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Sigil of the Blood Dragons.

The Blood Dragons, formally known as the Order of the Blood Dragon and the Ordo Draconis, were a fearsome order of Blood Knights known for their peerless martial prowess in battle. They were consummate warriors, whose skill at arms was unmatched in the Old World, living only for martial combat and brutal battle. Usually fighting from horseback, the Blood Dragons sometimes fought on foot, and were masters of all forms of combat and all weapons, though they eschewed cowardly ranged weapons and magic in favour of pure physical strength and martial skills, believing only in that which was physical; however, they were not above using magic, and would sometimes use their innate (though poorly developed) abilities in Necromancy to raise undead servants.

Blood Dragon Vampires were one of the most well disguised bloodlines in the Old World for, in the war-torn World, the Vampires could easily hide among knightly orders or distant outposts, feeding on those they could to avoid detection while using their disguise and opportunities for battle to test their skills and push themselves, living only for combat, the attainment of honour, and the thrill of battle, a dark parody of the virtue of mortal knights.

Ever seeking to emulate their progenitor, Abhorash, Blood Dragon vampires were as much a scourge upon the world as any other vampire; though they claimed to be honourable and sometimes spared those they fought, they were no friends of humanity in the Old World and would readily kill those they deemed weak or without honour, though each vampire had a different code and some were more merciful than others.

History

Many years ago, the people of the Empire would have named the knights of the Order of the Blood Dragon amongst the noblest and most virtuous 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. Yet their terrible fall from the lofty heights of their noble purity into blackest darkness and corruption came not from within, but from without. One night, a man of great stature and noble bearing appeared before the gates of the fortress 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 single combat. Fighting them all with peerless skill and unnatural vigour and strength, he slew the mortal Knights of Sigmar with ease, for he was a vampire who had learned his war craft in ancient days from the great and fabled Abhorash, first of the Blood Dragons. Though none of the knights could hope to defeat the undead monster, Walach spared those who fought bravely and with honour, passing to them his curse of vampirism and corrupting them utterly, slaying the others without pause or mercy and feasting on their blood.

Rising from their defeat as deathless monsters, the fallen, pale-faced knights became a scourge upon the land under the leadership of their new Grand Master. Forsaking their oaths to Sigmar and the people of his Empire, the knights removed all objects of faith from their keep, throwing them from the walls after slaughtering their confused squires and retainers and raising them into undeath. They tore all sacred symbols of faith from their armour that quickly became twisted by the dark power coursing through their veins.

Sallying forth in dark parody of their former selves atop nightmare steeds forged from the carcasses of their once-noble chargers, the bloodthirsty knights began to prey on those they had protected, sowing terror and death among the villages and towns they had once sworn to defend, revelling in their new power and liberation. The people who had once showered the knights with affection now lived in fear under the terrible shadow of Blood Keep, now a spirit-haunted lair of monsters, and cried out for help.

The Fall of Blood Keep

The peoples' suffering did not go unnoticed. Many decades later the Witch Hunter, Gunther van Hel, discovered the truth of the Order's fate and attacked the darkened Blood Keep with an army amassed from Wissenland and Reikland, supported by no less than four knightly orders.

The siege lasted for three years, during which the bloodshed was like nothing the soldiers of the Empire had seen as they faced the fallen champions they had once counted as brothers, their noble features twisted in psychotic bloodlust as their eyes glowed like hell fire. Many a time the knights charged out from the gates of their fortress, crashing into the ranks of the Imperial army and slaughtering hundreds with each devastating attack, yet the resolve of the Imperial troops was unbreakable, and they fought with determination against the twisted vampires, slaying many of the monstrous warriors.

Eventually the Imperial troops managed to storm the castle, and the Knights of Blood Keep, unable to resist the onslaught of the vast army, were slain or scattered throughout the wilds, hunted by the vengeful soldiers and Van Hel for years. Following the siege, Blood Keep fell into ruin and its evil masters passed into myth.

However, though the Knights that once called Blood Keep their home may have been defeated, they were not destroyed. Some escaped retribution, scattering across the lands of the Empire, Bretonnia, Tilea and further afield. Accomplished with lance and sword, these fell warriors became dark mercenaries, solitary duellists and fearsome raiders.

Yet many centuries after the fall of Blood Keep and the demise of their order, whispers and rumours abound that Blood Keep was inhabited once more. Those who lived near the mountains spoke of nocturnal hunters troubling the Dwarven Holds. Gossipmongers claimed that immortal knights once again feasted on human blood in the ancient, dusty halls, and skeletal sentries patrolled the ramparts. Some said that Walach had returned, and that he had gathered his forces to wage war upon those who had tried to destroy him.

Appearance

Blood-dragon-art

The Knights of Blood Keep are a macabre, horrific parody of the virtuous templars that Walach corrupted. Blood Dragon vampires that hail from elsewhere than Blood Keep are equally twisted, many being once-prodigal sons or daughters, the prides of their families or realms fallen, quite tragically, into darkness, their shining armour befouled and their names dashed from records, forsaken by the light and their people as they forsook their own oaths. Many of these knights wear custom-made armour crafted by the finest artisans by commission, sometimes wearing the heraldry they bore in their mortal lives, and though many hide among human knights and maintain an illusion of mortality, many are also desolate, hermetic fiends who stalk the wilds, or dwell in caves training almost-constantly.

Though the Knights of Blood Keep retain the image of the dragon as their symbol, it is the only remnant of their former selves; their armour is encrusted with terrifying images of death and slaughter. Their blades are fell weapons inscribed with dark runes, chased with precious metals and fashioned in the likeness of evil beasts. The blazons and crests of Blood Keep take the shape of dragons and dragon wings. The Knights do not ride flesh-and-blood horses, but charge into battle upon evil Nightmares with fiery eyes and foetid breath, clad in thick barding painted with disturbing icons of necromantic power.

Trivia

  • Originally the term "Blood Dragon" referred to any descendant of Abhorash, one of the original vampires. With the removal of Bloodlines in Warhammer's 7th Edition, it now simply refers to members of the knightly order founded by Walach Harkon, with Abhorash remaining as their spiritual liege.
  • Dracula, the definitive vampire created by Bram Stoker, means "Son of the Dragon" in Romanian.

Sources

  • Warhammer Armies: Vampire Counts 6th Edition
  • Warhammer Armies: Vampire Counts 7th Edition
  • Warhammer Fantasy RPG 2nd ED -- Night's Dark Masters
  • Warhammer End Times: Nagash
  • Warhammer: Dark Omen (1998)
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