Serpent underbelly, eagle talons, antlered skull, human eyes. The Piasa of the upper Mississippi was once the terror of the native peoples, its black shape blotting out the sun as it soared above battlefields like a bloated vulture. It took children from the forests and women from the fields, and no hunter could stand against it and live. Then it was gone. None could say where, or when, or even how. Slowly, the people grew less cautious, less afraid. But they carved a warning into the limestone above the turbulent waters. A dragon-thing, with the face of a man. Just in case.
The miners and log cutters along the Cumberland tread carefully at night. It's said that something haunts the moonlit roads, white form flitting through the trees, always at the corner of your eye....
Another creature from Appalachian folklore, interpreted from a description that is basically limited to "creepy, bestial, and white." It doesn't really have a name, either--it's only ever referred to as "The Thing in White." Or, apparently, "Sheepsquatch."
This came as a result of rereading Beowulf. The Barrow Wyrm from the last third of the poem is the basis for most of the really classic English dragons: it hoards gold, breathes fire, has a venomous bite, and flies into a shrieking, murderous rage if it's disturbed. This old beast has been guarding its hoard for so long that its once-brilliant scales have turned white, but it's still pretty spry--as poor Beowulf is about to find out.
The Kalona Ayeliski is the most feared of the Anisgina, a witch-thing of bottomless malevolence and terrible power. Devourer of the dead and the dying, it steals breath and life to prolong its own terrible existence. Only those with strong magic or pure heart can kill a Kalona Ayelisk, should they see its true face. It goes masked and cloaked, in the form of a terrible raven, for fear of being seen, and even recognized it takes seven days to die.
Those who take ill in the mountains of North Carolina soon learn to fear its mocking, cawing scream..... -----
The rough backed Lung is a common terrestrial predator in china. It grows up to 14 feet long and is a capable and deadly hunter, taking everything from frogs to deer. It is a far ranging creature, with a very wide distribution and a multitude of subspecies. It is found in a variety of habitats, from mountain forests to lowland groves of bamboo. The Rough Backed Lung is solitary, and mating takes in the spring, while two spherical eggs are laid in the summer. Some subspecies carry their eggs with them, while most bury them in a sunny clearing and leave them to hunt. The young are protected for a few weeks before the female loses interest. Males are territorial, but confrontations are seldom violant; instead the males sing, with the loudest song winning. The low, fluting notes are common in the more remote parts of china. Swift and powerful, the Lung is a formidable opponent; however, it's disposition is suprisingly shy, and it avoids human habitation. The peoples of China adore it and place offerings in the forest in return for it's peacable behavior; it is a dangerous thing for any dragon hunter to let it be known he has killed one.
The Slanting One, The Lord of Game, the Six Fingered Giant. Tsul' Kalu is a Cherokee spirit of devastating power and unpredictable temperament. Occasionally, Tsul'Kalu (sometimes anglicized to Judaculla or Jutaculla) is friendly toward the people of the mountains, and particularly toward pretty Cherokee maidens. However, he is very self conscious of his appearance; one tale tells how he married a woman while in the guise of a handsome man, but fled the village in rage and shame when her family discovered his true form. (His wife, for the record, was fine with it.) Those who hold his patronage are lucky in the hunt. Those who offend him go hungry, or worse. The wrath of Tsul' Kalu makes the mountains shake with thunder, and his flashing, slanted eyes are like lightening. It's best to keep him happy. --
This is piece of rough character design for the mountain spirit. He'll be popping up in the Anna O'Brien stories at some point, and I wanted to have a clear image in my head for how he might look. The insert is a black and white photo of the Judaculla Stone, a piece of soapstone carved with pictograms that predate the Cherokee, and is associated with the legend primarily because of the six-fingered handprint.
He looks kind of like my old tech theater teacher in high school. Funny how these things work out.
"The Peluda is a specialized species of fresh water hydra that resides in the vast swamps of france. A slow and grumpy creature, the Peluda is notable mainly for it's great venom and quilled back. It hunts in the reed beds, allowing itself to blend with the tall grass, before striking out at any creature that passes by. The peluda feeds on many small creatures of the swamp, from frogs and rats to the young of other species of hydra.
The Peluda is small, only the size of a small crocodile, but it's quills and nasty temper make it a creature to avoid. Luckily, it is a shy animal and flees from confrontation, which considering it's venom, is a good thing."
The dragons of heaven are nothing like their poor earthly counterparts. Slumbering for hundreds of years beneath the waters and sands of China, they command great powers in their infinitely long life cycles, freed from the shackles of biological need and necessity, closer to god then beast, and closer to unknowable chaos then either.
This is loosely inspired by BPRD's Scorched Earth trilogy. Guy Davis designed some very eel like dragons for that excellent series, and I liked the idea and ran with it.
In Murphy, North Carolina, there is a spot where the waters from three muddy rivers come together in a broad expanse of slow moving water. Beneath the surface lay a ridge of granite, offering a natural bridge. But the Cherokee went carefully in that place; to ford the river risked the attention of something ancient and loathesome, something that had crept up from the spirit world to lie beneath the surface. Sometimes a wave would sweep a traveler off of the ridge, and when their bodies surfaced, the fluids had been drained from their bodies, and their noses and eyes had been eaten away....
The Cherokee named the place Tlanusi'yï, the Leech Crossing. Soon, they avoided using it at all.