The winds of magic blew, flowing though the assembled war host of the Vampire Counts. Unconsciously, Count Mannfred von Carstein beckoned it forth, curling it around the outstretched talons of his left hand, until it coalesced and sank into the hordes of his undead host below as a fog. In the night sky, the moons Mannslieb and Morrslieb waxed ever higher. The pale light of Mannslieb mingled with the lurid green light of Morrslieb, glinting off the rusted, ancient armor of thousands of undead thronging the plains below. From every rotten fen, crooked moor, blighted plain, and twisted forest they came. For thousands of years, armies have marched and fought across the Old World. In dread Sylvania, unmarked graves lie beyond counting. Here, now, its seemed as though not one had been left undisturbed. From the great barrow mounds of the Wight Kings to the catacombs of the ghouls, Count Mannfred von Carstein’s host seemed beyond counting.
From behind him, the soft rustling of robes and the beating of his human heart foretold the return of the Dread Master of Liches, Roderic, the Master Necromancer. “Count Mannfred, the Grand Marshall, Rollo von Carstein, and his ilk, await you in the war room.” Behind the Master Necromancer, the dimly glowing eyes of Frideger, the Spear of Peace, greatest of the Wight Kings, stared silently over the Count, ever vigilant. His armor was ancient, older even than the vampire’s rulership of these lands. His stone spear bled power to Count Mannfred’s gifted sight.
Wordlessly, Count Mannfred strode into the great tent and the war room. There, peering down over the ancient maps of the city of Templehof and its surrounding lands, stood Rollo von Carstein. He spoke in hushed tones with Wealdmear, the most recent Wight King to have joined the Count’s forces. Like Frideger, this one has raised itself from its barrow mound, seeking only death and destruction. It rode into camp atop an Arachnarok Spider, one slain by the Grand Marshall and his followers in the months prior during their skirmishes with the foolish Red Eye goblins of Karak Ungor. Behind these two was Ziegfried von Carstein, adorned in a cloak seemingly spun of molten gold. Here was the embodiment of the Midnight Aristocracy’s charm. When he and Glaedwine, Seneshal of Castle Drakenhof and Count Mannfred’s own scion, competed for the hearts of maidens, none were left unspoiled. Further back still stood the gaunt and decrepit vampire, Oliver Darkh. Descended not from the von Carsteins, but from the Necrarchs, Oliver was the most magically learned of the Count’s assembled host save for himself and the Dread Master of Liches. If they were not soon separated, Roderic would challenge Oliver to a necromantic duel that the Count could ill afford on the eve of battle. With Oliver stood the failed experiment of Master Necromancer Gustav Oppen, which the others had taken to calling the Gorgon. Hideous, even to a vampire, the creature wore his full helm to veil his petrifying gaze. His ragged breathing, testimony to his failed training as a vampire, rattled out from behind his visor.
“Grand Marshall,” Count Mannfred spoke, “you have been granted the honor of seizing the East Gate. It is the most heavily fortified of the three gates, commanded by the Ehrenreichs themselves, and not their pathetic pawns, the Stahlbergs. Your victory will solidify your recent ascension. Your failure, should it come to pass, will ensure your swift demise. Do not fail me, Grand Marshall. The Wight Kings will inform you of the forces at your disposal. Concern yourself with the battle on the ground. The starry sky is mine.”
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