- "Rise, Knight of the Grail. Rise, Markus de Mandelot..."
"For the Lady!"
- —Markus, heir of Mandelot.
- "I’ve fought my share of battles against the beastmen of the woods, but these ratmen are different. The warherds are always driven by their bestial nature. They fight hard, but direct. The ratmen are cunning, clever."
- —Markus Kruber.
Having fled farm life outside the Reikland town of Ubersreik, a young Markus Kruber found himself in the Grunburg local militia and quickly rose through the ranks. A schism with an inept superior eventually spiralled out of control and resulted in a relegation to Ostland. Being sent from the richest province of the Empire to one of the poorest and most war-ravaged was clearly a punishment, but Kruber welcomed the change. He hoped that competent leadership and a steady stream of purposeful action would await him at his new post.
Leading the 8th Ostland Swordsmen, Markus drilled his troops until perfection, not content until their swords and shields felt like natural extensions of their own bodies. His leadership style was somewhat unconventional, inspiring confidence and loyalty not only through his prowess, but also due to his innate charisma and wit, making him immensely popular with his men. His unit was distinguished in several battles, whether it was breaking through greenskin lines, repulsing marauding beastmen, or hacking down ravaging berserker northlanders.
It was a necromancer who was to be Kruber’s undoing. The undead marched on a grand muster of Imperial might. Kruber’s regiment was on the east flank, forming an impenetrable barrier against the skeletal forces they opposed. For a while it looked as if the Ostlanders sensed victory and fought with extra ferocity to that end, but then the Sergeant caught sight of a wizened old man leading a horde of zombies. In a freak moment their eyes locked, the necromancer grinned, and let loose the wind of Shyish. Moments later, a colossal orb of purple-edged darkness swept through the swordsmen, killing all it touched while sucking the souls from hapless bodies. One of the men pushed Kruber out of the way, his own soul selflessly sacrificed.
At the end of the battle, the undead had dissipated and the Empire was victorious, but it was a pyrrhic victory for Markus. His regiment had been destroyed, and he emerged as a traumatised lone survivor. In a state of shock, Markus applied for leave, wishing to quit military life and simply head for home, but was denied.
However, after some time, Victor Saltzpyre, a Witch Hunter on business in Ostland, crossed paths with Markus. The witch hunter was recruiting for an upcoming mission, and after witnessing a display of Kruber’s talents in a roadside ruckus with bandits, he convinced Kruber’s superiors to let him go.
As the Chaos moon Morrslieb waxed full, shrill voices echoed through tunnels gnawed far beneath the Empire's cities, and a Skaven host swarmed towards the surface. It emerged first in the city of Ubersreik, a screeching mass that consumed all before it. Soon Ubersreik was a charnel-town, drowning beneath the malevolent shadow of the Horned Rat.
Yet even in the darkest times, there are always champions to light the way. As Ubersreik cowered, five great heroes, Markus among them, carried the fight to the rat-men. It remained to be seen whether they had the strength to survive, let alone work together long enough to thwart the invaders. One truth, however, was beyond all doubt: should the five fall, then Ubersreik would fall with them...
Markus and his allies performed many heroic deeds in their mission to stem the Vermintide. Within the streets of Ubersreik, they slaughtered hordes of chittering rat-men, while at the neighbouring town of Stromdorf, they hunted down and slew one of the Skaven's great Chieftains. Having then journeyed to the Grey Mountains, they fought their way through the halls and chambers of Castle Drachenfels, before emerging from its dungeons to destroy the ancient portals of Summoner’s Peak.
Alas, for all their great victories, the five champions were eventually cornered within their sanctum at the Red Moon Inn. At first, they managed to hold back the Skaven assault, but were soon forced to descend into the inn's basement, and then into the sewers below. They carved a path through the city's underways before reaching a large Skaven device, a crackling portal that was controlled by one of the sorcerous Grey Seers...
- "The only thing standing between utter defeat and victory is you and your allies. If you fall - so too will the Empire."
- —The Ubersreik Five.
Grey Seer Rasknitt, the mastermind behind all of Ubersreik's woes, had managed to successfully capture the city's five greatest defenders. Without their interference, Ubersreik was conquered and destroyed by the forces of Clan Fester. The victorious Rasknitt then returned to his construction of a massive portal known as the Skittergate. With this device, he planned to allow the Chaos Champion, Bödvarr Ribspreader easy access to the border-city of Helmgart.
However, Rasknitt could not ensure the reliability of such a powerful yet unstable machine. The Skittergate intermittently failed, preventing Bödvarr from summoning the full might of his Rotblood army. When the portal failed to open for a second time, the resulting explosion freed one of the imprisoned heroes, Markus Kruber.
Donning a full knight's suit of heavy armour, Markus fought his way through the Skaven lair, reuniting with his allies in turn before escaping to the relative safety of Taal’s Horn Keep. From within this ancient fortress, the newly christened "Ubersreik Five" prepared to strike out against Clan Fester and their Norscan allies, a vast army known as the Pactsworn...
- "Markus Kruber. All-weather mercenary, poacher and occasional knight."
- —Franz Lohner.
He should have said no. It was a phrase Markus Kruber muttered almost daily, but never when Saltzpyre was within earshot. After all, without Saltzpyre’s commission, Kruber likely would not have been drawn into the horrors of Ubersreik, and certainly would have avoided all that followed. But had he not accompanied the Witch Hunter, he would have ended up in Ubersreik anyway. Arriving in the Skaven infested ruins of Ubersreik all alone, and with no misfit band of Skaven-slayers allowing him to vent his rage, Kruber would have had to face the verminous horde all alone. His prospects of survival would have been low.
Although still world-weary and marked by his experiences, Kruber had found purpose in the aftermath of Ubersreik. As a soldier first, last and always, he understood that some battles had to be fought, no matter the cost. And who better to fight them than Markus Kruber? At first, the former Ostland Sergeant was wary and distant towards the other members of his newfound ragtag unit of five, but along the way Kruber did re-evaluate both fellow fighters and schools of thought...
A Heritage Forgotten
- "Grail Knight" ain’t just a rank. It’s a holy station, earned in battle with some ghastly monstrosity, or a whole mess of ‘em. Supposedly the Lady of the Lake – assuming she’s real, I ain’t exactly a believer – sends visions to worthy candidates, guiding them on a righteous path of carnage. If they survive, she lets ‘em sup from the grail and blesses them with holy strength. That’s what happened to Kruber. He’s got the bloodline. He’s thrown down with plenty of ghastly monstrosities, sure as pumpkins is pumpkins. So more power to his elbow, says I. Especially if it gives us a bit more oomph when it comes to dealing with the Pactsworn..."
- —Franz Lohner.
Recently, the idea that Markus "Kruber" has links to Bretonnia has taken plenty of folk by surprise. Not least Markus himself...
No one knew where the messenger came from - except maybe Franz Lohner. The man simply turned up amidst the flickering candlelight of Taal’s Horn Keep with a tale of forgotten lineage and a sealed letter addressed to Markus Kruber. Or more rightly, to "Markus de Mandelot". Markus read the letter once, and then a second time with Lohner. Then he set down his empty tankard, and leaned back in his chair in contemplation of the quest laid before him.
It had been revealed that Markus was the only living heir of one Foricarl de Mandelot. A great hero in his day, the noble Foricarl saved the Dukedom of Parravon from a Dragon in righteous style. Tapestries were woven in his honour, and he was said to be popular amongst the kingdom's womenfolk. When he rode to tourney, spectators could barely see his lance for the weight of the ribbons of favour. Alas, out of jealousy, some of Foricarl’s knightly brethren did not hold quite the same esteem.
Greatest amongst these detractors was the Duke of Parravon’s son, Willibald. He was not exactly a coward… but few cheered on a killer of Beastmen when there was a genuine dragon-slayer holding court in Parravon’s best tavern. There was even talk of the King insisting the Dukedom of Parravon pass not to Willibald, but to Foricarl. For it was said that the king hated Dragons with a passion, on account of having lost a daughter, an arm and much of his pride to one some years before.
Not long after the Dragon's death, the Duke of Parravon died under mysterious circumstances, and all evidence seemed to point towards Foricarl. The besmirched noble was forced to flee the city or lose his head. However, Willibald was found out in the end – the Fay Enchantress herself became involved. She punished the traitorous knight by turning him into a lowly frog.
When the truth was finally revealed, everyone began looking for Foricarl, but he was nowhere to be found. Despairing of ever proving his innocence, he had travelled across the border to the Empire and continued slaying monsters as a hermit in the Ubersreik Hills. At some point during his vigil, the Bretonnian hero fathered a child. Time passed, and the de Mandelot name eventually fell from memory, but the great bloodline continued.
Until now, Markus de Mandelot has lived in ignorance of his noble heritage. Further still, the mystical Lady of the Lake, knowing of Markus's true identity, has presented him with the opportunity to sup from the Holy Grail, and attain supernatural power...
Wargear and Abilities
Prior to discovering his true calling, Markus Kruber was a fearsome melee warrior. Though primarily a swordsman, he was trained to excellence in numerous weapon techniques. When wielding large two-handed weapons, such as the great hammer or greatsword, he was capable of mowing down several enemies in one hefty swing, engaging a horde of ratmen all on his own. He was equally skilled with the mace, the longsword, or sword and shield combo, his versatility enabling him to tackle any conceivable situation on the battlefield. For ranged combat, he was equally well-prepared, wielding the devastating close range blunderbuss, the armour piercing handgun, or unleashing a high volume of fire with the repeater handgun.
Having now supped from the Holy Grail, Markus de Mandelot has joined the pride of Bretonnia – he is a blessed warrior granted supernatural might by the mysterious Lady of the Lake. As all Bretonnian Knights, he has renounced the use of missile weapons and never engages in ranged combat, instead favouring foes with the gift of close-quarters battle. Whether armed with his longsword or a trusty sword and shield, the Grail Knight is death to foul creatures wherever he encounters them...