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Santiago and the Sea
Ah, the life of a fisherman: blue skies, the wide open sea, and the occasional ravenous sea serpent.

"The sun was beginning to set over Britannia as Santiago set sail from Skara Brae and headed out to sea for a few hours of fishing. As his tiller man set course, he busied himself with stowing his equipment away in the ship's hold. His fishing pole, tackle box, a few nets, and his prized crossbow (the seas are dangerous after all!) were neatly tucked away. A smile lifted his lips as he pulled out a carefully wrapped package from beneath his cloak and set it amongst the rest of the gear – his beloved was always adamant about sending him off with a meal. Once the hold was secure, he took his place at the boat's prow and gazed off towards the horizon.
"Santiago had always done his fishing at night, preferring the soft light of the moon and stars to the glaring blaze of the sun. Some would call this risky, for there are many dangers out on the open ocean, and nightfall makes it quite difficult to spot them. But this didn't worry him. He practically grew up on the sea; his father would often take him out on his own nightly excursions. His first encounter with a sea serpent was when he was but a wee lad, barely able to say his own name, much less that of the dreadful water-beast. This was his home away from home. His sanctuary.

"After a few hours of sailing, the ship slowed to a smooth stop. Santiago nudged open the ship's hold and grabbed his equipment, including the crossbow, which seemed to almost glow beneath the light of the stars. Setting the weapon aside, he prepared his fishing pole and cast the baited hook out into the velvety darkness of the water. As any good fisher knows, this part of the craft takes quite a lot of patience.

"The waves lapped lazily at the ship's sides and toyed with the fishing line, tugging and pulling at it in mimicry of some hungry little gilled creature, but Santiago wasn't fooled. He was a well-trained fisherman and could easily tell the difference between the bite of a fish and the pull of the ocean. He smiled nonetheless; he had always believed that the sea had a life force of its own and, much like a spry young maiden, enjoyed teasing those that encountered it.

"As time passed, Santiago was able to bring in a good amount of fish. He decided that after one last cast, he would call it a night. With a flick of his arm, his fishing line rippled through the air and guided the gleaming curve of its hook back into the depths of the sea. This time, the fisherman didn't have to wait long for a tug – a very strong tug. He braced himself against the side of the boat and clutched the wooden rod in his hands with all his might. The sounds of his struggle disturbed the slumber of his tiller man, who awoke with a startled gasp and pointed to the shadowy figure just off the starboard side of the ship.

"Santiago swiveled around and found a pair of gleaming eyes staring back at him. With a sudden leap, the fisherman was by his crossbow, which he had left leaning against the mast. Lifting it into his arms, he aimed at the sea serpent just as the creature tried to weaken him with magic. A bolt suddenly ripped loose from his weapon and buried itself within the beast's hide. The serpent was jolted back by the hit, but with a furious roar he advanced on Santiago once again and released a ball of fire from the depths of its scaly throat. The fisherman dodged, but not fast enough. The sleeve of his shirt was singed from cuff to shoulder, and his skin blistered from the heat. Gathering his wits, he ripped the still smoldering remains of his shirt free from his body and slipped behind the mast and out of the creature's line of sight. His jaw clenched against the pain that gnawed at his arm, but his bandages were in the hold.

"With a sharp intake of breath, Santiago jumped free from his hiding place and fired another round of bolts towards the beast as he ran for the ship's prow and hurled himself down on the hold's door. The sea serpent seemed momentarily stunned, giving the fisherman plenty of time to gather his healing goods. Once in hand, he quickly made his way towards the back, where his tiller man was curled up into a frightened ball. He nudged the man with his foot and chucked the bandages at his quivering form. He lowered himself to the other man's level, so that he could reach his arm, and once more took aim at the sea serpent – but it was gone.

"With a snarl, Santiago suddenly stood up and swept the immediate area with his narrowed gaze. Cautiously, he made his way back across the ship's deck, peering into the darkness for the wounded sea serpent, but it was nowhere in sight. He stood at the ship's prow in silence, his head turning at any sound, any ripple, that came from the water's surface, but the shadowy figure never reappeared. With a heavy sigh, he slumped to the floor and finally turned his attention to his injured arm; it was a malicious red in hue and seemed to be burning with its own inner fire. With a loud clunk, his crossbow landed on the deck, and with his free arm, the fisherman signaled the tiller man to head back home.

"As he drifted in and out of consciousness, Santiago could have sworn he saw those same gleaming eyes in the distance, following his ship as he sailed back to Skara Brae, but no beast ever revealed itself -- not even when he docked his ship and stood on the shore, gazing out towards the horizon. He smiled, a pale and empty expression, before turning his back and heading for the comforts of home to, no doubt, share the tale of the big one that got away."


It is with pleasure that we present these tales of your adventures in Ultima Online. Please join again next week as we share another of the many stories of Britannia that you have created. Please keep an eye on FYI for new spotlight topics!

Published: January 2003
Please Note: Some dates are estimates as exact dates were unavailable.
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