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Index: Chaos (2017), p88 — Daemons of Nurgle

The sky darkens with noxious clouds and the land sickens and withers as the Daemons of Nurgle lumber into battle. Unnatural plagues billow about them. Slime and toxins drip from their blades and claws. Warped bells toll and bloated flies buzz, filling the air with a droning din as the hideous slaughter begins...

Nurgle's Daemons spill into realspace in thronging masses, surrounded by swirling clouds of bloated plague flies. The endless droning of these insects provides a fitting accompaniment to the constant muttering of thousands of Plaguebearers, as they attempt to catalogue the full breadth of the Lord of Decay's manifold concoctions. Unhurried and uncaring of the enemy fire that splatters off their corpulent forms, they march towards the foe with implacable menace. Cackling Nurglings caper about the ankles of their larger fellows - once battle is joined these diminutive Daemons spill over the enemy in an irrepressible tide, giggling and chortling to each other as they bite and scratch at mortal flesh, before dribbling their infectious toxins into open wounds. Grossly malformed creatures covered in caustic slime and rippling with virulent poxes, Beasts of Nurgle bound playfully alongside the plague-ridden Tallybands, while Plague Drones wheel overhead, mounted upon their monstrous Rot Flies. In the midst of this poxridden tide lumbers the colossal, bloated bulk of a Great Unclean One, its flyblown, pus-dripping body an embodiment of the Plague God's fearsome constitution. The slug-like tongue of this Greater Daemon lolls from its gaping maw as it chortles in delight, urging its children onwards to spread Nurgle's bountiful maladies amongst the unenlightened masses.

The Plague God

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, and Grandfather Nurgle sows the seeds of that entropy with carefully brewed infections and epidemics. Yet despite this grim work he is not a morose or dolorous god. Life begets death, and in turn death gives birth to new life, in the form of pallid, wriggling things that crawl free from mouldering corpses. Thus, the Plague God sees himself as a benevolent fellow, and goes about his business with laughter and honest joy. He sees mortal souls not as things to be dominated and destroyed, but naïve children to be plied with flesh-rotting gifts, and thus enlightened as to the true wonder of disease and decay.

Amongst the foetid boughs of Nurgle's Garden - the Lord of Decay's pestilential domain within the Realm of Chaos - billions upon billions of Daemons dance amongst fields of spore-spewing vines and wallow in mires of pestilent filth. They await the chance to slither out of the immaterium and into the realm of mortals, upon whom they can inflict their most delightful concoctions. Epidemius, the Tallyman of Nurgle, works tirelessly to catalogue all of the varied afflictions and maladies thus unleashed into the universe, going about this prestigious task with a grim seriousness. His corpulent frame can often be witnessed upon mortal battlefields, as he surveys infected injuries and putrefying corpses, noting carefully every swelling, sore and buboe with the aid of his Nurgling assistants. To witness mortal flesh bubble and warp with the gift of corruption is the greatest desire of all Nurgle's children. This ebullient eagerness delights the Plague God, who takes a father's pride in his creations' ingenuity and hard work.

Most exalted amongst Nurgle's ranks are the Great Unclean Ones, horrifically repulsive creatures whose maggot-ridden flesh is rife with sores and pus-dripping lesions, and whose entrails protrude obscenely from swollen bellies. Possessed of rusted blades encrusted with putrid blood, and able to summon pestilential winds and tides of filth and mucus, the Great Unclean Ones lead Nurgle's children in their grand task of spreading disease and decay across the galaxy.

A Nurgle Daemon infestation often begins with a single, luckless victim becoming infected with a mysterious ailment. The exact horrors wrought upon the bearer's body differ depending on the strain that was contracted, but in all cases the results are as excruciating as they are deadly. Every cough and pus-choked scream sends clouds of Daemon-spores swirling into the air. With horrifying speed the disease begins to spread amongst the populace, mutating and evolving into ever more horrific strains as it does so. Before long the streets are piled high with swollen corpses, and clouds of flies blot out the sun. It is then that the bells begin to toll, and the Tallybands of Nurgle erupt from the gasblown carcasses of the dead. Those ragged survivors still capable of bearing arms against these putrid invaders are swiftly overcome, and the least fortunate of all are taken alive for experimentation. Gleeful Nurglings chortle and applaud as these fresh subjects are dunked into foetid pools of caustic slime, or hurled the slavering maws of slime-covered beasts.

Nurgle's Bounty

Even if they are driven from the battlefield with barrages and firestorms of promethium, the profane gifts of Nurgle's children still linger. These include the disease known as Nurgle's Rot, a slow-acting but utterly fatal malady that agonisingly transforms the victim into a Plaguebearer, as well as the many strains of the dreaded zombie plague. The latter is a particular favourite amongst followers of the Lord of Decay, especially the hated Death Guard warbands. There are countless variations of this disease. Some are delivered by skyburst mortars into the upper atmosphere, while others are poured into a planet's water reserves or summoned in a pestilential monsoon by a pox-sorcerer's ritual. The most common strain deployed by the Death Guard keeps its victims alive and coherent even as it agonisingly reshapes their flesh. They become the shambling, rotting monsters known as Poxwalkers, whose role it is to soak up enemy fire before the advance of the Heretic Astartes, spreading their hideous infection amongst the foe even as las-fire and explosions blast them apart in gouts of pus and gore. The victim's mortal soul is trapped within this horrifying shell, unable to act or do anything but scream and beg for the blissful release of obliteration.