The creature known as an Imp is a sentient beast not more than two fores tall that is said to resemble a thin lizard-like goblin with wings. Additionally, the Imp has an unusual looking face that resembles a smooth, bone-like mask with glowing red eyes. Imps have been favoured as intelligent and loyal familiars among many archmages over the centuries ever since the secret to their summoning was discovered in 600 a.S. The Imp is a creature not native to the lands of Sarvonia, or even Nybelmar, and has long been an object of study amongst scholarly Ximaxian and Thalambathan researchers. Contemporary sages agree that the first Imp was likely summoned from a far away unexplored land of Caelereth. The lone piece of evidence that began this theory comes from an old journal supposedly written by a powerful mage named Lilis Farmantle who made her home on the island of Denilou. The journal, entitled "Vagaries of the Summoned Entity", had several entries dated approximately 600 a.S. These entries detailed how the mage had perfected a summoning ritual to bring forth a creature that she claimed was from a land far to the east of Denilou. If the notes are taken as truth, then the imps are perhaps native to the unexplored lands known as Yamalquain. The journal survived a devastating fire in Farmantle's tower in 650 a.S. and somehow made its way to Southern Sarvonia. The journal (likely a copy and not the original) now makes its home in the Summoning section in the Ximaxian Magical Academy's vast library of arcane lore. It is rumoured a copy of the book also resides in the collection of lore in the Truban city of Thalambath as well.

The Imp

View picture in full size Image description. A red imp sits silently on a podium. This particular imp is the companion of the travelling mage Seeker and spend much of its time delivering messages back and forth on the mage's behalf. Picture drawn by Seeker.

Appearance. Most all Imps bear a similar resemblance to each other. They possess very lean bodies that stand erect to a little over two fores tall. However, imps rarely stand straight upright. They have a tendency to hunch over with their backs curved forward and their heads hanging below their shoulder line. Their bodies are covered in shimmering scaly skin imbued with a variety of rich colors. Typical colours include dark reddish hues like blood, deep blue like the sea, or noble green like the forest. A typical coloration scheme would consist of a lighter shade beginning atop their heads, growing darker towards their abdomen. The colouration then gets lighter once more upon the legs and feet. Imp hands and arms are also lighter in colour with the exception of the tips of the fingers which are darkly coloured.

The appearance of the Imps' head is something most observers find truly unique. The best description of an Imps' face would be to say that they look like they wear a mask made of smooth polished bone. It has been suggested by some scholars that their face is actually the Imps' skulls without the covering of skin. The face is triangular in shape that is perhaps two palmspans in length and one palmspan wide at the top. The face narrows down to a "chin" that is pointed. Most all Imps possess small horns that elongate from the upper corners of the face, often curving downwards. Imps do possess two eyes that are perhaps five nailsbreadths apart along the top half of the face. These eyes are a deep red with eyelids that blink from side to side. Imps have no discernible mouth from which to eat, drink or speak. The imp has other unique ways of gaining sustenance and communication as discussed below.

An Imps' bony arms are approximately three palmspans long. Their hands consist of only four fingers, each with a curved claw on each one. Their feet are similar, with three toes and a fourth toe opposite for grasping and perching. Each toe possesses a claw as well. Imps are superb climbers and have been known to scale walls, trees and sheer rock faces. In addition to their claws, their palms and fingertips as well as their toes are riddled with tiny pores that can be made extremely sticky. By using a combination of long claws and sticky hands, the imps can climb almost any surface or cling to a surface for long periods of time. Scholars have surmised that the Imps' native habitat may be composed of cliff faces or very tall trees wherewith the creature must adapt to climbing easily to get around. No Santharian scholar has ever studied an imp in its native homeland so much about them is conjecture.

One of the main methods of communication used by the Imp is their tail. Scholars have surmised that the imp's subtle and precise movements of its flexible tail tells of the creature's intentions, moods and emotional state. The tail is long in relation to its body, perhaps three and a half palmspans in length. The tail narrows and tapers to a sharply barbed end. Imps have been observed using their tail not only for communication, but for defense. The barbed end is capable of stabbing swiftly, leaving a jagged wound in its victim. While no one has ever deciphered an Imp's full range of communication with its tail, many magi who have an imp in their possession have often said that with practice, one can learn to read the movements and discern the Imp's needs and wants.

Lastly, the Imp is capable of flying short distances using its leathery wings protruding from the Imp's back. These wings elongate to perhaps a little over one ped in length. The imp usually must be perched on a high surface before attempting flight. The wings stretch out and the imp glides downwards. Using an occasional flapping motion, the Imp can hold itself aloft for a few minutes before landing. With some effort, the imp can take flight from a standing position, but they prefer to first climb a high surface before launching themselves in the air. It cannot sustain flight for long periods of time, nor has an imp ever been observed flying higher than six to seven peds in the air. Again, scholars have surmised that an Imp's native home consists of high elevations wherewith the Imp glides up and down between surfaces.
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Special Abilities. The Imp is believed to sustain itself in a truly remarkable way. Researchers believe that the creature nourishes itself by feeding off of the cár'áll of other living beings. In addition, scholars also believe that the imp is drawn towards those with extraordinary willpower. The Imp is almost exclusively found in the company of magi thus leading to the willpower attraction. Ximaxian magi have high concentrations of will and focus in order to cast magic. The Imp does not seem to require physical food with which to eat, as it has no mouth, jaw or teeth wherewith to chew.

The theory that the Imp draws strength from cár'áll was first discovered by the Thalambathan arcanist Khaius Onderfaust in 900 a.S. His work was documented in the journal entitled "Notes on Impish Phylogeny" He summoned an Imp successfully and the creature appeared weak and unable to move. The wizard moved closer to the imp and as he did so, the creature began to stir and awaken. He backed away again, noting that the imp collapsed once away from him. The wizard moved close again and stayed within a few palmspans of the Imp. The creature began to improve quickly and was standing upright attempting to communicate. Onderfaust noted in his journal that the imp maintained a close presence to any living thing within its reach. The arcanist was intrigued by this behaviour and noted for the next few years, the imp typically stayed close to himself only. This led the wizard to the second theory that the Imp was drawn to something else about him.

Onderfaust also discovered that the imp rejected the company of most non-magi. In particular, the creature became excited and attentive when the wizard cast spells. In fact, the imp never strayed far from his laboratory. This led Onderfaust to believe the imp somehow was sensitive to the casting of magic, specifically the willpower involved. Somehow, the creature could feel the spiritual aspects of casting magic and it gave the imp energy, in addition to the wizard’s cár'áll. How exactly the Imp’s own body could even find such nourishment in cár'áll and willpower is as yet still not yet fully understood.

An Imp's typical means of communication is its tail. Using subtle and complex motions, the creature can express its intentions and desires. Also, the tail is thought to express its emotional state. Should the Imp lose its tail for whatever reason, the appendage grows back fully formed within a six to seven days.

Imps are known to live for many years. It has been impossible to determine the age of an Imp and when asked, the imp cannot know. However, three documented cases exist where the Imp far outlived their master. In fact, one imp in particular had the nickname "Old One". He was first summoned in 1050 a.S. by the archmage Amaris Despana, an archivist and instructor in the Ximaxian Magical Academy. The Old One's service to archmage Despana lasted a total of twenty years before the mage died. The Imp continued to move on to various masters, thirty five in total during its lifetime. The Old One finally died in 1452 a.S. from old age presumably. In total, the imp had lived in Ximax for a total of 402 years.
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Territory. The Imp's native territory is thought to be the far-away unexplored lands to the east of Santharia known as Yamalquain. The journals of the mage who originally summoned an Imp long ago first indicated this location as their origin. Because Yamalquain has never been extensively studied or explored by Santharian scholars, it is not known what the Imp's native home is truly like. However, despite this lack of knowledge, the Imps that have been brought to the Sarvonian mainland over the years have adjusted well and even thrived here.

Because Imps are typically only summoned by powerful archmagi, the creatures are mostly known to inhabit the regions in and around the city of Ximax, Thalambath and perhaps elven magic academies. That is not to say that imps do not exist elsewhere as archmagi of all kinds live throughout Sarvonia, Nybelmar and beyond. But only the most studied imps have been in Ximax. The city of Thalambath has long been a rival in magical power to Ximax and it is difficult to gather related studies from magi in both cities. In addition, Imps are drawn to areas with high magical energy, especially magical forests. It is rumoured that a group of Imps live in the Thaelon Forest in Southern Santharia. The elves speak of a small, horned flying creature they call a "d'isyrór" (Styrásh lit. "magic friend") who live deep in the woods. The elves recognize the creature as something special and unique.
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Habitat/Behaviour. Imps are drawn to magi, in particular powerful ones. The reasons, as theorized by scholars, is that the creatures are drawn to high concentrations of cár'áll and willpower. When an Imp is summoned, the creature remains with its master until one or both happen to die. The Imp is a loyal and faithful minion and often serve as capable familiars for their magi masters.

Imps possess a keen intelligence, and are considered sentient by most standards. The creature is able to think for itself and can be trained to perform many complicated tasks. Imps prefer to be treated well, but are tolerant of physical and verbal abuse to a degree. There are some documented instances where an imp will physically leave their masters to either cling to another magi or escape altogether to live on its own independently. It is said that those Imps without a master are considered "wild" and are often highly sought after by magi who cannot, or will not, summon one of their own. Those fortunate magi who succeed in finding and "adopting" a wild Imp must contend with training them and convincing the imp that they are worthy to have the creature's loyalty. Wild Imps are thought to be extremely rare and most rumours of their existence are difficult to prove as truth.

Imps communicate using physical movements such as their tail or hands. They do not speak aloud as they have no mouth. Their complicated and subtle tail movements are thought to signify emotional states and intentions. Interestingly, Imps are capable of understanding verbal commands and hand motions from others. Two Imps within each others' company communicate with their tails. Should an Imp lose their tail, it does grow back within six to seven days.

Imps are superb climbers and love to cling and perch to whatever is available. Usually, in the company of its master, the imp will perch on the magi's shoulder or chair. Trees are a favourite place to sit as it clings to thick branches like a bird. The Imp then uses its wings to glide where it needs to go, usually between trees. Imps do not favour movement along the ground or flat surfaces and it always looks for somewhere high up to climb.
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Diet. Imps do not ingest physical nourishment. Rather, they are creatures who sustain themselves by drawing on another living beings' cár'áll and willpower. Ximaxians believe every living thing possesses a cár'áll, but not all living beings possess willpower. Hence why Imps prefer powerful magi as they have both, especially willpower, in high amounts. They also prefer areas with magical energy leading to the stories that those wild Imps without a master live among magical forests. Essentially, an imp will never "starve" as long as it is around other living beings.
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Mating. Imps have never been known to mate. There is no documentation or accounts of how the creatures reproduce. No two Imps have ever been together long enough to express the desire to mate. This has lead scholars to believe that imps do not reproduce in ways familiar to most other creatures that require a male and female pairing to produce offspring. Some sages say that all Imps known in Sarvonia are all male and that the female variety, somehow, has never been summoned. Still other scholars believe that there is no gender among the imps at all and that the concept of gender is unknown to them. The Thalambathan arcanist Khaius Onderfaust has proposed that perhaps imps were indeed the product of a powerful creation spell by long ancient magi in Yamalquain and that there are only a fixed number of them in existence. He theorized that Imps cannot reproduce and once they are all gone, they will be extinct forever.
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Usages. Imps are capable familiars and are loyal to their masters. Magi who are powerful enough to summon an Imp often have a companion for life. The imp is easily trained to perform simple and complex tasks and is often is used as aides in the magi's rituals. Typically, a magi will give his Imp over to a new master before he dies. If the master cannot (or will not) do so, then the imp will often find their own new master themselves. Many magi all over Caelereth are said to crave the prestige of having an intelligent, unusual creature as a familiar. The Imp is attracted to powerful magi, though, so it will generally reject a low level apprentice. Should it fail to find a suitable master, the creature will find a home elsewhere and become what is considered a wild Imp.
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Myth/Lore. No one knows the exact facts surrounding the imps' origins. The only documented case is the journal entitled "Vagaries of the Summoned Entity" by the archmage Lilis Farmantle. In this journal, she wrote of the first detailed summoning ritual that brought the first imp to Denilou in 600 a.S. Today, the legend of archmage Farmantle is alive and well among the human tribes of the island. She is said to have been wise and powerful who was very skilled in summoning magic. Legends say she spent years trying to perfect her summoning rituals and one of her first successes was an Imp. How she came to the conclusion that the imp came from Yamalquain is not certain. Ximaxian researchers have said that perhaps Farmantle's exceptional skill in summoning enabled her to actually choose a location from which to summon. Or, at least, she could sense where her summonings came from. Unfortunately, much of Farmantle's work was destroyed when her tower burned to the ground in 655 a.S. It was assumed that the fire was the result of a failed summoning ritual. The archmage herself was also presumed to have been killed in the fire as she was not seen again after the disaster.

Imps have developed the reputation as being demons by the more ignorant and superstitious folk of Xaramon. The Imps' unusual appearance and their presence among archmagi have created many stories about the Imps' true nature. Most magi through the centuries who have been fortunate enough to have had an Imp strongly deny the rumours. Of course, there have been exceptions. A group of unscrupulous magi who summoned an Imp in 1167 a.S. claimed that they had successfully summoned a small demon. They spread fear throughout Ximax and the surrounding populations with the hope that the story would enable them to gain more power. The commoners believed the story and the inaccurate connection was born. Contemporary studies have long ago proven that the demon connection is false, but convincing the superstitious common folk has been more difficult.

Three Imps

View picture in full size Image description. Three magically created imps as they are described in a fairy-tale. Picture drawn by Mitra Rodi.

The elves of the Thaelon Forest have had a belief that an Imp has lived deep within the magical woods for many years. They call this creature a "d'isyrór" (Styrásh lit. "magic friend"). The story the elves tell is that a lone magi named Ignarius lived in a small tower about a strals distance east of the Thaelon Forest in 1485 a.S. The mage was an old man who kept to himself most days. He was generally peaceful and caused little trouble. The elves believed that Ignarius was originally from Voldar but was driven out because of his unpredictable practice of magic. Specifically, the mage was a summoner, and a failed one at that. The elves believed him harmless, however, but kept a close watch on his activities nonetheless. During the summer of 1490 a.S., the elves discovered that Ignarius had been successful in summoning a creature of some sort. The creature turned out to be an Imp but the mad mage had considerable trouble keeping his pet well behaved. The elves secretly observed the old mage one day as he tried to summon another Imp but the ritual failed. The failure caused Ignarius to become so angry that he tore up his laboratory in a fit of rage and collapsed dead from the exertion. The lonely Imp managed to remain in the tower for a few days afterwards before flying away into the Themed'lon to make a new home. There, it is said, the elves helped the creature feel at home somewhere deep within the woods, far from any who would find it. The elves say their "d'isyrór" remains in the forest to this day. Return to the top

Researchers. There have been many researchers over the years who have spent their lives studying the imps. One of the most prominent was the Thalambath arcanist Khaius Onderfaust. He explained many of the original imp summoning rituals in the book entitled "Notes on Impish Phylogeny". His book has long been considered a companion work to the original "Vagaries of the Summoned Entity". The book is available in the Thalambath library and a copy is known to exist in the Ximaxian Magical Academy library as well. Both tomes have been used as a guide for amateur Imp researchers for many years.

Another prominent imp scholar was Theodorus Holzman. A noted Compendiumist and researcher, Theodorus not only provided the first initial studies of the imp, but also documented the mullog race and the halflings. Compendiumists who specialize in Northern Sarvonia owe a great deal to Theodorus for his work studying the lore of the dravilonia drake, a creature of the Netherworlds. Some orcen tales say the dravilonia still live in the Osthemangar region, but more studies need to be done to confirm this.

In one of the first studies of the Imp, Theodorus was able to observe the creature and theorized that it was magically created. He also documented the Imps' penchant for troublemaking and violence. Noted as well was their appearance as he described them as having "large heads and remarkable pointy ears, a flat nose and mean eyes." It is interesting to note that perhaps Theodorus' study described an imp that was perhaps of a different variety and temperament than those known today. Subsequent research has since disproven some of Theodorus' original theories about the Imp. Despite this, most of his work still remains relevant to contemporary scholars. Return to the top

"The Imp", composed and performed by Vladeptus
Format: MP3, Length: 3:11 from the album "What the Dragon Heard", Track #13.
Click here to download the song, use right-click and "Save as..." (2.92 MB). Return to the top
 Date of last edit 11th Frozen Rivers 1669 a.S.

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