Bookworms and Scholar Moths
The bane of the library, yet the blessing of the librarian, it is not entirely certain what trickster god first devised the tiny creatures known as bookworms. Despite their name, book worms are not actually worms, but rather caterpillars. Similar in appearance to regular inchworms, bookworms are noticeable larger. When they first develop, they tend to have a shade similar to freshly pressed and dried parchment, but over time their skin becomes increasingly yellowed and streaked with inky black stripes that almost seem to form words. Another telling sign of a bookworm is the black rings that encircle their tiny eyes. They can grow to be nearly as large as a kitten as they progress through their development.
Bookworms feed upon books. Not simply parchment, but paper that specifically contains written words. Stories, knowledge, information, poetry – the useless and the priceless alike, a bookworm feasts upon ceaselessly. They do specifically seem to favor dryly written educational texts over stories of daring and romance, but consume largely whatever is available. A bookworm can chew through almost fifty large volumes before it is prepared to spin a cocoon around itself, though few are lucky to find a meal that easy. Libraries established in the regions where bookworms make their homes have long learned to be diligent during certain seasons to ensure a bookworm infestation does not eat their shelves bare. It is often instead the private collector who suffers, opening a tome only to find nothing but well-chewed fragments left in it’s binding.
Bookworms who manage to consume enough books eventually coat themselves in a peculiar sort of cocoon, one which resembles nothing so much as a yellow-brown prayer strip wrapped around the fat-bodied caterpillar. Kept in a warm dry location for several weeks, the bookworm progresses into it’s second, and far more tolerated form, that of the scholar moth. At large as a crow from wingtip to wingtip, scholar moths are easily the biggest variety of moth found naturally in Creation (though the ‘natural’ aspect of the insects is hotly debated). With their wings stretched out and unmoving, they resemble an open book, yellowy paper scrawled with an undecipherable text.
Unlike their caterpillar-state, scholar moths do not consume books. Quiet the opposite in fact, a scholar moth writes them. It was a long time before savants realized that the often curious leg movements of the insect was actually calligraphy movements. It’s furry legs dipped in ink and given a stretch of paper to walk over, a scholar moth will faithfully and preciously recreate a page of text from any book or document it had consumed while in it’s caterpillar-form. The moths don’t seem to actually understand what they are writing nor display great intelligence, though they are as trainable as dogs and every bit as affectionate once tamed. As much then as no library desires to be infested by bookworms, fully grown scholar moths are hugely in demand as they can reproduce countless books if given enough time. Curiously, while fragile creatures and easily killed, the moths themselves are seemingly ageless. There have been instances uncovered of scholar moths reproducing books written in languages long thought to be dead and lost.
Both bookworms and scholar moths can be purchased as familiars. Bookworms are considered Familiar 1, while scholar moths can be anywhere from Familiar 2 (for one who has only a few fairly recent or unimportant texts within it) up to Familiar 5 (for ancient moths who can faithfully reproduce sorcerous treaties, celestial training manuals, or texts from the Shogunnate or the First Age). A bookworm needs to be fed the equivalent of Library 2 in documents before it will develop into a scholar moth.
Quite simply brilliant Azurelight