This is the tale bards tell around the fire of the first, and mightiest, of all Death Knights.
Airik was born long ago when Dawat sat upon the Ruby Throne. He resembled his older brother, Binamin, greatly and followed his brother wherever he went. Airik walked, ran, swam, and rode younger than his peers, all so he could remain close to his older brother.
As the two grew up they seemed to strive to surpass the other in grace, courtesy, speed, strength, and skill.Binamin always gave aid to his younger brother until both were of age. As adults no man could match either of them on horse, on foot, or with arms. Elves marveled at their keen eyes, dwarves wondered at their fortitude, and women swooned at their courtly grace and handsome visage. Heir to the Duchy of the Western Marches Binamin could not become a paladin and Airik announced he would not stray so far from his brother. People lamented that two great paladins would not be.
Sadly, their father died when both were but 21 and 19 Summers old. Binamin was elevated to Duke and his first act was to give half his lands to his younger brother as a County he would rule and pass on. Binamin gave honors and accolades his his brother and spoke well of him far and wide.
A year later Binamin was to wed Lady Rochelle, a friend of both men since childhood but betrothed to Binamin since he was 9 and she was 5. Her family gathered at the Duke's palace and prepared for the great day But Binamin discovered Airik speaking to Rochelle of their love. Binamin called forth her parents and his own men and declared he could not take Rochelle from his brother and released her from her engagement to marry the man she loved, Airik.
As Binamin smiled at him Airik strode forward, drew his sword, and cut his brother down in cold blood. He quickly slew the few retainers there and told Rochelle's parents how he had hated and despised his brother all his life. That no matter what he did his brother was always just a bit taller, a touch faster, a hair stronger. And, as always, he would always be older, more experienced, and the heir. Everything Airik had, he ranted, was not his own but loaned from his brother. He had tried to take Rochelle from Binamin by making her love him, but by giving Rochelle's hand to him he had stolen Airik's last chance to prove he could take her from him.
As the servants fled Airik cut down Rochelle's parents and then went to slay anyone not fast enough to flee. Seeing the death of all she loved, realizing Airik has simply used her, Rochelle threw herself from the parapets into the river.
Airik, the worst of treachers and outlaws, led bands of brigands, humanoids, and worse against the marches for years, but the Imperial armies always thwarted his plans. Growing ever more enraged, eventually Airik tracked down dark sages and foul necromancers, forbidden tomes and the dark leaders of the worst cults. Over time and with the sacrifice of magic, money, and many innocents Airik struck a deal with the darkest of forces and became the first of all the Death Knights.
In the long years since the fallen Count of Westergoth has sometimes led and other times hidden. He has laid low heroes by either slaying them or turning them into death knights, like him.