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[size=14pt]The Legend of the Wawel Dragon[/size]

Smok Wawelski made life difficult for the people of the newly established city of Kraków. A gargantuan, fire-breathing creature, neither homes nor livestock in the surrounding countryside were safe from being devoured during one of Smok Wawelski's frequent rampages. The destruction was terrible, but not the greatest danger, for the dragon had a nasty taste for human flesh.  Young maidens and small children in particular were preferred snacks. Often the only way to appease Smok Wawelski for a short while was to leave a maiden as a sacrifice outside his cave under Wawel Hill, near the Vistula River.
[img width=700 height=552]http://fc08.deviantart.net/fs49/f/2009/185/8/8/smok_wawelski___vavel_dragon_by_lightningale.jpg”/>
Needless to say, no one was happy sacrificing innocent girls to the merciless beast. King Krak sent his bravest knights to put an end to the danger, but their efforts were to no avail. Smok Wawelski's reign of violence lasted long enough to drain Kraków of it's knights and female population. King Krak sent pleas for help to all of the neighbouring kingdoms, but even the visiting champions fell before the beast.

Eventually, the only surviving maiden left in Kraków was the beautiful princess Wanda. In desperation, King Krak promised Princess Wanda's hand in marriage to anyone who could put an end to the terror.

[img width=700 height=346]http://www.imp2k.com/GRAFFITI/murale-elewacje-sciany/smok_wawelski-glowa.jpg”/>

The offer caught the attention of a poor cobbler's apprentice named Skuba Dratewka. Dratewka knew he was no knight with fancy armour and strong weapons with which to slay the dragon; he would have to rely on his wits to succeed where so many had failed. While Smok Wawelski was out pillaging livestock, Dratewka snuck into his cave to have a look around, trying to understand his enemy. The floor was littered with stolen treasure and the splintered bones of his victims – both human and sheep. Smok Wawelski returned to the cave sooner than Dratewka expected, forcing the boy to either hide or confront the dragon. Not yet ready to challenge Smok Wawelski, Dratewka ducked behind a boulder and continued his reconnaissance. The dragon had brought his dinner home with him, forcing Dratewka to watch the sheep being eaten. Dratewka averted his eyes, trying to ignore the gruesome sight at first, but as he listened an idea began to form in his mind.

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Once the dragon finished his meal and went to sleep, Dratewka quit the cave and rushed home. There he cooked one of his few remaining lambs and stuffed it with sulphur. He also added hot spices from a family recipe to disguise the taste. Returning to the cave, Dratewka left the lamb for Smok Wawelski to find. When the dragon woke the next morning, he greedily devoured the tasty sacrifice. A powerful thirst hit him as he chewed, and the dragon trudged to the river for a drink. He drank and drank, but the more the water touched his throat, the more parched he became. Trying desperately to ameliorate his thirst, Smok Wawelski continued to drink until his massive body was so full of water, it burst!

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For the next few weeks, Kraków was quite the city of parties. Skuba Dratewka was hailed for his heroics and upon his wedding day to Princess Wanda was renamed Prince Krak, Dragonslayer.

People say that dragons do not exist and are merely products of human imagination… But I would not be so sure about The Dragon of Wawel. If you ever happen to visit Kraków, go to the dragon’s cave at the Wawel Castle and listen carefully to the whispers and voices of the old walls… Perhaps they will tell you the truth about their notorious companion.

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