Monday, November 9, 2009

Grismeire Valley Campaign - Vampire Counts Story

The Nemesis Crown had eventually been found and destroyed by the Dwarfs. The mysterious magical crown that had captivated the great powers of the world had turned out not to be the Crown of Nagash, much to the disappointment of Byron Manfred. Though he had learned much, attained many victories, and gained power and influence through his fighting in the Nemesis Crown Campaign, he felt no closer now than ever to his ultimate goal of being reunited with his only love.

Though somewhat discouraged, Byron continued to study the necromantic arts under his master, the Butcher of Bergendorf. Byron’s continuing exposure to the soul-warping influence of dark magic conspired with his despair and desperation to drive him towards the brink of sheer madness. His mind and soul suffered the ravages of overexposure to the winds of magic as he took greater risks in his desire to advance his knowledge and power too quickly. The Butcher was only too happy to encourage this reckless behavior in Byron as well as his other apprentices. But Byron was the quickest to advance, for he was the most willing to risk all for the slightest scrap of necromantic knowledge.

Eventually, the Butcher was made into a vampire by his own mysterious master, a figure spoken of only rarely and reluctantly. The Butcher’s transformation into a creature of undeath only increased his already considerable morbidity and callous disdain for life. He spent more and more of his time performing twisted and seemingly pointless experiments on human captives, always with grotesque results. The Butcher also amused himself by having his necromancer apprentices compete with each other in perverse feats of necromancy, with the loser often becoming the next victim of his experiments. Eventually, Byron was left as The Butcher’s lone apprentice, but the souls of the others would never rest in peace.

In the course of his studies, Byron came across some evidence that he thought might point to the location of the mighty Crown of Nagash. An ancient scroll told of events from nearly a thousand years in the past, when an evil sorceror secreted away an artifact, awesome in power and priceless in value. The sorceror smuggled the artifact across the grey mountains and into Eastern Bretonnia, going into hiding in the valley of the Grismeire river. The dark wizard was eventually found and slain by a small group of brave knights, but the artefact was never recovered.

Based on the descriptions of the sorcerer, the time period of the event, and the account’s emphasis on the incredible power of the artifact, Byron thought it was possible it referred to the Crown of Nagash. The Butcher found out about Byron’s research, and informed his own shadowy master of Byron’s theory. Their Master decided that the possibility of discovering the Crown of Nagash, or some other powerful magical artifact of Nagash’s reign of terror, was worth looking into.

The Master brought together several of his vampiric minions, including the Butcher of Bergedorf, for an expedition into Bretonnia’s Grismeire River Valley to search for the artefact. In the meantime, the Beastman warband of Banebeast Banedrom had moved through the mountains into the Forest of Arden, intent on raiding the small Bretonnian towns in the forest. Having experienced their fury firsthand during the Nemesis Crown war, Byron knew he wouldn’t want to come up against the Beastmen during their search. The Master sent an envoy to the Beastmen, offering them some ancient pieces of sacred Herdstones in exchange for a truce. The Beastmen would leave the vampires alone while they conducted their search. Plus, the Beastman raids on Bretonnian settlements would hopefully distract any Bretonnian forces and keep them from discovering the Vampire expedition.

The vampire knight Vlad Tepes also joined with the Master’s expedition. Ever since the Nemesis Crown war, Vlad had been searching for the Bretonnian knight who had managed to wound him in single combat. The impudent mortal knight had escaped before Vlad could finish him off. Now, Tepes wants to find the knight and finish the duel they had started, to find out once and for all who is the superior warrior. The expedition is glad to have his skill on their side, but Vlad’s only desire is finding his foe and finishing him off in single combat.

The vampires snuck across the Grey Mountains and into Bretonnia and came upon a small mountain village. They killed every resident of the village, raising them as zombies and using them as undead laborers to construct a camp. This would be their base of operations while they conducted their search. They hoped that if they kept a low profile, the Bretonnians would be busy enough with the Beastmen that they could search for the magical artifact without interruption. Unfortunately, they did not know that the High Elf force that Byron and The Butcher had defeated in several decisive battles during the Nemesis Crown war was still in the Old World.

The High Elf army of Commander Cilliriel Drachen, though it had been beaten and forced to retreat, had not returned to Ulthuan. In addition, another High Elf force under Prince Finduleas Tethelion arrived in Bretonnia. Unknown to the vampires, Tethelion was also looking for a powerful magical artifact, what he believed to be the Spear of Twilight. Unfortunately, Tethelion believed this artifact was in the same area the Vampires were searching. As Tethelion’s advance scouts scoured the area, they discovered the Vampire expedition. They had hoped to find the Crown of Nagash before anyone had discovered their presence in Bretonnia, but now they would likely have Bretonnian and High Elf armies to contend with. It wouldn’t be easy, but The Master wasn’t going to give up without a fight.

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