"When the Silent King saw what had been done, he knew at last the true nature of the C'tan, and of the doom they had wrought in his name."
- —excerpt from the Book of Mournful Night
Szarekh, also known as the Silent King, was the last in the line of Silent Kings to lead the ruling Triarch of the ancient Necrontyr empire. It was during his reign that the Necrontyr encountered the C'tan and underwent the grand biotransference process that transformed the Necrontyr into the undying and soulless Necrons.
However, the biotransference process that allowed this to happen robbed the Necrontyr species of their souls and it was only afterwards that Szarekh realised the terrible fate he had unleashed upon his people.
Embittered by his folly, he betrayed the C'tan after the Old Ones had been defeated in the War in Heaven, shattering them into C'tan Shards and imprisoning them in the arcane extradimensional devices known as Tesseract Labyrinths.
Having gained this measure of vengeance against the Star Gods, the Silent King ordered all of the Necron dynasties to enter the Great Sleep and hibernate in stasis for sixty million standard years so that they might recover from the terrible losses incurred by their revolt.
Once they awakened, the Necrons would be ready to rebuild all that they had lost and to restore their dynasties to their former glory in the galaxy.
With this final order, Szarekh severed the command protocols that allowed him to control his subjects directly and went into a self-imposed exile in the intergalactic void as his penance. However, in the late 41st Millennium, the Necrons began their Great Awakening and Szarekh returned to the galaxy after discovering the approaching Tyranid hive fleets during his sojourn in the intergalactic void.
The Silent King recognised them and the other growing threats to the Necrons in the form of the Imperium of Man and the growing strength of Chaos as a major threat to his people's chances of reconquering the galaxy and regaining their organic forms.
It was Szarekh's dream that the Necrons might find an organic species whose bodies would prove to be suitable vessels for Necron minds, thus finally ending the curse of biotransference.
However, if the Tyranids or the servants of the Ruinous Powers were allowed to consume all life in the Milky Way Galaxy or destroy reality itself, there would be no species left to serve as Necron vessels. So the Silent King now travels across the galaxy, seeking to awaken and unite his people against this terrible extragalactic foe.
"They came to us as gods and we, like fools, took them at their word. Mephet'ran the Deceiver, Aza'gorod the Nightbringer, Iash'uddra the Endless Swarm; I curse their names, and the names of all their malevolent brethren."
- —from the Chronicle of Szarekh, Last of the Silent Kings
From the earliest days, the individual Necrontyr dynasties were themselves governed by the overarching Triarch, a ruling council of three senior phaerons. The head of the Triarch was known as the "Silent King," for he addressed his subjects only through the other two phaerons who ruled alongside him.
Nominally a hereditary position, the uncertain life spans of the Necrontyr ensured that the title of Silent King nonetheless passed from one royal dynasty to another many times. Thus it was that the final days of the Necrontyr occurred in the reign of Szarekh, the last of the Silent Kings.
It was during the reign of Szarekh that the godlike energy beings known as the C'tan first blighted the Necrontyr. It is impossible to say for certain how the Necrontyr first came to encounter the C'tan, though many misleading, contradictory and one-sided accounts of these events exist.
The dusty archives of Solemnace claim it was but an accident, a chance discovery made by a stellar probe during the investigation of a dying star. The Book of Mournful Night, held under close guard in the Black Library's innermost sanctum, tells rather that the raw hatred that the Necrontyr held for the Old Ones sang out across space, acting as a beacon the C'tan could not ignore.
Howsoever contact occurred, the shadow of the C'tan fell over the oldest dynasties first. Some Necrontyr actively sought the C'tan's favour and oversaw the forging of living metal bodies to contain the Star Gods' nebulous essence. Thus clad, the C'tan took the shapes of the Necrontyr's half-forgotten gods, hiding their own desires beneath cloaks of obsequious subservience.
So it was that one of the C'tan came before the Silent King, acting as forerunner to the coming of his brothers. Amongst its own kind, this C'tan was known as the Deceiver, for it was wilfully treacherous. Yet the Silent King knew not the C'tan's true nature, and instead granted the creature an audience.
The Deceiver spoke of a war, fought long before the birth of the Necrontyr, between the C'tan and the Old Ones. It was a war, he said, that the C'tan had lost. In the aftermath, and fearing the vengeance of the Old Ones, he and his brothers had hidden themselves away, hoping one day to find allies with whom they could finally bring the Old Ones to account. In return for aid, the Deceiver assured, he and his brothers would deliver everything that the Necrontyr craved.
Unity could be theirs once again, and the immortality that they had sought for so long would finally be within their grasp. No price would there be for these great gifts, the Deceiver insisted, for they were but boons to be bestowed upon valued allies. Thus did the Deceiver speak, and who can say how much of his tale was truth? It is doubtful whether even the Deceiver knew, for trickery had become so much a part of his existence that even he could no longer divine its root.
Yet his words held sway over Szarekh who, like his ancestors before him, despaired of the divisions that were constantly tearing his people apart. For long solar months he debated the matter with the Triarch and the nobles of his Royal Court. Through it all, the only dissenting voice was that of Orikan, the court astrologer, who foretold that the alliance would bring about a renaissance of glory, but destroy forever the soul of the Necrontyr people.
Yet desire and ambition swiftly overrode caution, and Orikan's prophecy was dismissed. A Terran year after the Deceiver had presented his proposition, the Triarch agreed to the alliance, and so forever doomed their species.
With the pact between Necrontyr and C'tan sealed, the Star Gods revealed the form that immortality would take, and the great biotransference began. Colossal bio-furnaces roared day and night, consuming weak-bodied flesh and replacing it with enduring forms of living metal. As the cyclopean machines clamoured, the C'tan swarmed about the biotransference sites, drinking in the torrent of cast-off life energy and growing ever stronger.
As Szarekh watched the C'tan feast on the life essence of his people, he realised the terrible depth of his mistake. In many ways, he felt better than he had in solar decades, the countless aches and uncertainties of organic life now behind him. His new machine body was far mightier than the frail form he had tolerated for so long, and his thoughts were swifter and clearer than they had ever been. Yet there was an emptiness gnawing at his mind, an inexpressible hollowness of spirit that defied rational explanation.
In that moment, he knew with cold certainty that the price of physical immortality had been the loss of his soul. With great sorrow the Silent King beheld the fate he had brought upon his people: the Necrontyr were now but a memory, and the soulless Necrons reborn in their place. Yet if the price had been steep, biotransference had fulfilled all of the promises that the C'tan had made. Even the lowliest of Necrontyr was blessed with immortality -- age and radiation could little erode their new bodies, and only the most terrible of injuries could destroy them utterly.
Likewise, the Necrons enjoyed a unity that the Necrontyr had never known, though it was achieved through tyranny rather than consent. The biotransference process had embedded command protocols in every Necron mind, granting Szarekh the unswerving loyalty of his subjects. At first, the Silent King embraced this unanimity, for it was a welcome reprieve from the chaos of recent years. However, as time wore on he grew weary of his burden but dared not sever the command protocols, lest his subjects turn on him in vengeance for the terrible curse he had visited upon them.
With the C'tan and the Necrons fighting as one, the Old Ones were now doomed to defeat. Glutted on the life force of the Necrontyr, the empowered C'tan were nigh unstoppable and unleashed forces beyond comprehension. Planets were razed, suns extinguished and whole systems devoured by black holes called into being by the reality warping powers of the star gods.
Necron legions finally broached the Webway and assailed the Old Ones in every corner of the galaxy. They brought under siege the fortresses of the Old Ones' allies, harvesting the life force of the defenders to feed their masters. Ultimately, beset by the implacable onset of the C'tan and the calamitous Warp-spawned perils they had themselves mistakenly unleashed, the Old Ones were defeated, scattered and finally destroyed.
Throughout the final stages of the War in Heaven, Szarekh bided his time, waiting for the moment in which the C'tan would be vulnerable. Though the entire Necron race was his to command, he could not hope to oppose the C'tan at the height of their power, and even if he did and met with success, the Necrons would then have to finish the War in Heaven alone. No, the Old Ones had to be defeated before the C'tan could be brought to account for the horror they had wrought.
And so, when the C'tan finally won their great war, their triumph was short-lived. With one hated enemy finally defeated, and the other spent from hard-fought victory, the Silent King at last led the Necrons in revolt. In their arrogance, the C'tan did not realize their danger until it was too late. The Necrons focussed the unimaginable energies of the living universe into weapons too mighty for even the C'tan to endure.
Alas, the C'tan were immortal star-spawn, part of the fundamental fabric of reality and therefore nigh impossible to destroy. So was each C'tan instead sundered into thousands of fragments. Yet this was sufficient to the Silent King's goals.
Indeed, he had known the C'tan's ultimate destruction to be impossible and had drawn his plans accordingly: each C'tan Shard was bound within a Tesseract labyrinth, as trammelled and secure as a genie in a bottle. Though the cost of victory was high -- millions had been destroyed as a consequence of rebellion, including all of the Triarch save the Silent King himself -- the Necrons were once more in command of their own destiny.
Yet even with the defeat of the Old Ones and the C'tan alike, the Silent King saw that the time of the Necrons was over -- for the moment, at least. The mantle of galactic dominion would soon pass to the Aeldari, a species who had fought alongside the Old Ones throughout the War in Heaven and had thus come to hate the Necrons and all their works.
The Aeldari had survived where the Old Ones had not and the Necrons, weakened during the overthrow of the C'tan, could not stand against them. Yet the Silent King knew that the time of the Aeldari would pass, as did the time of all flesh. So it was that the Silent King ordered the remaining Necron cities to be transformed into great tomb complexes threaded with stasis-crypts.
Let the Aeldari shape the galaxy for a time -- they were but ephemeral, whilst the Necrons were eternal. The Silent King's final command to his people was that they must sleep for sixty million Terran years but awake ready to rebuild all that they had lost, to restore the dynasties to their former glory.
This was the Silent King's last order, and as the last Tomb World sealed its vaults, he destroyed the command protocols by which he had controlled his people, for he had failed them utterly. Without a backward glance, Szarekh, last of the Silent Kings, took ship into the blackness of intergalactic space, there to find whatever measure of solace or penance he could. Meanwhile, aeons passed, and the Necrons slept on...
For sixty million Terran years the Necrons slept, voicelessly waiting for their chance to complete the Silent King's final order: to restore the Necron dynasties to their former glory.
Then, in 774.M41, the Silent King returned to the bounds of the galaxy once more. Having encountered the Tyranids in the intergalactic void, he recognised the threat they pose to the Necrons' apotheosis -- if the Tyranids devoured all life in the galaxy, the Necrons would never find living bodies to house their consciousnesses. Thus did the Silent King break his self-imposed exile with the goal of marshalling his people against this new threat.
When the Silent King returned, he did so with a new Triarch council, joined by his fellow phaerons Hapthatra the Radiant and Mesophet the Shadowed Hand atop the Dias of Dominion. Additionally, he carries with him a bound C'tan known as the Enchained.
However, the Silent King had not anticipated the torpor in which the majority of the Necrons still lie in the wake of the Great Sleep. Many Tomb Worlds had been destroyed over the aeons, others still slumbered and most of those that had awoken by the time of the late 41st Millennium were still disoriented or somehow damaged.
Additionally Szarekh discovered that the Tyranids were just one of many threats facing the Necrons across the galaxy. Other alien races like Humanity had swarmed over their Tomb Worlds while they slept.
In secret, the Silent King made pilgrimage from Tomb World to Tomb World, shielding his identity, working through unknowing Necron Overlords and Crypteks to cultivate a new belief in the Necron ascendancy.
The Triarch Praetorians responded to his return, ready and willing to spread his influence even further. With the legions of his own dynasty at his call, Szarekh had the means to conduct large-scale campaigns, though he only fought where absolutely necessary and where complete annihilation of the foe assured his continued concealment.
Perceiving the destabilisation of the galactic theatre and the manifold perils to his scattered people, Szarekh applied himself to cyclopean schemes beyond the younger races' comprehension, intended to crush the threat they posed and allow his people to unite against the Tyranids as one.
The younger races will come to understand that the fabric of cosmic reality is the Necrons' to manipulate, and that ancient horror stalks the stars in watchful silence.
It is the Silent King's current wish that the younger races' flawed attempts to destroy the Tyranids do not simply feed the hive fleets beyond the point where even a united Necron people have any hope of victory.
- 955.M41 Gehenna Campaign - Commander Dante and the 3rd Company of the Blood Angels Chapter battled against the Necron Legions of the Silent King amidst the dusty wastes of the world of Gehenna. For three solar weeks, neither side could seize the upper hand, with Dante's tactical brilliance stretched to its limits in countering the time-space manipulations of the Silent King. The stalemate was broken only when a Tyranid splinter fleet entered orbit, forcing the two armies to break off hostilities and fight the common foe. The impromptu alliance proved to be the Tyranids' undoing. Following the final battle at Devil's Crag, Dante and the Silent King went their separate ways, both forces too battleworn to guarantee victory over the other, and, at least for the Blood Angels, the idea of turning on those they had so recently fought alongside proved rather distasteful.
Ankh of the Triarch
All Necrons bear the mark of the Triarch, a brand upon their necrodermis skin that binds them to their race's ancient heritage.
In the 41st Millennium, the absence of the Silent King and the long years of the Great Sleep have transformed the Ankh of the Triarch into a reminder of faded glory.
Some Necron dynasty nobles still see the symbol as the foundation of the Necron Empire to be reborn, others merely as an echo of a long-dead age. However, the Ankh remains a symbol of the Necrons, and even those who have lost faith in its power still bear it on a cartouche adorning their metallic torso.
Despite cosmetic alterations, the shape of the Ankh remains unchanged, each exacting curve and line perfectly reproduced. Each dynasty also has its own glyphs, variations on the Ankh that identify its soldiers as part of a particular phaeron's armies.
These symbols are sometimes worn alongside the Ankh of the Triarch, but are usually secondary in size and placement, mirroring the ancient relationship between the dynasty's phaeron and the empire's governing Triarch.
- Codex: Necrons (5th Edition), pp. 6-9, 24
- Codex: Blood Angels (5th Edition), pg. 16
- White Dwarf 450 (January 2020), "Last of the Silent Kings," pp. 28-33
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