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Regardless of how many encounters the Heretics have been exposed to since arriving upon the surface of Mire, sooner or later they meet the Thanator. Far from being a chance meeting, the Thanator has been fated this moment not just for his entire life, but throughout countless generations before him. The Thanator sits at the very apex of a pyramid of generational power that has its foundations in the very creation of the world of Mire. With the birth of each successive Priornite and his imbibing of the cerebral matter of the former, the will and power of Nurgle has been filtered, reborn, and propagated, such that the Thanator represents the distilled essence of that will. In short, the Thanator's very existence serves to perform the ritual that will pass judgement on the Heretics, and determine if they are worthy of the blessings they seek.
The best way for the Game Master to introduce the Thanator is to do so at the climax of one of the previous encounters. For example, if the Heretics have encountered the "Waves of Filth" described in the previous event, the moment they defeat the last of the Miren Horde, the Priornite might appear upon the corpse-strewn battlefield, gesturing silently for the Heretics to follow him. Alternatively, if the Heretics are about to be overwhelmed by the Horde, he could appear at the climactic moment and with a single gesture send the Mirens fleeing into the mists, leaving corpses and silence behind. Perhaps Encounter 4 could lead the characters to the Priornite, where he waits silently and patiently for the moment he has been preparing for his entire life.
Regardless of the exact circumstances of the meeting, the Game Master can set the scene by reading or paraphrasing the following description aloud:
Standing before you is a tall, gaunt figure, his withered frame clad in rags wrapped tight about its limbs like soiled bandages. His face and hands are pale and glistening, the very sores seeping a cocktail of glistening filth. Despite the myriad maladies afflicting the flesh, the eyes are the darkest pits, portals through which undreamed-of realms of power and ambition are glimpsed. The face turns towards you, the darkness shining forth from those eyes shines upon you more blinding than the brightest of questing arc beams. The shrivelled lips part and a wave of grave-air flows forth.
"I am the Thanator," the figure announces in a voice as of a stone tomb ground open for the first time in a thousand years. "I am your judge, and I am your doom. If you would know your destiny and transcend the Vortex, attend me..."
Exactly how the Heretics react is up to them, but clearly they would be foolish not to follow this creature. Should the players either fail to appreciate the scope of this moment, or (perhaps commendably) decide that their characters would react by attacking the Thanator (see page 116 for his profile), the Game Master might have to think on his feet. Depending on the nature of the Heretics, he might offer them a chance to reconsider, or respond "in game" by requiring a Skill Test to have the character experience a moment of insight or even some foreboding vision. Ultimately, however, the players should remain the masters of their Heretics' fate, and so if they insist on attacking the Thanator the Game Master should allow them to do so and to reap the consequences. Doing so takes the adventure, and indeed the entire campaign in a very different direction, for if the Heretics kill their would-be guide, they have squandered the chance they were about to be offered to gain the blessings of Nurgle and potentially ascend to a higher plane of power - though Heretics dedicated to the divine rivals of the Plague God might find such an outcome pleasing, and even win favours from their respective patrons as a result. If they kill the Thanator, it is recommended that the immediate consequence is the appearance of the Lutomorbus (as presented on page 114), the mighty beast drawn to the scene by the death of so fated a soul as the Thanator. If they can defeat this creature or escape it, they will have won a great victory over Nurgle's champions - which might be very rewarding for some Heretics, but bode extremely ill for others. Such actions will certainly make the favour of Nurgle harder to obtain in the future, and the Plague God's other servants might seek to bestow their finest and most terrible diseases upon the Heretics as a result.
Assuming that the Heretics follow the Thanator, it is time to move on to the second part of the adventure.
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