The baykok (or pau'guk, paguk, baguck; bakaak in the Ojibwe language and pakàk in the Algonquin language) is a malevolent spirit from the mythology of the Ojibway nation.
The Baykok is one of the Undead, a spirit that exists beyond the grave through the sheer force of its supernatural will.
The word bakaak in the Anishinaabe language means "skeleton" in the sense of "bones draped in skin" rather than "bare-bones", such that it lends itself to words like bakaakadozo, meaning "to be thin/skinny/poor", and bakaakadwengwe, meaning "to have a lean/thin face". The name Bakaak occasionally appears as Bekaak (reflected in English as "Baykok"), which may be a shortening of bekaakadwaabewizid, meaning "an extremely thin being". Also pau'guk, paguk, baguck; bakaak in the Ojibwe language and pakàk in the Algonquin language)
The Baykok appears as a skeletal being, covered in a translucent layer of desiccated skin, as well as having a horrifying skull-like countenance. The creature’s eyes usually glow an unholy red, although some legends have claimed that the revenant’s eye sockets are empty black pits, soulless and wholly evil. The cries of Baykok are also described as being shrill.
The Baykok only preys upon warriors, but does so ruthlessly, using invisible arrows or beating its prey to death with a club. The Baykok, after paralyzing or killing its prey, then devours the liver of its victim.
The Baykok is a hunter, stalking and killing human prey without a hint of guilt or remorse. However, this ghoulish creature never appears to more than one individual at a time, and only preys upon hunters and warriors. The Baykok prefers to hunt at night, moving silently through the brush and the darkness in search of lone individuals.
It is said that the only way to sense an impending attack is by hearing the popping and creaking sounds made by the creature’s bones, and even sensing the threat is no guarantee of survival. Although the Baykok occasionally uses a heavy war club to bludgeon its victims to death, the creature prefers a bow that fires invisible arrows, which are tipped with a poison that induces a deep, dreamless sleep in those hit by the arrows. In this state (which lasts several hours), the unfortunate victim cannot feel any pain. All the better for the Baykok, as it can now feast…
Before it eats, the Baykok unsheathes a small silver knife, and slices open the victim’s abdomen. The revenant then thrusts in its bony hand, removes the liver, and greedily consumes the organ. After dining, the Baykok shoves a rock into the empty cavity, and finishes by sewing the wound shut with a magic thread that heals any and all superficial signs of the incision.
The unsuspecting victim then wakes up the next morning in the middle of the woods, most often with no recollection of their encounter with the ghoulish Baykok. Surprisingly, the unfortunate individual often lives for days or even weeks without any adverse side effects, despite having unknowingly lost a vital organ. Then the victim suddenly becomes violently sick, inevitably wasting away and dying. There are no exceptions.
Fortunately, the Baykok never willingly approaches a human civilization, as the creature itself is extremely reluctant to leave the safety of the forest. The Baykok knows its forest domain better than a seasoned woodsman, using this knowledge to set ambushes, to track prey without being detected in turn, and to escape those that may be hunting it.
The Baykok inhabits the forest territories of the Great Lakes, especially if these places were once inhabited by the Chippewa.
Although a skeleton, the Baykok retains the same degree of strength as it possessed during its lifetime, probably through mystical means. The creature is far more agile and much quicker than it was in lifer, being free of the limitations of heavy muscle and flesh. To make matters worse, the Baykok is impervious to most weapons and attacks (including blades or firearms). In addition, the Baykok is highly proficient with the bow and arrow, and is skilled in the use of its war club.
One of the most horrifying aspects of the Baykok is that the creature has no known weaknesses. Holy water, religious icons, and perhaps even blessed weapons have no effect on this revenant. However, like most of the corporeal Undead, the Baykok may have some sort of susceptibility to fire. And, since this revenant is little more than a dried-up skeleton, some sort of bludgeoning attack is advisable if a fight is unavoidable (use the creature’s own war club for this, if necessary).
Since the Baykok is clinically dead, one cannot actually kill the creature. However, despite what the legends say, there may be a way to destroy it. It may be necessary to hunt down the Baykok to its lair deep in the forest, confront it, and break its brittle bones to splinters with a heavy bludgeon (a mace works best). Then, the remains should be gathered up and placed in a pile of dry wood, and then thoroughly soaked in gasoline or lighter fluid. Then, a lit match should be thrown onto the pile, igniting it. The fire should be constantly fed until nothing remains of the Baykok except for ashes. If luck holds out, this should permanently destroy the creature and prevent it from ever rising again. However, be aware that this is only a theory, and has never actually been tested.
The Baykok is one of the Undead, again a being that has died but maintains a semblance of life by drawing sustenance from the living. This ghoul originates from Chippewa myths and legends, although this harbinger of doom has been encountered by the Ojibwa and Algonquin Indians as well. Among these people, the Baykok is an unstoppable killer, stalking and murdering people without a trace of remorse.
The Baykok’s origins aren’t completely understood, even to this day. However, some evidence suggests that the Baykok may once have been a proud hunter and a fearless warrior. One day, he was out hunting, but his quarry led him far, far off the game trail. Eventually, not only did he lose his prey, but he became hopelessly lost as well. Several days later, on the verge of death from starvation and angry at being deprived of the privilege to fully enjoy his life and the glory that he felt he was due to be given, the hunter swore that his lifeforce would never leave his remains. Sometime after his body had decomposed, he was roused from his eternal sleep by hunters. Angered and vengeful, the hunter arose from his unmarked grave as the Baykok, craving the flesh of man.
Thus the Baykok came to be, and legend says that the creature still roams the forests, always hunting for its next victim…
In traditional culture
The Baykok is a character from the Anishinaabe aadizookaan, which is said to fly though the forests of the Great Lakes region. The cries of Baykok are also described as being shrill. Described as "Death" in The Song of Hiawatha, it is said to appear as an extremely emaciated skeleton-like figure, with thin translucent skin and glowing red points for eyes. The Baykok only preys upon warriors, but does so ruthlessly, using invisible arrows or beating its prey to death with a club. The Baykok, after paralyzing or killing its prey, then devours the liver of its victim.
The word bakaak in the Anishinaabe language means "skeleton" in the sense of "bones draped in skin" rather than "bare-bones", such that it lends itself to words like bakaakadozo, meaning "to be thin/skinny/poor", and bakaakadwengwe, meaning "to have a lean/thin face". The name Bakaak occasionally appears as Bekaak (reflected in English as "Baykok"), which may be a shortening of bekaakadwaabewizid, meaning "an extremely thin being".
In telling of the aadizookaan, the description of Bakaak's shrill cries (bagakwewewin, literally meaning "clear/distinct cries") is a pun of its name. The method the Bakaak uses to subdue its victim is another pun of its name; the word for "to beat using a club" is baagaakwaa'ige. A similar construct is found in the name for the basketry splints called baagaako'igan, prepared by pounding black ash. Yet another pun on the name is the way the Bakaak "flings its victim's chest open" (baakaakwaakiganezh) to devour the victim's liver.