|“|| This Corruption was born in Absalom! It rises from him like a black tide and you, 'Mother', must help me stop it!|
— Death demanding Lilith help him stop the Corruption
Corruption is the force that causes many to commit evil and fall into madness. Corruption is usually seen physically as a black material that sticks to any surface, including living ones, and sometimes with yellow crystals. Corruption was born from the hatred and agony of Absalom after he met his demise at Death's hand. After he claimed the Angel and Demon keys and entered the Well of Souls, Death confronted the champion of Corruption, after slaying Absalom for good, the threat of Corruption finally came to a end.
|“|| The day you raised your scythe against us, I was born. And soon, I will be all.|
— Absalom explains the creation of Corruption to Death
Corruption appears to have been born from the destruction caused by the Nephilim but made real by the hatred and agony of the first Nephilim, Absalom after he met his end at Death's scythe. After his defeat at Death's hand at Eden, a black pool formed beneath him. As he lay dying, he was consumed by the pool, despite Death's attempts to pull him out.
Now Corruption spreads throughout all Creation, seeking to undo the balance and plunge all of Creation into nothingness with only the Balance to stop it.
Rise of CorruptionEdit
|“|| The gates of Eden, long ago... when the legions of heaven allied with the Foure Horsemen to battle the mighty Nephilim! One day, something changed... My eyes were opened... and I began to see things as they truly were.|
— Makhala, speaking as she succumbed to first Corruption
It would take eons for corruption to firmament itself throughout reality, even after having subsumed the elder nephilim Absolom.
Despite it's slow manifest Corruption managed to take root within one of the angelic warriors within Heaven's gates. An impressionable soldier belonging to The Hellguard, known as Makhala, would be the very first among many whom corruption would take root in.
It's influence was initially weak as it took to the destruction of Eden to the rise of till the dawn of man and their civilization to properly take root within one of the angelic hosts.
But eventually Makhala would succumb to it's maddening influence. After having slaughtered many amongst heavens elite soldiers, one lone voice within the White City's garrison believing the perpetrator to've been an errant demon who had infiltrated it. The angelic soldier fled to Earth after the vexatious whispers spoke to her, culled her to descend to the Earthly plane.
She set out to, in her own warped mentality, bring salvation to humanity by purging it of sin.
As Makhala began her work by butchering thousands of humans, then tainting thousands more with her bane; whom went on to continue their mass killings by spreading her poison through tainted Crossblade Pendants carrying her defiling power. The horsemen Death had been secretly dispatched to Earth by her former commander to rectify the issue. After a brutal battle which claimed countless more lives. Death finally slew the deranged Hellguardesmen in mortal combat. Stymieing the spread of corruption in the third kingdom indefinitely.
It was there that legends of the Black Plague of France would spread far and wide across the Kingdom of Man, as did the religion consecrated by their deranged benefactor spring forth centered around the Crossblade. What the pale rider didn't notice in the aftermath of the battle, was that an individual corrupted human managed to give back his affliction to his would-be savior. Reviving Makhala scant moments later.
Spread of CorruptionEdit
|“|| It wasn't the city that fell, but those within. It begin with one Angel. Weak of will, given to doubts. When the darkness called... he welcomed it in. From him, the Corruption spread.|
— The Archon, speaking on the spread of Corruption
Corruption can spread in several different ways: In Realms that are already old and decaying, Corruption can manifest itself in physical forms outside living beings as yellow and black crystals and as black, tar-like liquid. This liquid is incredibly deadly, and even Death himself cannot survive prolonged contact with it. In places where the Corruption is particularly strong, it can even acquire sapience, such as in the Forge Lands.
It can also affect living individuals, though initially, it seems to be able to do this only to beings already plagued by doubts or afflicted by madness. Initial symptoms appear to include paranoia and mood swings, and the individual may become inexplicably violent. Corrupt individuals appear to exhibit obsessive behavior, as they will often justify their violence with whatever creed or belief system they live by.
The final step of Corruption of an individual is the physical manifestation of Corruption on their body appearing as a strange slimy black material, and in some cases the sprouting of yellow crystals along with black tentacles. The individual in question becomes completely insane at this point, as was seen with the Archon, and by the fact that Corrupt lesser Angels were willing to attack Nathaniel despite his status as an Archangel.
Corruption does not need living things to spread itself as with the Constructs throughout the Forge lands, and since Constructs have Souls of Makers it could be suggested that Corruption only needs a soul and not a living body.
The Destruction of CorruptionEdit
|“|| You cannot fight Corruption, nor can you harm it. You can only kill those it has claimed.|
— Thane on Corruption
Since Corruption is a nearly unstoppable force, it cannot be destroyed easily as it spreads too quickly, though it does have weaknesses. However, only two of them are effective in combating it; powerful holy light and the death of the host. Shadow bombs can be used against it, but only to destroy the crystals from Corrupted structures.
Holy light can destroy the black matter of Corruption, but usually the death of the Corrupted individual is the only way to end their Corruption. The only known individual to have recovered from Corruption was Jamaerah, though how this was managed is not revealed (it may have been a side effect of being blasted by his own holy light attacks).
Death first encountered the Corruption when he arrived in the Forge Lands, being attacked by Corrupted Constructs. A Maker, Elder Eideard, told him the Corruption was causing the destruction of their realm and told Death that it blocked the way to the Tree of Life their only means of exit. After restoring the Maker's Forge and awakening the Warden, Death and Karn activated the Guardian.
Unfortunately, one Heartstone was Corrupted and infected the other two, Corrupting the entire Construct and causing it to go on a rampage. Death defeated the Guardian, which was then resurrected by Eideard's sacrifice, and respectively the Guardian sacrificed itself to destroy the Corruption blocking the way to the Tree of Life. Death entered the Kingdom of the Dead after encountering Absalom in the Tree.
There he met Ostegoth who spoke about how Corruption might well be the opposite of life, which is destruction. After recruiting the Dead Lord Judicator, Basileus, a partially Corrupted Dead Lord confronted Death with claims that the Realm now belonged to Corruption and that Death was too weak to stop it. Basileus confronted Death again at the Psychameron, asking if he was strong enough to stop the Corruption, and attacked him with Achidna.
Death mercilessly defeated the two and was granted an audience with the deceased Crowfather who explained that the Well of Souls had been corrupted and in order to restore the balance he needed two keys belonging to the Demons and Angels. In the Angel outpost Lostlight Death encountered Angels that had been taken by Corruption and found that it covered the Ivory Citadel.
The Archon, ruler of Lostlight and holder of the Angelic key to the Well of Souls, helped clear the citadel of most of its Corruption with the Rod of Arafel after Death retrieved it from Earth. By Archon Lucien's advice, Death found the scribe Jamaerah within the citadel, but the scribe was unfortunately Corrupted, forcing Death to fight and ultimately defeat him.
After the scribe's defeat, Death discovered that the Archon was the first Angel in Lostlight to be Corrupted and that it had spread from him. With this new knowledge, Death confronted the Archon about his key to the Well of Souls. However the Angel had become fully corrupted and attacked the Horseman, forcing Death to kill him and take his key.
In Shadow's Edge it was discovered that after Samael was dethroned, the Realm fell to Corruption, and as a result Death had to travel back in time and barter/fight with Samael for the Key. After retrieving the Demonic key from Shadow's Edge, Death opened the Well of Souls, where he encountered its avatar, Absalom him self. Absalom and Death did battle, and even with the powers of Corruption Death was able to defeat Absalom once and for all. With Absalom's death the Corruption was ended and all those it touched across the Realms became cleansed.
Lucifer briefly mentions Corruption when meeting with Lilith, proclaiming that soon Corruption would overtake all his rivals amongst Heaven, Hell and the Charred Council, leaving him the only one left standing. Unfortunately for Lucifer, Death would discover the threat of Corruption and put an end to it, thereby robbing Lucifer of his weapon to take out his rivals.
- The concept of Corruption may have been inspired by the "Outer Darkness" of Christianity and Latter Day Saint belief.
- Aesthetically, the Corruption bears some resemblance to the "Ruin" in the game Alice Madness Returns, which is also described as "Corruption". It is also a black, tar-like substance that sticks to everything. Unlike Corruption it doesn't create crystals and more strongly resembles blazing oil. Both concepts plays the major Antagonist roles in both games.