The Knight and the Lion

"The Herdsman"

I had not gone far when I heard a roaring and bellowing and a sound like thunder. There in a clearing several wild bulls were fighting among themselves. They were snorting and kicking and trampling one another with their hooves, making a din so terrible that I drew back in fear. For there is no animal so fierce and dangerous as a bull.

Yet I soon saw something more frightening still. Sitting on a tree stump holding a club was the ugliest creature I ever saw, his face all purple like a blackberry. His head was bigger than a cart-horse's head, and bald, except for a few tufts of hair like clumps of grass in a muddy field. His forehead was as wide as two hands spread out side by side and his ears were shaggy and huge like an elephant's. His face looked as if it had been squashed flat. His eyes were round and staring like an owl's, his nose was like a cat's, his jaws like a wolf's. He had yellow pointed teeth like a wild boar, a crooked moustache and a ragged beard.

When he saw me this creature jumped to his feet and I realised with horror that he was nearly seventeen feet tall, but he spoke not a word and simply stared at me as if he were drunk. So I found my courage and asked him, 'What kind of creature are you, good or evil?'.

'I'm a man', he replied.

'And what are you doing?'

'I'm in charge of this herd of bulls.'

'In charge of them? That's a laugh - they're half killing each other! They do just as they like. They're not even tied up or shut in. They could run off at any moment.'

'Even so, they don't dare to move an inch when they see me coming. Whenever I grab one by the horns I give such a twist with my big strong hands that he bellows with pain and the others all tremble with fear and gather round me as if to beg for mercy. If anyone else went in among them he would not last five minutes, but I am truly master of these bulls, whatever you may say. Now it's your turn to tell me who you are and what you want.'

I replied 'I am a knight seeking for what I cannot find'.

'What's that, then?'

'I am looking for some adventure to test my bravery and prowess .'

'Huh, I don't know anything about adventures as you call them, but if you go down that path there till you come to a spring you'll not easily come back, I can tell you.'

'And why is that?'

'It's no ordinary spring, that's for sure. It bubbles as though it were boiling and yet the water is as cold as marble. Over the spring spreads the shade of the finest tree that ever grew - winter or summer it is always green - and next to it stands a rock. Hanging from the tree is a basin on a chain long enough to reach the spring. If you scoop up water from the spring and tip it upon the rock you'll see such a storm that if you get out of there alive you'll be the first one that ever has.'

People in the Middle Ages had lots of ideas about monsters and strange or scary people.
Here are some of them.