The linnormi (/lɪˈnɔːmi/) is a black, stripe-less stranger with a serpentine body and between 5-18 arm-like appendages that emerge halfway between its head and tail-tip. These arms are thin and ribbon-like, but surprisingly strong, with three to four fingers at each tip. The linnormi's skin is slick and slippery to the touch, and its flesh is as black as its outer surface, with no internal structures to be found. Injuries to the linnormi tend to be initially gruesome, with much bubbling and frothing of the flesh, but even significant injuries take less than an hour to heal, with no scarring present.
The linnormi's voice is neither masculine nor feminine, but somewhere between the two in pitch. It speaks in sing-song melodies which reflect no formal arrangement or order. Its vocalizations possess no discernible linguistic patterns, and the linnormi is instead limited to a number of vowel-like tones.
The linnormi appears in lakes, rivers, harbors, and other natural bodies of water. It first appears as a swirling, sinuous black stain upon the water, which takes on solid form and shape over one to eight days. One quarter of linnormi do not take on solid form, and instead dissolve after several days.
The linnormi possesses a mischievous, restless disposition. It spends much of its time underwater, where it darts from place to place in fluid bursts. Although it prefers water, it is just as mobile above the surface, and slithers through the air with the same sudden, weaving motions, unaffected by gravity. When not in motion, it clings to the underside of docks and piers, and on still, cloudy days, curls up in a pile on dry surfaces near the water. Unlike many aquatic strangers, the linnormi does not dry out when removed from water, although it never wanders far from the waves.
This jovial stranger is friendly and social towards others of its strain, lacking in all aggressive or hierarchical behaviours. Groups spend their time playing with one another, and move in sweeping, school-like formations over long distances.
The linnormi exudes a pitch black ink from its skin, which, although harmless to touch and possessing no toxic effects when ingested, stains almost every surface it comes in contact with. This fluid permeates even rock and metal, and requires harsh solvents to wash away, when it can be removed at all. The linnormi is prolific in its production of this pigment, and cities with large linnormi populations can be identified by their dark, murky bays and lakes.
The linnormi approaches and circles any sensitive it finds. At first, its demeanor is hesitant yet playful, and it flits forward to tug at clothing, or tap on its target's head or shoulder as though playing tag, each brief touch leaving behind an inky handprint that marks all who experience even these brief encounters. The linnormi is a fickle stranger, and loses interest in sensitives who do not move or react to these actions. After one or two minutes with no response, it swims away, either into the sky or into the water, in search of more responsive novelty.
When its target does move or interact with the linnormi in any way, the linnormi's behaviour grows excited and insistent, and it yanks off clothing and accessories, as though initiating a game of 'keep-away,' and slaps at any exposed skin with the perseverance of an over-excited child. Attacking the linnormi does little to stop its light-hearted antics, and it reacts as though unable to fathom that this assault could be anything more than simple rough-housing.
The linnormi always ends its play by coiling itself around its victims body, and reaching its arms into any exposed orifices (usually, the target's mouth, eye sockets, or ears). At this point, contact with the linnormi has stained the victim's clothes, skin, teeth, and eyes as black as coal, and even those that do escape require months of constant washing to remove the linnormi's mark.
Even as it attacks, the linnormi's demeanor never becomes aggressive, and instead, it displays disappointment when its coiling and insertions finally suffocate or cause hemorrhaging to its prey. Although it continues to play with the corpse of its victim, it appears dejected when these corpses do not reciprocate the linnormi's teasing advances, and it slips back into the water without a sound.
The linnormi does, on occasion, become drawn to specific points upon the ground, although the properties that draw linnormi to these spots remain unknown.
"It seemed very fascinated in this one spot – a game of hopscotch that some children had chalked in a parking lot next to the wharf. At first it was just one small individual, who ignored my presence and, instead, flopped upon those uneven squares in a frenzied dance, like the futile wriggles of a fish near death. It flapped like this for a bit, in little hops up and down, then drove itself downward, head-first, onto one particular square – the number 5. It pressed like this for quite some time, until it began to compress and squish its own head into gummy slop. That's when I noticed the rest coming out of the water, in great currents and braids, all focused on this single little 5! They seemed to vanish into it, and after 10 or 20, there were no chalk lines at all – just a pool of bodies melted into a big, black circle on the pavement.
One of them did not go in right away, but instead looked at me for several seconds (before, of course, he died like all the rest), and that's when I thought the 5 might be losing its appeal to them, and I walked away to leave them to their deaths, lest any further of them all suicide into me, instead." Seong, Ya. Journals, morse-9:iv, 67
At the end of its life, the linnormi's eye markings recede into its inky body, and it writhes and spasms on the ground in frantic, seizing coils for several minutes before it dies. Its corpse melts down to liquid in five to fourteen seconds, which flows like water and marks its path downhill. Other linnormi throw rocks and other small objects at the bodies of their seizing companions, but display no particular regard towards their death, and do not engage in any action toward the large stain left behind.