July 21, 2019 18 min read
For our Day 29 unlock, we will be adding a miniature to the KS2 Promo Box for the Sister of Arkalla Standee, featured in Unintentional Malum: Act 3.
This Miniature is an Esper and an Opposing Esper in Act 3.
To be clear, this miniature is part of the KS2 Promo Box and is being given away for free as part of every pledge level at the "Through the Portal" level or higher.
The cardboard standee version that are already a part of the contents of Unintentional Malum: Act 3 will remain a standee.
Our Dark Lady, do not despair me. Show me myself. Let me not grieve at the sight of myself, nor at what others have to say. Acceptance is a virtue all on its own. Make me whole again and guide my mind by discarding false consciousness.
I burn for thee at heart and yearn for that which I do not have. Yea, that is wrong. Teach me to burn for me at heart, and yearn for that which I can achieve. Whisper the secrets I must know to believe in myself above all else, and find purpose through my actions and my family.
For the blood of the covenant is thicker than the water of the womb. I'll be surrounded by the family I choose. The coven is my family, it's allies are my family, and those who unknowingly wander the path of the Dark Mother are my family.
The reverie is a tide that acts on its own. It shall claim all those we wish to be claimed in due time. Let not your righteous zealous be forced upon those who deny this path. But do not suffer those whose will is excreted upon the weak or the feeble-minded.
The law above all must always revered. Love is the law, law under will.
As a Day 29 unlock we're stoked to announce our cross promotion with Japanime Games!
Talk about veterans in the industry! These guys have really done their best to spread that unique Japanese culture around the world. Eric Price has been constantly giving us advice and has always been willing to share his anecdotal experiences with us and we cannot thank him enough.
Their Kamigami Battles Kickstarter really captured our attention with the idea of gods being re-imagined. We thought it'd be a perfect fit to come up with a god together in the Middara universe and then share it with them for future product.
The Dark Mother Divine was a perfect fit! Using their artists and designers we worked together to come up with something together. That way, the art would fit in their game as well as ours.
We decided on an Exalted Esper. These creatures are our god-like entities in Middara. And best yet, this is a free upgrade added to the KS2 Promo Box!
We also want to give a shameless plug for BESM. While we weren't even told to mention that game in this cross promotion, I've been playing BESM for nearly ten years, and I can't recommend it enough for groups looking for that wild authentic anime style role playing experience!
Plus... it's live on Kickstarter right now!
Bring me that fourth edition, baby!
Nyx backed away, eyes darting between each of their enemies in turn. If her previous experience with witches was any guide, they were in trouble. But she’d been preparing for this moment during her climb, squeezing all the power she could into her staff. There was no more common sense to keep her restrained. It was all or nothing.
Nyx released all that power, calling out for help as she’d done in Padric’s Inn. But where that call had been desperate and vague, this time she had a specific being in mind. Sounds stretched and time warped around her, and for an instant Nyx was in Arkalla. Not just that distant library, but standing there, on a blasted expanse of rock surrounded by ruined buildings. A figure loomed over her, impossibly huge. But space itself was more of a suggestion than a rule.
“Yosia, Sister of Arkalla!” Nyx called, lifting off the ground and hovering above the windswept wasteland. “I need your help.” She hadn’t come to this awful place alone. Halphas hopped up onto her shoulder, looking up at the vast being whose power Nyx hoped to borrow. “Be ready to get us home if she doesn’t like me,” she whispered. Though now, she was less confident in his strength to do so.
The demon resembled a human herself in general suggestion, with massive wings and a ring of debris circling her like a planet. Suddenly she was beside Nyx, apparently at human size. She hovered there without using her wings. “New customer. First time, I just want the bodies. Fair?”
If I say no, I bet you don’t send me back. “Yes,” she said, extending one hand. The strength flowed from Nyx in a terrible wave. She leaned heavily on her staff, legs shaking and unable to hold her up. Yosia burned through the floor as she passed, leaving emptiness behind her that hissed and popped with energy. A hole apparently opening right into her sky, left there in the floor.
Time caught back up with her, a sudden crash of sound and motion. She backed away, taking in what had happened. Halphas hopped back down off her shoulder, where he could more easily avoid the fight, but stayed close enough to protect her if she called on him. Ai and Christopher fought Silvia and her rat familiar, and seemed to be beating the witch back towards the curtains.
“This seems fair.” Salma and the creature in dark purple robes stepped between them, cutting off Nyx’s path to help. Her friends were on their own now. “Who do you think has the better summon, professor?”
Nyx couldn’t see much of his face, just a single yellow eye shining out between white hair.
“I’ll kill the undead first,” Yosia said. Or it looked like she was speaking. Her mouth didn’t actually move, yet the sound filled the room, practically shaking the tower. If I found out one of my students had tried to summon something like you, Yosia, they’d be scrubbing toilets for a year. Nyx might be one of the only Assemblage users in all Elenia who could bring something like her and live through the experience.
They fought. Yosia met the dark figure with a pair of strangely curved, glasslike swords, spinning them through the air so fast that they blurred and warped the space around them. She landed blow after blow, yet the dark figure barely even noticed. Her strikes cut right through the cloth of his cloak, yet he never bled, never staggered. He waited until her first flurry of attacks had passed, then caught her by the neck and smashed her through the wall and out into the open sky.
Stone and plaster formed a cloud, obscuring this new opening to the blue sky. For a few seconds, before she flew right back on dark wings. She stopped beside the opening, slashing it wider with her swords, then shoving her way back into the tower.
A way out.
Nyx couldn’t follow that fight any further, because that was when Salma tried to kill her.
Nyx lashed out with a few of her spells, but the witch didn’t give her much time. She swung her clawed hand, smacking it into her again and again and forcing Nyx to retreat.
“Halphas, now!” The familiar emerged behind Salma, lashing out with Nyx’s own magic. Thick chunks of debris ripped right off the floor, lashing out at Salma in a spray like bullets. Nyx felt the brief sting of blood as a shallow wound opened on her shoulder, but the payment was more than worth it.
Salma hesitated, her hideous body torn by fresh wounds down her torso. Then her smile widened, and the openings began to stitch themselves closed, leaving a few more terrible scars on her already-broken flesh. “Is that it?” She reached to the side, taking a heavy tome in her still-human hand and snapping it at Halphas. The familiar squealed as she struck, then went flying, sliding across the room to rest limply beneath a table.
Nyx gasped as she felt the little creature’s pain, nearly doubling her over. Salma advanced, and this time she had her claw ready to swing.
She might’ve struck Nyx right in the face, but that was the moment that Nyx called on the power of her Hooded Frock. Nyx inhaled, forcing herself to relax and letting the power of the Frock open her perception. She reached out, striking against Salma’s half-insane psyche for a moment with a wave of powerful confusion.
Salma swung at her again, but this time her eyes glazed over, and her arm came down in the wrong place, slicing through the bookshelf and scattering forbidden tomes through the air.
Christopher, meanwhile, was fighting for his life. Silvia was stronger than he was, and when it came to speed she was in another league completely. She blurred around him, making it difficult to follow her with his eyes, much less land a single blow. She didn’t seem to know what she was doing exactly—she wasn’t taking a fighting stance, wasn’t dodging through the forms of any discipline he had studied. She wasn’t a trained fighter, let alone a Grim Deacon. Just a young woman with more power than she knew what to do with.
It’s her demon goddess’s power. She’s given her servant more strength and speed than she knows how to use. For a second, Christopher wondered how mighty he would be with power like that, trained and disciplined instead of flailing about wildly.
“You.” Her eyes settled briefly on Tomoe, who had been making her way towards the scroll. Blood welled on one hand, and a second later erupted from the wall beside Tomoe in a wave, knocking her back towards the ragged curtain. “Why did you involve yourself in this? This isn’t your world, get out!”
“Leave her alone!” Christopher struck out at Silvia again, anticipating her dodge and aiming for the space beside her, instead of striking at the witch directly. Silvia’s arm split open, spraying blood for a second and making her recoil.
Then she turned on him, and smashed into his breastplate with an open palm. The summoned metal exploded from around him in a shower of light, flinging him backwards. His legs caught on Sandra’s cage and his world went spinning, before he banged hard into the ground.
“This is all you brought?” Silvia teased, stalking around him. She had a dagger held backhand, but she didn’t use it. Her words were just as barbed. “I know your type, Paladin. I knew every time you visited my father’s house you were all bluster and no action. It’s easy to swing your sword at peasants who don’t believe in your god. What is it like to fight someone who is a champion of the divine?”
She kicked him, and he went tumbling across the room, his armor cracking and his sword almost yanked from his grip. But he held on, mending his wounds even as he slid to a stop.
Then he looked up, and found the undead abomination that had been the Ortiz parents staring down at him. A drop of black ichor landed beside his face, nearly making him vomit again.
“You don’t have to do what she wants,” Christopher muttered, hauling himself to his feet. The last gasps of his healing magic faded from him, but he didn’t dare use what little he held in reserve. “Fight her.”
“They can’t,” Sandra said, from the other end of the cage. “My parents were free to choose to join the Mother in her revel. I have taken that choice from them now.” She pointed at Christopher. “Kill him.”
Christopher could see the horror in their eyes, the recognition. They hesitated, for just a moment. Then they smashed into him, flailing stumplike arms and forcing him to lift his sword. He slashed, severing one limb and piercing the torso once, twice—but they were so strong. Like so many undead he’d encountered, they would keep fighting until they were destroyed.
Christopher screamed as his armor smashed, and one leg gave way beneath it, knocking him backwards. A lesser man might’ve been incapcitated by the pain alone, but Christopher gritted his teeth against the scream, rolling to dodge around a fallen bookshelf, luring the creature away from where Tomoe lurked. I didn’t bring you this far to see you killed now.
He nursed a limp on one leg, holding his massive blade up only with both arms. Blood soaked through his clothes—could he even swing the sword anymore? Christopher reached back to his training, calling on the last of his magical reserve. His spell came whispered through bloody lips like a prayer. The piercing pain in his leg fled, replaced with a terrible ache. His wounds stopped bleeding, knitting closed with pale, scarred flesh. But as that pain left, he was left with a terrible emptiness—the certainty that he could not heal again.
The abomination had only two legs working now, it wobbled and struggled forward. Yet it followed him anyway, not caring about the damage. It stopped a few feet away, staring transfixed at his bloody face.
“Stop hesitating,” Silvia said, ringing her little silver bell again. “I said I wanted him dead!” Then she stopped, turning with sudden horror at whatever Ai had just done to her familiar. Christopher heard the rat’s squeal of agony, and hoped at least that monster was dead.
“Kill…” said the creature, through both of its rotten mouths. “Us…”
“I will,” he muttered, watching as it bore down on him. It had no weapons, but seemed prepared to bludgeon him to death with its weight alone. It’s going to try and crush me. Christoper saw his opening—a desperate, futile plan. But he wasn’t sure what other options he had. “You will rest soon, old friends.”
He slid away, forcing the monstrosity to follow him. It wobbled on its legs, lashing out with one arm. He dodged out of the way, and this seemed to frustrate it. Finally it reared back on one of its half-severed stumps, before tearing forward. All that rotten mass came crashing down towards him.
Instead of swinging his massive sword, Christopher braced it against the ground with both arms, leaning into the attack rather than trying to dodge away. He aimed right at the center, where the two hideous trunks of the Ortiz parents had been stitched together.
He felt his leg snap under the weight of the monster, screaming as shattered bone pierced skin. But while the force of the blow crushed him, he braced his huge sword against the floor, holding it steady as the monster that had been his friends slid along the blade. The steel of his weapon held, even where his own bones could not. His sword slid true, right to the abomination’s rotten heart.
The creature spasmed once as his strike landed, spraying sulfurous ichor from is every stitch and open wound. It struggled for a few more seconds, but with each kick, the blade impaling it only sliced the creature more deeply. Finally, it fell still.
Be at peace, old friends, Christopher thought. Then unconsciousness swallowed him.
Nyx went spinning away, her staff banging against the wall out of reach. She smashed into the sofa, knocking it over and moaning with pain. Salma advanced on her, her strange body barely even scratched by Nyx’s spells. “Looks like my monster won against your monster,” she said, gesturing across the room. He had more than beaten her, but impaled Yosia through the back with his massive sword.
Yosia wasn’t dead, the demon kicked and struggled against the sword, trying to rise. She couldn’t.
Nyx tried to get up, but Salma’s foot shoved her back down, crushing her against the floor with incredible strength. “I promised you blood,” she called, the strange lisp of her horrible teeth grating against Nyx’s ears. “I keep my promises. Which one do you want to kill?”
Nyx glanced across the room, eyes searching for help. She found Christopher first, crushed under the weight of the undead abomination. His sword stood vertically, piercing through the monster’s still form. He’d killed it, at the cost of being able to keep fighting himself. She would receive no help there.
She looked for Ai next, hoping that maybe she would see Nyx’s need—but then she saw Silvia throw a bookcase at her. Pocky caught Ai in the air, and the two of them vanished, reappearing on the other side of the room to come at the witch from behind. If I distract her, Silvia might kill her. She could only hope that her summon was playing some kind of trick. Halphas emerged from under the crushed table, resting a sympathetic paw on Nyx’s hand. She could see the weakness in his face—he didn’t have any magic left either.
It’s okay buddy. We’ll get out of this somehow.
Count Dalv seemed pensive as the battle raged around them. He glanced between Nyx and her own summoned demon. He left his sword pinning Yosia, drawing an intricate dagger from within his jacket and turning it over in one gloved hand. He stopped beside her, looming over Nyx.
“That is not… what you promised. I can have as much blood as I wish without your help.” He lifted one booted foot, turning away from the defeated Yosia. He ignored Nyx, Ignored the fallen Christopher, and the struggling Ai Chen. They were beneath his contempt.
“You promised to pay what I wanted. So I want… her. The one I loved, the one who lives now only in my memory of her touch. Her smile will haunt me until I see her face again.” His expression hardened, and he extended one hand, still dripping with Yosia’s dark blue blood. “Raise my wife as you raised me. Give her what I do not deserve. Now.”
Salma’s eyes widened with horror, and she retreated from Count Dalv. She didn’t have very far to go, just a few steps back. She spread her arms out anyway, muttering the same spells that she’d used before and opening the same seal. But as Nyx watched, her stance got more slouched, her expression more panicked. After a few seconds, the seal faded, and the power dissolved away.
“S-she’s… not there,” she stammered. “Please, something else! There has to be something else you want! Power, blood, wealth… we have all of them here! Whole vaults of precious stones, the adoration of an army, as much blood as you can—”
One of Dalv’s hands snapped out, closing around her neck and lifting her from the ground. She struggled, one claw flailing uselessly towards him. He caught it with his other hand, pushing it back so hard Nyx heard the crunch of bone. “Why. Not?”
“Erebus… is filled with the souls of… the damned. Worse than damned. The one you want… isn’t there. I can’t resurrect someone who isn’t there.”
Nyx couldn’t see Count Dalv’s face, yet for the first time Nyx was sure she heard real pain as he roared, shaking Salma’s body like a ragdoll. He slashed at her neck and chest with his claws, drawing huge wells of blood that soaked through her thin robe.
“Salma!” Silvia looked away from the fight she was having with Ai Chen, eyes wide with horror. That’s why you don’t summon monsters you can’t pay, Nyx thought bitterly. It was hard to feel sympathy for Salma after what she’d done to Sandra.
It was just the opening that Ai Chen needed. Nyx saw her leap forward, emerging from behind Silvia when she turned her back. She struck with a dozen faintly-glowing knives, piercing her chest from neck to navel. Silvia hesitated, looking down at her chest with disbelief. Then she wobbled and fell, striking the carpet with a wet thump. Yet she still spoke, her voice ragged and strained. “Salma... no…”
Count Dalv raged for a few more moments, then rose from the Salma’s fallen body with fresh red blood staining him instead of Yosia’s blue. Salma’s corpse still twitched and spasmed faintly, though it no longer looked human.
He ignored Nyx completely, stalking across the room and removing his sword from where he had impaled Yosia. “She should have left my soul where she found it,” he said. There was a flash of light, bright enough that Nyx was momentarily blinded—then Count Dalv was gone.
Almost the instant he disappeared, Yosia rose from where she’d been pinned, her body already repaired. She stopped in front of the broken, bleeding Silvia, yanking her by the collar. “My payment,” she declared. Nyx staggered to her feet, too weak to do anything to stop her even if she wanted to.
Apparently Salma wasn’t a corpse after all. Strands of red muscle flexed and twisted around her ruined throat, just as the coven mother had done in the inn. Even so, she was powerless against Yosia’s grip, twitching and spasming in vain. “Sister!” Her voice was bloody and twisted, not even remotely human anymore. “H-help.”
Yosia reached her opening in the floor, passing through it so swiftly that some of Salma’s bones broke as she dragged her through. The floor settled back into place, erasing any trace of the demon’s passage.
Nyx limped across the room, scooping up her staff and making her way over to the scroll. She ignored Silvia, other than staying out of reach in case she had some last attack planned that Nyx couldn’t predict.
“Pocky, help me!” Ai protested, shoving on the corpse pinning Christopher down. While they fought it, Nyx stopped in front of the scroll. She could sense the magic building there now, fraying the boundaries of her world. For a moment Nyx imagined a hospital far away, buried under the white spires. As this ritual neared its climax, Enoch was dying. We might be too late. He might be host to the Dark Mother already.
Lymn appeared in a brief flash of light, momentarily startling Nyx. She gazed down over their heads, her single red eye never leaving the scroll. “You must destroy it,” she said, voice absolute. “Silvia channels the past into the present through this scroll. While it exists in this tower, the ritual goes on. The threads of her sympathy can be torn and the boundaries of your world knitted back together. If you hurry.”
“Wait!” Tomoe caught her hand, pushing the staff away. “I know why I’m here. The one I’m here to save isn’t here. The boy you came for…” her eyes settled on the scroll. “This will save him.” She reached out, taking the massive scroll in both hands and cradling it to her chest. Her expression changed to one of utter concentration. There was a harsh crack, a puff of smoke—and Tomoe vanished, taking the scroll with her.
Nyx felt the impotent magic of Silvia’s ritual lash out against her like pressure against her skin. The table turned to pale ash around it, crumbling away. So did the floor and the bookshelf beside it. Nyx was forced to back away as rot spread to a nearby bookshelf, then the floor. It stopped short of Nyx. Whatever was left of the scroll or Tomoe was gone, and the ritual came to a screeching halt.
“Too late,” Silvia said, clawing her way up into a sitting position. Even that much effort seemed a terrible strain for her. Blood pulsed out from her torn chest, and dribbled out her cracked lips with each word. Her eyes were wide with pain, already glazing over, but the power of Mother was apparently keeping her alive. “We didn’t… finish preparing her vessel, but we have done much. The opening is… wide enough.” She touched her bloody chest, then reached down to the floor, drawing a seal with her shaking finger.
“The prophecy will be fulfilled. Our Mother will come. You will… pay for… what you did to Salma.”
The magical pressure against Nyx became an audible tearing, and a vertical opening appeared exactly where the scroll had been. Nyx could see utter blackness there, speckled with faint stars.
“Stop,” Nyx whispered, taking a few more nervous steps back. She didn’t dare get any closer, or else get caught up in this summoning spell. She couldn’t come anywhere near it without being sucked in like a magnet. “Silvia, this is exactly what Salma did! If you summon something you can’t control… it will take everything from you!”
“You already… did that,” Silvia whispered, making one last mark on her little circle. Thunder sounded through the room, an explosion of sound that knocked Nyx back and scattered dozens of fallen books.
A single black tentacle ripped through the opening, as thick as Nyx’s body. It pierced the stone ceiling, shaking the Ziggurat as it yanked itself through.
Nyx ran, turning to the other side of the room over to where Ai and Christopher rested. They had retreated as far from Silvia as they could, to where Count Dalv had thrown Yosia through the wall. A rope now hung out the opening, tied around the bottom of the cage. Nyx could see the end dangling frightening far from the ground—even if they could climb that in time, it wouldn’t be any better than just jumping from here.
“You have to warp down, Pocky,” Ai whispered, pulling the dog up against her chest, hugging him desperately to herself. “Take Christopher. His sister will kill me if… he doesn’t make it out of this.”
Pocky whined in protest—but then another tentacle ripped its way out, lurching straight for Silvia.
“I’ve been waiting for you, Mother! I’ve done everything you asked!” She vanished into the mass of alien flesh. It twitched and writhed, momentarily sated.
“Not me,” Christopher answered. “I’m… here to save the Ortiz family.” He pointed across the room. Nyx followed his gesture, watching one of the tentacles tear off the side of the cage. Sandra—poor, mutilated Sandra, backed away from the abomination expanding to fill the room, somehow feeling it even without her eyes or ears. “Her, Pocky. Bring her out. I probably… won’t even last long enough to reach a doctor.”
There was no time to have an argument about it. The Mother’s Avatar roared, her voice shaking the Ziggurat to its foundations. Another tentacle smacked into the ceiling, tearing out several blocks. Even if she didn’t kill them all intentionally, the ceiling might collapse on their heads and do her work for her.
“Do it, Pocky!” Ai yelled.
The dog took one last look at Nyx, nodding towards Ai chen. A plea that she do for her what Pocky was doing for Sandra? Then he darted off, settling down beside Sandra—and they vanished.
“You too, Nyx,” Christopher coughed, wiping blood from his face. “You’ve got wings. Get out. Get the Elenia navy here… blast this place to dust for us.”
Nyx spread her wings, her heart racing. She could fly to safety, but she couldn't just run away and leave both of her new friends to die. She had to try and save who she could.
Nyx glanced through the opening again, judging the distance to the jungle floor beyond. Then she looked back, face grim. “I’m barely strong enough to fly on my own,” she said weakly. “But I think I can carry one of you. At least… slow us down enough that we don’t both die.”
Nyx had a hard choice to make. Who would she try and fly down the tower with? She wanted to take both, but she'd be lucky to make it down alive with the weight of only one other person. With Pocky already ensuring the safety of Sandra at the orders of Ai Chen, Nyx had to choose between Ai Chen, or Christopher.
Who was Nyx going to try and save and who was going to be left behind to suffer a horrific death at the hands of the Exalted Exper that Silvia had summoned?
Save Ai Chen.
Save Christopher Amaya.
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