's 2020 Horror Write-off:

BEASTS of the lands

Submitted by Anonymous

(Excerpt from „An Aceddemye of Varyous Scyences”, circa 1645, a depreciated encyclopedia, ch. 14, „BEASTS of the lands” auth. unknown.)

For you, dear READER, I present to you the many BEASTS of the world, here for your learning and enjoyment; and worry not, for although some might be fierce, here I have tamed them for you, to approach without fear.

The LION, LEO, is the King of all beasts; and for that is listed first here. The Lion will never harm a prostrate man or a black cockerel; but there are two lions, the smooth lion and the haired lion, and the haired lion is peaceful but the smooth lion is vicious.

The RABBIT is a cowardly animal that breeds very often; it is both innocent and sinful. In India live rabbits as big as a dog, with the head of a she-cat; and in their mouth they hold a poison worse than any serpent. Teste Nierembergius.

The BARNACLE GOOSE is unique among birds that it grows not from an egg, but from a tree; and in faraway lands, there grow the barnacle goose trees, that stand among the sea; and when the birds grow and fall from the tree into the water they live, but when they fall on land they die.

The HEGOAT is a beast so lustful that his blood can even the noble diamond dissolve; and when he meets another of his kind, such great is friendship among goats that they will rather let others tread over them than block their path.

The GOOSE BARNACLE is unique among barnacles in that it is not a stone but an animal. Goose barnacles are born in the winter from standing stones in the sea; they grow like a goose without a head, and attach to the stone with the neck; and in the spring they fall off, then they grow a head in the water; then they live as a goose.

In Rome a goose bit a fisherman’s hand once; and from that hand later grew the rear, then legs of a goose; and nobody but the fisherman knew for in his shame he hid in his house; teste Maiolus. When he had to leave from hunger, he had already a goose but for the neck where his hand was once, save for two fingers and his thumb; and it is known that this is true, for that hand was cut off; it is still kept in a church in Rome.

A HORSE is a horse, of course, of course.

The SPIDER is a worm that lives in the air, and from the air gets its nourishment. They make their house from thread that they spin from inside their bodies. A spider never walks upon the ground or stops working on its web. When many spiders spin webs it is a sign of a great rain; and when spiders spin their webs high up, it is a sign that the rivers will rise; teste Pliny.

The DRAGON, DRACO, is the greatest of the serpents and the most terrible of all beasts. Its strength lies not in its teeth, nor its poison, but in its tail, whose coils crush all and which causes great damage when swung. Dragons hail from Africa and India. The Dragon is the sworn enemy of the elephant, whose young it seeks to devour, and of the peridexion tree, whose shadow causes it harm; for the tree lets only pure and holy beings near, and the dragon is the beast of the devil. Dragons can reach a great size; in Greece, a dragon of such size that his scale was the size of a great shield lived once.
It is said that a Dane of a carpenter once found his way into a cave in the woods; and could not find a way back out. When he saw a light he thought himself saved; but it came from the top of a deep pit, in which a dragon lived. At first he thought that he had seen a man, but it was in fact a dragon; for it had a face like a man, only long like a horse’s head, and skin like a man, only gnarled like an old tree’s bark; and on its back and its head, and where a fish has gills grew hair like that of a man too, only longer; and although the dragon seemed to mean him no harm, and made no movement but looking at him and no noise but breathing, he ran from fear; he found the exit not long after. The Lord of that land tried to find the Dragon; but when his men found that cave there were only bones therein, and they were as gnarled as an old tree too; and in the skull was a stone found, which was called the dracontite.

The ELEPHANT, ELEPHAS, is a beast both fearsome and peaceful from India and Africa; fearsome for its strength but peaceful for its disposition. The Elephant is intelligent and peaceful but stubborn; it only attacks a man if angered. The Elephant is proud of its intelligence and revels in vain glory; the chronicles of Antioch the king tell of Ajaz the elephant, who refused to cross a river; but when it was announced that whichever one crossed first would be Chief of the elephants, he crossed it eagerly; and another elephant, Patroclus, starved himself to death from envy; teste Pliny.
Elephants loathe the odor and sight of mice.

The MOUSE is born from the soil, HUMUS, hence its name, MUS. Although it is small, it causes great problems. Mice must constantly gnaw at whatever they find; and they will gnaw on wood and on stone, and it is said that in gold mines mice gnawing on gold have been seen, and when a dead mouse in there was cut open gold was found in its stomach.

Mice are intelligent, and very deft; and most claim that they are second to this in the Rat, but the most amazing tale speaks of Mice. For it is said that once in Rome, a church where mice held a mass stood. And it was so; a pilgrim one night found himself in need of sleep, and at the door of an empty church, its door open; and so he went to sleep inside, although the church was old and rundown. And in the middle of the night, he woke up, for something sat on his body; and he stood up to see that there was a lit candle in every holder, although they were all old and small. The floor of that church was now covered by Mice all over; and they were all walking around, and over him, and making a great turmoil; but around the altar they all stood in place, and looked up to the Holy Altar, and upon it sat twenty mice grey with age. And he wanted to move, but could not, lest he hurt a mouse; and so he waited for the mass of the mice to finish, but fell fast asleep. And when he woke, there was not a single mouse in the church; and the strangest thing was, all of his nails had been cut extremely short, and laid out on the altar in two rows. Then the pilgrim had left; and that was the tale of the church where mice held a mass.

The SEPS, although a small snake, has a venom so potent that it melts flesh and bone; and whatever it eats turns to liquid in the mouth; teste Lucan.