Posts Tagged ‘lindworms’

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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I spotted this brass platter leaning against the wall at a friend’s house. Check out the dragons in the border.


Embossed platter at a friend’s house.

They look a lot like lindworms, with only fore paws and the long tail but no hind legs. However, my sources disagree whether a true lindworm would have wings.

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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Previously, I related how Sir John Lambton unwittingly loosed a lindworm that ravaged his home.

As a returned Crusader, Sir John was not afraid of battle. But he remembered that he’d already thought he killed the creature once before, and so he sought aid. A wise woman lived in the village of Durham, not far away. Sir John told her why he must defeat the lindworm and asked for her advice. The wise woman told him to put spear blades on his armor and that he must face the wyrm in the River Wear. If he fought it on dry ground, he would surely lose.

But there was more. Because he had turned his back on this task as a young man, a curse had now grown up with it. To break the curse, Sir John had to slaughter the next living thing he saw after defeating the wyrm. If he failed to do this, the curse would fall upon him and his family. For nine generations, not one of them would die peacefully in bed.

Sir John returned home and explained the wise woman’s instructions. His father agreed to help fit the armor with spear heads, and they planned that , if Sir John defeated the wyrm, he would blow his horn three times. The father was then to release his favorite hound. Sir John planned to kill the hound and avert the curse.

When all was ready, Sir John went down to the River Wear. The lindworm was now wrapped around a rock at mid-stream.The moment it saw him, it attacked! They first fought on the bank, where the evil beast tried to catch him in its coils. Luckily, the sharp blades kept it from getting a grip. Sir John struck back, but soon discovered that any piece of the wyrm he lopped off would instantly re-attach itself and the wyrm was just as strong as ever!

Remembering the wise woman’s advice, Sir John backed into the river, where the current was strong. Now when he cut the beast, the pieces floated away and could not re-grow. Not long after, Sir John finished the lindworm off and sounded his horn three times. Alas, the father was so relieved to know his son was alive, he forgot about letting the hound go first. He rushed to the riverbank, where Sir John was aghast to see him. For in order to lift the lindworm’s curse, he would have to kill his own father!

As a loyal son, Sir John could not bring himself to do that. The two men returned home and killed the hound, but it was too late. Though the Lambton family eventually rebuilt their fortunes, the curse shadowed their descendants. For nine generations, no man of that family died peacefully in his own bed.

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Last time, I started the story of the Lambton Wyrm, one of the best known legends from England. I paused when Lambton, having fished a baby wyrm out of the River Wear, threw it into a well and left it to die.

A few years passed and the impulsive young John Lambton became a more responsible man. Eventually he decided to join the Crusades and make up for the incident with the wyrm, and other sins. His father, who was a knight and lord of the country around there, gave his blessing.

Sir John Lambton fought honorably in the Holy Land, but when he returned after seven years something was terribly wrong. The countryside was deolate, his proud castle home shabby and crumbling. Only a few sickly servants remained with his poor old father. When Sir John asked what had happened, he heard a tale of woe.

It began with a well near the River Wear. The water became foul, so that all who drank it fell ill. Then livestock started to vanish. The father investigated the well and found deep, slithering tracks around it. They led to a nearby hill. There the horrified father discovered a lindworm, so large that its coils passed seven times around the hilltop. Because his son was far away, the father called for aid. Many knights came to battle the dreaded wyrm, but none could defeat it. It often grew so angry that it pulled up a tree with its tail and flattened everything for miles.

This creature terrorized the land for months on end, snatching first the cattle and then young children. Peasants fled the area, and soon the lindworm came to the lord’s own castle. As a desperate measure, the father put out a trough of milk from nine good cows. This treat calmed the wyrm and it went back to its hilltop. However, the wyrm came to expect this bounty every day — and it was still growing!

As he heard all this, a great weight fell upon Sir John, for he knew where the lindworm came from. He had brought this vile creature into the world and he would have to deal with it, just as the old man foretold.

Come back Saturday to find out how he did!

PS — I’ve recently updated my book pages. Please take a look!

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