Walter Bernhard is the Vampire Lord who rules over the Forest of the Eternal Night, and the central antagonist of Castlevania: Lament of Innocence. After Leon Belmont defeats him however, it is revealed that he was but a pawn in Mathias Cronqvist's plan to take his place.
Walter's origins are unknown, but at one point, he came in possession of the Ebony Stone: an alchemic jewel that controls Darkness. He became the ruler of the Forest of the Eternal Night, where he established his Dark Castle, and enshrouded it in an everlasting night thanks to the Ebony Stone. In order to overcome the boredom of his immortality, he amused himself by forcing courageous humans into life or death games. So as to raise the stakes and get the person to come challenge him, Walter would take that which was most important to the person.
Eventually he was manipulated by Mathias Cronqvist into taking Sara, the beloved fiancé of Leon Belmont. Mathias, Leon's good friend, planned to have Leon kill Walter, then use the Crimson Stone to capture Walter's soul and gain his powers.
After Mathias told Leon that Walter had taken Sara, he went to the Eternal Night to get her back. There he met an alchemist named Rinaldo Gandolfi, whose daughter had been changed into a vampire by Walter and then killed the rest of his family. Rinaldo gave Leon a whip crafted by means of alchemy that could allow him to kill the monsters under Walter's control and enchanted his gauntlet, to use magic relics in the castle. The alchemist then told him that he needed to slay 5 monsters in order to reach the throne room of the vampire's castle.
Leon defeated all five, including Joachim Armster, a vampire kept prisoner in Walter's castle, who mentioned the Ebony Stone and Crimson Stone before dying. Leon managed to find out from Rinaldo that the Crimson Stone could convert the souls of slain vampires into power for the owner. He managed to reach Walter's room and rescued Sara, before attempting to bring down the Vampire Lord, only for the whip to have no effect, forcing him to flee.
However Walter had bitten Sara, causing her to start transforming into a vampire and Rinaldo revealed to Leon he'd have to sacrifice her to make the whip at all effective against the Vampire Lord. He reluctantly did so after she begged him to, creating the Vampire Killer Whip, and went to confront Walter a final time. Leon succeeded in killing him, but his soul was then taken by Death and given to Mathias, who went on to become Dracula.
Walter is immensely powerful, wielding great dark powers, such as control of demons and manipulation of hellfire. He cannot be harmed by almost any weapon with only the Vampire Killer Whip able to do so and possesses the power of teleportation and shapeshifting, able to transform into a demonic creature.
- Walter's name, like that of many other characters, is Germanic in origin and literally means "ruler of an army", fitting considering the force he controls. It is sometimes considered to be un-vampire-like by some fans, but it is of the same etymological root as Mathias' assumed name.
- Many of Walter's attacks are similar to ones used by Dracula, which is most likely because Mathias inherited his powers.
- His red hair is a traditional trait of vampires from Romanian folklore, namely the strigoii, who are said to almost always have red hair.
- Carmilla's Vampire Castle in Lords of Shadow was said to belong to the Bernhard family before she drove them out.
- He is argurably the most significant antagonist in the entire series as he responsible for all the events happened later on in the series.