The Kalona Ayeliski or "raven mocker" is a powerful figure of unholiness within Cherokee legends. Described as an evil spirit, it is feared by all, including other spirits and witches. The raven mocker's purpose is to torture and torment a dying person, to quicken the process of death. Once dead, the raven mocker attempts to consume the person's heart to bolster their own life-force. For each year that the dying person would have lived, the raven mocker adds to its own.
The physical appearance of the raven mocker is twofold. In one setting, when they are grounded and are attacking the dying person, they resemble very old and frail beings. This is due to the fact that they have absorbed so many lives of previous victims. In another setting, when they travel to the dying person, they resemble evil and demonic ravens.
At nightfall, when a person is known to be dying, the raven mocker will transform. Taking on the appearance of a true raven, the raven mocker morphs, spreading devilish wings that black out the sky, and taking on a terrible visage as it glides carelessly through the air, shrieking and wailing to announce its presence. Part of the fear as well as the meaning of the name behind this evil spirit comes from the fact that the raven mocker will literally mock the sounds of a raven, not only as it flies above the dying person, but up until it enters their room.
Once in the room of the dying person, other witches and evil spirits will flock to the scene to help the raven mocker snuff out the victim. The raven mocker and other evil spirits are invisible, so as they commence torture, the dying person only appears to those around them to be choking and gasping for air, when they are really breathing their last. In a hierarchal ladder of evil spirits, the raven mocker is definitely highly ranked. Similar to how a larger predator will dominate a hunting ground or kill, other spirits attempting to kill a dying man for themselves will flee an area if they hear the raven mocker's cry of ownership.
In defense against the raven mocker, family and friends of dying people can hire very skilled medicine men to keep watch. The medicine man will serve two purposes: one, to watch over the person dying until they get better (the raven mocker cannot enter when the medicine man has properly warded the building), and two, to watch over the dying person until they die naturally, and then to watch over the corpse to ensure proper burial (this prevents the raven mocker from eating the heart). In some legends, it is reported that the raven mocker will die within seven days of being spotted by a medicine man, while others report that it is the medicine man's wards and special armaments that can kill the spirit. There is also tale of a famous hunter of raven mockers, Gskli'sk, who killed many of the evil spirits.
Overall, the raven mocker is not only a fascinating, but terrifying Cherokee legend.