February 25, 2021 8 min read
While twin sivani seem very similar to humans physically, they have some differences that distinctly separate both their physiology and culture. Without exception, all sivani have a twin. They are born, live, and typically die together. Sivani are seen as a single entity by other sivani, and it’s not uncommon for them to refer to themselves as a single person.
Culturally, this brings about other strange differences. When sivani fall in love, it is always in pairs, meaning that their relationships are always in sets of four. They mate in pairs, and the resulting pregnancies are almost always simultaneously successful, or simultaneously a failure. This means that despite being from two separate biological parents, the offspring is always a set of identical twins, born in pairs, one from each female.
While a pair of twin sivani do not seem to truly share a single consciousness or a telepathic link, they are as close to being one person as two minds can be. In fact, twin sivani seems to be able to survive just fine without their twin, despite an overwhelming cultural stigma against it. Those who separate from their twins are typically voluntarily treated as pariahs, expelled from their homes and forced to live in isolation. However, very few sivani ever choose to leave their twin voluntarily. More often than not, a sivani is only without a twin if their other half met some horrible fate.
When a sivani is left alone, the solitude tends to drive them mad. It seems that they are built for a life of close companionship, insomuch that when a sivani dies from old age, it is expected of their twin to commits ritual suicide. Religious customs amongst their people believe that their souls should be sent together to the afterlife.
The reasons that twin sivani become espers are as varied as humans who opt to be summoned to other realms themselves. Each have their own agenda, known only to them and their twin. One thing that is always in their summoning contracts, however, is that they not be separated from their twin. This is usually seen as a bonus to summoners, as they get the assistance of two for the price of one.
For our Day 13 unlock, we will be adding two figures to the KS2 Promo Box. One fore Titus, the other for Quinn. These two are featured in Unintentional Malum: Act 1.
To be clear, these two miniatures are part of the KS2 Promo Box and are being given away for free as part of every pledge level at the "Through the Portal" level or higher.
The cardboard standee versions that are already a part of the contents of Unintentional Malum: Act 1 will remain a standees.
When summoning an exalted esper, Nyx could rarely count on any individual call to be answered. Espers had their own desires, their own timelines and motivations. But there was one spirit she could always call, one that she knew would be listening through the Aether for danger. I’d be grateful for your help right now, Wyrm. I’ve got more gold for you. You want more gold, right?
The creature didn’t respond in words, but she felt her call answered even so. A distant roar shook the field, so quiet that the twisted version of Jalen didn’t even notice. He kept advancing on her, sharp teeth dripping with sickly venom. “We didn’t have to do this. All you had to do was stay away, and we would’ve kept to ourselves. Then when the Dark Mother arrived, you would have learned to revel as we do. She would’ve accepted you, Nyx, the way she accepted me.”
Either he didn’t see Lymn standing behind him, or he didn’t care. Nyx glanced desperately to the wolf, but she shook her head. “I’m working on it.”
What does that mean?
The sky split open, and a massive dragon blasted overhead, his green scales so dark they blotted out the moon. Little bits of jewelry tumbled away from his wings as he passed—twisted bracelets, half-melted crowns, all gold.
“What did you—” Jalen’s parody looked up in horror, suddenly retreating. “This was our dream! I didn’t say you could bring visitors.”
Fire rained down on him from above, turning the half-rotten imitation of Nyx’s old boyfriend into a completely ashy parody before she could move. Heat scoured the ground all around where he had been standing, and Nyx had to shield her eyes with one arm until the flames passed.
The Wyrm didn’t even stop, just kept flying forward, burning the dream-clearing to ashes around them. His roars shook the clearing, and the city beyond, though they brought Nyx no fear, only satisfaction.
“Well, that’s done with.” Nyx shook out her wings, running one finger around her throat. She felt like she might be sore for days. “I’d expect them to be smarter than this. Invading our dreams, did they really think that would get them anywhere?”
“It wasn’t just your dreams.” Lymn’s eyes never left the Wyrm, as though she expected it to turn on them next. “This spell might be destroyed, but the caster lives. A Coven Mother has crept upon you while you sleep. You must wake now, or perish.”
Lymn didn’t even give her time to think. She twisted around, lunging forward at Nyx’s head with sharp teeth. There was a brief flash of pain, and Nyx jolted to alertness.
Nyx woke with a muffled scream, kicking and squirming in her bed. She was bound, wrapped in something ropey and muscled. She glanced down in horror, and saw moist red flesh binding her to the bed by wrists and ankles. Strange symbols coated the bed around the edges, written there in something she had a grim certainty was her own blood.
A face appeared above her, the face of a woman who was wrapped so completely with fleshy growth that it was impossible to see where sinuous limbs ended and raw muscle began. She looked over Nyx, drawing one claw across her lips. “Hush,” she whispered, in Jalen’s voice. “Scream again, and I’ll take your tongue.”
Nyx didn’t scream. Something had still been wrapped around her mouth, making any real attempt to speak impossible.
“Your pet ruined my spell—pity. Now you must wait your turn to die less pleasurably.” She turned away, lifted at her waist by the swollen, muscled masses. They carried her across the room to where Christopher slept. Nyx couldn’t tilt her head far, but she could see similar runes written around him, along with the same tendrils holding him down. Without Lymn or an Exalted Esper to call upon, he wouldn’t be escaping either.
A pair of figures moved suddenly between Nyx and her helpless companion. Young men, tall and lean and muscled. Not just the Advancement—both were covered in little scars, and had near-identical dark red eyes. She felt sudden, frightening certainty that she was looking at hollow shells, just like with Jalen. Behind perfect skin and backward-curving horns was a rotten horror.
“You should’ve joined us,” one whispered, his voice so soft and inviting. “Terrible waste. The Dark Mother would’ve taught you wonderful things.”
“She taught us,” said the other. He settled down on the other side of the bed, tracing her trapped arm for one sensual second. Then his hand found her throat.
“How did you… even find us?” Nyx asked, or tried to ask through her gag. The words came out slimy and mangled, but what else could she do to try and buy time? Would Charlotte notice what was happening in her inn? Was she even still alive? Nyx glanced desperately for the door, but it was shut and undamaged, betraying nothing of how this had happened.
To her surprise, the grip around her neck relaxed. The figure—Incubus, she guessed—seemed almost thoughtful. “I forget what it was like. Not to hear her.”
The other reached down into Nyx’s pack, still hanging from the wall on its hook. He fumbled for a moment, until he drew out the cloth envelope with the withered tongue inside. “Sandra told us everything. Where you went, what your plans were. She was listening, and we were listening to her.”
“Not that it matters,” said the other. “You’ve gone too far—your life is over now. Pity: your essence is wasted this way. But you could still swear to Her. Still join Her in eternal bliss when your soul leaves your body. We don’t have to make it hurt.”
“I’d rather… be in Hell,” Nyx spat. The gag cut off most of what she was trying to say, but the two clearly got the message. A hand clenched firmly around her neck, and this time there was none of the blissful dream Jalen’s attack had brought. She was going to die in agony, and not even be able to scream.
There was no way to turn and look, but from the ecstatic muttering coming from the witch looming over Christopher, he would soon join her.
Then the door ripped right off its hinges, flying right over Nyx and smacking into one of the Incubi, throwing him into the far wall. The one crouched over her relaxed his grip just a little, staring through the open door with shock just as she was.
Nyx got a brief glimpse of a tiny, familiar figure standing there, then darkness concentrated around her again. She blurred through the room, passing Nyx in a faint gasp of air before smashing bodily into the staring Coven Mother.
Then Ai Chen became solid again, slashing through a meaty tendril with one claw while the second cut up through the witch’s face from below. Gore exploded from the wound, and her whole body twitched and spasmed once. Then the claw retracted and she dropped to the ground, sliding through the ghosts of fleshy tendrils as they faded back to whatever realm she’d summoned them from.
From the bed, Christopher suddenly sat upright, taking a desperate breath like someone who’d just been drowning. “What… where… am I?”
“Hurry and kill her!” urged the Incubus from the other side of the room, kicking the door aside and drawing a dagger into each hand. Where the heavy wood had struck him, only rotten ichor leaked instead of blood.
Nyx squealed in protest as the hands around her throat suddenly tightened. There was no subtlety to it now, no trying to make this quiet and dignified. He was going to crush her throat. The tendrils holding her hands suddenly released, and Nyx’s eyes widened.
Instead of smacking her fists uselessly against someone who was far stronger than she was, Nyx reached for her bedside table. The leg-drop sheath still hung there, the axe inside tantalizingly close. Her fingers fumbled with the clasp for a few seconds, finally tearing it open and gripping the handle just below the blade. She swung it forward with all the strength she had, right for the Incubus’s head.
He caught her wrist in his free hand with contemptuous ease, grinning wider. The color drained from the world around him, all except for those dark red eyes. “We do the will of a goddess,” he whispered into her ear, almost lovingly. “If it makes your death any easier, know that it was Her will too. In this moment, you’re Her servant as much as me.”
The axe dropped from her fingers, tumbling end-over-end and out of reach. Nyx didn’t even have the strength to struggle anymore as the world faded.
Something smashed into him, something wrapped in green cloth with a pair of bright red claws. They went rolling together, spiraling away from her. She rolled to one side, hacking and coughing as the air went rushing back into her lungs. She watched as Christopher finally got his feet under him, drawing the sword from his bedside and charging into the already-injured Incubus.
The demon parried one blow with a dagger, before Christopher caught it by the blade and swept it away through the air with contempt. With his next swing, he stabbed the sword straight into the demon’s gut. “God judges you through me, demon. Guilty.”
Nyx twisted the other way, finding a little of the color coming back. Maybe Ai’s fight with the other Incubus was going as well?
She rolled around just in time to watch it smash a dagger into her belly. The blade slowed in the air, as the demon strained against a barrier produced by Ai’s unseen Core. Then he was through, shoving it down into her guts.
“I’m… coming…” Nyx wheezed, snatching the axe from where it had fallen and lurching forward.
The world swam, and her legs fell out from under her like jelly. Everything went black.
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