According to Slavic lore, there is a vampiric water spirit known as a vodyanik, the male counterpart to the RUSALKA. Its name translates to mean “water grandfather,” which is fitting when one considers its appearance. It looks like an old man with a long, GREEN beard and red, round belly and cheeks. Atop its bald head the vodyanik wears a tall and pointed hat it has made of woven reeds and about its waist is a belt made from rushes. All other clothing it may wear is always GREEN.
Vodyanik are, like many fay tend to be, oddly territorial and occasionally unpredictable. For instance, the vodyanik is perfectly fine with people using the water it lives in for bathing, as long as they do not do so during the midnight and noon hours. Should it discover that someone has broken this rule, it will pull him under and drown him, draining the blood from his lifeless corpse. It has been known to help fishermen by assuming the shape of a trout or salmon and driving schools of fish into their nets. Vodyanik will also warn fishermen of approaching storms.
Whenever the mood occurs or the notion strikes, the vodyanik will shape-shift into the form of a handsome young man (who, no matter the circumstance, will be wet all over his left side) in order to attract the attention of a lovely young woman. It may even adopt the guise of someone she knows and trusts in order to trick her. Once it has her near or in the water, it will pull her under and drown her, feeding off her blood as she dies.
As long as the vodyanik remains in the water,it is virtually all-powerful, but as soon as it leaves, its powers and abilities are greatly diminished. Despite this, the vodyanik can often be found sitting on a river rock, preferably one near a mill, combing out its long, GREEN beard. Every night the vodyanik must leave the river anyway, as it drives its herds of sea-cows and sea-sheep onto land so they may graze.
A vodyanik will take a new bride every so often, choosing its newest mate from those girls who drowned or have in some way been disinherited by their fathers. Whenever one of its wives goes into labor, the vodyanik will leave its home and enter into town seeking the services of a midwife. It will overpay her in gold to see to it that she does a good job. The fairy children that are born are tall with pale skin and have the most beautiful singing voices. They will often sit in the branches of trees and sing.
- Alexander, Mythology of All Races, 271;
- Cotterell, Macmillan Illustrated Encyclopedia, 247;
- Mercatante, Good and Evil, 96