- "Aza'gorod, the Nightbringer. The embodiment of death. A killer of stars, and of worlds. An eater of gods. The Old Ones themselves could not stand before this star-spawned creature. And yet, as shall be the fate of all things, the Nightbringer was broken beneath the heel of the Necron Empire, bound and humbled. If such a creature can be leashed to our will, then there is nothing that we cannot accomplish. Never again will we bow to any master. Never again shall we cede command of our destiny."
- — Illuminor Szeras
The Nightbringer, known by the ancient Necron name of Aza'gorod, and as Aza'gorod the Nightbringer, is one of the C'tan, and was once the mighty Star God of death, darkness, and destruction. Legends tell of the Nightbringer as the first and most powerful of the C'tan, and in ancient Necrontyr hiero-scripts it is depicted as an ever-hungering god of death, feasting upon the pain and anguish of entire species. Star systems, planets and civilisations have all fallen before its dark scythe, and even the Necrons fear it.
The Nightbringer is one of the C'tan who was defeated by the Necrons during their great rebellion against the C'tan masters who had forced the biotransference of their minds into their undying mechanical forms. The Nightbringer's essence was divided into dozens if not hundreds of C'tan Shards, each held captive within a device known as a Tesseract Labyrinth.
Each C'tan Shard is only released by the Necrons when the contingencies of the battlefield have so turned against them that no other weapon will prove able to carry the day. In such circumstances, the Necrons will release a C'tan Shard, whose constituent energy has been sealed within a mechanical body composed of the same living metal Necrodermis as the Necrons themselves.
The Nightbringer's C'tan Shard is armed with a powerful C'tan Phase Scythe, and it usually manifests as a dark, towering cloaked reaper that shines with dark light, with gray and black colours similar to the traditional human mythological image of death known as the "Grim Reaper." It is an image that resonates deeply in the primal subconscious of many "lesser races," and all who look upon the shard feel the cold fingers of death upon their throats, for in its terrible and majestic form is the inevitability of their destruction.
This stems from the Nightbringer's great slaughter of younger intelligent races during the War in Heaven, which reached a point where servants of the Old Ones learned their fear of death from him and his image entered the collective unconsciousness of many intelligent species as the personification of Death. The Nightbringer had planted its name as the embodiment of Death in the minds of many races, and is known to the Aeldari as Kaelis Ra, the Destroyer of Light, while humanity simply referred to it as the Grim Reaper or Death. Only the Orks, the descendants of the Old Ones' warrior race known as the Krork, are rumoured to have been spared his attentions, and that is potentially why the Orks do not fear death.
Millions of Terran years after the "demise" of the C'tan, shards of the Nightbringer still remain the most dangerous and difficult to control for the Necrons. Somewhere deep within these fragments linger the memories of the Nightbringer as it was, and its unending hatred of the race that betrayed it.
Aza'gorod the Nightbringer was one of the omnipotent beings known as the C'tan, who delighted in inflicting pain and suffering not only to feed on the life enrgies of mortals, but simply because it could. The Nightbringer has destroyed entire star systems on a whim and gorged itself on the death agonies of countless billions of lives.
The very star under which the original Necrontyr race that became the Necrons lived their brief, morbid lives gave birth to the vast, sun-spanning entity of pure energy that was the Nightbringer, the first of the C'tan to be contacted by the Necrontyr.
For much of its existence, Aza'gorod had fed only on a steady diet of bland but nourishing solar energy from the Necrontyr's star. As such, the Nightbringer was also the first of the C'tan to enter a Necrodermis body prepared for him by the Necrontyr so that he could interact and feed upon the matter of the physical universe. The Nightbringer, like the other C'tan, found the energies of living, intelligent beings much more "tasty" than the raw energy of the stars he had been feeding off of for millions of Terran years.
It slaughtered those who dared address it directly, feeding on the essence of their terror and suffering. The Nightbringer massacred the Necrontyr after being transferred into his new body to feed upon their life energies and was only stopped from feeding upon that species to its extinction by a heavy dose of persuasion and pledges of eternal servitude.
War in Heaven
The Nightbringer's earliest history is that of a pioneer and death bringer. Its love of pain and death surpassed even the excesses of the sadistic Drukhari, and their Haemonculi could only dream of inflicting the kind of suffering that this twisted Star God once dealt out on a routine basis.
When the Necrontyr first encouraged the C'tan to cross the "incorporeal starlight bridge" into the material realm, the Nightbringer was the first to come and the first to enter a living metal body forged of Necrodermis. Soon after, the Necrontyr awoke the powers of many more Star Gods, for a time becoming their willing servants in the war against the Old Ones.
Like the other C'tan, the Nightbringer craved worshippers and slaves to satisfy its monstrous ego. Many of its servants descended into murderous insanity, unable to withstand the bloody visions their master's presence brought on. Grown strong on endless slaughter, nothing else could satisfy its hunger.
During the War in Heaven between the Old Ones and their allies and the C'tan and their Necron servants, the Aeldari war god Kaela Mensha Khaine fought the Nightbringer and destroyed him, shattering his Necrodermis host body into countless shards. These shards impaled Khaine, tainting him forever, while the Nightbringer simply transferred his essence into another Necrodermis body that had been prepared for him by the Necrons.
It is said in Aeldari legends that gradually the Nightbringer fell further and further from the Necrontyr's original purpose in bringing it into the material universe, which was the destruction of the Old Ones. It began instead to destroy and feed on intelligent beings at will, and it reached into the minds of almost every intelligent race in the galaxy and planted its image into their deepest fears.
It is said that it nurtured entire species to fear it and it then fed on that fear. Eventually, the Nightbringer began to feed on the other C'tan, finding the energetic essences of its fellow Star Gods to be the most delicious form of life energy it had yet sampled.
How it was persuaded to consume other C'tan is explained in several different ways. By some accounts it was another C'tan, Mephet'ran the Deceiver, that convinced the Nightbringer to consume the other C'tan, but another source claims that it was Cegorach the Laughing God of the Harlequins, who did so in a successful attempt to get the C'tan to turn upon themselves. Soon after the C'tan began to feed upon one another, the Old Ones and their servants counterattacked the Necrontyr. By this time, only four C'tan remained.
Then the onset of the Enslaver Plague ended the War in Heaven prematurely and forced the C'tan into their stasis tombs on certain Necron Tomb Worlds to await the regeneration of a large population of intelligent lifeforms across the galaxy. But this final plan of the C'tan to feed upon all intelligent life in the galaxy was prevented.
The Nightbringer's most potent weapon, its scythe, had been banished into the Immaterium during its battle with the Aeldari god Khaine where the entity could not reach it. This prevented the Nightbringer from gathering the necessary energy to break out of its long entombment until it was accidentally freed by the Ultramarines in the late 41st Millennium.
Awakening of the Nightbringer
The Nightbringer was ultimately buried ten kilometres under the planet of Pavonis' surface, entombed there when its flagship the Bringer of Darkness, a Cairn-class Necron Tombship, was badly damaged by an unknown alien fleet and crashed on the surface of that world 60 million standard years before the present.
The 4th Company of the Ultramarines Space Marine Chapter, led by Captain Uriel Ventris, was sent to Pavonis to guard Ario Barzano, an Imperial Adept, who was later revealed to be an Inquisitor of the Ordo Xenos, who intended to dethrone the Planetary Governor of Pavonis for failure to pay the world's Imperial Tithe.
Tensions on Pavonis were running high and eventually a civil war broke out. The trade cartel that initiated this war was also digging into the recently discovered location of the Necron tomb of the Nightbringer at the behest of their leader Kasimir de Valtos (who believed the Nightbringer would grant him immortality as a reward for freeing it) while a Drukhari Kabal allied with de Valtos collected the keys that would unlock the Nightbringer's sarcophagus and unleash its horror upon the Imperium. The Dark Eldar intended to reap millions of human souls to serve as their slaves in the chaos that would ensue.
When the Ultramarines and the Inquisitor heard of the civil war that had broken out on Pavonis, they made best speed for the planet as they had already been investigating a Dark Eldar raid on another planet in the same star system. They rescued the Planetary Governor and investigated the cause of the civil war, discovering the cartel's true plan.
The Inquisitor was ready to initiate an Exterminatus order upon Pavonis to prevent the opening of the Necron stasis tomb, but Captain Ventris urged an attack on the mine in which the digging took place before resorting to such drastic measures. Unfortunately, the Nightbringer awoke once the Space Marines entered the tomb and they tried to combat it; many of de Valtos' guards went mad or committed suicide as the C'tan's presence filled their minds with visions of death and horror, and de Valtos died at the hands of the creature after realising he was too insignificant for the Nightbringer to even deign to notice, much less reward.
Ventris soon realised that his Astartes could not defeat the Nightbringer, even in its weakened condition, but remembered that the tomb was filled with explosive fumes. Ventris brandished a Melta Bomb and informed the Nightbringer that he did not believe that even it could survive another million years of imprisonment beneath the planet's crust if he detonated it. The Nightbringer stopped its assault following the threat and Ventris and his surviving Astartes retreated from the tomb.
The Ultramarines launched an orbital strike on the mine, but, unfortunately, the Nightbringer had already escaped from the planet. After being forced back into the void of space by Ventris, the Nightbringer fled to a distant part of the galaxy where it began to harvest power from nearby stars, slowly rebuilding its strength for the slaughter to come.
- Codex: Necrons (3rd Edition), pp. 23, 27-29
- Codex: Necrons (5th Edition), pp. 6-7, 40, 86
- Codex: Necrons (7th Edition) (Digital Edition), pp. 159-160
- Codex: Necrons (8th Edition), pg. 69
- Deathwatch: The Outer Reach (RPG), pg. 126
- Nightbringer (Novel) by Graham McNeil