|Salamander, early 16th C.|
Also known as kratchens in Belgium and Holland, or krats in Scandinavia, or drachens in Germany, or feu draks in France and Switzerland, drakes are a Eurpean supernatural entity that mixes the characteristics of a dragon, and the fairy folk. When it comes to the depiction of drakes, they’re extremely heterogeneous and vary according to the local folklore. In the gypsy folklore from the Balkan states of South Eastern Europe, they are described as enormous humans with the heads and feet of a dragon; it said that they live in fantastic places with their human wives and be can be seen riding a giant horses. This description, however, changes further up north, where the term drake became synonymous with the myth of the legendary salamanders, but most importantly, with the fire-drakes, a type of dragon in Norse, Teutonic, and Celtic mythology who are said to guard treasures, such as the creature that kills Beowulf in the 8th/11th century English epic poem of the same name. Most recently, in an early 19th century account, Sven Magnus Johansson was wondering around Lake Sodreg in Sweden, and stepped onto a log only to see it move and slither away into the lake. Even though the creature resembles the Swedish lindorm (linworm in Britain), a type of sea serpent or wingless bipedal dragon, the local people told him it was a drake.