Vlad von Carstein
Vlad von Carstein, originally named Vashanesh, was the first and greatest of the Vampire Counts of Sylvania. It was he who tainted the once human aristocracy of Sylvania with the curse of Undeath, and in so doing created an Undead kingdom in the heart of The Empire.
Millennia before the Empires existance, Vashanesh, was the son of King Lahkashaz of Nehekhara, with the blood of the third dynasty, making him a direct descendent of Nagash himself. He fled to Lahmia after his kingdom was was besieged by a rival king, known as Setep.
Upon his arrival to Lamhia, he was captured and brought before the beautiful and mysterious Queen Neferata. He told her about the plans of Setep, in whose army he was a commander. He knew that Setep and the other kings of Nehekhara wanted to reconquer Lahmia. This revelation almost came to his assassination by the queens vassals, Ushoran and Abhorash. But his pride and self-control impressed Neferata, and so he was granted a private conversation with her. afterwards he became a permanent fixture in the Queens court. This would become a ritual of sorts, the two rulers confiding in each other and slowly falling in love, All this time Vashanesh was ignorant to the fact that Neferata was secretly a Vampire. The two lovers married, and Vashanesh became the King of Lahmia. It is said, when both as vampires ruled over the city, they exchanged their blood, turning Vashanesh into another of Neferatas dark breed.
Vashanesh soon reorganized the city of Lahmia, bringing its infamous decadence under control. At the same time, the Queen sent messengers and assistants to delay the war against Setep for as long as possible. Their plan succeeded and continued until the enthronement of Alcadizaar. After the bloody war was lost, the vampires retreated only to discover that Nagash, first and greatest necromancer had returned, and they as Vampires were bound to serve him. Vashanesh was gifted with a powerful and beautiful ring ring. However, it was also through this ring that the very will of Nagash could flow, allowing Nagash to take full control of him and all other vampires.
Vashanesh cursed Nagash for this act, but found no way out of captivity until during one of Nagash's greatest battles. The young King Alcadizzar led an army to destroy Nagash and his undead hordes. Vashanesh challenged Alcadizzar to single combat, allowing himself to be beheaded by his enemy. When he fell, the power of the ring was destroyed, releasing all the vampires from Nagash's will. Vashanesh's brethren immediately fled in all directions. Wsoran and his children, however, remained and continued fighting. The body of Vashanesh lay in the desert sands, his head and his ring gone. An enraged Nagash cursed the Vampires for their treachery, declaring that they would forever more feel pain when in sunlight.
Vashanesh however was not truly dead, his ring had another power..resurrection. The Vampire spent the coming centuries mastering his powers, safe in knowing that he could never again be controlled by Nagash, Arkhan or any other servant of the Great Necromancer.
The coming of Vlad to Sylvania
In the year 1797, the last of the mad Von Drak Counts of Sylvania, Otto, was lying on his deathbed, cursing the gods for leaving him without an heir. His beautiful but cruel daughter, Isabella, would only need to marry a suitable suitor and his line would be secured, but Otto trusted none of the other Sylvanian nobles and few people from the rest of the Empire wished to inherit such a cursed and ill-regarded kingdom. So it was with his dying breaths, he promised he would rather let a daemon inherit than his scheming brother Leopold.
As he uttered these words, a stranger arrived unbidden in Castle Drakenhof. He was handsome, with long pitch-black hair, tall and with a noble countenance, although his skin was unnaturally pale. He entered Otto's bedchamber and introduced himself; Vlad von Carstein. His accent was hard to place; foreign, but nonetheless undetectable. He immediately declared his interest for Isabella's hand in marriage, and ruler-ship of Sylvania. Otto remembered his vow and agreed. Just as they were wed, Otto finally expired.
The first Vampire Count
Although Vlad was highly eccentric, he only wandered abroad at night and didn't eat in the company of his servants, this was nothing new and Vlad seemed to care about the Sylvanian people. In fact, local wolves stopped preying on those who were loyal to Vlad, feeding only on those who sought to fight Vlad. However,more mysterious things started to happen as time wore on. The Undead grew together in greater numbers than seen for centuries, harrying dissidents, many of whom mysteriously went missing without a trace. Soon all the renegade nobles were swearing fealty to Vlad, and Sylvania became one of the most well-controlled provinces of the Empire.
It only became clear that all was not as it seemed when the oldest woman in Drakenhof castle claimed her grandmother had only been a girl when Vlad had come to the throne. But by then, it was too late.
The Vampire Wars
On Geheimnisnacht in 2010, Vlad summoned forth a vast Undead army with one of the dread nine books of Nagash, revealing the nightmarish truth: He was an all powerful Vampire Lord and his intention was to conquer the Empire and become the first vampire emperor. The Ottilia of Talabecland was the first to oppose him, confident of victory. Vlad offered his opponents a choice: Surrender and serve him in life, or die and serve him in death. The Ottilia's general launched the assault. Even as hundreds of Zombies and skeletons were cut down by arrows, shot and swords, thousands were reanimated, and the Ottilia's army was encircled and routed. Vlad put to death every soldier who had fought against him. Incensed by the senseless execution of his men, the Ottilia's general, Hans Schliffen, leapt forward and decapitated Vlad in one strike. His bravery towards such a dangerous foe was rewarded by being literally torn limb from limb by Konrad von Carstein.
In the power vacuum, Herman Posner, Baron of Waldenhof, took control, but within the same day, Vlad mysteriously reappeared and promptly cut down Posner before he could even issue a word of explanation. After annihilating the Army of Talabecland, Vlad marched his hordes to Middenheim, meeting Middenheim's forces at the Battle of Schwarthafen. Vlad was once again struck down, this time by the leader of the Knights of the White Wolf, Jerek Kruger, and in the resulting confusion, the army of Sylvania was defeated. But yet again, Vlad somehow came back from total oblivion, and within a year Kruger was brutally murdered at the heart of Middenheim for the entire population to see, and his knights, as well as the Knights Panther and the remainder of Middenheim's armies were annihilated by Vlad's hordes.
Content that the main forces that could oppose him had been rendered utterly useless, his army went north then east on a brutal campaign of brutal pillaging, destroying every village and town he came across to destroy resistance to his power and swell his hordes with yet more zombies. The columns of refugees stretched into the horizon. The lands of the Empire suffered grievously under Vlad's tyranny, but despite them sending several armies to face Vlad's army, they retrieved no reprieve from his rampage. Whatever tried to kill Vlad, be it knight, Elector Count, or even Cannon, he always came back to wreak his revenge. And so, as the majority of the Empire lay in burning ruins, Vlad turned his attention to the last bastion of resistance: Altdorf.
In 2051, Vlad laid siege to Altdorf, his armies swollen during the long years of fighting the Imperial armies. The siege lasted for many months, and the Imperial hope began to wane. However, Grand Theogonist Wilhelm the Third refused to surrender, and spurred the soldiers on for one more battle. The night before, Wilhelm had dispatched Felix Mann, the greatest thief of the age, to steal Vlad's fabled ring that was the source of his immortality. After slipping by the curiously inactive guards, Mann stole the ring, leaving Vlad vulnerable; after he stole the ring, Mann disappeared and was never seen again. When he woke the next day and found the ring gone, Vlad furiously ordered a final, full-scale assault on the walls. As the vampires swept aside all who stood against them, Wilhelm confronted the Vampire Lord 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, resolving to destroy Von Carstein by sacrificing himself. Even as Wilhelm took Vlad's blade through his chest, he seized Von Carstein and bore him over the ramparts. Both of them, man and monster were impaled on the stakes placed below the battlements, Vlad landing first, Wilhelm landing on top, driving the vampire down further. With a terrible scream, the Count died, slain for the final time.
Vlad's Undead army crumbled without his power to guide them, and the few surviving vampires fled quickly to Sylvania, fearing the Empire's reprisal. Vlad's camp was looted by the Imperials, and among the remains were found Vlad's copies of the Liber Mortis and the Nine Books of Nagash: these were taken by the Temple of Sigmar and locked away in the temple's deepest vaults. The last casualty of the Siege of Altdorf was Isabella, who, rather than carrying on through eternity without her beloved husband, impaled herself on a stake and shriveled to dust, right in front of the eyes of Altdorf's claimant to the Imperial throne, Ludwig and his bodyguards.
Ludwig wished to press on to Sylvania and exterminate the surviving vampires before they could recover, but political rivals, fearing Ludwig would use the popularity garnered from the victory to declare himself Emperor, put the Empire back into the state of near-civil war it had been in for centuries. As the Empire's attention turned away from them, the surviving progeny of Von Carstein hid in Sylvania, licking their wounds and waiting for their chance to rise again. That the Empire's leaders hadn't united and crushed the vampire threat when they had the chance would come back to haunt them...
When he was resurrected during the early months of the End Times, one of the first moves by Nagash was to bring Vlad back to unlife. Nagash secured Vlad's cooperation by returning his ring to him and promising to return Isabella to him also. In this way Vlad became the Mortarch of Shadows and went north to assist the Empire in the defense of the Auric Bastion. He murdered, then impersonated the Imperial general Commandant Roch alongside fellow Mortarch known as The Nameless and managed to hugely bolster the Imperial defense along a span of the Bastion known as Helreach, from Roch's fortress the Rackspire.
Later Vlad abducted Supreme Patriarch Balthasar Gelt and gave him a powerful book on Necromancy while revealing that Gelt's earlier mysterious benefactor who gave him the scroll that served for the inspiration for the Auric Bastion was in fact actually an agent of the vampire queen Neferata. Though he initially refused to use the gifts offered by Vlad, eventually desperate circumstances forced Gelt to start studying necromancy; culminating in him being exposed while trying to prevent an assassination attempt on the Emperor. Gelt was forced to flee, leading him to join Vlad as his apprentice and the Bastion eventually collapsed.
With the fall of the Bastion a giant force of Chaos warriors led by Crom the Conqueror, herald of Archaon entered the Empire. Emperor Karl Franz marched with an army to confront them and Vlad decided to take an army to secretly support them. His intent was to reveal himself to the Empire as allies so as to a) present Nagash as a lesser evil against the Dark Gods and b) legitimize his own claim to Sylvannia. However this turned into a disaster. When the Imperial forces meet Crom's army at the Battle of Heffengen, another undead horde revealed itself to be fighting against them for the side of Chaos. The leader of this horde was the Grand Master of the Blood Dragon order of Blood Knights, Walach Harkon. The former Mortarch had been trapped behind the Bastion earlier in the war and decided to throw his lot in with the Blood God Khorne. This betrayal reached it's zenith when Harkon, riding a skeletal dragon, bested Karl Franz in an aerial duel with the Emperor falling to his apparent death. This loss was too much for the Imperial forces who broke and fled the field. Vlad was unable to prevent this or present himself to his would-be allies without them assuming he too was in the service of the dark gods. Before leaving however he did take revenge on Harkon, slaying him by wrestling control of his own mount which proceeded to rip the Blood Dragon in two.
Undeterred by this major set-back, Vlad rode to the defense of the Imperial capital of Altdorf when it became besieged by the Glottkin, a trio of favoured Nurgle champions that had decimated much of the Empire. Presenting his demands to Kurt Helborg, acting steward in the Emperor's absence, he agreed to fight to defend the city in return for Sylvannia being recognized as an official province of the Empire with himself as it's Elector. Having no option in the face of overwhelming odds, Helborg agreed. Vlad entered the city with a small number of vampires and raised the dead of the city, both recent and ancient. Coinciding with the arrival of a Bretonnian relief force led by Louen Leoncoeur and the return of the Emperor and his ascension to Incarnate of Heavens, the city was purged, though Vlad himself was severely weakened when he accidentally consumed the blood of Otto Glott after besting him in a duel. After the battle Vlad presented himself to the Emperor and reaffirmed his loyalty to the Empire, vowing to fight in its defense. He received a seal of office, but not a runefang despite the Solland runefang now being available with Helborg's demise.
He was however limited in fulfilling his oath due to his master Nagash. When Altdorf fell and the Emperor's forces relocated to Averheim Vlad wished to march in support as he promised. Nagash however was hesitant/disinterested and by the time Vlad reached the city it was too late, the city had fallen with only the sacrifice of the Slayer King Ungrim Ironfist, Incarnate of Fire, allowing the Emperor and the shattered remains of his forces to escape.
While returning to Sylvannia with this newest development Vlad met a strange messenger who revealed to him a cryptic warning. This warning, it was revealed, referred to Vlad's wife Isabella. She had indeed returned, but not at the hands of Nagash but rather thanks to Nurgle who had twisted and warped her mind through deamonic possession and turned her into the ultimate tool to fight the undead. She led a vast army of Nurgle daemons alongside the Nameless, who had betrayed Nagash and now possessed Sigmarite priest Luthor Huss. After a major defeat Mannfred, Luthor Harkon and a few other vampire survivors had fled to a nearby inn called the Dead and Buried and Vlad joined them there. Soon they were besieged by a sea of Nurgle deamons and zombies under the sway of the Nameless. Vlad was by this point extremely weak and suffering after the poisoning he received from Otto Glott's blood. Eventually they were overwhelmed with Mannfred fleeing the battle, leaving Harkon and Vlad to die. Harkon was indeed slain by Isabella but Vlad taunted the possessed Huss, questioning his strength and his faith until the priest fought free from the Nameless' control. Together they fought the Nurgle daemons and Vlad escaped.
Isabella led her forces into Sylvannia where she marched on the Black Pyramid, the centre of Nagash's power. The battle however proved to simply be a distraction after a Skaven team (who had by now joined the forces of Chaos) led by Ikit Claw destroyed the Black Pyramid, a major repository of Nagash's death magic. This loss forced Nagash to finally join forces with the other Incarnates in Athel Loren.
After Mannfred was delivered to the Incarnates for his part in the death of the Everchild, Vlad joined Arkhan the Black as Nagash's two premier servants. They were present during the planning to stop Archaon's plans in Middenheim after they were revealed by the Dark Master deamon prince Be'lakor. He was also present during the attack on Athel Loren by the Blood Hunt and was swept up in the teleportation spell of Teclis that took them all to Middenheim.
During the battle for Middenheim he fought many opponents, particularly in the defense of Alarielle the Everqueen and Incarnate of Life. Eventually during the battle he was once again confronted by his mad, possessed wife. Unwilling to destroy his one true love, he removed his ring, forced it on her finger and threw them both from the battlements onto the sharpened stakes below, mirroring his earlier death at the hands of the Grand Theogonist in Altdorf. Her death destroyed the daemon, freeing her of it's influence while the power of the ring returned her to unlife. Ultimately Vlad sacrificed himself for the woman he loved.
Vlad shares many of his traits with Bram Stoker's Dracula, and his name with Vlad III, Prince of Wallachia(a modern day region of Romania), or, as he is more famously known, Vlad the Impaler (for his excessive cruelty which neared genocide, especially his practise of using impalement to execute people). Ironically, Vlad the Impaler often raided parts of Transylvania, the region renowned for the invention of vampires.