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The Putrid Blightkings, also known as the Exalted Champions of Nurgle, are not one particular tribe or group, but rather a loose brotherhood that spans the northernmost regions of the world. Each of their number has been touched by Nurgle via his earthly emissaries – specifically, the daemonflies that have hatched from within the Chaos champion Bloab Rotspawned ever since the Lord of Decay claimed the sorcerer as a host for his tiny servants.[1a]
Whilst Bloab Rotspawned sleeps, his many parasites whisper and scheme inside his sac-like gut, talking of those warriors abroad in the world who deserve the favour of the Lord of Decay. When one such champion has proven himself beyond a doubt, a single daemonfly will take it upon itself to wind its way out of Bloab's snoring mouth and flit erratically into the night sky. So begins the tiny messenger's long journey, but it is not one without aid. As the daemonfly buzzes across the moonlit landscape, the sick light of Morrslieb enriches and invigorates it, filling the tiny creature with the energies of Chaos. Drawn to its quarry by a silver thread of fate, the fly will journey across half the world if necessary before alighting gently on the head of its target and sinking its mandibles into the flesh – a daemon-kiss from Nurgle himself that transfers great physical strength and resilience. From that point on, the fly-touched warrior finds himself completely attuned to the desires of Grandfather Nurgle, a ready-made bodyguard for the Urfather's champions and a deadly force of destruction in his own right.[1a]
Though such individuals tend to band together and hence are usually encountered in warbands or tight-knit military groups, each of the Blightkings is deadly in his own right, a champion in the making who is fully prepared to fight and die for his vile god's cause. Many and varied are the weapons with which these blessed few perpetuate the cycle of life and death. They range from those which typify the tribes of the north, such as bone-crushing flails and flesh-hewing axes, to far stranger tools of destruction that echo the proclivities of their patron. Some of their number boast insectile appendages, others battle scythes, or staffs that carry massive verdigris-stained bells, each clanging out a sonorous death toll as its wielder caves in the skulls and ribcages of his foes.[1a]
All champions of Chaos hope the eyes of their gods stare down upon them whilst they go about their violent work. With the Putrid Blightkings, it is all but certain. They are fully aware that their lord has not only selected them individually for glory, but also passed a little of his boundless strength onto them so that they might fulfill the destiny apportioned to them. These are the slayers of monarchs and monsters, the bane of judges and priests. They exist to bring the mighty low so that the meek might devour them, hatching a thousand minor lives from every major kill. In this way Nurgle's largesse continues its eternal cycle, forever breaking down the edifices and edicts of civilisation and replacing them with he teeming wilderness of unbound life.[1a]
The first of the Chaos worshippers to feel the touch of Nurgle's insectoid messengers were the Chaos warriors that garrisoned Brass Keep. Having fought their way deep into the Empire at the vanguard of Undra Kul's invasion, the Repugnauts had already made a name for themselves by committing acts of bloody desecration in the name of Nurgle wherever they went. They were part of the besieging army that assailed the titanic Brass Keep, for the fortress had changed hands many times over the years, and had proved an indomitable bulwark for both the Empire and its enemies.[1a]
Though they lost the greater part of their number to Empire sorties and the cannon fire from Brass Keep's walls, the Repugnauts were finally able to break the fortress when they invoked Nurgle's favour to pollute the stone of the castle itself and hence infect the greater part of its defenders. They took the fortress, but the armies of the Emperor finally repelled Undra Kul's invasion, and the Repugnauts and their fellow warriors were left defending a staging post that never saw reinforcement. Cut off from the shattered armies of their fellows, the warriors decided to hold the fortress in the Middle Mountains for as long as possible. They reasoned that another Chaos invasion would hack its way into the Empire within a few years – and that when it did, they would be ideally placed to fight at its bloody tip.[1a]
The months slid past, however, and one by one the Chaos worshippers that had taken Brass Keep for their own succumbed to the same plague with which they had taken the fortress only a few harrowing months before. Only those blessed in the sight of Nurgle survived the sickness, the Repugnauts foremost among them.[1a]
When the aid of the Dark Gods came, it was not in the form of a baying horde of bloodthirsty barbarians, but instead as a swarm of droop-legged daemonflies. The swarm buzzed down from the overcast skies and into the fort's corridors and cells. There each of the tiny beasts, still dripping wet from bathing in the weeping sores that lined Bloab Rotspawned's insides, settled on the guts of the few Chaos warriors left within the keep's walls.[1a]
Within a matter of days the Repugnauts grew swollen and fat on the vibrant enemies that hummed through them. Some rotted, some bloated, some changed to resemble the insects that marked them out for the favour of Nurgle in recognition of their boldness. Around them the Keep itself changed, large portions of its walls dripping unclean fluids into the mountainside that surrounded it. By the time the maggoth riders of Icehorn Peak had reached the fortress, its inhabitants had been reshaped completely by the polluting power of their patron, a warband of veteran killers with the power of a small army in its own right.[1b]
Similar stories unfolded from Norsca to the Nordland coast. The daemonflies bore of Bloab's gut would swarm out across the lands, settling upon the brows or abdomens of those that their divine master deemed worthy. The Scions of the Last Plague, longtime allies of the Dragonbone tribe, found their idle appreciation for disease blossom into full-scale obsession as flesh-hardening plagues and bone-twisting fungus blossomed across their physical forms. Less than a moon's turn after their ugly transformations, the Scions had fought their way to become the champions of Gutrot Spume's armies. Amongst the warriors from the Glottkin's muster at Fjordlingtribe, the most devoted of the triplets' followers found themselves bulge and bulk out, as mutations of a severity that would have killed lesser men bestowed strength instead of weakness.[1b]
Wherever Nurgle's influence would be needed most in the world-spanning struggles that were to come, the Putrid Blightkings were there, bound together not by a formal brotherhood but by the will and foresight of their disgustingly generous god.[1b]