Both Images have the Caption “The Act of Dying”. The Book is not available anywhere sadly. The lack of Context, as always, ironically adds to the unusualness . 😄 I think the sacred dragon looks to be in the first image, but he is all distorted by time. He lost his sacredness!!
Image Source One, and Two. No known copyright restrictions.
From the book “Polish Fairy Tales” by A. J. Glinski. The book is free to read online and download. The image is for a tale of the same namesake, of which is included below.
The Dragon Who Kept Watch
The fish swam away; but the prince, taking up the egg, mounted his horse once more; and they swam till they reached Princess Miranda’s island, where they saw a great iron wall stretching all round her white marble palace.
There was only one entrance through this iron wall to the palace, and before this lay the monstrous dragon with the twelve heads, six of which kept guard alternately; when the one half slept the other six remained awake. If anyone were to approach the gate he could not escape the horrid jaws. Nobody could hurt the dragon; for he could only suffer death by his own act.
The prince stood on the hill before that gate, and commanded his self-fighting mace, which also had the faculty of becoming invisible, to go and clear his entrance to the palace.
The invisible, self-fighting mace fell upon the dragon and began to thunder on all his heads with such force, that all his eyes became bloodshot, and he began to hiss fiercely; he shook his twelve heads, and stretched wide his twelve horrid jaws; he spread out his forest of claws; but this helped him not at all, the mace kept on smiting him, moving about so fast, that not a single head escaped, but could only hiss, groan, and shriek wildly! Now it had given a thousand blows, the blood gushed from a thousand wounds, and there was no help for the dragon; he raged, writhed about, and shrieked in despair; finally, as blow followed blow, and he could not see who gave them, he gnashed his teeth, belched forth flame, and at length turned his claws upon himself, plunging them deep into his own flesh, struggled, writhed, twisted himself round, and in and out; his blood flowed freely from his wounds … and now it was all over with the dragon.
The prince, seeing this, went into the courtyard of the palace, put his horse into the stable, and went up by a winding stair, towards the tower, whence the Princess Miranda, having seen him, addressed him:
“Welcome, Prince Hero! I saw how you disposed of the dragon; but do be careful, for my enemy, Kosciey, is in this palace; he is most powerful, both through his own strength, and through his sorceries; and if he kills you I can live no longer.
“Princess Miranda, do not trouble about me. I have the life of Kosciey in this egg.” Then he called out:
“Invisible self-fighting mace, go into the palace and beat Kosciey.”
The mace bestirred itself quickly, battered in the iron doors, and set upon Kosciey; it smote him on the neck, till he crouched all together, the sparks flew from his eyes, and there was a noise of so many mills in his ears.
If he had been an ordinary mortal it would have been all over with him at once; as it was, he was horribly tormented, and puzzled—feeling all these blows, and never seeing whence they came. He sprang about, raved, and raged, till the whole island resounded with his roaring.
At last he looked through the window, and behold there he saw Prince Hero. “Ah! that is all your doing!” he exclaimed; and sprang out into the courtyard, to rush straight at him, and beat him to a jelly! But the prince held the egg in one hand ready; and he squeezed it so hard, that the shell cracked and the yolk and the white were all spilled together … and Kosciey fell lifeless!
And with the death of the enchanter all his charms were dissolved at once; all the people in the island who were asleep woke up, and began to stir. The soldiers woke from sleep, and the drums began to beat; they formed their ranks, massed themselves in order, and began to march towards the palace.
And in the palace there was great joy; for Princess Miranda came towards the prince, gave him her white hand, and thanked him warmly. They went to the throne-room, and following the princess’s example, her twelve waiting-maids paired off with twelve young officers of the army, and the couples grouped themselves round the throne, on which the prince and princess were sitting.
And then a priest, arrayed in all his vestments, came in at the open door, and the prince and princess exchanged rings, and were married.
And all the other couples were married at the same time, and after the wedding there was a feast, dancing, and music, which it is a pleasure to think of. Everywhere there was rejoicing.
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