The Beast of Averoigne by Clark Ashton Smith (1933)
Tuesday’s Tale of Terror November 19, 2013
Inside the dark woods not far from the Abbey of Perigon, Brother Gerome beholds a black abomination of head and limbs.
“The horror stood erect, rising to more than the height of a tall man; and it swayed like a great serpent, and its members undulated, bending like a heated wax. The flat black head was thrust forward on a snakish neck. The eyes, small and lidless, glowing like coals from a wizard’s brazier, were set low and near together in a noseless face above the serrate gleaming of such teeth as might belong to a giant bat.”
Our tale is narrated by Luc le Chaudronnier, a local sorcerer in Averoigne. With the coming of a red comet in the summer of 1369, a foul evil descends upon the woods of Perigon, woods that are already haunted with vampires and werewolves. Brother Gerome and the Benedictine monks hear from the locals about gruesome attacks on animals, on the dead inside their graves, and now on the peasants and woodcutters.
Panic sets in when the beast is seen gliding along the monastery walls. The monks go forth with crosses and holy water to hunt this devil in its lair. When all fails, Abbott Theopile summons Luc to use his superior occult knowledge, wizardry, and his oracular “Eibon’s Ring.” But is Luc a match for a most powerful darkness from the stars?
The author of The Beast of Veroigne, Clark Ashton Smith is known as one of the Big Three of Weird Tales with H.P. Lovecraft and Robert E. Howard. This story is tightly written and has an exciting mix of horror and fantasy. Smith was a poet, painter, and sculptor. His prose carries high suspense as this writer is certainly a master of the art.
You might find this tale predictable, but even so, it doesn’t take away from the thrilling occult action. Did you find it predictable?
Read The Beast of Averoigne at Classic Horror Stories
Listen to the narration at Librivox Recordings by Matthew Knight
You can read more of Clark Ashton Smith’s fantasy and horror tales at Eldritchdark.com
UPDATE 11-22-13. I just discovered this link to a podcast about Smith’s writing of this story from Welsh Andy. You might like this discussion by Tim, Phil, and Ruth at TheDoubleShadow.com: http://thedoubleshadow.com/episode-8-beast-of-averoigne/
Art is by Mike Mucci and I couldn’t resist showing this off to you. Spectacular work!
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