“Should’ve said no to the insufferable old bugger.” It’s a phrase Markus Kruber mutters almost daily, but never when Saltzpyre’s within earshot. After all, without Saltzpyre’s commission, Kruber likely wouldn’t have been drawn into the horrors of Ubersreik, and certainly would have avoided all that followed. But had he not accompanied the Witch Hunter, he would have ended up in Ubersreik anyway. Arriving in the Skaven infested ruins of Ubersreik all alone, and with no misfit band of Skaven-slayers allowing him to vent his rage, Kruber would have had to face the devastating loss of his family all by himself. His prospects of survival would have been low.
Although still world-weary and marked by his experiences, Kruber has found purpose in the aftermath of Ubersreik. As a soldier first, last and always, he understands that some battles have to be fought, no matter the cost. And who better to fight them than Markus Kruber? At first, the former Ostland Sergeant was wary and distant towards the other members of his newfound ragtag unit of five, but along the way Kruber did reevaluate both fellow fighters and schools of thought.
“Go on! Chase 'em all down!”
The Empire is awash with mercenaries, their manner ranging from hard-bitten coin-hoarders, to nobler souls eking out a living while balancing good deeds with bad. Such a life is far from glorious, for too often the only folk who can pay for hired blades are the very people who shouldn’t give commands to a dog, let alone armed men. But sellswording’s a living – even if it is all too often a short one.
Kruber fell into the business by chance as he joined Saltzpyre’s retinue. He based this decision solely on the destination of the Witch Hunters upcoming mission. Together, with Sienna Fuegonasus as prisoner, they would travel to Ubersreik.
Working for Saltzpyre proved to be a trial all on its own, but when compared to his previous cowardly commanders, Kruber actually preferred fighting alongside the dauntless Witch Hunter. During and after the Ubersreik campaign, Kruber continued to work for Saltzpyre, who in turn relied on Franz Lohner for information. Lohner, the Innkeep. provided a mysteriously steady supply of coin, jobs and ale. This kept Kruber content most days – especially given that Lohner seems to have the Empire’s interests at heart. And for the other days? Well, for the other days, there’s Bugman’s beer, and Estalian brandy, and that strange plum liqueur that Olesya carries around in a battered tin flask…
As a mercenary, Kruber is a versatile fighter, wearing just enough armour to strike a balance between protection and mobility. His training lends itself to close-quarters battle, but his hunter’s eye is as keen as ever, should ranged combat be necessary.
“We’ll have to burn it. Split up. Find the means.”
The Empire is home to many knightly orders, each with its own traditions, rituals and rivalries. Many are religious organisations, dedicated to deities as familiar as Sigmar and Ulric, or to foreign divinities such as Myrmidia, but most claim warrior’s honour and martial pride as far more important than any godly blessing. Especially in these dark days, when the gods of the Empire seem more distant than ever.
After fighting more or less continuously since Ubersreik, Kruber found himself invited to join the Order of the Reikshammer. Quite how this invitation arose is the subject of some speculation. Kruber certainly did nothing to seek out such an honour, and suspects that one of his companions brought word of his deeds to the Master of the Reikshammer. Whatever the cause, Kruber was knighted, and rose in rank like foam to a tankard’s brim, and was granted the rights, responsibilities – and more importantly, weapons – of an Imperial knight.
As a knight, Kruber stands tall in the thick of combat, trusting to heavy armour and sturdy shield to keep him hale, or a great weapon to crush his foes before they recognise the danger.
“Death for the sake of death. That’s not soldiering. It’s the work of beasts.”
Not all the Empire’s battles are fought in a clash of battle lines, regimental colours whipping and snapping in the breeze. In the tangled murk of the Reikwald, and a hundred other forests, determined huntsmen track raiding warbands, laying them low with volleys of arrows and lead shot. It isn’t soldiering as understood in the barrack-rooms of Altdorf, but it is vital work, nonetheless.
Kruber has always sought a simpler life. He grew to manhood in Taal’s sight, and a youth spent on his parents’ farm gave him a taste for the labours of the soil. Had he not enlisted, Kruber would still have found himself caught up in war, for in an Empire under siege no man keeps what he cannot fight for – soldier and farmer alike too easily become slave.
After Ubersreik, Kruber realized his disillusionment of army life wasn’t temporary and with the ghosts of his past still clawing at his soul, he sought solace and found it in returning to his roots. By walking the wilds of the Empire and devoting himself to Taal and Rhya, the Gods of Nature, Kruber was allowed to breathe and focus, at least as long as he had a stiff drink or two at hand.
As a Huntsman, Kruber favours the weapons of the deepwoods – the arrow and the bullet. He cuts a very different figure without uniform and armour, but he is all the lighter on his feet for that, able to stay one step ahead of the foe, and rain down death from afar.