The Dark Ones, also called: Miri Nigri, Dwarves, Zwerc, Zwerg, Dwerg, Draugr/Draugar/Draugur, Duerger, aptrganga/aptrgangr, Black Elves, Goblins, Afanc, Korr, Bog Men, "Again-Walkers", "Ancestors", "He Who Enters the Tomb", "Buried Under the Cairn", "Dead Man of the Mound", "Children of the Fire Mists", etc.
Origin: The Dark Ones are from Cthulhu Dark Ages.
"And I looked from the north unto the west and saw there the worm that sleepeth not, and in that place was gnashing of teeth. And the worms were of the measure of one cubit, and on them were two heads; and I saw there men and women in cold and gnashing of teeth... And I inquired and said: Lord, is there no fire nor heat in this place? And He said unto me: In this place is nothing else but cold and snow; even if the seven suns rose upon them, they would not be warmed, because of the excessive cold of this place, and the snow...."
— The Apocalypse of Paul (an apocryphal book attributed to the Apostle Paul but probably created much more recently)
The Dark Ones are a race of twisted undead "dwarfs" in the form of decaying corpses or living bodies hosting an alien horror described in such texts as the Apocalypse of Paul as a two-headed worm, about three feet in length.
The Dark Ones originate from a cold and icy world called Ymir, a place of desolation with seven dim suns which give almost no light nor heat to those wretched Dark One astronomers and philosophers who make their home on Ymir's snowy, starlit surface. Through tunnels and great cavities deep in frozen Ymir the Dark Ones prefer to crawl and feast like maggots, clinging to the fading radioactive warmth of Ymir's dying core, near which they carve and build great and terrible wonders in the icy darkness.
According to legend, Dark Ones (as "Dwarves" inhabiting humanoid bodies) are said to be master craftsmen, working great wonders of art, technology, and magic, with the Dark Ones frequently serving as the armorers of gods, heroes, and villains. They are shrewd traders and bargainers, willing to trade their work in exchange for very high prices of treasure, and particularly human lives in the form of slaves, brides, grooms, human cattle, etc., which are taken away to meet unearthly dooms among the Dwarves in their shadowy underground vaults and courts.
Direct sunlight is deadly to the Dark Ones, who evolved on icy, dead Ymir far from the warmth and light of its seven dim suns, and so on Earth sunlight holds a terrible fascination and revulsion for Dark One immigrants, who cannot bear its deadly effects, but are nevertheless drawn like moths to is fiery warmth and blinding light, which serve as the equivalents of drugs to the Dark Ones. Because the comparatively ferocious fires, heat, and sunlight of Earth are unnatural to the Dark Ones' evolution and draw unattended Dark Ones to misadventure, indolence, and self-destruction, the Dark Ones are poorly suited to thriving on Earth on their own, with all but a few exceptional members of their kind requiring constant supervision to keep them focused on their sinister tasks.
Dark Ones are able to inhabit, animate, wear, and feed on human bodies. Dark Ones can live like parasites in living human bodies, though they suffer from the defenses of the human immune system and the resistance of the minds of unwilling living hosts while the body slowly deteriorates around them. Dark Ones are also able to inhabit and animate dead bodies, which normally deteriorate even more quickly than living bodies, unless preserved (usually deliberately and with great care, such as with mummification, though bodies which have been accidentally preserved by special qualities of the soil or environment are also prized by Dark Ones as suitable long-lasting bodies). The Dark Ones, whose natural forms are those of very large maggots, must hollow out the bodies they inhabit by eating away organs that seem unnecessary for the survival of their hosts to make room for themselves, even though this process generally contributes to the deterioration of their host bodies. Dark Ones consume the blood and flesh of victims in ghoulish feasts; human flesh can sustain Dark One to a degree, though human flesh lacks all the nutrients necessary for Dark Ones to thrive, as the Dark Ones evolved on an alien world with a completely alien flesh to feed upon; nevertheless, if the flesh of living Earthly victims is generally the best that the Dark Ones can find, then that is what they feed upon, and so Dark Ones living on Earth are subject to constant malnutrition and a resulting hunger and thirst that is insatiable even through extreme ravenous gluttony, and legends about Dark Ones described as "vampires" and "werewolves" often underscore their endless gnawing hunger.
Typically short-lived colonies of Dark One immigrants have been transported to Earth at various times in Earth's history. The Comte d'Erlette in Cultes des Goules describes the Dark Ones as "earth elementals" brought to Earth to serve Nyarlathotep as a god of earth, minerals, and flesh, with their cult working forges in the shadows under the Earth while in the shape of shambling, rotting human corpses in service to their master, called "Loki" by men. Other Dark Ones have been summoned to Earth by misguided conjurors as "demons", "elementals", "imps", and other such minor spirits, to be consulted for whatever wisdom that such half-vermin might offer, or forced to construct wondrous machines or write strange tomes. Mi-Go, Grey Aliens, and other travelers appear to have also brought small numbers of Dark Ones to Earth from time to time as slaves, servants, or collaborators, sometimes abandoning (by mistake or deliberately) these Dark Ones to establish small colonies on Earth; Mythos scholars have frequently associated the arrival or appearance of Dark Ones with legends of vampires, werewolves, witches, dwarfs, elves, faeries, and the living dead.
Heresies and Controversies
- Why and how would a Dark One infest and make use of a humanoid body? It seems that they must have evolved/been created in conjunction with some sort of humanoid being similar enough to humans for the Dark Ones to (imperfectly) adapt themselves to human bodies - perhaps some humanoid alien being dwelling deep inside Ymir, where it is raised like rare, prized horses for the Dark Ones to infest and ride through the dark tunnels of that icy world....
- The Dark Ones may prize inhabiting and re-animating the long-preserved bodies of men drowned in peat bogs, as these bodies last longer; such bodies are covered in loose, leathery skin tanned to near blackness by tannin in the bog water, and may appear wrinkled and emaciated, resulting in descriptions of the Dark Ones as "skinny" and "twisted" black Dwarfs or Elves. (Cthulhu Dark Ages)
- The Dark Ones are not especially civilized, wise or intelligent, except when guided by Nyarlathotep or other clever and charismatic leaders; they live like vermin and parasites when left to their own devices. Inspired by Nyarlathotep, the Dark Ones create many strange and sinister treasures and wonders of art, magic, and science. (Cthulhu Dark Ages)
- Ymir was said to have been slain or destroyed by three other gods: Odin, Vili, and Vé ("faith" or "prophecy", "will", and "devotion" or "obedience"). The other "gods" might literally be Elder Gods, or they might be worlds which fought Ymir to death and destruction in an interplanetary conflict. (Y.Whateley, based on Scandinavian mythology)
- The home world of the Dark Ones is Ymir, actually the body of a slain "god" or "Great Old One" - a formerly living "planet" covered in alien flesh around a skeleton of stone - which in life gave asexual birth to other monstrous gods from its "armpits", the cavities between its tentacles/arms/legs and its body. Ymir's corpse now drifts in space, a dead-but-dreaming, frozen, radioactive, bombed-out ruin erratically orbiting seven dying suns and crawling with its faithful "maggots", the Dark Ones, who have made their god's corpse their hellish, frozen paradise, building great wonders and terrors in their workshops and forges deep within the cold, dead, radioactive flesh of their host. (Y.Whateley, based on Scandinavian mythology)
- The Dark Ones might be confused with, or perhaps occasionally identical to, the Crawling Ones or Worms of the Earth (Race), depending on the Keeper's purposes. (Y.Whateley)
- The Dark Ones might serve as inspiration and cause for many tales of Vampires, Werewolves, Liches, and other living dead. (Cthulhu Dark Ages)
- The Dark Ones might be found in company with subterranean humanoids, such as Ghouls, Deros, Deep Ones, Faeries, Dwarfs, Elves, etc. (Y.Whateley)
- The "Black Man" aspect/avatar/mask of Nyarlathotep might actually have been a Dark One, wearing a heavily tanned "bog body", speaking on behalf of the Crawling Chaos. (Y.Whateley)
- The twisted, skinny shapes and pale skin of freshly-dead corpses might explain the awkward shapes and unnatural pallor of members of the cult of the Men in Black, which might sometimes include Dark One agents in its nocturnal activities. (Y.Whateley)
- In Pulp Cthulhu, a master villain might strike up a deal with the Dark Ones to trade a large number of human victims or a secret formula that will allow the Dark Ones to walk about in sunlight, in exchange for a doomsday device of Dark One construction which the villain might threaten the world with; only our heroes can stop the villain and the Dark Ones, before it's too late!
- Any home-brew scenario involving vampires or werewolves might reveal the monster to actually be a Dark One wearing an undead human body, engorging itself on unsatisfying human flesh.
- A scenario for experienced investigators might start out looking like a standard-issue Ghoul adventure, but quickly run off onto a different set of tracks when the "Ghouls" are slowly revealed to actually be "Dark Ones", with even real Ghouls revolted by the Dark Ones and approaching the investigators for help in ridding themselves of a ravenous undead parasitic horror that feeds on men and Ghouls alike....
- An over-ambitious wizard has summoned some Dark One "imps" to Earth, believing he could enslave them and force them to reveal the locations of some sort of treasure, unaware of exactly what he is dealing with; the Dark Ones easily escape the Wizard's ineffective wards, and are now running loose on the countryside by night, after watching one of their number burn itself alive in sunlight. The investigators become involved after the fact, and now have to clean the mess up, tracking the horrors back to the wizard, discovering the exact nature of the horror, and then either destroying the Dark Ones, or helping to return them to Ymir....
Associated Mythos Elements
- cult: "The Million Favored Ones", a cult of "Loki"
- cult: the Cult of Ymir, an analogue to an "earth cult" which worships their world as the body of the dead god Ymir, which the cult believes in time, when the stars are right, will regenerate, re-awaken, and live again to stride through the universe, seeding other dying dying worlds with squirming new life in Ymir's own image....
- race: Dark Ones could be one of the creatures identified as "Vampires" or "Werewolves"
- race: Dark Ones may be one of many ways that a Lich or Crawling One is created
- race: Dark Ones might be found in company with subterranean humanoids, such as Ghouls, Deros, Deep Ones, Faeries, Dwarfs, Elves, Worms of the Earth, etc.