Vlad the Nightborn
Many years ago did this story begin. Two orphaned sons of a proud but impoverished noble lineage were taken in by the Sacred Order to be educated and trained in the ways of Lumaya. Konstantin was a righteous soul who took to the sermons of the Order with zealous passion. Yet Vlad chafed at the countless rules and regulations. He felt his spirit chained within the monastery, and his many escapades saw the young knight expelled in disgrace when he was only twenty.
For years, Vlad survived as a sellsword and nourished his reputation as a consummate and ruthless warrior until, at last, he caught the eye of a wealthy patron. The aging Duke Ecsed was the last of his line, though his hopes of rekindling the flames of his family’s glory still smoldered until his last day. For good or ill, those hopes were doomed, and the Duke sank into melancholy as time continued its ruthless march. But he saw in Vlad a worthy servant, and when sickness threatened to take him, he summoned the young knight and bid him retrieve a relic - a sword that had been locked in the family crypt centuries ago. The Duke believed it had the power to stay the hand of Death somehow. Vlad was skeptical but agreed to honor his Lord’s last wish.
A handful of men-at-arms at his side, Vlad ventured into the mausoleum that lay amid the harsh mountains to the north. Finding the crypt was no easy task, but the catacombs beneath were devoid of traps or other dangers at a glance. Pleased that the errand was at an end, Vlad led his men to the deepest burial vault. Yet the moment they opened the sepulcher, a blood-chilling shriek pierced the silence. Ghouls rushed the small troop on all sides and overwhelmed them with the sheer weight of numbers.
Vlad fought ferociously, but the foes were too many. Battered and wounded, his sword broken, he nearly succumbed to the undead horde. Then something had awoken in his heart and, following a primal impulse, Vlad seized the sword of Ecseds from the dead fingers of its previous owner and charged the ghouls with desperate abandon. He prevailed in the end, but his wounds were fatal. However, as he lay there dying, that same impulse drove Vlad to tear out the throat of a dying squire and gorge on his blood. In that moment, primal, bestial power flowed through his veins. It healed Vlad’s injuries and gave him strength, though the price was terrible indeed.
Alone he returned to the Duke’s castle to find it ablaze, put to the torch by the Templars of the Sacred Order. He knew already that the Ecsed family had harbored a dark secret - the blood of vampires ran through their veins, and the Duke wished to embrace it to save himself from death. Now that curse resided within Vlad. Disgusted and intrigued in equal measure, he turned aside and disappeared into the shadows. Yet his reign of terror had only just begun, and many bloody deeds awaited, including many clashes with his righteous brother Konstantin. But that is a story for another night.