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Shield Brother Beast of Nurgle

Shield Brother, Beast of Nurgle

One of the most influential Chaos Cults to worship Nurgle is the Fraternity of the Second Flesh. This secret organisation plots to drown the Empire in a morass of squalor and disease, preparing for the End Times when the entire world will fall to Chaos. The Fraternity consists of a group of aristocrats who secretly convene to worship Nurgle at a hidden temple in the sewers beneath a leper hospice in Altdorf. The cult believes that when the End Times arrive, the Plague Lord will re-clothe each of them in the flesh of an immortal Plaguebearer in an event they call the Transfiguration.[1a]

The Fraternity’s high priest is Marasmus the Archbacillus, known in polite society as Baron Oberheuser, a respected courtier at the Imperial Palace. He hides his pox-scarred face with layers of make-up, and the stink of his rotting flesh with strong perfume, but plays up to his reputation as a dandy to mask his corruption. Every seventh week, he leads his congregation in prayer, his sermons expounding Nurgle’s devotion to his worshippers.[1a]

Marasmus only allows men of noble birth to join the cult, believing that women and commoners are unworthy of the Transfiguration. Below him are fourteen initiated disciples, named Ulcerators. They are expected to spread the infections they suffer in order to hasten the arrival of the End Times, though in reality they are too obsessed with acquiring new diseases themselves, and are jealous that Nurgle should share his gifts with the common herd.[1a]

When an Ulcerator dies, which unsurprisingly occurs quite often, the Archbacillus chooses a replacement from among the fourteen Abscessites, the lowliest members of the Fraternity. The newly elevated individual is baptised in sewer water and made to imbibe a concoction of red wine mixed with the pus and scabs squeezed from the Archbacillus’s sores. His first task is to recruit a new Abscessite, which he does by subtly infecting a male friend or family member with a foul disease and promising relief from his pain. The Ulcerator is expected to murder a potential recruit who declines.[1a]

The Archbacillus enjoys his ailments free of suffering, on account of the Mark of Nurgle on each palm – a triangle of circular lesions writhing with maggots, which he covers with his perfumed silk gloves. However, his minions have not yet earned their god’s favour, and so Marasmus dulls the pain of their infections with a magical unguent containing minute traces of warpstone powder. Nobody knows how he acquires this powder, though he sometimes ventures alone into the sewers. Some of the cultists have begun to develop strange mutations, which they regard as a mark of Nurgle’s favour, but which make their attempts to hide within society much more challenging.[1a]

The Archbacillus tasks his minions to scour the Empire for any grimoire that contains the ritual to summon a plaguebearer. Because plaguebearers are formed from the souls of those who succumb to Nurgle’s Rot, he reasons that if he invoked one, the daemon would infect him and his fellow cultists with the deadly disease, hastening the time of their Transfiguration. The cult possesses a minor tome, the proscribed Liber Sinicitus, which contains a rite to summon a Beast of Nurgle, and indeed the cult has bound one to guard its temple. However, because the Archbacillus erroneously believes that anyone contracting the 'Rot from a Beast of Nurgle will turn into such a creature, no one dares allow the daemon to caress them (however much it whimpers and tugs at its bronze chains).[1a]

Meanwhile, the Archbacillus entreats his minions to visit places ravaged by plague, to mingle with the sufferers in the hope that the infamous Reckoner of Mortality arrives to document the contagion. The Fraternity is diligent in this mission, praying that they be the one who contracts Nurgle’s Rot from Epidemius’s visitation. They spend much gold ensuring that plague victims remain alive as long as possible, to give the Reckoner more time to arrive – alas he has yet to be witnessed. A side effect of their actions is that members of the Fraternity have acquired a reputation as selfless philanthropists, caring for the diseased. Ironically, this has stood them in good stead with the Cult of Shallya.[1a]

The members of the Fraternity despise the unenlightened Shallyans, and subtly try to undo their work at every opportunity. However, their greatest enemies are the Witch Hunters. Whenever the Templars of Sigmar veer towards uncovering the Fraternity’s plots, the cultists use their social influence to establish cults of Nurgle among the lower classes. They then actively help the witch hunters track down and eradicate these covens. This earns the nobles the trust of the Sigmarites, and to date, each member of the Fraternity remains above suspicion.[1a]

Source Edit

  • 1: Warhammer Fantasy RPG 3rd ED -- The Book of Plague
    • 1a: pg. 28

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