Z Is For: Zombie

Zombie

Name: Zombie

Origin: Numerous

Type: Living Dead / Undead

Story:

Zombies have various stories behind them. One well known one is African shamans poisoning worshipers creating a death-like state. The shaman would then remove them from the grave and revive them, keeping the subject in a trance in order to force the person to do the shaman’s bidding. Then you have your more Hollywood Zombies. The first method is through “Hell being too full” and then the “Dead shall inherit the earth” type of thing. Basically an apocalypse where the dead rise to devour the living. Next is the more popular and “realistic” version. In this method a virus, like rabies, mutates into a stronger human-specific strain through natural chance or as a product of genetic engineering. Either way the virus is released into the general populous and slowly infects most of the world turning the living into mindless rotting beings that seek to devour flesh. In this scenario there is no dead rising from the grave.

Y Is For: Yamata No Orochi

Name: Yamata No Orochi / Serpent Of Izumo / Dragon Of Izumo

Origin: Japan (Shinto)

Type: Dragon / Serpent

Story:

Yamata no Orochi was vast serpentine dragon the size of eight hills and eight valleys, possessing eight heads and eight tails. The Orochi resided in the Izumo province, terrorizing the country side and demanding a sacrifice of the ruling family. They were required to sacrifice one of their daughters per year to keep themselves from destruction. Upon the eighth year the husband and wife found themselves weeping by a river with their very last daughter, knowing what was soon to come. However, the god of storms, Susanoo, appeared. He had been exiled from the heavenly plain for playing a trick upon his sister Amaterasu, the Sun goddess and ruler of all beings.

Susanoo took a liking to the daughter, Kushinada-hime, and asked her to marry him. Upon acceptance her turned her into a comb and placed her in his hair so that she would be safe. He then instructed the family to make a batch of Sake that was purified eight times and place it into eight giant vats, before which were eight gates. When the massive beast appeared and began to search for the final daughter it came upon the Sake and stuck its eight heads through each of the gates and drank its fill. Becoming drunk, Yamata no Orochi was greatly weakened. Susanoo wielding the sword Totsuka No Tsurugi (a very powerful blade belonging to his father, Izanagi, the creator of Japan) struck down each of the heads and eventually killed Yamata No Orochi.

Within the core of the corpse, Susanoo found the noble sword Ama-no-Murakumo-no-Tsurugi (known now as Kusanagi No Tsurugi). Taking the sword, Susanoo headed back to the heavenly plains and presented it as a gift to Amaterasu so that she would forgive him. Kusanagi No Tsurugi would eventually be known as one of the three Imperial Regalia of Japan. Today all three of these items are in the possession of the Japanese Emperor, the other two being the magical mirror Yata no Kagami and the jewel Yasakani no Magatama.

X Is For: Xanthos

Xanthos

Name: Xanthos / Xanthus

Origin: Greece

Type: Mythical Beast

Story:

Xanthos and his brother Balios were the horses who pulled Poseidon’s chariot. Their mother was Podarge, a harpy. Xanthos and Balios were said to be immortal, and were given to the king who would eventually come to be the father of Achilles. Achilles’s brother ended up dying and he blamed Xanthos for not saving him, as the horses now belonged to Achilles and were supposed to aid him. In turn the horse told Achilles that he too would die some day, by the will of the gods. Xanthos foretelling came true when Apollo guided the arrow that struck Achilles in the heel. To stop Xanthos from telling of any more future events the Erinyes turned the horse incompetent. The Erinyes were goddesses of Hades that punished those that violated the natural order of the world.

W Is For: Wyvern

Wyvern

Name: Wyvern

Origin: Europe

Type: Dragon / Serpent

Story:

Wyvern are a mix of both Serpent and Dragon. They posses the draconian face, and serpentine body, with wings like that of a bat. They are sometimes depicted as having two hind claws to stand upon. They are closely related to the usual four-legged dragons of Europe. Wyvern’s tails are barbed, and these creatures do not have the ability to breathe fire. They are also smaller than their more traditional Dragon counterparts. Wyverns are also not as intelligent as Dragons, and also more clumsy. They do, however, have the same levels of strength and are said to spew poison in place of fire and have poison stored in their barbed tails. Wyvern’s are also always never of good intentions, unlike Dragons who can swing either way.

V Is For: Vishap

Vishap

Name: Vishap

Origin: Armenia

Type: Dragon

Story:

The Vishap were said to live among the mountains, clouds, trees and even under lakes. These dragons also possessed manes and poisonous blood. It was so potent that if a weapon were to cut a Vishap, its blade would fatally poisonous to all it cut in turn. Other abilities included shape-shifting and control over the weather, such as rage induced thunderstorms. The story of Suren involves Vishap.

U Is For: Umibōzu

Umibozu

Name: Umibōzu

Origin: Japan

Type: Water Spirit / Demon (Yokai)

Story:

These creatures are ocean dwellers, said to be the cause of many shipwrecks. All it takes is for someone to speak to the spirit for it to destroy the ship. The shape of the head is round and they are often found praying, and thus the Umibōzu are thought to be the spirits of drowned monks. Some legends state that Umibōzu are massive demons with tentacles and a “cloud-like” midsection. One legend states that the being will ask for a barrel and once given it, the Umibōzu will fill it with water to drown everyone on board. The method of avoiding this is a barrel without a bottom.

T Is For: Troll

Troll

Name: Troll

Origin: Scandinavia (Norse)

Type: Giant

Story:

Similar to the English Ogre, Trolls were usually depicted as large humanoid creatures who resided in caves and forests. They were normally quite strong, and sometimes weakened or turned to stone by the sun. Other legends state they were very similar to humans except that they lived out away from society, yet keeping order among themselves. Trolls are also said to fear lighting, which is related to the god Thor. Thor often found himself fighting various giants giving him a reputation. Another myth involving trolls turning to stone, is that the stones weren’t really trolls. It is believed the stones could of been remnants of a game trolls used to play, involving throwing incredibly heavy boulders. These boulders often destroyed churches.

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