- "With power syphoned from the ocean’s Winds, the Dreadfleet commander seeks to drown the mortal world in a tide of death."
- —Count Noctilus, Vampire Admiral of the Dreadfleet.
Captain of the Bloody Reaver and Admiral of the Dreadfleet, Count Noctilus is behind the events that have led to Jaego Roth's crusade of vengeance at the head of the Grand Alliance fleet.[1b] Noctilus was once known by another name - Nyklaus von Carstein, whose own home was the distant land of Sylvania.[1a]
The tale of the Dreadfleet began in a remote castle at the heart of Sylvania, a landlocked region in the east of the Old World. Cursed and desolate, Sylvania has long lingered under the spectre of undeath. It is the province of the von Carsteins, an aristocratic dynasty of the dead who have spread the curse of vampirism across the Empire for time immemorial.
The bloodstained dynasty of the von Carsteins has always been driven by a lust for power. At the heart of the dangerous megalomania is an ambition to master the art of necromancy and use it to drive the world to its knees. Yet none have been successful for long. The von Carsteins have ever been thwarted at the last by the efforts of Man, or even by their own devious nature, for they constantly vie amongst themselves for supremacy.
Nyklaus von Carstein, known to seafarers only as Count Noctilus, was a creature possessed of a different vision. Tired of infighting of his peers, Nyklaus sought a new route to power. Within the dusty tomes of necromancy and sorcery, he found a great many charts that mapped the ebb and flow of magic across the world. In a moment of revelation, Nyklaus realised that if he could master the art of seafaring he would be able to harness the gales of magic that whirl and cascade across the oceans.
Amongst the charts, Nyklaus found indications of a maelstrom that festered in the distant heart of the ocean. This skull-strewn vortex was a tempest of magic that drew the dead unto itself like a giant lodestone. Here was the power Nyklaus needed. He studies the vortex with an intensity only an immortal could muster, conducting experiments and modifying his theories until he understood the nature and form of the strange tempest.
Amassing every scrap of arcane knowledge he could find, Nyklaus von Carstein became a master in the art of translocation, an aspect of Shadow Magic as the men of the Empire call it. Better yet, Nyklaus learned that with enough power, he could translocate not only himself and his minions, but even the substance of the land itself.
Upon one dark and loathsome Geheimnisnacht, Nyklaus prepared a great ritual from the heart of his beloved castle. He raised twelve hundred of the dead from their makeshift graves, each one the corpse of a mortal he had personally slain in his long lifespan. With a titanic effort of will, he set them to shambling around his castle in a monstrous, convoluted spiral that coincided precisely with the flow of the vortex that haunted the Great Ocean. He summoned a great host of spirits and hordes of blood-sucking Fell Bats, sending them whirling through the skies in intricate patterns. Finally, as Nyklaus cast his great ritual, the magic on the wind was drawn into his spell producing an eldritch storm that rose to a mind-shattering crescendo.
There was a single deafening, blinding crash of thunder and lightning, loud enough to wake even Emperor Karl Franz in the Palace of Altdorf. When the echoes faded, neither castle, nor crag, nor the dead that dwelt within them could be seen. The manic laughter of the triumphant Nyklaus von Carstein echoed within the boom and crash of the tempest, for his ritual had succeeded. His castle, proud as a conqueror's statue atop its dark and jagged crag, now jutted from the bone-choked morass of the Galleon's Graveyard.
Glutted upon raw power, the Vampire drew unto him the shattered remains of the dead warships scattered around, clothing the rough stone of his crag with the rotting timbers of once-great galleons until his castle sat at the crest of a composite sea-hulk.
To commemorate his newfound freedom he took a new name; Count Noctilus, master of the Bloody Reaver. The raw power flowing around the Galleon's Graveyard gave him an incredible level of necromantic control over its denizens, for given enough power a Vampire can control anything that has passed beyond the veil of death. Nocilus bent the Shadewraith to his will in a single night, forcing its captain, Vangheist, to obey his commands, and made unholy pacts with the master of the Black Kraken. Soon, Count Noctilus had his own empire, a dark realm that grew in power with every passing night.
The creature that had called itself Nyklaus von Carstein was gone forever. His short-sighted brethren could keep their dismal province, for Count Noctilus had a far grander aim; to claim the Great Ocean for his own, and drown the mortal world in a tide of death.