Jilocasin

During the reign of Charlemagne, there lived in a region of Gascony a very old and wise dragon called Jilocasin, who was a poet. Every so often, Jilocasin would abandon his comfortable and spacious dwelling and take on a human form to visit the King's court. There he was a well known and respected troubadour, and he made the most of these brief sojourns to sing his verses and listen to the creations of other poets. Then he would return to his home in Gascony where he could compose in peace and lead a peaceful life far from the world.

One day he was traveling through the forests of Gascony disguised as a troubadour, when he heard a desperate cry for help. Without losing a moment he ran in the direction of the screams and came across a poor woman who was trying to defend herself against some bandits. Jilocasin changed back into a dragon and with two blows he finished off the ruffians. The woman had fainted from her injuries, and the dragon lifted her onto his back and flew speedily back to his dwelling.

Jilocasin's servants took care of the lady whose clothes, although they were torn and dirty were those of a lady of high rank.

On undoing the bundle which the woman clasped to her breast, they found a baby only a few weeks old slumbering peacefully oblivious to everything.

Thanks to the care and solicitude of the servants, the woman soon came to, and Jilocasin took on his human shape to visit his protégé. The lady expressed her gratitude and told him her story. She had been widowed within two years of marriage, and her family had forced her to marry her cousin, an unscrupulous man who was interested only in inheriting the title and wealth of her deceased husband.

The wedding was celebrated in haste, before the mourning period prescribed by law had been observed.

"But I was pregnant by my first husband, something which my cousin did not know", explained the woman, weeping. "When the baby was born, six months after the forced wedding, my husband tried to seize the baby to prevent him threatening his inheritance. Fearing for the life of my son, I ran away but the villain pursued me with his henchmen, and he almost succeeded in killing the child. Fortunately you saved us, and now my life belongs to you."

Touched by the grief and beauty of the woman, Jilocasin offered her support and shelter in his house.

Time passed, and the dragon-troubadour and the lady became inseparable. The beautiful fugitive was aware of Jilocasin's true identity but she was so taken by his kindness and amiability that it did not affect her love for him. Meanwhile, the dragon found in her the understanding and friendship he had always sought. Jilocasin and the lady would go for long walks together and sometimes the dragon would carry her on his back and they would visit far-off lands. Together they rode, loved, and sang the verses which the dragon-poet composed. They spent three happy years in this way. To complete her happiness, the woman became pregnant. They were both looking forward to the birth of their son, but the lady died in childbirth. Jilocasin was inconsolable. He had lost an irreplaceable companion, the only woman who loved him as he was.

Faithful to her memory the dragon cared for the two boys without making any distinction between his adoptive son and his own son. He taught them the highest principles and, after a while, presented them at court to be armed knights.

The two brothers, who chose to be called the Knights of the Dragon, were famous for their nobility and honor; and they finally avenged their mother's memory by capturing the castle which their villainous uncle had stolen from them.

Story by Montse Sant