Digital 2D and Traditional 2D
Photoshop, Canon Scanner, Pencil, Inks
Creature Design contest submission # 3.
"Nevermind the goblins and cave ogres, Delvin. They don't liquify your brain like the aether minders do. They come out of nowhere, you know."
Of all the minders that ever existed, drifting through the aether and planescapes, attracted to the minds of magical beings, there was one of such renown that it was feared throughout the multiverse.
It was known as Xytych. A cult had sprung up in the far reaches, beyond the reason and logic of imperial rule. There, they worshipped it, researched it, and some have even said to have communed with it. Through them it had gotten its name, believed to be given to them in some forgotten, dark seance. To instill fear, they spread its name in secret, amongst plain folk, and made it be known that all who would dare use magic had a most awful death awaiting them. Some sects of the cult actually baited magic users to hidden lairs and sacrificed them on open altars to the transdimensional being. The ripple effect of these magical sacrifices would be felt for ages.
Aether minders exist in fair quantities between planes. It is true they feast on the minds of creatures in other planes that are sensitive to the aether or possess higher powers.
But none were as ageless, ravenous, coldly predatory, and relentlessly driven, as Xytych. He was wholly seven times bigger than most, which lent credence to his status as a deity. Some scholars believe he is an elder minder, in existence for many countless ages, many times older than all other free-roaming aether minders. Ancient legends contain stories of spiney horns and tentacles erupting from out of a rip in reality, impaling the skulls and brains of wizards and sorcerers alike, turning the gray matter into pulpy soup. While it appears they were victims of a very real, physical death, they suffered the worst kind of end imaginable - the consumption and snuffing out of their mind and spirit - their eternal essence. Each one adding to the power and monstrosity of the interdimensional creature. Xytych has also been known to drag his prey into his own dimension, a transit between planes, whereas lesser aether minders would drop theirs, not quite able to carry their humanoid size prey yet.
If you were to behold Xytych, you would first see tentacles appearing out of a shimmering hole in the air, above which glide two massive bone-like tusks. The bulk of his body would follow, resembling that of a floating bulbous beetle or tortoise, as it has a softer midsection with an armored shell behind what passes at its head. The eye is massive and multifaceted, much like an insect's. Some believe that is what gives it extraplanar vision, being able to view many at once. Usually aloft in the air or aether thanks to its gas-filled organs, it can look like an airborne cuttlefish or squid of sorts. At its base are tough protrusions and several drooping claw-like legs that are used for grasping its prey for prolonged periods of feeding. Its colors are obscene and bright, often shifting as it moves from dimension to dimension. Usually, after translating into realspace, it can be seen coalescing in a vibrant display of colors like a bubble of liquid in bright light. But, make no mistake, it's nothing but dark, cold, uncaring, death for those who dare toy with flagrant displays of magic.
The cult of Xytych is thought dead now, long since being hunted and eradicated by the Emperor's forces. However, the lasting effect of the message and fear can still be felt and seen. Many have spoken of seeing Xytych in their mind, aimlessly drifting in the aether, after having performed such simple tricks as lighting a candle with a snap of a finger only to swear off magic for good in response to the terror they felt.
It is not known how many victims Xytych has claimed, only that it is many - almost incalculable. Now, those with magical abilities are rare and often in hiding. For Xytych is waiting, drifting just beyond the veil, sniffing the aether, ready to strike.
If you ever see a shimmer or feel a sudden cold behind you or a sharp pain behind your eyes, run. But, it might be too late.