- "When the darkness falls our time is at hand. We are the rulers of the Night. We are the predators of the shadows. Come hither and we will show you the true meaning of terror!"
- —Konrad von Carstein.[3a]
Konrad von Carstein, known by many bloody names such as Konrad the Butcher, Konrad the Bloody or Konrad the Beast was a infamously violent Vampire Count of Sylvania, known from the annals of history for his cruelty, corruption and complete insanity. There are few things more dangerous than a violent lunatic, but one of them is an immortal violent lunatic with the strength and speed of a Vampire. Adding a literal thirst for blood to Konrad's figurative mindset did little for the noble's stretched sanity.[1b]
The first of the von Carsteins had considered this as a potential advantage, and Konrad was one of the last of the von Carsteins to be embraced into the family. Perhaps Konrad's complete lack of scruples and his tenuous grasp on reality amused Vlad and assured that Konrad can never truly be a legitimate threat to his rule, unlike his deviously cunning son-in-darkness Mannfred. In retrospect, however, it might have better served his dynasty if Vlad had simply cut off Konrad's head when the chance first presented itself; his insane depravity resulted in far more harm than good for his dynasty.[1b]
Once given the Blood Kiss, Konrad made no attempt to hide his supernatural powers, and fed openly on his friends and subjects as well as rats, cats, cows, wandering pedlars and anything else with a pulse that came too close. Konrad appointed himself as something of a berserk enforcer for Vlad, executing anyone who displeased the count. This, naturally, also included anyone who displeased Konrad. Over time, this encompassed many victims, including enemy generals, priests of all descriptions, people with a squint, and several Necromancers who had laughed at Konrad's pitiful magical skills.[1b]
- "The sun and the silver cannot harm us—not if we will them not to. Not if we truly believe they will not."
- —Konrad von Carstein.[2a]
After their leader, Vlad von Carstein was killed by Grand Theogonist Wilhelm III at the siege of Altdorf, the surviving vampires fled back to Sylvania. Five vampires claimed to be the heir of Vlad: Fritz, Hans, Pieter, Konrad and Mannfred von Carstein. For more than forty years afterwards, the Vampires of the von Carstein line have fought a vicious power struggle, giving the Empire vital time to recover from the desolation brought about by Vlad's invasion. In time, Fritz von Carstein was killed on the field of battle while foolishly attempting to besiege the mile-high fortress-city of Middenheim. Hans von Carstein perished when Konrad instigated a quarrel with him over who was the toughest amongst them. Pieter was slain in his coffin by a vengeful Witch Hunter by the name of Helmut van Hal, a distant descendant of the Vampire himself. It is said that Mannfred von Carstein had also aided in his death. After Pieter's death, Mannfred von Carstein disappeared from Sylvania, leaving Konrad as the new undisputed ruler of all Sylvania. In time, Konrad had purposefully enacted the Second Vampire Wars.[1a]
Second Vampire War (2058 to 2121 IC)
Whilst Vlad von Carstein was patient yet ambitious, Konrad von Carstein was simply a mad butcher; evil, merciless and insanely violent. Lacking the necromantic skills of his predecessor, Konrad was forced to enslave any magicians he could capture and forced them to do his bidding as powerful Necromancers. Once more, the Vampire Counts of Sylvania rampaged across the lands of the Empire, bloodthirsty in their advance and showing no mercy. Indeed, Konrad is beyond bloodthirsty, even amongst his own kind. Whilst Vlad offered his opponents a choice between life and death, Konrad offered them a choice between dying quickly or dying slowly. Whilst Vlad's ambition was to rule as the Vampire Emperor of the Empire, Konrad's motive was to simply indulge himself in bloody violence.[1a]
His warmongering nature took his army far to the south, where he came into contact with the Knights of the Blood Keep, and the bearers of the Blood Dragon bloodline. With these Knights folding into his ranks, Konrad was able to destroy all those who would dare to oppose him, despite Konrad's mediocre strategic planning, hysteria and grave tactical errors. At Kleiberstorf, however, Konrad faced a powerful Averlander army that contained a massive battery of long-range artillery. When battle commenced, the Averlander artillery rain down barrage after barrage against the slow-moving Sylvanian army. In desperation, Konrad both threatened, bribed and pleaded with his Necromancers to keep his army moving forward. He offered power and riches to his captive wizards and they acceded, combing their powers to unleash a scourging wind on the Averland army. Dark magic swept across the Imperial ranks, and in short time, the Imperial soldiers began to feel their souls being clawed from ethereal hands. Panic began to spread as the unnatural gale began to slay more and more soldiers.[1a]
In a moment of rare clarity, Konrad saw that the moment was ripe for an attack and sent forth his elite force of Blood Knights and Drakenhof Templars into the fray. Faced with insubstantial terrors and armored Vampires, the Averland army broke and fled. Konrad, like the bloodthirsty creature he is, hounded the Imperial soldiers for five days and five nights, ensuring that all those that participated in the battle were hunted down and killed to the last. In his overzealous pride and need to draw more blood, the Vampire Count had instigated a bloody war with the Dwarfs against the cautious advice of his few counsellors. Attacking isolated villages and surface settlements at the foothills of the mountain stronghold of Zhufbar, the King of the Hold itself had finally had enough and mustered a grand army to punish the Vampire once and for all. Seeing a new challenge, the Vampire met the Dwarf army at the town of Nachthafen.[1a]
In the battle, the Dwarfen Runesmiths countered the necromantic spells of Konrad's enslaved Necromancers with ease. Robbed of their sustaining power, the Skeleton warriors and Zombies of Konrad's army lay where they fell, blasted apart by a horrific barrage of cannons and mortar artillery. Konrad remained confident despite the setbacks and launched an all-out assault on the Dwarfs right flank. Leading the assault himself, the Vampire drove directly into the cadre of Runesmiths whilst his Blood Knights smashed into the disciplined ranks of Dwarf warriors. Konrad slew the Runesmiths personally, drinking their spilt blood and giving his captive Necromancers the time they needed to resurrect the fallen. It was a hopeless battle, but the Dwarfs still fought stubbornly until the very end. Their own King had challenged the Blood Count in personal combat, but instead, Konrad despatched Walach Harkon, the Grand Master of the Blood Knights to fight as his champion. Though the duel was bitter close, the Grand Master finally killed the Dwarf King and gorged himself on royal blood. Within the next hour, the Dwarfs were all dead.[1a]
Konrad was so unwaveringly vicious in his Undead assault that, confronted with a common enemy, the three claimants to the Imperial Throne had put aside their differences and combined their armies into one mighty force. At the Battle of the Four Armies, the three Imperial Grand Armies united their forces against the Undead army of Konrad just outside the fortress-city of Middenheim. This battle became infamously known for the great betrayal enacted by the three Imperial leaders. Emperor Lutwik and Empress Ottila IV vied to assassinate each other during the battle, a disgusting gesture that forced the other Imperial nobles to select another candidate to lead this new coalition. A conclave of the Elector Counts assembled themselves within Averheim where they decided that Helmut of Marienburg would be a prime candidate to be the new Emperor. Even as support for him grew within the council hall, Helmut began to act erratically, struck dumb and vacant at a critical time. In an infamous event, Helmut's skin began to peel off and his eye suddenly popped out of his own skull. Even Helmut's son, Helmar, refused his father's claim to the throne once it was discovered that his father was killed and turned into a zombie under Konrad's control.[1a]
With his ploy failing, Konrad threw into a rage and slaughtered his way from Averheim into the Howling Hills, putting to the torch every town and village that stood in his way. Finally, having had enough of Konrad's sadistic invasion, all of the remaining Elector Counts and Dwarf Lords joined forces once more upon the Battle of Grim Moor during the spring of 2121 IC. Arrogantly, Konrad once more attacked in a headlong charge against the fully-arrayed armies of all the Elector Counts and the Dwarf warriors under the legendary Dwarf hero Grufbad. Although his Blood Knights were able to endure the punishment, a strange event began to occur. In that instant, the regiments of the Undead began to falter, with the dark magic that bound them together being seeped away. It finally dawned that Konrad's Necromancers has also had enough of Konrad's cruel rulership and betrayed him in that most critical of time. Seeing the battle as lost, the terrified Blood Knights fled the battlefield as well. In desperation, the magically inept Konrad tried to hold the Undead army together, but the effort proved too much to bear and in an instant, what little of Konrad's mind and sanity had finally snapped.[1a]
In a mad fit, Konrad wandered away from the battle as his Undead army began to disintegrate, shouting maniacally as this most cruelest of jokes. As Konrad wandered the forest aimlessly, Grufbad captured Konrad and held him down while Elector Count Helmar impaled his father's killer with his Runefang. With Konrad's death, the Second Vampire War was finally over, and in time, the Elector Counts began to squabble amongst themselves once more.[1a]
- Sword of Waldenhof: The heirloom of the lords of Waldenhof Castle has never been more expertly wielded than in the hands of Konrad. This spirit-possessed sword bites deeply when it strikes.[1b]
- 1: Warhammer Armies: Vampire Counts (8th Edition)
- 2: Night's Dark Masters (Fantasy Roleplay)
- 2a: pg. 40
- 3: Warhammer Armies: Vampire Counts (5th Edition)
- 3a: "Back Cover"