Whilst fossicking around in Medieval history, myths and legend as part of research for my current work in progress I found this story of a brave knight and his dog to share with you.
It happened long ago that a giant fire and brimstone belching dragon lived in a dark wood near Stonegrave, just outside York. Said dragon had a nasty habit of dining on the local peasantry. Those who saw it and lived to tell the tale relate that its teeth were long and sharp ‘like the tines of a pitchfork’ and from it’s gaping jaws dripped a foul poison…hardly surprising with all that smoking.
Many knights, plumped up with derring-do, ventured forth to kill it but the monster chewed them up, bones and everything. Not yet satisfied it went onto to mash up their armour and gobble the poor horses ‘saddle and all’.
Enter a Brave Knight
There came a knight, one Sir Peter Loschy, a warrior of renown who determined to battle with the beast and put an end to the fiery feasts the dragon made of innocent peasants and valiant knights alike. He vowed he would kill the dragon or die trying and given the dragon’s track record no-one was taking bets on the survival option.
However, Sir Peter seemed to have a bit more cunning than most. He had a suit of armour made that was covered with sharp blades. Donning the suit in preparation for the battle, his young squire asked him how he was feeling.
‘Sharp’ he quipped and winked at the young man.
He mounted his trusty steed weighed down by his armour, sword and shield and rode towards Loschy Wood where the dragon hung out. I expect comely maidens in pointy hats waved their handkerchiefs at him as he passed by but the bards only ever mention damsels in distress.
To the Dragon’s Den
Sir Peter rode into the wood; the further he penetrated the denser and darker it became. He had for a companion his trusty hound Leo. In the deepest part of the wood Sir Peter halted. There was a-crashing and a-bashing as trees fell and a hoarse smoky voice shouted to him.
‘don’t trouble yourself to come further, I’m coming to you’.
And sure enough the dragon emerged through the flattened trees. Quick as a flash it coiled its long tail around the valiant knight and squeezed and crushed, crushed and squeezed intending to make mincemeat of Sir Peter.
However, the dragon reckoned not on the nasty spiky sharp blades that covered the knight’s armour. The blades cut into the dragon and the more it tightened its grip the more it was flayed by the blades and the greater its pain. The dragon gave a cry as only dragons can, a sort of ‘OOOOOOOOWWWAAAAAAAARGH’ as history records.
The beast released our brave hero and really miffed, not to say enraged, it was determined to have steak haché, extra well-done for its supper.
Yet brave Sir Peter, albeit a bit short of wind by now, swiftly drew his sword and landed a dozen fearsome cuts on his opponent. But our dragon had a secret weapon. He rolled on the earth and voila, by magic his wounds healed.
Fight to the Death
For three hours knight and dragon fought and still the dragon survived the onslaught. However, one heavy cut lopped off the dragon’s tail and quick as a flash, his faithful hound Leo picked it up and running all the way to Nunnington Church dumped it there where it could not be joined to the dragon’s body again.
And that was the way of it. Our knight lopped of a limb and Leo ran off with it until finally only the dragon’s head was left and the dragon, unsurprisingly, was dead.
Sir Peter, patted and stroked his dog.
‘Well done, lad’ he said as Leo licked his face.
But wait! On Leo’s tongue was some of the poison from the dragon’s body. So venomous was it that Sir Peter dropped down, stone dead. Poor Leo was so sorry. He would not leave his master. He lay by the body and died of doggy grief.
Sir Peter was buried in Nunnington church and a stone effigy shows Leo at his feet. Whether Leo was buried with him is unclear.
There are, as in all these Medieval tales a few snags that the analytical among you will no doubt spot but hey, let’s not spoil a good story.
P.S. the part of Leo was played by Zouzou