Titles: Kinslayer, The Reaper, Rider of the Pale-Horse
Elder Brother of: Strife, Fury, and War
Leader of: The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse
Featured In: Darksiders II, The Abomination Vault, & Death’s Door
Voiced By: Michael Wincott
Of all the elements of Halloween, there is one most prevailent throughout the holiday, one aspect that is treated with reverence and fear alike. Death. The one thing that will exist until the End of Time itself and one whom has been personified many a time throughout mankind’s illustrious history. I have seen Death in its most common of aspects, a robed skeleton carrying a great scythe to reap the souls of the dead. I have seen Death made a woman, a beauty unlike any other who was there since the Beginning and will be there at the End to put up the chairs and turn out the lights of Creation. Yet, of the many variations I’ve seen of Death, I have never seen one as I have from the video game series Darksiders wherein Death is a being of incredible power both mystically and physically.
A creation of the demon mother Lillith and formed from the ashes of angel and demon, Death was one of many countless Nephilim who waged war against all the forces of Creation. Yet, it was first he and three of his closest siblings who grew both tired and wary of the conflict, fearing that their endless war might break the already fragile Balance of Creation. So it was that Death and his siblings went to the one “neutral” party in Creation.
The Charred Council, an entity whose task was to enforce the Balance as dictated by the Creator. Granting the four siblings powers to embody the very elements of Creation that they were so named, the Four Horseman rode on the side of Angels and Demons against their brethren and it was Death who led them all. On the day where he earned the titles of Executioner and Kinslayer, Death crafted himself a mask befitting his new role and hasn’t removed it since.
Of the Four Horseman, Death is the eldest, strongest, and arguably the wisest of them though that wisdom is arguable in the face of certain situations. For though he had been tasked with the destruction of his dead kins’ souls, Death chose to seal them inside of an amulet and granted that amulet to a being known simply as the Crowfather, or the Keeper of Secrets, and was granted his raven familiar, Dust, as a small token of thanks.
To protect the precarious balance between the three kingdoms of Heaven, Hell, and Man, the Council forged the Seven Seals of the Apocalypse, devices that would signal a time when the Third Kingdom of Man stood ready for the Endwar and would decide the ultimate fate of the Three Kingdoms. Though the signs of the first six seals were never stated, the seventh and final seal was meant to call the Four Horseman and together they would ride to punish the wicked, be they Sons of Man, Lords of Heaven, or the Dregs of Hell.
However… a conspiracy had been made for all but six of the seals to be broken, to trick the forces of Hell to begin the Endwar early and without proper preparation so that the elite of Heaven’s army, the Hellguard, could rid Creation of Hell and its forces once and for all. Unfortunately, both Hell and the Charred Council were aware of this ploy and the Red Horseman, War, was framed for starting the Endwar early and dooming mankind to extinction. Knowing that his brother would stop at nothing to prove his innocence, Death chose to aid his brother in the only way that he knew how. Instead of proving War’s innocence to a corrupt Council, he would instead absolve War of the crime by restoring the Kingdom of Man.
Like his fellow Horseman, Death rides upon a Phantom Horse, a creature as old as Creation itself whose very form and abilities are granted upon them once they are tamed. Upon taming his Phantom Horse and seeing for himself the ghastly form it was given, Death named his pale horse “Despair.” Despair is a ghastly sight to behold, perhaps even more so than his Rider, but appears to have no distinctive abilities or attributes beyond the norm of his race that being a creature of phantasmal qualities and powers.
As to Death’s chief weapon of choice, the Harvester, it is a unique weapon in that it can change its form and function as Death sees fit. Though most commonly found in the form of a massive scythe, Death oftentimes chooses to wield it as a pair of dual scythes for greater speed and damage. He is also the Necromancer. Not “a” Necromancer as that implies he is but one of the several that have existed throughout Creation. No, Death is the Necromancer, the originator and grandmaster of the black art of the dead.
Yet, what makes Death a truly frightening foe to face on the battlefield is not his weapon or his mastery of the arcane arts but what he and his fellow Horseman can all do without the restrictions of the Council. Though no official name has been given for this ability, I like to think of it as Essence of Personification insomuch that Death literally transforms himself into that which he is named. Resembling the very Angel of Death, if said angel were given an unhealthy amount of hardcore awesome, Death is literally unstoppable in this form and there is little that can last long against it and fewer still that can claim to survive with their souls intact.
As stated earlier, I have seen a lot of variations on how Death is personified in many differing aspects. There are many aspects that I have seen but few can manage to successfully make a true-blooded character out of Death, one that has as many flaws as there are virtues. I have seen Death be made as something to fear, respect, and in rare cases adore, but rarer still is the one aspect that embodies all three and so much more. Death comes for us all in the end, but whether we face Death as friend or enemy is up to each of us to decide. Me? If there is such a thing as the Pale Horseman that awaits me at the end of my time, I cannot say that I would face him willingly or even gladly, but I would take him up on that free ride to the Hereafter.
With that, we wrap up my top thirteen Halloween Horrors and so I wish to you all, my dear readers, a Happy Halloween!