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Euskal Herriko Leiendak: The Basilisk of the Pool
The following Basque Legend was translated by chris from the book "Euskal Herriko Leiendak". He originally posted these stories in the Forum.
In Mendoza in Alava there is a neighbourhood called Urrialdo. Now a while ago it had many inhabitants, many houses, and wealth, it is clear. But one day the whole town became frightened and concerned when something happened. A snake stole a hen's egg and incubated it. When the time came, the egg hatched and from inside it came a basilisk. It was as large as a cat, with a head like that of a chicken, but serrated with the body of a snake, and wings covered in thorns and a tail as long as a spear with a sharp point.
It could be that the basilisk is the one of most fearful of animals. Among its best weapons are its eyes and teeth. The gaze of the basilisk is fatal. Its gaze can do awful things: it can shrivel plants, dry out and kill trees, strike down birds as they fly through the sky, and so on. There are two animals that can beat the basilisk in a fight: a chicken and a weasel. The fearsome animal dies when it hears the crowing of a rooster, and also when a weasel sinks its teeth into its flesh. But the people of Urrialdo didn't know this.
The basilisk appeared in the pool, one day, in the water, on top of a log. Two women who had gone to clean some clothes saw it first.
"What is that there in the middle of the water?" asked one of the women.
"Well, I don't know... I would say it's a hen" answered the other.
"A hen in water? When have you ever seen anything like that?"
At that moment, the basilisk turned its gaze on them; in two seconds the two women fell dead and the monster disappeared.
Noone could understand how the deaths has occured; the people of Urrialdo became more afraid the next day when a boy way found dead, and then another, and then another...
All these deaths happened around that pond, but noone could see anything strange there. Since they had to know what was happening, they send a young boy spying. It was early in the morning and still dark when the boy arrived and climbed a tree; from there, concealed between the branckes, he waited to see what would happen.
Nothing happened all morning. But, around midday, he saw a coach coming along the path to the lake. The travellers were looking around at the landscape as they came, talking about the houses. In a moment, as they looked towards the water, the basilisk appeared bit by bit from the lake. Since it looked towards the coach, the coach and the people in it vanished (?) without giving the boy time to see what was happening. The boy sat still, then he rubbed his eyes and looked towards the lake, but the basilisk had already disappeared.
When they heard the news of what had happened, the people of Urrialdo trembled in fear. They didn't know how to fight against such a threatening being, and most decided to leave the village, to save their lives, and one by one some of those who stayed also left.
Much time passed, and the empty houses fell down, and the inhabitants who had remained lived poorer; and because they were afraid to go out because of fear of bumping into the basilisk they didn't dare to take water from the lake. The cattle went free, looking for food, since their owners weren't caring for them. When they went close to the point to drink the basilisk appeared and struck them dead.
But one day an old rooster with almost no feathers left wandered around the lake. The basilisk appeared and looked at the rooster, but the rooster returned the stare. They remained like that for a moment. Then, the rooster flew to the top of the henhouse, took wind, inflated its slender chest and crowed like it had in its best days.
The basilisk turned to stone at that moment, split into pieces and sank into the water.
From that day they haven't seen a basilisk in that region, but the people who left never returned and the village of Urrialdo never again knew the wealth that they had once had.