Middara: Unintentional Malum - The Complete Trilogy
Created by Succubus Publishing
An epic adventure for 1-4 players set in a unique alternate world fantasy setting.
Latest Updates from Our Project:
Addressing Issues with Remaining Kickstarter Orders
1 day ago
– Wed, Jun 16, 2021 at 04:26:40 AM
Hey backers, Alex here.
This update is really only pertinent to the small amount of backers that still haven't received their pledges, but could be an interesting read nonetheless?
I see people frustrated in our threads and in the comments about not receiving their orders yet. I try not to directly answer these questions until I have the full scope of the issue, I'm not trying to avoid them. I just want to give out accurate information before I post.
Fromthe US warehouse,There are 157 orders still pending.
126 of these orders are for US backers and include at least one of of the following add-ons:
Casual Nightingale Resin Kit
Tomoe Resin Kit
Girtiya Resin Kit
Coven Mother Resin Kit
Basically we ran out of inventory for the boxes for these kits because either our factory didn't send us the listed amount, or they were lost in shipping. I'm not really sure, and no one in the chain of manufacturing or logistics is willing to take the blame.
All I know is we didn't receive the amount listed on our manufacturing invoice.
Since all that are missing from these orders are just some boxes, I'm working on having these orders shipped out without them as soon as possible, and just taking the hit of paying the shipping costs twice.
I've been told that these orders will ship out by the end of this week.
Unless we locate this stock of boxes, these backers will most likely receive replacements of the kits from the new webstore batch which will be ready for shipping by the end of the month.
That leaves the remaining 31 orders in the following regions:
For these orders, this is what I've been told by our fulfillment company:
"Apparently our system is not getting along with the system for the particular shipping service needed to send these international orders out, and something is being glitchy between the two systems when they communicate with each other. IT has this as top priority and it's the only thing being worked on until it's solved."
"(Our IT team) is telling me to expect the middle of this week before they've been able to thoroughly test and ensure everything is operating correctly and it's ok to ship the orders without them getting returned due to a system error."
"Their orders WILL ship, but we're making sure they don't encounter further delays by getting needlessly returned to us due to whatever this technical glitch is."
I'm hoping that all this is resolved by this week and all of these orders start shipping soon.
Stragglers in Asia and Europe
There are still a few backers in Asia and Europe waiting on their pledges as well.
For Asia, there was an error in the pledge manager involving the zip codes. Backerkit has since corrected this issue and pushed these orders to their fulfillment centers. I'm doing my best to get these orders shipped ASAP.
For Europe, there are a handful of backers awaiting their pledge due to a shortage in stock on certain items. I honestly don't know how this happened, and I don't really even know who's fault it is so I'll blame myself. I think because I started authorizing replacement shipments before the campaign was fulfilled, we ran into inventory issues.
Luckily I had a huge container of product sent to the EU warehouse, which arrived late last week. This product should be ready to disperse to backers soon ( I hope this week....)
Webstore Orders Shipping
With 157 - 200 orders pending out of about 10,000+ I made the decision to begin shipping web orders. I understand that this is very frustrating to the handful of backers still waiting, but from a business perspective, I had to make the move.
The cost of holding storage on all of this stock in two separate warehouses, the constant fluctuation of shipping costs, plus the onslaught of emails I get every day from web store customers wondering what's happening, I just had to make the decision to keep the pipeline moving.
I'm sorry to those backers that feel slighted by this decision. I hope that we can build your trust again.
I just want to say thank you for all the support. This fulfillment has been very stressful and Brooklynn and I are doing everything we can to get everything running smoothly from here on out.
I personally have learned a lot from this Wave 1 fulfillment and I know that Wave 2 will be so much more efficient with the knowledge I now have. So thanks for hanging in there.
If you're trying to email us...
I found about 200+ emails in our spam folder that I'll be working through this week so if I haven't answered you yet, I'm getting to it.
A reminder, the email is firstname.lastname@example.org
If there's anything I've missed please let me know.
Thanks, and I'll talk to you soon.
Wave 1 Fulfillment + Webstore Orders, Etched Dice Shenanigans, and Wave 2 FAQ
10 days ago
– Mon, Jun 07, 2021 at 03:45:30 AM
Hey friends! Alex here.
Time for an update!
Here's what's going on with the Etched Dice...
Backers from KS1
Our first print run of these dice was printed incorrectly. This was not a manufacturing issue, this was our fault. In haste, we approved the incorrect digital files and were blissfully ignorant of our error until it was too late.
We took the blame and promised to reprint these dice correctly and send a second set out to every backer that ordered them, free of charge.
To keep track of this, I put together a spreadsheet of all the backers from the first campaign that needed these replacements. What I failed to do was tell the fulfillment center to cross-reference the names/emails with addresses that had been updated on the new campaign. This was disastrous as the spreadsheet was 2+ years old. About 250-300 people had moved and thus 250 - 300 dice were sent into the abyss. Some were recovered, some weren't.
This spreadsheet has now been updated. We are wrapping up Kickstarter fulfillment worldwide and then we will send these dice back out to the correct addresses.
From what I've been told, we have enough surplus left over to cover all the dice that were sent to the wrong addresses.
...with one exception...
Backers in the UK
DHL lost our shipment of dice to the UK. It's just gone. They gave us no other explanation as to what happened and denied our claims of compensation. So the small publisher takes the hit again I guess?
This amounts to 193 backers that we simply don't have enough dice to fulfill.
We're Not Giving Up
It's almost comical at this point. Against all odds, we've managed to deliver one of the biggest board games ever created, plus all the accessories alongside it... twice, but we've been foiled yet again but this small pack of 17 dice.
But we are going to get everyone their god damn dice if it's the last thing we do.
So we have approved a 3rd print run of these dice and will get them delivered to all those waiting on them as soon as we can.
On top of that, we have a list of everyone in the UK (and any other potential stragglers) that will not be receiving their dice during this stage of fulifllment and we will be giving them a $20 credit on the pledge manager for all the hassle.
It's the least we can do and we hope that somewhat softens the blow of, in some cases, the 6 year wait for these dice.
Wave 1 Fulfillment Progress
For the most part, we're just about done with fulfilling Wave 1. I don't want to throw out a percentage of completion since last time that just confused everyone, but if it means anything, our fulfillment center told us that we were about two weeks from completing fulfillment, and that was 10 days ago. So it's gotta be wrapping up soon.
I'll try to address a few issues that have come up though.
In the last update, we mentioned that we've resolved the issues with Ireland orders. Currently, we have a shipment of product moving from Zatu in the UK to our fulfillment center in Germany.
This shipment will cover all pending orders in Ireland and the EU.
Somehow we were short on a few items in Europe (probably due to replacements being before fulfillment was done) and an unlucky 4-5 backers there are still waiting for their pledge.
If you guys are reading this, it's coming! And we're sorry!
As promised, we will be making sure the Kickstarter campaign is fulfilled before we ship the orders out from the webstore.
Giving ourselves a healthy buffer, we estimate the web store orders shipping out by June 15th.
For those waiting on web orders, we understand that this wait is not ideal and for that, we apologize.
Since we'd booked this campaign fulfillment back in November 2020, we really thought that we'd be done with fulfillment by now... but here we are.
We are excited to get to the point where items purchased on the web store will ship immediately. And we're almost there.
KS1 Promo Pack, Art Book 1, and Web Launch Bundles
As many know, these three items are not available on the store currently. This is because we didn't print nearly enough Promo Packs or Art Books for the demand we've received for them
The plan is is restock the bundle and add the Promo Packs and Art Books once the campaign is fulfilled and we have exact counts on these items.
Regardless, we are already planning on doing another print run of them in the near future.
Wave 2 FAQ
Willthe Valentine's Resin Kits be available for purchase when the pledge manager unlocks for Wave 2?
When will the pledge manager unlock for Wave 2?
We estimate the pledge manager unlocking for Wave 2 at the end of Q4 2021 - early Q1 2022.
Arethere standees in Acts 2 and 3? If so, will there be miniature upgrades for these?
Yes, there will be standees in Acts 2 and 3, some of which already have miniature upgrades included in the KS2 Promo Pack. If there is a demand for more miniature upgrades of these standees, we will do our best to provide them.
When will the big Wave 2 updates start?
We plan to begin revealing all the progress made on Wave 2 starting in July.
Italian Adventure Book Translation
This will be ready by the end of June!
Thanks for checking in! Talk to you soon!
Store Orders, Resin Kits, and Delivery Times!
21 days ago
– Thu, May 27, 2021 at 12:35:27 AM
Yo, what's up everyone? Brooklynn here.
It’s been a crazy couple of months with me and Alex slamming through emails, getting Resin Kits manufactured, and lining up logistics for a smoother delivery.
With our webstore opening at the same time as all our Kickstarter deliveries happening we wanted to update everyone on the current status of orders and deliveries.
With so many unknowns, we’ve been trying our hardest to answer every question to the best of our abilities. Unfortunately, delivery and worldwide logistics is a strange place right now.
First, we wanted to ensure everyone that all our orders are currently organized and queued for delivery on a first-come first-serve basis starting with Kickstarter backers.
Kickstarter backers in the EU, UK, and Australia have mostly been taken care of with the vast majority of orders already delivered.
We ran into some issues fulfilling Ireland because it's technically part of the EU, and part of the UK, and with all the confusion there right now, we had to transfer our orders from the UK warehouse to the EU one so that Irish backers wouldn't get hit with uneccessary customs fees.
All that seems to be in order now so if you're a backer from Ireland, you should have either already received your order or should be receiving it very soon.
US / CA + some ROTW orders
As of this morning, we've received confirmation from our fulfillment partners that we are still an estimated two weeks out from fully completing fulfillment.
If you are still waiting for your Wave 1 Kickstarter order, it's mostly likely just still in the queue for shipping.
We'd promised our backers that we'd fulfill their orders before sending out the web store orders.
As stated above, we are still about two weeks out from being done with Kickstarter fulfillment, which means we are about two weeks from shipping the web orders.
Web store orders worldwide are pending to ship immediately after fulfillment is complete.
We understand that the timeframes for getting these web store orders delivered is not ideal and we are very sorry for the delays on these orders.
When launching the store, we hadn't expected it would take so long to get Wave 1 fulfilled or that we would run into so many logistical issues. Regardless, we're trying out hardest to get each and every order out the door as soon as we possibly can.
Resin Kit Orders
Kickstarter backers who ordered our initial run of Resin Kits from our Kickstarter (non-valentines Kits) will have their Resin Kits included as part of their kickstarter fulfillment.
Due to an increase in demand beyond our expectations, a second run of Resin Kits are currently being made to fulfill all orders.
If you ordered Resin from our webstore, you will receive these as a separate shipment from any other items ordered on the webstore. These will be sent to the same address sometime near the end of June.
The second run of all our Resin Kits are being made locally here in the United States. This means that the kits will arrive in their corresponding boxes. (Our kickstarter backers got theirs sent in two different boxes with the miniature separate from the cards.)
The manufacturing process is already well underway with the cardboard already finished, packed, and ready to be sent to our Resin Manufacturer for preparation of shipping to customers.
On the engineering side, the Valentine Miniatures are looking wonderful! You can see production casts built by me over the weekend.
I’m super stoked to be able to provide locally made Resin Kits. This allows us for a quicker turnaround of product. And in turn, opens the door for a whole new world of fun content.
The talent behind our community is incredible. It's really heartwarming to see all the wonderful and artistic individuals passionate about miniatures and gaming. Please don't hesitate to join our Discord and check out the Art and Painting channel for tips and advice. I wanted to show off some of the work backers have already linked to our Discord.
Once fulfillment is complete we will start focusing on showing off all the hard work we’ve put into future content delivering for wave 2. You can expect all sorts of teasers, content updates, and cool new artwork.
Thanks for all of your support. We hope that you love Middara as much as we do.
Discord - Check out our official Discord. Middara designers, affiliates, and business owners hang out here daily.
We wanted to give another reminder that we do not use Kickstarter Messages to handle customer support or business related inquiries. If you are trying to get a hold of us, please use the above avenues.
The Wave 1 Home Stretch
about 1 month ago
– Tue, May 04, 2021 at 12:40:34 AM
Well, hello there. Alex here.
I've got some news...
I almost can't believe it... but... The US Wave 1 fulfillment will be starting tomorrow!
We've been trying since November of last year and it's finally happening.
This also includes the rest of North America, South America, and a few other random regions around the world, like Israel for some reason?
Basically, if you're still waiting for your rewards for Wave 1, you should be getting a notification very soon.
Asian fulfillment has also started and will be completed by mid-May.
Once fulfillment is complete, all the webstore orders will begin shipping immediately!
If you placed an order there, we appreciate your patience while we get the Kickstarter fulfilled first.
The launch of the store was a phenomenal success and we are so stoked on this fantastic community we've built together.
For replacements or other order issues, please save my inbox and email email@example.com! They will be happy to help you with this.
Some FAQ I've been getting a lot:
Can new people gain access to the pledge manager for Wave 2?
Yes, we will be reopening the pledge manager and doing pre-orders on everything from Wave 2 once we get closer to the delivery of those items. Anyone will be able to get in. This will most likely happen Q4 of this year.
Will the Valentine's Resin Kits be on the Wave 2 pledge manager?
Most likely, yes.
When will web store orders ship?
Web orders will ship immediately following Kickstarter fulfillment. I'd estimate about two weeks from now, could be sooner.
Pirates / 1.1 Update Pack?
The rest of Pirates of Elenia will be included in the second half of the 1.1 Update Pack delivered with Wave 2.
Where is the audiobook?
You can find the Audiobook for free on Forteller here.
The Resin models aren’t in the boxes?!
It's weird, but logistically it was more affordable for us to pack the boxes separate from the models. The KS Resin Kit models will be in a separate box from the resin model boxes. Please make sure to check your entire parcel for the resin models!
Where is the Italian Adventure Book translation?
Right now the narrative is complete and is being proofread. After that, we will move to paging. ETA is mid-June 2021.
We want to clarify that orders placed on the web store will begin shipping once the campaign has been fulfilled. Our estimation is 2 to 3 weeks.
Also, we have a US warehouse and an EU warehouse. Orders will automatically propagate to the warehouse with the most affordable shipping option for you.
After weeks and weeks of exhaustively importing shipping tables into our Shopify store, in general the orders will ship as follows:
Orders placed from the US / CA will ship from the US warehouse.
Everything else will ship from the EU warehouse.
If there are certain items you are looking for that still aren't listed, it's because we are waiting to confirm the inventory from each corresponding warehouse. This is mostly in regards to the KS1 Promo Pack and the Art Book 1.
The resin kits from the campaign sold out on the first run, but we are currently printing a second run on these. This means that there is a bit of a lead time in getting these shipped, which may just end up corresponding to the back order wait time of the Kickstarter fulfillment anyway.
Everything resin related for Middara is made in the USA, which is pretty cool.
We've been told that the first container has arrived at the Indiana fulfillment warehouse last week, which means we are dangerously closer to getting the North American orders into shipping.
As far as we know, the Asia shipment is moving by railway to it's fulfillment center. I wish I had more to report here. I have a feeling that our Asian backers will be getting their shipping notifications before I even know what's going on there.
What I'm saying is, it's gotta be close. The games left China 2 weeks ago.
All other regions have been /are currently being fulfilled as we speak!
Depending on your region, if you are having issues with your order or need a replacement part, please email the following:
USA / CA / Rest of the world: firstname.lastname@example.org
Our support email will also send you in the right direction, but I'm really trying to filter out my inbox a little bit!
FAQ Related to shipping
Where is Silvia, Pirates, Alternate Antagonists, etc.?
These are all part of Wave 2!
Change address for Wave 2?
We will unlock the PM before Wave 2 ships and allow everyone to change their address.
Can I purchase anything on Wave 2?
Yes, we will be reopening the pledge manager for Wave 2 when we get closer to the delivery of those products.
I slammed out a ton of items to support Middara for our launch.
Alongside our new website and store, we have also prepared and updated all our digital files and support items.
So, let’s dive in.
PSD Templates for our Mini sized cards have been uploaded to the website. This should conclude our digital template releases for the time being as every card type required to make complete home-brew content for Middara is now up and functioning!
If we missed something, or you think there is an improvement that could make life easier, please let us know via our Discord Channel.
If you make something awesome, please let us know as well. I’d love to see it.
FAQ & Errata for Middara 1.1:
Thanks to our wonderful and vigilant Discord community we’ve officially posted the first pass of Errata for 1.1.
We’ve separated the printable documents by spoiler and non-spoiler FAQ & Errata. Additionally, in an attempt to always be transparent and support our products, we’ve created a print and play document for any issues found.
For those interested in the most important issues found, we have created a “critical only” print and play that narrows this focus to issues that have moderate game play ramifications.
In either case, it's safe to say that your average player will not experience anything game breaking if you decide to not use anything provided here.
Note: Any cards that are updated or have errors found will be provided on Wave 2 inside of the product, Unintentional Malum: Act 2.
This list will be constantly updated moving forward.
Rule Book Information:
Our 1.1 Rule Book as printed is available on our website. This Rule Book will not be changed. Instead, we will be including any errata, updates, or items being tested in a Rule Book titled 1.2 Beta. This book is a work in progress and will be updated up until we decide to do another print run of Middara: Unintentional Malum Act 1.
The Rule Book currently being delivered on the Kickstarter (1.1) is wonderful, complete, and more than suitable to answer any and all questions. This digital Beta Rule Book (1.2) is being used to include expansion rules for products on the horizon, Errata, and to future proof our current rules. More importantly, it's being shared early as possible as we pride ourselves on working with our community to create the best dungeon crawl we can.
For a log of differences, simply take a look at our Rule Book section in the Errata mentioned above.
This brings us to our next topic. If you’re interested in helping us develop, test, or flesh out current and future designs, don’t hesitate to join our Discord. For those willing to get their hands dirty, we have a beta-testing channel you can be invited to by simply asking a Succubus employee.
Here, we release future content early for testing, design discussion, and development feedback.
2-3 Player Variant Rules Update
We’ve addressed many issues with our 2-3 player variant rules found by our community. These issues were not part of any physical product. Instead, they are the digital rules for playing with less than 4 players.
If you’re interested in playing with less than 4 players, we have clearer rules on how to do so. Additionally, we now have provided more than option to do so. (Pending an upload on the 30th.)
TableTop Simulator has an early version of Chapter 5 being rolled out this week. Don’t hesitate to check out our Discord community for rules questions, updates, and build discussion.
Ken Cunningham has been one of the masterminds behind this wonderful TTS mod. He's begun the journey to officially start bringing other wonderful boardgames to a virtual table top experience. Not only does he do this with the blessing of the creators, but he does so with impeccable detail.
Speaking of, a beta tester on our Discord, Archonyx, has updated our old build guide from Middara 1.0 to be up to date with new rules, strategies, and expanded to meet new metas. If you’re interested in Middara, but you want some help planning out builds, or feel overwhelmed with the amount of options, look no further than this visual guide.
We will be taking these and combining them into a print and play booklet in the near future, artwork and all.
There are two visual ways to learn Middara that I recommend. (Perhaps others I don’t currently know about.)
The quick video:
The comprehensive video:
I’ve also added a new video on the comprehensive rules playlist that goes over the newest and most relevant addition in 1.1.
Resin Build Guides
Our good friend Paul over at Trenchworx was awesome enough to take the prerogative to make an exploded diagram of all the miniatures they made for us. While not a proper build guide, it should at least show hobbyists what and where each piece is intended to go on all the Resin Kits from Kickstarter.
As individuals start getting their Resin Kits, we'd love to see your builds and paint jobs. Don't hesitate to join our Discord and share them in the Art Channel!
We wanted to give a huge shout-out to all our cross promotion partners on our last Kickstarter. These Resin Kits turned out awesome. We cannot wait to see what our backers are able to do with em'.
While not every company had a miniature represented, we had a lot of passionate owners working to help us make our kickstarter a reality and we really appreciate their contributions, advice, and help.
Perhaps a little late… but these kits were far too cool for us to wait until next year.
These Resin Kits contain new Espers that can be summoned by Adventurers and Intelligent Combatants. Additionally, they contain rules to be used as Adventurer’s in our Crawl Mode. Any new rules required are contained on both the back of the Art Card included in each kit as well as in our Beta 1.2 Rule Book.
Our Resin Kits are completely manufactured stateside at local businesses. This versatility is an amazing opportunity for us. One that we hope to share with you in the coming years.
We appreciate everyone's support in helping us make Resin Kits a reality in our Middara product line. You can expect all sorts of creative kits in the near future.
Resin Kits that prove to be popular enough to warrant a plastic release will be considered it at a later undetermined date.
A Seed of Truth
Mankind has always told stories of those beings who walk among us but are not like us, beings of power, influence and magic. Every culture, every country, every religion, every community has its own anthology of stories about beings who transcend the mundane, who epitomize the best or worst of mankind’s nature. Some of these beings are revered. Some are despised. But always, their tales are retold from pulpits, through bedtime stories, in classrooms, through movies, in libraries, on playgrounds, in boardrooms, and around the campfire.
Our modern world tells us that these stories are bunk, mere mythologies invented to explain misunderstood phenomena to uneducated masses or to teach horny young people to fear the dangers of extramarital sex or even simply to entertain during long, dark winter nights. The enlightened, educated world of today can look at the stories as anthropological windows into the beliefs of ancient peoples.
After all, that’s what the stories really are, right? An infant could not possibly slay two poisonous serpents in its cradle. Nor could a mortal woman through arcane study and mystical intrigue come to control the powers of winter. Equally impossible is the idea that a man could visit every child in every home on the planet in a single night.
Clearly, these tales and those like them are fiction.
Except when they aren’t.
Mankind may have invented some fables to help explain why the sun rises or why the elephant has a long nose, but they didn’t fabricate every legend and myth. Amongst the countless stories out there, many of them are factual accounts of actual events, though admittedly somewhat worn down and diminished by time and translation. But even religious whitewashing and prudish editors haven’t managed to take the raw and rough edges off all of the stories. Those, the kind that still have some bite to them, are always worth noticing. They are the most likely to be true.
Our Earth, just like all other realms, has its fair share of mighty beings who have struggled and clawed their way out of obscurity and mortality to gain power, infamy, and eternal life. Some such men and women accomplished great deeds set for them by incomprehensibly powerful beings and were granted ascension as a reward. Others challenged the creatures they viewed as gods and won by tact and trickery. Still others reached into the coldest, darkest depths of the world and made pacts and promises and thereby gained power one alliance, or betrayal, at a time. These beings, who one way or another transcend humanity, are the Espers of Earth.
Earth Espers, like those from Arkalla and other realms, are beings of power and magic. Their strengths and abilities vary, as do the rewards they seek in exchange for their service. Like all living things they have whims and vices, strengths and blind spots, fears and desires. A summoner who takes the time to reach out and connect with an Esper can find herself with a powerful ally in times of need, if she is willing to pay the price. But with Earth Espers in particular, a summoner must have an iron will and no small amount of cleverness to forge a beneficial relationship. After all, Earth Espers are not born as they are in some realms, they make themselves, and that kind of ambition will not be influenced by the weak-minded.
So have take care when calling on an Earth Esper for a task, or you may become the tool rather than the wielder.
Lupercalia Pack, Profane Occultists Made Immortal
A Woman's Wrath
Toxie scrubbed the blood from her hands, noting idly that she had nailed the color when choosing her crimson fingernail polish. In the far corner of the abandoned warehouse, a half dozen corpses, all still bound hand and foot, lay in a heap as testament to her night’s labors. Her final victim lay sprawled on the concrete floor behind her, still breathing shallowly through his broken, twisted mouth. She hadn’t actually been planning to pull out his teeth when she started questioning him, but then Luperci and Tixie had radioed in that they cleared the enemy’s hideout, and that Mena was one of the captives they had freed. Threatening the Faun was one thing; dragging an innocent child into it was something else altogether.
Toxie dried her hands gingerly, then turned around to consider her captive. He was definitely dying; even if someone found him now, there weren’t enough surgeons or drugs on Earth to save him. But Toxie had to meet up with her pack to run down the last of the heathens who had escaped with the Faun, and she didn’t like leaving jobs unfinished.
She hunkered down next to him and saw with satisfaction that his eyes were still open, though only just through the swollen wreckage of his face. She blew him a kiss.
“You get a little mercy now,” she crooned as she gently stroked a blood-free patch of skin on his forehead. “I’m late for an orgy, so I can’t really wait around for you to die. You know how it is. . .”
She turned to her gear bag and considered her options. She wanted to use her favorite, but, of course, it had to be the messiest of the lot and she had just finished cleaning up. Eh, what the hell, she thought. Grinning, Toxie grabbed the pink handle and turned back to finish the job
Outside the warehouse, an early morning train rumbled past, just loud enough to mask the roar of a chainsaw.
The Judges Daughter
A Cruel Fate
I have to warn Father. She ran, lungs burning. I have to save him.
In her mind, she could see Valentinus bowing low before shadowy figures that swirled just beyond sight in the dark cave. They had spoken in voices like the ripping of a saw on wood, voices that chilled her blood. Valentinus had told them terrible things, about Asterius, about her family, about her.
The judge’s daughter bit back a sob. She was the cause of all of this. If it weren’t for that cursed miracle, Valentinus would never have ensnared her father, making him forsake everything he knew. He would not have alienated his friends nor lost the respect of the town. If it weren’t for her, Valentinus would never have even come to their town. He was after her, specifically. She knew that now. Asterius had just been in the way. It was all her fault. But she would fix it.
Just beyond the gates, she stopped dead. Asterius was standing on the porch, addressing a mass of people, a mob, she realized. They muttered and gripped their clubs and torches, but they seemed to be listening. Then someone shouted and the mob rushed forward as one body. She saw blows raining down on her father and heard her mother screaming. The mob streamed into the house.
Instinct spurred her into the shadows before anyone spotted her. Her thoughts buzzed. There had to be some way to save her family. They were Roman citizens! Moving softly, she darted through the shadows to her father’s study, searching for anything that would remind the mob who they were trying to destroy. But on her father’s writing table was one letter. It had her name on it.
My dearest one,
Surely you now realize that you and I are linked by forces beyond mortal ken. My masters long ago told me of you, the sanctified child, and I have been searching for you since. But I was not prepared to find you.
I feel no shame in admitting that I nearly forsook my masters’ plans to take you away and make you my eternal own. My masters nearly ended me for daring to love you more than I fear them. But my duty is clear, and I must now destroy something precious to my very soul. Perhaps my masters will allow you to be mine in eternity once I finish my tasks in this life. But now, I must take back my gift to you, purest delight of my heart, that you may meet your fate.
From your Valentine
In horror, she dropped the letter which burst into brilliant light that stung her eyes. As the light in her vision faded to unbroken black, she shivered in cold dread. Her scream rent the air, mingling with the sounds of the riot advancing through the house.
She was blind again.
Blind and helpless in hell.
Psyche, Aphorism of Love
The Enslavement of Love
Psyche woke to the sound of sobbing. She sat up and from her bedside table, donned a loose robe, and stepped through the breezy curtains of her sleeping quarters. The pitiful sounds were coming from the far end of the marble atrium, where a nearly-naked woman in chains lay at the foot of a marble column, her shoulders shaking from her sobs.
As Psyche stepped into the room, the captive looked up. Her eyes and the tip of her nose were reddened, but her beauty was untouched by her tears. Her grief merely added a tragic luster to her flawless features.
"Goddesses don’t ugly cry." Psyche said calmly.
Fury flashed in the captive’s face, burning away the sadness. Her stormy grey-green eyes shone with angry silver light and her hair flared back as if tossed by the wind. “You murdering, scheming whore,” she growled, rising to her feet. She raised her arm as if to hurl something at Psyche but before she could complete the movement, the golden collar around her throat flashed and she fell to the floor with an agonized shriek.
The soft smile never left Psyche’s lips. She glided forward across the marble. “A whore? Are you not the Goddess of prostitutes?” She circled her captive. “And even after you reinvented your image with the mortals, you still couldn’t help your horny self.” Psyche paused dramatically. “Do you even know who actually fathered Cupid?”
The bound woman glared up, eyes full of hate. “Don't even dare say his name! You didn’t deserve him. If not for your conniving seduction, my son would still be alive, you evil, fu-”
Psyche slapped the words out of Aphrodite's mouth with enough power to send her to the marble floor once again.
“Your son, Cupid, was cruel and controlling,” Psyche hissed, her placid smirk replaced with a ferocious snarl.
“Mother!” A young woman with wide eyes and soft features was standing just inside the atrium, watching with open conflict on her face. “Mother, please. Let’s just go.” She stepped forward and held out a hand to Psyche.
The anger melted out of Psyche’s face as she met her daughter’s gaze. She quickly crossed the room and took Voluptas’ hand, following her to the sitting room they shared. Voluptas led Psyche to a divan then sat next beside her, nestling herself into her mother’s shoulder. Psyche ran her fingers through Voluptas’ curls and tried to calm herself before speaking.
“Darling, I know this is hard for you. This whole ordeal with your father and grandmother, it’s just. . .” she faltered. “Well, you lived through that hell too. But now, we have an eternity of freedom ahead of us. Cupid can’t hurt us anymore and Venus will receive her due.”
Voluptas turned her head, looking at a shelf bearing a golden apple and a cylindrical ivory box carved with intricate designs. Her words were hesitant. “What if we used the pyxis? She could sleep until we are sure she is no longer a danger, then let her go someday.”
Psyche sighed. “Darling, your tender heart is one of my favorite things about you, but it makes you too merciful, too vulnerable. Venus has hated me for centuries. A nap isn’t going to change that. The best lesson for her is a millennia experiencing for herself how her victims suffered. And all the while, you and I will be able to do as we please, make our own decisions, forge our own fates.”
“Get away from all of this...” Voluptas added thoughtfully. She snuggled closer, then after a while, she spoke. “When can we visit Paris again, Mother?”
Psyche kissed the top of her head. “Whenever you like, darling. We are free now.”
The Great God Pan is Dead
I want it on record that I am not a villain. I admit, I am a scoundrel sometimes. A layabout. A letch, even. These days, I’m a drunkard too, though I’m told alcoholism is a disease not a personality flaw.
But I am not a villain.
Do not mistake me. I am not a good creature either. Syrinx tells me that the first two or three centuries of our relationship were “toxic and abusive” according to today’s terminology. I’ve never been faithful to a single partner, and not all of my conquests have been moral. I don’t know what people expect though. I’m god of the wilds. Show me an animal that isn’t driven to mate and I’ll show you a forgotten species.
For all my failings though, I do have some principles. I show up for the people I care about. I was there for my foster brother at the beginning. And I was there for the love of my life at the end.
It’s funny to think about, but I never murdered anyone in my wilder days. Too busy playing music and chasing tail, I suppose. I had so much less to worry about before I met Psyche, and yet, life before her feels flat to think about now. Had someone told me a mortal woman would tame me, change me like she has, I would have forced them to join my eternal festivities.
Even that first time I saw Psyche, as she was blubbering over that prick Cupid, she just seemed like some lost, lovesick mortal who couldn’t even manage to kill herself properly. What possessed me to tell her to go after him, I’ll never know. If I hadn’t encouraged her, I probably would never have met her again, and I would still be alive.
But no, she had to go and follow my advice, and became a goddess. And once she was there on Mount Olympus, in all her tragic beauty and lingering mortal naivete, it was inevitable. I fell for her hard, harder than anyone should. And somehow, she fell for me too. Voluptas still doesn’t know that Cupid is not her father, and a part of me hopes she never finds out. Somehow, I would rather she forever know me as her father’s murderer then have her find out the truth while still believing me dead. But I guess Psyche will decide if and when that secret gets revealed. And I will go along with it like the smitten, sodding idiot I am because I can’t very well come back from the dead to attend a family reunion.
Really, that is how I know for sure that I am not a villain. Because a villain does not give up an eternal life of power and plenty for love of someone else.
Masters and production samples
Below you can see images of both some un-built raw masters as well as a production sample of Psyche.
And that's it for today!
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