Podcast: The dragon of Venosa

The air was still and heavy, weighing down on Venosa, a silence laden with unspoken terror. At the edge of the village, ancient stones outlined the profile of the Church of San Giovanni. Built on Roman ruins, the Church held centuries of stories within its walls. But none as chilling as the one unfolding now. It began with a scream. Brother Anselmo, a young devout monk, staggered out of the Church, his eyes wide with terror. He was struggling to breathe. Something was lurking in the darkness of the Church, something monstrous. His words came out disjointed, frantic, frenzied. The villagers listened, their fear mirroring the monk’s. Anselmo claimed it was a creature unlike anything he had ever seen. It moved with unnatural speed, its eyes gleaming with an infernal light. His description, though fragmented, spoke of a nightmare that had taken shape. Panic spread through the village, mothers clutching their children. Men brandished rudimentary weapons, their faces grim, an ancient fear, dormant for generations, awakened in their hearts. Was it a demon? An emissary of the devil, sent to punish them for their sins? Theories spread from mouth to mouth, each more bizarre than the last. The village elders, their faces etched with concern, gathered in the town square. They discussed what to do. Fear was a powerful driver, but so was faith. Father Lorenzo, the village priest, a man of reason and faith, listened attentively. He studied the faces of his parishioners, their fear palpable. His gaze fell on Anselmo, still trembling, his face ashen. The young monk’s terror seemed sincere. Something was terribly wrong. Days followed nights, the creature remained hidden in the church. Rumors of its presence spread like wildfire. Travelers avoided Venosa, merchants refused to trade. The village, once a bustling center, was shrouded in fear. The creature, whatever it was, had imprisoned them in their homes.

On a moonless night, a group of villagers, armed with pitchforks and torches, decided to face the terror. Led by the blacksmith, a giant of a man named Fabio, they approached the church. Fabio, his face a mask of determination, flung open the heavy oak doors. The stench of rot hit them like a punch to the stomach and then they saw it. Crouched in the sanctuary, amid overturned pews and shattered stained glass, was the creature. It was not a demon as they had feared. It was something much older, much more primordial. Its scales shimmered under their torches, reflecting the light in a thousand iridescent hues. Its cold, reptilian eyes settled on them. A collective gasp escaped their lips. It was not a creature of hell, it was a dragon. The monstrous reptile roared, a sound that seemed to freeze the very air. Its serpentine neck arched back and a column of sulfurous smoke billowed from its nostrils. The villagers, their courage forgotten for a moment, stepped back. They had stumbled upon a legend, a creature thought to exist only in myths and tales. But it was real! And it was there, in their church, in their village. The decision to burn the church was not made lightly. For generations, San Giovanni had been the heart of Venosa. It was their sanctuary, their link to the divine. But now it had become a prison, a cage housing a creature of immense power and fury. The elders, with grim faces, reached an agreement. They would sacrifice the church to save their souls.

The villagers, their faces marked by a mix of sorrow and determination, gathered bundles of dry wood and straw. They piled them against the church walls, their movements mechanical, their hearts heavy. Father Lorenzo, his voice breaking with emotion, led them in prayer. He prayed for forgiveness, he prayed for deliverance. And then, with a heavy heart, he struck the flint against the steel, igniting the pyre. The flames blazed throughout the night, consuming centuries of history. The villagers watched in silence as the church, their sanctuary, turned to ash. The dragon’s roars filled the night, a symphony of rage and pain. Then, silence.

The dawn painted the sky with shades of pink and orange. From the ashes of San Giovanni rose plumes of smoke, carrying with them the scent of burnt wood and something else. Something ancient, something primordial. The villagers approached the ruins, their faces marked by a mix of relief and sorrow. There, among the blackened beams and molten metal, lay the remains of the beast. Its scales, once vibrant, were now dull and lifeless. Its eyes, once full of fire, were now empty sockets staring blindly. The dragon of Venosa was no more. Slowly, life returned to Venosa.

The market bustled again. Children played in the streets, but the memory of the dragon lingered, a chilling reminder of the darkness lurking beneath the surface of their world. The church was rebuilt, a testament to their resilience. But some say that on the quietest nights, when the wind blows through the ruins, you can still hear the echo of the dragon’s roar. A ghostly echo of a reborn legend.


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