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Posts Tagged ‘folk tales’

Long ago, in the Scottish borderlands, a dreadful wyvern made its lair on the side of Linton Hill. This creature would hunt at dawn and dusk. It wasn’t a picky eater — men, beasts and crops all found their way into its gullet. The villagers fought back, but no weapon could pierce its armored scales.

In desperation, a messenger went to the castle of the local laird, John (or perhaps William) de Somerville. De Somerville was famed as a warrior, reckless and fierce. In this case, however, caution seemed to temper his actions. First, he went to all the villages around Linton Hill, gathering tales and advice. Then he found a vantage to watch the creature in action.

De Somerville observed that the wyvern had an exceptionally large maw. It would snap up and swallow anything in its path. However, when it encountered an obstacle too large to be devoured, it would momentarily freeze with its mouth open. In this, the laird saw his chance.

He went to the nearest blacksmith and directed the man to create an unusual weapon. It was a great spear, but with a wheel on the front. He then stuck a chunk of peat on the tip, covered it with tar, and set it alight. Next followed several days of practice getting his war horse used to having a flaming object in front of it.

When he was ready, De Somerville rode out at dawn. Just as the wyvern emerged from its lair, he lit the spear and confronted the beast on horseback. As ever, the wyvern charged with its mouth open to snatch up a meal. But it had never encountered a person on horseback before. It froze, mouth gaping.

Unfortunately for the dragon, De Somerville did not halt his charge. He ran his burning spear straight into the wyvern’s throat. The monster shrieked and thrashed. Dying, it retreated to its lair, which collapsed upon it. De Somerville was knighted and named Baron of Linton. His family crest depicted a wyvern perched atop a wheel.


Wyrmflight: A Hoard of Dragon Lore — $4.99 e-book or $17.99 trade paperback. Available at Amazon or Draft2Digital.

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A Swedish prince could not get married until his older brother, a lindworm, found a bride who could love him as he was. After many failures, the human prince despaired. 

In the villages of that land, a young woman heard the lindworm prince was looking for a bride. She was wise enough to seek a soothsayer’s advice before doing anything. It happened this was the very same soothsayer who the queen had once consulted. He told her that if she was brave at heart there was a way to break the lindworm’s curse.

After hearing his advice, the young woman volunteered to be the lindworm’s bride. She came to the forest dressed in many layers of clothing. It seemed odd, but the lindworm was pleased she didn’t scream or faint, so he agreed to the marriage.

What a strange wedding night it was! The groom ordered to the bride to take off her clothes, but she told him he must shed one layer of skin for every garment she removed. With nervous anticipation, they played this game. Over and over, she took off one dress and he shed a layer of skin.

Finally she wore only a shift, while the lindworm had one translucent layer of scales. With a silent prayer, she removed her shift and stood naked. The lindworm coiled around her, slowly and gently.As it rubbed against her, the final layer of scales peeled away. Suddenly she felt not the cold strength of a serpent but a man’s warm arms. By her cleverness and trust, the curse had been broken!


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After consulting a soothsayer, a Swedish queen gave birth to twins — but one of them was a lindworm!

The younger prince grew up to be a handsome man, with blond hair, blue eyes, and a smile to set hearts fluttering. He began to travel the countryside in search of a bride. As he set out, he passed beside a great forest where all sorts of wild beasts were said to roam.

Without warning, his horse suddenly stopped. The prince, too, sat paralyzed as a huge serpent reared its head from the brush at the wood’s edge. It was a lindworm! As he struggled to reach for his weapons, a cold voice penetrated his thoughts.

“Do not worry,” said the lindworm. “I will not harm you. I am your elder brother.”

“How can this be?” asked the prince.

“Perhaps our mother knows,” the dragon said. “I do not care if you become king, for people mean nothing to me, but I demand this one thing. You will not be married before me. Our mother the queen must send me a bride who is willing to marry me and can love me as I am.”

Though shocked, the human prince said, “I will tell her and find out the truth.”

The lindworm withdrew, and the prince was able to move again. He immediately returned to the castle and told his mother what had happened. Weeping, she confessed all that she knew. Once she had consulted a soothsayer but failed to hear all his words, and so her firstborn had been born a monster. Knowing that he indeed had an older brother, the prince agreed to wait for his marriage.

The queen began a long search for a young woman who would be willing to marry the monstrous prince. Although many went to the forest, each of them swooned or screamed at the sight of their prospective groom. Because they were unwilling, the lindworm prince rejected them one after another.

The human prince began to despair. Would he never have a bride? Come back on Saturday for part three!


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Long ago, in Sweden, a queen was unable to bear children. Desperate to give her husband an heir, she consulted a soothsayer. The old man assured her that she would give birth to twin boys in less than a year. All she had to do was eat two fresh onions as soon as she returned to her castle. The queen was willing to take even this strange advice, and she rushed home without hearing a warning the soothsayer shouted behind her.

Upon her return, the queen commanded two onions be brought to her at once. She ate the first one without hesitation, peel and all. But the peel was so unpleasant that she took time to peel the second onion before eating it. If the courtiers were surprised, they dared not object. And soon the prophecy came true — the queen was with child at last!

In time, she was ready to give birth. The queen was sequestered with her midwife and attendants while she labored to give birth. The waiting king and courtiers heard a sudden shriek — but it was not the cry of a baby. Alas, the queen’s firstborn son was a lindworm! It lay on the floor in scaly coils, with two clawed limbs slashing the air.

Horror overcame the queen when she saw this creature. She somehow found the strength to seize the lindworm and fling it out the window. Then with a groan she fell back into labor and soon delivered another child. This one was a healthy, normal baby boy. Her dream had come true. The king celebrated his good fortune of having a son, while the queen, midwife and attendants all agreed the first birth was never to be spoken of.

And so the younger prince grew up without ever knowing he had a monstrous twin brother.

Come back on Tuesday for part two!


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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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Legend tells that a dragon named Blue Ben once lived in the county of Somerset, on the west coast of England. He dwelt in shale caves near the sea, so if his fiery breath over-heated him he could dip into the waves and refresh himself.

Blue Ben was huge, as all dragons are. Due to his great size, he sometimes got stuck in the mud flats along the Somerset coast. The legend says that, in order to save himself, the dragon built a limestone causeway so he could reach solid ground without becoming trapped.

Ben seems to have been a mild-mannered dragon. There’s little mention of him ravaging the countryside or devouring livestock. Alas, being a good neighbor did not spare the mighty beast. The Devil himself happened to spy the dragon frolicking in the waves. He cast a spell that chained Blue Ben’s will. Poor Ben became the Devil’s steed for a wild ride all through the fires of Hell.

No one knows how long this went on. The dragon ultimately freed himself and escaped back to Somerset. Desperately hot and tired, he flung himself into the water to cool off as he usually did. Alas, he had chosen a spot far from his causeway. As he emerged from the sea, Blue Ben became stuck in the mire. No matter how he struggled, he couldn’t get free. In the end, he succumbed to his exhaustion and was entombed in the mud. A sad end for such a magnificent creature.

True fact #1: Blue Ben’s “causeway” is a naturally occurring limestone formation that resembles a paved road. Several sections can be seen along the coast, near the town of Kilve.

True fact #2: In the 19th Century, a shale quarry outside Kilve yielded the fossil skull of an ichthyosaur. The local people immediately proclaimed that this was the skull of Blue Ben. The fossil can still be seen in a Somerset museum.


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About 100 years ago, a little town called Spoonville stood on the shore of Lake Michigan. Business came and went with the seasons, and times were often hard. Then a clever businessman thought of a plan to draw more tourists.

Moe Kopple was his name, and he ran a nice restaurant and bar right near the shore. When business got too slow, he would get one of his buddies to row out on the lake and then come back with outrageous stories of a water dragon! These stories would run in the local newspaper, and then in the larger papers, and soon a horde of tourists would show up to try and catch a glimpse.

Every year or three, there would be another sighting. Moe always asked a different friend to row out there, so it wouldn’t look too suspicious. Besides, the business was good for everyone, so it became the town’s secret.

One year, Moe asked his friend Sam McGeever to go lake-monster hunting, and he readily agreed. But Sam came back greatly excited. No more mysterious waves or vague shapes — Sam was full of details about the horrible lake monster. Moe scoffed at first, but Sam was totally convinced of what he’d seen. Eventually Moe went out with him to see for himself.

The two men set off in Sam’s boat, Moe teasing that this must be a hoax because everyone knew lake monsters weren’t real. Sam set off straight for a particular spot, and soon Moe saw a commotion ahead of them. To his shock, a terrifying creature erupted from the water. It was huge, with green scales, blazing red eyes, and billows of smoke from a fanged maw. The monster swam toward them. Yelling with fear, both men seized the oars and rowed back to Spoonville as fast as they could.

Now Moe was worried. He told Sam not to talk about the monster any more, for fear of the consequences. If a tourist got eaten, they might never come back again! Sam brooded angrily. He enjoyed the attention from telling his amazing stories, and wanted to show  that he wasn’t a liar. A few days later, he told a friend he was going back out to find some sort of proof. Moe rushed to the dock, trying to dissuade his friend, but it was too late. Sam had already rowed away.

Neither he nor his boat were ever seen again.

 

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