I realized something:
Until tonight, I only really knew of one dragonlike creature from African folklore, that being Mokele-mbembe, because I spent a few weeks playing Wyvern in my tweens. There’s a lot of contributing factors for this, not least of which that in the fantasy genre, African things are often cribbed but rarely directly referenced, but that’s a rant for another night.
Anyhow, obviously, I tried to rectify my lack of knowledge, or I wouldn’t have started this revelation with “until tonight.” A few seconds of Googling brought up the Rainbow Serpent, Ayida-Weddo, a titanic, hermaphroditic dragon-snake, who is not quite a deity but was still a key component in the creation of the world, as well as the human race, as far as I understand it at half past midnight.
Ayida-Weddo is clearly a dragon, using the same criteria that I dubbed Ciren Croin a dragon with a few nights back- she is a reptilian creature with obviously supernatural powers. Even though she might only be a Very Large Snake, morphologically speaking- At least Ciren Croin has the crest to make it look draconic.
Inspired by this immediate success, I kept
looking for inspiration Googling. And that’s when I found the Grootslang.
Puns aside, the (actual) Grootslang is (according to Wikipedia), an ancient creature, probably one of the first, and a result of divine over-exuberance:
“Tales state that gods, new to the crafting of things, made a terrible mistake in the Grootslang’s creation, and gave it tremendous strength, cunning, and intellect.”
Remind you of anyone we know? I thought this was really, really interesting, but wait, there’s more! The Grootslang also shares design space with Leviathan in terms of its diet- it eats elephants. Granted, this isn’t one whale a day, but considering where the legend comes from, whales might not be as common as a unit of measurement.
But wait, there’s still more: In addition to its Leviathan-esque backstory, the Grootslang is notoriously cruel and hoards gems. Its cave (which no one has ever found) is full of diamonds, and it has been known to release captives if offered enough precious gems in exchange.
Where have you been all my life, crazy elephant-snake dragon?
Having stepped back from my first attempt at unraveling the Grootslang, I kind of wish I’d started with a pencil, but I’d probably still be trying to make sense of the potential composites, mostly because I don’t know how to draw elephants (never really had cause), and wrapping scales around a tubular form is still something that gives me trouble from time to time.
Also, in perfect hindsight, those aren’t even snake scales. They’re clearly fishy (or at best, Lung-y). Probably because it’s well after midnight and I was kind of in a hurry, but still. I should know better. Sigh.
As it was, I’m fairly pleased with what I did come up with, though I’m going to need to A) look at elephants, B) look at African snakes and see if I can find some sort of patterning that I can use in lieu of trying to cover the entire (probably massive) body with scale texturing, for the sake of my sanity (The Bi-Coloured Python Rock-Snake comes to mind), and C) probably play with at least two variants, one snakey, one elephantine, like the Cockatrice Project from a few months back.
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