In the Middle Ages, it was commonly believed that the souls of the dead could return to earth and haunt the living. The belief in revenants (someone who has returned from the dead) are well documented by contemporary European writers of the time. According to the Encyclopedia of Things that Never Were, the revenant rises from the dead (particularly in France during the Middle Ages) usually to avenge some crime committed against the entity, most likely a murder. The revenant usually took on the form of an emaciated corpse or skeletal human figure, and wandered around graveyards at night.
Nachzehrer (German; "afterwards (nach) devourer (zehrer)") is an undead entity of German origin. While similar to vampires, they share more in common with Zombies, but have several unique features. The Nachzehrer usually feeds on dead bodies, like a ghoul, but also will feed on the life-force of living beings, like a wraith. It is also said that by devouring themselves (including their funeral shrouds) they drain the life-forces of their families. They exhibit the powers of shape-shifting (transforming into pigs to drain the life-force of unaware beings) and the ability to kill by having their shadow fall on a victim and by ascending bell-towers to ring the bells, anyone hearing these bells dying. The best method of destroying a Nachzehrer is to place a coin in its mouth, then beheading it or hammering a steak through its heart. These creatures are usually the products of suicides, accidental death and plague death, but it can also "just happen" to a corpse. They can be identified in their graves by a corpse holding its thumb in its opposite hand with its left eye open.
A form of Scandinavian revenant, these undead beings are typically depicted as animate corpses that have come back from the dead to spread disease and attack the living. These creatures are typically the result of suicides, but can also be created from the murdered or from murderers. Their intentions vary in folklore depending on the era, ranging from creatures who require the assistance of the living to be at rest in their graves, to deadly disease-spreaders that can kill with an illness-inducing pinch. They are featured in Viking myth, and can be dispatched or warded off by carrying the coffin around a church three times, using or wearing crucifixes to ward off the creatures or carving inscriptons in the grave of the dead facing the body.
Another Scandanavian undead creature from Norse Mythology, Daugr are dead Vikings that have come back to life. These creatures attack and feed on the living and are capable of superhuman strength, increasing their physical size and carry the unmistakable stench of decay. They can crush victims using their increased size, eat them or suck their blood. They can also rise from their graves in a whisp of smoke. Animals that feed or linger near the grave of a Draugr eventually go mad. It is said that the only kind of person capable of dispatching these creatures is a hero, one posessed of great courage and moral fiber. They are often physically wrestled back into their graves, or beheaded and burnt to ash depending on the myth. Wealthy Vikings and noblemen who were burried with great treasures guard them jealously, unable to let them go in the afterlife, and will attack any who attempt to claim them.
Vetala are spirits of Hindu mythology that haunt charnel grounds and posess the bodies of the dead. In their mortal vehicles, these spirits harrass the living, driving people mad, killing children and causing misscarages. However, they also guard villages. Not bound by the laws of space and time, they have an awareness of the past, present and future and a deep understanding of human nature. For this reason, they are sought out by sorcerers as slaves. They can be dispatched by reciting holy mantra and performing the funeral rites of the dead.
Jiang Shi (litterally meaning "Stiff Corpse) is a kind of vampire/zombie from Chinese Myth. These creatures are victims of murder, those who have committed suicide or those who simply refuse to enter the afterlife who's souls do not leave their bodies. Their apperance can differ from the recently dead, who look normal, to rotting, moldy corpses (this mold is often described as a white "fur" covering their bodies) and long white hair. They are only capable of traveling by silent hopping, and are capable of leaping great distances. They can be foiled by throwing rice or coins on the ground (they will not pursure their target until they have picked up all the grains of rice or coins, allowing the target to escape) or can be "deactivated" by placing a sacred piece of paper on their foreheads.
Pontianak ( The name “pontianak” is reportedly a corruption of the Bahasa “perempuan mati beranak”, or “she who has died in childbirth”) are Indonesian and Maylay undead that are created when a woman dies in childbirth. These vengeful undead attempt to lure their victims to them with the cries of a baby or by taking the guise of a beautiful human woman, only to frighten or kill their victims. They are said to attack and kill victims by using their sharp claws to tear out the guts of a victim, devouring them to sustain themselves. The most popular way of "dispatching" a pontianak is to push a nail into the back of their neck or the apex of their head, turning them into beautiful women until the nail is removed.
Gashadokuro are a Japanese undead creature, a skeleton fifteen times larger than any normal person, who if it spies a human will grab them and bite their heads off. Gashadokuro are created by the assembled bones of those who have starved to death. The only way to avoid death is to flee before the Gashadokuro has a chance to grab you. Normally, one can hear a ringing in their ears when a Gashadokuro is about to strike.
In Japanese mythology, Izanami was the younger sister and wife of Izanagi. She gave birth to five children, the islands of Japan, and died giving birth to a sixth, which Izanagi killed in rage, creating a number of dieties. In a myth similar to that of Orpheus, Izanagi unable to deal with his grief went into Yomi, the Japanese underworld, to retrieve his beautiful wife, only to discover that she had become a worm-ridden rotted corpse. Terrified, he fled with the now undead goddess chasing him along with eight vicious hags. When Izanagi came to the enterance of Yomi, he sealed it with a boulder. Izanami cursed Izanagi, and threatened that, if she were to ever escape, she would kill a thousand people a day, to which Izanagi furiously replied that he would create 1,500 more.
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