Posts Tagged ‘dragons’

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.

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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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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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Legends from all over the world tell glorious tales of heroes who kill mighty dragons. (It seems unfair to the dragons, but there you go.) Here are my picks for the five best known dragon slayers.

5. Beowulf, the epitome of the Norse warrior. He’s most famous for killing the monster Grendel, but in his old age he still had enough courage to take on a dragon that was attacking his people. (They both died.)

4. Saint George, a Medieval English knight, killed a dragon in Libya and converted the populace to Christianity. (This could be a bit of wishful thinking, since modern day Libya is a Muslim majority country.)

3. Hercules, from Greece, defeated the dreaded Hydra in order to win  forgiveness from the goddess Hera. (It didn’t work.) Later, he used trickery to steal golden apples from their guardian dragon, Ladon.

2. Tokoyo, from Japan. She took the place of a maiden who was about to be sacrificed, and killed the dragon Yofune-Nushi. This healed an emperor’s curse. In gratitude, he released her father from prison.

1. Sigurd, a.k.a. Siegfried, killed the dragon Fafnir. Then he bathed in his blood to become invulnerable. He was also able to understand the language of birds, which allowed him to overcome a treacherous attack. Finally, Sigurd roasted and ate Fafnir’s heart! From this he gained powers of prophecy.

Perhaps you disagree with my choices? Comment away! I’d love to hear who you think are the most famous dragonslayers! Also, check out this Top-Five Dragonslayers list that’s more focused on media and video games.

A few of my other books:

Aunt Ursula’s Atlas, Lucy D. Ford’s short story collection

Masters of Air & Fire, Lucy D. Ford’s middle-grade novel

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

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Long ago in Japan, the emperor was beset by a mysterious affliction. He was troubled in his mind and could not sleep at night. As soon as he fell asleep, he had terrible nightmares. The whole court was dismayed. A few faithful courtiers resolved to keep watch and discover what was causing this malady. Some stationed themselves just outside his quarters, while others watched the gardens around the emperor’s window.

To their horror, a black cloud appeared in the sky just after sunset. It swooped and swirled and came to rest on the roof above the emperor’s chamber. The courtiers inside heard the scratching of great claws on the roof. Then the hapless monarch cried out as a nightmare took hold. Something dreadful must be hidden within the vapors! Archers fired many arrows into the cloud, but they had no effect. The black cloud hovered over the roof until dawn, when it moved off toward the east and vanished.

As weeks of insomnia dragged on, the emperor grew very weak and ill. Nobody knew how to help him. They decided to send for a samurai named Yorimasa, whose skill with the bow was widely known. His charge was to discover what creature was attacking the emperor, and put an end to it.

Yorimasa came at once, bringing his bow and arrows and a single retainer. Alas, the weather was very bad that day. Savage winds and driving rain blocked the sky. How could Yorimasa even see the black cloud through this storm? But the samurai was not discouraged. At dusk, he and his retainer positioned themselves where they would have as good a view of the roof as possible, given the conditions. And they waited.

Hours passed and the storm did not let up, but eventually the emperor’s wail of terror told them the nightmares had begun. Yorimasa kept a steady eye on the peak of the roof. At last, luck favored him. A flash of lightning outlined the shape of a terrible dragon hidden within the cloud. As it faded, the samurai saw the evil glint of its eyes.

He raised his bow and shot for the eyes.  A howl, a crash! Something writhed on the ground, wrecking the emperor’s lovely garden. Wasting no time, the samurai drew his sword and leapt to attack. The evil dragon struggled and howled, but Yorimasa and his retainer slashed the monster nine times together. Soon all was quiet. The emperor slept peacefully for the first time in months.

The fearful courtiers emerged with lanterns to see what had been troubling the emperor. The dragon was a large as a horse, with a tiger’s body covered in scales, an ape-like head, wings of a bird, and a serpent’s tail. When the emperor awoke, he ordered the dragon skinned and kept as a trophy. As for Yorimasa, he was presented with a sword called Shishiwo (“King of Lions”) and promoted to the imperial court. There he met a noble woman named Ayame, and was granted her hand in marriage.

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