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Dracs Part 1 Transcript


Annelise

*Disclaimer

"The following episode will be detailing the characteristics of Dracs, a French river fay/serpentine creature. There will be no subsequent references of the vampire Dracula or Drac for short, so do not anticipate hearing of the plights of these bloodsucking paranormal beings. If, now, you have lost interest in listening to this episode I implore you to choose another fay to learn about whilst exploring Our Veil of Smoke and Gold Podcast, or, if you are so inclined to hear about vampires, please compose an email to ourveilofsmokeandgold@gmail.com; I would love to hear from you."

First Story

"Deep in the slimy bed of the river Rhône that slices through southeastern France there lay beings. To most, they go unseen, though not unheard. Those sane enough to have seen them and survived, confide in no one. Others are driven to the edges of any logical thought, running frenzied through the cobbled streets of Europe. The rest are dead, dragged into the water, or ravaged in secret on its banks.

Long  ago, when horses were the main mode of transportation and knights parading about in their gleaming suits of steel, obliging  princesses in silks of lilac, midnight blue, and lemon yellow trimmed in gold, a small town was nestled where there now lies the commune of Beaucaire. The village was secluded to the point that no one other than the townsfolk knew of the constant disappearances that plagued their streets. Young women would go to the Rhône to wash their linens and never return. Children frolicking  around the market stalls would vanish like smoke on the wind. 

Petit Agneau, or Little Lamb, as she was known, was the fairest and most virtuous maiden in the land and was desired by every man inhabiting the town. They all approached her in their best attire and with jewelry made of the finest shells, beseeching: “Oh darling Petit Agneau! Accept my gifts of adoration and grant me your hand!” But, she denied them all.

Only when the baker’s son met her on the banks of the Rhône bearing pale wildflowers harvested fresh from the fields did Petit Agneau’s heart soften.

“Your humility and kindness should be the envy of all,” she said, “It is gratifying to meet someone so honorable, and for that, I will wed you.” The betrothed couple embraced, but Petit Agneau soon became aware of a tugging sensation at her skirts, though the air was still and quiet.

Ripples erupted in the water, as though the river was shivering with morbid anticipation. The faint glimmer of what appeared to be an orb fractured the reflection in the water. Suddenly pain seared in her back, blood spattering the soil and staining the fabric of Petit Agneau’s dress with dark crimson as she was ripped from her fiance and pulled toward the Rhône by an invisible force, all the while unable to make a sound.

The baker’s son retrieved a silver dagger from his belt and set about jabbing at the air surrounding Petit Agneau’s struggling form, until the blade was met with physical resistance. While he was unable,see his foe the young man managed to find enough purchase in what appeared as the air to slice downward, driving the knife-point deep into the riverbank.

The hold on Petit Agneau released and a figure collapsed in the dust next to her, flickering into visibility. As the baker’s son came upon the lifeless beast, he saw that it was a slender serpent-like dragon with ruffled teal scales. 

The man wrenched his hunting knife from the dragon’s tail, where it had punctured a vulnerable point in its armor. 

“Oh, thank you! You saved me!” Petit Agneau sobbed and they kissed. Then, the couple hefted the sea serpent corpse upon their shoulders and made for the town.

Once they reached the streets, the village folk wept to see the demon that had caused so much discord vanquished. Men and women alike formed masses around the boy, each proclaiming their gratitude and stroking the dragon skin in astonishment. Long into the night the people celebrated  raucously, stoking bonfires, feasting upon the fresh fruits of their recent harvest, and dancing to the music of ceremonial drums and the shrill notes of piccolos. Never again did the town suffer because of the beings in the Rhône."

Introduction

"Salutations listeners! I’m your host of Our Veil of Smoke and Gold Podcast, Annelise, and the theme of this episode is Dracs. As was clearly articulated in our disclaimer, the discussion is not about the paranormal monster Dracula or Drac and there will be no further mention of him throughout the episode. Dracs have taken many forms in French mythology, which is where they originated, being sometimes portrayed as an invisible dragon or demon that preyed upon the innocent, residing in the major rivers of France and slaughtering children and young women either on riverbanks or discreetly in their underwater den. In other accounts, Dracs were said to be a shape-shifting fairy without a definitive form who lured ignorant people, having a particular affinity for children and virgins, into their river abodes and occasionally stole wet nurses to raise their offspring. Though they had a propensity to be invisible, sometimes the Dracs would create the mirage of a golden chalice rising from the depths of their river, in order to entice passers by, or they would skim the water on wooden plates as small people. There wasn’t a lot of material in the world of fairy literature on this creature/fay, so I will be touching on some other similar French water dragons and French river fairies, but, without further ado, let’s discover more of the legend, characteristics, history, and meaning of the Drac and what they represent to us as people."

Origins, First Writings, and Role In History

"The word “Drac” derives from the Latin “Draco” and the Greek “Drakon”, both of which mean “serpent” or “dragon”, with their root words meaning “to watch” or “to guard with a sharp eye”. Dracs can refer to any number of fay, including being used as a broad term for French water fairies or describing a form of water dragon.  The latter is how the Dracs are portrayed by Gervase of Tilbury, a canon lawyer, statesman, and cleric from the kingdom of Arles during the medieval period. His most prominent work, the Otia Imperialia (meaning “Recreation for an Emperor” when translated from latin), an encyclopedic work from the early 13th century, detailed many European myths, including what may have been the first explicit reference of the Drac. Gervase described them as “having their abode in the caverns of rivers, and occasionally, floating along the stream in the form of gold rings or cups, enticing women or boys who are bathing on the banks of the river”. Though Gervase was an Englishman, most believe the actual notion of the creature originated in France due to its heightened atmosphere of superstition and the mysterious disappearances that were common during the medieval times. Frederic Mistral, a French author in the 1800’s, composed a book about myths from his region of France, in and around the town of Beaucaire. This town is located on the Rhone River. Mistral claims that Dracs are “invisible winged sea serpents (water dragons)” who left their watery home in the 13th Century to hunt and kill thousands of men. French tales such as Bluebeard (by the way, if you wanted to know more about this particular fairytale check out the Bluebeard episode on Singing Bones Podcast) exemplify the type of tale that arose from the time’s ubiquitous events of murder, rape, and abduction. The same theories that revolve around the classic German tale, the Pied Piper of Hamelin, can also be applied to the inspiration of the Drac. The Pied Piper has been theorized to be a figure of death, and the idea of the Drac could have been constructed as an explanation for children and young women perishing of natural causes, such as landslides, drownings, animal attacks, and deaths due to disease, which was ubiquitous at the time with the proliferation of the Black Death throughout Europe. The insatiable appetite of an invisible beast could additionally have been a sort of metaphor for emmigrants or runaways, like how the Pied Piper is presented on the official Hamelin website, stating that “The "Children of Hamelin" would have been in those days citizens willing to emigrate being recruited by landowners to settle in Moravia, East Prussia, Pomerania or in the Teutonic Land”. However, instead of settling in Moravia, East Prussia, etc., the people the story of the Drac would be referring to would likely have moved to settle in the region of Greece or Constantinople, which were the most common destinations of French emmigrants of the time. But, again, these are simply theories, no one knows where the Drac came from. Is it a figment of Gervase’s imagination? An explanation? A documented part in history? A real beast lurking in plain sight on the streets of France? What do you think?"       

Nature (Personality), Physical Characteristics/Abilities

"When visible, Dracs appear as any other serpentine dragon, with an elongated, scaled body punctuated by stout wings between the fore- and hind-legs. Most often scales are iridescent and can come in a plethora of colors, the head being especially armored with a similar protracted appearance as the rest of the body and decorated with two horns as well as a forked tongue, a trait shared by their cousins the snakes. However, as shapeshifters, Dracs have many additional forms, both inanimate, humanoid, and spiritual. In some stories, they walk amongst us as human, both men and women, indistinguishable from any other passerby, hidden in plain sight. This is a different form of invisibility, which will be discussed later when we analyze this fay. Other times, they are portrayed as miniscule beings with ears that come to sharp points and can be seen skating on plates on the surface of rivers. Or they hover just above the river either as pulsating orbs of purple light that give off a warm glow or a golden chalice bedecked in rubies ascending from the water’s depths, rippling to existence just as the victim steps onto the riverbank."      

Magical Characteristics/Abilities

"The Drac’s most prominent magical feature is its invisibility. This ability permits them access to different human civilizations and involves their entire body - scales, bones, and organs included - becoming unable to be viewed by the human eye, though it is said that animals can sense their presence (maybe they’re just more perceptive than we are). Scientifically, since objects can be seen by light in the visible spectrum from a source reflecting off their surfaces and hitting the viewer's eye, the most natural form of invisibility (whether real or fictional) is an object that neither reflects or absorbs light (that is, it allows light to pass through it). So, by some magic, the Drac are able to alter their visibility and allow light to simply pass through them. Dracs also maintain the ability to shapeshift, a magical capacity that goes by many names, including physical transformation, transmogrification, and metamorphosis. However, whether the Drac actually undergo a full change into a completely different form or manipulate light to construct a mirage of the aforementioned items and beings is not specified in any account, though if their invisibility is any indication, they have an affinity for light manipulation so the latter is far more likely. But, again, the telephone effect over centuries of differing cultures and minds interpreting this story could have become so muddled that while it seemed that the Drac took many forms, it may have been all different accounts of the same story, like the Blind Mice and the Elephant."    

Habitat, Homes, and Relationship With Other Fairy Folk

"As I said previously, there seems to be a dearth of information regarding the Drac, specifically their relationship with other members of the magical world. Since I have heard nothing to the contrary, I am going to assume that they are generally antisocial and territorial towards other fairies and mythical creatures. However, among their own species, Dracs tend to be very congenial, sometimes living solitary in an underwater cavern or cave, or with a colony in an underwater city. Both abodes are said to be located beneath the waters and in riverbanks of French rivers, most notably the Rhône, in the southeast of France that stretches into the borders of Switzerland, and the Seine river, located in the north and northeast of France. Though this description does not directly relate to the Drac, the Swedish story Agneta and the Sea King contains the most beautiful prose about an underwater city and palace and it really stimulated my imagination for what the homes of the Drac look like, so I wanted to share it with you. The following snippets are direct quotations from “Agneta and the Sea King” by Helena Nyblom, “It's beautiful down there! Much more beautiful than up here on earth. The sun shines twice as clear through the water without burning. And when storms and rain rattle at your houses up here, the bottom of the lake is quiet and still. Little waves sounded like harps. At night when the moon rose the water shimmered like silver, and when the sun rose, everything was illuminated in enchanting colors. In a moment thousands of blue sparks lit up, then the light flamed like gold, or glowed turquoise. Then again everything became pale and flowed in lilac streams like summer clouds in the sky. Strange flowers grew on the floor of the lake, but when you smelled them, they had no scent. Like birds of the air, fish glided overhead. There were whole schools of golden fish bright with sunlight, there were carp with red fins, silvery trout and strange silly burbot, motionless in the water with only their gills moving as if talking to themselves. The banquet hall was a deep green vale. High above a crystalline green dome seemed to arch with a great golden lamp in the center. This was the sun shining through the waters. Following a river, it was even possible to reach the sea. The reeds at the water's edge bowed low. The river became broader and broader until it opened into the wide, infinite sea.”

Relationship With Humans and How To Find/Interact With/Lure/Trap/Repel Them

"Rather ostentatiously, Dracs have proven themselves to be vicious and unkindly or otherwise indifferent towards humans. Children are their preferred food as their flesh is supposedly softer and more flavorful, while adults, mainly women, are lured to do the Dracs’ bidding as their flesh is detested for its toughness. Not quite sure if that’s a compliment… Young maidens of reproductive age would be taken to care for the Dracs’ offspring, doing work akin to a wetnurse such as breastfeeding, cleaning, and feeding the children (by the way, in case it wasn’t clear there are female Dracs, but they either choose not  to deal with their babies, legitimately can’t provide the nutrients or whatever is needed to support them in their first years of life and are therefore dependent on humans, or the Dracs have some kind of unique birth system like seahorses). Anyway, these women would continue their service for a total of seven years, after which point the Drac who kidnapped them would remove all memories of their time below the river (there are exceptions where memory removal doesn’t work, and this will be described in our second story) and return them to theirfamilies. As for repelling Dracs, since it would obviously be masochistic and stupid to lure a bloodthirsty water dragon to your doorstep, there actually wasn’t a lot of information, so my best advice would be simply to be wary while near rivers or any bodies of water in general and to keep a watchful eye out for anything or anyone suspicious. Essentially, follow water safety recommendations and do not willingly follow strangers anywhere, nobody has a puppy in their car that they want you to see! And seriously wear a lifejacket, it’s not a joke, I have a second cousin my age that literally drowned due the capsizing of a small fishing boat in a terrible tragedy that involved him not wearing a life jacket. I never truly got to know him, but the grief his family has been afflicted with is horrendous, particularly for his brother who was with him and in fact wearing a lifejacket, having thus survived, though not without first witnessing his brother’s death. I wanted to pay a small homage to this cousin and his family in this episode because I cannot even begin to comprehend what they are going through, so I’m going to observe a moment of honorable silence.

Thank you for honoring my cousin in this way."

Conclusion

"And that concludes Dracs episode Part 1, thank you for listening! So, in Part 2, our next episode, we will discuss a second story, will analyze that story as well as the messages and meanings that the Drac give us in ordinary life, and then specifically in my life. Please leave a rating and review on whatever podcasting source you're listening to this from, it really encourages me to continue making the podcast and feel free to shoot me an email at ourveilofsmokeandgold@gmail.com, regarding any concerns, feedback, suggestions on faeries, or anything else you really want me to know. I appreciate any feedback, though I'd prefer if it were constructive, not just "this podcast is bad" because that does not help me improve. This is Annelise on Our Veil of Smoke and Gold Podcast, thanks again for listening and I'll see you in our Part 2." 

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