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Black Crusade (2011), p12-13 — Nurgle

"Indeed the very process of construction and creation foreshadows destruction and decay. The palace 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 stone of everlasting regret."
— The Lost and the Damned

One of the four great Chaos powers is Nurgle. He is most commonly called the Lord of Decay but he is known many names; the Fly Lord, the Great Corruptor, the Master of Pestilence. The power of Nurgle is embodied in entropy, morbidity, disease and physical corruption. Of the four great powers Nurgle is said to be the one most involved with the plight of mortals. Through the gifts of raging fevers and shaking chills Nurgle's hand is upon them from cradle to grave.

Few escape the touch of Nurgle in their lives. He is sometimes called the Lord of All because all things, no matter how strong and secure, fall to physical corruption in the end.

Every Chaos power embodies the hopes, fears and other strong emotions generated by mortal beings. In the case of Nurgle, their fear of death and disease is the source of his greatest power. The mortal's unconscious response to that fear - the desperation to cling to life no matter what the cost - gives Nurgle an opening into their souls. The whispered prayer of a parent over a fever-struck child, the anguished pleas of the dying man for one more day of life; these are meat and drink to Nurgle.

Nurgle is typically depicted as an immense, bloated humanoid, his body swollen with putrefaction. His skin is shown as leathery and necrotic, his surface pocked with running sores, swelling buboes and oozing wounds. Internal organs bulging with decay spill through splits in the ruptured skin to hang like bunches of scrofulous grapes around his vast girth. Nurgle is often illustrated with hordes of tiny daemons bursting forth from its pustules and suckling upon foulness.

The deranged worshippers of the Lord of Pestilence say that he concocts diverse contagions to inflict on the material universe for his amusement, and many of the most infectious and horrible diseases are Nurgle's proudest creations. It is their belief that those who die caught in the grip of one of Nurgle's terrible poxes are swept directly to his realm.

Those that sing the praises of Nurgle loud enough are sometimes spared so that they can spread his blessings further, for the church of the Fly Lord is always open to all. Nurgle has many supplicants but there are few with the fortitude to declare themselves as his champions. The few that can survive Great Corruptor's manifold blessings exhibit a feverish, morbid energy and a preternatural resistance to physical damage.

The power of Nurgle waxes and wanes as his pandemics sweep across the galaxy. When untold billions fall prey to the newest plagues his strength can overshadow that of any of the other Chaos powers for a period. At other times the power of Nurgle withers away to lie quiescent until circumstances are ripe for it to erupt forth once more.

Those that fashion themselves Champions of Nurgle represent a dire threat to densely populated worlds, where close-packed populations are vulnerable to a single contagion. Ships in the void are particularly vulnerable to disease and many dying crews have beseeched the Lord of Decay for his intercession. Such was the fate of the Death Guard Legion when it became marooned in the warp on the long journey to Earth during the Horus Heresy.

While they lay becalmed in the Immaterium, a mysterious contagion spread from one to another of the Death Guard's ships until the entire fleet was infected. Even the reinforced physiology of the Space Marines could not fight off the dire plague as it bloated the guts, distended the flesh and rotted its victims from the inside. It's said that when even the Legion's Primarch, Mortarion, fell victim to the plague he cried out to the Powers of Chaos in his delirium. His desperation to save himself and his Legion called forth Nurgle, and Mortarion became his Champion. Thus, the Death Guard Legion has enjoyed the favour of Nurgle for the last ten thousand years.

The Daemons of Nurgle

The daemons of Nurgle are truly putrid in their appearance and sickening to look upon. Their flesh pulses with the fever-heat of corruption, their innards push through lesions in their putrid skin and their bodies ooze with sticky slime. In contrast to their hideous appearance, Nurgle's daemons are cheerful, energetic beings that show a disturbingly friendly demeanour. They are jovial in their work and show great pride in their accomplishments, interpreting the groans of the afflicted as expressions of gratitude justly won by their efforts.

The most powerful daemons of Nurgle are called Great Unclean Ones. Great Unclean Ones are facsimiles of the god himself both physically and in spirit. Every Great Unclean One is also Nurgle himself in some sense, and their followers often refer to them as "Papa" or "Father Nurgle". Great Unclean Ones are seldom deathlike or morbid in character; in fact, they are usually motivated by the same trivial enthusiasms that drive the living. They are gregarious and even sentimental in their nature with a remarkable fondness for their followers. They often refer to their followers as their "Children" and take great pride in their appearance and oddly endearing behaviour.

The common daemons of Nurgle are known as Plaguebearers. These have a more approximately humanoid shape and lurch along on stick-thin limbs. Plaguebearers have single eye and a single horn, and chant in continuous monotone. They are also called the "Tallymen of Nurgle", as it is said that they constantly strive to enumerate the endlessly changing number of plagues and poxes in the universe. Despite their decrepit appearance Plaguebearers are extremely dangerous in battle. A single scratch from their rusted swords is sufficient to bestow a plague that sends its host to Nurgle's realm without delay.

The lowliest servants of Nurgle are the Nurglings, tiny daemons that look like miniature representations of Nurgle himself. They are mischievous, agile and constantly active slinking in the shadows of his champions or gathering in squealing hordes around Great Unclean Ones. Swarms of Nurglings overwhelm their enemies through sheer weight in numbers, using their scrabbling, diseased claws to pull down larger opponents so that they can gnaw at them with filth-caked fangs.

Nurgle is the age-old enemy of the Chaos Power Tzeentch, the Lord of Change. Their energies come from diametrically opposing beliefs: Tzeentch's power derives from hope and changing fortune while Nurgle's comes from defiance born out of despair and hopelessness. The followers of Nurgle often pit themselves against those of Tzeentch in complex political intrigues in the mortal realm, forever attempting to mire his schemes for change in dull minded conservatism and parochial self-interest. Their corrupting influence is often successful in thwarting the Architect of Fate and they erode at his accomplishments constantly, safe in the knowledge that whatever survives the collapse into entropy becomes their inheritance.

DLinschoten 6.567.544.M41
I, Magir Linschoten, am recently arrived to the port moon of Aog, to fill the post of chief chirurgeon in the port's largest mercy-house, the Alburae.

DLinschoten 6.580.544.M41
On Aog, while the priestly classes deal with matters spiritual, the Qaidyas look to the ailments of the body. The Qaidyas, of course, practice Eyuridea and as with Eyuridic physicians elsewhere they had reached their heyday centuries before my arrival. Inbreeding, blind and unquestioning obedience to ancient texts and a failure to innovate have gradually diminished their capabilities. They are still held in great regard for all that, and many local customs honour them. Not least of these is their entitlement to wear a special broad-brimmed hat hung with chimes that is forbidden to all others. I have determined to win myself a Qaidya's hat to prove my ability to the natives.

DLinschoten 6.583.544.M41
The sicknesses and diseases of Aog that are most common come with the change of the seasons and the weather. There is a sickness called mordexijn that steals upon the men it weakens, making them cast out all that is inside their bodies and oft times their lives as well. The bloody flux is very common and as dangerous as the plague. They have many continual fevers that are burning agues that consume men such that within four or five days they are whole or dead. This sickness is very common and dangerous, but the natives do cure it with herbs and ointments. I have petitioned the elder Qaidya to teach me this recipe, but the Qaidites are as jealous of their recipes as they are of their newborn sons.

DLinschoten 6.600.544.M41
The Alburae is filled to bursting point. They lie in the corridors and between the bunks in the ward. The street outside is filled with those too poor to gain admittance. A hot fever-wind has blown from the hills for weeks without surcease. Men fall in the streets and are dead before they can crawl to their homes. The sweet scent of putrefaction hangs over everything, a thick and evil cloud that saps the will and dulls the mind. While the Qaidyas send up prayers with their drums, I have tried every method of treatment known to me; I have dispensed every medicine and tincture I have mixed since my days of apprenticeship. All of it avails me naught. Day by day the corpse-piles grow higher.

DLinschoten 6.611.544.M41
Uzao, the master of Qaidyas came to the Alburae this morn. He is a wizened old creature with a hat so broad that his attendants bore its chiming brim aloft on poles. He laughed aloud at our efforts and told me the Lord of Flies would show mercy only when his tally was fully made. In desperation I beseeched him for his aid and a clear understanding of the all-destroying ague no matter the cost. I feel my humility and my heartfelt plea must have moved him for he has promised to conduct me to his ceremonies and show to me his secret power.

DLinschoten 6.615.544.M41
A miracle! The terrible plague is broken, ebbing away as if it were the Great Lake at low tide. Men on the brink of death awaken as if from a fevered dream, stand and walk from the Alburae showing no hint of sickness. Uzao's wisdom astounds me, his view of the body not in anatomical terms but in aetheric ones revealing the folly of my prior thinking. A man must be treated whole, in body and spirit both, to pave the way for his survival. The unction that Uzao has taught me, a simple blessing of his primitive gods, wields greater curative powers than anything I have witnessed previously. I have sworn not to speak of the sights I saw so I restrain myself only to this - I have come to an apotheosis of mind and spirit.

I have found records that Dr. Linschoten travelled widely on Aog before his eventual death. In his travels he spread rots and agues without number through the pricking of patients with infected instruments and the dispensing of contaminated potions. His notions of treatment through exposure exceeded sanity to the point where he cultivated the diseases of those in his charge as a farmer tends his crops, more solicitous of the distempers themselves than the mortal flesh that bore them.
— Interrogator Jorgan Malpire, during his investigations of the Aog Port-Moon