One of my great pleasures while researching German folklore is stumbling across something completely unexpected. I had known about lindwurms coming in, of course, and I expected to come across the winged, fire-breathing dragons similar to those shown in modern media. What I had not expected is the Drak - an entity that frequently resembles the “true” dragons in shape if not in size and in fact is frequently referred to as a “dragon”, but which has just as many attributes of the mischievous household spirits known as kobolds (that “drak” could be read as a contraction of “drache + kobold” is surely just coincidence - as is the development of kobolds into creatures related to dragons in the more recent editions of Dungeons & Dragons…).
The Dragon - A Tale from Lanz
But high from the air blessings can come in abundance. This is done by the flying dragon, who loves Lanz deeply and visits the village often. Whoever sees it in the evening skies in the shape of a dark red streak of fire must immediately throw all iron goods away from their bodies when the dragon is hovering above them, for otherwise the enraged dragon will roar into these items and tear the bearer apart. Furthermore, the witness must cross one foot with the other and remain silent. In that case the dragon will drop grain, but this grain must immediately be stored within a building. Once two men neglected to do this when the dragon came down to visit them one evening on their farm, as they became afraid during the night. Then, a short time before dawn, a massive grey wild boar appeared and ate the large heap of grain, making noises with its snout as if clothes were being washed or strong rain was falling on the ground. Thus, the two men were left with nothing.
The dragon can also become vengeful if it is disrespected. On J.’s farm a man mocked him by jumping backwards across a fence towards the dragon. He was punished viciously. The dragon assaulted his posterior, and for the rest of his life he suffered from a foul smell like rotten eggs. The dragon had sulfurized him well and truly.
The dragon loves to find millet on his journeys. When someone puts millet in front of their farm’s main gate for the dragon, it knows how to recompense their farm generously. The F.s had done this for a long time, but at one point forgot to do so. Then one Saturday evening the dragon entered their kitchen in the shape of a large fox and tore the pancake from the fire. The imprudent inhabitants yelled and wanted to avenge themselves and hurried after the fox. Then the fox changed its shape into that of a large owl and flew into a hollow Willow. “Now it shall get what’s coming to it” the pursuers shouted, “we shall smoke the owl out of the tree!” Set afire at its bottom by human hands, the rotten wood of the willow started to glow. But behold - from the crown of the tree much stronger smoke and fire burst downward. There the dragon had created a blaze through its own fire in which the fire of the human vanished entirely. The surrounding people had to close their eyes from the biting smoke and many became unconscious. And above the smoke clouds the dragon soared away with silent fluttering of its wings, screeching owlish laughter and mocking the foolishness of these people.
How much better is it to bow humbly before a secret power and cross one’s feet while kneeling down, than to impotently revolt against it while only earning harm and mockery!
 Lanz in Brandenburg.
 The volume of grain is referred to as four Wispel in the German source, a volume measurement unit used for measuring grain. In the Brandenburg area, one Wispel equaled 24 Scheffel. Lanz probably used the Scheffel measurement of nearby Perleberg, which was 49.76 liters. Thus, the dragon left about 4,777 liters of grain behind - a small fortune!
Commentary: While the creature is referred to as a “dragon” throughout, it bears little resemblance to their larger kin other than their fiery nature but it is clearly a spirit of some kind. The boar making weird noises was rather random - was it just the drak in another form, taking back its apparently-rejected gift, or was it another entity entirely that just follows the drak around in the hopes of getting lots of free grain to eat?
The inhabitants of J.’s farm were rather daft for pursuing the creature even after it clearly revealed itself to be supernatural - is it really wise to anger a supernatural creature over a mere pancake? Nevertheless, the “moral” at the end of the story makes me slightly more sympathetic to them, since it seems to be thinly-disguised advice to merely bow before the capriciousness of one’s “social betters” (since this story was published in 1883, the author would have been familiar with all sorts of social unrest in Germany…).
The Dragon Servant
Long ago the Luschki dwarves dwelt on the Luschki Mountain near Graustein. During times when they still lived on and within the mountain, a farmer once lost his entire fortune without any fault on his part. The farmer had heard rumors that treasures could be found within the castle ruins on the mountain, as the King of the Wends had once lived there. In his desperation he went off to dig for those treasures. First he searched for a spot where he thought that the treasures might be found there. Then he suddenly spotted an iron door. He opened it and entered a long, dark corridor. After he had proceeded for about half an hour, the corridor brightened. Then he saw wondrous beings in the distance, some of whom made music and danced and some of whom pursued all sorts of other activities. When he was spotted by the Luschkis, one of them who was carrying a big club stepped forward and asked him what he wanted. The farmer took heart and told him of his predicament. When he had finished, the Luschk said to him: “I know that you have spoken the truth. You shall receive help: Each noon a dragon will appear in your chamber, and you must feed it with millet. Then you can tell it your wishes, and it will fulfill them. But if you should neglect to give it millet, it will never come to you again. Then you should also take care never to step foot on this mountain again, for if you do that you will find a dreadful end.”
As soon as the Luschk had spoken, there was a dreadful sough and roar so that the farmer was bereft of his senses. When he regained consciousness, he was back in the chamber of his farm. But at the next noon, the promised dragon really did appear. The farmer fed him. Then he asked for money, and the dragon gave it to him. From that moment on the dragon appeared every noon, ate in front of the farmer, and brought him money. This continued for quite some time until the farmer thought that he had enough money. Then he neglected to give the dragon millet. From that time onward the dragon ceased to appear.
The farmer now thought himself so rich that he indulged in all excesses which he could attain with money, in the hopes that his money would not run out. Alas, one day he was bereft of his fortune, and the last coin had been drunken away at the pub. Drunk, the farmer staggered back home. But he must have missed his path and approached the mountain too closely. For while nobody knows precisely what happened, his corpse was found dreadfully lacerated at the Luschki Mountain.
 Graustein is part of the city of Spremberg in Brandenburg, but I was unable to identify the mountain.
 A Heller in the German original, a coin valued at half a Pfennig (or penny).
Commentary: Graustein lies within the Lower Lusatia, one of the settlement areas of the Sorbian linguistic minority in Germany. While I will likely return to both the Luschki dwarves and the King of the Wends at a future date, it will suffice to say for now that this region (which has many bilingual speakers of both German and Sorbian even today) represents a melting pot between German and Slavic folkloristic traditions.
The drak (once again called a dragon in this story) has an even greater similarity to the kobolds of our earlier stories - it brings the human it has connected with whatever they wish on a daily basis. Unlike with the kobold, this “gold farming” process is more transactional - the human provides the drak with food instead of merely taking whatever the creature brings them.
I am less sure what the moral lesson is supposed to be here, though - if you get a great deal, keep it going even if you think you no longer need it? Or more succinctly, “Greed is Good”?
At the very least, the dragon was deeply offended when it no longer got any millet - assuming that it was the one who killed the farmer in the end. But as often with German folklore, we get no clear answers.