"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
Konrad Curze, better known as Night Haunter, the name he preferred, was one of the 20 superhuman Primarchs created by the Emperor of Mankind in the late 30th Millennium and was the commander of the Traitor Legion of Chaos Space Marines known as the Night Lords.
Night Haunter was tortured all his life by terrible, dark visions of the future, and this generated a level of psychic anguish and despair that set him apart from his fellow Primarchs. His psyche damaged by the difficulties of his early life, Curze never recovered his mental balance and sought only oblivion from the pain of his reality.
He was a brutal 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 slain, some 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 and fled into the Eye of Terror with the rest of the Traitor Legions.
A dark and haunted figure, obsessed by death and judgement, and unshakable in his belief in the fundamental fallibility of man and the agency of fear as the only true means of controlling humanity's failings, Konrad Curze and his Night Lords Legion were shaped by the terror of darkness of Nostramo, just as much as they were by the gene-craft of the Emperor.
"...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
According to the heretical handwritten chronicle of his life, entitled simply The Dark, the 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 of 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 the largest hive city on the planet, 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.
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 collectives 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. He 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
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 cities' 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 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 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 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.
"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
Night Haunter quickly adapted to the teachings of the Imperium, studying the complex doctrines of the Legiones Astartes under the Primarch Fulgrim's tutelage. 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 years, the Night Lords were molded by their Primarch into an efficient, humourless force, possessing the fanatical thoroughness of Witch Hunters. 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. 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. After Curze's departure, Nostramo shook off his enforced peace, returning to lawlessness. From this point 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, no least of which was Curze's leadership of his Legion. That he came to despise his own 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.
During the time of the Great Crusade, the Night Lords were used by the Emperor as a tool of terror to pacify 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 uprisings, 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 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 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?
"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
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' Huscarl 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
Without the supernatural skill and incredible prescience of the Emperor's Primarchs, many of Night Haunter's pursuers could have been lost that day as the rogue vessels delved deep into the heart of the Empyrean. The journey, malleable within the Warp, may have taken hours or months; no reliable records exist. But one thing was certain, despite their valiant pursuit, Kurze's brothers arrived too late. As they arrived in-system, they found the Night Lords' fleet orbiting Nostramo, hundreds of weapons trained on the shrouded planet. Curze ordered his warship to unleash Exterminatus upon his unsuspecting world. Then simultaneously, the Lances and mass drivers of Night Haunter's flagship Nightfall opened fire upon the planet. Beam after beam of incandescent light joined the fusillade, all concentrating upon the same point, a weak spot in Nostramo's adamantium crust theorised to be left by the Primarch's initial landing in his gestation pod when he first arrived on the bleak world. The giant lasers of the Night Lords' warships focused a blinding lance of pure energy into the planet's core, and with a cataclysmic explosion, the dark planet burst apart.
Curze later 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. 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 and expansion. 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.
"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"
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. 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.
When the Warmaster Horus revealed his treachery during the Istvaan 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 Legions, 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 Battle 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 years after the Horus Heresy had ended. 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
After the news of the Istvaan 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 Istvaan System. Horus had decided to make his stand on the surface of Istvaan 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 Istvaan 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 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, Lord 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.
The 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.
"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
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 ninthTraitor 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.
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.
- 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-Lightning Claws, unknown in origin, which Curze favoured as his personal 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.
"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 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 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 Sevatar how he had spoken to Angron and Lorgar following the Istvaan III Atrocity, and was told of how they had purged their Legions, cleansing the untrustworthy elements of the World Eaters and the Word Bearers.
The sheer absurdity of the 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 VIIIth Legion was now composed of warriors who were murderers in the Primarch's own image, yet devoid of his conviction. 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, and its propagation was all the Night Lords desired as they fed upon it. The next quote is quite clear on this point:
"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 brothers. 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 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 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 input 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 discovery 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.
This constant loneliness was likely the defining cause of Curze's mental instability, 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.
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).
- 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 Space Marines (6th Edition), pp. 10, 12, 80
- Codex: Chaos Space Marines (4th Edition), pp. 13, 21, 70
- Codex: Chaos Space Marines (3rd Edition, 2nd Codex), pg. 42
- Codex: Chaos (2nd Edition), pg. 14
- 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 (Imperial Armour), pp. 41, 92, 94-95, 98-99, 113, 242-243
- Warhammer 40,000 Rulebook (6th Edition)
- White Dwarf 332 (US), "Chaos Space Marines Design Notes - Night Lords", pp. 16-29
- White Dwarf 261 (US), "Lords of the Night: Cityfight, Night Lords vs. Imperial Guard"
- White Dwarf 260 (US), "Index Astartes First Founding: Bringers of Darkness, The Night Lords Space Marine Chapter"
- White Dwarf 200 (US), " 'Eavy Metal: WH40K Chaos", pg. 8
- 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
- Night Lords Series:
- 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
|Loyalist Primarchs||Lion El'Jonson • Jaghatai Khan • Leman Russ • Rogal Dorn • Sanguinius • Ferrus Manus • Roboute Guilliman • Vulkan • Corvus Corax • Lost Primarchs|
|Traitor Primarchs||Fulgrim • Perturabo • Konrad Curze • Angron • Mortarion • Magnus the Red • Horus • Lorgar • Alpharius Omegon|