Thursday, August 14, 2014

The Ahkiyyinni

In the frigid wastelands of the Arctic, only the strongest may survive the harsh climate found in that dreadful place. Here, food is scarce and the dangers many. For thousands of years, the Inuit (more commonly known as Eskimos) have dwelt here and somehow managed to live off of this unforgiving and dangerous land. Not only have they survived here, they have thrived. But like the vast majority of Native American tribes, the Inuit fear the horrors of the night and tell frightening tales of monsters, demons, evil spirits, giants, and even things from beyond the reaches of the grave. One of the most feared of these creatures is a vengeful revenant known as the Ahkiyyinni, and it will kill any living being who has the misfortune of crossing its path.

According to Inuit legend, the Ahkiyyinni appears as decaying human corpse. Strands of rotting flesh hang from the creature’s face and body. The creature is described as having a skull-like countenance, with black pits standing where the monster’s eyes used to be. His body is skeletal and covered in desiccated flesh, and its ribs protrude from its sunken chest. Furthermore, the Ahkiyyinni is able to manipulate water through magical means, and this makes the revenant even more dangerous. This the creature does through its dancing, which channels supernatural energies from the creature into the earth and causes the rivers to rise and flood the surrounding land. Anyone caught in these supernatural tides will quickly be pulled under, where they will die an agonizing death by drowning. Even those who think themselves safely ashore are likely to be swept into the waters by the violent waves.

It is said that the Ahkiyyinni was once a handsome and athletic young Inuit hunter who lived on the frozen shores of a river with his tribe. However, the man had one all-consuming passion: dancing. It is said that the beauty and power of his dancing had made him known far and wide in what is now Alaska and the northern parts of Canada. Then one day, tragedy struck. Ahkiyyinni died (it is has not been revealed as to how he died), and he was buried on the top of a hill that overlooked the nearby river where his tribe had made their home. He was interred with much ceremony, and his people mourned the dancing brave's death greatly. Ahkiyyinni rested peacefully within the confines of his grave for years as his people went on with their lives, no longer mourning but never forgetting the young man, either. For now, the dancing brave was at peace...

Many years passed before Ahkiyyinni's rest was disturbed by the ignorance of foolish humans. One day, a boat filled with young men floated past his grave. Remembering the young man who rested there, they made a number of jokes about the dead man's inability to dance within the tight confines of his grave. Unfortunately for the young men, the now-decomposed corpse heard their cruel jests and seethed with anger. Ahkiyyinni then furiously clawed his way out of his grave, and once he had reached the surface, he began to dance feverishly. In the depths of his passion, he ripped one of his own shoulder blades and began to beat on it like a drum. The men saw the reanimated corpse and screamed with horror as Ahkiyyinni cackled maniacally. As the creature danced, magic began coursing through the revenant's limbs and brought chaos to the land around him. The earth began to shake with his footsteps, and the beating of his drum caused the waters of the river to rise. The young men profusely apologized and begged for their lives to be spared, but Ahkiyyinni would hear nothing of it. He flashed them a wicked grin, and danced even more savagely. The rising waters began thrashing about in response to the creature's rhythmic dancing. Eventually, the boat overturned itself, and the young men drowned.

Thus was the dreaded Ahkiyyinni born. Reveling in his new-found powers, the creature found itself very hesitant to return to the confines of its grave. Thus, it set out to find out what had changed during the many years he had been dead. But much to his dismay, the Ahkiyyinni found that it could not venture far from the water’s edge without feeling the pull of the grave and being compelled to return to the earth. Driven insane as a result, Ahkiyyinni vowed to kill any human who crossed his path. It is said that this creature still roams the shores of the many freezing rivers, lakes, and streams that flow throughout Alaska and northern Canada, still wanting to create unbearable misery for humans. Because he so enjoyed his life, his jealousy in death drives him to kill any living being in order to alleviate his envy.
None of the legends mention any way to drive away or to otherwise destroy the Ahkiyyinni. Since the revenant can manipulate water, fire is unlikely to be an effective weapon. If the Ahkiyyinni is encountered, one should seek out solid, dry land as quickly as possible. The only way to possibly convince this creature to spare one’s life is to passionately praise the vigor and beauty of its dancing. These compliments must be made with the utmost sincerity and respect, and only then may the Ahkiyyinni allow its victim to live. But remember this: when the Inuit brave arose from his grave, it is likely that all human sentiments and emotional ties to humanity disappeared. So don’t expect any mercy from this creature. If it cannot be persuaded to be merciful or if one cannot escape its clutches, the best that one can do is offer up a prayer to God and be ready to die a wet, freezing death at the bottom of an Arctic river.
As far as one can say, no modern reports of encounters with the Ahkiyyinni have been spoken of in recent years. That doesn’t mean that the creature isn’t still around, prowling the frigid wastes in search of people to vent its rage on. The Inuit are a relatively isolated people, and with a few exceptions (like modern tools and weapons), little has changed in the last few hundred years. Old superstitions and beliefs in the powers of evil die hard. Perhaps that means that the Ahkiyyinni is still out there, still prowling the frozen rivers, lakes, and streams in search of human victims to murder and drown…
Blackman, W. Haden. The Field Guide to North American Monsters: Everything You Need To Know About Encountering Over 100 Terrifying Creatures In The Wild. New York: Three Rivers Press. Copyright ©1998 by W. Haden Blackman.

Ahkiyyinni (Cryptic Catalyst)