On Dragons

(From "The Flora, Fauna and other Beasts of the Fenlands", taken from the copy held in the library of Ely cathedral, which was originally transcribed from an unknown source sometime during the period 1384 to 1412, and in this version somewhat modernised.)

Draco Cantabrigensis

There are heard tales from that darkest part of the southern fens, near Grantachester, of fell beasts which haunt the night skies. No man has survived an encounter with one, for their very existence is inimical to normal folk. The farmers of the area report that they are responsible for much predation, raiding grain, meat and dairy foods every week. It is also known that they are partial to raiding the stores of alehouses, and often traps are set for them using great vats of beer as a lure. The beasts, it seems, have too much natural cunning to fall for such a device, for none have yet been caught.

The appearance of these creatures is beyond imagination. They have great black wings, luminous scales and hideous orange ruffs. It is reported that they have firey breaths, and are capable of exhaling billowing clouds of noxious smoke. Any soul foolish enough to stare into the creature's eyes will be forever ensnared by it, trapped by the visions he sees therein. The mating habits of the beast are unknown, for no clutch of eggs has been found near there haunts. It is observed that the males are by far the more numerous, to the extent that they have been known to prey on maidens to satiate their appitite.

S. Arrowsmith (siona@chiark.greenend.org.uk), 1992
Originally prepared for Jómsborg the New.

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