The story of Albion, the Black Dragon Protector of Drachenwald
In the years before history was recorded in our land, in a dark forest to the North, called in the German the “Schwarzwald”, which the “Black Forest”, there lived an ancient black dragon whose name was Albion. And it was in this forest one winter’s day that Albion came across a young boy. He was but fifteen and he was Prince of the land, and his name was Yustav, and he was crying.
And Albion said, “Your Highness, why dost thou sit so in the winter?”
Yustav said, “Friend Albion, tomorrow my people go off to hunt, and they would have me be a great hunter, but try as I might, I cannot catch a deer nor kill a fowl, and how shall I be a great Prince if I cannot hunt?”
Albion pondered this a moment, and then with a great wrenching of his mighty jaws, he severed the tail from his body, and he burned it in the fiery flame of his breath. He said unto Yustav, “Take this, my tail, use it as a spear, and with it you shall kill the swiftest deer, the largest boar, and you shall be hailed in all the lands as the greatest hunter.”
Yustav took up the spear unto him, and he went off to the hunt, and when he had returned what Albion had told him was true, for he had killed the swiftest deer, the largest boar, and was hailed in all the lands as the greatest hunter.
Whereupon ten years went by, and Albion came upon a somewhat older Prince, now twenty-five, who was sitting in the snow, weeping.
And Albion said, “Your Highness, why dost thou sit weeping in the snow?”
And Yustav said, “Friend Albion, tomorrow my people go to war, but I fear me for my life. If only my skin were as hard as yours, then I would be courageous in combat, and fearing no enemy, I could be a warrior. How can I be Prince if I cannot fight?”
Albion pondered this for a moment, and then with a mighty clenching of his claws, he ripped the scales from his flesh, and he heaped them in a pile before Yustav, saying, “Your Highness, take these, my scales. Have them sewn onto a coat, and you shall have the finest armor in all the lands. You will be untouchable in battle. Fearless, you will be hailed as the greatest warrior.”
Yustav took up the scales unto him, took them to his armourer and had them made into a suit of armor. When he had returned from the wars, what Albion had told him was true. Fearless in combat, knowing that no blade could touch him, no axe could reach him, he killed the largest number of enemy and was hailed as the greatest warrior.
Twenty years went by, and Albion, a little the worse for wear with no tail and no scales, came across the now mature Prince of forty-five who was sitting in the snow, brooding.
And he said, “Your Highness, why dost thou sit so stern of face and pale of countenance?”
And Yustav said, “Friend Albion, I would take me a wife, but the lady that I would have is of great wealth and stature. There is nothing I can give her which she does not already possess. How can I be a Prince if I do not have a Princess?”
Albion pondered this a moment, and then with a mighty clenching of his claws he wrenched the teeth from his very mouth, and he placed them before the Prince, saying, “Your Highness, take these, my teeth. Have them placed in placards of ivory and you shall have the finest combs in all the land to gift your lady with.”
Yustav took up the teeth from him, and he had them made into fine combs, and his Princess agreed to marry him, and he lived happily.
Whereupon twenty years went by, and Albion, much weaker, much smaller than before, for with no teeth he could catch only the smallest of field mice, the slowest of fowl, came across a now aging Prince of sixty-five, who sat shivering in the snow.
And he said, “Your Highness, why dost thou sit here so coldly in the snow?”
Yustav said, “Friend Albion, my bones grow old, and the winters are cold. There is no heat to warm this inner ice. I fear that soon I shall die.”
Albion pondered this a moment, and then with his razor-sharp claws he plucked the heart from his breast, and he placed it before the Prince, saying, “Your Highness, take this, my heart. Have it made into a fine robe, for there is nothing warmer in all the lands. Wear it, and you shall live.”
Yustav took up the giant heart and he had it made into a robe, and the dragon’s words again were true, for Yustav did live.
Ten years went by, and Yustav awoke, and he realized that after all the years, after all the gifts that Albion had given him, so unselfishly, so chivalrously, not once, not once had the Prince thanked him. And he grieved. He told his son, Wilhelm, who would soon be Prince, that he would seek out a friend in the Schwarzwald, and there he went to find his friend, Albion.
Now as we all know, a dragon may live without scales, or tail, or even teeth, but without a heart, the essence, which is the magic of a dragon, there is no more. And all that remains are the bones left by the vultures and the dragon’s claws. And that is what Yustav found there in the clearing of Albion-the many scattered bones left by the vultures and predators, and the many sable claws of Albion. The Prince fell to his knees, and wept.
After many hours, Wilhelm called for a search to find his father, but it was Wilhelm himself who found the Prince there in the clearing. He took his father into his arms, and with dying words and rasping breath, Yustav told Wilhelm the story of Albion and of his many gifts, whereupon he died.
Wilhelm took up his father and laid on a great funeral, and he was shortly thereafter made Prince of the land. His first official act as Prince was to make dragons a protected species in the land.
After many years the people, having heard the legend of Albion, lost the old name of their land and took up a new and popular one, calling themselves “Drachenwald,” meaning in the German the “Dragon’s Forest”, and Albion became a symbol of this land. The new Prince, who was called Richard, thought that in some manner he should make his memory lasting, and so he created an order, into which could be admitted only those who their own interests could forget while serving others. So chivalrous, so noble, so true must they be that they would be likened by their peers to the story of Albion. And he styled the order, The Royal Order of the Companions of Albion, and he took as its symbol a sable claw of the great dragon.
When Drachenwald became a kingdom the order became the King’s Order of the Companions of Albion and its symbol became the sable claw within a ring of red and gold. And thus do the kings of Drachenwald reward their most faithful servants, even to this very day.