up with an entire army at his command, both mortal and immortal, as word of his martial skill spread across Bretonnia. The Knights of Irrana were a mortal order of Estalian knights until their grand master concluded that the techniques of Abhorash far outstripped those of Myrmidia and brought his whole unit into the darkness to join him. And there are many more such groups, small and large. The rest are lone hunters, renegades and vagabond knights who roam the Old World alone and unaided. Sometimes they are found guarding remote bridges or fords, testing all who would cross in mortal combat. Others live an austere existence in high mountain fortresses or secret caves, perhaps training those who have the tenacity to seek them out or perhaps just killing them for food. Alternately, they may hide amongst Humans, mixing with the noble classes or slipping amongst the ranks of knightly or monastic orders. A Blood Knight will be anyone as long as it allows him to practice his swordplay and feed when needed.
Many Blood Knights come from the noble lands of Bretonnia, recruited into undeath with the promise of power beyond mortal men. Where beings such as Grail Knights were the ultimate human warriors, and Black Orcs the greatest Greenskins. Blood Knights were the greatest of the Undead, warriors who had fought on for centuries, existing only for battle.
Blood Knight Orders
The most infamous order of Blood Knights were easily the Order of the Blood Dragon. Centuries ago, the people of the Empire would have named the knights of the Order of the Blood Dragon among the noblest of warriors defending their lands. Their great fortress, Blood Keep, guarded the passes to Bretonnia and was famed for the strength of its walls and the valour of its defenders. As the Tome of Lamentations records, one night, a man of great stature and noble bearing appeared before the gates and demanded entrance. He named himself as Walach of the Harkon family, and when the knights opened the gates to him, they unwittingly sealed their doom. Walach challenged the knights to combat. He slew them with ease, for he was a Vampire who had learned his war craft from the great Abhorash. Though no knight could hope to defeat the Undead monster, Walach spared those who fought bravely and with honour. To these knights, he passed on his vampirism ; the others he slew without pause and fed on their life force. Blood Keep became a Vampire lair, from which the deadly knights preyed upon those they once protected.
Many decades later, the Witch Hunter Gunther van Hal discovered the truth and attacked Blood Keep with an army sent from Wissenland and Reikland, supported by no less than four Knighly Orders. The siege lasted for three years, and the bloodshed was like nothing the men of the Empire had seen. Van Hal and his soldiers destroyed many Vampires when they finally stormed the castle, and they hunted the survivors through the wilds for years to come. Afterwards, Blood Keep fell into ruin and its evil masters passed into myth.
Though Blood Keep was brought low, many Blood Dragons escaped, scattering across the Empire, Bretonnia, Tilea and further afield. Fearsomely accomplished with lance and sword, these warriors became fearsome raiders, either mercenaries led by dark Kastellans or solitary duellists.
The majority of the Order was eventually destroyed along with their Grand Master at the Battle of Heffengen during the End Times after they pledged themselves to the Blood God Khorne, with Walach himself being slain by Vlad von Carstein.
Another great order of Blood Knights were the infamous Drakenhof Templars. Originally founded by the counts of Sylvania the von Draks, the first vampire count of Sylvania Vlad von Carstein turned them into vampires to serve as his elite guard, led by his wife's cousin Alberetct Noctis. They continued to serve the later counts after his demise at Altdorf and were one of the most feared regiments to fight during the Vampire Wars.
When Vlad was resurrected by Nagash during the End Times most of the Order abandoned the current Sylvanian count Mannfred von Carstein and returned to Vlad, helping him legitimize his claim over Sylvania once again. They served Vlad during his campaign in the north to covertly help the Imperial forces hold the Auric Bastion against the Chaos hordes. After the collapse of the Bastion they rode with him to fight to lift the siege at Altdorf and later rode with him to the defense of Averheim, though due to the hesitation of Nagash and the other Mortarchs they arrived too late.
After constant combat for several years during the End Times the majority of the order was destroyed. The last few members were either destroyed in the defense of the Dead and Buried inn against Nurgle daemons or sent by Vlad to Bretonnia to escort Duke Jerrod when he and his knights left Athel Loren.
An off-shoot of the Order called the Nosantra was made up those few Templars who stayed loyal to Mannfred after Vlad's return.
The Knights of the Red Death
None were more bloodthirsty or more merciless than the Knights of the Red Death. These vampiric fiends were the butchers behind the Massacre of Modruin and the slaughter of every living soul in the siege of the walled town of Ostwald. The vampire Gorgivich Krakvald rode at the fore of these knights, and their standard was emblazoned with a representation of Krakvald Castle. They fought during the End Times as part of the forces attacking the Tomb Kings.
Each a fearsome dark champion in their own right, The Seneschals were the ancient protectors of Duke Merovech of Mousillon. Clad in archaic, serrated plate armour and wielding powerful weapons of darkness. It was the Seneschals who led the mightiest of undead armies to befall Bretonnia, cleaving their way to the very gates of Couronne. These knights fought with callous ferocity, striking with such force that shields shattered beneath their axes and blades. Their lances punched straight through armour, lifting knights from the saddle and tossing them aside like children. Many of these fearsome warriors were slain by the Grail Knight, Calard of Garamont, along with their dark master.
Famous Blood Knights
- Abhorash, first and greatest of the Blood Knight's
- The Red Duke, once a famed Bretonnian Lord, who became one of the greatest and most insane Blood Knights.
- Duke Merovech the Mad, another famed Bretonnian Lord, who returned after centuries of death, leading one of the largest undead armies ever mustered from Mousillon.
- Maraulf, The Dark Knight, a former Questing Knight who protected the holy Chapel of Mercal, was transformed by the Red Duke himself.
- Anark von Carstein the brutal leader of the Drakenhof Templars.
- Gorgivich Krakvald, Grand Master of the Knights of the Red Death.