Herbert Johannes Friedrich von Krolock is a vampire and a character on the Sueniverse who originated in Tanz der Vampire. He is the son and only child of Graf von Krolock and the late (as Herbert says, "really" late) Grafin Izabella. He is played by Megan, who considers him one of her favorite characters and has referred to him several times as her "sweet fangy baby".
"He reached into his coat and pulled out a box of truffles. How did he fit them in there? Because Herbert is magic, my babies. Herbert is fucking magic."
Herbert is heavily modelled on the appearance and performance of actor Tim Reichwein, who portrayed him in Tanz der Vampire in Hamburg and again at the 10th anniversary concert of the musical in Vienna, with a few small alterations.
He is described as being above average height, with a "strapping" sort of build and long limbs, and attractive to the point of near-androgyny. Herbert's hair is a very light golden blond with white streaks in it (a souvenir from being turned, and a small deviation from the Hamburg design of the character, which included black hair with blond highlights). For most of his time on the 'Verse, it was quite long, but a number of circumstances lead to him cutting it himself during one of his fits (more on that later), and it is now ragged, choppy, and uneven, with the longest parts barely reaching midway down his neck. He has gray eyes, long eyelashes and very fair, clear skin. He used to have an excessive fondness for wearing elaborately embroidered or frilled clothes, but is now comfortable being far less ostentatious. Renn has stated that he "is always making puppy eyes, even when he isn't".
Most of the inspiration for Herbert's personality, once again, comes from Tim Reichwein's performance, which deviated fairly strongly from Iain Quarrier's more threatening and predatory portrayal in the film The Fearless Vampire Killers, or: Pardon Me, But Your Teeth Are In My Neck. Herbert is somewhat unique amongst the vampires of the Sueniverse in that he does not quite fit into any of the standard vampire categories. He is not a violent sexual tyrant such as Dracula, a brooding antihero like his father, or a repentant former fanatic along the lines of his friend Magda von Waldemann. Megan has explained that Herbert is amoral in the sense that he does not actually need any morals, and that doing what he pleases usually fails to hurt anyone. He is old enough to not need constant blood but doesn't apologize or wangst over his past seduction/consumption activities. He has no regrets over his undead condition- in fact, he revels in never growing old or unattractive. In many ways, Herbert can be considered a harmless, rich dilettante who largely does what he wants without causing any harm, has no ambitions and doesn't even actually need them.
Though it was not intentional on Megan's part, most of the more unlikeable aspects of Herbert's personality seem to suggest, when taken together, that he in fact has histrionic personality disorder. The standard symptoms of HPD include excessive attention to physical appearance, inappropriate flirtatiousness, discomfort at not being the center of attention, and a grandiose, impressionistic way of speaking. All of these symptoms are quite obviously present in Herbert. He also manifests signs of severe bipolar disorder, as evidenced by his rapid mood swings and destructive tendencies.
Herbert's hobbies include book collecting, poetry, fencing, and trying on new clothes.
Herbert was born in 1618 to Graf (Count) Johannes von Krolock and his young Italian bride Izabella. He inherited his mother's looks and his father's sense of intellectual curiosity. His life changed drastically when he was three years old, due to the double blow of his mother falling ill and his father travelling away in a desperate bid to save her life. Krolock pleaded with Dracula to bestow vampirism upon him so that Krolock could return home, bite and turn his wife, and thereby keep her from "really" dying. Dracula manipulated him into staying for an extended amount of time before finally biting him, resulting in Krolock returning home and finding that his wife had already died.
This left the now widowed Krolock doomed to an eternity without the woman he loved, save their son, the one lasting reminder of their time together. As a result, he spoiled his son endlessly, providing the best tutors and everything Herbert could possibly ask for. Herbert learned many languages fluently, practiced horsemanship and fencing, and proved a voracious reader and student.
At the age of fourteen, Herbert was sent away by his father to a prestigious boarding school for young gentlemen in the Swiss Alps, where he became an excellent student and was well-liked by his teachers. In spite of this, Herbert was miserable there, largely because of the school's drab uniforms and the fact that upon his arrival, his hair was cut short without his consent. Nevertheless, is likely that he would have been the pride of the school had he not been discovered nearly a year later out of bed at night, kissing the mayor of Basel's son in the school library.
Both Herbert and the other student were punished severely and forced into religious penitence until their parents could arrive to collect them and presumably continue to make them feel the consequences of behavior that was, at that time, considered perverse and utterly morally inexcusable. However, Herbert's father, while slightly bemused by this revelation about his son's orientation, merely took him back to the family castle in Romania, under no threat of punishment and with no churchlike lectures. Herbert finished out his primary education with the help of more hired tutors, and as he grew older came to fully embrace his homosexuality.
At the age of eighteen, Herbert left home to try to continue his studies again in Vienna, where he soon took up with another young man. This escalated into a love triangle sometime later, with Herbert engaging in a duel for his paramour's honor a year later, only to be stabbed in the gut- literally- by the lover he had fought so hard to defend. The wound was deep and soon became infected to boot, and, knowing that he was dying, Herbert sent for his father. When the Graf arrived, Herbert begged to be turned into a vampire, so that he would neither die inexperienced and not yet twenty nor live to be crippled and grotesquely scarred. After much internal debate, Krolock accepted, and he saved his beloved son.
Herbert has never actually said what sort of revenge he took on the two young men responsible for his death, but Megan, his writer, has a working hypothesis that he allowed them to believe he was truly dead, then proceeded to silently follow them until they both went mad. This provides a glimpse into a more ruthless and casually cruel bent to Herbert's personality than he tends to let on
Fully revived, Herbert began travelling Europe again, enjoying a few conquests along the way and acquiring a distinctive cross-shaped scar on his left arm (the peril of taking a Hungarian seminary student as a lover). After a brief and ultimately unhappy relationship with another, more famous blond vampire, he returned home to flit about his father's castle, occasionally enjoying the favors of boys from the local village but finding them largely ugly, dull and uninteresting.
Some time in the late 1800s, Herbert's father fell in love again, this time with Sarah Chagal, the daughter of a nearby innkeeper, and lured her to his castle in a bid to make her his bride. This lead to a number of results- among them, Sarah's father Yoine Chagal attempting to rescue her, being turned instead, and vampirizing his pretty, young maidservant, Magda; and a young student and assistant vampire hunter named Alfred, who was also in love with Sarah, arriving with his mentor to try to save her. Herbert was immediately smitten with Alfred on first sight and decided to skip over the usual steps in a relationship
such as "getting to know one another". He attempted to bite Alfred but was chased off by Alfred's mentor, Professor Abronsius. In the interim, Magda and Chagal had taken up residence in the Krolock family crypt uninvited, and Herbert and Magda's brief conversation (mostly Herbert serving as undeath consultant to the only hours-undead peasant girl) before that night's ball set up what would become a long-term friendship.
At the ball, Sarah Chagal was turned, only to run off with Alfred and attack him with her newly acquired bloodlust, and the vampires created from this escapade ended up spreading over even more of Europe. Herbert eventually went to Paris under the guise of once again returning to his studies.
On the Sueniverse
Herbert was created as one of Megan's earlier characters, and quite honestly as one she had no idea what to do with. For a while, his main contributions were general gaiety and puppy eyes. Upon seeing his avatar, Marijke commented, "He's mocking me, I swear. It looks like he's silently mocking me." Perhaps fittingly, Herbert's first course of action on the Sueniverse was to make several unsubtle passes at Marijke's character Kurt at Dracula's "Ball of Doom". He had a brief encounter with Dorian Gray that lead absolutely nowhere, and suffered through a brief crush on Spike ("WHITE CHOCOLATE SUNDAE...")
that lead him to seek out his friend Renn for advice, which he accepted only as a form of playacting. He drew the line, however, at the suggestion that he cut his hair. Another flirtation ensued later on with Xavier, a reprise of the Alfred incident occurred with Christian Daae, and by that point Megan no longer knew quite what to do with him other than make him hit on unsuspecting young men (including Toby, who is probably the biggest male Woobie on the board).
The situation improved for both Herbert and his player when the angel Aziraphale broke up with his partner, the demon Crowley. Due to his interest in antique books, Herbert wandered into Aziraphale's bookshop to browse, and instead, the angel and vampire took to one another immediately. Aziraphale invited Herbert to help him bake a fresh batch of cookies.
This lead, of course, to sex.
However, unlike all of Herbert's previous Sueniverse interactions, this actually lead somewhere, and though the initial blossoming of the relationship was only vaguely sketched, by the time Crowley returned to try to win Aziraphale's forgiveness, it shown that Herbert was virtually living with the angel by this time. He confronted Crowley, defending his relationship with Aziraphale and showing real signs of- gasp!- character development:
He stepped away from Aziraphale and toward Crowley.
"You listen to me. For the first time in my life I have someone who really, truly loves me, and I am not going to have some- you come in here and take that away from me!"
Tears were pricking up in his eyes.
"You had your chance. Let me have mine."
After Crowley left, Herbert was concerned that Aziraphale would leave him, a worry that only increased with time in spite of Aziraphale's objections, Count von Krolock's favorable impression of the angel, and their adoption of a pair of kittens. Some time later, Aziraphale confessed that he had in fact encountered Crowley while Herbert was still at the shop, and that he had felt severely tempted to go back to him. Herbert relented some of his jealousy, realizing that Crowley and Aziraphale had known each other for longer than time itself, and that Herbert had only known the angel for a few months.
But Aziraphale, rather than let Herbert go, assured him that he really did love him and that he would never leave him to go back to Crowley.
Herbert responded by showing his love for Aziraphale in the strongest way that he could think of. The vampire separated a lock of his own hair and cut it into a short sort of forelock over his forehead, binding the severed hair into a small wreath-token (such as was popular in the Victorian era) and giving it to the angel. Aziraphale, recognizing that this seemingly tiny act equated to a huge sacrifice of personal vanity from Herbert's point of view, took it with gratitude and assured Herbert that the effect of this minor haircut was actually "precious".
Herbert used this as a springboard to invite Aziraphale to Graf von Krolock's annual vampire ball- and also to give the rather conservatively dressed angel an appointment with Herbert's tailors.
Aziraphale eventually confessed to Herbert that he had only initially reciprocated Herbert's feelings as a way of getting even with Crowley. This resulted in the angels' first glimpse of the dark, rather unbalanced side of Herbert's being:
Herbert stared at him, looking terribly hurt. For a moment, he looked almost as if he was on the verge of tears.
And then his face changed. The same almost girlishly pretty features were all there, but they had- the only word for it was changed, and his eyes seemed to smolder reddish in his pale face, and his upper lip was pulling away from his fangs and causing his nostrils to flare. Through small, almost imperceptible movements, his features were taking on an almost animal quality.
He took one step toward Aziraphale, glaring at him and looking progressively less human, in spite of everything being in the same place, his skin still having the same porcelain quality, his lips as pink as they always were, the fact that he was still shaped like the same silly undead fop he usually was.
"You regret me," he said in a low voice, running a finger along Aziraphale's jaw either flirtatiously or threateningly- it was hard to tell. "I shame you, is that it?"
While Aziraphale was able to once again calm Herbert and reassure him that he wouldn't leave him, this incident marked the beginning of a pattern of even greater neediness and immaturity from the vampire.
After Marie Antoinette and her second husband Richard (the former Shakespeare-verse version of Richard III of England) seized power and became King and Queen of France, there was immediate talk in Paris of another revolution. Herbert was among the first player characters to learn of this, and out of concern that he and his father (who did not support either side of the conflict) would be killed as members of the aristocracy, he joined the rebels at Enjolras’ barricade.
To say that Herbert was woefully unprepared for the realities of warfare would be an understatement. He arrived at the barricade with a trunk of fine clothing, cheerfully expecting that the whole business would be sorted out within a few days, and was horrified when the contents of the trunk were seized by the attendants of the sickbay and cut up to make bandages, along with his cloak and cravat. He promptly attempted to barricade himself off alone behind the main barricade until he was called out for his cowardice by Enjolras. Princess Leia swiftly intervened, and while annoyed by Herbert in her own right, she recognized that he was completely unprepared, scared out of his wits, and in no condition to fight. He later proved himself to be excellent with a sword, however, and fought bravely in that capacity. Herbert escaped the revolution largely unscathed save a lack of baths and several bruises and scratches until the very end, when he was unexpectedly shot eleven times across (and in a few cases, through) the chest and abdomen, after it was thought that the enemy had already been vanquished. With dawn quickly approaching, Aziraphale arrived to carry Herbert’s unconscious body home.
It was quickly assessed that the injuries Herbert had suffered on the barricade would have been lethal if he weren’t a vampire, and even so, he was extremely damaged both physically and mentally by the experience. Aziraphale patiently tended to him for the next several weeks- bathing him, reading to him, reassuring him that he was still attractive, and staying by his bedside nearly all hours of the day and night.
His condition did not improve much with time. A week after being brought home, Herbert revealed to his father his certainty that he would be permanently crippled, and showed that his wounds were not healing properly as evidence. After another two weeks, while Aziraphale was reading to him from David Copperfield, Herbert asked to see the book and discovered that the blow to the head he had suffered while falling from the barricade had destroyed his ability to recognize letters as anything but abstract shapes. (This is a usually temporary condition that can arise from head trauma in real life as well as on the Sueniverse.) In his anger, he began tearing the book apart, and soon lurched out of bed to destroy the rest of his books, followed by his clothes, and then a window. Aziraphale, terrified, attempted to stop him as he used a shard of the window to start carving the walls, but Herbert was so far gone into madness for the moment that he didn’t recognize the angel and attempted to bite him. Aziraphale fled to Herbert’s father, who explained, with no small amount of grief in his voice, that these fits are in fact relatively common for Herbert, who had suffered from bouts of temporary insanity since childhood. He added that there was nothing that could be done about them except to wait them out (much to Belle’s disgust).
After the fit had passed, Aziraphale found Herbert collapsed in the middle of the wreckage, with most of his wounds newly reopened and further torn. He had no memory of the incident, other than knowing from his surroundings that had happened. Aziraphale, still frightened, attempted to comfort him, while Herbert continued to briefly slide in and out of sanity. The angel finally allowed the weakened vampire to feed from him, in hopes that it would allow him to heal.
Herbert begun to heal slightly. Aziraphale attempted to restore his enjoyment of his unlife by procuring a wheelchair for him and escorting him about the castle grounds, but the prospect of his father’s upcoming ball now seemed terrible to Herbert, who remained convinced that he would be unable to participate. As he regained his health and strength, Belle asked him to turn her into a vampire as well, so that she could remain with Herbert's father forever. He eventually agreed to come to the ball and do as she asked, in spite of his father's wishes, and when the Graf found Herbert standing over Belle's body, years' worth of compressed bitterness erupted between the two, resulting in Herbert's self-imposed exile to live with Aziraphale.
Breaking free from his father had a profound effect on Herbert. His first night after the ball was something of a disaster and included him locking himself in the bathroom at Aziraphale's and cutting off most of his own hair indiscriminately. But as time passed, Herbert sought ways in which he could help around the bookshop, even after reconciling with his father. He decided to stay with Aziraphale as a live-in partner on a permanent basis, and the two eventually took in Herbert's young cousin Marishka.
However, Aziraphale's employers in Heaven did not approve of Aziraphale's relationship with the often vain and selfish Herbert. Herbert received an anonymous tip, and responded by attempting to mortify his body to convince the Management Upstairs that he was capable of contrition. It was not enough, though, and Aziraphale was rendered human in punishment.
Aziraphale's humanity sent Herbert into a downward spiral of deep self-loathing. He blamed himself for what had happened to his angel, and it became harder and harder for him to control the encroaching illness that ate at his mind, even as he proved unexpectedly good at business affairs.
Megan's Relationship With Herbert
Megan has confessed that Herbert is one of the easiest characters for her to get into the head of. She has, in fact, played him at a local theme park,
with professionally done makeup modelled after Tim Reichwein's, and has confessed to having a similarly ultrareverent attitude toward her own hair. Exactly how this happened is unusual and probably best left undelved into.