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Archive for July, 2017

In 2014, I retold the legend of Zahhak, a dragonlike character from Persian and Zoroastrian mythology. Recently a comment pointed out that I had called Zahhak an “Arabian dragon” when in fact the myth is Iranian. This is true, and I apologize for assigning a generic nationality. However, the legend is complicated, as stories often are.

According to this article, the legend of Zahhak does come from Iran but the character of Zahhak is described in the legend as an Arab. It seems that Arabs had conquered Iran in the 7th Century. When it came time for storytellers to identify Zahhak’s origins, they were not able to resist the temptation of linking him to the conquerors.

Here is my original post, edited properly.


Zahhak

 

Long ago in Persia, a king named Merdas had only one son. Prince Zahhak was clever and handsome, but his character was weak. He found it easier to go along with what the courtiers and advisers said than to think for himself. This was observed by Ahriman, an evil spirit rather like Satan of Jewish and Biblical tradition. Like Satan, Ahriman aspired to cover the earth with his malevolent rule, and Zahhak seemed like a perfect tool toward this goal.

Ahriman wormed his way into King Merdas’s court and became close to Prince Zahhak. Over time, he persuaded Zahhak to murder his father and assume the throne. The means was to dig a deep pit in a place where the king often walked, and conceal it with brush. This was done; the king fell into the pit and was killed, leaving his son a bloody throne.

Perhaps the new king repented at this, for his former friend was banished from the court. But this was no impediment to Ahriman. He changed his form and returned in the guise of a chef whose food was so wonderful that after some weeks King Zahhak promised him any reward he wanted. The “humble” chef asked to kiss the king on both shoulders. This was agreed. But when the chef had kissed the king’s shoulders, he suddenly disappeared.

In that same moment, two black serpents grew from the king’s shoulders. The horrified king commanded that they be cut off, but as soon as that happened, two more dragon heads grew. Days passed by, and no one could find a way to remove the dragons. In fact, the hungry beasts bit and snapped at everyone, so that no one dared approach.

Except for Ahriman, who now wore the shape of a wise physician. Ahriman told King Zahhak that the dragons couldn’t be removed, but they could be temporarily sated. The only food they would accept? Human brains.

…Oh, didn’t I mention this is a zombie dragon story? Check back next time for the next chapter.


A few of my other books:

Aunt Ursula’s Atlas, Lucy D. Ford’s short story collection and Masters of Air & Fire, her middle-grade novel.

The Grimhold Wolf, my Gothic werewolf fantasy, and my epic fantasy, The Seven Exalted Orders.

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Over the summer, I’ve been working as director of programming for SpoCon, my local science fiction convention. I’m going a little nuts, frankly. But it has given rise to a few fun thoughts. If dragons had a convention, what would their programming look like?

Humans: Friends or Food? Older and wiser dragons share their advice on whether to play nicely or take what you want.

The Perfect Hoard: A great hoard needs more than mountains of gold coin. Maybe you’ve thought of adding some gems or a bit of gold-plated armor. Experts discuss how to give your hoard personality and flair.

Fang and Claw vs. Flame Breath: Warrior dragons debate the best way to slay those pesky knights.

Lair Security: Are you troubled by sneak thieves and traveling salesmen? Learn a few new tricks to keep intruders out of your private space.

Human Arms and Armor: Information on the most common equipment used by knights and adventurers, with tips on how to overcome them.


A few of my other books:

Aunt Ursula’s Atlas, Lucy D. Ford’s short story collection and Masters of Air & Fire, her middle-grade novel.

The Grimhold Wolf, my Gothic werewolf fantasy, and my epic fantasy, The Seven Exalted Orders.

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We’re going to the lake today, so here’s a reblog from February of 2012.


The Real Tiamat

Tiamat is a name you hear bandied about in games and books, always as a powerful dragon foe. But before pop culture got ahold of her—long, LONG before—Tiamat was a goddess worshipped by the Babylonians as a creator god.

Tiamat is mentioned in sagas dating back to 2,000 BCE. Her original role was as goddess of salt water. Together with her husband, Apsu, god of fresh water, she created the world and the first other deities. Later myths described her as a huge, bloated creature and associated her with the chaos of the open sea. It’s said that Tiamat and Apsu warred against their descendants. Marduk, the sun god, eventually defeated Tiamat by cutting her in half. From one part he created the sky, and from the other, he created the land.

Interestingly, this is quite like Greek/Roman myth, where the elder god Chronos also tried to destroy his offspring.

Babylon was an important city in Mesopotamia, a region where a number of civilizations rose and fell through Biblical times. These included the Akkadians, Sumerians, Assyrians, and of course, the Babylonians.


A few of my other books:

Aunt Ursula’s Atlas, Lucy D. Ford’s short story collection and Masters of Air & Fire, her middle-grade novel.

The Grimhold Wolf, my Gothic werewolf fantasy, and my epic fantasy, The Seven Exalted Orders.

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Do lake monsters take sabaticals? It appears that they do. In May, a Nessie sighting was reported on Loch Ness, after an absence of 8 months. The last previous sighting was in August of 2016.

Rob Jones, a tourist from Wales, recorded a strange object while visiting the mystical lake. It moved in front of a boat, then disappeared from view. You can view the images here at The Mirror’s website.

The cynic in me thinks the “strange object” looks a lot like a navigational buoy, the type installed to warn of submerged hazards. It’s claimed that the object moved in front of a boat, but if you look at the foliage on the lake shore, it’s clear that the object is stationary. Only the boat is moving.

What really interests me is the second half of the coverage. The Mirror interviewed a man who keeps a web site where anyone can report Nessie sightings. Gary Campbell once experienced a sighting himself. His search for information led him to establish his web site, The Official Loch Ness Monster Sightings Register.

Over the years, hundreds of reports have been cataloged. With the popularity of smart phones and similar devices, more and more photos and videos have been uploaded. Although most are quickly explained, Campbell is able to maintain something of an online journal around Nessie’s supposed activities. This is how we know that Nessie had “been away” for 8 months.

Even cryptids can’t escape the paparazzi!


A few of my other books:

Aunt Ursula’s Atlas, Lucy D. Ford’s short story collection and Masters of Air & Fire, her middle-grade novel.

The Grimhold Wolf, my Gothic werewolf fantasy, and my epic fantasy, The Seven Exalted Orders.

Read Full Post »

Dragons are famous for having vast hoards of treasure, but sometimes I wonder why. If knights are always trying to kill you and take your treasure, why would you even bother with that? Surely a dragon could have a quieter, more secure life without a hoard.

Based on legends and contemporary fiction, here are some reasons that dragons keep hoards.

  1. Pure greed. Some dragons, such as Fafnir, are created in a contest to claim an accursed treasure.
  2. Pride. Dragons often seem to relish the high status of owning a huge treasure. Smaug, in The Hobbit, would represent these dragons.
  3. Nutrition. In some books, dragon parents collect coins and other metal pieces, and feed them to their young. The minerals help baby dragons grow their near-invulnerable scales. E. E. Knight’s Age of Fire series is a good example.
  4. Preservation. Dragons who gather tomes and manuscripts might be dedicated to saving knowledge of the ancient past. They may also find that having a hobby helps them they stay alert and active over the decades.
  5. Obsession. In a few books, such as Jessica Day George’s Dragon Slippers, all dragons are born with an irresistible urge to collect. They don’t all gather the same things, though. In George’s book, the main dragon character has an enormous collection of shoes.
  6. Remembrance. A long-lived dragon might save mementos from lost civilizations or friends in their past. More aggressive dragons could keep trophies from their victories against various enemies.
  7. Hunting Lure. In my short story, Hoard, a dragon named Carnisha keeps a hoard in order to attract looters. She then feeds them to her babies.

I’m sure there are more reasons. Why do you think dragons gather hoards?


A few of my other books:

Aunt Ursula’s Atlas, Lucy D. Ford’s short story collection and Masters of Air & Fire, her middle-grade novel.

The Grimhold Wolf, my Gothic werewolf fantasy, and my epic fantasy, The Seven Exalted Orders.

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Summer’s so hot! It isn’t safe. You should stay inside and read. Try my new swords and sorcery novelette, The Weight of Their Souls. It’s brand new and just $.99!

The Weight of Their Souls

The epic war is over, the great Enemy destroyed. A ragtag band of survivors makes their way home, only to discover there were survivors on the other side, too. And even a lesser evil from that vicious host can still be a deadly threat.

It’s swords against sorcery, with more than just their lives on the line. The travelers, who barely know each other, must summon the courage to face one more battle.

Get it now from Amazon or  in your favorite e-book format through Draft 2 Digital.


Want to help a writer? -Read! -Review! -Recommend!

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I know you’ve always wondered about this, so I asked some of my own fictional dragons for their opinions.

“What do you think virgins are?” asked Lythiskar, Mystik of Yabble. “Although some dragons prefer princesses as pets.”

Yriatt of Hawkwing House* was also open to the idea of keeping pets. “An older, sedentary dragon could benefit from a pet such as a griffin or roc. Flying with your pet can help maintain wing strength and aerial balance.”

Other dragons weren’t sold on the idea.

“I would never keep a pet that might steal from me,” answered Grenandus of Lollitaine.*

According to Tetheus,* the sea dragon, “Any pet would have to be sturdy enough to keep up with me. Perhaps a larger seal or a whale. Unfortunately, those animals also make the best meals.”

“As a spirit, I find it difficult to connect with transitory beings such as humans or animals,” said Cazarluun,* Spectral Guardian of Venge Hill.

Carnisha, Queen of the Cragmaws,* laughed at the suggestion. “I have a brood of hatchlings! There is no time for pets.”

*Yriatt is a major character in my fantasy novel, Too Many Princes. Grenandus, Tetheus and Cazarluun appear in my short story collection, Aunt Ursula’s Atlas. Carnisha is featured in The Dragon’s Hoard anthology.

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