The Fall and Redemption of Dragontina

By Monica Ann Pedone (Columbia University)


                                     1-5       Power has its limits: the story of Daedalus and Icarus

                                    6-8       The realm of the fairies

                                    9-11     Judgement Comes to Dragontina

                                    12-14   Dragontina falls for Sir Galwain

                                    15-17   Dragontina is rebuffed and takes revenge

                                    18-19   Circella’s Tale

                                    20-21   Judgement Comes to Dragontina

                                    22-27   The Queen of the Fey holds court

                                    28-32   Dragontina is found guilty by the Queen

                                    33-35   Dragontina is made to drink two potions and is transformed

                                    36-38   Dragontina in monster form encounters a paladin and is slain

                                    39-40   Fiordelisa seeks mercy for Dragontina and pleads to the Queen

                                    41-43   The Queen poses a riddle to Dragontina

                                    44-45   Dragontina answers the riddle and is turned human


         Power has its limits: the story of Daedalus and Icarus

1       It is the way with all such things no matter what or who they be

         That when given great powers and abilities by the gods themselves

         Do oft dare and cross the line that was drawn under such a divine decree

         And find that by their dalliance into dire circumstances do delve

         To be not satisfied with what one has is surely the path to ruin

         To seek the things that are forbidden is to see through a crooked glass

         That twists and turns a wicked end which once viewed the gods will make their do in

         For theirs is an end to which no good may ever come and only evil pass

2       Such a case was father and son both steeped in knowledge and in skill

         Who didst construct for old King Minos a prison for the half bull son of his wife

         A labyrinth so secret and clever that the monster Minotaur would use to kill

         But the hero Theseus with spinning Ariadne’s help did escape from death with his life

         When the enraged Minos heard of this, his thoughts turned to the one who did it

         Of all the names that came to him Daedalus’ name was foremost and the first

         Must be he who created the maze was the one who this did permit

         Minos then decided that into his own creation traitor Daedalus would be cursed

3       So into that infernal abyss inhabited by the monstrous aberration, the Minotaur

         Daedalus and his son Icarus must be interred, their eyes never to see their home

         But Minos did not know that the men he buried would soon be the ones to soar

         For clever Daedalus and son were to devise a way to from this prison roam

         From feathers of the sea birds that he found and dregs of wax from long spent lights

         Such cleverness and cunning did Daedalus show soon the fruits of his great work

         He and his son fashioned great wings upon which they could soon take flight

         He counseled  his young impetuous son that these wings did have but one quirk

4       Once the wings are strapped on, then into the air and the clouds you will surely go

         But be prudent my son, for there are limits to these for they are made by man

         Your course must be true taking the middle height, neither too high nor too low

         For if you waver and fly too high the Sun’s heat will melt your fabulous plumed span

         But as sons for ages old are oft to do when wisely cautioned by their father

         Icarus nodded in assent and took flight, and to the skies he flew up and away

         The cautions he was told he discarded, they must surely be an old man’s bother

         Between the clouds and the birds he flew, but soon it was for youth Icarus to stray

5       His father, also in flight, seeing this yelled and screamed, the youth took no heed

         Son, you fly too high, the wax will melt, you must fly lower, but to no avail

         But soon that rebellious son would reap the awful rewards for his disastrous deed

         Feather, wax, and ribs of the wings soon parted and those wonderous wings did fail

         The clever Daedalus saw the tiny splash in the sea that young son Icarus made

         But down to that sea he could not go, his wings would dampen, and flight be lost

         And thus, Daedalus, powerless and broken, grieved for his foolish son, given the price he paid

         Gained freedom from the terrible maze, but had born the ultimate cost



         The realm of the fairies

6       The world we see is firm and real but not the only one known

         There exist realms that cannot be seen, touched, or felt

         Heaven is one such place that from the Holy Bible is shown

         Hell too, Heaven’s counterpart, is real — at least to whom this prison’s dealt

         ‘Tis a fourth, the fairy realm, that around our world does ring

         To which all creatures under magic’s hand do rightly dwell

         And pass to and from their fey place and many a joy or sadness bring

         And do their good and mischievous, arcane deeds and cast many a spell

7       There are rules for these, the denizens of the world called Fey

         To perchance answer the call that is made by desperate men

         For whom the end seems about to come and to their Creator prey

         And from such disastrous fate theses wonder workers must defend

         But like the men upon the earth these fey have a will that is free

         And for the better or for the worse their actions can be

         Like men they suffer punishment and reward for which their actions agree

         And one such tale was once told by Turpin, and now the tale is told by me



8       Dragontina was her name and about her fate we now will hear

         For truly dragons are fierce and noble and wise, though she was small

         Though she was small, her role was to be big and she acted without fear

         But sadly, from this lofty height to far below she did fall

         To incline men’s minds to the good, to her this gift was given

         To guide them on a narrow path and avoid their lesser fate

         But due to one tragic flaw, off the true path she was driven

         For love drives many mad, it’s true, and in reverse shows itself as hate


         Judgement comes to Dragontina

9       All went quiet and black and then a shining bright white light appeared

         She opened her eyes to see a world at first that she dimly recalled

         Slowly she came to realize where she was, it was as she feared

         Swept from the earthly plane to the Fey her essence was called

         As the rising morning sun clears the fog and dew on the verdant plain

         And what was vague and indistinct with each passing moment grows more clear

         She tried and tried to recall her last hours and twas not in vain

         ‘cause what came to be was made known to her yet one thing did she fear

10     Truly the gods, as is their right, did to all creatures thus ordain

         That to the gifts that they are given, they must be used as was intended

         To transgress this bond each one must undergo judgment and pain

         And each such use that was not right must be strongly amended

         Now for her actions the price was to be paid as such it was required

         And this tale is strange, dark, and sad and a warning to us all

         And you, dear reader, may ask how this came to be and what transpired

         Thus now you’ll hear just what occurred and how our fairy did fall

11     What was the crime that didst commit sad Dragontina, consigned to discontent

         It was a crime of the heart, one in which many, fey or man, do stumble

         For no one who draws breath is immune to the arrow that is by Eros sent

         But how one handles that wound itself makes one rise or crumble

         For love is known to twist and turn and many a lover’s heart is fickle

         but one such as this valiant knight, his love is as a river’s course, strong and true

         and this torrent cannot be diverted and ne’er be turned into a sorry trickle

         It would take a fey’s magic black and fell to this knight’s love undo


         Dragontina falls for Sir Galwain

12     His name was Sir Galwain, brave knight who was fierce and strong and true

         Had caught our fairy Dragontina’s eye and also touched her heart

         She had not before known the pangs of Love, and her feelings for him thus grew

         But ‘twas not supposed to be her fate and never this love affair to start

         To achieve her aims and make him hers upon her fairy art did she rely

         And though he was promised to another, this to her was of no matter

         For she wanted what she did want and to his heart a spell she did let fly

         And thus, she did make his feelings for his lady disappear and shatter

13     Love is anything but soft and those that try to upon it play a trick

         Soon to understand what they have done, as Love gets its turn to return the favor

         And from its vast stores of ways to see its goals, Love will surely pick

         Eros was to be the victor and from his arrows course, true love did not waver

         Soon Galwain held his lady dear, cradled with love, the fair and kind Danielle

         From Eros’ quiver, that arrow’s true course all fell magic did dispel

         And restored what was meant to be to the Knight reunited with his loving, fair damoiselle

         All false feelings incurred in our brave knight did that missive quickly repel

14     The opposite was true for that fey, for Dragontina did burn and sputter

         At the very moment she did decide that this was to be all Knights’ fate

         At the thought that her plan was foiled and Galwain was to love another

         Since one knight has done such to her on all Knights’ will rain her hate

         If love was to be denied to her, that she must Sir Galwain ever forget

         That such an end was fitting and just, that each Knight can remember no thing

         In such a way, the maddened fey would make them all Eros’ action regret

         Crafting such a fell plan mad made her madder still, and revenge it did her bring


        Dragontina is rebuffed and takes revenge

15     Back to the earthly plane to carry out her plan she did fly

         Once there, an evil garden did she make to trap and keep each noble knight

         Once they forgot who they were, with her evil plans they would comply

         And all that might try to oppose her way, these bewitched knights would for her fight

         In her madness the fey Dragontina a sumptuous palace had so built

         A citadel with floors of the finest stone, green and white marble were laid

         Lofty ceilings of blue and gold enamel and columns of amber and bases of the finest gilt

         A garden of flowers from which rose a sweet scent, cedars and palms for ample shade

16     When Orlando did reach this, he saw a damsel on a bridge holding a crystal chalice

         It was none other than the cunning Dragontina, but to him this was not known

         She beckoned the Count to come and drink, it was custom for all who pass without malice

         Our innocent knight with her seemingly simple request did comply, as she was all alone

         But just as he had swallowed the enchanted drink it, its effect was sure and swift

         He knew not who he was or why he had come to this strange place

         But his heart was turned to the fey Dragontina and all else had gone adrift

         Who he was and his love for Angelica, his devotion to Dragontina did displace

17     He was not the only knight in all the realms whose power Dragontina did affect

         Though they did not know who they were many a cavalier was there

         Ballano, Chiarone, Oberto, Grifone, Aquilante, Hadrian and Antifor all she did select

         Of their own knowledge even that being Saracen or Christian didst any of them bear

         Orlando, staring, upon panels in the loggia, stories of nobles and ladies he did see

         A story of a damsel by the sea who with her potion did turn men into beasts

         ‘Twas the Fey, Circella, who did to the men who upon her shores came to be

         And so, on all fours these proud men crowded her shores and her island’s reefs


         Circella’s Tale

18     Circella was a sister to our dear Fey and to these sisters the same fate would soon apply

         To be undone and their end they must meet as surely as I tell this tale to you

         For in the very heart of each fell and evil plan, no matter how cunning or sly

         There exist the seeds of its demise, on this outcome the fates ordain that will be true

         Having seen a fair baron whose looks her heart did so inflame and radiate

         And maddened with love mistakenly partake of potion that she brewed with Medea of old

         Transformed into a white deer, she fell prey to a hunter’s trap and thus was her fate

         To be undone by the very means that she used to undo others the decree has surely tolled

19     Twas not by a knight or baron bold that Orlando was to be saved

         But by the lovely Angelica who with her wits and craft did the Count surely free

         Was she to free the hapless Baron and all the other knights, that by the Fey were enslaved

         With her ring so craftily made, invisible to the eye and that made all magic flee

         She slipped it on Orlando’s finger and at once his forgetful slumber did desist

         And to the other knights, each one in turn did Angelica’s ring from this spell did break

         And since that garden palace was made but by a spell, it too had ceased to exist

         And of the palace and the bridge was left but a woods, her spells it did unmake.


         Judgement comes to Dragontina

20     Now that it is known just how it is that Dragontina fell so far and became adrift

         And that she did cause others to suffer to allay her pain

         Payment must come, for it rides a horse that is sure and swift

         And the heavens cry for its payment so that she will no longer be knights’ bain

         For Fey there is right and wrong and to make these lawbreakers become contrite

         None may misuse their powers for long to cause others grief and tears

         It has been set by those above to make what is wrong into what is right

         And thus, many a fey turned bad has come to realize their fears

21     Accounts must be balanced, that has always been the Divine plan

         Though through trickery and deceit full recompense of the balance may be delayed

         This sacred law does apply to all, whether angel, fey and even man

         One way or the other, the heavens decree that in full this debt must be paid

         So it was that the judgement of Dragontina drew nearer still than the breath we all exhale

         Each sphere its own does judge and rule and for the guilty a sentence pursue

         It would be wrong for fey to go astray and to not balance Justice’s scale

         Such was the court drawn since olden days and let loose its verdict true


         The Queen of the Fey holds court

22     It was no simple court, for our Fey has a serious crime committed

         And to judge her fate there must be three, among them Queen of the Fey

         No less than this was to hear the case and see if she was guilty or to be acquitted

         Swift is Justice in this sphere and her fate would be determined in a day

         The three judges took their seats, high up behind a lofty table

         They looked down upon the one so charged, who committed that heinous crime

         Dragontina was contained below and from any escape she was unable

         Such did the trial commence for that sad, poor fey for she had run out of time

23     There was one who read the charges to the court and pointed at the fey

         Twas Dragontina did use her powers in a way that was not intended

         For what was to be used for good for Love’s desire she lost her way

         She made sport of many a knight and left their lives unremembered

         For this there is no defense, no reason that may excuse such a deed

         To use her powers that were for good to be twisted in such a way

         She beguiled many a knight who rode to her grand palace on his steed

         As such when they drank from her cup these knights she did lead astray

24     Once that potion they had tasted, all sense of self was no longer known

         And in doing so she had felt joy, knowing that they were now devoted to her

         For if she could not have the gallant Sir Galwain, then they would be hers and hers alone

         And to her wishes, whims and commands, these mighty knights were forced to defer

         But each of these gallant knights had their own mind and soul

         And from them she slyly robbed their memories using her evil craft

         And as such their swords, shields and fates were the things she did control

         She robbed them of their lives, twisting her gifts into vile witchcraft

25     So having heard the charges made by that accuser of the Fey,

         The three judges turned and asked Dragontina if she had any defense

         Trembling and unsure there came a voice from below hesitant to have its say

         Tis Love that made me do such things, a love that was without any sense

         I saw him, the gallant and brave Sir Galwain and my heart did quickly stir

         Though I knew I could not have him, and he was promised to another maiden true

         My needs and desires did overcome that despite what recompense it might incur

         And to make him mine with my powers that knight’s heart I would pursue

26     If he were made to forget his love, the fair and pure princess Danielle

         Perhaps to me his heart would turn, his love would be all mine

         But Eros having seen my plan, to my scheme would soon rebel

         Because these two were meant for each other, their love was truly divine

         So a second arrow he did shoot, his power greater than that which was mine

         Its course was straight and true, his memory restored and his love made stronger still

         And so went awry that plan I made and the two lovers their hearts did entwine

         I was left with nothing but a gaping spot in my heart that with sheer hate I would fill

27     So I decided that from this day onward, my revenge upon the knights I would take

         And to the land I descended and using fell magic and twisting my evil art

         A palace I made, with bridge, stream and garden a trap to many a knight I would take

         Each unwary knight that strode into my lair of my army become a part

         A simple spell, a crystal cup of which I would have each knight drink

         But once they emptied the contents of the cup, their minds were cleared and void

         And to my will they were bent, unable to remember their past or even think

         And to my army these valiant knights were tricked and thus they were deployed


         Dragontina is found guilty by the Queen

28     Is that all you have to say for yourself, the accuser demanded and pointed at our Fey

         For I hear not one word of excuse or reason for such debauched deeds

         And such a love itself is not a reason for many have felt so and not gone astray

         For to damage others for your wants, to solely do this to sate your needs

         I demand for justice that this court that sits in judgement high above

         Hear what here has been said and render to this creature below a sentence stern and just

         And to the crime the punishment should accrue for her misuse of gifts for love

         From her current form she must be changed and Dragontina we can never again trust

29     With this the accuser sat in her chair, satisfied that Dragontina’s guilt was well applied

         And the matter was turned to the judges three, headed by the queen of the fey

         The stern three took their counsel and amongst themselves did talk and decide

         And to a judgement they did arrive as if on winged courser they did fly

         The Queen looked at the other judges, one to her left and one to her right

         And regally rose to her feet and gathered up her robe and gestured with her hand

         Was the verdict to be pronounced and as such the fate of the accused to be set

         The chattering stopped, she cleared her throat and all the court went quickly quiet

30     When the Queen does speak, surely all the fey do deeply quake

         For from her pronouncements are the law and no deviation can be sought

         The case has been made, Dragontina is guilty and payment for her crimes she must make

         And a fitting punishment has been set to atone for the crimes and sins that she has wrought

         She will be made to forget who she was, as she did to others will be done to her

         And monstruous as her actions were, so shall a monster she become

         Doomed to be slain by those very knights that she made them not remember

         To arise anew, another monster become only to suffer and to a knight’s sword succumb

31     Having declared the verdict true there was but one more thing that she must do

         She raised her and beckoned forth, and her aid understood what was to happen next

         The sentence now declared must be done and the action upon Dragontina would ensue

         And thus, the convicted fey stood before them all, dreading to see the coming effect

         The Queen called for her fairy chest; a box of elm and Lindenwood set upon a silver tray

         Within were many delicate bottles, strange vials, and gilded flasks made for her fairy art

         She paused, thought, and then acted, two she took from that box and sent the rest away

         For these would be the things she needed for the evil fairy’s infliction to start

32     Of the two bottles, each she cradled in her fairy hands, left and right

         The first of which came from that stream that made so many knights forget

         The second was from Circella, but instead of a beast a monster would become her plight

         At this point to which it has come for cursed Dragontina ever to regret

         The first drink she swallowed deep and full, at the Fairy Queen’s command

         And as it touched her lips, she forgot just who she was, and her mind went blank

         Once she had drunk full this potion of forgetfulness upon the Queen’s demand

         She had the same trick played upon her deservingly, to her vile nature she could thank


         Dragontina is made to drink two potions and is transformed

33     Now that she could not know any of her past where or who she was

         Such as it is easier to paint a picture upon a canvas that is blank and white

         The second potion was all the stronger, and took its horrible effect without pause

         And from a standing shape she transformed and crouched down from this blight

         You will be sent back down to earth, to the lands where knights do roam

         And fight them as a monster each time and when you surely lose

         Then another beast you shall become for you now have no home

         This is your fate, detested one, to atone for those that you did abuse

34     The feral beast that once was Dragontina tried to hide and looked to escape and be free

         With a clap of her hands the Fairy Queen concluded the court and sent the beast to earth

         And with just the mind and senses of a beast this new life was all that she was to be

         And to writhe and wail upon the land, knight’s fodder was to be its worth

         But beasts have cunning even if not wise and cover and shelter it did seek

         And soon its nature took the better as its stomach rumbled and hideous lips went dry

         It sought to sate these animal urges, searching for some prey and to feast upon the weak

         As such, this creature had not any sense and soon assailed that which first passed by

35     Twas fortune’s lot to have a brave paladin of France be the first the monster did see

         On his way, the Duke of Chambery was set to join the battle that loomed to the north

         Clad in finest armor, lance and jewel studded shield movement stirred behind a tree

         From the shadows, the monster known as Sibilaccia its hulking shape did bring forth


         Dragontina in monster form encounters a paladin and is slain

36     As a shepherd dog watches for the wolf, and guards the flock in his charge

         and any threat that may occur, has already thought and fended off far ahead

         So the valiant Sir Rober did see in front of him, this monster grow from small to large

         And so the monster did attack the stalwart paladin, its claws of iron mere mortals would strike with dread

         Sir Rober did hear its vile sound as it breathed and so was made quite aware

         That rasping sound that issued forth from its mouth that was a gaping maw

         And saw each tooth that wobbled and shook in its mouth, and its yellow eyes did glare

         He knew at once what he must do and without in an instant his sword he did draw

37     His aim was true, as if guided by a fairy hand and struck the beast in its yellow eye

         All fight and vigor left the beast rent by his sword to the back of its wooly head

         It met the ground with a thunderous shake and let out one last mournful sigh

         And from its lips escaped a wheezing hiss, “Dragontina” and then was dead

         The knight was shocked that it could speak and heard it say that infamous name

         He stared at its hulking but lifeless form that soon formed into a swirling mist

         The mist hovered a bit and with a breeze the mist was gone and clear air it became

         Neither blood nor sinew was left on the ground as if the fell creature did not exist

38     The first but not the last of many an indignant and gruesome death this was to be

         As fast as she had died into a new monster shape by the Fey Queen she was magically cast

         And all but the pain from her mind was cleansed, and from this fate she would not be free

         The fey above kept the count, for her monster mind could not, this was not to be her last

         As night follows day and day follows night, the sun rises, it sets and rises again

         Dragontina was punished without remorse and made to suffer without hope of recourse

         There was one, who knew her in her fairy form and remembered her without such disdain

         For in her heart she judged no one lost and beyond hope if they showed some true remorse


         Fiordelisa seeks mercy for Dragontina and pleads to the Queen

39     For that symbol of many a town and nation, claimed by both Firenze and La Belle France

         Was named Fiordelisa, neither angel or demon, who bore that name and wore it well

         Having freed the Conte de Anglante from the Fonte del Riso, on this she would also chance

         And appeal to the fey court to release Dragontina from this never ending hell

         She prayed and prayed and called to the Queen who finally heard her plea

         And summoned the dear Fiordelisa and allowed her to plead her case

         “O Queen your rule is just and truly is as should be and such was your decree”

         But once a year prisoners may be granted a special kind of cleansing grace

40     For it was set upon the rules, set by the one in Heaven who is above all

         That an opportunity for mercy must be given for those who may so merit

         And by this rule, I invoke your clemency on poor Dragontina who did fall

         And if you do accede to this.  A new life and new path she might in this way inherit

         With this our flower rested her case and the Fairy Queen was duly moved

         And set but one condition, as was her wont upon the means of her release

         If she passed this test of her worthiness Dragontina’s freedom she would approve

         And no longer would she be fated to live and die endlessly as every kind of beast


         The Queen poses a riddle to Dragontina

41     So Dragontina was summoned to the court. Into her prior form she was fully restored

         Trembling before the Fairy Court she fell on her knees and begged mercy from the Queen

         The Queen pronounced it is Fiordelisa who speaks for you, for your mercy she has implored

         I have acceded so, but one condition made, a riddle I give and its answer you must glean

42     If you do not answer it in the manner I propose, then to your beastly form you will return

         For such are the rules and the riddle will judge if your heart has turned and is now true

         So be careful in your answer here, for if you fail your release you will not earn

         But if you do succeed, as a human you will live and a life of goodness you will do

         So here is my riddle for you to solve, just you and you alone, for no one may help or aid

         Think deeply but do not tarry or waste as your fate hangs in the balance

            Truly no one is outstanding without me, nor fortunate;

            I embrace all those whose hearts ask for me.

            He who goes without me goes about in the company of death;

            and he who bears me will remain lucky for ever.

            But I stand lower than earth and higher than heaven.

43     The court gasped at the riddle, because surely no one the answer knew

         Had Dragontina learned her lesson, among the deaths and punishments she bore

         If only to this knotty riddle she had an answer, but she had not even a clue

         Truly to be able to answer this, to the God above, she must surely implore

         But Dragontina had learned her lesson at the hand of and by the sword of many a knight

         That the lesson was to cure the arrogance that she had shown to Sir Gawain

         And the answer to the riddle truly must in some way be related to her plight

         Once of this defect she was cured, then to a better form she could return again


         Dragontina answers the riddle and is turned human

44     She pondered and thought, no answer came, her mind was like the fog she cast upon them

         The thought of returning to the beastly form and its pain crashed down upon her

         Surely this was to be her chance, a chance that she could not squander

         Because if she failed and did not answer, as a monster she would wander

         Then as the lightning strikes its target, swiftly and from the heavens above

         The idea struck her and split that fog and she could clearly see

         That the answer to the riddle was deep inside her, spurred on by divine love

         That to be free tis one thing that she must have and it was Humility

45     With this the Queen smiled, knowing that her punishment had worked its way

         She learned her lesson and it helped to set the things gone amiss to right

         And Dragontina was cleansed and fully her debt she did repay

         From now on no longer a fey she would be, but as a human who walks in the light

         So to the earth below both she and Fiordelisa were returned, and the flower she did thank

         Tis my fate now, as long as I am here, to care for these knights both injured and old

         And to the castle that cares for such she withdrew and gave her service for every rank

         And took the name, Giolla, which means servant, for which her new tales would be told