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"It is better by far to be an object of fear than of respect, for one is a truth of the soul and the other an illusion of the mind."

— The Codex Hydra
Night Haunter 8th Ed

Primarch Konrad Curze of the Night Lords Legion. He preferred a different name for himself, the "Night Haunter."

Konrad Curze, better known as the "Night Haunter," the name he preferred, and sometimes as the "Dark King," the "King of Terrors," and "The Last Judge," was one of the 20 superhuman primarchs created by the Emperor of Mankind in the late 30th Millennium and was the master of the Night Lords Traitor Legion of Heretic Astartes.

Night Haunter was tortured all his life by terrible, dark precognitive visions of the future, and this generated a level of psychic anguish and despair that set him apart from his fellow primarchs. His psyche badly damaged by the difficulties of his early life, Curze never recovered his mental balance and sought only oblivion from the pain of his existence.

As a result of his afflictions, he was an utterly brutal and savage warrior who believed in the use of fear as the most potent weapon against one's foes, and he taught his Astartes to be as brutal and savage as necessary to put down the enemy. Night Haunter did not enjoy his role as an Imperial war leader and was the only one of the primarchs who showed little affection for his "sons," the Space Marines of the VIIIth Legion that had been created from his genetic template.

He was executed, some scholars believe willingly, by the Callidus Assassin M'Shen on the world of Tsagualsa in the Eastern Fringe of the galaxy immediately following the end of the Horus Heresy in the early 31st Millennium. His VIIIth Legion, without his leadership, then broke up into competing warbands of Heretic Astartes and fled into the Eye of Terror with the rest of the Traitor Legions.

History

Konrad Curze was from the start a dark and haunted figure, obsessed by death and judgement, and unshakable in his belief in the fundamental fallibility of Humanity and the agency of fear as the only true means of controlling Mankind's failings.

Konrad Curze and his Night Lords Legion were shaped by the terror of darkness on their homeworld of Nostramo, just as much as they were by the gene-craft of the Emperor.

Youth

"...a glowing child-form it was, crawled from the Pit onto the broken street, hissing molten metal dripping from its limbs. It was a daemon, no less, with the body of an infant but the expression of an old man, its eyes black and cold as obsidian."

— From the Arcana Progenitum of Nostramo Quintus, detailing the arrival of the infant Primarch Konrad Curze upon Nostramo
Konrad Curze sketch

Ancient Remembrancer sketch of Konrad Curze, the Night Haunter, primarch of the Night Lords Legion; illustration taken from Carpinus' Speculum Historiale.

According to the heretical handwritten chronicle of his life, entitled simply The Dark, Primarch Konrad Curze's earliest memory was of descending from the heavens in a crackling ball of light to the night-shrouded planet of Nostramo. His embryonic form's gestation capsule, cruelly ripped through the Warp from distant Terra by the machinations of the Chaos Gods, impacted on the dense cityscape of the planet's largest hive city, Nostramo Quintus, smashing through countless levels of urban debris and mouldering architecture, through the planet's crust and into its geosphere before finally coming to a halt near the highly unstable liquid core of the planet.

His descent left a scar in the virtually inviolable adamantium strata of Nostramo, the result of the supernaturally resilient primarch's violent birth into a world that knew no light. The cratered pit his descent had carved into the planet was closed over and later regarded with fear and suspicion. Theoretically, the only way the primarch could have reached the surface was to have swum through molten metal or had his gestation capsule borne upwards through volcanic vents to the surface.

Nostramo was a Human-settled world that circled a dying sun whose light now only barely reached the world, leaving it trapped in perpetual darkness. The crust of Nostramo bore high quantities of the strategic mineral adamantium, which provided the basis of the planet's immense mining and refining industries and supported the economies of its large hive cities.

The vast majority of the planet's population lived in abject poverty, toiling in the mines while the rich grew in affluence, exploiting the already downtrodden workers. Crime ran mostly unchecked, clinical depression was inescapable for most because of the constant darkness, and overpopulation was kept in check more by suicide than by any other measure.

Unlike many of the other primarchs, Konrad Curze was not taken in by any family and was left to raise himself in the vast underhive of Nostramo Quintus. He spent his early life surviving off his wits and determination, feeding himself by hunting the feral animals that roamed through the vast hive city.

He was continually plagued by visions of the darkest possible future, horrifyingly potent waking dreams that would curse him throughout his life. Uniquely among all the primarchs, Curze grew up completely alone, surviving only thanks to his wits, ruthlessness, and courage as a feral child in the underhives of Nostramo Quintus.

Night Haunter

"By reason. By truth. I have learned how your hearts and minds function. With that lore, I brought peace to this culture." "--at the cost of freedom." "Peace reigns, as I reign. I wouldn't expect your little minds to understand. You are a little man, with little dreams." "You've ushered in the peace of the graveyard. Peace, at the cost of surrendering all choice, all freedom. The city lies in terror, forced to live by the standards you place upon our shoulder." "Yes...yes." "But every sin...is punished, but punished by death, no matter the crime. No matter the scale of the sin. The people of the city live in silence, lest a single word earn them death for speaking out against you." "Yes. Listen. Listen to the sound of raw silence. Is it not serene?"

—Night Haunter addressing a gathering of Nostraman nobles.
KonradCurzeCrusade

The tormented Night Lords Primarch Konrad Curze during the Horus Heresy.

As a lone young boy, feral and wary, Curze shivered in the shadows of broken buildings and atop roofs, living as a scavenger and slaying any who sought to prey upon him, for even as an infant he was possessed of frightful strength and an indefatigable will married to a superhuman and watchful intelligence.

The cries of people pleading under the torturer's knife were his cradle songs, and when he slept, he would dream of wars waiting in the stars, the dead heaped on worlds he had never seen, and he would wake with the screams of the dying in his ears and find that they were real.

Ever in the dark, isolated and silent, he was more nightmare than demi-god. He killed to survive, and discovered that he was not like those that he killed. They were weak and slow by comparison, and fell easily to his hands and fists and teeth. He ate the flesh of vermin to survive and when that was not enough, he ate the dead.

In his cauldron of sin he learned, his mind taking the whispers of thoughts from the flesh he ate, leeching speech and the arts of murder from those he watched. He soaked up all the darkness could teach him, assimilating it as only the mind of a transhuman primarch could. But the product of this savage tutelage was not a simple murderer or beast.

Perhaps something of the Emperor's greater purpose whispered to Curze. He could have become like the rest of Nostramo, a killer and a criminal. Given his nature, who can doubt that he would have risen to be the corrupt king of all he surveyed, but he did not. Instead the boy who had grown up amongst the vermin and on the flesh of the dead chose to change the world by bringing it justice.

He began by killing those who crossed his path. Sin had surrounded him since he had first drawn breath -- there was no need to seek it out. Murderers and street thugs began to vanish, then whole gangs. Bodies appeared, mutilated and crucified on the walls of buildings. Flayed sheets of skin hung from bridges and severed heads grinned from railings.

A name began to follow his deeds, a name that he heard the people of his world whisper, half in fear and half in hope. "The Night Haunter" was the fearful name they gave him -- an avenging spirit, an angel of blind justice -- a murderer other murderers feared.

They began to hunt him: the gangs, the nobles' enforcers and the crime syndicates alike and this suited him, for if nothing it brought his prey to him. He killed most who came after him, and let a few live to carry his message back to Nostramo's nefarious courts and princes. Without eyes, without hands, but left their tongues, the mutilated messengers would weep out a simple message: "I am coming for you."

The Night Haunter followed the whispers, the rumours and the truths taken from the mouths of flayed gangers. His vigilante actions began small, intervening when he witnessed something he believed to be wrong, but rapidly escalating into hunting down those he believed had committed transgressions.

At first, several people prominent within Nostramo Quintus' corrupt civic hierarchy disappeared. Leaders of the most vocal opposition to the status quo vanished in similar circumstances. Bodies of known criminals began to appear, gutted like fish by some cruel assailant. Corrupt officials were found hung from high windows. Body parts blocked storm water drains. Many of the corpses found were so horribly beaten by their assailant that identification was impossible.

Within the year, the crime rate of Nostramo Quintus fell to near-zero. Cruze killed and mutilated until the streets fell quiet and his name was no longer a prayer for justice, but a plea of the fearful. An entire world had been cowed by sheer terror.

When the cities slept in silence and the sound of gunfire was a rare murmur, he went before the aristocracy of sin and gave them a choice; kneel and follow his law or be destroyed. Some never left that first council; the rest knelt before their master.

Nostramo belonged to the Night Haunter. He would be their first king, their "Dark King," and became the first absolute monarch Nostramo had ever known.

The Dark King

KonradArt

Konrad Curze, the Dark King of Nostramo

The Night Haunter became the first monarch of Nostramo Quintus, absorbing accumulated knowledge with a diligence almost akin to greed. He ruled with temperance and reason unheard of until word came to him that some injustice had been done, whereupon he alone would hunt the offender through the hive city's empty streets until exhaustion forced his quarry to collapse.

He would then proceed to mutilate his prey, although not beyond recognition. This unpredictable pattern of benevolent wisdom and hideous vengeance ushered the shocked Nostraman populace into new realms of efficiency and honesty. Exports of adamantium to their neighbouring worlds soon tripled.

Nostraman society came to exist in a terrible balance maintained by shared wealth and shared fear. None dared to have more than his neighbour and under the shadow of Night Haunter's rule, the city grew well-lit and prosperous. And as Nostramo Quintus led the way, the rest of the planet's population followed, anxious to keep the Night Haunter from their own doors.

After a few solar decades he no longer had to hunt, as the passing years had stolen the need. Curze's city had become a silent hive, illuminated by the light of progress. No crime, no sin, had been committed in decades. The last vestiges of anarchy and resistance had died out soon after he began to broadcast his mutilations across the city via the picter interfaces available in every home, transmitting his victims' screaming over the planetary communications network.

Those executions, recorded in his throne room, ended what little crime remained. His people knew their superhuman ruler would take to the streets in vengeance at the slightest provocation. In their fear, the last souls holding out finally accepted the salvation he offered them.

Nostramo continued to trade its abundance of adamantium with the worlds in neighbouring star systems, which they had done for generations, though under the Night Haunter's kingship, planetary exports rose to unparalleled levels, as did the profits of such endeavour.

The city's foundries and forge fires burned hotter, the refineries and processing plants spread across the urban sprawl, and the mines clawed ever deeper into Nostramo's priceless crust.

Coming of the Emperor

"I felt I knew well why the Emperor's ship changed course for that bleak orb, even before consulting the cards of the Lesser Arcanoi. They described great wealth, prosperity, stability. The Moon, the Martyr and the Monster lay in a triangle. The King lay reversed at the feet of the Emperor. Strangely, the sign of Hope was also reversed, and the horrific aspect of Death, ever present, lay above the entire tableaux. But the course was set, my misgivings as a mere breath against the maelstrom of His will."

— A fragment of Astropath Thoquai's personal record, upon arrival of the Emperor's expeditionary fleet in the Nostramo System
Curze faces Vulkan

Primarch Konrad Curze as he appeared during the Great Crusade.

Curze foresaw the coming of his father, the Emperor of Mankind, for he knew all things. The answers came to him as they always did: in his dreams. Now master of his world, he found his transhuman senses sharpening beyond anything he had ever imagined possible.

He knew, on some voiceless level, he was becoming something, ripening, maturing into whatever he was born to be. The Emperor had watched the way that Nostramo worked from His divine auguries. The citizens were clean and efficient, working towards a common good with determination and silence. The night-shrouded streets were completely empty as the entire planet slept.

Though they lived in ignorance of the glory of the Imperium of Man, the Dark King undoubtedly possessed great authority and was able to command unquestioning respect. He had moulded his society into a model of productivity -- matchless productivity, natural conformity and total obedience.

A short time into the reign of the Night Haunter as Nostramo's "benevolent" dictator, the Emperor's Great Crusade finally reached the outskirts of the Nostraman star system. The coming of the Emperor of Mankind was an event that had been prophesied in Nostramo's history; an event that would lead to the planet's downfall.

The Emperor landed on Nostramo, and led an Imperial delegation to the centre of Nostramo Quintus on foot. The citizens of Nostramo, adapted to the near-constant darkness, could not bear to look upon the sheer radiance of the Emperor.

The city wept at what was remembered as the "Delegation of Light," weeping collectively, every man, woman and child gathered in the streets, their pale faces staring at the strangers in their midst, as the sky was brightened by the false stars of voidship engines.

Most wept as the healing light the Emperor projected reflected off the rain-slicked streets into their faces. The strangers walked in a slow, regal parade. The ground trembled, quite literally, with their rhythmic tread. They walked in great, grinding phalanxes, different formations wearing armour of black, of gold, of royal purple or earthen grey.

Giants led them. Giants towering above their warriors, just as their warriors towered above mortal men. Leading the giants was a sun incarnated in human skin; a god in a man's flesh; his soul-fire uncontainable in a sheath of flesh and bone. Those brave enough to look upon Him directly were blinded for daring to gaze at His radiant countenance.

Those afflicted spent the rest of their lives sightless but for the image of the living god flash-flamed into their dead retinas. At the end of the broad road leading to Night Haunter's palace at the city's heart, the primarch stood, waiting for the delegation to approach.

The army of strangers ceased as one, every single one of the quarter-million soldiers standing motionless in the same moment. The four giants stepped forwards. The blazing god led them. The first demigod, clad in wrought gold, inclined his white-haired head in majestic acknowledgement -- a king greeting an equal. He introduced himself as Rogal Dorn.

The Night Haunter said nothing, but in his mind's eye, he saw the giant die, dragged down by a hundred murderers in a dark tunnel, their knives and swords wet with the warrior's blood.

The second giant wore armour of patterned grey, etched with ten thousand words, as if a scholar had taken a quill to a stone. He nodded his shaven, tattooed head, likewise inked with scripture -- the lettering gold upon the tanned skin.

He introduced himself as Lorgar Aurelian, his voice a hymn where Dorn's had been a measured, stately demand. There was sorrow in his otherwise kind eyes -- sorrow at the dark city, its unhealthy people, the obviousness of their colourless, exhausting lives.

Again, the Night Haunter said nothing. He saw this warrior crowned in psychic fire, screaming up at a burning sky.

The third giant wore armour of riveted, dense black. His arms were solid silver, yet contoured and moving as living limbs. His voice was the steely grind of a foundry's bowels. He introduced himself as Ferrus Manus. His eyes were dark, but not cold.

The Night Haunter remained silent, seeing within his mind an image of the future in which this warrior's head was clutched by its empty eye sockets in another man's armoured fingers.

The last giant wore armour painted the violet of an alien sunset. His hair was silvery, long and elegant. He alone smiled, and he alone met the Night Haunter's eyes with warmth in his own. He introduced himself as Fulgrim.

The Night Haunter still said nothing. In the future that played out over and over, he saw this final giant in only the faintest of images; always slithering and laughing, never entirely visible.

At last, the golden god Himself stepped forwards, His arms wide open. He drew to speak, but as He did, Curze succumbed to a vision so potent and horrifying that he went to his knees and tried to claw his own eyes out, but was stopped by the Emperor.

He felt a hand upon his head, the excruciating pain died in a pulse, restoring his sanity in a moment of mercy. The Night Haunter then looked up to see the golden god, faceless and ageless, resolve into the image of a man.

The following words were recorded for posterity by those who witnessed this fateful meeting and still echo with terrible import across the gulf of time:

"Be at peace, Konrad Curze. I have arrived, and I intend to take you home."

"That is not my name, father. My people gave me a name, and I will bear it until my dying day. And I know full well what you intend for me."

Curze submitted to the Emperor's will as if he had already seen it, as if he was playing out a part he had long feared would fall to him. From that moment on, the fate of the VIIIth Legion was set on a path of oblivion.

Great Crusade

"Look out at my father's Imperium. Do not unroll a parchment map or analyse a hololithic starchart. Merely raise your head to the night sky and open your eyes. Stare into the blackness between worlds – that dark ocean, the silent sea. Stare into the million eyes of firelight – each a sun to be subjugated in the Emperor’s grip. The age of the alien, the era of the inhuman, is over. Mankind is in its ascendancy, and with ten thousand claws we will lay claim to the stars themselves.‘"

— Primarch Konrad Curze Addressing the VIII Legion during the Great Crusade
Culon Veterans

Culon Veterans of an unidentified Night Lords company and claw (squad) bring another world savagely into Imperial Compliance during the Great Crusade.

The Night Haunter quickly adapted to the teachings of the Imperium, studying the complex doctrines of the Legiones Astartes under the Primarch Fulgrim's tutelage. Curze came to greatly esteem Fulgrim, though he never particularly demonstrated it. For in addition to Fulgrim's kindness to Curze upon meeting him, the Emperor's Children primarch presented Curze with a highly appreciated oddity: Curze had not foreseen any sort of violence upon viewing Fulgrim for the first time. This was so pleasantly unusual for Curze that it immediately endeared Fulgrim to him. Night Haunter was soon accepted as the leader of the VIIIth Space Marine Legion that had been created from his genome, which he named the "Night Lords."

Although he and his Legion excelled in many theatres of war, a tendency soon became apparent. It never occurred to the Night Lords to use anything other than total, brutal and decisive force to achieve their goals. Over the first few standard years after his return, the Night Lords were molded by their primarch into an efficient, humourless force. The Night Haunter encouraged his Legion to decorate their power armour with images designed to inspire fear in the enemy, a tactic that proved incredibly effective.

From their inception, the Night Lords had served as the Emperor's terror weapon against particularly recalcitrant Human worlds, and the rediscovery of their primarch changed very little about them. The only real difference after Curze became their new master was their adoption of Curze's philosophy of preventing bloodshed through the application of terror. The Night Lords would descend upon some small portion of a target world in overwhelming force and visit utter butchery upon those they found there. They then offered peace to the rest of the world if it surrendered, while letting it be known that those who resisted would meet the same fate as those the Night Lords had already brutally slaughtered. This tactic usually had the desired effect as most target worlds capitulated without further bloodshed.

Soon, rumours of the impending presence of the Night Lords would cause a rebel star system to pay all outstanding Imperial tithes, cease all illegal activities and put to death any mutants and suspected traitors. The reuniting of primarch and Legion was the beginning of a spiral that would see the Night Lords descend further into horror and nihilism. Unfortunately, after Curze's departure, Nostramo shook off his enforced peace, returning to lawlessness. From this point forwards Nostramo fed the VIIIth Legion not with the finest of its youth, but with gutter scum soaked in blood and cruelty. Some claim that this began to poison the Legion, twisting its purpose and making many Night Lords simple murderers gifted with the strength of demi-gods.

This thesis, though, willfully ignores a number of factors, not least of which was Curze's leadership of his Legion. That he came to despise his own genetic sons is likely, but he was still their lord. Far from restraining the VIIIth Legion he drove it on, bringing peace through atrocity to planet after planet. Sometimes there seems to have been cause for such methods, but often the only explanations for the decimation of populations, for the skinning pits and crucified cities, seems to be that the Night Lords enjoyed it. They had become not necessary monsters, but simply monsters.

Curze quickly began to lose some of the control he held over his Legion's innate savagery, and the visions of a dark future that plagued him increased in both their lucidity and quantity.

Kon-Drayur Tactical Squad

Night Lords battle-brothers of the Kon-Drayur Tactical Squad rush into the fray.

As noted above, during the early Great Crusade the Night Lords had been used by the Emperor as a tool of terror to pacify rebellious planets that had been recently conquered by the other Space Marine Legions. Their fearsome reputation caused any rogue planetary governor or uprising of rebels against Imperial Compliance to quickly pay any outstanding tithes or quell their rebellions, as the Night Lords had been known to issue an Exterminatus order on several worlds for the most petty of crimes against the Imperium.

That the Emperor had concerns about the actions of the VIIIth Legion, and the apparent mental instability of their primarch is clear, but what is not clear is what was done to restrain Curze or his gene-sons. There were words, demands, perhaps even threats, but no action; no hand of judgement to throttle the Night Lords' crimes. Why this was so is a question that can never now be answered, and the Imperium was left only with the consequences. The chain of atrocities grew ever longer in the solar decades before Curze finally turned against the Emperor, like a path spiralling ever downwards into inevitable darkness.

Indeed, of all the Legions and their primarchs, the Night Lords were the most sinister and the most suspect, having been censured for the enormities and massacres carried out in the Emperor's service. They were creatures of the dark, harnessed to the will of a father wracked by righteousness and foreboding; what else could have been their fate but to fall back into the night from whence they came?

Rot Within

"We have received your offer of surrender and reject it; we did not come to receive your supplication but to enact judgement. The time to surrender has long passed. The verdict is writ by your own hands. Now is the time to die."

— Night Lords multi-channel Vox-broadcast, the Pacification of Listrantia IV
KonradCurzeCommanding

Konrad Curze, the Night Haunter, commands his Night Lords Legion.

As it became necessary to recruit additional Space Marines to replace those who fell in battle, Neophytes were brought from Nostramo to fill the gaps in the VIIIth Legion's ranks.

However, the planet had fallen back into its corrupt and decadent ways soon after the Night Haunter's departure, and only the strongest and most ruthless Nostraman criminals were now fit to join the Night Lords.

Amoral and vicious, they served only to further poison the VIIIth Legion and push it to increasing levels of cruelty that made Curze's fellow primarchs grow uneasy. Night Haunter began to lose some of the control he held over his savage Legion, and the prescient visions that plagued him increased in both lucidity and quantity.

Curze continued to be plagued with visions of his own death and of his Legion fighting its brother Astartes. As his mental anguish grew, so did his Legion's dark reputation.

Learning of the fate of his homeworld, Night Haunter tried to confide in his brother primarchs, but had never been close to them, and their reaction was less than favourable to his claims. Events reached a head following the pacification of the Cheraut System, a joint-Imperial Compliance action conducted by the Night Lords, Emperor's Children and Imperial Fists Legions.

Suffering from one of his violent fits, Fulgrim rushed to Curze's aid. The Night Lords primarch then confided in his brother of the dire visions that he had seen; his death at the hands of their father, that many of the primarchs would die fighting amongst themselves, and that the light the Emperor brought to his homeworld of Nostromo would destroy it forever.

Troubled by these dire portents, Fulgrim confided in his brother Rogal Dorn. Dorn took exception to this slight on the Emperor's name and confronted Curze. Shortly thereafter, Dorn was found unconscious and bleeding with great gouges of flesh ripped away from his torso.

Crouching above his fallen brother was the pallid form of the Night Haunter, weeping. Wracked with self-loathing and guilt, Curze was taken into custody and exiled to his chambers, while his brother primarchs discussed what actions to take against their deeply disturbed brother.

Hours later, when the council of primarchs finally disbanded, they found Night Haunter missing and the Imperial Fists' Huscarls honour guard that had been watching over him butchered.

By the time the primarchs gave chase, Night Haunter had already disappeared with his Legion into the Warp.

Death of Nostramo

"At times, in raptures of pain, I saw what was to occur laid out before me. In these waking dreams, I took countless lives with my bare hands, heads taken as trophies. I died again and again at the hands of my father. My sons butchered and maimed their brothers. My name was to become synonymous with dread. But most vividly and with most frequency, I saw my world pierced by a lance of purest light, splitting it, shattering it into dust."

— Konrad Curze's revelations revealed from his personal journals, The Dark, Volume Two
Destruction of Nostramo

The Destruction of Nostramo: the surface of the planet begins to tear itself apart after the precision Lance strikes of the Night Lords' fleet destabilised its volatile core.

Nostramo's death in 984.M30 came at the end of a long chain of events which saw the Night Lords relinquishing the last of their honour.

While much has long been made by historitors of the Drop Site Massacre being the first conflict between the Emperor's primarchs, this is not strictly true. There exists a single instance of a primarch turning upon one of his brothers and meting out grievous injury to them that predates both the conflicts in the Isstvan System and the Scouring of Prospero. That Konrad Curze sits at the heart of this incident, long concealed from historitors in the archives of the Imperial Palace, should elicit little surprise from those that know of the mental instability of the Night Haunter.

This incident occurred in the aftermath of the long and bloody Cheraut Compliance campaign, a conflict that saw elements of the Emperor's Children, Imperial Fists and the Night Lords Legions deployed to bring a particularly stubborn lost clade of Humanity under the rule of the Imperium. All three of those Legion's primarchs were present, a rare occurrence in those hectic days of conquest and expansion, with little common ground to be found between Rogal Dorn and Curze in the prosecution of the campaign. By the end of the fight, Curze's brutal methods and the indiscriminate slaughter he committed to pacify the defeated people of Cheraut had brought the relationship between those two disparate brothers to a razor's edge of bitterness.

The lack of moderation in the Night Lords' methods had long attracted scorn and hostility from the other Space Marine Legions. Even as the tally of disgust grew, Konrad Curze became increasingly plagued by visions and portents of ruin, calamity and betrayal. He saw everything he had striven for to be broken, the order and justice of the galaxy shattered and his gene-sons become monsters without cause or higher purpose. Curze became ever more withdrawn, what little had ever shone in his being guttering to nothing, and leaving him with nothing but darkness, deep depression and the constant screams of a lost future.

Learning that his homeworld had slipped back into corruption at the end of the Cheraut campaign, the Night Haunter tried to confide in his brother primarchs, but he had never been close to them, and their reaction was less than favourable to his claims. The scars left by his former life on Nostramo ran deep. Despite the fact that he spent much time with his less-dour peers at Cheraut, the Night Lords primarch kept himself at a distance, never able to join in their camaraderie or share their joy. He still fell into convulsions, plagued by prophetic visions of his own death, of his Night Lords fighting war after war against the other Legions. But despite the concern of his companions, he would not reveal any more than dark hints of the cause of his tormented spirit.

This feeling of isolation gradually grew into true paranoia, and the gulf between the Night Haunter and the brotherhood of the other primarchs only widened. Events reached a head following the end of the pacification of the Cheraut System.

After Curze confided in his mentor Fulgrim of the terrible things he had foreseen, the shocked primarch of the Emperor's Children repeated these grim tidings to his brother Rogal Dorn. Dorn, already angry with his brother over the Night Lords' conduct on Cheraut, took exception to the Night Haunter's slight of the Emperor's good name with such terrible deeds and confronted him. The exact events of what occurred between the two primarchs is not recorded in detail, but Dorn was found severely wounded and the Night Haunter's personal cadre of bodyguards slaughtered to a warrior.

Those warriors that had witnessed the event were sworn to silence, and the Night Haunter was placed under guard on Cheraut pending sentence by his brother primarchs. Yet there would be no secret trial nor penitent crusade for the Night Haunter, for the primarch of the Night Lords broke free of his confinement and left only more bloodied corpses in his wake in the course of his escape. Blood had been spilled between the Legions, a crack opened in what many had previously seen as a brotherhood to stand the test of time.

Once free of his confinement, Curze made haste and returned to Nostramo with his Legion and fulfilled one of his visions. Curze's judgement was simple and swift; the Night Lords destroyed Nostramo. A few Imperial pursuit craft arrived just in time to see the Night Lords' starships open their laser batteries into the hole in the planet's surface that had been left by Night Haunter's arrival through the Warp solar decades earlier.

Nostramo's core destabilised and the world tore itself apart. As a primarch and a Lord of Crusades, it was Curze's right to liberate or destroy the world as he saw fit, but in the moment that Nostramo died, the Night Lords lost their last tether to restraint, though it would take the treachery of others to bring this change to light. Some believe that Curze's destruction of his homeworld was also as much a symbol of defiance to his brother primarchs as an act intended to return his former domain to some semblance of order.

Here accounts of Curze's next actions differ based on the sources. One account holds that in the wake of Nostramo's destruction, Curze and the Night Lords Legion were recalled to Terra to explain their behaviour, where they were then reprimanded by the Emperor and the Council of Terra. The last straw for the Emperor was when the Night Lords had unleashed an Exterminatus upon their own homeworld.

Curze explained his actions to the Emperor by pointing out that Nostramo, in the Legion's absence, had slid back into its old ways of cruel violence and crime. He and the Night Lords were embittered by what they saw as the Emperor's and the Council of Terra's hypocrisy when they were censured for their brutality even as the Emperor had unleashed a Great Crusade that used military power to forcibly reunite the scattered worlds of Humanity, regardless of those planets' own wishes.

The Night Lords thought that the Emperor would acknowledge that their actions had been in the right. They also felt that these actions were the direct consequence of the mission that the Imperium had always tasked them with, which was essentially that of "sanctioned" terrorism against all who opposed the expansion of the Imperium and its mission to reunite all the worlds of Mankind across the galaxy.

To Curze, it seemed that the Emperor had castigated him for carrying out the same actions that had once been deemed so vital to the Imperium's formation. Curze believed the Emperor to be a hypocrite who was unwilling to face the reality of the means that His dream of Human reunification actually required to be brought into being.

A different account claims that after the destruction of Nostramo, Curze and his Legion disappeared into the hinterlands of the ongoing Great Crusade rather than return to Terra to face judgement. In this account, no news of this quiet rebellion by one of the primarchs ever reached the wider Imperium, no writs of condemnation or denouncement issued from the Imperial court or Council of Terra or punitive fleets sent in search of the errant primarch. Elements of the Night Lords present in other expeditionary fleets faced no censure and the Night Haunter himself kept to the dark places beyond the borders of known Imperial space, killing and conquering as he always had in the Emperor's name.

In truth, the great and the wise of the Imperium placed a higher value on the unity of the Emperor's crusade across the stars than on the open punishment of a warlord who had erred, perhaps even fearing what they might unleash should they force Konrad Curze's hand. Instead they resorted to more subtle punishments, ending the shipments of supplies to the sectors held by the Night Lords and effectively banishing the Night Haunter from the ranks of the Great Crusade's vanguard.

By the early years of the 31st Millennium the Court of Terra deemed this punishment complete and issued an order for the Night Haunter's recall, granting him a place in the Loyalist fleet that assembled to meet the sudden betrayal of Horus Lupercal at Isstvan.

Horus Heresy

"Hatred is never so sweet, and vengeance never so pleasurable, than when it is applied to one once loved."

— Nostraman Proverb

Betrayal

History has often seen the Night Haunter as the most obvious example of evil within the ranks of the Traitor primarchs. After all, both his bloody proclivities and penchant for torture were well-known among his brothers long before the Horus Heresy began. Worse still was the matter of the brutal destruction of his own homeworld of Nostramo, and his assault on his brother Rogal Dorn and subsequent incarceration on Cheraut, which had not yet become common knowledge in the final years of the Great Crusade. Yet these are but small parts of the tragedy of Konrad Curze, whose true burden was to have been too much the son of his father.

Like several of his primarch brothers, Curze had inherited a fragment of the psychic precognitive abilities of the Emperor, a tiny shard of His vision that was flawed in its purpose. For where the Emperor could see all the many possible futures and chart a course through them, Curze saw only a single strand of the whole schema of possibilities, a dark path of failure and death that would sour his mind and cloud his purpose. No matter his successes or achievements, no matter how far he rose from the ignominy and horror of his childhood on the foul streets of the hive cities of Nostramo, his visions would never change, always showing him the same dark fate for himself and his Legion. It slowly drove him towards madness and produced constant mental instability.

By the final years of the Great Crusade, Curze stood on the very edge of sanity and none can know his true reasons for joining the Warmaster Horus' rebellion against the Emperor. Was it a desire to make one final attempt to break free of the fate he foresaw for himself and the Imperium, or simply a need to wash away the ever present visions with blood and death? All that is certain is that when he went to war in the later Thramas Crusade, he was but a shadow of the warrior and general he had once been.

The purpose he had torn from the ruin of Nostramo was overwhelmed by despair and anger, and his soul was left empty. Even as the gene-father of the VIIIth Legion searched for a new purpose, so too did his sons, now bereft of any guidance but their own bloody natures and terrible pasts. Some yet remembered the days of the Great Crusade when they had stood as a Legion, an army of brothers, and sought to build a better realm than that which they had been spawned from, while others sought only the red release of death and slaughter, an empire of corpses and blood.

With Curze lost to dark dreams and old obsessions, it would be his gene-sons who charted the course of the Legion, some seeking to restore their lord to his former dark splendour and others to plunge him into madness forever. The war for the Thramas Sector and the worlds of the Eastern Fringe that would so consume the Night Lords during the Horus Heresy would also be the war for the soul of a Space Marine Legion and the destiny of its primarch.

Acceptance of a Dark Future

"I have seen darkness, witnessed it in my dreams. I am standing at the edge of a chasm. There is no escaping it, I know my fate. For it is the future and nothing can prevent it coming to pass. So I step off and welcome the dark."

— Konrad Curze,the "Night Haunter"
Rad-Urzon Veterans

Rad-Urzon Veterans of the Night Lords Legion bring fear and death to another world.

By the end of the Great Crusade, the Night Lords were a Legion set upon a course that would lead them inevitably to their destruction, a course whose origin could be found on distant Terra and the inscrutable plans of the Emperor, but that would see its bitter end among the dim stars of the Eastern Fringe. As was fitting for a Legion of such ill-repute and terrible mien, it would not go meekly to meet this ordained fate nor accept without bloodshed an end to the path they hadchosen to walk.

Amid the turmoil and destruction of the Horus Heresy the first signs of that which awaited them would appear, heralded by the Night Haunter himself, and the Legion would turn upon itself in an orgy of violence in an effort to sever itself from the curse of its primarch. This was not the end that they stumbled ever closer too, that the Night Haunter had seen in a thousand cursed dreams, but merely a foretaste of the horror that was to come. For despite the grim fervour with which they struggled, the Night Lords sought the wrong foes for their rage, choosing to blame a corruption they saw within their own ranks as though it had been brought to them from the outside.

Instead, the curse they sought to end had ever lived at the heart of the Legion, a blight that had festered in the place that it had been set by the Emperor's own hand, in aid of plans incomprehensible to the minds of mere mortals -- the Night Haunter himself.

Afflicted by the curse of seeing but a fragment of the foresight that guided his gene-father, Konrad Curze had seen the grim possibility that waited for him and his gene-sons on the far side of the Horus Heresy. Once he had sought to fight that possibility, to struggle against the future hoping that his dark dreams would clear, that the blood he shed and the lives he had claimed would be enough to shift the path of the future ever so slightly. That the dreams that had haunted his mind, the visions of a dark and terrible future would clear and be replaced, that he might find a place in the empire his father sought to build among the stars.

Yet even after Horus shattered the course of the Emperor's plans and remade the future of the Imperium itself, Cruze's vision remained constant and unchanging, a curse that he came to believe was inevitable and immovable. That all the struggle and death had been in vain, that it had all meant nothing, worked on the mind of the primarch in a manner more catastrophic than the cut of any blade, a wound that no chirurgeon could mend.

Thus, by the time of the Thramas Crusade he had come to embrace his doom, to revel in the futility of his existence and the bleak truth he thought he had discovered.

Angered by the Emperor's rejection of their methods of protecting and extending His realm, the Night Lords and their primarch willingly joined the Warmaster Horus in his rebellion against the Throne of Terra. When the Warmaster revealed his treachery during the Isstvan III Atrocity and plunged the galaxy into the fires of civil war, Konrad Curze would eventually throw himself into a bitter campaign of death and destruction, giving full vent to his most violent urges.

When Imperial forces were assembled to strike against Horus and the four turncoat Traitor Legions who had joined him in the Battle of Isstvan III, there were many who were surprised to learn that the Night Lords had answered the call. For years the VIIIth Legion had existed on the border between sanction and censure, fighting its own wars of terror like shadows within the forces of the Great Crusade.

Such was the desperate spirit of those times that few questioned Curze's aid, and those who did perhaps remembered the Night Lords' need to punish those who strayed from the light. As the treachery of the Drop Site Massacre would show, however, the Night Lords had not forsaken contact with all elements of the Great Crusade, and their need for retribution had led them to become the Traitors and criminals they had once loathed.

Once unfettered by Horus' need to drive on Terra and their tenuous allegiance with the powers of Chaos, the Night Lords went on to conduct a campaign of terror that continues to echo down the millennia to this day, wreaking bloody murder across the galaxy. The Night Lords would participate in the epic Siege of Terra and the Siege of the Imperial Palace by the forces of Chaos. Immediately after the death of Horus, the Night Lords went on a killing spree in the Eastern Fringes of the galaxy that caused havoc for long Terran years after the Horus Heresy had ended.

After this atrocity, Curze and his VIIIth Legion left a trail of violence and atrocity across the sectors they conquered. They now killed merely for the sake of causing pain and suffering, while spreading fear and death in their wake. The Night Haunter also began to change, denouncing the Emperor of Mankind as a weakling and a hypocrite, and transforming into a hunched and terrible predator. Many believe it was during this period that the primarch began to heed the whispered temptations of Chaos.

The campaigns of the Night Lords became less justifiable, little more than terror campaigns that left behind devastated worlds across the galaxy. The Night Haunter no longer crusaded in the Emperor's name, instead fighting only in the name of death and fear. Eventually, the Emperor was forced to order the recall of Night Haunter to answer charges laid against him and his warriors by the other primarchs and the citizens of various worlds that had felt the terrible onslaught of the Night Lords Legion. But before the Night Lords reached Terra, a new crisis for the Imperium erupted.

The Night Haunter did not fall during the Horus Heresy, and neither did he receive the dark blessing of the Ruinous Powers in the form of apotheosis to Daemonhood. Instead, he met his end at the hand of an assassin of the Callidus Temple named M'Shen on the planet Tsagualsa, where the VIIIth Legion had built its fortress after the destruction of Nostramo.

It is known that throughout his life Curze had possessed the gift (many would say curse) of psychic foresight; he was constantly struck with powerful visions of the worst of all possible futures, and that his last had been a foretelling that he would die at the hand of one such as M'Shen. This prophetic psychic ability was passed on to other Night Lords who share their gene-sire's genetic heritage. This was a unique trait, as it is said to be unrelated to Warp taints or other known psychic properties. It is believed that Curze let his assassination happen, in order to show his father, the Emperor of Mankind, that he stood by his beliefs as surely as the Emperor stood by His. While acknowledging his own crimes against humanity, Curze also stated that his martyrdom would ultimately vindicate him and his methods.

Curze ordered his Legion not to pursue his assassin, a last wish that was eventually disobeyed. The primarch's acceptance of his own fate confirmed his bleak worldview, granting him a victory he could never attain under the rule of his father. His death did not slow the Night Lords down, as they continued to apply themselves to his mantra and are specialists in the application of terror and the tactics of fear to this day. Though they paid lip service to the Ruinous Powers of Chaos and certainly felt its insidious pull, in the end the Night Lords, like their primarch, served only their own twisted conception of justice.

Drop Site Massacre

Night Lords Istvaan V vid-log

Ancient pict-capture from a vid-log showing a Night Lords Terror Squad hunting for surviving Loyalists on Istvaan V

After the news of the Isstvan III Atrocity was brought to the Emperor by the Loyalists aboard the Death Guard Frigate Eisenstein, He ordered the combined forces of seven Space Marine Legions to assault the positions of Horus and his Traitor Legions in the Isstvan System. Horus had decided to make his stand on the surface of Isstvan V. The Imperium of Man had sent 7 Legions to kill its wayward scion, little knowing that four of them had already spat on their oaths of allegiance to the Imperial Throneworld and its master.

The Fidelitas Lex, Lorgar's flagship, played host to a secret gathering of rare significance. There were commanders from the Night Lords, Alpha Legion, Iron Warriors as well as three additional primarchs: Night Haunter, Alpharius and Perturabo. Lorgar strode to the centre of the gathering of Traitors. He proceeded to impress upon the gathering of his sons, brothers and cousin Astartes the importance of their cause, and of the significance this day would hold in history.

The Word Bearers and their allies believed that the Imperium had failed them by being flawed to its core, imperfect in its pursuit of a perfect culture, and in its weakness against the encroachment of xenos breeds that sought to twist Humanity to alien ends. And it had failed them, most of all, by being founded upon the lies of rationalism and atheism that defined the Imperial Truth. The Imperium had been forged under the aegis of a dangerous deceit, demanding that its citizens and their defenders sacrifice truth on the altar of necessity. This was an empire that deserved to die. And on Isstvan V the purge would begin.

From the ashes Lorgar promised would rise the new kingdom of Mankind: an Imperium of justice, faith and enlightenment. An Imperium heralded, commanded and protected by the avatars of the Chaos Gods themselves. An empire strong enough to stand through a future of blood and fire. Now the Traitors would declare their intentions openly. There would be no more manipulating fleet movements and falsifying expeditionary data. Now the Alpha Legion, the Word Bearers, the Iron Warriors and the Night Lords would stand together with their comrades in the Sons of Horus, World Eaters, Emperor's Children and Death Guard Legions – bloodied but unbowed beneath the flag of the Warmaster Horus, the rightful second Emperor of Mankind. The true Emperor. When Lorgar had finished speaking, First Captain Sevatar of the Night Lords Legion declared, "Death to the False Emperor!" In so doing, he became the first living soul to utter those words that would echo from the throats of countless others through the millennia of the Long War that was to come. The cry was taken up by other voices, and soon it was cried in full-throated roars, "Death to the False Emperor! Death to the False Emperor! Death! Death! Death!"

The Traitor forces composed of the World Eaters, Death Guard, Sons of Horus and Emperor's Children deployed throughout the defences constructed along the ridge of the Urgall Depression, making ready for the howling storm of battle that was soon to descend upon them. Behind them, long range support squads manned the walls of the fortress, and Traitor Army artillery pieces waited to shower any attacker with high explosive death. The Legio Mortis Imperator-class Titan Dies Irae stood before the wall, its colossal guns primed and ready to visit destruction on the enemies of the Warmaster. Hundreds of thousands Astartes hunkered down on the northern edge of the Urgall, their guns ready and their hearts steeled to the necessity of what must come. For long minutes, the forces of the Emperor that had moved into orbit over Istvaan V pounded the Urgall Plateau from orbit, a firestorm of unimaginable ferocity hammering the surface of Istvaan V with the power of the world’s end. Eventually, the horrific bombardment ceased and the drifting echoes of its power faded, along with the acrid smoke of explosions, but the Emperor’s Children had performed perfectly in creating a network of defences from which to face their former brothers, and the forces of the Warmaster had been well-protected. From his vantage point in the ruins of an alien-built keep, Horus smiled, and watched the sky darken once again as thousands upon thousands of Drop Pods and Stormbirds streaked through the atmosphere towards the planet’s surface to carry out the initial Loyalist assault.

The first wave was under the overall command of the Primarch Ferrus Manus and besides his own Iron Hands Legion, the Salamanders led by Vulkan and the Raven Guard under the command of their Primarch Corvus Corax joined him. Vulkan's Legion assaulted the left flank of the Traitors' battle line while Ferrus Manus, the Iron Hands' First Captain Gabriel Santor, and 10 full companies of elite Morlocks Terminators charged straight into the centre of the enemy lines. Meanwhile, Corax's Legion hit the right flank of the enemy's position. The odds were considered equal. Horus was aware of the location of the Loyalists' chosen drop site and his troops fell upon the Loyalist Legions. The battlefield of Istvaan V was a slaughterhouse of epic proportions. Treacherous warriors twisted by hatred fought their former brothers-in-arms in a conflict unparalleled in its bitterness. The mighty Titan war engines of the Machine God walked the planet’s surface and death followed in their wake. The blood of heroes and traitors flowed in rivers, and the hooded Heretek Adepts of the Dark Mechanicum unleashed perversions of ancient technology stolen from the Auretian Technocracy to wreak bloody havoc amongst the Loyalists. Hundreds, perhaps even thousands of Traitors had been slaughtered in the opening moments of the assault. All across the Urgall Depression, hundreds died with every passing second, the promise of inevitable death a pall of darkness that hung over every warrior. Thousands were dying every minute, the slaughter terrible to behold. Blood ran in rivers down the slopes of the Urgall Depression, carving thick, sticky runnels in the dark sand. Such destruction had never yet been concentrated in such a horrifically confined space, enough martial power to conquer an entire planetary system having been unleashed in a line less than twenty kilometres wide.

The slaughter continued unabated, on a scale never before seen, with neither side able to press home their advantages. The Traitors were well dug-in and had defensible positions, but the Loyalists had landed almost directly on top of them with numerical superiority. The bloodletting was a truly horrific sight as warriors who had once sworn great oaths of loyalty to one another fought their brothers with nothing but hatred in their hearts. No Legion fared well in the slaughter, as the scale of the fighting rendered tactics meaningless as the two armies battered each other bloody in a remorseless conflict that threatened to destroy them all. The Traitor forces held, but their line was bending beneath the fury of the first Loyalist assault. It would take only the smallest twists of fate for it to break. The forces on the surface were in combat for almost three hours with no clear victor emerging. The Loyalists waited for the second wave of "allies" to make planetfall, believing they would be reinforced for their final advance. The Traitors all knew the parts they had to play in this deadly performance. They were all aware of the blood they needed to shed to install Horus as the Master of Mankind.

Though the Iron Hands, Raven Guard and Salamanders had managed to make a full combat drop and secure the Loyalist drop site, known as the Urgall Depression, they did so at a heavy cost. What had begun as a massed strike against the Traitors’ position was rapidly turning into one of the largest engagements of the entire Great Crusade. For all the wrong reasons, this battle was soon to go down in the annals of Imperial history as one of the most epic confrontations ever fought.

The Urgall Depression was churned to ruination beneath the boots and tank treads of countless thousands of Astartes warriors and their Legion's armour divisions. The Loyalist primarchs could be found where the fighting was thickest: Corax of the Raven Guard, borne aloft on black wings bound to a fire-breathing flight pack; Lord Ferrus of the Iron Hands at the heart of the battlefield, his silver hands crushing any Traitors that came within reach, while he pursued and dragged back those who sought to withdraw; and lastly, Vulkan of the Salamanders, armoured in overlapping Artificer plating, thunder clapping from his warhammer as it pounded into yielding armour, shattering it like porcelain.

The traitorous primarchs slew in mirror image to their brothers: Angron of the World Eaters hewing with wild abandon as he raked his Chainaxes left and right, barely cognizant of who fell before him; Fulgrim of the lamentably-named Emperor’s Children, laughing as he deflected the clumsy sweeps of Iron Hands warriors, never stopping in his graceful movements for even a moment; Mortarion of the Death Guard, in disgusting echo of ancient Terran myth, harvesting life with each reaving sweep of his great Warscythe.

And then there was Horus Lupercal, the Warmaster of the Imperium, the brightest star and greatest of the Emperor’s sons. He stood watching the destruction while his Legions took to the field, their liege lord content in his fortress rising from the far edge of the ravine. He was shielded and unseen by his brothers still waging war in the Emperor’s name. At last, above this maelstrom of grinding ceramite, booming tank cannons and chattering Bolters -- the gunships, Drop Pods and assault landers of the second Loyalist wave burned through the atmosphere on screaming thrusters. The sky fell dark as the weak sun was eclipsed by ten thousand avian shadows, and the cheering roar sent up by the Loyalists at the arrival of their comrades was loud enough to shake the air itself. Like fiery comets from the heavens, the thrusters of countless drop-ships, landers and assault craft broke through the fire-shot clouds of smoke and descended to the Loyalist landing zone on the northern edge of the Urgall Depression. Hundreds of Stormbirds and Thunderhawks roared towards the surface, their armoured hulls gleaming as the power of another four Legiones Astartes came to Istvaan, their heroic names legendary, their mighty deeds known the length and breadth of the galaxy: the Alpha Legion, Word Bearers, Night Lords, and Iron Warriors.

The Traitors, the bloodied and battered Legions loyal to Horus, fell into a fighting withdrawal without hesitation. Overwhelmed with rage, the headstrong Ferrus Manus disregarded the counsel of his brothers Corax and Vulkan and hurled himself against the fleeing rebels, seeking to bring Fulgrim to personal combat. His veteran troops -- comprising the majority of the Xth Legion's Terminators and Dreadnoughts -- followed.

The second wave of "Loyalist" Space Marine Legions descended upon the landing zone on the northern edge of the Urgall Depression. Hundreds of Stormbirds and Thunderhawks roared towards the surface, their armoured hulls gleaming as the power of another four Astartes Legions arrived on Istvaan V. Yet the Space Marine Legions of the reserve were no longer loyal to the Emperor, having already secretly sworn themselves to Chaos and the cause of Horus. The Night Lords of Konrad Curze, the Iron Warriors of Perturabo, the Word Bearers of Lorgar Aurelian, and the Alpha Legion of Alpharius represented a force larger than that which had first begun the assault on Istvaan V. The secret Traitor Legions mustered in the landing zone, armed and ready for battle, unbloodied and fresh.

The Iron Warriors had claimed the highest ground, taking the Loyalist landing site with all the appearance of reinforcing it through the erection of prefabricated plasteel bunkers. Bulk landers dropped the needed battlefield architecture: dense metal frames fell from the cargo claws of carrier ships at low altitude, and as the platforms crashed and embedded themselves in the ground, the craftsmen-warriors of the IV Legion worked, affixed, bolted and constructed them into hastily-rising firebases. Turrets rose from their protective housing in the hundreds, while hordes of lobotomised Servitors trundled from the holds of Iron Warriors troopships, single-minded in their intent to link with the weapons systems’ interfaces. The Word Bearers bolstered their brother Legions on one flank of the Urgall Depression while the Night Lords took positions on the opposite side. Down the line, past the mounting masses of Iron Warriors battle tanks and assembling Astartes, First Captain Sevatar of the Night Lords and his 1st Company elite, the Atramentar, took up defensive positions. Both the Word Bearers and the Night Lords were to be the anvil, while the Iron Warriors would be the hammer yet to fall. The enemy would stagger back to them, exhausted, clutching empty Bolters and broken blades, believing their presence to be a reprieve.

Dragging their wounded and dead behind them, Corax and Vulkan led their forces back to the drop site to regroup and to allow the warriors of their recently arrived brother primarchs of the second wave a measure of the glory in defeating Horus. Though they voxed hails requesting medical aid and supply, the line of newly-arrived Astartes atop the northern ridge remained grimly silent as the exhausted warriors of the Raven Guard and Salamanders came to within a hundred metres of their allies. It was then that Horus revealed his perfidy and sprung his lethal trap. Inside the black alien fortress where Horus had made his lair, a lone flare shot skyward, exploding in a hellish red glow that lit the battlefield below. The fire of betrayal roared from the barrels of a thousand guns, as the second wave of Astartes revealed where their true loyalties now lay. The Loyalists' supposed "allies" opened fire upon the Salamanders and Raven Guard, killing hundreds in the fury of the first few moments, hundreds more in the seconds following, as volley after volley of Bolter fire and missiles scythed through their unsuspecting ranks. Even as terrifying carnage was being wreaked upon the Loyalists below, the retreating forces of the Warmaster turned and brought their weapons to bear on the enemy warriors within their midst. Hundreds of World Eaters, Sons of Horus and Death Guard Astartes fell upon the veteran companies of the Iron Hands, and though the warriors of the Xth Legion continued to fight gallantly, they were hopelessly outnumbered and would soon be hacked to pieces. The Iron Hands had damned themselves by remaining in the field instead of retreating like their fellows.

The Raven Guard's front ranks went down as if scythed, harvested in a spilling line of detonating Bolter shells, shattered armour and puffs of bloody mist. Black-armoured Astartes tumbled to their hands and knees, only to be cut down by the sustained volley, finishing those who fell beneath the initial storm of head- and chest-shots. Seconds after the first chatter of Bolters, achingly bright laser beams slashed from behind the Word Bearers as the cannon mounts of Land Raiders, Predators and defensive bastion turrets gouged through the Raven Guard and the ground they stood upon. The Iron Warriors and Word Bearers kept reloading, opening fire again, hurling grenades and then preparing to fall back. The Word Bearers Legion had taken up landing positions on the west of the field, ready to sweep down and engage the Raven Guard from the flank.

Taking stock of their dire situation, the Primarchs Corax and Vulkan differed over how to salvage what they could from the situation. The Salamanders' primarch suggested that the Loyalists attempt to make a tactical withdrawal to their respective drop ships and dig in to resist any further attacks. Corax advocated instead that the Loyalists should do whatever they could to make good their escape from the slaughter as the battle was lost. Neither primarch could agree with the other, and so Corax turned from Vulkan and ordered his Legion to retreat. A short while later, a direct artillery strike hit the primarchs' position. By the grace of the Emperor, Corax somehow managed to survive, but the fate of his brother Vulkan was unknown.

Amidst the carnage and the slaughter, Corax, primarch of the Raven Guard charged into the ranks of the Traitorous Word Bearers, a blur of charcoal armour and black blades, butchering with an ease that belied his ferocity. Soon the voices of dying Word Bearers became a conflicting chorus over the Vox as they screamed for help. Soon the raven met the heretic in a clash of crozius and claw. The primarchs fought in furious combat -- Corax fighting to kill, while Lorgar fought to stay alive. Corax lashed out furiously with his pair of Lightning Claws across Lorgar's face, cutting the meat of his cheeks deeply. Even should Lorgar somehow manage to escape his ultimate fate this day, he would bear these scars until the day he died.

The two primarchs traded vicious blows, but the Raven Lord had the advantage not only of speed and finesse, but of also being a penultimate warrior with decades of fighting experience. Lorgar did not, for he had always been more of a scholar than a warrior, and his lack of experience cost him dearly as Corax impaled Lorgar through his stomach, the tips of his metre-long talons glinting to the side of his spine as they thrust out his back. Such a blow meant little to a primarch – only when Corax heaved upwards did Lorgar stagger. The claws bit and cut, sawing through the Word Bearer’s body. Lorgar fell to his knees, hands clutched over the ruination of his stomach. As Corax stepped closer, he raised his one functioning claw to execute his brother. Lorgar screamed his defiance at the raven. As the claw fell, it struck opposing metal.

Corax looked to meet eyes as black as his, in a face as pale as his own. His claw strained against a mirroring weapon, both sets of blades scraping as they ground against each other. One claw seeking to fall and kill, the other unyielding in its rising defence. Where the Raven Guard primarch’s features were fierce with effort, the other face wore a grin. It was a smile both taut and mirthless -- a dead man’s smile, once his lips surrendered to rigor mortis. It was the Night Haunter. Corax sought to wrench his claw free, but Curze’s second gauntlet closed on his brother's wrist, so that Corax would be unable to fly away and escape his fate. Curze looked upon his prostrate brother and ordered him to rise from his knees, disgusted at his cowardice. Corax was not idle as this exchange took place. He fired his flight pack, burning his fuel reserves to escape Curze’s grip. The Raven Lord’s claw ripped free, and Corax soared skyward, carried on jet thrust away from Curze’s rising laughter. Curze then shoved Lorgar back towards his Word Bearers.

Though grievously wounded, Lorgar would live. The Traitors had carried the day and dealt the Emperor and the Imperium a grievous blow. As the Horus Heresy began in earnest, Horus now possessed nine Space Marine Legions and had all but destroyed three of the remaining nine Loyalist Legions. The path to Terra was wide open, and the decisive Battle of Terra and the Siege of the Imperial Palace would follow after seven more years of blood and terror as the Traitor Legions penetrated to the very heart of the Imperium of Man.

Torture of Vulkan

Vulkan had survived the nuclear fire of the Iron Warriors' orbital strike, where so many of his sons did not. Finding himself surrounded by hundreds of Traitor Legionaries from both the Night Lords and the Iron Warriors, Vulkan resigned himself to his fate. Fighting valiantly, the primarch fought to the death, but was eventually overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of the enemy and was shot, stabbed and bludgeoned into unconsciousness. The Night Haunter, now inherently insane, saw the opportunity to torment his fallen brother and took the unconscious Vulkan as his prisoner. When the Salamanders' primarch finally awoke, he found himself fettered in massive chains aboard a gaol-hulk belonging to the VIIIth Legion. Over the span of several months, the Night Haunter took sadistic pleasure in attempting to break both Vulkan's body and mind, or kill him outright. But the task proved impossible, as every time Curze thought he had succeeded in killing his brother, Vulkan's body would miraculously regenerate to its former healthy state. Vulkan had been revealed to be a "Perpetual", a being who was capable of continuous cellular regeneration and therefore was effectively immortal, much like their father, the Emperor of Mankind. Enraged, Curze took it upon himself to kill Vulkan as many times as was necessary to permanently rid himself of his intolerable presence. The Night Haunter personally beheaded the Salamanders' primarch, ripped out his throat with a piece of cutlery, stabbed him through the chest and virtually tore him limb from limb with his own wicked claws. When these attempts failed to kill Vulkan, Curze had him eviscerated, shot at close-range by hundreds of Bolters, put into a ventilation shaft of a starship's engine and even stripped naked and thrown out of an airlock into the airless void of space. But the Night Haunter's efforts proved all for naught.

Each time the Night Haunter thought he had successfully murdered his brother primarch, Vulkan's body would continue to regenerate back to its former vigorous state, further enraging the Night Lords' primarch. With his unnatural abilities to regenerate revealed to him, Curze attempted to make Vulkan admit that he was no less a monster than himself. To further torment his brother, the Night Haunter had Davinite sorcerer-priests use the fell powers gifted to them by the Ruinous Powers to ensnare Vulkan's mind and run him through a series of illusionary mental trials where he continuously failed at some noble task, resulting in the deaths of innocents. But even this form of sorcerous torture failed to break the resolute Vulkan. Fed up with his insufferable prisoner, the Night Haunter devised a final solution to his problem of ridding himself of the Salamander's presence. Vulkan's fate would be decided in a duel to the death.

He offered his brother a means of escape and achieving that which he had sought for so long -- his freedom. All he had to do was navigate a labyrinth, where, at the centre of it, lay his personal warhammer Dawnbringer. But this was no ordinary maze. At the request of Night Haunter, the Iron Warriors' Primarch Perturabo had crafted him the singular prison, unlike any other, in imitation of his own private sanctorum known as the Cavea Ferrum. This special prison was an elaborate labyrinth, whose featureless walls and strange geometric design made it all but impossible to map and therefore escape. Anyone who attempted to mentally map the labyrinth would be hopelessly knotted in turns that should have been physically impossible. Even after trying scores of times to map the labyrinth, an individual would only manage more than a handful of turns within its twisting corridors before it all stopped making sense. But despite the odds, Vulkan did the impossible, and managed to find his way to the center of the maze and reclaim his hammer. With his weapon in hand, he managed to overpower his gaoler Curze, and activate the secret personal teleporter built into the head of the finely wrought warhammer. Vulkan immediately transported halfway across the galaxy, and reappeared in the upper atmosphere of the Ultramarines Legion's homeworld of Macragge. As he fell from an impossible height, his body was burned to a crisp upon reentry. But before his mind faded into blackness, Vulkan was content that he would soon find himself whole once again, and in the care of his Ultramarran cousins.

Outriders of Rebellion

Outwardly, the Night Lords began the Horus Heresy as a strong force in the host of the Warmaster Horus, a Legion tempered by war and set in its own grudge against the Loyalist cause. The imprisonment of Konrad Curze on Ceraut prior to the destruction of Nostramo and the subsequent incident with Rogal Dorn were seen by many among the Traitors to grant the Night Haunter their trust. Knowing this, Horus sought to put the Night Lords to use in the vanguard of his plans and in the wake of the destruction of the Drop Site Massacre, Horus had set them to the tasks he had woven for the Emperor's demise.

For the Night Lords, the Warmaster set the task of running at the forefront of his host, inciting fear and unrest among those worlds yet undecided in their loyalties. By the point of the Night Lords' skinning knives would Horus show these worlds the cost of his animosity, and to those who chose to bend the knee before him, he would grant his protection and a relief from the predations of his servants.

As the harbingers of the Traitors and the emissaries of Horus' Dark Compliance, the Night Lords would usher dozens of star systems into the growing empire of Horus, each cowed by the knowledge of the horrors that had befallen those who refused. Within the space of a few short solar months most of the northern reaches of the Imperium were under the Traitors' control, a stable base from which Horus could prepare his assault on the Imperium's heart and one that could not function with a blight like the Night Lords running rampant within its borders.

For in every minor drop in production and each misfortune that befell the newly-conquered worlds, the Night Haunter saw the most dire of treacheries and meted out the only punishment he knew: death in its most terrible form. Such a scourge soon proved more damaging to the amassing of munitions and arms than it was beneficial to the enforced loyalty of the conquered.

That which had begun on Terra as a force that shaped cruelty into a tool had become in some cases little more than an undisciplined mob that saw cruelty as the goal and not the means to a greater end. It was no longer the precise weapon that the Legions had been envisioned to be, but rather an indiscriminate scourge that sought to sate its thirst for instilling terror on any that crossed its path. Left to its own devices and the ever-darkening wishes of its master, the Night Lords would surely have proved a thorn in Horus' careful preparations, and so the Warmaster granted them a new task, one that would see their unique talents put to good use.

As they had in the north so would the Night Lords serve in the Eastern Fringe of the galaxy, as the harbingers of the dark empire and the will of Horus. They would bring new territories and new sources of power and resources into the fold of the Traitors, strengthening the growing armada that Horus intended to unleash upon Terra.

An Empire of Fear

Upon the dim stars of the Nostramo Sector, Horus would first unleash the Night Lords. Those worlds that had once bent the knee to the Night Haunter, before his sudden departure from Imperial space in the years after his imprisonment on Cheraut and the destruction of Nostramo in 984.M30, would once again face the judgement of the Night Haunter. Consisting of nearly a hundred inhabited star systems, many including long-established and heavily populated Hive Worlds, the Nostramo Sector remained a valuable recruiting and manufacturing hub for the Traitor forces, even after the destruction of its capital world.

Here could be found in abundance desperate and bitter souls to take up arms in the name of the Warmaster and prosecute his wars against a distant Terra that had long dictated their trials and misfortunes, and whose labour could be swiftly turned to the service of Horus' growing hosts. In form the sector was perfectly suited to the rebels and ripe for the taking, owing as it did little fealty or allegiance to any Loyalist faction or warlord. The Night Haunter and his Legion, seen from without, were the perfect tools for its conquest. This would be a rare error in judgement by Horus, for the Night Haunter would prove ill-suited to the task he was assigned.

Long had the worlds that surrounded now-dead Nostramo suffered under the rule of the Night Haunter. His stringent and unforgiving code of law had enforced a dreary life of suffering and toil upon those who served him, with any infraction, no matter how insignificant, punished by maiming or death. While it had maintained a brutal form of order, it had done so by means of a fear so ingrained that it had begun to eat away at the souls of those who dwelt under its burden, the suppressed sins of its people a threat overlooked by their old masters.

With the Night Haunter's absence during the final years of the Great Crusade this threat would come to the fore, with many of the worlds of that far sector overthrowing the tyrannical regimes forced upon them by the Night Lords and reverting to the anarchic ways of their past. Corrupt criminal syndicates and brutal gangs took control of cities and worlds, indulging in all that Konrad Curze had forbidden and bringing a more chaotic terror to the weak that dwelt on those benighted worlds.

The syndicates that rose up to take control would have proved just as capable of fulfilling Horus' needs as any more legitimate government, but to the Night Haunter they were an affront to all he stood for, a blight upon the realm he had killed so many to establish. Where others among the Traitors' ranks might have accepted the allegiance of the new overlords of the sector, co-opting their strength to serve the Warmaster, the Night Haunter sought a path of his own. As the Night Lords' main fleet arrived in the sector, the Syndarchs of the Blood Moon syndicate gathered on the isolated world of Kehdure IV to pledge their loyalty to Konrad Curze, expecting only to cede some measure of their wealth to his new rebellion, confident he would not wish their territories plunged into chaos when they could offer a ready bounty of troops and munitions.

Instead, they would find the Night Haunter descending upon them with the sole intent of ending their lives, without regard as to what tribute he might otherwise reap by accepting their pledge, and leaving Kehdure IV a broken and bloodied world, its few inhabitants little more than collateral damage to the slaughter of the guilty.

This would set the pattern for Konrad Curze's return to his adopted home sector, with even those worlds that had remained largely true to his draconian laws suffering a blight of gruesome punishments simply to ensure their continued loyalty. While the other Traitor Legions busied themselves with the initial assaults on the Warp channels leading to distant Terra, and the worlds of Paramar and Karadoc had been transformed into vast battlefields for the warlords fighting over the Imperium's corpse, the Night Lords set about waging a more private war. For the return of the Night Haunter was far more than the prosecution of the Warmaster's conquest, but also a piece of a vision that the Night Haunter had long dreaded, the next step on a path that had begun when Horus had first raised his banner at Isstvan III.

In the descent of Nostramo and its neighbours into madness and debauchery, and the setting of brother against brother, Curze saw the beginnings of his own demise and the eternal damnation of his Legion. It was a fate he still fought to deny, though his methods were ever more led by desperation before cunning, and he loosed the warriors of his Legion to eradicate all signs of that possibility, to wipe clean the stain of perfidy with blood and perhaps turn the course of fate itself.

Price of Infamy

Had perhaps Konrad Curze's tools been more finely-forged, his own will more honed and less brittle, then such desperate measures might have succeeded, but the Night Lords were no longer that which they had once been. The decay of the Nostramo Sector had run far deeper and for far longer than many had guessed, its tendrils spread not only among the worlds that were pledged to the Night Lords, but into the very Legion itself. Long had it been the custom of the Night Lords to take their recruits from but a small swathe of worlds, mostly those being in close proximity to Nostramo itself, and as those worlds had turned rotten so too had the youths sent to meet the Legion's tithe.

Though they made able killers, they had not the preexisting discipline and commitment to the cause of the Great Crusade that had marked the early Space Marine Legions whose complement was drawn from Terra, with many companies now filled entirely with such warriors, often to the chagrin of veteran Terran companies. These would be the tools by which Konrad Curze attempted to cut away the infection that had gripped his small empire.

These new Night Lords had been forged in the corrupt regimes that had gripped Nostramo and its neighbours, much different from the grim hardship that had moulded the Night Haunter and the gangs of Old Nostramo. These warriors paid little heed to the codes that had guided those brutal fighters, given instead to the wanton application of bloody violence -- the supremacy of the strong over the weak in all things. Where once the Night Haunter had taught his people that all actions must have their consequences, that blood must be repaid in blood, that creed had been corrupted so that those with the strength to seize power could do as they pleased, and even bloody-handed justice was no longer applied.

This was true of the rich and poor alike, with some showing their strength in the riches by which they bought and sold those beneath them and others by the skill with which they plied their blades. It would be the lowest dregs of this corrupt society that went to fill the ranks of the Night Lords, those for whom strength and power were measured in the fear of those around them.

Loosed by their master, the nature of the Night Lords was made clear by their actions, for given leave by the Night Haunter to hunt as they willed, they took to the worlds of the Nostramo Sector not as a disciplined whole, but as a throng of scattered warbands and raiding hosts. They bore little resemblance to the ordered ranks of the old VIIIth Legion, nor even to the savage but focused bands of the Raven Guard or White Scars who fought in their own style, but rather as a gleeful mob of killers. They did not lack in skill at arms, and where they met resistance it crumbled before their prowess with blade and gun, but in restraint they were sorely wanting.

Few worlds escaped the scourge of their brutal proclivities, with the greater part of them more concerned with the red spectacle of their raids than the order they were intended to enforce. Fear was the weapon they had been schooled in by their master, and it was one they wielded with abandon, one they plied until it cloaked the worlds about the corpse of Nostramo like a shroud. Yet, such was the terror they engendered that though none that felt their lash dared to transgress the laws of Curze, few remained able to fulfil the new tithes Horus demanded of him.

Those of the Night Lords that remembered the old ways fought on with the skill and pragmatic valour that had carried them through the Great Crusade, but found their efforts to re-establish the fiefdom that they had once ruled stymied by the Legion's more zealous recruits. Both those of Terran birth and the elder Nostraman recruits found themselves further and further from the counsel of the Night Haunter, whose prophetic visions spurred him to greater efforts of bloody retribution and gave the more vicious of his new gene-sons greater influence over him.

That the efforts of the veterans, measured but still bloody, brought the Legion more reward than the frenzied bloodletting of their juniors seemed unimportant to the primarch, whose dreams grew darker as Horus' rebellion itself gained in power and worlds all across the Imperium plunged into war and darkness. He began to listen less and less to the old veterans of the Great Crusade, those warriors whose efforts had so far failed to avert the disaster he foresaw, and instead began to heed the counsel of his newer officers. Both groups saw in the other a threat to that which to them made the Legion strong and, as the fleet marshalled for the assault on the Thramas Sector ordered by the Warmaster, they set plans for a different campaign.

Thramas Crusade

"These Humans, their imaginations are strong. Kill a thousand men, and they will hate you. Kill a million men, and they will queue to face you. But kill a single man, and they will see monsters and devils in every shadow. Kill a dozen men and they will scream and wail in the night, and they will feel fear, not hatred. This is the way of obedience my sons. They are panicky, gossiping beasts, these Humans. It serves us to allow them to be so."

— Attributed to Konrad Curze, the Night Haunter, primarch of the VIII Legion
Angels of caliban by raffetin

As the city of Alma Mons on Macragge burns round them, Konrad Curze confronts Lion El'Jonson in an epic duel.

Following the victory of the Drop Site Massacre, Horus called a meeting of the primarchs of 8 of the Traitor Legions (minus the participation of the Alpha Legion's Primarch Alpharius) aboard his flagship, the Vengeful Spirit. Five of the primarchs, including four who had fought at Istvaan V, met in person, including Horus, Fulgrim, Angron, Mortarion and Lorgar. Three appeared through the use of hololithic emitters that transmitted their signals through the Warp, including Perturabo, Night Haunter and Magnus the Red, who had only recently joined the Traitors after the Scouring of Prospero when the broken remains of his XVth Legion had been transported by Tzeentch into the Eye of Terror to the Planet of the Sorcerers. The Thousand Sons, bitter at what they perceived as their betrayal by the Emperor, now willingly became the ninth Traitor Legion. The council of Traitor primarchs made their plans for the next step in their war against the Emperor and then each Legion went its way according to its assigned role. The Night Haunter’s fleet had already departed, bound for the planet of Tsagualsa, a remote world in the Eastern Fringe that lay shrouded in the shadow of a great asteroid belt. From there, the Night Lords’ terror troops would begin a campaign of genocide against the Imperial strongholds of Heroldar and Thramas, star systems that, if not taken, would leave the flanks of the Warmaster’s strike on Terra vulnerable to attack. This campaign would also delay the Dark Angels Legion from reinforcing the Loyalists. The Thramas System was of particular importance, as it comprised a number of Mechanicum Forge Worlds whose loyalty was still to the Emperor.

This bitterly contested campaign, known as the Thramas Crusade, dragged on for nearly three standard years. In an attempt to sway his brother Lion El'Jonson to Horus' cause, the Night Haunter left a deep-void beacon in the patrol path of one of the Dark Angels' outrider vessels. The beacon was set to transmit coordinates in advance, so that the two primarchs could meet and parley on the planet of Tsagualsa. Night Haunter wanted to break his former brother either mentally, physically or both to obtain his objectives. The primarchs were accompanied by two warriors from their personal Honour Guards to the parley. The meeting began amicably enough between the two as they conversed with relative civility. This amity lasted only until the Night Haunter slandered El'Jonson, and in return the Lion struck his former brother. This melee further degenerated into an all-out brawl between the two sides. As the Night Haunter strangled the life out of El'Jonson, one of the Dark Angels Honour Guardsmen ran his sword through the Night Haunter's back, saving his primarch's life. Eventually both Legions sent reinforcements in response to this incident. Each side dragged away their respective primarchs from the scene of the combat. Both primarchs survived this brutal confrontation and went on to continue the contest between their Legions for control of the Aegis Sub-sector of the Aegis Sector.

When next they fought, the Dark Angels executed a meticulously planned ambush on the Night Lords' fleet while it was in transit across the sub-sector that saw the back of the Night Lords Legion broken and their primarch mortally wounded after having faced his brother El'Jonson once again in mortal combat. Thanks to the skilled coordination and superb execution by the Lion, the Night Lords fleet was devastated, losing dozens of capital ships and approximately one-quarter of their Legion fleet to the Dark Angels' assault. Unfortunately, the remainder of the Night Lords fleet fled the Dark Angels' wrath, while the recently recovered Night Haunter, First Captain Sevatar and the elite Night Lords Atramentar Terminators led a desperate boarding assault action upon the Dark Angels' flagship Invincible Reason. This resulted in the death of all but a dozen of the Atramentar and the capture of Sevatar and the remaining survivors. Konrad Curze fled El'Jonson's wrath, evading the Dark Angels for months, stalking the shadows within the bowels of the mighty capital ship. Somehow, the remaining Night Lords managed to affect their escape and fled into the void.

Death of the Night Haunter

"My sons, the galaxy is burning. We all bear witness to a final truth -- our way is not the way of the Imperium. You have never stood in the Emperor’s light. Never worn the Imperial eagle. And you never will. You shall stand in midnight clad, your claws forever red with the lifeblood of my father’s failed empire, warring through the centuries as the talons of a murdered god. Rise, my sons, and take your wrath across the stars, in my name. In my memory. Rise, my Night Lords."

— The Primarch Konrad Curze, at the final gathering of the VIII Legion

The VIIIth Legion sided with none of the Chaos Gods, instead using the Forces of Chaos as tools in their terror campaigns. Slowly but surely, the Night Lords, now almost entirely comprised of murderers and criminals recruited from Nostramo before its destruction, began to carve a bloody path towards Terra alongside the other Traitor Legions. After the invasion of Terra by the forces of Chaos and the death of Horus at the hands of the Emperor, the Night Lords did not splinter and flee into the Eye of Terror like the rest of the Traitor Legions. Instead, they continued to attack the Imperium in its Eastern Fringes, however, their tactics seemed to change, betraying a self-destructive desperation. The Emperor himself, wishing to disband the Night Lords forever, dispatched half the Callidus Temple of Assassins to terminate the renegade primarch. Legend has it that a lone agent, named M'Shen, was purposely allowed to infiltrate the Legion's lair on the world of Tsagualsa and confront the fallen primarch, now a naked and hunched monster. Before his death, M'Shen's video-log records Night Haunter's enigmatic last words:

"Your presence does not surprise me, Assassin. I have known of you ever since your craft entered the Eastern Fringes. Why did I not have you killed? Because your mission and the act you are about to commit proves the truth of all I have ever said or done. I merely punished those who had wronged, just as your False Emperor now seeks to punish me. Death is nothing compared to vindication."

The final remembrance of Konrad Curze is of mad, black eyes and a cruel, lip-less smile, aware that his horrific visions had all come to pass. The vid-log of the event then shows M'Shen leaping forward at the primarch. However, the kill was never confirmed, as the video feed cut out right before the fight ensued. It is believed that Night Haunter allowed himself to be killed: he saw himself as a murderous and corrupt villain, the very thing he sought to destroy. Regardless, his final words are considered one of the great enigmas in the Imperium's history.

Wargear

Konrad-Curze-6

Konrad Curze, arrayed in his nightmarish panoply of war.

  • The Nightmare Mantle - Curze's raiment of war was a customised suit of Artificer Armour, bedecked in grisly trophies of judgement and the flayed skins of those whose sins he saw as particularly egregious or noteworthy.
  • Mercy and Forgiveness - This pair of murderous artificer-forged Lightning Claws, unknown in origin, which Curze favoured as his personal melee weapons, were given the doleful names Mercy and Forgiveness by the Night Lords; though what their wielder actually named them, if anything, remains, as with so much about their master, unknown.
  • The Widowmakers - Based on the micro-serrated throwing blades utilised for signature-kills by certain Nostraman assassin-cults, Curze favoured the use of these vicious, yet highly precise daggers over more conventional firearms in battle, using them to disable and maim as he willed.

Personality

"It has been said by tacticians throughout the ages of mankind that no plan survives contact with the enemy. I do not waste my time countering the plans of my foes, brother. I never care what the enemy intends to do, for they will never be allowed to do it. Stir within their hearts the gift of truest terror, and all their plans are ruined in the desperate struggle merely to survive."

— The Primarch Konrad Curze, explaining his beliefs to his brother Sanguinius

"Konrad Curze was a very complicated individual, to say the least. Though he was one of the Emperor's genetically superior, modified gene-sons, he was still Human in a very real sense."

— Excerpt from "Lord of the Night" (Novel), pg. 170

"He knew that he was two men. One was...just and righteous --" the Daemon spat the words, disgusted, "-- whilst the other...mm...the other had felt the kiss of Chaos all its life. One thrived on focus. The other ate fear!"

—Implication that Konrad Curze possessed a dual personality

There were two sides to Curze's personality: Konrad Curze, the great military strategist, ruthless and efficient and a righteous follower of the Emperor's will, and the Night Haunter, a bloody-handed, murderous vigilante, who fed on fear and dread, who savoured preying upon the weak.

Curze's prescient visions were known to have granted him the terrible power to foresee the worst possible outcome to any given series of events. The mental strain of knowing such knowledge placed a terrible burden upon the primarch's shoulders, which grated upon his psyche, and over time caused his sanity to slowly deteriorate under the strain.

In the novel "Blood Reaver," Ch. 14, pg. 79, it was also suggested that the Emperor's DNA, which was a part of every primarch's base genetic code, might not have proven entirely stable within Curze's genome, explaining why he was so mentally unstable by the time of his death, not to mention the corpse-like, monstrous appearance he had developed by the end of the Horus Heresy.

In the anthology "Shadows of Treachery" in the short story "Prince of Crows," Ch. 6, pg. 167, it was confirmed that Konrad Curze hated his own Space Marine Legion. He mentioned to his First Captain Jago Sevatarion how he had spoken to Angron and Lorgar following the Isstvan III Atrocity, and was told of how they had purged their Legions, cleansing the untrustworthy Loyalist elements of the World Eaters and the Word Bearers.

The sheer absurdity of this idea was laughable to the Night Haunter, for his brothers knew exactly when to stop the killing of the weak, the treacherous and the corrupt within their bloodlines. He had no idea where to begin culling the Night Lords' ranks. His sons were no longer cast in his image. Less than a solar decade after he had departed Nostramo that world had sent him nothing but filth to integrate into the VIIIth Legion as neophytes; the disgusting dregs of Humanity his own Apothecaries had infused with his genetic material and reforged into transhumans.

The VIIIth Legion had become poisoned by their presence. The Legion was now composed of warriors who were murderers in the primarch's own image, yet devoid of his convictions and deep desire for justice. The Night Lords had become nothing more than killers and abusers, bleeding the weak for their own amusements because they enjoyed it as good sport. Fear became an end unto itself rather than the means to enforce a moral order, and its propagation was all the Night Lords desired as they fed upon it. The Night Haunter himself made this quite clear to Talos Valcoran:

"Many will claim to lead our Legion in the years after I am gone. Many will claim that they -- and they alone -- are my appointed successor. I hate this Legion, Talos. I destroyed its world to stem the flow of poison. I will be vindicated soon, and the truest lesson of the Night Lords will be taught. Do you truly believe I care what happens to any of you after my death?"

— Konrad Curze to Talos Valcoran

However, perhaps the most important aspect to understanding Curze's psyche was his upbringing in comparison to his brother primarchs. When the Emperor's sons were cast into the Warp and ended up in the distant reaches of the galaxy, from birth they were destined to grow into their own distinct personalities. While they owed loyalty and life to the same father, the primarchs could not have been more diverse in terms of intelligence, strategic acumen and beliefs, ranging from highly cultured individuals such as Fulgrim to the silent and stoic Vulkan.

In only one other regard did many of the primarchs relate to one another; parental upbringing. Upon landing on foreign, Human-settled worlds the Emperor's creations were taken in by the local population, given food and shelter and made to grow strong. Even the volatile Angron found some parental input in the harsh slave masters he was forced to fight for on Nuceria. All primarchs found a mentor in the harsh worlds beyond Terra but one: Konrad Curze.

From the second he landed on Nostramo, Curze was forced to fend for himself, relying on nothing but wits and savage brutality. Robbed of any Human feeling or affection by the endless darkness of his new homeworld, Konrad perfected his own twisted sense of justice, giving in to his bloodlust in the name of "peace." This solitude never escaped him and even after his rediscovery by his father, Curze was still an outcast and treated with suspicion by his brothers. He was viewed as distant even by his own gene-sons among the Night Lords.

This constant loneliness was likely the defining cause of Curze's mental instability, constant depression and ultimate death as his inability to empathise and reach out to others made him easy prey for Horus' recruitment. His failure to express his inner demons only drove him further towards the edge and by the time he realised what a monster he had become, it was far too late.

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Trivia

Curze's name is inspired by the novel Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad, where a former ivory trader in the Belgian Congo named Kurtz rules over the native population as a charismatic demigod even as he degenerates into a barbaric and inhuman tyrant.

The book was later adapted into the 1979 film Apocalypse Now in which the character of Kurtz was modified into U.S. Army Special Forces Colonel Walter E. Kurtz (Marlon Brando).

The name of Curze's ultimate killer, M'Shen, is a reference to Martin Sheen, the actor who played Benjamin Willard, the U.S. Army captain sent to kill Kurtz.

Sources

  • Black Crusade: The Tome of Blood (RPG), pp. 26-27
  • Codex: Heretic Astartes - Chaos Space Marines (8th Edition), pp. 9, 34-35, 165
  • Codex: Chaos (2nd Edition), pg. 14
  • Codex: Chaos Space Marines (3rd Edition, 2nd Codex), pg. 42
  • Codex: Chaos Space Marines (4th Edition), pp. 13, 21, 70
  • Codex: Chaos Space Marines (6th Edition), pp. 10, 12, 80
  • Deathwatch: First Founding (RPG), pp. 80-81
  • Index Astartes II, "Bringers of Darkness - The Night Lords Space Marine Legion," pp. 20-27
  • The Horus Heresy Book Two: Massacre (Forge World Series) by ALan Bligh, pp. 41, 92, 94-95, 98-99, 113, 242-243
  • The Horus Heresy Book Nine: Crusade (Forge World Series), pp. 22, 128-135, 181, 190-191
  • Warhammer 40,000 Rulebook (6th Edition)
  • White Dwarf 200 (US), " 'Eavy Metal: WH40K Chaos", pg. 8
  • White Dwarf 260 (US), "Index Astartes First Founding: Bringers of Darkness, The Night Lords Space Marine Chapter"
  • White Dwarf 261 (US), "Lords of the Night: Cityfight, Night Lords vs. Imperial Guard"
  • White Dwarf 332 (US), "Chaos Space Marines Design Notes - Night Lords", pp. 16-29
  • Fulgrim (Novel) by Graham McNeill
  • The First Heretic (Novel) by Aaron Dembski-Bowden
  • Age of Darkness (Anthology), "Savage Weapons" by Aaron Dembski-Bowden
  • The Primarchs (Anthology), "The Lion" by Gav Thorpe
  • Shadows of Treachery (Anthology) edited by Christian Dunn, "Prince of Crows" by Aaron Dembski-Bowden
  • Lord of the Night (Novel) by Simon Spurrier
  • Hammer & Bolter 11, "Shadow Knight" (Short Story) by Aaron Dembski-Bowden
  • Soul Hunter (Novel) by Aaron Dembski-Bowden
  • Blood Reaver (Novel) by Aaron Dembski-Bowden
  • Void Stalker (Novel) by Aaron Dembski-Bowden
  • The Dark King (Audio Book)
  • Throne of Lies (Audio Book)
  • Fear The Alien (Anthology), "The Core" by Aaron Dembski-Bowden
  • Sons of Fenris (Novel) by Lee Lightner
  • Vulkan Lives (Novel) by Nick Kyme
  • Unremembered Empire (Novel) by Dan Abnett
  • Forge World - Konrad Curze, Primarch of the Night Lords
  • Forge World Visual Feed - The Horus Heresy: Genesis of a Primarch: Konrad Curze - Primarch of the Night Lords
The Primarchs
Loyalist Primarchs Lion El'JonsonJaghatai KhanLeman RussRogal DornSanguiniusFerrus ManusRoboute GuillimanVulkanCorvus CoraxLost Primarchs
Traitor Primarchs FulgrimPerturaboKonrad CurzeAngronMortarionMagnus the RedHorusLorgarAlpharius Omegon
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Warhammer 40,000 Overview Grim Dark Lore Teaser TrailerPart 1: ExodusPart 2: The Golden AgePart 3: Old NightPart 4: Rise of the EmperorPart 5: UnityPart 6: Lords of MarsPart 7: The Machine GodPart 8: ImperiumPart 9: The Fall of the AeldariPart 10: Gods and DaemonsPart 11: Great Crusade BeginsPart 12: The Son of StrifePart 13: Lost and FoundPart 14: A Thousand SonsPart 15: Bearer of the WordPart 16: The Perfect CityPart 17: Triumph at UllanorPart 18: Return to TerraPart 19: Council of NikaeaPart 20: Serpent in the GardenPart 21: Horus FallingPart 22: TraitorsPart 23: Folly of MagnusPart 24: Dark GambitsPart 25: HeresyPart 26: Flight of the EisensteinPart 27: MassacrePart 28: Requiem for a DreamPart 29: The SiegePart 30: Imperium InvictusPart 31: The Age of RebirthPart 32: The Rise of AbaddonPart 33: Saints and BeastsPart 34: InterregnumPart 35: Age of ApostasyPart 36: The Great DevourerPart 37: The Time of EndingPart 38: The 13th Black CrusadePart 39: ResurrectionPart 40: Indomitus
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