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Jilocasin

In Gascony, during the reign of King Charlemagne (742 – 814), there was a dragon named Jilocasin. He enjoyed mingling with humans and often assumed the guise of a troubadour in order to entertain the nobility with poetry and song. One day as he traveled through a forest, Jilocasin heard a woman calling out for help. He rushed to the site found a young lady being accosted by bandits.

A dragon as powerful as Jilocasin had no trouble dealing with such ruffians. However, the lady had swooned and did not see her rescuer in his true form. The kindly dragon carried her back to his castle and resumed his human appearance to tend to her. In doing so, he was startled to discover a tiny baby was wrapped inside the lady’s robes.

When she recovered, the young lady explained why she had been alone in the forest. It seemed she was recently widowed, and in order to maintain control of her wealth, her family had forced her to marry a cousin. They hadn’t even observed the traditional year of mourning. Her second husband was a repulsive person who cared only for her fortune. Soon she discovered that she was with child by her first husband. Her cousin would not permit anyone to rival his claim and demanded that her child be killed immediately after birth.

Somehow, the lady managed to escape into the woods with her child. The desperate widow begged for the (as she believed human) lord of the castle to protect her from her vicious husband. Jilocasin immediately agreed, and made provisions for widow and child to live in his castle.

By the time three years had passed, the two had become very close. In fact, Jilocasin loved her so dearly that he revealed his true identity as a dragon. The widow, in turn, loved Jilocasin so completely that she accepted his nature without complaint. Although they could not marry, they lived together as if they were husband and wife. Soon enough, she became pregnant again.

Alas, the lady died in childbirth, but Jilocasin raised both of her sons as brothers. Though neither became a dragon, they were fine and valiant knights who fought to avenge their dear mother. When the time was right, they attacked and seized the castle of their mother’s second husband. The elder son assumed ownership of his rightful heritage, while Jilocasin’s son ruled his own domain as a peaceful neighbor. Jilocasin helped and advised them until the end of their days.


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In honor of Valentine’s Day, here is a legend of draconic love.

One of the greatest Medieval rulers was Eleanor of Aquitaine (1122 – 1204) who reigned over both England and France. Her court held an annual Tournament of Poetry to celebrate the arts.

According to the story, one year this contest was won by a previously unknown young troubadour who refused to disclose his identity even to Queen Eleanor herself. He was as kind as he was handsome, traits that won him many hearts. One of these belonged to  Griselda,  the lovely young daughter of the Lord of Foix. Although shy, Griselda gathered enough courage to declare her feelings for the Troubadour. Her pleas touched the young man’s heart, and he agreed to marry her and take her to his home — but on two conditions. Griselda could never see him except at the times of his choosing and she must promise never to try and find out his true identity.

Personally, I think this should have set off a few alarm bells, but Griselda was deeply in love. She promised to do as her beloved said, and so the marriage was celebrated in secret. Griselda fell asleep in her husband’s arms that night. The following day, she awoke in an unfamiliar chamber. It was luxurious as Eleanor’s own palace, with silken tapestries and gilded furnishings set with precious stones. Beside her, her beloved husband smiled at her surprise.

“This place is my home,” the Troubadour said. “You are my lady, and all that I have is yours. Only remember your promise to me.”

“All that I need is your love,” Griselda replied.

For many months, the two lived happily. Griselda ordered the household, and all the servants obeyed her. She could ride for pleasure and hunt with the hawks. Handmaidens dressed her in finery. Music and dancing filled the nights. As for her husband, he remained kind and attentive. If she needed anything, he would immediately provide it.

Only, at certain times, the Troubadour would go into a locked room. True to her word, Griselda did not ask him what went on there. He was never away for long. Griselda believed she lived in paradise.

But alas, on one fateful day, the Troubadour went into his private chamber and forgot to lock the door. Discovering this, Griselda could not restrain her curiosity. She crept up to the door and eased it open just a crack.

Inside, to her horror, she saw her husband transform into a huge dragon with glittering golden scales and mighty wings. Griselda could not hold back a cry of shock. The dragon turned and saw her there. Griselda was terrified. Surely such a dreadful creature would kill her for disobeying!

Yet the dragon prince showed only grief at this betrayal. He ordered his servants to take her away. Before she knew it, Griselda found herself back at Queen Eleanor’s court. She never saw her husband again. Years went by but she never remarried. Only her closest friends knew of her tragic romance with a dragon in human form.


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RadCon 2018

This coming weekend, I’ll be at RadCon Science Fiction Convention in Pasco, WA. This con is an old favorite of ours that we regularly attend, and I’m really looking forward to going again. Here’s my schedule of panels and talks during the weekend.

Friday, 3:15 pm — (Re)Tired Genres? Noire, vampires, zombies… What are some of the tired genres? Ones you think should be retired, and why they haven’t been.

Saturday, 11:00 am — Book Table. I’ll be in the dealer’s room, persuading anyone who comes near to buy one of my books.

Saturday, 3:15 pm — Reading. I’ll be reading from my books and greeting fans.

Saturday, 4:30 pm — Writers Answer Questions. Writers answer the questions you always wanted to ask.

Sunday, 10:15 — Reading Education for Writers. This is the panel I’m working hardest to prepare. Using my experience as an educator and children’s writer, I’ll discuss how Common Core has changed reading education and what opportunities this creates for writers.


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Heath Dragons

Unlike the mysterious heath-dragons of legend, these heath dragons are actual, living creatures. Heath dragons are a group of lizards native to Australia. They are members of the Agamid family, close cousins of iguanas.

The natural habitat for heath dragons is open forest, sandy scrub and, yes, heath lands. They mostly prey upon larger insects, such as grasshoppers and crickets. Most of them are patterned with gray, brown and tan as camouflage. They mostly prey upon larger insects, such as grasshoppers and crickets.

These lizards are small, about 21 cm/8 in, and have a wary nature. They prefer to stay under cover of rocks or hide beneath fallen leaves. Sometimes they will bury themselves in sand. It’s thought they do this to help regulate their temperature in Australia’s summer heat.

Heath dragons can be taken as pets and seem to adapt well to human keeping. They are not the most famous pet lizards, though, so this trade doesn’t seem to effect their long term prospects. No species of heath dragons are currently listed as threatened or endangered.


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Heath-Dragons

Last time, I mentioned the Lagarfljot Worm, a lake-dwelling cryptid believed to exist in Iceland. According to the story, the creature was a heath-dragon or lingworm kept as a treasure guardian, but it was thrown into the lake when it grew too large to control. I’ve heard of lindworms, two-legged and wingless dragons of Germanic myth, and the lingworm doesn’t sound too different.

However, the story made me wonder what a heath-dragon might be, legendarily speaking. Just when you thought the Internet could tell you absolutely anything… I can’t find them. So I’m left to speculate.

Let’s see… Obviously, heath-dragons must live on the heath. Heath is any area of open land with poor soil, so it is left uncultivated. Bushes like heather are the main vegetation. You won’t find a lot of cover on the heath, nor large animals for prey. So while many great dragons are found in magnificent mountains or darksome forests, heath-dragons might be creatures on a lesser scale. Small enough to conceal themselves among the heather, they could be ambush hunters preying on rabbits, stray sheep, and the occasional unwary traveler.

Or, perhaps heath-dragons represent a younger stage in draconic life. Only when they grow older and more powerful can they claim those magnificent mountains and darksome forests.

Well, friends, can you help me out? I’d love it if you can suggest any legends and tales about heath-dragons!


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The Lagarfljot Worm

Deep beneath the murky waters of Lake Lagarfljot, Iceland, a monster dwells! This vicious serpent was bound at the bottom of the lake centuries ago. It may not have a cute nickname, like Nessie, but rumors and sightings have persisted from at least 1345 into modern times.

According to the legend, a young lady who lived in the town of Egilsstadir was given a golden ring. She asked her mother the best way to grow this fortune, and the mother told her to place it beneath a lingworm, or heath-dragon. She went out and caught a very small lingworm, and shut it up in her chest of drawers with the ring.

Within a few days, the lingworm grew so large that it shattered the chest. The terrified young lady grabbed the heath-dragon and threw it into Lagarfljot, gold ring and all. Alas, this wasn’t the end of the beast. It continued growing both in size and spite. No one near the lake was safe as the creature killed people and livestock by spitting poison. Two men came from Finland in response to pleas for help. Even they failed to destroy the lake monster. The best they could do was tie its head and tail to the rocks at the bottom of the lake.

Despite being imprisoned in the lake, the Lagarfljot Worm continues to make itself visible. In the water, it is described as having many humps and being about the length of a bus (40 feet or so). In some cases, it’s even been spotted basking on the lake shore and climbing up trees.

One of the best documented “sightings” was in 1983. A crew laying telephone cable across the lake encountered a large, shifting mass on the lake bottom. The cable was laid but soon failed and had to be pulled back up. According the news accounts, the cable had been designed to avoid kinking, yet it was found to be twisted out of shape and torn in several places. Workers joked that they must have laid their cable right into the lingworm’s mouth.

More recently, a video from 2012 purported to show something swimming against swift currents. Further analysis showed that the “creature” most likely was some sort of debris being swung about just below the surface.

As with Loch Ness, scientists have studied Lagarfljot and declared the whole thing a hoax. They say the murky water results from natural erosion. Also that plant material is carried into the lake and sinks, slowly decomposing and releasing gasses that distort the water.

Nevertheless, tour operators and historical societies continue to preserve the legend of the Lagarfljot Worm for future generations.


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The Invisible Library is an urban fantasy/adventure series, wherein there is a great Library whose mission is collect and store dangerous books from multiple dimensions. These dimensions are arrayed in a spectrum between chaos and order. Chaos realms are dominated by fae, while order realms are ruled by dragons. In the eons-long war of dragons and fae, the Library remains neutral while attempting to preserve all the multiverse from annihilation. Sounds simple enough, right?

Ha ha ha.

The main character is Irene, a courageous Librarian who uses any means necessary to gather the requested books. For Irene, “any means” includes a magical language and a no-nonsense attitude. In the first book, she finds herself paired with Vale, a thinly disguised clone of Sherlock Holmes, who is native to the quasi-Victorian realm where Irene is working. She also has a handsome young assistant named Kai, who turns out to be a dragon in human guise. My only small complaint is that Kai spends almost no time in his natural dragonic form, because Cogman’s dragons are so impressive.

You can see the love triangle taking shape between Irene, Vale and Kai. At the same time, you can see Irene growing in strength and purpose. The connections she’s forging, with her team and a wider cast of characters, may indeed save the multiverse one day.


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