|Cause of Death||
Azhdeha is an ancient dragon, of unimaginable age and power. A murderous creature, he debuts in the novel Witchlight as the primary antagonist, tasked by the Night World with finding and possibly killing the Witch Child, Iliana Dominick.
While in his basic human form, Azhdeha is described as being "quite handsome", with "clean, nicely molded features," "a small compact body" and black, fur-like "shaggy" hair, which conceals the horns on his forehead. Although he can alter his form, as with all dragons, his eyes are revealed to be completely black, without iris or pupil, described by the shapeshifter Keller as "the eyes of a monster".
Being a dragon, Azhdeha can take on any outer animal form of his choice merely by touch, including human form, though for most of the book he is shown in human shapes, first his basic human one, and then as the human girl Jaime Ashton-Hughes (to get close to Iliana).
In his true dragon form, Azhdeha appears as a "greenish yellow", scaled, reptilian beast, fifteen feet long from snout to tail, with claws massive enough to cleanly dig an underground tunnel within a few days. His form is compared to that of "a velociraptor", though recognizably draconic.
Utilizing Power gives Azhdeha a "red-tinged black aura", perceptible to Night People.
Like his fellow dragons, Azhdeha is cold, ruthless and a merciless killer. He is particularly cunning, shown when he tricks Iliana, Keller and the others disguised as Jaime. He expresses a liking for "the modern world" when told by Keller to return to sleep, and shows a marked overconfidence and sadism: when attacked by Keller he waits for her to awaken before continuing his assault, intent on her being aware enough to feel him killing her, though this penchant leaves an opening to attack.
His mind can easily be felt when using his powers; Keller herself can feel "the terrible ancient core of hatred and malice, the endless thirst for blood" whenever she is around Azhdeha.
As with all dragons, Azhdeha battled against the witches in the First Age. When he and his brethren tried to destroy the world by setting off every volcano on Earth, the witches defeated and subdued them, enchanting them to sleep and burying them in the deepest places in the world, intending that they remained dormant forever.
During the 20th century, in an effort to prevent the prophecy of the Wild Powers from coming to pass, Azhdeha was awakened by the Night World, and tasked with finding and possibly killing the third Wild Power, Iliana Dominick. It is never revealed who it was that woke him up; Azhdeha only states that "a witch who isn't a witch" with whom he had allied, was the one who'd broken his slumber.
Along with two vampire operatives, he is sent to North Carolina and finds Iliana in a local mall, where he engages her in coversation. However, this is cut short by the arrival of Keller and her team, one of whom charges into the store, although no one at first knows what species he is. Turning, Azhdeha sees the witch Winnie and using barely any effort, flings her into a wall with his Power, allowing the terrified Keller to realize he is actually a dragon.
Keller additionally notes that he has not yet fully woke, and taking this rare chance, changes to panther form and seals her jaws on Azhdeha's throat, intending to snap his neck and kill him. He reacts by blasting Keller fatally with Power, critically injuring her shoulder in addition, but the panther holds on. However, she is soon removed by Galen Drache, the prince of the shapeshifters, and Azhdeha is quickly removed from the mall by the vampires.
The dragon recovers quickly and comes after them all once again, locating the safe house Iliana had been brought to and, with raw strength, crushes the safe house to the ground. Fortunately, the team loses him; Keller, who had been trapped in the rubble with Galen and Grandma Harman, were all ignored by Azhdeha, whose priority had been the lost Harman girl.
When a rogue eagle shapeshifter nearly runs over Iliana's friend, Jaime, Azhdeha seizes the opportunity and, taking Jaime's form, swaps places with the girl in the confusion. He influences the minds of the doctors when taken to the hospital with the others, and takes up temporary residence in the Ashton-Hughes home, using mind control over the entire family; Jaime's twin brother Brett is notable scarred by the mental invasion, as he can sense the horrific and ancient mindset of the dragon. With his disguise, Azhdeha is able to bypass the wards set up by Circle Daybreak for the family's safety, and additionally digs a tunnel beneath the house for his associates to enter and leave. Azhdeha also appears to use the tunnel as his own den.
Some days later, Keller and the others are puzzled at the lack of overt activity from the Night World, unaware of the deception with the Ashton-Hughes. Upon learning of Grandma Harman's murder, the group deduces that Azhdeha is using both mind control and his own legendary status among the shapeshifters to get them to do his will; being so downtrodden for centuries, even without mental influence, the shapeshifters view Azhdeha as a messianic figure come to claim power back for the species.
Ultimately, the team is lured to the Ashton-Hughes house and, through the deception, Azhdeha is able to abduct Iliana and incapacitate Winnie, Galen and Nissa, in addition releasing his mental hold on the family. However, before he is able to get to a waiting Jeep with the Witch Child, Keller, using the tunnel he had dug, locates him; still in Jaime's form, he refuses to release Iliana, expressing indifference over whether she lives or dies. Taking an opportunity, Keller shifts into panther form and claws off two of Azhdeha's horns when he glances up at her. He unleashes a massive scream of agony and attacks Keller with a wave of Power, which succeeds in knocking her out.
Azhdeha then waits for the injured panther to awaken, having shifted back into his own basic form, though Keller notes the enormous wound on his head. In his fury, he puts Iliana down to stand over Keller. She stalls for time as her team and soulmate regain consciousness, insisting the dragon go back where he came from to distract him, but Azhdeha refuses, and only gives a vague hint about who it was that brought him back. Worried for her friends, despite only being in halfway form now, Keller swipes at Azhdeha again, successfully removing another horn. Surprised by the attack, Azhdeha is rendered unbalanced with pain, but this fails to stop him from trying to kill Keller with Power yet again.
Galen makes his way to her and, using his own draconian heritage, shifts into a leopard, the golden counterpart of Keller's panther form, and attacks the dragon, slicing off another horn and leaving Azhdeha with one. Enraged, the dragon finally reveals its true form, "dark power crackling around it like an aura of lightning".
At this moment, Iliana stands and calls out to Azhdeha, who turns to face her. She recites ancient dragon names, to everyone's astonishment, and summons "golden-orange" witchlight, to which Azhdeha reacts with laughter and commands her to die. However, Iliana then successfully summons the blue fire, confirming her as the third Wild Power, which she uses to incinerate Azhdeha final horn. The dragon dies screaming, "high and squealing[...] like distant glass shattering".
The first dragon to appear in the Night World series is named Azhdeha. He spends most of his time masquerading in different human forms but reveals his true yellow-green scales at the end of Witchlight. Azhdeha claims to have been awakened by a "witch who isn't a witch." With the Old Powers rising and a dragon proclaiming an alliance with the mysterious Night Person who roused him, the threat of other dragons emerging from their sedated slumber is very real. The apocalypse of Strange Fate cannot be far behind.
- Azhdeha holds the record as the most powerful dragon so far shown in the series, as he possessed five horns total, breaking the historical record of four.
- According to Galen Drache, Azhdeha's name is Persian in origin, meaning "man-eating serpent". It is possible that Azhdeha had either come from or been entombed in the region that became Ancient Persia, which did have dragon deities.
- Due to his control over other shapeshifters, it is possible, though not shown, that Azhdeha had used his Call ability on them.