In hindsight, Arkadin should have expected Peris to fight back. He just didn’t expect her to suddenly take all that Corruption into herself.
“If you won’t save me, then the Corruption will.”
A Corruption that was feeding off Peris, sucking at her will to defend herself. Now, Peris only cared about staying alive, she didn’t care about dooming her universe and the denizens still living inside it. It had swallowed her daughter whole, becoming huge and bloated, embedding itself inside Peris. As far as Peris was aware, the Corruption was fighting for her, when in reality it was just protecting itself from the little Death God who was there to kill it.
Worse, the Corruption was now controlling the corpse of Zonti, Peris’s lost daughter, the Goddess of Life and Death. Through Zonti, the Corruption was also controlling Peris, forcing the desire to survive no matter what onto Peris and trapping her mind. As far as the Universal Avatar could tell, Zonti had come back from the dead, with the help of the Corruption, to protect her.
Arkadin found himself dodging and weaving through tentacles of horror and sickness, cutting away at them with his plasma-heated blades. They would almost instantly grow back, but that didn’t matter, Arkadin just needed to get past. He needed to make his way to where Peris was hiding herself, coiled up around the Corruption as it fed her hatred and twisted instincts.
The Corruption was spreading fast though. Already it had covered a third of this universe. Anything trapped inside it was being broken down into dark energy to feed the Corruption and help it spread faster. Arkadin was travelling to the centre of it, and as he darted around, he realised it was getting harder to cut through the thicker tendrils. He’d thrown a protective heat shield around himself, but even that was struggling to burn through the Corruption.
Suddenly, Arkadin found himself in free fall. He’d broken through into a large, empty hollow inside the Corruption. This was where it was keeping Peris.
Something attacked Arkadin from the gloom. The zombified corpse of Zonti, a hideous, wailing serpent with multiple jaws filled with toxic teeth. There were only some identifiable parts of her that were not broken and twisted. Before the Corruption killed her, she probably looked a bit like Yisini.
The thought of something like this happening to Yisini filled Arkadin with both dread and anger. If only Peris had been up front about all of this. Now not only did he have to kill this universe, but chances are his own universe was at risk too.
Zonti’s horrific form twisted and turned, trying to bite and claw at Arkadin, his shield deflecting all her attacks. One swipe of his plasma blade and Zonti’s head came away from her body, her broken corpse melting back into the void.
“YOU KILLED HER!” Peris screeched from somewhere inside the hollow.
“She was already dead!” Arkadin shouted back. “The Corruption is controlling you and breaking your mind. It’s feeding off you.”
“IT WILL GIVE ME ETERNAL LIFE!”
“It will swallow you and destroy any trace of what you were. You can see what it did to poor Zonti’s body. It desecrated her. It will do the same to you.”
Arkadin sighed as Peris attempted to attack him, flailing miserably and screaming in agony as Arkadin cut slices of Corruption off her body. One clean shot was all Arkadin needed, but he couldn’t just kill her like this. Peris’s desire to live was too strong, too tainted.
“Please, Peris. You should have come clean to me when I got here. You wanted me to save you, but you never gave me that chance.”
“YOU WERE GOING TO KILL ME ALL ALONG!”
“The Corruption is this bad. I have no other choice. But we could have prepared you. We could have created a legacy, so that your death was not in vain!”
Peris screeched louder. She was barely even there, the Corruption was using her as a puppet now. Arkadin needed to be careful, as the Corruption would gladly take him too.
“Thassalin is going to die now. He could have been your legacy, he could have created a new you. But you didn’t prepare and now he will die, alongside everything you ever created.”
The Goddess stopped her attacks, drifting aimlessly. “Thassalin… He is…”
“He’s not Corrupted yet. I got him out of here. But the Corruption will expand and it will go after him. It will destroy you and use your nameless corpse to keep on destroying.”
“You do not enjoy this, do you?” Peris whispered. “You don’t want to kill me.”
“I don’t…” Arkadin admitted. “I get the temptations. Every sentient being does. But I would rather kill and die with dignity than become a mindless mass of hunger and hatred.”
Peris stopped in her tracks. With a painful growl, she tore some of the black, sickly corruption away from her body.
“Does it hurt?” the Goddess asked.
“Only if you let it hurt…” Arkadin readied his blade.
Peris slowly stopped what she was doing, taking deep breaths and surveying the remains of her universe. “I’m so sorry…”
“It’s not your fault. Don’t blame yourself.”
Peris closed her eyes, silver tears dripping down her broken face. The Corruption had already begun to consume her body again, mutating it into a monstrous, ugly form.
With a single swipe, Peris was no more.
All around, the Corruption began to burn away, deprived of its source of sustenance. The universe began to collapse, its walls and laws breaking down.
Not wanting to get caught in the collapse, Arkadin grabbed his sword and fled, leaving the universe the same way he’d come in, through a tattered hole in the universe’s side. Out in the safety of the Void, the space between universes, all he could do was watch as the universe fell apart and disintegrated.
As everything died down, Arkadin felt something weird. An itchiness in his left hand. Looking down, he noticed a small scratch. A small infection. The Corruption wasn’t completely dead. Not yet. This little death god had destroyed its body. The Corruption wasn’t going to let him get away unharmed.
Without hesitation, Arkadin silently cut off his arm, then drifted off, away from the dead universe. He needed to find his way home…