Triskelen Water Dragon Myth in Tales of the Transmuter | World Anvil

Triskelen Water Dragon

Among the seafaring Triskelen culture, rumors of powerful beasts living in waters of the Grand Triskele Lake are common. One of the oldest and most prolific of these legends is the tale of the Triskelen Water Dragon, a steam- and frost-spewing cryptid believed to have breathed the fimbulmist into being.


Sailors of old used to tell the tale of large, shadowy, sinuous creatures swimming beneath their vessels as they crossed the deepest parts of the Grand Triskele. These massive creatures seem to have an interest in surface-going vessels, as they will pursue the craft for miles and sometimes try to pull the vessels aside or slow their progress. Sailors that fall overboard during these encounters, even powerful swimmers, disappear beneath the waves never to be seen again. A terrible, obscuring mist presages the approach of the sea dragon; in the northernmost expanse of the lake, these mists build rime on all the riggings and bring coughing, wheezing, and fever to deckhands with weak constitutions.

Historical Basis

Tales of the water dragon are sparse on details that would give a specific time period for their origin, but there are a few hints that suggest that the legend may be as old as the Triskelen's seafaring technology itself. A common motif is that, whatever drive system the teller's vessel may employ - up to and including modern clockwork paddlewheels - these will mysteriously cease to function when the dragon is near, forcing the crew to deploy oars to get away. Rowing was the earliest form of power for Triskelen vessels, which were initially rafts or flat-bottomed boats which were constrained to littoral waters and canals.   There is some suggestion that the natural and magical forces that cause the underwater terrain of the Grand Triskele to change over time, requiring the develpment of new charts, are involved with the development of the legends surrounding the water dragon. For example, large columns of densely-matted macroalgae can move and sway under the water, and some species can become unmoored en masse by the action of heavy vessels and careless rowers overhead.   It is entirely possible that some unknown, massive relative of modern water snakes may still lurk in the deepest parts of the Grand Triskele. The langostinites, reticent as they are to interact with surface dwellers, seem to avoid the very deepest parts of the lake where their scampi relatives would usually reside. This could indicate the presence of some large, carnivorous creature like the mythical water dragon. The notion that such a 'dragon' could breathe injuriously cold or hot vapor is also not implausible in a world where the power of arcana exists, and other aquatic species - including the aforementioned craypeople - have demonstrated an affinity for spellcasting.

Variations & Mutation

In some tellings, the water dragon rises from the water to directly attack sailors. In these stories, the dragon is said to be the source of the mists that follow it, exhaling it in great columns that freeze or scald those caught in them. The origin of the breath attacks in the story are as-of-yet unknown, but it is true that there are serpents in the Grand Triskele large enough to present a hazard to fishermen and other seagoing professionals who work close to the water level. In these cases, the tale of an encounter with the water dragon is akin to other 'fish stories' - a boast made in a bar to inspire attaboys and admiration if it doesn't inspire laughter instead.   In other cases, the dragon is used more as a metaphorical device to describe a becalming, snags, and other hazards to forward progress, but also a spirit of discontent building among a crew too long trapped at sea. In the latter sort of story, the 'dragon' may reside within all people, inspiring dissention, ambition, and discontent when these are perhaps not helpful.

In Art

The sea dragon is a common motif in mastheads and other sculpture work found in and around the ports of Triskelen settlements. These carvings have a totemic quality, as they are believed to ward off attacks from langostinites and other hostile creatures from the deep.

Cover image: by Artbreeder


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