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The Scourge

The Calixis Sector is the campaign setting for the first edition of Dark Heresy, the Warhammer 40,000 role-playing game. In this RPG, the player characters are low-powered agents of the Inquisition investigating (amongst other things) heretical cults. Within that setting, the Scourge are a group of Nurgle worshippers that arise on the world of 47 Kapella.

Daemon Hunter (2011)

Daemon Hunter (2011), p22 — The Purging of Camp 109

The world of 47 Kapella is a war-torn wasteland, every square mile of its surface torn apart by craters and criss-crossed with mile after mile of trench line. When war first came to 47 Kapella, millions were displaced as vast armies clashed against one another, and dozens of huge refugee camps sprung up. Generations later, some of these camps had become cities, vast conurbations of ragged buildings made of the detritus of war and populated by the lost and the damned.

It's no surprise, then, that the Chaos God Nurgle, Lord of Plagues and Despair, reared his scabrous head in one such camp.

The malady began when the sick and the desperate of Camp 109 turned their faces from the light of the Emperor and beseeched other, darker powers for deliverance. Deep within the Realm of Chaos, Papa Nurgle heard their pleas and sent forth his myriad gifts to grant them life eternal in his name.

The first to receive Nurgle's gifts were Imperial Guardsmen recovering from wounds sustained at the front line of the war. Their wounds scabbed over and an unnatural vitality flooded through them. Even as their features sloughed into hideous flesh-masks, these converts went forth amongst the populace of Camp 109 and preached to the masses that only by embracing death and despair would they cast off their fear and enter into a new existence. The converts became an order of demagogues, calling themselves the Scourge, and soon they were preaching at every corner, their filth-encrusted robes concealing their faces while their phlegm-ridden voices beseeched any who would listen to follow them into glory.

The contagion that the Scourge spread through Camp 109 was not simply one of bodily infection, but of the spirit as well. Those who heeded their sermons found themselves falling ill with dozens of ravenous plagues at once, yet they felt glad to be sick. Soon, established orders were preaching against the Scourge, denouncing them as servants of the archenemy. It was not long before Camp 109 was beset by civil war every bit as destructive as the battles its population had originally fled from.

The leaders of each side were the preachers of the various orders. On one side, zealots of a dozen different cults of the Imperial Creed gathered the faithful and led them in assaults against the plague-ridden fanes of the Scourge. On the other, the demagogues of the Scourge rallied their sickly flock and formed them into a fly-infested wave of filth that overcame any who stood before it.

When the Scourge launched an attack against an Order Hospitaller field hospital, the situation finally came to the attention of the Imperium's authorities. The Sisters Hospitaller barely escaped with their lives, and the tales they brought to the Imperial Guard high command convinced the generals that something far worse than a refugee camp riot was afoot.

Even as the generals were requesting aid from the Tricorn Palace, the situation inside Camp 109 was growing desperate. The last followers of the true creed were overcome, and the Scourge enacted a terrible rite to the glory of their dark patron. The bloated corpses of their victims split asunder, and from within each a daemon of Nurgle - a Plague Bearer - emerged. Camp 109 became in a single night the centre of a stinking web of corruption, which was inexorably seeping across the surface of 47 Kapella.

Salvation came to 47 Kapella in the form of Inquisitor Lystug of the Ordo Malleus and his retinue. The Inquisitor's first thought was to bomb Camp 109 from orbit, ensuring that no trace of its corruption remained. But one of Lystug's companions, a former member of the Orders Hospitaller, counselled against such a course of action. She advised that the source of the infestation was as much spiritual as it was biological, and would never be purged unless the original host was located and exorcised. Lystug heeded her words, and sought the aid of the Sisters Hospitaller who had fought their way out of the camp before it had been overrun. The sisters agreed to accompany the Inquisitor and his household on a desperate mission: to return to Camp 109, seek out the host, and purge it.

The combined force infiltrated the camp the very next day, but soon reports of unexplained sickness afflicting the front line regiments started to trickle in to high command. Realising that time was short, Lystug abandoned subtlety. Guided by the Sisters Hospitaller, he and his retinue cut their way straight towards the host he knew must reside at the heart of the infestation. The deeper his force penetrated, the more vile the sickness afflicting the camp became. At first, they encountered individual afflicted people, but soon waves of zombie-like followers of the Scourge came at them. While the outer limits of the camp were ragged and stank of corruption, the inner precincts were carpeted with biological matter that reeked with such vile sickness that even the most well-crafted rebreather was incapable of keeping it at bay. It was the Sisters Hospitaller that kept the force moving in such trying conditions, for they exuded a palpable aura of purity that forced back the vile plagues of the enemy, creating a path through which Lystug and his retinue could tread safely.

That path led to the very centre of Camp 109, where they found the first host waiting for them atop a mountain of bloated, fly-ridden corpses. The host, the very first of the wounded Imperial Guardsmen to have beseeched the Lord of Plague for aid, had become a Daemon Prince of Nurgle, granted apotheosis for the destruction wrought in his master's name.

Lystug ordered his servants to attack, but his words went unheeded as the Sisters Hospitaller stepped forward as one and formed a circle around the vile daemon. Chanting praises to the saints of their healing order, the Adepta Sororitas crippled the servant of Nurgle, purging its bloated, decaying body of contagion so that only a dried, shrivelled husk remained. Yet still, the power of Nurgle animated the Daemon Prince's form. It slew many of the sisters and attempted to flee.

Yet at that moment, Inquisitor Lystug stepped within the circle of purity created by the Sisters Hospitaller and delivered a single, crushing blow. In an instant, the Daemon Prince of Nurgle was struck down and its plagues halted.

Only when Lystug and the remaining Sisters were evacuated was Camp 109 destroyed. The cleansing fires of orbital bombardment seared the damned place to ashes, and it remains ruined to this day. Only through the purity of the Sisters Hospitaller and the valour of the Inquisition was 47 Kapella saved from a world-ravaging plague.