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Nurgle's new plan to dominate the realms played to his servants' greatest strengths. Instead of pouring all his power into a single conflict, he would open up a dozen new fronts, a hundred, a thousand; each would be small to begin with, but would spread like viral outbreaks until they overran all of reality.
Departing Nurgle's realm at the head of a full Tallyband, Horticulous Slimux began his mission. He travelled through the Grimbledrip Realmgate to the Hissing Rift. There, amidst the sulphur lakes and the ruins of ancient Gnassa, Horticulous sowed his first seeds and crushed the vengeful warriors of the Mjodor Lodge.
Leaving the Garden of Nurgle to poison the Hissing Rift, Horticulous moved on. Over the months that followed, his Tallyband struck in Aqshy, Ghur and Ghyran. The Khornate shrine atop Mount Balefire, the Slowgnaw Realmgate in the hinterwylds of Sheng, and even the desperately defended soulpod groves of Clan Thelythlin, all became magical fertiliser for Horticulous' foul seeds. With each successful sowing, the Garden of Nurgle spilled a little more into the Mortal Realms.
Seeking an auspicious target for their seventh unholy sowing, Horticulous' army squirmed like maggots into the heart of the Beaconfort, newly raised to the north of Hammerhal Ghyra. Horticulous succeeded in tainting the Alarielle-gifted magics of the beacon, and the fortress garrison of Hallowed Knights fought to the last as the Garden of Nurgle overran them. Yet upon their deaths the Stormcasts flashed back to Azyr for Reforging, and bore their warning with them.
Alerted by his returned warriors, Sigmar looked down and saw the sites of foulness that Horticulous was spreading across the realms. They were few as yet, but their corruption was growing, and presented a terrible threat to the fledgling enclaves of Order. Marshalling his Stormhosts, Sigmar ordered that Horticulous be hunted down.
Horticulous was wily, his army swollen with power from Nurgle's favour. He defeated every force that Sigmar sent against him. Recognising that the threat of the Grand Cultivator called for a very particular weapon, Sigmar sent out a secret summons borne by swift Aetherwings. His call was answered by a single warrior who prowled from the shadows to kneel before Sigmar's throne. Neave Blacktalon, first of the Knights-Zephyros, had come...
Led by Lord Danastus, the Shadowhammers - one of the finest Vanguard Auxiliary Chambers within the Hammers of Sigmar - began its hunt for Horticulous Slimux. These were the favoured comrades of Naeve Blacktalon, and together they were charged with the singular task of hacking the Grand Cultivator apart.
Amidst the High Snows of Thorca, Lord Danastus' chamber ran Horticulous' army to ground. Following the blackened trail of filth that the daemons left behind them, the Stormcasts successfully brought their foes to battle before they could reach the abandoned fane of Grungni that they sought to defile. The fighting that followed was brutal, Neave Blacktalon coming within a hair's breadth of striking Horticulous' head from his shoulders. Yet the Grand Cultivator escaped, albeit at great cost to his followers, and vowed vengeance.
The Shadowhammers continued their relentless pursuit, Naeve and her comrades following Horticulous' trail through the myriad paths of the Mortal Realms. At Bulakh and amidst the forests of Low Yorathi, the Rangers almost cornered their prey. Upon the Veilpaths of Forl'ek, Horticulous came close to slaying his pursuers. Yet always the chase continued, and still the sowings went on.
Seeing the disruption that the Shadowhammers were causing, Nurgle decided to help his beset Cultivator. The Plague God declared that any who slew Neave Blacktalon would know the full bounty of his gratitude. Once Chaos champion after another led their warriors against the Shadowhammers, thinning their ranks with every battle.
Seizing the opportunity his master had given him, Horticulous forged ahead with his sowings. He befouled the Forgetemple of the Narlsson Lodge, tainted the power of the Krakskull Warclan's Idol of Gorkamorka, and used the Plague Furnaces of Clan Skrittik to fuel his greatest sowing to fate. Yet the Shadowhammers remained on Horticulous' tail, reinforced with fresh warriors from Sigmaron. At last they caught up to their quarry again amidst the Bone Heights of Ghur, near to the city of Excelsis.
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