Smok Wawelski – the Legend of the Dragon of Wawel in Kraków

Once upon a time, long, long ago… there was a dragon in Kraków.

It was a completely ordinary dragon, the kind with scales like armour, teeth like butchers’ knives, and talons that could shred a man like lettuce.

And of course, where be dragons, there be maidens too. Maidens and dragons have always gone together; a dragon without a maiden is in all likelihood about to starve to death.

And so the dragon which lived under Wawel hill dined monthly on the maidens of the neighbourhood. This did not please the locals, in particular the young men, who were also very fond of maidens. This being a time before football and stag parties had been thought of, the young men spent their Saturdays expending their excess testosterone in attempts to kill the beast – a pastime which generally resulted in their expending their blood too.

That was until a young cobbler called Skuba came along. Skuba was somewhat less broad of chest than the other young men who had attempted to kill the dragon, but what he lacked in fighting prowess he more than made up for in tactical nous. Skuba stuffed the carcass of a sheep with sulphur, and left it outside the dragon’s cave. The dragon, not being a particularly picky eater, wolfed down the offering and ambled back to the cave for a post-prandial nap.

It wasn’t an easy sleep, for as the sulphur in the sheep seeped into the dragon’s stomach, the beast began to toss and turn, and finally woke, parched with thirst. It dashed out of the cave and began gulping down the water of the river Wisła, gallon by gallon, until finally it swelled to twice its original size and exploded.

Skuba was hailed a hero and married the most comely maiden of all, the king’s daughter. And they had dragon sandwiches at the wedding feast.

Picture: A Kaczmarz/Teatr Groteska

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