The Nachtkrapp is a german version of the bogeyman or in a more general term a kind of bugbear. Nacht is the german word for night and Krapp is used in southern germany and austria as a word for raven. There are many different versions of this tale. Most of the time it was used to make children go to bed by stating that the night raven will abduct them when they are outside past their bedtime.
But I am especially interested in a norse version of the night raven, for which I am trying to think of ways to explain how they could evolve naturally:
- the night raven is hunting for prey at night
- it doesn't have eyes and if one were to look at the empty eye-sockets he would die
- it has holes in its wings that cause illness and disease when someone looks at them
- the prey can be up to the size of a little human child which it will be, according to the Wikipedia article,
messily devour [...], first ripping off their limbs and then picking out their heart
According to the german wikipedia article Krapp can also be used as a general term for birds belonging to the raven family, or Corvidae, but it might also just refer to the raven black color, similar to the word Rappe, which is a black horse. The night raven might also refer to other birds, such as owls or night herons.
I was trying to think of ways to realistically create such a creature in my world. The criteria are listed above and I am trying to come as close to it as possible. This means that for example the part about messily devouring children and ripping off their limbs can safely be ignored for normal sized ravens or owls. The legend sometimes states that the raven is indeed a giant raven, but I want to avoid discussions about the Square-Cube-Law, so we will go without something roughly the size of a normal raven.
I was thinking about basing it off the Medusa and going with a similar approach to this great answer, but in the case of the Medusa answer the hair is spitting a venom at the prey, which leads to a slow death instead of looking in the eyes of the creature. Turning into stone also doesn't seem to fit the traditional idea of a general harbinger of death and disease. To make sure that this question is not viewed as a duplicate to the linked question I will postulate the following that I am trying to achieve in addition to the criteria listed above:
- the death cannot be based on turning the prey to stone
- the creature cannot have other creatures in place of the holes and empty eye-sockets that would assist in killing the prey
- looking into the eye-sockets should be deadly for the prey
- looking at the holes in the wings should only cause an illness or disease; nothing necessarily deadly
How close can I realistically get to my harbinger of death, the Nachtkrapp?
A list of all the questions from the series Anatomically Correct can be found here.