Episode 65: Workers of Death: Questing Beast
The folklore of the questing beast in a nutshell, how I reimagined them for my writing, and translated to Afrikaans.
Written and narrated by Ronel Janse van Vuuren.
Copyright 2023 Ronel Janse van Vuuren — All rights reserved.
Learn more about the questing beast in folklore here.
Get the transcript here.
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Music: Secrets by David Fesliyan (FesliyanStudios.com) and Dramatic Heartbeat by FesliyanStudios.com
You’re listening to the Faeries and Folklore podcast by Ronel.
I’m dark fantasy author Ronel Janse van Vuuren. With nearly a decade of digging around in dusty folklore books, researching creatures of imagination that ignited my curiosity, I’m here to share the folklore in a nutshell and how I reimagined it for my writing in an origin of the fae.
This is the Faeries and Folklore podcast.
Hi, I’m your host Ronel Janse van Vuuren. You can just call me Ronel. In today’s episode, we’re continuing our exploration of the fae realm.
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We’re continuing our exploration of the workers of death.
Today’s Faery: Questing Beast
Folklore in a Nutshell by Ronel
The Questing Beast, or the Beast Glatisant (Barking Beast), is a creature from Arthurian legend and the subject of several quests by famous knights.
In medieval literature, the Questing Beast appears to a young King Arthur after his affair with Morgause. She turned out to be his half-sister, though he didn’t know it at the time of the incestuous act that resulted in Mordred (who, of course, destroys the kingdom in the end). King Pellinore then confides to Arthur that it is his family’s responsibility to destroy the Beast. Merlin then discloses that the Beast was born from a princess who lusted after her brother who wasn’t interested in her, slept with a demon who promised she’d get what she wants if she accuses her brother of rape, but the brother is then torn apart by hounds, and she then gives birth to a monster that makes the same sound as the hounds that tore her brother apart. Eventually, Sir Percival, Sir Palamedes and Sir Galahad chases the Beast into a lake and Sir Palamedes slays the Beast. In this way, the Beast’s story is a symbol of the incest, violence and chaos that destroys Arthur’s kingdom.
The original depiction of the Questing Beast is that of a beautiful pure white creature the size of a fox. The sound coming from it was supposedly its offspring tearing it apart from the inside. This changed at some point to the unworldly appearance so well-known to modern audiences: the head of a snake, body of a leopard, haunches of a lion, and the feet of a hart. Its name comes from the sound that comes from its belly, that of a pack of hounds barking and yelping.
The Questing Beast is only quiet when it drinks, but while quenching its unbearable thirst, its poisonous saliva fouls the water for all who would follow.
And now for my interpretation of the fae in an Origin of the Fae: Questing Beast
The Questing Beast, or the Beast Glatisant (Barking Beast), has the head and neck of a rinkhals, body and speed of a cheetah, and the sound that comes from them is closer to the laughter and groaning of spotted hyenas than the fabled braying hounds.
It can spit its venom at its quarry which then burns through them without a cure, death following swiftly. Its bite is also deadly.
The Questing Beast only appears when things are out of balance, whether Nature or Magic. It cannot be killed. It is there to bring back balance by killing the source of the imbalance.
Translation of Questing Beast to Afrikaans: Keffende Kreatuur. This is of my own making.
I hope that you’ve enjoyed this episode of the faeries and folklore podcast and that you’ve learned something new about faeries.
Remember that you can get a transcript of this episode in the description. If you’re new to the podcast, why not go and grab your free copy of Unseen, the second book in the Faery Tales series, on my website ronelthemythmaker.com? Loads of folklore, magic and danger await! Take care!
You can now support my time in producing the podcast (researching, writing and everything else involved) by buying me a coffee. This can be a once-off thing, or you can buy me coffee again in the future at your discretion.
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No-one writes about the fae like Ronel Janse van Vuuren.