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Long ago, in the French province of Provence, there was a fearsome dragon called the Tarasque. The monster inhabited a stretch of the Rhone river where marshes surrounded a rocky island. It preyed upon travelers, both on land and water, and it tore down dams and levies so that flooding was rampant. Due to all this destruction, the whole area was uninhabitable.

The Tarasque had such a horrifying appearance that people had a hard time even describing it. They said it was as big as a bull, with a massive turtle’s shell, a lion’s head, and six bear-like legs. The tail was long and scaly, tipped with a scorpion’s sting. The local king brought an army, including catapults, but nothing could stop the dreaded dragon.

After many months of woe, news of the beastly plague reached a monastery where a holy woman lived. Saint Martha felt pity for the people who suffered such a blight. She went to the banks of the Rhone river. The Tarasque rushed to attack her, but Saint Martha did not run from it. Instead, she sang a hymn of the Lord so beautiful that it charmed the terrible creature. Soon the dreaded dragon laid its head in her lap.

Saint Martha returned to the city, the monster following at her heels like an obedient hound. The people of this land were heathens, and she wanted to show them the power of the Lord. Alas, their fear still gripped them. Knights rushed forth. Even when they slashed it with blades of steel, the Tarasque made no move to defend itself. It died there, unresisting.

Saint Martha grieved, and she preached a sermon that converted the heathens to Christianity. To show remorse for having slain a creature that had become tame and helpless, the king changed the name of his city of Tarascon. A castle, Chateau Tarascon, was built on the island in the Rhone River where the dragon once dwelt. Since the 15th Century, local festivals have been held to honor the famous resident.

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Just a few of my 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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