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Rotigus Rainfather is a powerful Great Unclean One
When at last Chaos came to Cadia, it arrived with fire and plague, bloodied axe and sorcerous blast. Many of its defenders fought to the end, but in desperation, some betrayed their comrades, willingly selling their souls in the hopes of preserving their flesh. Even the mightiest fortifications eventually toppled in the face of the daemonic onslaught, becoming tombstones for an entire world.
The droughts of Gaero Alphus worsen and eventually, all animal life is sacrificed to feed the tribes' gnawing hunger. The heat drives the tribesmen to pray for divine aid. They turn to the rain dances of old, even sacrificing their own people in the hope of ending the drought. Grandfather Nurgle and his minions hear, take pity, and grant their wish. Glorious rain comes, but as each day passes, the clouds thicken and grow more menacing. Deserts turn to lakes, arid croplands to rotting soup. Disease grows rampant. On the eighth day, the Tallyman of Nurgle, Epidemius, pushes his way out of the sludge to catalogue the disaster. As constant rain lashes down, the Pathogenus Legions arrive to overcome all. A week later, Gaero Alphus disappears altogether from all Imperial records. Eight entire systems follow, with Rotigus Rainfather leading the Epidemic Legions to spread Nurgle's generosity to surrounding worlds.
Tzeentch tricks Khorne into averting his gaze from his Blood Crusade to look instead upon the Scourge Stars. There, the Blood God espies Nurgle's diseased bloomfields blossoming within realspace. Bellowing with rage, Khorne redirects his legions to attack his brother's growing domain. Dozens of Tzeentch's legions follow in their red wake. So begins the War in the Rift - the largest conflict of the Great Game to ever spill over into reality. In response to the invasions, Nurgle launches seven counter-attacks, the largest of which strikes into the Stygius Sector, for the Plague God rightly suspects Tzeentch is behind the assaults upon his realspace stronghold. Even as Kairos Fateweaver leads an assault upon Nurgle's garden, Rotigus heads the invasion of the Stygius Sector. Slaanesh allies with all three of his brothers at different times, his fickle nature drawing the ire of all, but Khorne especially.
The titanic engagements between the Chaos Gods' legions take place across a hundred fronts, but one single battle stands above all others, for none can match the sheer scale of slaughter that occurs upon the planet of Vigrid. Armies clash and powers of such magnitude are released that the planet, now reshaped into a Daemon world, is shattered, the debris shifting into the warp where the surviving combatants continue their battle as they float upon the formless seas of the immaterium. It is a maelstrom of conflict unending, with each side sending in a constant stream of new legions. Seeking an end to the battle, Tzeentch suggests a contest of champions to settle the matter. Each of the Chaos Gods, sure of their own victory, agrees.
The Great Unclean One known as Rotigus is the epitome of Nurgle's generosity and fecundity. None, save for the Lord of Decay himself, is more attuned to the woes of the world. In their despair, the most defiant of mortals vow to endeavour onwards, despite the utter hopelessness of their situation. Thus do the barren pray for fertility, the growers of crops plead for rain, the starving beg for sustenance. Rotigus listens to each supplication, and to those desperate enough to pledge anything in exchange for life, he promises salvation. And the Rainfather always delivers.
Humming merrily - for he enjoys his work - Rotigus lavishes his attentions upon those that beseech him. With their beasts gone sterile, the agri world of Ullden stood upon the brink of ruin. When the animals began to breed once more, the citizens believed their prayers to an ancient fertility god had been answered. Only when the wretched beasts kept giving birth, covering the ground in mewling, mutated newborns that shrieked to the skies did they realise their doom. When their hydro-tech broke, the T'au Earth caste farmers of Dh'artan were so desperate for rain that they ignored protocol and gave in to the superstitions of the primitive tribes from whom they had usurped the planet. When the downpour first came it was welcome, but soon enough the entire planet became a foetid swamp rife with plague.
Rotigus manifests Nurgle's Deluge - a diseased storm that eternally hovers over him, drenching the Great Unclean One to his innermost folds as they wobble with thunderous laughter. Those foes that do not drown in the presence of Rotigus' generosity find themselves crushed by his massive bulk. As befits his giving personality, Rotigus has also been blessed with a fountain of plenty - the ability to vomit an endless stream of filth. A foul soup of brackish plague water, half-digested rotten flesh and the most acidic biles of the galaxy, the liquid can melt ceramite armour and cause ferrocrete to rot and crumble. Alarmingly, the projectile vomit issues not only from his gaping mouth, but also from his belly maw. Random toothed orifices open up all over Rotigus' voluminous body, snapping and retching septic fluids that seethe with contagion.
With such defences, Rotigus feels no need to carry weapons. Instead he bears a gnarlrod, a branch from the hornbeam tree. Of all the strange and unusual plants within his master's garden, the hornbeam is Nurgle's favourite. In a constant cycle, the tree begins as a seed, sprouts, grows to maturity, sickens with disease, declines and dies in rapid fashion. Every time, its withered corpse sloughs away to reveal a seed from which the cycle begins again. With every rebirth comes a different disease that causes the hornbeam to die in some new and horrific way. The curled branch of Nurgle's beloved tree is a powerful symbol of favour, and the ensorcelled wood is rich in regenerative magic.
Since his participation in the Skull Lands War, Rotigus has been in ascension, claiming thousands of worlds for the Fly Lord. The other Great Unclean Ones look upon the Rainfather's works with a sibling jealousy, knowing it will not be long before he achieves Exalted status.
At the zenith of one of the Blood God's reigns of dominance in the Great Game, Tzeentch encouraged Nurgle to invade the realm of his brother Khorne, assuring him that both his own legions and those of Slaanesh would aid him. Convinced, the Great Corrupter sent his most faithful servants to the Skull Lands, instructing them to take the bounty of his garden with them. Sure enough, powerful Tzeentchian illusions drew many Blood Legions away to chase phantom armies, rendering Khorne's armies vulnerable to the combined forces of his rivals. So great were the Blood God's losses in the ensuing conflict that the minions of Khorne were pushed back to the very walls of the Brass Citadel.
All around that indomitable fortress, vast swathes of the Garden of Nurgle had sprouted, the land ploughed and seeded by Horticulous Slimux and watered by Rotigus the Rainfather. With victory seeming certain, a supposedly stray spark of warpflame from a Herald of Tzeentch ignited Nurgle's flora, dried out as it was by the desert heat of Khorne's underground forges. The resultant inferno created a wall of flame around the citadel that utterly engulfed Nurgle and Slaanesh's legions, and began to spread uncontrollably back to the centre of the Plague God's domain. Only by Rotigus' quick thinking was the blaze prevented from reaching all the way back to his master's manse, as he called forth a bigger deluge than he had ever previously manifested. Seeing the towering flames around the citadel, Khorne's Blood Legions realised they had been tricked, and returned to repel the last of the invaders.
Rotigus the Generous One leads the shambling and ooze dripping hordes of Nurgle to pollute another world beyond all hopes of redemption. Truly does the monstrous Great Unclean One bring a foetid tide of filth wherever he strides.
Rotigus arrives upon the worlds of realspace in a deluge of blight and infectious disease. Those who will not submit must wither...
'Wither when you stand, toll the bells of the Tallyman.
Sores that run with pus, toll the bells of Epidemius.
Boils that grow and pop, toll the bells of Gru'glop.
Come rains of gristle-pus, toll the bells of Rotigus.
Seeds that are bibulous, toll the bells of Horticulous.
The tallow is lit to light you to bed, the plaguesword is coming to chop off your head.
Chip chop, chip chop, 'til the last of them are dead.'
— Drone-chant led by Gru'glop, Poxbringer of the Dirgebells
A gnawfly droned lazily through the Garden of Nurgle. Spores drifted around it on the miasmal airs. Moanwillows sighed and rustgrass creaked below as the fly buzzed along, its simple mind filled with thoughts of filth, food, and where it might find the two combined. The gnawfly settled for a moment upon a stone arch that rose from a shallow lake of bubbling foulness. It ruffled its wings, humming shrilly and tonelessly as it added its own generous offering to the noxious waters.
Emerald light flared, causing the fly to squeak in surprise as the arch filled with flickering energies. A fleshy mound spilled from the portal, something large and slug-like with a slime-slick shell on its back. A gnarled claw reached out and closed around the gnawfly as it tried to take flight. It gave a last squeal of alarm before it was tossed into a daemon's stinking maw.
The gnawfly popped like a zit in Horticulous' mouth, and he pulled a sour face.
'Bloomin' empty, just my luck,' he muttered.
Mulch squelched down into the foetid lake, emitting a sigh of relief as gelid filth washed over him. The snail-beast swiveled one eyestalk and shot Horticulous a questioning look.
'Well I don't know, do I?' said the plague daemon irritably. 'The dead have their place in the cycle, that's well and good. But if they're forgettin' what that place is...'
Mulch blew out a heavy sigh of concern, bubbles of filthy lake-water frothing around his mouth.
'I know, lad, not good at all,' said Horticulous. 'That's the sort of thing that'll get Grandfather all in a latherboil.'
Mulch submerged his head further, until only his eyestalks protruded above the sludge. He burbled morosely.
'Truth, that's what we need, and time to make sense of it,' said Horticulous. He stuck two gnarled fingers into the corners of his mouth and whistled messily. His plague flies swarmed in answer, gathering upon him in a thick carpet, their legs and wings tickling Horticulous' leathery flesh.
'Alright you lot, time to earn your keep,' said the daemon. 'I haven't been around this long without gettin' a nose for when something don't stink right, and after that business outside Zintalis, all I smell is ashes. Get out into the realms and get searchin'. I don't care how or where, just fly as far as you can, then come back and tell me what you seen. Signs, omens, walkin' cadavers, whatever it is, I want to know about it, right?'
His flies gave a resounding buzz, thrumming their wings in answer. They burst from Horticulous' body like a cloud and shot away in all directions, making for the corrupted Realmgates that dotted Nurgle's garden.
The Grand Cultivator nodded to himself, then gave Mulch a firm kick. 'Alright sluggard, enough marinatin'. It'll be a span before them flies start coming back, and in the meantime you can just bet the Plaguebearers won't have pared the rot-blossoms right. Come on lad, cultivatin' to be done.'
Mulch gave another long-suffering sigh before hauling himself off through the slime with Horticulous perched thoughtfully upon his back.
Time had always passed strangely for Horticulous, if he noticed its passage at all, wheeling around him in fluid cycles one moment and flowing turgid as a clotted river the next. All the same, the Grand Cultivator was surprised by how soon the first of his flies returned. Barely had he found time to berate his assistant gardeners, plough the lower festerfields and attend to the wytherblooms before the insects started flitting back.
Most bore a fresh message of alarm, some strange sight or unnatural encounter having left the daemonic insects buzzing with panic. Some of Horticulous' little familiars returned with legs brittle and thoraxes graying with patches of ashen sterility.
Some did not come back at all.
As each fresh tale was told to him, Horticulous' concern deepened. 'Ghasts and haunts, blackenhounds and wailing bogies,' he muttered to Mulch after an especially vivid account from the Jade Kingdom of Verdia. 'Dark omens and darker visions. There's bad business comin', you mark my words. I think it's time I had a word with the Rainfather.'
Mulch belched in agreement and snapped lazily at the giggling Nurgling that dangled from a pole before his face. The mite swung tantalisingly out of reach as it released a string of flatulence and poked out its tongue. Grunting with annoyance, Mulch set off through the garden towards the pestilent pastures, the last known location of the mighty Great Unclean One known as Rotigus.
Horticulous heard the sounds of battle long before he saw Rotigus himself. Clashes, screams, and the wet rush of jetting foulness echoed between the trunks of a withered copse as Mulch dragged himself between the trees. Emerging from the eaves of that noisome wood, Horticulous tapped Mulch's snout, pulling his steed up short atop a ridge of bone that overlooked the pestilent pastures.
Sitting back and chewing on a splinter of bone, Horticulous watched Rotigus work with professional appreciation. Down amongst the muck of the pastures, the ground had been heaved open by great shards of blue crystal that danced with varicoloured flames.
Horticulous recognised a spur of the Crystal Labyrinth, the ever-twisting realm of Tzeentch that sometimes intruded upon Nurgle's bountiful domain. From within that strange maw had spilled a tide of Tzeentchian daemons, no doubt intent upon claiming the Plague God's pastures for their master's realm.
The heaps of rotting ectoplasm and writhing, fungus-covered flesh strewn about the battlefield showed that Rotigus had other ideas. As Horticulous watched, the cowled Great Unclean One led his Plaguebearers in a last, resounding charge against the battered remains of the invading host. Rotigus swatted kaleidoscopic daemons aside with swings of his twisted stave. He crushed them under his huge bulk, and vomited streams of brackish filth from the maw in his gut, drowning Tzeentch's servants and extinguishing their unnatural fires.
At last, the few surviving Horrors turned and capered for the mouth of their tunnel. Rotigus raised his staff and bellowed words that caused the daemons to convulse with the raw power of unstoppable fecundity. One by one they were torn apart by fungal growths that billowed from within their flesh, until at last a new copse of nodding mushrooms the height of trees stood before the entrance to the Crystal Labyrinth.
Satisfied that the show was over, Horticulous urged Mulch forward. Rotigus saw him coming, the beetle-black eyes that stared from beneath his rotted cowl marking the Grand Cultivator's approach. Leaving his daemonic foot soldiers to smother the crystal shards in corpse-compost, Rotigus lumbered to meet Horticulous half way. The Great Unclean One settled on his haunches, looming over Horticulous like a mountain of flyblown flesh.
'Hgh... Horticulous,' he said, nodding. Rotigus' deep voice was a bubbling, liquid horror, the sort of sound a mudslide might make if it could speak. The Great Unclean One sounded as though he were constantly striving to choke back mouthfuls of vomit, with black slop spilling from his lips in noisome spatters. Horticulous nodded in turn, chewing nonchalantly on his bone splinter.
'Rainfather,' he said. 'Fine gamekeeping there. Can't have the Changer's vermin springin' up all over, can we?'
'What do you... ugh... want, Slimux?' asked Rotigus. 'This business has... hgh... taken up too much of my time already. There's ways to wander, and gifts to be given. Always more... urgh... gifts.'
'Where'll your wanderings take you next?' asked Horticulous.
'Ghg... Ghyran, not that it concerns you,' replied Rotigus. 'Why? Would you like to wander with me, little cultivator?'
'Mayhap,' nodded Horticulous. 'But nowhere of as little import as that.'
Rotigus's belly maw heaved and sputtered with sloshing laughter, but his true expression congealed into a heavy frown. Mucus crawled in trails down his flabby chins.
'The War of Life is... hwugh... somehow unimportant to the great Horticulous Slimux, is it?' he asked. 'Too old and wise for Grandfather's war are you, first-spat?'
'The War of Life is a single enterprise, one that Grandfather's interests have branched out from,' said Horticulous. 'Why do you think he sent me out a-sowing? All the realms need to feel his generosity, not just one. Leave the fixed obsessions to the Skull Lord, is what he says now, and I agree.'
Rotigus shifted wetly. He rumbled deep in his chest.
'You know something, don't you? What... hugh... hgh... is it?'
'I've seen things, heard 'em on flies' wings, smelt their charnel stink,' said Horticulous. 'There's somethin' bad coming, Rainfather. The dead are on the rise, and if I'm right, the cycle's under threat.'
'If you are right,' echoed Rotigus. 'And whence do these... ugh... these winds blow? Where do you plan to ride that gastropodal steed of yours in... suhgh... search of answers?'
'Where else?' asked Horticulous. 'Shyish. And I don't look to go alone. Let the other fly-eyed fools scurry through Alarielle's pretty fields. If you and I lead the Tallybands to the lands of the dead, and we put an end to whatever infecund mischief is brewin' up, think how glopsome-glad Grandfather will be.'
'A reward shared is a reward halved,' said Rotigus.
'Hah!' barked the Grand Cultivator. 'Alright, says you, then let's make it a wager, eh? Surely even the barrens of Shyish can't long stay dead with your powers of plenty to coax their generosity?'
'He... ugh... who first discovers the source of your belly-aching and puts paid to it is declared the winner,' said Rotigus, nodding his boulder-like head.
'Aye,' said Horticulous.
'And if your... ghg... your fears prove baseless, little cultivator, and my time is wasted?' asked Rotigus, his voice menacing.
'They shan't, and it won't,' said Horticulous, his eye locked steadily with Rotigus' black orbs.
Eventually, the Great Unclean One gave another rumble deep in his chest and turned away.
'Squamglut, Mulgus,' he bellowed, catching the attention of his subservient Poxbringers. 'Ghugh... gather the Tallybands! We make for the Crackenbone Realmgate! The Deluge has... hgh... business in the lands of the dead!'
Horticulous gestured to his surviving flies, sending them winging away to gather his own followers. He smiled a sly smile to himself and sucked the last marrow from his old chewing bone. Two of Nurgle's mightiest daemons, and all those who would follow them to battle, amounted to a prodigious force indeed. Whatever was stirring in the Realm of Death, he almost felt sorry for it...
Rotigus Rainfather waded through the lake of infected waters that, only three days before, had been a bone-dry plain. Stretching to the horizon was a vast patchwork tapestry of pitched battles, brawls, skirmishes and last stands fought between his blessed minions and the skeletal creatures of the Great Necromancer. Rotigus' Plaguebearer attendants surrounded him, with tentacled Beasts splashing in the waters alongside.
The Rainfather glanced from under furrowed brows at the skies above. They were still grumbling like unquiet bowels. The dank green clouds of Nurgle's Deluge veiled an evil, skull-like moon that had glowered down upon the invading daemons since the moment they had come through the Portal of Thorns.
Those grim clouds were mustering yet another squall to soak this desiccated land in fecund filth. The Innerlands of Shyish had not proved so barren they were immune to Rotigus' magic, as that old dotard Horticulous Slimux had claimed. As far as Rotigus was concerned, his coming had heralded the salvation of this life-forsaken domain. So why were its denizens resisting him so?
Suddenly a clutch of skeletons burst from the water, their little claws grabbing at his blubbery hide. He swept them away with his gnarlrod, sending bones plopping and scattering everywhere. 'You breakers of the great cycle,' he rumbled. 'Foul and wrong. But still you need a... urgh... burial of sorts, that the worms may grow fat.'
As if summoned by the words, a skeletal serpent burst from the water. It rose up high, giant skull dripping and bony jaws agape. An impressive specimen, thought Rotigus as he heaved up a river of bile from his guts. He vomited out a vast stream, the geyser of watery slurry hitting the bone serpent with unremitting force. The skeletal creature fought hard for a moment, then came apart altogether. 'You'll have... ghrurp... to try harder... brahrp... than that,' dribbled Rotigus, swallowing a mouthful of clotted puke.
Rainwater swilled around Rotigus' immense thighs as he made for the hill in the middle distance. It was one of the many cairns that marked the borders of Nagashizzar - Rotigus could clearly see that vast black citadel protruding from the horizon like a blackened, jagged nail. There were people up there on the border-cairn, and living ones to boot. He couldn't wait to hear their screams of joy, their little faces twisted in animalistic gratitude as he showed them who had brought them a chance to live again.
'Come on, you... blurgh... slubberdegullions,' called out Rotigus to the army of Plaguebearers slouching through the waters behind him. 'To the hill!'
As Rotigus grew close, the people on the crest of the rise lit torches with amethyst flame, transferred the fires to cloth-bound arrows and opened fire, the projectiles arcing through the air to plop and hiss around him. One struck him in the torso, eliciting a sizzle of burning fat and a flash of pain.
'Ho!' he rumbled, 'Is that any way to treat your saviour?'
Another two arrows shot in, slamming into his flabby gut. One landed right in his belly maw, crackling on his nether-tongue.
'Right!' shouted Rotigus, bristling with indignation as his gut spat out the steaming arrow. 'You're... baruugh... in for it now, my pretties!'
High on the hill, Rotigus could see a robed human - one of Nagashizzar's cursed necromancers, by his ghastly aura and the wisps of amethyst light flying from his mouth as he cast his spells. A wedge of skeletal knights burst from the waters in response, their fleshless steeds screaming as they bore down upon Rotigus. The greater daemon swept aside their lances and barrelled through them like a battering ram through a wicker gate. He had to save the people up on the hill before the necromancer got them, too. Already he could see armoured skeletons clambering out of the barrow holes that gaped around the hill's periphery.
'Not this day,' shouted Rotigus, yanking out a length of his lower intestine and hurling it like a giant, wet bolas at the necromancer atop the hill. The tube-like length of putrid gut sailed through the air to slam into the gaunt human with a satisfying splat. It coiled around his stunned form, crushing the life out of him.
Rotigus was at the base of the hill now, a pack of lolloping Beasts of Nurgle at his side. He stamped a wight into the dirt, the glowing balefires in its eyes snuffed out in an instant. Part of the hill fell away in a landslide, a usually pleasing sight for Rotigus - but not this time. Instead of unearthing writhing worms or corpse-eater termites, the crumbling cairn was lousy with animated skeletons.
Rotigus felt more flaming arrows pierce his blubbery hide as the barrow skeletons clawed and stabbed at his legs, gut, backside and spine. 'What are you... hurggh... doing?' he bellowed. 'I have come to save you... haruggh... from dryness and sterility! Don't you realise what these things are?'
As if in answer, the rain of arrows intensified. He saw two of his Beasts riddled with arrows, mewling pitifully as they discorporated in puffs of stinking, green-brown mist. Rotigus felt more blades and arrows dig into his hide, and a cold, hollowing sensation as the ichor-slop of his blood flowed away to join the floodwaters lapping at the base of the hill. 'No!' he roared, sweeping a dozen skeletal warriors away with one swing of his staff. 'You cannot stop the Deluge!'
The Rainfather saw a clutch of human marksmen gain the crest of the hill, resting their crossbows on the shoulders of the skeleton shieldsmen that protected them from the Plaguebearers gaining the hill. The order to fire went up, and they levelled another volley even as a rain of flaming arrows struck Rotigus in the face and chest.
The last thing the Rainfather saw before he lost cohesion altogether was a baleful skull leering down from the pallid, fat moon, with the spires of Nagashizzar reaching up to clutch at it like a skeletal hand.
|Creatures||Beasts of Nurgle; Blight Drones; Foetid Bloat-drones; Great Unclean Ones; Hooktors; Lords of Contagion; Mabrothrax; Malignant Plaguecasters; Noxious Blightbringers; Nurglings; Pestigor; Plaguebearers; Plaguebulls; Plague Hulks; Plague Ogryns; Plague Toads; Plague Towers; Plague Zombies; Poxbringers; Poxwalkers; Rot Flies; Sloppity Bilepipers; Spoilpox Scriveners|
|Characters||Abcellyoth; Aynthrexes; Bilerot Vomitflesh; Lothar Bubonicus; Bubonis; Vorxec Calvarius; The Carrier; The Entomancer; Epidemius; Ferrue Fayne; Tormus Fayne; Foulspawn; Nathaniel Garro; Ghulroth; The Glottkin; Goresqualor; Gulgoth; Horticulous Slimux; Jibberjaw; Ku'gath; Mamon; Adrius Meinloka; Mephidast; Mortarion; Mortius; Mulch; Necrosius; Nurgle; Pestilaan; Putricifex; Rotigus; Scabeiathrax; Septicus; Achkovas Spengh; The Thanator; Typhus; Ussax; Karloth Valois; Plaguestrangler Vilestench; Jonas Whitespore; Ystareth|
|Groups||Apostles of Contagion; The Befouling Host; Blessed Flesh; Bringers of Decay; Brotherhood of Plague; Callers of Sorrow; Carnival of Chaos; The Cleaved; Company of Misery; Death Guard; Deathmongers; Death Priests; Flylords; The Grey Death; Inevitable Order; Legio Mortis; Legion of Festering Death; Lords of Decay; Mournful Song; Nurgle's Rotters; Plague Legions; Pox Tribes; The Purge; The Reborn; The Scourge; Septicus Legion; Sorcerer-Kings; The Tainted; Tainted Sons; Vile Savants|
|Things||An'garrach; Balesword; Blight Grenade; Bloodrot Rounds; Bone Maul; Corruption; Cursed Carillon; Death Head; Dolorous Knell; Doomsday Bell; Entropic Knell; Epidemia; Father of Blades; Foulswarm Grenade; Gem of Nurgle; Horn of Nurgle's Rot; Icon of Despair; Icon of Seeping Decay; Manreaper; Palanquin; Pandemic Staff; Pestilaan Light Cruiser; Pestilent Flail; Plague Banner; Plaguebringer; Plague Cauldron; Plague Chalice; Plague Claw; Plague Flail; Plague Knife; Plague Sceptre; Plague Skull of Glothila; Plaguesword; Poxwalker Hive; Puscleaver; Rot Giver; Scab; Scourge Shells; Staff of Nurgle; TP-III; Undead Heart; War Altar|