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Nurgle is the Great Lord of Decay and the Master of Plague and Pestilence. All things, no matter how solid and permanent they seem, are liable to eventual corruption. Even the process of creation is but the precursor to destruction and decay. The bastion of today is tomorrow's ruin, the maiden of the morning is the crone of the night, and the hope of a moment is but the foundation of regret.
Though he is the creator of every infection and epidemic to have ever swept the universe, Nurgle is not a morose purveyor of despair and gloom, but a vibrant god of life and laughter. In death, there is life. Upon the decay of the living untold numbers of bacteria, viruses, insects and other carrion-feeders thrive. All life feeds upon other life to exist, and from every plague grows new generations, stronger and more virile than those before. Regeneration comes from decay, just as hope springs from despair. The greatest inspiration comes in the darkest moments; in times of crisis, mortals are truly tested and driven to excel.
To understand what might otherwise seem contradictory or even perverse in nature, one must first comprehend that which Nurgle embodies. On the one hand, he is the Lord of Decay, whose body is wracked with disease; on the other, he is full of unexpected energy and a desire to organise and enlighten. The citizens of the Imperium know full well that their lives will one day end and that many of their number will live with disease or other torments in the meantime, yet they drive this knowledge deep into the corners of their minds and bury it with dreams and ceaseless activity. Nurgle is the embodiment of that knowledge and the unconscious response to it. He is the hidden fear of disease and decay, the gnawing truth of mortality and the power of defiance that it generates.
Nurgle himself takes the form of a titanic flesh-hulk riddled with decay and pestilence. His gigantic carcass is bloated with corruption and exudes an overpowering stench that gnaws the mind. His skin is greenish, leathery and necrotic, its surface abundant with running sores, swelling boils and fruitful infestation. Nurgle's gurgling and pulsating organs are rank with the excrement of decay, spilling and spurting through his ruptured skin to hang like obscene fruit around his girth. From these organs burst swarms of tiny Nurglings that chew on Grandfather Nurgle's rotting intestines and suck upon his bountiful, noxious juices.
Every single human being in the galaxy has been touched by Nurgle's foetid hand at some point. Countless trillions are host to his malignant, invisible creations, which corrupt their physical forms and sow despair in their minds. Interplanetary traffic ensures that contagious diseases are carried from world to world by the ignorant, the wilful and the strong. As Nurgle's gifts multiply into full-blown pandemics, his power reaches a peak. Whole systems - even whole sectors - are quarantined as plague runs rife across the stars. Proud civilisations wither away even as Grandfather Nurgle conjures obscene new life from their remains. Wherever there are plague pits and mass graves, the rotting splendour of Nurgle shines through.
Despite his consistent generosity, only an enlightened few truly embrace Nurgle's greatness. Yet his worshippers exist in numbers enough to ensure his Daemon servants access the material dimension wherever plague abounds. This is just as well, for of all the Chaos Gods, it is Nurgle who most appreciates the personal touch.
The domain of Nurgle is not a barren wasteland, but a macabre paradise, a near-infinite jungle of death and pestilence. Tended by the Lord of Decay, this unwholesome realm is home to every pox and affliction imaginable. Twisted, rotten boughs entangled with grasping vines cover the mouldering ground, entwining like broken fingers. Fungi, both plain and spectacular, break through the squelching mulch of the forest floor, puffing out clouds of choking spores. The stems of half-daemonic plants wave of their own accord, unstirred by the insect-choked air. Their colours puncture the gloom; havens of cheeriness in a dismal woodland. Human-featured beetles flit along the banks of sluggish, muddy rivers. Reeds rattle, whispering the names of the poxes inflicted upon the worlds of mortals by Great Nurgle or lamenting those that have died from the caress of their creator.
Jutting from amidst this primordial mire is Nurgle's manse. Decrepit and ancient, yet eternally strong at its foundations, the mansion is an eclectic structure of rotted timbers and broken walls, overgrown with crawling poison ivy and thick mosses. Cracked windows and crumbling stone compete with verdigris-coated bronze, rusted ironwork and lichen-covered cornices to outdo each other with their corrupted charm.
Within these tumbling walls, Nurgle toils. Beneath mildewed and sagging beams, the great god works for eternity at a rusted cauldron, a receptacle vast enough to contain all the oceans of all the worlds. Chuckling and murmuring to himself, Nurgle labours to create contagion and pestilence - the most sublime and unfettered forms of life. With every stir of Nurgle's maggot-ridden ladle, a dozen fresh diseases flourish and are scattered through the stars. From time to time, Nurgle reaches down with a clawed hand to scoop a portion of the ghastly mixture into his cavernous mouth, tasting the fruits of his labour. With each passing day, he comes closer to brewing his perfect disease, a spiritual plague that will spread across the extent of the universe and see all living things gathered unto his rotting embrace.
Dwarfed by their mighty lord, a host of Plaguebearers are gathered about Nurgle. Each chants sonorously, keeping count of the diseases created, the mischievous Nurglings that have hatched, and the souls claimed by the Lord of Decay's putrid blessings. This hum drowns out the creaking of the rotten floor and the scrape of ladle on cauldron, so eternal in its monotony that to hear it is to invite madness.
When Nurgle's diseases wax strong in the mortal realm, his garden blooms with death's heads and fresh filth, encroaching upon the lands of the other Chaos Gods. War follows, as Nurgle's adversaries fight back and the Plaguebearers take up arms to defend the morbid forest. From such war springs more of the richness of life and death, of triumph over adversity. Though Nurgle's realm will eventually recede again, it will have fed deeply on the fallen, and will lie in gestate peace until it is ready to swell throughout time and space once more.
Very few mortal eyes have beheld the Garden of Nurgle. Its swamplands constantly wheeze a fog of supernatural diseases, and living beings cannot endure so much as a single breath of its repugnance. Only Nurgle himself can spare visitors from his garden's toxic affections; when he is expecting company, he will open a path through the gurgling fungus-fronds with a single magnanimous gesture.
Trespassers are viewed poorly in Nurgle's domain, as the Seers of Lugganath found to their cost. The Eldar of that far-flung craftworld have long told the story of the Caged Maiden, wherein Isha, the goddess of fertility and healing, is imprisoned in Nurgle's mansion at the mercy of her grotesque admirer. The Eldar believe their legends to be absolute truth and even aspire to one day free their goddess from Nurgle's unctuous grasp. So it was that when Lugganath was ravaged by the Brittle Coma, an army of its most gifted psykers cast their minds into the realm of Nurgle in pursuit of Isha's myth, hoping to find their lost goddess and put a halt to their craftworld's deadly malaise. They knew that they would almost certainly die in the attempt, but believed that their souls would ultimately be drawn back into the glittering spirit stones of their comatose bodies. Once safe in their crystal afterlife, they could impart Isha's message to the Spiritseers and lift Nurgle's curse from their homes.
At first, their astrally projected forms appeared to be able to pass through the grasping foliage of Nurgle's garden with ease. Their ghosthelms kept them as insubstantial as spirits and their rune-shielded minds cut through the dismal vegetation, for they were sharper than any corporeal blade. The rot-flies of that realm buzzed loud in alarm, however, and whispered of the intruders into Nurgle's ear. Just as the Seers of Lugganath sighted Grandfather Nurgle's manse in the distance, a great host of Plaguebearers rose up from the mud and began to chant in a droning monotone as they came forward. The Seers channelled their psychic energy into great blasts of cleansing blue fire, boiling away huge chunks of Nurgle's army and darting out of the clumsy reach of their foes, but ever more Plaguebearers emerged from the slurry to block their path.
The battle raged for days, and swathes of Nurgle's garden were blasted to ruin in the process. However, in the material dimension, the physical forms of the trespassing Seers began to convulse and shake, succumbing to the very plague they hoped to overcome. Slowly, as their bodies shrivelled and their spirit stones turned to rotting mulch, the souls of the Seers that were trapped in Nurgle's realm began to pass fully into the Immaterium. The soupy air of the garden seeped into their lungs, worm-riddled mud spattered up their legs, and white-bodied daemonflies clambered into their mouths. Claimed at last, the Seers' feet took root as their faces hardened into bark. Their arms split and twisted into gnarled branches, each finger hung with ripening Nurgling-fruit. The Seers of Lugganath remain there still, a copse of wailing trees that brighten Nurgle's leisurely walks and strike a note of despair into the heart of Isha, his immortal captive.
Such is the fate of those who enter uninvited into the heartlands of Nurgle, for even the generosity of Grandfather Plague has its limits.
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