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Prince Lindworm by xcgirl08 Prince Lindworm by xcgirl08
I uploaded this on Tumblr a long time ago, but I'm just starting to empty out my art files. This is an illustration of an obscure Scandinavian fairy tale called "The Lindworm," and it goes as follows:

A King and Queen ruled in a time of peace and abundance; the only mar upon their happiness was that they had no children, through their youth and even into their middle age, despite many fervent hopes and prayers. One day the Queen went walking on a forest path without her attendants. There, in the dark quiet of her despair, an old woman found her. 

"My dear," asked the woman, "why are you so sad?"

"It doesn’t matter," answered the Queen, gently. "It wouldn’t make a difference if you knew."

"You may be surprised." 

"The King and I have no children. He lacks an heir, and I have always wanted a child of my own to care for. But you see, that’s not something you can help."

"Of course it is," nodded the woman, for naturally she was a witch. "Listen and do as I say; take a drinking cup and place it upside-down in your garden tonight. In the morning, you will find two roses beneath it - one red, one white. If you eat the red rose you shall give birth to a son, and the white rose shall give you a girl. But remember that you must not eat both."

"Not both?"

"No," the woman said. 

Astonished, and not a little suspicious, the Queen agreed. That night she did as the old woman had instructed, and in the morning she discovered two small roses under the cup’s brim. 

"But which one should I choose?" thought the Queen. "If I have a son, he may grow into a man who marches off to war and dies. If I have a daughter, she may stay longer with me, but I will have to see her given away in marriage. In the end, I may have no child after all."

At last she decided on the white rose, but it was so sweet to the taste - and the thought of losing a daughter to marriage was so bitter - that she ate the red rose as well, hardly remembering the old woman’s warning.

Shortly afterwards, as happens in such stories, the Queen was found to be with child. Her husband was traveling when the time came for her to give birth, and so he did not bear witness to what happened, which was this:

The Queen’s first child was no child at all, but instead there tumbled forth from her body the long, scaly one of a lindworm, a hideous dragon with a venomous bite. It scrabbled out the window on its two legs, even before the terrified midwives could move to do anything, and amidst the chaos the Queen delivered a second child as well. This one was a fine, handsome boy, healthy and perfectly formed, and the Queen made her midwives swear that they would tell no one what they had seen. And when the King arrived home, joyous at the news of his son’s birth, not a word was said. 

Years passed, so that the Queen wondered if it had not been a terrible dream. Soon enough it came time for the prince to find a wife, and he set out with his guard to a neighboring kingdom to ask for its princess’s hand in marriage. But suddenly a great lindworm appeared, and laid itself before the prince’s horse, and from its jagged-tooth mouth came a voice:

"A bride for me before a bride for you!"

The prince and his company turned about to flee. The Lindworm blocked their passage and spoke again.

"A bride for me before a bride for you!"

The prince journeyed home to tell his parents. Distraught, the Queen confessed that it was true. The Lindworm was indeed the elder brother of the prince, and so by rights should marry first. The King wrote to the ruler of a distant land, asking that they send their princess to marry his son: but he did not say which one.

A lovely princess journeyed to the kingdom, and did not see her bridegroom until he appeared beside her in the Great Hall, and by then (naturally) it was too late. The next morning they found the Lindworm asleep alone in the bridal bedchamber, and it was quite clear he had devoured his new wife. 

A second princess was sent, and a third. Both met the same fate, but each time the prince dared to embark on a journey, the Lindworm would appear again and speak: 

"A bride for me before a bride for you!"

"Father," the prince said, " we must find a wife for my elder brother."

"And where am I to find her?" asked the King. "We have already made enemies of the men who sent their daughters to us. Stories are spreading fast, and I am sure no princess would dare to come now."

So instead the King went to the royal gardener’s cottage, where he knew the old man lived with his only daughter. 

"Will you give me your daughter to marry my son, the Lindworm?" asked the King.

"No!" cried the gardener. "Please, she is everything I have in this world. Your monstrous son has eaten his way through three princesses, and he’ll gobble her up just the same. She’s too good for such a fate.”

"You must," the King said, "You must."

Distraught, the gardener told his daughter everything. She agreed to the King’s request and went into the forest so that her father would not see her weeping.

And there, in the dark quiet of her despair, an old woman found her. 

"My dear," asked the woman, "why are you so sad?"

"I’m sorry," answered the girl, kindly. "It wouldn’t make a difference if I told you."

"You may be surprised." 

"How can that be? I’m to be married to the King’s son, the Lindworm. He’s eaten his first three brides, and I don’t know what will stop me from meeting the same end. That’s not something  you can help me with."

"Of course it is," nodded the woman again. "Listen and do as I say. Before the marriage ceremony, dress yourself in ten snow-white shifts beneath your gown. Ask that a tub of lye, a tub of milk, and as many birch rods as a man can carry be brought to your bridal chamber. After you are wed, and your husband orders you to disrobe, bid him to shed a skin first. He will ask you this nine times, and when you are left wearing one shift you must whip him with the rods, wash him in the lye, bath him in the milk, wrap him in the discarded shifts, and hold him in your arms."

"Do I truly have to hold him?" the girl asked, in disgust.

"You must. It may mean your life."

The girl was suspicious, but she agreed to the woman’s plan however absurd it seemed. When the day came for the marriage, she dressed herself in ten white shifts before donning the heavy gown they offered her. When she looked upon her husband for the first time, waiting for her in the Great Hall, her steps did not falter. And when she asked for the rods, the lye, and the milk, she said it with such ease that the servant could do nothing but obey.

Finally, the girl and the Lindworm were left alone in the darkened bedchamber. For a moment she listened to the rasp and click of his scales on stone, and heard his soughing breath. 

"Maiden," said the Lindworm, "shed your shift for me."

"Prince Lindworm," answered the girl, "shed your skin first!"

"No one has ever asked me that before," the answer came.

"I am asking it of you now." 

So the Lindworm shed a skin, and the girl shed a shift, but she revealed the second shift underneath. 

"Maiden," said the Lindworm, a second time, "shed your shift for me."

"Prince Lindworm," answered the girl, again, "shed your skin first!"

They repeated this, nine times in all, and each time the Lindworm shed a skin the girl removed another white shift, until she was left wearing one.

The Lindworm, shivering and weak and bloodied, spoke his request a last time.

"Wife," asked the Lindworm, "will you shed your shift for me?"

"Husband,"answered the girl, "will you shed your skin first?"

And the Lindworm did as she asked of him, tearing himself free of scales and armor even to the bare flesh beneath, and the girl whipped the writhing creature with her birch rods until they snapped; she carried the whole massive length of him to the tubs, lye and milk, washed him clean and bathed him and swathed him in the shifts like a great, terrible child, collapsed to the floor with her husband in her arms, and there she stayed until, exhausted, she fell asleep.

When she woke, it was to the timid knocking of a servant on the door. 

"Princess?" asked the servant. "Princess? Are you alive?"

The girl looked about the bedchamber: there in the morning light were the dried skins, and the tubs, and the broken rods, and the blood, and in her arms slept a pale, weary, but very handsome man. 

"Yes," she answered. "Yes, I am."

The King and Queen were astounded and thrilled to hear how the girl had saved their son from his curse, and she ruled together with her husband for many long years, and thus closes our tale of the most intense game of strip poker that you shall ever hear.


Add a Comment:
ultravioletphosphene Featured By Owner May 2, 2017  Hobbyist General Artist

Since December I have started telling the Scandinavian tale of the Lindworm, the other day in response to my young daughter's request we put Beauty and the Beast on a climate march sign. I told the girls I had a similar tale but one which connects to the Black Snake that the indigenous water protectors are facing. The story continues to reveal new resonances and layers of meaning for me, some so deeply personal. I've now got on my white dresses with whips at the ready, vat of lye and vat of milk, ready to gently embrace the serpent without letting myself be his next victim. Your image captured this feeling so perfectly! I hope it is alright that I share it.

niefea Featured By Owner Apr 24, 2017
The ending got me good, I was so entranced by the story and then the end hit me. I'm stilling chuckling
danitaguty Featured By Owner Edited Mar 1, 2016  Student Filmographer
man, are scandinavia's strip poker games intense. 
WildFire9817 Featured By Owner Feb 13, 2016
I just discovered this picture and I was introduced to this story because of it. It's beautiful and I'm glad that I saw it.
bbb35 Featured By Owner Oct 5, 2015
I LOVE thsi fairy tale, and your bringingg it to life. Marvelous!!
Mohnlied Featured By Owner Sep 5, 2015  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
I like the way you pictured his transformation (and the tale itself, of course) :)
jacindaadams Featured By Owner Jul 11, 2015  Student Traditional Artist
What a lovely story hun. X3
IcyPheonix Featured By Owner Oct 3, 2014  Student General Artist
A slightly different version from the story I read. The one I heard she was given two onions but left before the witch/wise woman could finish talking to her. She ate the first onion quickly,without peeling it. Realizing how gross that had tasted she took her time with the second one, peeling it as she ate it. The rest of the story is the same, by the witch/wise woman appears at the end, telling the queen that she was going to say she was to peel both onions first.
Still and interesting one nonetheless.
ksj7700 Featured By Owner May 14, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
This is so beautiful! I love it so much!
fobia8 Featured By Owner Feb 23, 2014  Student Writer
unusual, interesting and erotic fairy tale, if you ask me.
LavenderBoots Featured By Owner Feb 23, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
Hahaha strip poker oh geez. That was a lovely story and a beautiful picture to go along with it. Thank you for sharing.
Sketchevrywir Featured By Owner Feb 21, 2014
Oh my.... That tale is magical, every time I hear it!
 I love you drawing with it so much! :love:
queen-scribbles Featured By Owner Feb 21, 2014
Hah, I was enjoying the fairy tale, and then I get to the end. GOLD.
Kusari-chan Featured By Owner Feb 20, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
I love "and thus closes our tale of the most intense game of strip poker that you shall ever hear" and the whole thing is just fantastic. I love fairy tales <3 

TheMorlock Featured By Owner Feb 20, 2014  Student General Artist
Why was the lindworm male?
xcgirl08 Featured By Owner Feb 20, 2014
I have no idea; it would have made more sense if it was a girl, wouldn't it? that's Scandinavian fairy tales for you. 
MrJensen Featured By Owner Feb 24, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
Haha! :D I think I'll love Scandinavian fairy tales from now on! :XD:
TheMorlock Featured By Owner Feb 20, 2014  Student General Artist
Maybe Prince Lindworm is a lesbian or transgender? That would be an interesting twist.
danitaguty Featured By Owner Mar 1, 2016  Student Filmographer
It would make sense if he was transgender,because of the rose thingie and everything
TheMorlock Featured By Owner Mar 2, 2016  Student General Artist
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Submitted on
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