Konrad Curze, also known as Night Haunter, was one of the twenty Primarchs created by the Emperor. Raised on the hellish world of Nostramo and plagued by prophetic visions of death, Curze became known as one of the most brutal and unstable Primarchs, a creature of terror and darkness that set him apart from many of his brothers. Ultimately he betrayed the Emperor and joined with Warmaster Horus in the Horus Heresy.
The child that would come to be known as Konrad Curze was first recorded as crashing through the surface and into the core of the night-shrouded world of Nostramo. The crust of Nostramo bore high quantities of the mineral adamantium, which provided the basis of the planet's immense mining and purifying industries. 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, depression was inescapable, 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. He spent his early life surviving off his wits and determination, feeding himself by hunting the feral animals that roamed through the vast city of Nostramo Quintus. He was continually plagued by visions of the darkest possible future, horrifyingly potent waking dreams that would curse him throughout his life.
During his short youth, Curze was pitched into a destructive cycle of persecution and murder, focusing on the criminal elements of Nostramo's society. 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 the city's corrupt 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. 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. Society underwent massive changes, most notable of which was the self-imposed curfew that came into being. Mothers began to threaten children that if they continued to misbehave, the Night Haunter would come for them. This term quickly came into common usage, describing a dark creature that stalked the city, ready to disembowel anyone it believed to be a criminal or heretic with dirty, razor-sharp talons.
Curze saw hope for the inhabitants of his world. He had become the only object of fear and hate within the city. Appearing before the nobles that had survived his vigilante purge, Night Haunter became the first monarch of Nostramo Quintus. He assimilated knowledge almost greedily, and became considered a fair and temperate ruler, until word of some injustice reached his ears. He would then hunt the guilty through the streets, wearing them down and then killing and mutilating them. The unpredictable pattern of benevolent wisdom and hideous vengeance ushered in a new level of efficiency and honesty. Other cities around the planet followed suit, in an attempt to keep the Night Haunter from their doors.
The Coming of the Emperor
A short time into the reign of Night Haunter, the Emperor's Great Crusade reached the outskirts of the Nostramo system. The coming of the Emperor of Man was an event that had been prophesied in Nostramo's history: an event that would lead to the planet's downfall.
The Emperor, Fulgrim, Ferrus Manus, Rogal Dorn, and Lorgar landed on Nostramo, and led a 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 radiance of the Emperor. Most wept, as the healing light he projected reflected off the rain-slicked streets into their faces. Those brave enough to look upon him directly were blinded. At the end of the broad road leading to Night Haunter's palace, the Primarch stood, waiting for the delegation to approach. As they did, he succumbed to a vision so potent and horrifying that he tried to claw his own eyes out, but was stopped by the Emperor. Night Haunter then looked at the Emperor and his brothers, and it is said he foresaw the fates of them all as well as his own death. He then looked at his father and the following dialogue ensued:
"Konrad Curze, be at peace, for I have arrived and intend to take you home."
"That is not my name, Father. I am Night Haunter, and I know full well what you intend for me."
The Great Crusade
Night Haunter quickly adapted to the teachings of the Imperium, studying the complex doctrines of the Adeptus Astartes under Fulgrim's tutelage. During this time Curze had visions of the Horus Heresy and Fulgrim's fall, telling him of their dark future. Curze was eventually placed in command of his Space Marine Legion, which he renamed 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 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 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 system to pay all outstanding tithes, cease all illegal activities and put to death any mutants and suspected heretics. Reinforcements to replace the Night Lords that fell in battle were selected from the population of Nostramo, but in Night Haunter's absence, the population of the planet collapsed back into the corrupt and decadent ways that had prevailed before his arrival. The ruthless criminals were the only ones to remain healthy and strong, so it was these men who were recruited for the Legion. Night Haunter began to lose some of the control he held over his Legion, and the visions that plagued him increased in both lucidity and quantity. Curze was unique among the Primarchs in that he hated his own Legionaires, viewing them as the very criminals he sought out to destroy.
Curze's relations with his brothers were equally strained. The Night Lords brutal tactics caused controversy among other Primarchs, most notably Rogal Dorn and Vulkan. With the latter, Vulkan nearly fought Curze over the fate of Kharaatan. During a campaign with the Imperial Fists and Emperor's Children in the Cheraut System he learned of the renewed crime and anarchy on his homeworld. Falling into anguish, the Night Haunter tried to confide in his brother Primarchs Fulgrim and Rogal Dorn, but they had never been close to them in the beginning, and their reaction was less than favourable to his claims. When Fulgrim revealed Curze had told him of disturbing visions of civil war, Dorn confronted the Night Haunter on the matter. Finally snapping from Fulgrim's betrayal of confidence Curze attacked and wounded Dorn as well as massacring several Imperial Fists that were guarding him before taking the Night Lords fleet to Nostramo. A few Imperial pursuit craft arrived just in time to see the Night Lords' laser batteries firing into the hole left by Night Haunter's arrival decades earlier. Nostramo's core overheated and the world exploded.
The Horus Heresy
Night Haunter's terrible acts caused him to become susceptible to the whispers of Chaos. The campaigns of the Night Lords became less justifiable, terror campaigns leaving a trail of 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 men. But before the Night Lords reached Terra a new crisis erupted...
When the Horus Heresy broke out, Night Haunter was quick to swear his Legion to the forces of Warmaster Horus. Curze revealed his treachery during the Drop Site Massacre, launching his legion against the loyalist forces of the Raven Guard, Salamanders, and Iron Hands. During the battle, Curze and Lorgar battled against Corax. After the massacre, Curze captured Vulkan but found that the Perpetual Primarch could not be killed despite his best efforts. After unleashing every torment imaginable on Vulkan, the Salamanders Primarch was eventually able to escape Curze's clutches.
Two years after the Dropsite Massacre, Curze engaged the Lion El'Jonson in a series of hit and run battles all over the Thramas Sector. Eventually, Curze would leave a message for his brother to meet him (Curze) on the planet Tsagualsa. Here he would reveal some prophecy to Lion. Afterwards, a fight would ensue between the two Primarchs and their respective troops. Eventually, Curze would slash the Lion's throat and the Dark Angel Corswain would stab the Night Haunter in the back. Both Legions retreated. The next encounter between the two brothers would begin when the Dark Angels ambushed the Night Lords and would end with the Lion dealing Curze eleven identifiable wounds that are instantly fatal to an Astartes. These injuries would put Curze in a comatose state. While recovering, Sevatar would take temporary command of the Legion and divide it into six fleets that would go wherever the respective commander directed it. During this reorganization, the Dark Angels would attack again. During this second attack, Curze would reawaken and board the Invincible Reason. He would remain in hiding aboard the Dark Angels' flagship for the next sixteen weeks. Curze was able to evade capture on the massive ship, massacring every search team and confounding the Lion himself.
When the Dark Angels ship arrived over Macragge, Curze made his escape and landed on the planet by hacking into the Invincible Reason and initiating a mass Drop Pod landing on the planet, commandeering one of the vessels. Curze then unleashed havoc upon Macragge's capital, massacring all he came across and eluding any capture. After killing Phratus Auguston in a Chapel within the Fortress of Hera, Curze was confronted by both Roboute Guilliman and Lion El'Jonson. Managing to hold out against both Primarch's simultaneously, Curze unveiled his trap and detonated the explosives he had rigged around the Chapel. Curze escaped in the chaos while Guilliman and the Lion only survived thanks to Barabas Dantioch teleporting them to Sotha with the Pharos. Thinking both Primarch's dead, Curze swept aside a pack of Space Wolves and was about to kill Guilliman's "mother" Tarasha Euten when he was beset upon by the now-insane Vulkan, who had teleported to Macragge. Curze, in genuine shock due to not having any visions of Vulkan, battled the Salamanders Primarch across Macragge. The duel was only interrupted by the Cabal assassin John Grammaticus, who stabbed and apparently killed Vulkan with the Fulgurite. Curze wished the Fulgurite for himself, and as he attacked Grammaticus his comrade Damon Prytanis used a captured Daemon to banish the Primarch into the Warp. After being trapped inside the Warp for what seemed to him to be weeks, Curze managed to escape and reemerged into the Materium in front of Macragge's capital.
Eventually, Curze was able to rejoin his fleet. After the invasion of Terra, the Night Lords did not splinter and flee like the rest of the Traitor Legions. Instead, they continued to attack the Imperium, however, their tactics seemed to change, betraying a self-destructive desperation. The Night Haunter himself was gradually losing his sanity and sense of purpose that had earned the respect of his Legion, and in his last days would frequently erupt into fits of violence, incoherency, and sadism. Many, such as Sevatar, became disheartened at what their Primarch had become. The Emperor himself, wishing to disband the Night Lords forever, dispatched half the Callidus Temple of assassins to terminate the renegade Primarch.
Night Haunter was eventually killed, assassinated by the Callidus M'Shen. It is believed she was allowed to infiltrate his palace on Tsagualsa, as she encountered no guards between herself and his throne room. Confronted with her, he simply said:
"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 vid-log then shows M'Shen leaping forward, although the kill was never confirmed, as the video feed cuts out right before they fight. 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 to the Imperium's history.
Curze's primary weapons were twin Lightning Claws known as Mercy and Forgiveness. For protection, Curze wore a terrifying suit of Power Armour known as the Nightmare Mantle, which was decorated with the flayed skin and body parts of his victims. In combat, he was also known to have wielded a Flaying Knife-shaped Power Sword and throwing knives known as Widowmakers.
The character's last name is probably inspired by the novella 'Heart of Darkness' by Joseph Conrad, where a former ivory trader in the Congo named Kurtz rules over the native population as a charismatic demigod. The book was later adapted into the Vietnam War movie 'Apocalypse Now', where Kurtz's assassinator is played by Martin Sheen who M'Shen is likely a reference to. The first name 'Konrad' is probably inspired by the author's last name.
It is implied in the novel Lord of the Night that Curze had a dual personality. '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.'
Also, in the book Shadows of Treachery, it is revealed that Curze had limited psychic ability, when he destroys a series of lights via a telekinetic pulse.
|I - Lion El'Jonson · II - Unknown · III - Fulgrim · IV - Perturabo · V - Jaghatai Khan · VI - Leman Russ · VII - Rogal Dorn · VIII - Konrad Curze · IX - Sanguinius · X - Ferrus Manus · XI - Unknown · XII - Angron · XIII - Roboute Guilliman · XIV - Mortarion · XV - Magnus · XVI - Horus · XVII - Lorgar · XVIII - Vulkan · XIX - Corvus Corax · XX - Alpharius Omegon|
- 1: Index Astartes II
- 2: The First Heretic (Novel) Chapter 27
- 3: Prince of Crows (Novella)[Needs Citation]
- 4: Vulkan Lives (Novel), [Needs Citation] pg.200-219
- 4a: Chapter 31, pg.298 (Digital Edition)
- 5: Savage Weapons (Short Story)
- 6: The Unremembered Empire (Novel) Chapters 23/24
- 7: The Dark King (Audio Drama)
- 8: The Horus Heresy: Book Two - Massacre pg.242-243