The time had finally come. The Vampiric Civil War would end this night. The insults of the Stahlbergs, mere pawns to greater machinations of the ancient vampire family, the Ehrenreichs, had brought all of Midnight Aristocracy to war. Having been ordered to take the East Gate of the city of Templehof, the Darkstalkers, under the command of Rollo, now the Grand Marshall of the von Carsteins, and thus, the Midnight Aristocracy, marched forth.
However, before battle was to be joined, the Darkstalkers were sent magical word by the Sisterhood of Lahmia that there were dark whispers of treachery in the von Carstein’s ranks. At the same time, Oliver’s witchsight, and the Master Necromancer’s gasps at the waves of power pulsing from Castle Templehof warned of an impending storm of magic.
Grand Marshall Rollo knew he had not the time to deal with both situations, so he elected to resolve the one that would risk his flank, and asked for the full report from the Sisterhood. Undeniable evidence was presented that showed that Theudalinda von Carstein and her scions, Ludwig and Ludwik, had plans to turn against the von Carsteins and join the Ehrenreichs. Still believing their ruse intact, each was easily caught and arrested. However, this meant that the von Carsteins were unable to blunt the magical assault unleashed upon their forces. In the starry sky above, one star loomed impossibly large, and the Eye of Acamar opened overhead. Gravity was inverted, and forces were ripped from the ground into the sky. As they flew heavenwards, their body disintegrated as the hungry star pulled their forms apart, only for what was left of them to crash to the ground as the Eye closed.
Having dealt with or suffered though these complications, Grand Marshall Rollo von Carstein ordered his forces forth. They rapidly advanced north of the gate, and, utilizing their superior mobility, stormed over with their advance guard while siege towers took position. The gate itself was assaulted by mighty a mighty varghulf under Heinrich’s sway, but it soon had to retreat under a wave of thrown spears. Fell bats went ahead of Oliver’s Terrorgheist, but soon they were torn apart by the Ehrenreichs own fell bats and vargheists. Wealdmaer, most recently arisen of the Wight Kings, had brought the Arachnarok Spider once ridden by Goblin Warboss Spleenrippa, to devastating effect. Effortlessly scaling the walls, it’s spiked limbs soon were stacked with the bodies of the enemies’ overmatched infantry. The battle was fierce, and both sides suffered significant losses, but the Darkstalkers knew that victory could only lie with the defeat of the enemy commander, Wispern Tod. Grand Marshall Rollo gave the signal for reinforcements, and with the appearance of Helga von Diehl and the forces of Eschen to hold the walls and clear the gatehouse, the Darkstalkers rushed their infantry into the enemy lines behind the gatehouse to give themselves the opportunity to enter the Temple of the Raven Queen where the enemy commander lay in wait.
The battle was fierce, but short, and decidely in favor of the Darkstalkers. Even though Wispern Tod, a dracolich, was able to temporarily subvert the will of Rollo, Wealdmaer, and Heinrich in turn to his side with his beguiling gaze, he was unable to ever find his mark against Ziegfried von Carstein, and the dazzling vampire in his glittering cloak slammed the dracolich’s body to splinters. Though he had seeded the fallen Temple of the Raven Queen with his fel magic, and was able to call forth several keening spirits, they were soon dispatched, and the Darkstalkers were able to surround the mighty undead. In a flurry of blows and millennia old tactical acumen of the Wight King Wealdmaer, the Darkstalkers dashed Wispern Tod’s body upon the marble floors. Thus did Wispern Tod feel his consciousness floating free of his body in search of his phylactery.
With this, the von Carstein forces took much of the the city of Templehof. Having secured the most heavily defended East Gate, the honors for the conquest of the city went to the Darkstalkers. Meanwhile, the Wight Kings of the Count secured the South Gate and the other von Carstein commanders began investing the city itself, moving district by district to rout the remaining forces of the Ehrenreichs. Erstwhile, the von Carstein forces began to take the Stir Bridge so as to assault Castle Templehof itself.
As the hour pressed on, it was made clear that the narrow passage of the bridge and its elite cadre of defenders would need to be routed out by a superior force of von Carsteins. Thus were the Grand Marshall and the Darkstalkers called forth to battle once again. As a grave guard messenger gave Rollo the details of the layouts, two more messengers came forth, one with a missive enclosed in bark. Blackroot’s demesne was under assault by the Ehrenreich’s! At the same time, an ancient dragon had been sighted circling the battlefield. Again, the von Carstein forces had to choose where to focus their efforts, and so it was that the Grand Marshall ordered Waldedruis to reinforce Blackroot.
Having been briefed on the layout of the tower and the likely location of its defenders, the Darkstalkers set forth to claim it for the von Carsteins. Erstwhile, the dragon plunged into the city of Templehof, its fiery breath incinerating scores of undead forces as it pillaged treasure from the northern part of town before escaping back into the night on deft wings.
In the tower itself, the Darkstalkers strode forth to find it seemingly deserted. Knowing better, they cautiously made their approach, but nonetheless were set upon by surprise! Eva and Ulmer Stahlberg were among the guardians, as well as a Boneclaw Impaler that harried any who dared approach. As the battle raged on, Heinrich von Carstein saw a chance to get revenge on those who had treated him and his family so terribly in the past. He leapt upon Ulmer, burying his greatsword deep in his body, and with the tactical acumen of the Wight King Wealdmaer, ripped it forth and swept it out again, removing Ulmer’s head from his body. Eva was the last to fall, but fall she did. Afterwards, Heinrich ripped out the fangs of these Stahlbergs, and kept them as a memento.
Ascending then to the uppermost floor, the Darkstalkers found the commander of the enemy forces who so thoroughly decimated prior intruders. Mörder Auge, an undead beholder of huge proportions, floated into the fray, along with some powerful ghouls, His powerful magic and eye rays struck the von Carsteins many times, even sending them fleeing with necromantic fear at times. Oliver was pinned in, and nearly struck down, but the rest of the Darkstalkers managed to bash their way over and help distract his assailants. After a grueling battle, Ziegfried von Carstein managed to slam the beholder anew, and its bindings could no longer withstand the damage. It fell to the stone floor in a heap of undead flesh and eyestalks.
With the tower now secure, the von Carstein army began the crossing to see to the siege of Castle Templehof itself. The armies of Count Mannfred, Seneschal Glaedwine, Theobald, and the Darkstalkers sallied forth. The beleaguered armies of Helga von Diehl continued to root out assailants in the city of Templehof, and Waldedruis’ forces were returning to the city after assisting Blackroot stave off the assault of the Ehrenreichs on his new demense.
As the Count began preparations to Siege the castle, drawing up the necromancy to rapidly assemble siege towers and the like, a massive wave of horns sounded from the South in the plain of Ash below. The Blood Dragons had taken the field, and were preparing to pincer the von Carsteins forces. Count Mannfred ordered the Grand Marshall to deal with the Blood Dragons, giving him the time and forces he needed to take the castle.
Not but a moment later, missives arrived for the Grand Marshall. The City of Templehof was being assaulted en masse from the hidden army of a Ghoul King in the forest and in the sewers beneath Templehof. At the same time, reports of Banshee Assassins departing Castle Templehof arrived. Rollo, heeding the wise counsel of Heinrich, citing the danger of being encircled in three directions, ordered Theobald’s forces to return to the city of Templehof and reinforce what was left of the armies of Helga von Diehl and Waldedruis.
With the von Carsteins distracted by the siege, the defense of the city, and the cavalry charge from the Blood Dragons, the Banshee Assassins of the Ehrenreichs struck deep into the von Carstein leadership. As the Grand Marshall espied in the distance, the undead forces of Glaedwine went listless. Glaedwine, Dieter, and Mitzi were counted among the dead.
With renewed hatred for the Ehrenreichs and their allies, Rollo again turned his gaze south. Upon the plains of ash south of Castle Templehof, a great battle was to be fought. The Blood Dragons of the Red Abbey, under the command of Varison the Blade, sought to entrap the von Carsteins in a deadly pincer. With their retreat to the west slowed by the River Stir and a counterattack assaulting the City of Templehof, the von Carsteins would be trampled beneath the iron hooves of the vampiric knights if the Grand Marshall and the Darkstalkers failed here.
To stave off the brutal cavalry charge and the enemy’s reinforcements, the Darkstalkers were dispatched with their beleaguered forces to the only suitable point of defense, an ancient ruins south and west of the Stir Bridge. There, Master Necromancer Felix was to rouse the fel spirits of the land and conjure the dormant power in the ruins to create a Shrieking Turret.
The Blood Dragons brought a wave of zombies to tie up the defenders and give their cavalry the room to wheel and maneuver they desired. The Darkstalkers anti-infantry force of Grave Guards and Wealdmaer’s mount, an Undead Arachnarok Spider, hacked away at the assailants, forming a battle line. Surprisingly, the Blood Dragons also brought a small force of ranged units and artillery in the form of Skeletal Spearmen and a Lodestone Chariot. Soon, the battle lines for both sides began to fall apart as the Blood Dragons themselves charged into the fray. The Arachnarok Spider bristled with the spear shafts of numerous enemy assaults, and came within an inch of it’s unlife unraveling. Oliver Darkh’s Terrorgheist that he had wrested from Roderic, the Dread Master of Liches, days prior, was slain by vargheists. Only with the timely reinforcements of Blackroot and the remnants of the Drakenhof Templars were the Darkstalkers able to turn the tide. Using their awesome magical power, the Darkstalkers laid low the Soulspike Devourer that was battering Blackroot into kindling. With that, enough time had passed, and Master Necromancer Felix brought the Shrieking Turret forth. Its torrent of dark magic began to smash the few remaining attackers. Afterwards, in a move that surprised even himself, Rollo von Carstein fired bolts of dark magic that slew Varison the Blade. The remaining Blood Knights, to a vampire, fought to the death, but in the end, the Grand Marshall and his forces were victorious!
The battle was won, but not the war, and so the Darkstalkers turned their gaze north, to Castle Templehof itself. Leaving a token force of defenders with Master Necromancer Felix and his uneasy glances at the forces of Blackroot, the Darkstalkers marched forth, taking command of the forces formerly commanded by Glaedwine, Dieter, and Mitzi.
The battle in the sky continued unabated, with the Ehrenreich’s dread magic once again tearing into the forces of the von Carsteins as the ‘Eye of Acamar’ opened once again upon the battlefield. Roderic, the Dread Master of Liches, aloft on the back of a Felsteed, did what little he could to shield Count Mannfred’s forces. Notably absent in the battle was the standard of Baugegundus personal troops.
Suddenly, booming over the battlefield, Count Mannfred’s voice was heard, “Now, witness true power!” A star exploded to life in the midst of the Ehrenreich’s forces. The purple light emanating from it was cold and hungry. Those too close to its body were drawn into it, shrieking, if they had the mind to do so. Those further afield were disintegrated en masse by its grasping tendrils. In the stars wake, there was only the remnants of broken amethyst. As it washed over the southern walls, the defenders were stripped from their post.
With this opportunity, the Grand Marshall’s newly bolstered forces moved to reinforce the siege on the ground led by the Wight Kings of Count Mannfred. The most elite units available, mere crypt ghouls, stormed the wall to assault the Gatehouse defenders in the flank. As more of the Grand Marshall’s forces poured over the walls, the von Carsteins victory was all but assured.
With the outer walls breached and the Ehrenreichs aerial forces devastated by the passing of the Count’s magic, the battle turned to Castle Templehof itself. However, before the horns could be sounded to signal the final assault, a magical explosion blew the solitary tower of sorcery west of the castle apart. The shock wave rolled through the von Carstein’s forces, dropping many from the sky. Roderick, the Dread Master of Liches was seen tumbling to the ground as he lost control of his Felsteed. The sky rained Fellbats and, in their plummeting descent, shattered unfortunate skeletons below.
After recovering, and seeing the opportunity in the listless shambling of many of the remaining defenders, the final assault was done with ease. Castle Templehof fell to the von Carsteins, but the bodies of many of the Ehrenreichs could not be found.