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Today I proudly present a guest blog by C. S. Boyack, author of The Cock of the South. Take it away, friend!

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Gallicus the Cockatrice

C. S. Boyack

It’s an honor to appear on Deborah’s blog today. I always enjoy her research into dragons, and will try to keep the theme going. The only dragon I’ve ever written is a cockatrice named Gallicus.

The cockatrice is roughly a mashup of a rooster and a dragon. To steal that old line about the mullet haircut, he’s rooster in the front and dragon in the rear. My research led me through many gaming systems, some beautiful European statuary, and even a reference to the Bible.

It appears the basilisk and the cockatrice may have been the same creature at one time. Time marches on, and two distinct creatures enter our mythology. The similarity is their ability to turn people to stone.

Mythology indicates the power is in the cockatrice’s gaze. Since this is a mythological creature, I took the liberty of referencing that belief, but the true weapon is the breath, like a proper dragon. I went to great lengths to honor his avian and reptilian heritage, and still keep him as a dragon. At various times he slithers between rocks, swims like a snake, stoops like a hawk, and hunts birds using his tail as a lure, much as a snapping turtle uses his tongue.

Gallicus is something of a supporting character in the novel The Cock of the South. He is not super intelligent or wise, like some dragons in novels. He is loyal to the main character, formidable, and a bit dangerous.

The Cock of the South is a dwarven fantasy set in the Greco-Roman era. It’s just a bit different than the typical dwarven fantasy. In this excerpt, my main character, a dwarf named Cobby, has just pulled what he thinks is a rooster from a tar pit.

– – –

Cobby slowly scanned the woods, but saw no one. “Is this your rooster?”

“Over here, in the crotch of the tree,” she said, “and it’s not my rooster.”

It was a fairy, no bigger than Cobby’s hand. She wore a blue gauze dress that left nothing to the imagination, and calf-high sandals like his.

Cobby looked away.

“What’s wrong? Don’t you like my dress?”

“I can see right through it.”

“Most boys like that best.”

Cobby looked again. She had the same dark complection he did, with black hair. She was voluptuous, and possibly the most beautiful woman he’d ever seen.

She turned around so he could see her wings and said, “Comfortable now?”

She had four clear wings on her back, like a dragonfly, but shorter and wider, like a bee perhaps.

“No,” he said.

“I’ve seen a lot of strange things in my day, but this is one for the campfire,” she said. “Strangers have been pouring into the marsh as the forests are all burned. We have many dwarves, but I’ve never seen any of them help a creature like him before. “

She stepped into the dying light as the first stars made their appearance. “I’m Iris, and who, Master Dwarf, are you?”

“C-Cobby.”

“That’s it, just Cobby?”

“Yes.”

“We like to know who’s tromping around in the marsh.”

“Would you like your chicken back?”

“He’s no chicken, he’s a cockatrice.”

Cobby dropped the bird’s neck and held his hand toward Iris. “Cover your eyes, my lady, he’ll turn us both to stone.”

Iris fell on her branch and laughed, a breathy sort of laugh that sounded like wind through autumn leaves. She made an adorable little snort at the end. “And how’s he going to do that, Master Cobby?”

“By gazing at us. Run away, fly away.”

Iris laughed again, harder this time. “I suppose you read that somewhere.”

“Yes.”

“Master Cobby, he cannot stare at us and turn us to stone. There are many kinds of wyrms in this marsh, and like all wyrms it’s his breath that kills.”

Cobby slid away from the cockatrice and backed toward Iris.

“What are you afraid of? He owed you a debt. Besides, he’s just a baby. Pit fighters call a similar rooster a stag. He won’t develop a breath weapon until he’s older. He hatched in a sand bar nor far from here this spring.”

The cockatrice stepped forward and shook. Bits of tar splattered along the ground. He flapped his wings and crowed defiantly.

The tail was not matted rooster feathers at all, but that of a dragon. The tar-covered wings were leathery and featherless, with a clawed finger at the crook. His head and neck were covered with ginger hackles that blended into the black feathers of his breast. A row of spines, like an iguana’s, ran down his neck all the way to the tip of his tail. The crowning touch was a blood-red comb and wattles like an actual rooster’s.

“No breath weapon, you say. Is he good eating?”

Iris laughed oncwe more. “You’re certainly a dwarf, Master Cobby. The Gods would be angry if you killed him. I can sense him, and he is loyal to you. I’m afraid you’ve made a new friend. A formidable friend, once he grows up.”

“What was he doing on that dead beast?”

“Feeding. The goat attracts beetles, flies, maggots. He was hungry. They aren’t chickens, and are alone the second they hatch. The first year can be hard on them.”

“So what am I supposed to do with him?”

“Have you ever owned a dog or cat?”

“No. My mother had cats.”

“Try that for a start.” She flew over, reached up, and scratched the cockatrice under the chin. “See, he likes it.”

Cobby timidly copied her.

“What you did was a noble act, even if you didn’t intend it. It’s deserving of a reward, and reminds me of something from long ago. I’d like you to have it, come with me.”

“I need to get this wood back to Uncle,” Cobby said.

“It isn’t far. Many years ago, the road ran along the other side of the tar pit. There’s something hidden in the old campsite little that you should see. Take or or leave it, and you can return to your uncle.”

– – –

We authors can be a crazy bunch sometimes. When I began this story, I fell so much in love with it that I decided to make Gallicus my permanent friend. He now occupies my right shoulder, so I can cover him up for work. This happened before I even finished my first draft, and maybe he helped me make the story what it is.

I hope you’ll take a chance on The Cock of the South. I had a great time writing it, and the reviews indicate others are enjoying it, too.

Check out my novels here: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00ILXBXUY
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Thanks for stopping by, and best of luck to you!
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