Von Carstein

Von Carstein

The Von Carsteins are a vampiric bloodline in the fictive setting of "Warhammer Fantasy", including the Warhammer Fantasy Battle tabletop wargame. Their stories are told through background material in publications such as "Warhammer Armies: Undead" and "Vampire Counts" and in a trilogy of novels by Steven Savile; all three of which are published, "Inheritance", "Dominion" and "Retribution".

The Reign of Vlad

The history of perhaps the most infamous vampire in the Warhammer world is not known, until the point he arrived at Drakenhof Castle, the ancestral home of the Elector Count of Sylvania.

Sylvania had, since the beginning of Imperial record, been an inhospitable and dangerous place, with the majority of the land covered in dark and ominous forests. Its soil was poor and the land barely produced enough food to feed the people who lived there. Although it was an Imperial province, it was regarded as a barbaric place. It was already reputed as a place where the dead did not rest easily, and many of its great castles and towers were built in places where dark magic gathered in its strongest form. At the time of Vlad's arrival, the province of Sylvania was ruled over by the evil and corrupt Otto von Drak, the head of the von Drak family and the father of Vlad's future wife. He was a man that would order the execution of peasants just to prove a point, and demanded unbelievably high taxes, when he remembered to have it done in between bouts of violent madness. He had as much influence over his realm as one of the peasants he terrorised, as the petty nobles ignored his authority, he hated them all, and had no male heir, only Isabella, his beautiful, selfish and vain daughter. He swore on his deathbed that he would rather marry his daughter to a demon than let his brother Leopold inherit the throne.

In the year 1797 the Count died without a male heir, at which point Vlad stepped forth and married Isabella, the Count's daughter, thus seizing the province. Most of the other noble families objected to the thought of having an outsider rule them, but were quickly silenced, and under Vlad's iron grip the province of Sylvania prospered.

The other Counts looked on with indifference at the changes, since the von Carstein seemed a far better ruler than the old von Drak family, who were suspected of the crime of using black magic and daemon worship, and for two hundred years, Vlad ruled over Sylvania, using different names so that none would grow suspicious of him.

Sometime around this period, Isabella fell ill from wasting sickness, and Vlad became struck with grief at the thought of losing his wife. Isabella suggested that Vlad give her the Blood Kiss so they could be together for eternity. Vlad, however, was disgusted at the suggestion: he did not want to turn Isabella into a monster like himself. As Isabella's condition worsened, Vlad realised he could not endure eternity without her, and so reluctantly granted Isabella the Blood Kiss.

In the year 2010, Vlad stood atop the battlements of Drakenhof Castle, and recited from the Nine Books of Nagash. Soon a vast horde of Undead stood ready to obey Vlad's commands. He had thrown down the gauntlet to the Empire, marking the start of the Vampire Wars. Vlad promptly 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. Many times during the fighting, through luck or heroism, Vlad was killed during the fighting: unfortunately for the Empire, Vlad wore the Von Carstein Ring, a talisman of phenomenal power that allowed him to regenerate even the most mortal wounds.

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 spurned the soldiers on for one more battle. The night before, Wilhelm had despatched Felix Mann, the greatest thief of the age, to steal Vlad's fabled ring and source of his immortality. After slipping by the curiously inactive guards, Mann stole the ring, leaving Vlad vulnerable. As Vlad launched his final attack, Wilhelm met 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 gripped Von Carstein and bore him over the ramparts. Both men 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. 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 shriveled to dust, right in front of the eyes of the soon-to-be-Emperor Ludwig and his bodyguards.

Mannfred

Mannfred Von Carstein was sired by Vlad himself. He held the greatest claim to his sire's throne but chose to remain in the shadows, letting the other contenders destroy themselves before assuming full control of Sylvania. After aiding the escape of Jon Skellan, a witch hunter who had been turned to vampirism by one of Vlad's undead minions, he and his unlikely companion travelled around feeding from maidens to spread terror and discord. After destroying the ruling family of Nuln in a single night's bloodfest, Mannfred deemed his work finished. He sent Skellan to the east to return to Sylvania, where he would serve as Mannfred's agent in stoking the raging paranoia that was Mannfred's brother Konrad's constant companion. During this time Mannfred journeyed south to Khemri, where he procured much lore from a stolen Book of Nagash. When asked why he did not simply betray Konrad and seize power himself Mannfred was nonchalant, but reminded Skellan that should he attempt to do so, the next Von Carstein he would face would be Mannfred himself.

With the death of his 'brother' Konrad, Mannfred seized power and returned to Drakenhof aboard a 'Black Ship' that swiftly became infamous in the Empire. Mannfred set about rebuilding Drakenhof and Sylvania one corrupt piece at a time. When Skellan discovered a coven of Lahmian Vampires in Nuln, an intrigued Mannfred soon arrived to meet with 'The Eternal' and propose a truce between their bloodlines. Soon Mannfred marched his troops beneath the Empire in the ancient tunnels beneath the world, battling through Skaven forces to strike from below. His assaults upon the Empire were initially successful, and Mannfred butchered entire armies before finally marching to Altdorf itself. But as he made ready to lay siege to the capital of the Empire, the Grand Theogonist appeared on the battlements and read the spell of unbinding from the Liber Mortis, forcing Mannfred into a hasty retreat as his army crumbled to dust around him. After several long months of Mannfred playing a cat-and-mouse game with the Empire and her allies, they drove him back to Sylvania...and Hel Fenn. Here an alliance of troops from the Empire and the Dwarfs defeated Mannfred. With the aid of the renegade vampire Jerek, Prince Martin of Stirland cornered Mannfred and slew him with his Runefang sword. After centuries of terror, the last Vampire Count of Sylvania was no more.

Or so it seemed. Centuries later Mannfred was resurrected by a petty necromancer named Schtillmann, who did not survive to see the fruits of his terrible labour (Schtillman was killed by the infamous Dwarf Slayer, Gotrek Gurnisson, who cut him in two- the blood from his bifurcated body spilled on Mannfred's corpse, leading to his resurrection). By the time of the Storm of Chaos Mannfred was once again Lord of Sylvania, and remains a threat to the Empire at the present time.

Konrad

Konrad Von Carstein is described as the most ferocious and bloodthirsty Von Carstein. He is the younger 'brother' to Mannfred (whom Vlad had sired first). Vampirism did little to strengthen Konrad's already tenuous grip on reality. His exploits included burning down entire towns because their smells displeased him, and trying and convicting his own mother for the crime of having given birth to him without his prior permission. Konrad formed his own unit - the Hamaya - from the more trusted members of the Vampire nation, including Jerek von Carstein. The chief contenders to his throne -his 'brothers' Fritz, Pieter, Hans and Jerek - all came to unholy ends. Konrad killed Hans in a duel over who was the toughest. Pieter was killed by a descendant of the infamous Necromancer Van Hal in a crypt outside Nuln, and Fritz was assassinated by Jon Skellan during his attack on Middenheim.

Konrad was a vicious butcher on and off the battlefield. Wishing to emulate the victories of Vlad, Konrad marched on the Empire on a number of occasions, only to be finally defeated at the Battle of Grim Moor by an alliance of Dwarfs and Men, under Elector Count Helmar of Marienburg--the son of Helmut. Konrad was the battle's last casualty. The Dwarf Thane Grufbad held Konrad down while Helmar of Marienburg impaled his father's killer with his Runefang and hacked the body to pieces, burning the remains.

Quotes

"Ask her (a prisoner). Ask her what is more frightening, being here with us now, or being locked in the dark waiting to be dragged before us. Well girl which is it?" ~ Vlad von Carstein

"I, Vlad von Carstein, come in faith to make you an offer I urge you to consider and answer for the best of your people" ~ Vlad von Carstein

"Surrender and serve me in life, or die and slave for me in death." ~ Vlad von Carstein (repeated line)

"Sorry to disappoint you, but it seems I am still very much alive." ~ Konrad von Carstein

"Konrad is glad you have decided to accept his offer, your majesty. Konrad is delighted." ~ Konrad von Carstein

"The fate of our people is in your hands, my brothers. Do not fail us." ~Konrad von Carstein

"Konrad has no need for steel!" ~ Konrad von Carstein

"Konrad...is...betrayed...." ~ Konrad von Carstein (final words)

"Eight against one is hardly a fair fight. Let's do something to redress the balance, shall we?" Mannfred von Carstein

"Well, well. I think I should save you until last, don't you, Dwarf? Let you see your friends die." ~ Mannfred von Carstein

"Fun. But not so much that I want it to last all night" ~ Mannfred von Carstein

Minor Von Carsteins

Jerek von CarsteinSired by Vlad in "Inheritance", he is the last Vampire created by Vlad before his demise. Once a noble and proud Grand Master of the Knights of the White Wolf, he once slew Vlad in combat only for Vlad to rise again and claim vengeance a year later. Atop a temple spire in Middenheim, he and Vlad dueled again, resulting in Jerek Kruger becoming "Jerek von Carstein", the youngest of Vlad's twisted mockery of family.

While Vampirisim has turned Konrad into a beast who kills for blood, Jarek maintained his once-honourable heart. When Pieter leads an assault upon Nuln, Jerek quickly resents his 'brother' labelling him a monster after witnessing his acts of wanton slaughter. Jerek gleaned useful information from one of Konrad's pet Necromancers however, learning the secret of Vlad's immortality: his signet ring. Jerek resolved to find and destroy it, travelling to Altdorf and even exhuming the bodies of Wilhelm and Vlad. He did not find the ring and despaired: the thief who took the ring was lost to him, and all he could do was hope that it would remain lost.

Losing his will to fight, disgusted by his own brethren, Jerek considered himself as neither human nor Vampire but torn between the two. He claimed Konrad was beyond help and that his kingdom would be the same as Vlad's - carrion birds fighting for scraps. Jerek was not killed as Konrad believed, and returned at the Battle of Grim Moor, where he aided in the human victory. He continued to thwart the Von Carstein line, thwarting Mannfred's alliances and continually seeking the cursed Carstein ring. At Hel Fenn he tore off Mannfred's left hand, which bore the Carstein Ring, leaving him easy prey for Martin of Stirland. Jerek took the Von Carstein Ring with him, and was sealed up with it in an unknown location by Kallad, the ring's guardian for all eternity. As Kallad bricked Jerek Kruger up in the darkness, he acknowledged that the creature before him was a man and not an undead beast, remarking on Jerek's incredible humanity even after losing his soul. Presumably the Von Carstein Ring remains lost to this day.

Fritz von CarsteinAnother of Konrad's brethren. He held power through a harem of beautiful female vampires to do his will. He sent assassins in a failed attempt to murder Konrad in his sleep, before being forced to flee. In battle with the White Wolves outside Middenheim, Fritz's force gained the upper hand, only for Skellan to betray Firtz, cutting him down with a silver arrow. His last words told that Mannfred sent his regards and that in time all his brothers would join him. Fritz's heart was cut out by the Grand Master of the White Wolves and fed to the dogs of Middenheim.

Pieter von CarsteinRegressed after the defeat at Altdorf and the flight into the Drakwald. Konrad describes him as the runt of the Von Carstein litter, reduced to sneaking around looking for scraps like an animal. Not long after Hans had been butchered, Pieter was sent to lead an army to Nuln and destroy it. Pieter was no leader, and was too proud to heed Jerek's military counsel, resulting in a disastrously prolonged siege. In revenge, Jerek allowed the Witch Hunter Van Hal to spring a trap on Fritz in his coffin, destroying him. Pieter's black heart was later cut out and devoured by Jerek himself.

Hans von CarsteinThe most enigmatic and least successful Von Carstein Hans loathed Jerek and Konrad with a passion, eventually challenging Konrad to a duel. This proves a grave mistake: the much more skilled Konrad toys with Hans before decapitating his sibling and tossing his remains on a hearth fire.

Constantin von CarsteinNot a true von Carstein as such, but allowed to carry the name. Konrad explains the differences between Jerek and Constantin to a prisoner: while Jerek has his Von Carstein name by right of blood, Constantin has it by right of conquest. Put to work by Konrad in the library, he composes an an epic ballad, rewriting history to make his Master seem noble, heroic and benevolent - all the things Konrad was not. Constantin was still working in the library after Konrad's death when a curious Mannfred found him. Realising that Constantin had gone insane from lack of blood for an untold length of time, Mannfred performed a rare act of mercy and granted Constantin a swift, merciful end to his miserable unlife.

Mehlinger von CarsteinA purebred, if weaker von Carstein, Meglinger was Jerek's closest friend and ally in life and was Vampirised by Jerek himself after his return to Middenheim. Upon receiving the Blood Kiss, Mehlinger's personality shifted inexorably towards the darkness. Mehlinger seemed to resent his former friend and was glad of his new powers, believing he could finally step out of Jerek's shadow at last. In Jerek's view, he would have risen fast amongst the Arisen. Unfortunately for him he was decapitated outside Nuln only moments after Jerek had finished consuming Pieter's heart.

OnursalNot confirmed as a Von Carstein, he was one of Konrads Hamaya and may have been sired by the Blood Count himself, given that he was depicted as stubbornly loyal to him despite his madness. Onursal was the 2nd foremost of the Hamaya behind their leader Jerek, as he was supposedly the strongest among them. For all his power he was slain in combat with the Dwarf Kallad Stormwarden, who smashed his rune-axe through the Vampire's spine, opening his ribcage with the force of the blow.

Source of the Name

The name Carstein comes from the Karnstein Trilogy, a series of Hammer Horror films based loosely on the character of Carmilla Karnstein from the gothic novel "Carmilla".


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