The Ink Drinkers
'The last thing we ever saw was its inky tail as it swept under the door. I fear the scions of Durnthar have taken yet another piece of us.' - Gould Maran, Keeper of the Throne Seal
'In the waning years of the Mage Wars, Durnthar, Lord of Ignorance and Oppression, struck out as he fell, and from him were born the Scions of Ignorance, the Wraiths of the Fist, the Ink Drinkers. And they fell in swarms upon the tomes of men, and all but that which was in stone, was no more.'
- Excerpt from 'A History of the Mage Wars', Seran Translation
The Ink Drinkers are petty demons of Durnthar, spawned in great numbers in the last moments before the Fallen Gods were sealed behind the barrier, in a final desperate strike. While the Gods were struck behind the Shield of the Void, their denizens remained on earth, yet heeding their master’s calls. The Ink Drinkers, though weak, were one of the worst.
At first glance, the Drinkers seemed to have been harmless ghosts. They are snake-like wraiths, made of a sort of watery gel that shimmers and undulates as they fly through the air. They have the heads and faces of men, pulled back in open screams, yet they have no eyes. Still, though they are frightening to behold, they cannot harm the living. Our swords and hands pass through them just as their horrid visages pass through us. For their true purpose was not to harm men - that duty fell to the thousands of horned and hooked abominations of the abyss. No, the Drinkers were born to take the history, knowledge, lore, and learning of men out of their very hands, destroying centuries of work in a single sweep. The Ink Drinkers descended in great schools and swarms upon the schools, studies, libraries, and archives of the world, slipping under doors and into the pages of tomes and records, sucking the ink from the pages and leaving them as though they had never felt the quill. They left fattened and bulging with the dark liquid, squeezing their pulsing bodies under doors and escaping into the night to feed once more. Again and again they struck, and it was to the horror of the men of the script that their hands did not grasp them, their swords did not cut them, and their staffs did not break them. Only the fire of the heart of the gods would touch them, and where it did, the wraiths would howl, erupting in showers of dark ink as they tore themselves into ribbons, sinking into the shadows. Yet still their work was done, and by the time the cleansing fire had purged them from the land, the archives of the world held only blank pages. Where word and learning had once coursed across pages, only a dead white silence remained.
'And so it was that the races of men were plunged into the dark ages, and the only light of learning was found in that which was written in stone.'
- Excerpt from 'A History of the Mage Wars', Northern Translation
These days, only a few Ink Drinkers remain, and while they are hunted and despised wherever they slither through the air, they are endlessly elusive, much more so than remembered. Some have even thought that they sensed their rarity, and their value to their lord, hence their self-preservation. They dwell in ruined, dark areas, always near to civilization, as without the writings of man, their blood, they would wither to dust. At night they slither under doors and through windows, flattening themselves out and squeezing themselves between the pages of books to feed. If one were to witness this, all one would see would be a thin, throbbing tail emerging from a book, gradually filling with wisps and whorls of ink as the pages are swept clean. The process itself is fairly silent, and only a soft hissing, sucking sound can be heard. Once filled with ink, the Drinker will move, albeit much more slowly than before, back to their lairs, where the ink will gradually be absorbed into their bodies, turning back into the watery gel they are formed of.
If one should try to grasp an Ink Drinker, one’s hand will simply plunge through the wraith’s aqueous body, and will leave feeling numb and ice-cold. Likewise, should a wraith pass through you, the same sensation will be felt. Swords, staffs, and other weapons and objects will also pass through them. Should the Drinker be gorged on ink, the object or body part passed through it will be soaked and splashed with it. Some Drinkers have even used this to their advantage, flying into other’s faces and dousing them in ink - however, this greatly weakens the creature. In most cases, in the face of threats they will simply flee as fast as they can. The only thing that can truly harm them is magical fire, or any weapons enchanted by a spell of elemental heat or fire. Mundane fire, such as that from a torch, causes the creatures to shriek and twist in pain, sometimes 'bleeding' ink, but does no true damage to the wraiths.
Ink Drinkers are not the feared swarms of destruction they once were, but they are still the bane of archivists and magi alike. Many a key document or spell has been devoured by the creatures, and even one is enough to cripple a kingdom’s records or library system. Magi and clerics hunt these creatures mercilessly where they are discovered, and it is common custom to write all essential or rare documents in stone, or, when less important, engraved in wood or hide.
Pronunciation Guide -
Durnthar - Doorn-Tar
Note - I must confess that the name of these vile creatures is not COMPLETELY original. While working in a library last week, I came across the children’s book, 'The Ink Drinker'. I have no idea what it was about, but the title gave me the idea for this submission. Giving credit where credit is due!
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? Responses (26)
'These days, only a few Ink Drinkers remain'- why? what happened to them?
'Should the Drinker be gorged on ink, the object or body part passed through it will be soaked and splashed with it'- LOVE IT!
'Some Drinkers have even used this to their advantage, flying into other's faces and dousing them in ink'- so is the ink sustenance for them, or 'just their job'?
'Ink Drinkers are not the feared swarms of destruction they once were'- why?
SparK!- I only ask these questions, because I love the concept!!
I understand your idea completely, I think, but could use a tad more explanation to wrap it all up and make it complete.
The Drinkers were purged by clerics of the light after the Dark Gods' fall (I didn't state this, and I will make an edit tomorrow 'cause it's around 1 AM here), which also accounts for why they're not as feared - no more strength in numbers.
The ink is their blood, in a way, it's what keeps them alive. They feed on it, and it is absorbed into their bodies at which point they feed once more. They were created this way so that they were forced to continually drink up books to survive...heck, they might not even want to do it, but they have to!
ask some questions, get some answers. Insidious creatures! Next weekend's game session revolves around a library. I might have to introduce one of these bad boys, just as the PCs find that ancient, dusty tome they have been looking for.
Just don't tell your players who made these guys, you evil DM.
People started using the Internet, that's why. Those suckers can't drink electrical signals! Gives'em a stomach ache, or kills'em, or somethin'.
One of these could wreck a countries judical system.
The idea is great!!! Thoughts swirl around these things and I LOVE that!
A thought I had. It seems that the there is a meeting of the two worlds, ethereal and real, when they eat they have to get the ink in them somehow so at that moment I would suggest that there is a connection with the mundane world. I was thinking that if one was to write on their hand enough words that they would momentarily be able to grasp and hold the Ink Drinker. It absorbing the ink and the words physically on the person could create one of the only connection between the two worlds. Now, what you do with a writhing Ink Drinker in your hand, I don't know, but the vision remains. The grip would only remain as long as the inked writing does. Once the Ink Drinker is done eating then the grip is gone, perhaps a squeeze of ink is all that is left.
Love the extra little idea about carving it on wood or stone.
Hmmm, a very cool thought that never even crossed my mind. Now, an Ink Drinker wouldn't just saunter up to a cleric of the light and start sucking on his arm, but to a dark mage or a deacon of Durnthar? Sure! At the very least, a dark mage with a wraith curled around his fist would look cool as heck. Perhaps they could use them as conduits through which they could commune with Durnthar himself? That would take some working around, but it's a great concept.
A great idea well executed. There are enough touches of stories with enough details to be a very useful and effective post.
It also shows that the 'wimpiest' of the monsters actually was the most destructive to humanity at large.
Brilliant. A truly novel concept for a demon with devastating consequences and all kinds of secondary consequences (e.g. the writing on stone) explored.
Demons are not my cup of tea, but I do know an interesting piece when I see it. Excellent work.
And: 'I fear the scions of Durnthar have taken yet another piece of us.' As a bookworm myself, I can imagine what a response this creature would trigger in men of the written word.
Summon with care, for the Ink Drinker cares not what tome it feasts upon, but with great care a wise summoner may tie a drinker to his will by means of Hermetic bindings. Thus he gains an ally to destroy the works of his enemies and a lever to hold over those who would plot treachery against him whilst claiming alliance. To the clergyman who summons the drinker to devour a wicked book, forget not that the drinker is a creature of evil and darkness and one must balance the evil of the tome to be destroyed to the evil of the demon called forth.
Never summon that which yee can not put down
It's not a bad idea, but what if this creature were to consume some tome of truly powerful evil... what if it actually turned into something worse?
I wanted to HoH this submission, but it had been done multiple times way back when. Then I forgot to do it since. Thank you for reminding me.
Freaking awesome post. I love unusual monsters that don't do the same old stuff and that take special means to kill. Inspiration comes from the strangest places at times. Wonderful idea.
Evil! Evil! Most devious!
Have I mentioned they are evil?
Bump! and another Golden vote!
Are there active hunters of these creatures, saviors of knowledge, crusading librarians?
You know, that's a really, really cool idea! Just think of it - a warrior clerk, a barbarian librarian, a paladin of the Church of Dewey Decimal. All joking aside though, it'd be a really quirky concept, and would make for some great NPCs. Anyone want to develop that? If not, I'm sure I could put aside some time.
I might make one some day.
Stunning work here.
Another thing that will surely be included in my upcoming steampunk game. My players won't know how to handle them... I particularly liked the idea someone came up with of one of these demons showing up just as the players find the ancient tome they were hunting for :)
A good piece.
I can see why this, in combination with the Niyott would be very.. Difficult.
Have not voted on this before. A travesty I have now corrected.
Fully deserves its golden title.