It was at the beginning of the Middle Ages. The Roman Empire, that had long become unruleable, had broken down under the attack of the migration of the peoples. It was a time of turmoil, and the people lived in constant fear of being attacked by other tribes.
A pagan clan
Back then, a Germanic, pagan clan lived at the bottom of the Drachenfels (Dragon Rock). It’s leader, Polterich, didn’t care much about his clan and spent most of his time on raids or carouses with his drinking companions. One day, they kidnapped a Christian virgin from a tribe living on the other side of river Rhine (after the vernacular, it was the later Holy Margarethe). Polterich and Rauferich, his younger brother, fought over who would get her and were about to cut each other’s throat.
Then Stänkerich, the oldest of the clan, pronounced a dreadful judgement: on top of the Drachenfels lived a dragon, and to him the virgin should be sacrificed.
The dragon lady
In reality, the dragon was no dragon, but an elderly Dragon lady. Rauferich had coincidentally met her when he was riding through the mountains, and after initial distrust on both sides, they had become friends. Now he needed her advice. Secretly he went to her and asked: “what am I to do? I like the girl, and I don’t want Polterich to make her unhappy. And I like you, too, and it makes me very sad that humans regard you as a monster. These long years of war have made as callous and brute, that must finally come to an end.” “I sure am glad to hear that from you”, the elderly dragon lady answered, “and now you must lead your clan into a better future. I like the girl, too, and this marriage will guarantee peace on both sides of river Rhine.”
After a little while she continued: “Don’t worry about me. I have grown somewhat tired of human company. We dragons guard the beginning and the end of time, for us time does not run as it does for you humans. A few centuries of winter sleep in the warm caves underground will do me good. And, rest assured, if your descendants need me, they will know how to find me. But before, we will offer these guys another show!” Rauferich gave her a big, affectionate hug, and then they made a plan.
The dragon needs a sacrifice!
As to the following events, the chronicle of the Drachenfels reads: “The next morning, the virgin was brought on the top of the Dragon rock and tied up before the cave. A little later gruesome noises that sent shivers down our spines came from the inside of the cave .. it was the dragon. With a grim expression, snorting and spitting fire he approached. We all yielded back. It seemed as if some of us wanted to ask for mercy for the virgin, but we were too frightened.
The dragon saw the virgin, roared loud and went for her. His fiery breath already singed her dress .. then he suddenly saw the golden cross around her neck and yielded back. In that moment Rauferich stepped out and placed himself before the virgin, to protect her. “No!”, Stänkerich yelled from the background, “the virgin must die. The dragon needs a sacrifice!” Then the dragon roared so load that the mountain quaked. He went back and forth, as if looking for another victim. All fled as fast and as far as they could. Only Rauferich and the virgin stayed with each other. Then the dragon spit fire and the jet of fire cut a cleft in the rock. The dragon passed through, and the cleft disappeared, leaving solid rock.”
A new chief of the clan
After this event, Rauferich became the new chief of the clan. He and the virgin got married and lived happily ever after. With them leading the clan many things changed for the better.
When Rauferich rode through the blossoming area, he often thought of his friend, the elderly dragon lady. What a show she had offered! He missed her and wished she could see how cheerful life at Mount Drachenfels had become. But in his heart he knew that, wherever she was, she was with them, and that one day she would come back.