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 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 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. Night Haunter was soon incepted as the leader of the eighth Space Marine Legion, 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 and decisive force to achieve their goals. Over the first few years, the Night Lords were moulded 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.
Learning of the fate of his homeworld, Night Haunter tried to confide in his brother Primarchs, but had never been close to them in the beginning, and their reaction was less than favourable to his claims. He attacked Rogal Dorn of the Imperial Fists 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. During the later half of the Heresy, the Legion sided with none of the Chaos Gods, instead using the forces of Chaos as tools to utilise in their terror campaigns. Slowly but surely, the Night Lords, now almost entirely comprised of murderers and criminals, began to carve a bloody path towards Terra. However Curze himself was badly injured and rendered comatose after facing an ambush by Lion El'Jonson and his Dark Angels at the climax of the Thramas Crusade, temporarily forcing Sevatar to assume command of the Legion while he recovered.
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.
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.'
|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|