|“|| 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.
|“|| 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.
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. Absalom and Death did battle, and even with the powers of Corruption Death was able to defeat Absalom. With Absalom's death the threat of Corruption was ended.
- 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.