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Dragon Myths

The Curse of the Lambton Worm: (British)

John Lambton was fishing with not very much luck one Sunday, when suddenly he felt a tug on his line. Finally. But when he pulled it out of the water, he thought it was some very large aquatic worm with black skin, perhaps-until he saw it's face. It had long needle-like teeth and many gill slits on it's neck. It had big black eyes, and they captured him like nothing else. All he wanted to do now was to get rid of it, and so he tossed it into a well.

But the worm had survived, and one day, after John had left on a pilgrimage, one of the peasants noticed a tail gleaming with slime. They followed it, and saw the serpent, now grown to have legs. The Lambton worm ate all the livestock and frightened villagers. Every once in a while, a brave one would try to destroy the worm, but it was always a doomed attempt.

Finally, John Lambton came back and saw all of this. He went to a witch and requested advice. He was told that he had to wear a special suit of armor with blades all over it. John must also confront it in the middle of a river. One other thing he had to do was to kill the next living thing that he met, or the Lambton lineage would suffer for nine generations.

He did all this, and succeeded. He came home, and his father was ecstatic. Unfortunately, his father was the first living thing that Lambton met. But Lambton couldn't do it, and so the Lambton heirs were cursed for the next nine generations.

Perseus and the Dragon of Posdeidon :

Perseus, traveling on his winged sandals, noticed a maiden, who was tied up and gazing fearfully at the sea. She looked at him, and proceeded to tell her story. She was Princess Andormeda. Her mother, a vain woman, one day claimed that she was even lovelier than the sea nymphs. The sea god Poseidon called Cetus, a serpent dragon, from the depths of the ocean, and ordered it to create havoc in their land. The people called out in fear, and he told them that only the queen's daughter's sacrifice could rid them of the monster.

Well now, Perseus wasn't just going to leave her there. When Cetus surfaced, a serpent dragon that resembled a giant whale with large ivory tusks, Perseus waited to make his move. While the dragon was intent on the lady, Perseus swung in, and thrust his sword underneath the head of the monster. It collapsed, and floated down to the depths of the sea.

St. George and the Dragon:

There once was a great city that didn't have any source of water. To get water, people had to go outside the city walls to a nearby oasis. Unfortunately, it was guarded by a fierce dragon that wouldn't let anyone have water unless he was given a maiden to eat. The dragon's means of defense was his breath, which was very toxic. Many people tried to kill it, but nobody could get by his breath. Finally, only the King's daughter was left. The people of the city begged the king to give her up, and he finally gave in and sent his only daughter. Just as she was about to be eaten, St. George showed up on a white horse. He charged against the dragon, and killed it with a lance in the heart.

The Dragonet of Mt. Pilatus:

This dragon was only about the size of a man and very lethal to anything that it touched. Its fiery breath charred everything, and no one had the skills to defeat it. A man name Winckelriedt had been exiled for his fearsome temper combined with his great swordplay, which was not a good mix. But, he was the only person who seemed likely to get rid of the dragonet, and so they called his back. He went up to its cave, where it was already waiting for him. It had wings, and was barely as tall as the challenger. The battle went on, until finally, in an attempt to blow fire too close to Winckelriedt's sword blade, the dragon was killed.

The Chinese Dragon's Pearl: (Chinese)

A long time ago in China, a boy and his mother lived by a river. The boy earned money by cutting grass and selling it to villagers. One summer there wasn't any rain. The boy had to travel farther to find grass that wasn't dry and brown. Finally, many miles from the village, there was a patch of nice green grass. He hurried home to sell it. He always went to the same spot where the nice grass was.

After a while, he was tired of walking so long and far. He decided to dig some of the grass up and plant it near his house. So he went to dig it up. When he did, a big pearl rolled out of the earth he had just dug up. He took the pearl and took it home to his mother. The pearl was worth good money, and so his mother hid it for safekeeping in an empty rice jar. The next day, the grass in the nice spot was dead and brown.

"The pearl will by us food," said his mother. She lifted the jar's lid, and saw the rice jar was now filled with rice! The pearl was magic, they realized. That night they put the pearl on top of three coins in the money jar. Morning came and it was full with money!

They told no one about the pearl but the people realized that they were growing richer. One day robbers broke in. In panic, the boy grabbed the pearl and swallowed it. His insides began to burn. He ran to the well, but his stomach stayed on fire. His skin cracked and got scaly. He sprouted horns and wings. In no time at all, he had become a dragon.

Tristan and the Fire Dragon:

When a great dragon came and began killing and spreading fire over the land of Ireland, the King decided that he would give whoever slayed the dragon his daughter Iseult's hand in marriage. There was a young knight called Tristan, who was there as a messenger from his uncle, King Mark of Cornwall, to ask for the hand of the beautiful Iseult for his King. Tristan thought that if he could kill the dragon the maiden would be his and he could take her to King Mark.

Tristan took a wine skin full of water and hung it over the door to the monster's lair because he knew that water was fatal to fire dragons. But little did her know that the major-domo of the royal household, who very much secretly liked the princess Iseult, was hiding, watching to see what would happen. The steward had the idea that he could take advantage of them for himself.

When the dragon appeared, the wine skil full of water fell and quenched his fire. Tristan and the dragon then began to fight against each other. At last, after long hours of combat, Tristan managed to kill the dragon, but was so tired that he only had the strength to cut out dragon's tongue before fainting.

Then the steward came and he cut off the dragon's head and presented himself to the king, claiming the promised reward. Iseult was in great despair, for she did not desire the old major-domo for a husband. She did not believe the steward, and so she paid a secret visit.

When she reached the cave and saw the unconscious young man, Iseult understood that they had been tricked. She sent her servants to bring back the wounded man in secret to the palace, where she cared for him.

Two days later, the court gathered to announce officially that the dragon had been slain and to give the major-domo the princess's hand. The steward of the royal household stood at the foot of the throne waiting for his reward. The King had not yet spoken when Tristan burst into the room and asked for the hand of the princess.

"By what right do you ask for her hand?" asked the King.

"As the slayer of the dragon, Your Majesty", replied Tristan.

"Perhaps you are unaware that the major-domo has killed the monster?" he asked. Then Iseult broke in.

"Let him explain, father, I implore you."

"Let him speak, then," said the King.

"Very well," said the young man, "I'll let the dragon speak for me."

"The dragon is dead, young man, how can he speak?"

"Look in his mouth, your majesty," Tristan said.

They opened the monster's mouth and saw that his tongue was missing.
"Here is the missing tongue", and Tristan showed the tongue that he had kept.
And so the major-domo's trick was discovered.

Rustam and the Dragon: (Persian)

Long, long ago, in the time of King Kai Kaus of Persia there lived a hero named Rustam. Rustam was on a journey, with his horse, Rakhsh.

On the first night of their journey a lion came out of the dark with the intent of killing and eating the hero. But Rakhsh, the horse, reacted bravely and saved his master by killing the lion. When Rustam awoke and saw the lion's body he thanked Rakhsh for saving his life but told the horse to wake him up next time so as not to endanger the horse's life.

The next night the dragon who guarded a spring where they were sleeping came out of hiding to kill the hero and his horse. Rakhsh woke his master who sprang up from his slumber and grabbed his sword. But the dragon slipped back into hiding and Rustam scolded his horse for waking him up for nothing. Again the dragon came out of its hiding place and again the horse woke his master, and again the dragon slipped back into hiding before Rustam saw it. This time he was really mad at his horse. The third time the dragon came out Rakhsh didn't know what to do, and it wasn't until the last second that he roused his master. Rustam woke up, furious, but this time the dragon was too close to escape and Rustam slew it.

The Linton Worm: (British)

During the twelfth century a worm lived in a hollow on Linton Hill. From its lair it crawled to roam the countryside, eating livestock and laying waste to the land. The landscape around the area became desolate avoided by the local population, who were in fear of the dragon.

The story came to the ears of Sommerville of Lariston and he came to the village of Jedburgh where many of the country folk had fled and heard many conflicting tales about the dragon. Some said the dragon was sprouting wings and others said that the dragon had fiery venomous breath that could kill cattle from afar.

He decided to go and see for himself. He rode close to the dragon's lair and waited. In a short while the dragon caught his scent, brought half of its body out of its lair and stood gazing at him with its mouth hanging open, but did not attack. He spent some time watching the habits of the dragon and saw that whenever somebody was close, it stood watching them with its great maw always gaping.

This gave Sommerville a plan. He went to the local blacksmith and had a long lance forged, a small Iron wheel stood a foot from the point of the lance and the barest touch would cause the point to drop.

On the point of the lance he placed a burning peat turf, dowsed in pitch and brimstone. With this he practised riding in joust position until his horse had become used to the acrid smoke blowing in its face. He then told the people of his intention to slay the dragon but was scorned by the elders.

The next day at sunrise he went with a servant to the dragons lair. He sat on his horse in readiness and when the beast lumbered forward from out of its cave the servant set fire to the peat. Sommerville spurred his horse forward and in one swift movement he shoved the burning peat down the throat of the dragon. Thus was delivered a fatal blow to the Dragon of Linton. Sommerville was knighted and made a royal Falconer, he became the first Barron of Lintoune.

The Dragon-Slayer and his Rival:(Japanese)

After Susa-no-wo had been banished from heaven, he descended on Tori-kami, beside the river Hi, in the province of Idzumo. A chopstick came floating down the river, so he knew that people were dwelling near, and he set out to search for them. He soon met an old man and an old woman who were weeping bitterly; between them walked a lovely maiden.

"Who are you?" asked Susa-no-wo.

The old man made answer: "I am a god of earth, son of a mountain god, and my name is Ashi-na-dzu-chi ('foot-stroker'); this woman is my wife, and her name is Te-na-dzu-chi ('hand stroker'); the maiden is my daughter Kush-inada-hime ('Miraculous-rice-field-sun-maiden')."

"Why do you weep?" asked Susa-no-wo.

Said the old man: "I have had eight daughters, but each year the eight- forked serpent (dragon) of Koshi has come and devoured one after the other. I weep now because the time is at hand to give Kush-inada-hime to the serpent."

"What is the serpent like?"

"Its eyes are red as the winter cherry; it has a body with eight heads and eight tails, and on its body grow moss and trees. It is so long that it stretches over eight valleys and eight hills. Its belly is constantly bloody and inflamed."

"If this maiden is your daughter," said Susa-no-wo, "will you give her to me?"

"You honour me," the old man made answer, "but I do not know your name."

"I am the dear brother of the sun-goddess, and have just descended from heaven."

"Most obediently do I offer my daughter to you," the old man said with reverence.

Susa-no-wo then transformed the girl into a comb, which he placed in his hair. Having done this, he bade the old couple to brew rice-beer (sake). They obeyed him, and he asked them to construct a fence with eight gates and eight benches, and to place on each bench a vat filled with the beer.

In time the eight-forked serpent came nigh. It dipped each of its heads into each of the vats, drank the sake, became drunk, and then lay down and slept. Susa-no-wo drew his two-handed sword, and cut the serpent in pieces. The Hi River turned red with blood.

When Susa-no-wo cut the middle tail his sword broke. He marvelled at this. Taking the point of the sword in his hand, he thrust and split, and looked inside, and found a keen-cutting blade within this tail. He took it out and sent it to his sister, Ama-terasu, the sun-goddess. This sword is the Kusa-nagi-no-tachi (the "herb-quelling" dragon-sword).

Susa-no-wo afterwards built a house in the land of Idzumo, at a place called Suga. Clouds rose up from that formed an eight-fold fence for husband and wife to retire within the house. Then he appointed the maiden's father to be keeper, or head-man of the house.

In this nuptial house children were born to Susa-no-wo and the young woman he had rescued from the dragon. These children included Oho-toshi-no-kami (Great Harvest deity), Uka-no-mitama (The August Spirit of Food), and Ohonamochi ("Great Name Possessor"), the god of Idzumo, who could assume snake form or human form at will.

Ragnar and Thora: (Norse)

Thora was a woman of Norway famous for her beauty and sweet disposition. She had many who would be her sweetheart but Heraud, her father the Earl of Gothland, did not wish his daughter to marry unless it was to someone worthy of her nobility. One time when Heraud was about to leave on what might be a lengthy expedition, he gave her a golden casket, telling her it contained a guardian for her during his absence. Thora peeked inside and saw, to her amazement, a tiny dragon. She wondered aloud how such a tiny creature could guard her. Her father assured her that the dragon would grow rapidly and become a staunch defender. He then left on his trip. The dragon grew rapidly, and as time went on, became not only enormous but vicious as well, and one day it coiled itself right around the outside of the castle and refused to let anyone enter or leave the building. Even the Earl upon his return could not enter. The only solution was to kill the dragon, but there was no man in the country strong enough to perform such a feat. The Earl sent heralds to proclaim throughout the land that if any man could kill the beast he would be rewarded with marriage to Thora. This proclamation reached the ears of Ragnar, a brave young hero from Sweden, who decided to fight the dragon. In order to avoid death from the dragon's poisonous fangs he had five outfits boiled in pitch until they were harder than the stoutest leather, donned them, and rode off to do battle with the dragon. When he reached the Earl's home he saw the dragon coiled around the castle. He immediately engaged the monster in battle. Ragnar was bitten many times by the dragon with its poisonous fangs, but the thickness and hardness of his outfits prevented the fangs from penetrating and saved him from harm, and at last, with one mighty plunge, he buried his sword in the dragon and killed him. The Earl brought Ragnar, the victor, into the castle to introduce him to Thora, his prize. Thora, who was naturally apprehensive, was relieved when she looked at the handsome Ragnar and loved him at first sight, and Ragnar felt that he was well rewarded for his victory. Their marriage took place amidst great rejoicing. Then Ragnar and his lovely bride returned to Sweden.

Siegfried and Fafnir: (Norse)

King Alf of Denmark was a good man who loved his stepson, Siegfried like his own flesh and blood. Siegfried alone seemed to posses the heroic qualities true to a real Viking king, but he had no right to the throne.

The dwarf, Regin, saw how to take advantage of the heroic promise showed by Siegfried. One day, with studied innocence, Regin remarked to Siegfried how sad it was that while all his stepbrothers were assured of position and respect as heirs to their father's dominion, he had nothing comparable to look forward to. Unless, that is, he decided to seek fame as a fearless warrior.

Siegfried was easily persuaded. Regin lost no time in telling him about a terrible dragon called Fafnir which frequented a barren realm known as Gnitahead and guarded a vast hoard of treasure. To slay such a monster would gain Siegfried great honour and esteem.

What Regin didn't mention, was that he was, in fact after the treasure for himself. Years before the birth of Siegfried, the dwarf king had been cut down by one of his own sons, who coveted the king's vast treasure. That son was Fafnir and Fafnir's brother was Regin. After gaining his father's wealth, Fafnir retreated with it to Gnitahead and jealously guarded it. But the treasure was tainted by his dying father's curse and brought about the terrible transformation in Fafnir, turning him into a slithering dragon.

When they reached the dragon's cave, Fafnir was nowhere to be seen. Following Regin's advice, Siegfried dug a deep pit in the path along which the dragon would return and hid in it. When Fafnir finally approached, Siegfried thrust his sword upward and felt its blade plunge into the unprotected belly of the dragon. It was a deep wound that caused Fafnir to cry out once and crash to the ground.

No sooner had Siegfried clambered out of the pit, than Regin appeared, eyes gleaming with delight. He dug out the dragon's heart, bade Siegfried to light a fire, to roast the heart and give it to him to eat. Regin alleged that this was merely a symbolic gesture.

Sigfried saw no reason to doubt the dwarf and did as he was asked, but just as he was about to hand the heart to the dwarf, he burned his finger on the hot surface. He licked his finger to soothe the pain and suddenly heard the birds talking in the trees about how Regin at this very moment was plotting Siegfried's murder; the magic in the dragon heart had given Siegfried the power to hear them.

Moments later, Siegfried swung and Regin's head rolled down the path to land beside the dragon. Siegfried walked into the cave to claim the treasure and, unbeknown to him, the curse that accompanied it.



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