As the year 500 approached, the tensions within the HSE were growing ever more apparent. By 495PC everyone had heard the ghastly tales of the walking dead in the north, and the church, particularly the independent preachers, continued to spread the word of "the evil in the north", imploring the noble houses to root out the blasphemous goings on in their own states.
It was clear that House Drazkharov and House Volbeck had no intention of raising forces to root out necromancy in their own lands, particularly since they themselves were the source of the undead incursion, but at that time no-one realised this fact, and few even suspected that the high born northern lords were in fact ancient Vampires from Aquila. Only the very top of the church knew, as had Emperor Wilhelm, warned by the dwarfs. The Emperor had died with the knowledge however, denying it to his grave.
Senior officials in the Sigmarite church were in fact supportive of their independent warrior priests, and in 497PC one such firebrand, Father Simmermann, raised his own force of loyal followers to root out unbelief and blasphemy in Holwingen. His force reached the sparsely populated region in late summer, and encountered a force of undead creatures. Urging his followers on the Warrior Priest flung himself into battle, only to be cut down by a host of hungry ghouls. Only a handful of men escaped, although the necromancer conveniently destroyed himself with his own magic, allowing those lucky enough to survive to flee back to Sigmarheim.
After the battle House Drazkharov were incensed at rogue religious zealots causing mayhem in their lands and demanded at the council of state that the church be denied any standing forces. They tried to outlaw warrior priests, but in the end the council agreed to outlaw independent armies. From now on only states and the Empress herself would be able to raise an army legally, and the church found itself shackled thanks to the political machinations of the northern nobles.
Then, later in the same year, a force of Ogre Mercenaries arrived in Mallenstein, threatening to sack Mallendorf if the lord of the city did not come out to answer for his crimes. The Ogres had been sent by Mellvellon, in a bid to force the ruling elite of the HSE to recognise that there were Vampires within their ranks. The lord of Mallendorf was not present however, and a minor lordling took it upon himseld to resolve events. While the Ogres laid seige to Mallenstein the minor lord, whose name remains a mystery, escaped the castle and travelled under the cover of darkness to a bleak and lonely moor, located just to the north of the Castle Mallvass. There he summoned a great host of undead, right along the Ogres' line of retreat.
Disappointed at not being able to face the undead in a place where the general populace would see, the Ogres none-the-less turned back on themselves to give battle. A vicous action took place on the moor, known as the Battle of Mallvass Moor, which saw the undead host annihilated and the minor lordling destroyed. They Ogres hadn't managed to reveal the undead curse in the nobility of the north, but they had destroyed at least one minor Vampire.
Houses Drazkharov and Volbeck were incensed by the attack on the HSE and demanded the Empress declare war on Mellvellon, but shrewdly the High Elf lords had distanced themselves from their own army, and could not easily be implicated in the attack. Privately the Mellvellon ambassador managed to whisper a cryptic warning to the Empress, who began to realise for the first time that the "evil in the north" went as far as, or even started at, the nobility itself.
While the northern nobles raged, they could not hide the fact that their armies had been defeated in open battle, and Matilda used this opportunity to marry the Graf of Schinderland, Dieter Moritz. This settled at last the question of succession, and the Vampire plans to worm their way to the HSE throne took a backward step.