For today's discussion I've decided to delve into the more malign world of the Dark monsters. Bound by superstitions, we often lead our lives avoiding certain 'unlucky' things such as crossing a black cat's path, walking under a ladder, looking into a mirror after midnight in a dark room and so on. While we know that rationally, nothing can happen if we don't follow these rules placed on us by foreboding family members and superstitious friends, many people still continue to pass these rules along even if only inadvertently.

That's what we'll be focusing on today: superstitions and old legends, those things that we believe or fear without necessarily knowing why precisely we have such reactions. We'll travel through the Kitchen of Hell and onto the tower of the dark lord and finish up with a quick note on the absolutely demur demoness, Mind on Air. That's a card that's confounded me for a long while and one I've been asked about many times, so it's a pleasure to reveal its origins to you today.

The REAL Rules Of Knifey Spoony
Looking back at Shadow Specters, there are some unusual monsters in that set. The Malicevorous monsters are what initially come to mind. Plucked from the Yu-Gi-Oh!Zexal animated series, they were used by the villainous Number 96. The name Malicevorous is a portmanteau of malice (intention to do evil) and -vorous (devour),probably referring to the nature of the character that uses them. Interestingly, the trio of fork, spoon and knife are a common piece of interest in numerous folktales and culturally ingrained stories. I know that my family suffers from the superstition of not putting new shoes on the table and never crossing our knife and fork during dinner.

These Little Demons are reminiscent of the hobgoblin, kobold or brownie – fiends and spirits of the hearth and home. The Russian Domovoi also comes to mind, another household spirit that was said to dwell in the kitchen. When they became upset, theDomovoi would act sort of like a poltergeist: they'd move small objects, break dishes and harass household pets. They're said to be similar in appearance to the characters depicted on the Malicevorous cards' art, albeit they had hair, whereas the Maliceverous look to be metallic or coal-like which leads me to believe they may perhaps have something to do with the figure of the hearth. The utensils the Malicevorous employ are everyday eating tools, but they could also be interpreted as tools for the hearth or fireplace as well. These little fiends stoke the fires of hell and malice, as well as packing food into mouths.

There are quite a few traditional folk beliefs that promote cutlery as a means of divination and as lucky charms. These different little superstitions do of course overlap each other depending on the subculture and region, but by breaking it down like this, it might help you in the future the next time your spoon drops to the floor, or if you make the foolish Mistake of giving someone a knife without following the aforementioned rituals.

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Beginning with the spoon which seems to symbolize arrivals of news and people: it's said that if a teaspoon falls to the floor, expect a fool to visit you soon. Alternatively, disappointment is said to follow you after dropping a spoon. Forks are different, seemingly characterized by superstitions of lies and misdirection: it's commonly advised that one should never trust the words someone says when they hand you a fork, or that if a fork falls to the ground, a man will arrive from the direction of the prongs.

The knife, not surprisingly, invites bad luck if not properly handled or respected: it's unlucky to give a knife or a set of knives to someone on their wedding day, as it supposedly severs their marital bond. Instead, knives should be 'bought' by the couple on their wedding day, exchanging a coin in return with the knife-giver. A knife that drops and pierces into the floor foretells the coming of a man from the direction the knife points. And after buying a knife, one is always supposed to cut paper or wood with it first to prevent any bad luck.

So overlaying your Malicevorous Fork and Malicevorous Knife might not be such a good thing sometimes. Although, dropping your Malicevorous Spoon might just be ahindrance to your opponent. A final interesting note about the Malicevorous monsters: if you add up the ATK and DEF of each Malicevorous monster, you get 600 (Malicevorous Spoon), 700 (Malicevorous Knife) and 800 (Malicevorous Fork).

He Died For You And Rose Again...
Vampires range from farce to aristocracy in modern culture; from fable to fame. Their weaknesses and abilities have been changed according to authors' own ideas and stories. I'm sure you're familiar with the story of Bram Stoker's Dracula and the homage inspired by the family of Vlad the Impaler. The word Dracula itself translates as something akin to 'Son of the Dragon'. Such a popular piece, it wouldn't be unusual to see it be turned into a famous video game series now would it?

Castlevania, a Konami franchise, has been lurking in the shadows of Yu-Gi-Oh! for some time now. Some of the monsters have made their way into the game including the infamous and yet never-played Vampire Hunter monster card. This card was introduced as the scourge of the Vampire archetype but interestingly enough, this card singlehandedly defeats one of the biggest threats to the Vampire archetype, Evilswarm Ophion. Sure, the Vampire Hunter has defeated the evils of Lord Dracula and his cohorts, but the Hunter's clearly not afraid to kill off the other monsters that plagued his countryside either.

Crimson Vampire Knight Bram is undoubtably Count Dracula himself, the spectacularly powerful lord of the night. His name, Bram, is a direct reference to The Creator of the Count himself, Bram Stoker, whose story bewildered and terrified the aristocratic and the common class alike since 1897. Like the story, Crimson Vampire Knight Bram dies and arises from the graveyard to seek revenge for his destruction, much akin to the character in the book.

Look beyond his red eyes and notice the shadow of his armor in the background: there's something missing. You can only see the shadow of the armor and his sword but Bram himself is missing from the shadow!? Vampire legend dictates that vampires can't cast a shadow or a reflection in the mirror because they have no soul.

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On that note, Shadow Vampire's a little confounding. If a Vampire doesn't necessarily cast a shadow, what is this monster? Let's take a look at its effect: if Shadow VampireSummons another Vampire monster from the deck, it allows only that monster to attackfor the duration of the turn. Shadow Vampire becomes a sort of shadow, standing silently by the host it's Summoned. In the card art you can see that Vampire Shadow's in fact transparent, and appears to be the lost shell of Crimson Knight Vampire Bram. It seems almost as if the shadow is searching for its host. Of course, depending on the legend,Vampires can be seen in mirrors or can cast a shadow just as some can also sparkle in daylight. Shadow play was used extensively in the Francis Ford Coppola film Bram Stoker's Dracula (an absolute favorite movie of mine). The shadow would act almost as if on Dracula's behalf, to convey his emotions and at one point was solid enough to knock over an ink pot. It was also mentioned that Dracula can move about in daylight, however his powers would be hampered greatly.

The red moon or harvest moon is also a frequent motif that appears in the Vampire cards. Again depending on the lore and story, the power of a vampire can grow or weaken with the wax and wane of the lunar cycle. Blood moons are usually used to symbolize a vampire at their most lethal and active, whereas a new moon is a vampire's night of renewal and vulnerability. Again, these specifics can vary depending on the lore, and seeing as how vampires don't actually exist, it's left up to the interpreter's discretion.

More Like 'High On Oxygen'
Mind on Air, the monster whose effect allows you to always see your opponent's hand at all times, does just as its name suggests: it literally airs your opponent's hand to you. Air is to be perceived in this case as meaning 'to broadcast' or 'to be made public', as she struggles with the cables around her body. A single red eye in the center of a brain case and a stitched together corpse… I'm kinda surprised this card went unedited. That's the only special thing about Mind on Air, really: its name, the studio background it seems to live in, and how it got through the Konami censors.

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Our journey ends here for this month, but in just a few weeks the World Championship Qualifiers are upon us! I'll be attending the North American WCQ, so make sure to come up and wish me a Happy Birthday as I turn 23 (again). Join me next month and see what horrors and haunts I'll have in store for you!

-Franco Ferrara