Maxwell Rayner was the leader of the People's Church of the Divine Host during the 1980s and 1990s. However, various men called "Rayner" have associated with followers of The Dark since at least the 1700s.
Rayner is apparently one being transferring its consciousness between bodies. As such, his appearance changes drastically over time. Nearly all incarnations of Rayner have had cloudy white eyes and appeared to be blind, though he never showed any signs of actually being blind.
Rayner's original body was that of Edmond Halley.
In 1864, he is described as an old black man with milky white eyes and a weathered face.
In 2017, Basira describes him as an old, tall man with thin white hair and a scraggly beard. His eyes are, again, milky white.
The first incarnation to bear the name "Rayner" appeared in 1715. John Flamsteed, the first Astronomer Royal of England, had developed a bitter rivalry with Edmond Halley and Flamsteed gave Halley the mocking nickname "Reimers" after Nicolaus Reimers, arch-rival of Tycho Brahe. Jonathan Sims believes that the name "Rayner" is a corruption coming from the pronunciation of "Reimers" over the centuries.
One night, Flamsteed saw Halley sneak away to conduct "pagan rituals" in service of the Dark. Flamsteed confronted Halley and ultimately drowned him in a pool of Dark water, but Halley reappeared several days later, alive and well. Halley thanked Flamsteed profusely for giving him "freedom," but Flamsteed could see black water and dark mist behind his eyes.
In 1864, Rayner posed as an antiquities dealer from Africa with a particular interest in John Franklin's Lost Expedition. Doctor Algernon Moss outbid him in an auction for a packet of documents, supposedly from the log-books of Franklin’s lost ship, and was targeted by the Sandman after refusing to give Rayner access to the documents.
Around this same time Rayner taught Robert Smirke of the entities and their existence.
A man named Joseph Rayner, who may or may not be related to Maxwell, was involved with The Piper in World War 1.
In more modern times, Rayner founded and led the People's Church of the Divine Host, based in Britain. The cult supposedly fragmented after Rayner disappeared from public view in 1994, but carried on its work in secret.
According to Robert Montauk, Robert's wife, Lynette, was killed after leaving the People's Church. Rayner the forced him to kill for the cult beginning in 1990, making human sacrifices. Robert later turned on Rayner and killed his cultists, temporarily banishing the Still and Lightless Beast that had been sent after Julia Montauk, his daughter. In 2002, Maxwell visited Robert in prison and tells him that the creature has returned when the lights go out.
Rayner and his cult spearheaded the creation of the space station Daedalus in collaboration with the Lukas Family and The Fairchilds. All three groups had considerable material resources, but none could have financed space exploration on their own. Rayner initiated the project in order to create a "Dark Sun" for the Dark's ritual, which he was convinced could only be made in the darkness of space, based on a prophecy. In 2007, Manuela Dominguez, the astronaut sent to space by Rayner, successfully created the Dark Sun and returned it to Earth, where the cult worshipped it.
In July 2014, Rayner sent Manuela to give a statement to Gertrude Robinson, in order to pass on a message and threat to Elias Bouchard, telling him to abandon The Eye and surrender to the Dark before the ritual. Rayner led the Dark's attempt at a ritual in Ny-Ålesund, known as the "Extinguished Sun," in the week leading up to March 20th, 2015. The ritual failed and killed many cult members. After, the remains of the cult returned to Britain to find Rayner a new host.
In February 2017, Maxwell Rayner was killed by the police in the midst of breathing a dark mist into the body of a young boy named Callum Brodie. It is likely that Rayner was attempting to transfer himself into Brody's body. It is later confirmed by John that the force switching bodies "died in the light", making this Rayner's final and permanent death.
- MAG 140: The Movement of the Heavens
- MAG 98: Lights Out
- MAG 7: The Piper
- MAG 9: A Father's Love
- MAG 143: Heart of Darkness
- It is unknown whether Rayner killed Robert Montauk, but the light in his cell went out when he was killed, indicating that The Dark was at least partially responsible for his death.
- MAG 52: Exceptional Risk
- MAG 135: Dark Matter
- MAG 73: Police Lights
- MAG 173