My novella – Dark Avenging Angel – is, as its title suggests, concerned with revenge. In this case, revenge of the most demonic kind. We’ve all heard the old adage, “Be careful what you wish for…” Jane learns the truth of this in graphic ways.
Avenging angels and demons abound in the traditions and folklore of people all over the world. A particularly gruesome-looking one originates from southeast Asia.
The Krasue (also known as Ahp in Cambodia and Kasu in Laos) manifests as a young woman with a beautiful face. Unfortunately that is all that is beautiful about her because her internal organs trail down from her neck. In short, she lacks a tangible body. Perhaps, unsurprisingly, she chooses to wander around at night.
She emits a luminescent glow, although that may be down to her preferred habitat. She is seen in marshy areas, where methane is known to emit an eerie shimmering mist, so beloved of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and put to good effect in The Hound of the Baskervilles.
The Krasue does not necessarily wander alone, as, in Thai folklore, she is often said to inhabit the same areas as Krahang – a male spirit.
You will certainly recognise Krasue when you see her. She floats above ground, her heart, stomach and other internal organs (these vary depending the account you read), trail from lengths of intestines attached to her throat or, in some accounts, complete neck. Sometimes these organs appear freshly bloodied as well as glowing. In some more modern versions of the legend, her teeth are fangs.
So where does this spirit come from and what is her purpose in eternally wandering the night? A Thai version of the story asserts that she was a Khmer princess who was burned to death for her treachery in daring to fall in love with a man of low degree. She had been promised in marriage to a Siamese nobleman following the defeat of her people in war, but she ran off with her lover rather than face marriage to a man she hated.
The pair were caught and the cuckolded husband-to-be sentenced her to death by burning. The princess persuaded a Khmer sorceress to cast a spell over her body so that it should remain unharmed by the flames. Sadly, the spell was only partially successful as it arrived too late to prevent the rest of her body from being consumed by fire. From then on, the unburned remains were doomed to live on as the Krasue ghost.
Another version of this story has it that this ghost was originally a wealthy lady who was fearful of her neck becoming sunburned. She would tie a length of black gauze around it. But an evil spirit took over and cursed her to become a Krasue. She lost all her external body below the neck. Could this have been a punishment for her vanity?
The Krasue may also have been an apprentice witch who botched up a spell and lost most of her body in the process.
Dire warnings exist. If you are a woman and commit murder or have an abortion, you are apt to become a Krasue. And if you practice any form of witchcraft, or are seen as a bit odd or eccentric, you are doomed to ultimately transform into one.
Krasue have voracious appetites. They hunt at night for blood or raw flesh. They attack cattle and chickens, and if fresh meat isn’t available, they may eat carrion. Villagers do not leave clothes out at night to dry as in the morning they may find the local Krasue has used them to wipe her bloody, gory mouth.
They also hover around the houses of pregnant women, crying out to scare the woman about to give birth. Krasue have long, proboscis-like tongues which they use to penetrate the womb and cause terrible diseases in the unborn fetus or the woman herself. They may even extract the unborn child and eat it. To prevent such attacks, many families arrange thorny branches around their houses. This seems to deter the creatures from crossing the threshold. Needless to say careful disposal of the placenta after delivery is vital and relatives will take it far away for safe, deep burial.
In versions of the story where the body of the Krasue has been separated from its head but still exists, the spirit must rejoin its own body before daybreak and live the rest of the day as an apparently normal person (albeit a very sleepy one). It hides this precious body very carefully, but if it should be found and destroyed, the head will be unable to rejoin it and will die in hideous pain. It can also be killed if its intestines are chopped off or if the body is simply hidden and it cannot find it.
The Krasue then has similar vulnerabilities to traditional vampires – and similar nocturnal habits. Interesting how similar strands of folk tradition can crop up independently all over the world.
Don’t hurt Jane. You may live to regret it.
Bullied by her abusive father, Jane always felt different. Then the lonely child found a friend in a mysterious dark lady who offers her protection—a lady she calls her “angel”. But that protection carries a terrible price, one to be paid with the souls of those Jane chooses to suffer a hideous and eternal fate.
When Jane refuses to name another victim, the angel reveals her most terrifying side. Payment must be made in full—one way or the other.
You can find Dark Avenging Angel here:
Other books by Catherine Cavendish include:
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About the author:
Catherine Cavendish lives with a long-suffering husband and ‘trainee’ black cat in North Wales. Her home is in a building dating back to the mid-18th century, which is haunted by a friendly ghost, who announces her presence by footsteps, switching lights on and strange phenomena involving the washing machine and the TV. Cat has written a number of published horror novellas, short stories, and novels, frequently reflecting her twin loves of history and horror and often containing more than a dash of the dark and Gothic. When not slaving over a hot computer, she enjoys wandering around Neolithic stone circles and visiting old haunted houses.
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