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Vixana

One of Dartmoor's most striking landmarks is Vixen Tor, which rears like a sphinx near the road from Tavistock to Princetown. The location is important, for this is an ancient road. It's one of the few that allowed travellers to cross the empty wastes and desolate mires of Dartmoor in times gone by.


Of course, few people had any business journeying onto the moor proper. Princetown was only dreamt of in 1785; until then, only the occasional remote farmhouse or tinnner's cottage could be found nearby. And while few people had any business journeying onto the moor at all, only the most foolhardy considered doing so after dark. The haunt of all kind of wickedness, it was not a place to venture outdoors once the sun set.
Vixen Tor on Dartmoor At Sunset
Vixen Tor on Dartmoor at sunset

Perhaps the greatest threat of all came from Vixana, a foul hag who lived in a cave at the foot of Vixen Tor. It was said that the cave had been dug by Cornish gnomes summoned by her magic.


An immensely powerful witch, Vixana was also hideously ugly. She stood unnaturally tall, had a hooked nose like a buzzard's beak, and a face covered with warts. She only had two teeth, but these had been sharpened to the point, like knives. Vixana used them to chew on the flesh of whatever meat she could get her hands on.


Lambs, crows, ponies - she enjoyed devouring them alive. But if that wasn't bad enough, her favourite meal was even worse. For Vixana was a cannibal, who preyed on those reckless enough to travel nearby at night. Spying them on the road from her perch atop Vixen Tor, she pounced with the speed and cunning of the animal whose name she had taken.


Enchanted fogs were conjured, which were so sudden and thick that the hapless traveller became instantly lost. Vixana would then call out in a sweet voice, a siren call promising safety and help. Disorientated, her victims were thus lured into the area's treacherous bogs, viciously murdered, and eaten!

A winter's sun sets over Dartmoor in England
Once the sun set, Dartmoor became Vixana's hunting ground

Needless to say, the local people were terrified of Vixana. Only one man, a young moorlander called Oakey, was brave enough to confront her. There was a very good reason for this; having befriended Dartmoor's famous pixies, he'd been given two magical gifts to aid in his quest. He could see clearly through any mist or fog and owned an enchanted ring which rendered him invisible.


It was a cold, dark night when he set out on the road from Tavistock. Clouds raced in a wind-burnt sky, the silvery moon painting crazy shadows on the land below. Vixana smiled as she watched him approach, for Oakey was short and fat like a suckling pig. No doubt just as juicy, once roasted upon an open fire. Feeling her mouth water, she climbed to the top of Vixen Tor and conjured one of her notorious fogs.


Oakey soon disappeared from view and Vixana naturally thought this was due to his becoming lost in the thick grey shroud she'd created with her spells. She expected Oakey to fall into the mire at any moment. To hear him cry out in fear, as the wet peat held him tight, like the bonds of black rope.


To her surprise, the next sound she heard was that of footsteps instead. Quiet, crafty footsteps as the young man crept up behind her. Too late, she spun around in anger and fright. He was upon her, pushing the witch from the edge of the tor! She fell to her death, some 120 feet to the ground below.


And if the sodden earth cushioned Vixana's fall, it was but an irony played upon her by Mother Nature. For the mires she'd used for her own foul ends now sucked her down to the very bowels of the Earth.



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