The Nightbringer, known by the ancient Necron name of Aza'gorod, and as Aza'gorod the Nightbringer, is one of the C'tan, and is the once mighty Star God of death, darkness, and destruction. The Nightbringer is the most evil of the four C'tan known to still exist in the Milky Way Galaxy, and functionally the most powerful that is currently active, since the Void Dragon still lies dormant beneath the red sands of Mars in the Noctis Labyrinth. 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 them into 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 is usually depicted as a dark hooded figure, with gray and black colours similar to the traditional human mythological image of death known as the Grim Reaper. The Nightbringer hungers for death and destruction, and slaughtered the younger races of the Eldar and possibly early humanity to the point that they learned their fear of death from him and his image entered the collective human unconsciousness as the personification of Death. Only the Orks, the descendants of the Old Ones' warrior race known as the Krork, are rumored to have been spared his attentions, and that is why the Orks do not fear death.
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 Necrontyr race 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, the intelligent species that ultimately became the Necrons,. This was because Aza'gorod inhabited the Necrontyr's home star, feeding on a steady diet of bland but nourishing solar energy. 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 with the matter of the physical universe. The Nightbringer, like the other C'tan, found the souls 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. The Nightbringer massacred the Necrontyr after being transferred into his new body to feed upon their souls and was only stopped from further feeding upon that race to its extinction by a heavy dose of persuasion and pledges of eternal servitude. During the War in Heaven between the Old Ones and their allies and the C'tan and their Necron servants, the Eldar 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 Necron.
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 Dark Eldar, 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. The Nightbringer was the first C'tan encountered by the Necrontyr because it was found feeding on the very star that blasted the Necrontyr's homeworld and its presence within their sun was probably responsible for the periodic radiation surges that so shortened the lifespans of the Necrontyr people. Once it had become manifest in material form, the Nightbringer soon learnt of the delight of feeding upon mortal lives and consumed those who had brought it into the material universe. Only through pledges of fanatical loyalty and eternal worship could the Necrontyr convince it to stop destroying their race and concentrate its efforts to feed on the vast expanses of the galaxy. This first episode of mortal consumption led to more destruction on the part of the Nightbringer. Having fed on mortal life, nothing else could now satisfy its hunger and it threw itself into the Necrontyr's battle against the Old Ones. It would lay waste to entire regions of space just to feed.
It is said in Eldar 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 counter-attacked 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. The 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 Eldar god Khaine where it 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. The Nightbringer had planted its name as the embodiment of Death in the minds of many races, and is known to the Eldar as Kaelis Ra, the Destroyer of Light, while humanity simply referred to it as the Grim Reaper or Death. Only the Krork and their Ork descendants escaped the fear of death, having never been targetted by the attentions of the Nightbringer.
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 an Imperial Adept, who was later revealed to be an Inquisitor, 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 cartel that initiated this war was also digging into the recently discovered location of the Necron tomb of the Nightbringer while the Dark Eldar 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 (they were investigating a Dark Eldar raid on another planet in the same star system) and they rescued the Planetary Governor and investigated the cause of the civil war, discovering the cartel's real plan. The Inquisitor was ready to initiate an Exterminatus order upon Pavonis to prevent the opening of the Necron stasis tomb, but Captain Ventris changed his mind and launched an attack on the mine in which the digging took place. Unfortunately, the Nightbringer was awoken as the Space Marines entered the tomb and they tried to combat it. 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 displayed 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. 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 (5th Edition), pp. 6-7, 40, 86
- Codex: Necrons (3rd Edition), pp. 23, 27-29
- Deathwatch: The Outer Reach (RPG), pg. 126
- Nightbringer (Novel) by Graham McNeil