Friday, December 25, 2015

Santa's Life Cycle

Secret of the Black Curzon by Santiago R. López

The Adventures of
Sebastian the Swashbuckler

     Up in the clouds, Sebastian J. Isaac, a sixteen year old swashbuckler, soared majestically
on the back of the flying sea dragon, known as Starpeedus. It was a sunny October afternoon above the Northern Atlantic Ocean, during the year 1632.
     Beyond the horizon, a ship headed sailing back for it's main destination, Cadiz, Spain.

Sailors working on board hauled away at the ropes while the captain, Sir Arthur Hilch II, steered the ship back home. Even from this altitude, Sebastian could hear the bellowing laughter of his friend in the galley over the firing sound of a cannon. The cannon was meant to fire, celebrating the victory of the crew's expedition in which Sebastian had joined before taking flight. They had gone sailing together in search of what now lay under Sebastian's hat. The captain happened to be the father of this man who was laughing loudly. The man in the galley was Sir Arthur Hilch III, an Irish bartender who worked at The Kraken's Cavern Inn.
     Previously, Sebastian's village, Montoro, had been suffering a drought for decades, and
his people were beginning to die of starvation and thirst. One day, a passing stranger had told him a legend that spoke of a magical golden model of a boat called the Wave Sweeper. It was foretold that the Wave Sweeper had powers to bring back life to the dried up river.
     As Sebastian ventured for Cadiz, he met Arthur working at his tavern. They eventually
became friends, and were destined to travel for the remote Island of Anghessy. On the island lied the Wave Sweeper guarded by Starpeedus himself. It had been during the age of Atlantis since Starpeedus was born. The God of war, Kronos, had held Starpeedus under an evil curse at the age of twenty. Starpeedus began forming obstacles to those who sailed for Anghessy. If they ever managed to recover from the obstacles, Starpeedus would cruelly devour them, turning the sailors into phantoms. When Arthur's crew had went on an expedition for the Wave Sweeper, only Arthur managed to survive, killing Starpeedus temporarily, for Starpeedus was immortal. Arthur was left with a sacred tattoo by the deities that would glow if the menace of Starpeedus' curse was approaching. The Gods of the sky had informed Arthur that a true hero would be able to find the vulnerability of Kronos' evil curse. Once Arthur met Sebastian for the first time, they had an encounter with the phantom of Arthur's father. As Arthur told Sebastian his origin tale, the two friends set sail for their expedition, finally destroying the curse, causing Starpeedus to change back into his former self and regenerating the phantoms back to men. As the crew turned and headed for Cadiz, Sebastian went for a ride to Anghessy on Starpeedus' back, where he placed the Wave Sweeper under his hat and headed for his village. 

     It was dark by the time he arrived home. A little girl noticed Sebastian flying down on
     "Mama!" she cried in excitement, "Look!"
     Weary villagers walked out of their houses and gazed in astonishment at the great creature that stood before them.
     "Sebastian!" sighed a blacksmith, "It's really you!" 
     Everyone was thrilled of Sebastian's return. They were even more thrilled to discover that he had 
finally acquired the Wave SweeperNow all he had to do was fill the river with refreshing water. But where could he find any? 
     "Over here!" said a familiar female voice of the gypsy fortune teller Sebastian and Arthur had once met in Cadiz. It was she who had informed Sebastian to retrieve the golden Wave Sweeper with a good heart and not greed. Otherwise, he would fall into a pit and become a satisfying appetizer for the famished leeches that lived in the dark grottos within the cave. She made a bargain with Sebastian, stating that she would make him wealthy in return, as long as he kept her promise.
Sebastian began approaching her. He held out the Wave Sweeper before her in which she
filled with water using her witchcraft. 
     "Now, go let your people survive!" she replied.
     "Thank you!" Sebastian said humbly. Then he turned and filled the river with water.
Relieved at last, the villagers took a dive into the flowing stream. They happily drank the
water and splashed each other. The old fortunate teller bowed to Sebastian, congratulating him.
     "See you later!" Sebastian called to her, smiling. 
     Starpeedus bent down to take a sip, when the little girl cheerfully splashed him, making his blue green scales glisten. Starpeedus smiled. Then he shoved Sebastian into the cool river. Sebastian shivered in the frigid water, but was still glad that his people survived after all. Despite the freezing river, Sebastian still enjoyed the pleasure of the water, not to mention the returning salmon. In fact he disliked the slippery wet feeling of the fish's scales as they surrounded him. It was as if he were bathing with snails. He remembered the first and only other time he felt like that. Before he met Arthur while purchasing a drink, he attempted a stowaway inside a barrel full of sardines. He hoped that he would be heading for the destination of the Wave Sweeper, but instead, the cargo he had hid among with was being hauled towards a fishermen's raft. Just in time, Sebastian had escaped the barrel, when the salty smell of the sardines made him thirsty. That was when he had met Arthur in The Kraken's Cavern.
     Meanwhile, in the present day, while Sebastian was drenching in the river surrounded by
the school of salmon, Starpeedus bent down and gulped them up. Sebastian backed away from him as he watched the immense sea dragon chew and swallow the fish, finally giving a loud belch. Sebastian and the others giggled out loud. It had been a long time since they had ever felt happiness like this.

     The next day, families went outdoors to fetch water from the well. 
     Sebastian had breakfast and cool water to drink before heading out for a stroll through the now lush fields full of flowerbeds, the fresh air surrounding him. He stopped in his tracks to greet Starpeedus who stopped drinking from the river and turned to smile at him. Sebastian began stroking his glossy blue green scales, then skipped further on into the forest. Starpeedus continued drinking.            
     Deep within the orchards, Sebastian saw a gypsy caravan painted all colors of the rainbow. He supposed that this might be the home of the old fortune teller. 
     "I guess I'll pay her a visit!" he said to himself. Near the door hung a wind chime. Sebastian rang it.
     "Come in!" said the voice of the old beggar. Sebastian opened the door. She was sitting by a warm fire lit in the furnace. On the stove lay a steaming kettle. The fortuneteller sat comfortably in an armchair. She reached for a teacup on the side table, and took a sip. 
     "Fetch me the sugar jar on top of that shelf, please." she told him. Sebastian glanced up at the jar of sugar cubes on top of a high shelf. Nearby, he spotted a stool and used it to boost himself up in order to reach it.
     "Thank you, dearie!" she replied as he passed it over to her. "Would you care for tea as well?" she asked. 
     "No, thank you!" he said back. The two then sat back in their armchairs and started having
a conversation. 
     "By the way," Sebastian began, "I'd like to know your name."
     "I am Abigail L. Penelope. Please call me by my nickname, Gail!" she responded.
     "Pleased to know your name." Sebastian said warmly, "What does your middle initial stand for?"
     "Lilian!" she answered. "And yours?"
     "Jason!" he told her.
     "That's a lovely name." she complimented. "Glad you're not calling me Abbey. It sounds as if you are naming me after a church." 
     "No problem!" Sebastian replied briskly, "All in good time!"
     Five minutes later, Sebastian began feeling thirsty. "On second thought, I would like a cup myself." So the old woman took a saucer and teacup from the shelf, using the stool, of course. "Do you need a hand?" Sebastian offered.
     "No thank you!" she answered. She reached for her nearby cane and used it to help herself down to the floor. She poured some tea into Sebastian's cup before sitting down.
     "Cheers!" Sebastian responded, "to our friendship!" They clinked their cups together, and then took sips. When Sebastian had finished his tea and sat his cup back onto the saucer on his side table, the gypsy women took it and stared suspiciously at the tea leaves at the bottom of the cup. "What is it?" Sebastian asked with confusion, "Is everything all right?" Gail looked up from the teacup at Sebastian, a look of concern on her face.
     "Beware!" she said in an anxious tone. Sebastian gazed curiously at the image of a galleon in the teacup. 
     "What does this message mean?" Sebastian asked, filled with a nervous sense of anticipation.    
     "Your reward has vanished!" she gasped.
     "What reward?" said Sebastian. 
     "The one I promised you if you had retrieved the Wave Sweeper with a kind heart!" Sebastian frowned.
     "What happened to it?" Gail pulled out her crystal ball and sat it on top of it's stand. She took a deep breath, waved her hands around it, and an image of the same galleon appeared. 
     "This," Gail began, "is the Black Curzon. It's home to the Captain, Jonathan Curzon. He
and his men are the spirits of whom were killed on the Island of Dragons and by the Whirlpool of Hell." 
     "I thought we destroyed the curse of Starpeedus, reuniting them all!" Sebastian said
     "Not all of them!" Gail told him, "Remember what Arthur told you in his tale?"
     "Oh yes!" said Sebastian, realizing that she was telling the truth. While ten of Arthur's
remaining sailors were devoured by Starpeedus, the others had perished in the obstacles the sea dragon had formed. 
     "And you know what else?" Gail asked.
     "What?" Sebastian said again.
     "Do you remember what happened to Arthur's ship in his tale?"
     "Indeed I do!" replied Sebastian, "Only a small piece of their ship survived while the rest of it went down into the Whirlpool of Hell. What about it?" 
     "Well," Gail began, "the remains of the ship have transformed into a ghost ship."
     "But what does the crew value most?" Sebastian asked. 
     "They plunder us in search of seven rubies. They worship Kronos who has passed away due to the termination of his curse on Starpeedus. If they reunite all seven within three nights, they'll give birth to Kronos and have ultimate power of wealth. The rubies can make you invincible!" 
     "So that was my treasure!" Sebastian said with realization. "You see, I mean no offense of you and I do appreciate your offer, so thanks a lot! I just don't expect the ability to become wealthy or ultimately invincible." he said politely. 
     "You'll be sorry!" Gail warned him. Sebastian was still recovering from the thought that he would regret his despising thought of ultimate power. He finally changed his mind. 
     At last, he asked her, "Can you give me directions to their headquarters?" Gail waved her hands around her crystal ball a second time, spoke a few magic words, and a remote island located somewhere in the Gulf of Mexico appeared in her crystal ball. "Thanks for those directions." Sebastian called as he stood up.
     "No! Thank you!" Gail responded, the way Sebastian had said earlier when she had asked him if he would like tea as well.
     "Thank me for what?" Sebastian asked her.
     "For this important visit. If it weren't for it, you would have never received your information for a new adventure!"
     Sebastian smiled, bid her goodbye, and stepped out the door before closing it. Gail smiled
back and winked, then filled her teacup. 
     When Sebastian returned to his village, Starpeedus was fast asleep. Sebastian clapped his hands together, waking him up. The creature yawned and stood up, outstretching his enormous wings. Sebastian climbed onto his back, pat him hard, informed him of their location and together, to took flight once again. Down below, Gail stepped out of her caravan and looked up at the two vanish into the clouds.
     “That's my boy!" she said, grinning.
     The two glided peacefully through the fresh morning air. Today was a gorgeous day. Higher and higher they soared above the clouds. Beyond the horizon, a rainbow shined with beautiful vibrant colors. Starpeedus, now exhausted, stopped flapping his wings, so Sebastian steered him back
down. They landed together on the surface of the water. Starpeedus swam him safely to a nearby pear. As Sebastian got off his back, he realized that he was back where his adventure had started. It was the village where he met Arthur. The last time Sebastian visited Cadiz, it had been gray and cloudy. Today, the weather has different. The sky shined orange as the sun began setting in the horizon. Sebastian even noticed the new boathouse. This one was built out of bricks and cement. The other one that had originally been there was made out of rotted wood to look like a barn that hadn’t been painted. Eventually, the structure had been destroyed by the phantom of Arthur’s father when a comet had hit it. Sebastian thought the new boathouse looked better. It was way sturdier than the old ramshackle one. At the end of the same street where the new boathouse stood was The Kraken’s CavernIt was a shabby looking tavern with a busted window. This had been destroyed by a large javelin, which the phantom of Arthur's father had once used for a weapon. Sebastian watched the mayor step out on the cobblestone street. He began hiring workers to repair the broken window, and they all agreed. Sebastian knew that his friend, Arthur, worked there, preparing drinks for his customers. He decided to inform his friend of the news he received, so he called over his shoulder to Starpeedus, suggesting that he’d go swimming for a while without being seen. Starpeedus nodded and dived under the water, promising Sebastian that he would return. Fortunately, nobody saw Starpeedus. Sebastian smiled as he watched him disappear. He then turned, cleared his throat and removed his hat, his blond hair shining in the light of the setting sun. Then, he walked in the tavern. As Sebastian marched through the swinging doors, he found the tavern to be deserted, and the light had gone out. Sebastian struck a match and lit a candle. As he he shined his light around the dim tavern, he noticed that the place had been ransacked. The remains of a smashed barrel were scattered on the ground making a large puddle of ale. The tables had been overturned, while the chairs lay down sideways. 
     "Are you there, mucker?" a voice said. The word "mucker" is a term Irish people use which means "mate". Sebastian recognized the voice. It had to be Arthur. He held up his candle, and the light shined on the trapdoor that led to the cellar. The door had been smashed to bits of wood, as if someone slashed it with an ax. Thin, misty columns of smoke rose from the cellar door. Had somebody started a fire?, wondered Sebastian. He headed over to the trapdoor with curiosity. Sebastian’s light shone down into chard remains of the cellar. The ladder had vanished completely, and was now a pile of scorched wood and ashes.
     "Oh great!" Sebastian sighed. Now how could he get down? He began putting his mind to it. Then he had an idea. When no one was looking, he snuck into the boathouse and stole some rope. He tied one end to the locker used to bolt the trapdoor. Then he tossed it down into the dark hole. Setting down his candle beside the trapdoor, he began climbing down the rope he began to climb down. He safely landed on a pile of ashes. Light from the candle filled the dark room, so Sebastian had no trouble seeing through the darkness. He finally gave a sigh and began searching for Arthur within the debris. 
     "Over here, mucker!" the voice called again. Sebastian turned and rushed over towards a pile of damaged crates. He began shifting them away. Out of the shadows appeared a bulky man covered in soot and coughing. "I knew you’d make it!" Arthur called to Sebastian. They started heading back up the rope. After Sebastian climbed out, he gave Arthur a hand and pulled him up with him. 
     "Be right back!" Sebastian said, "In the meantime, you wait here!" He untied the rope and returned it to the boathouse, then came back without being seen. "What happened here?" he asked, "How did you manage to survive that fire?" Arthur pulled up a stool, cleared his throat and began. He was a muscle-bound man with a bald head, except for hair growing on the back. He had a very long red braided beard that reached his belly, and just below his nose was a skinny, three-inched mustache that curled up on both ends. He wore an apron smothered in candle wax and ashes (though the ashes had been there all along). He had a gold tooth and clutched in his mouth, he held a tobacco pipe. On his right forearm was the tattoo brought to him by the deities. The tattoo was of a black sea monster, which represented Starpeedus when held under the curse. The dragon was coiled around a sun with the face of a skull and the rays made of tentacles. The skull had rubies for eyes, an anchor-shaped nose, and sharp sword blades that resembled teeth. A plague of leeches pored out of the skull’s mouth. The sun was a symbol of Kronos' curse. Finally, Arthur spoke.

     "Last night, me sailors and I were celebrating our victory with music and drinks. While we
were having a good time, a stranger led by men entered my inn. All of them were ghostly phantoms.    
     Their leader was tall and lean. He was dressed in a admiral’s uniform, covered in medals and decorated with (though the color didn’t show since he was a ghost) gold tassels that hung from the shoulders. He wore an ornate bicorn hat sideways with plume, gloves, and a monocle. He must have been about 50 years old by the wrinkles on his stern face. He had a handlebar mustache that connected to his sideburns, and no beard at all. He spoke in a deep voice, and I could tell he was from London by his accent. He stated to us that his name was Captain Jonathan Curzon."

     "Aha!" Sebastian cried, "I know who you mean. That old beggar we met a month ago told me about him. Please continue with your story."

     "His men on the other hand, were hairy and ugly looking. The wore old bandanas on their heads, and small leather vests. There teeth were were not shiny, their breaths were ghastly, and one of them had a faded tattoo of an anchor on his chest.
     As the pirates approached, their handsome captain drew his sword from his scabbard. We
weren’t afraid, because we knew that it was made of misty air and would just go right through us without getting ourselves injured.
     Suddenly, the furniture began magically overturning, as if an invisible man were knocking
them over. In fact, there was an invisible man knocking them over, because soon enough, another ghost of a pirate appeared. Then Jonathan whistled to his crew, and they all began attacking. While they wrecked the place, the once invisible ghost asked us to give up are adornments. I sprang away to avoid a dart from the dartboard being aimed by the pirate with the faded tattoo, which aimed at a barrel on the bar table. It began to leak beer. Distracted, I grabbed a mug from the shelf and filled it with beer from the barrel. As I took long sips, one of the patrons yelled, "Catch!", as he tossed a knife at me. He wanted me to use it as a weapon. I ducked just in time and caught the knife in my hand. As soon as I finished drinking, I sat the mug back down on the bar table and began brandishing the knife. I leapt up, ready to fight. The ghost who could turn invisible vanished, picked up the barrel and hurled it at me, but missed. I was ready to start my duel, but lost my footing and fell facedown, unconscious. I felt someone seize my ring that had belonged to my grandmother. It was the invisible ghost again. He had reappeared while I was laying down. One of the sailors poured water on my face to wake me up. As I came to, and was helped from the floor by the kind gentleman, I saw the sneaky ghost with the ring in his clutches. He lifted a hatchet which he sneakily stole from a woodcarver, smashed the trapdoor to bits, and prepared to throw the ring down into the dark cellar. 
     "That was a gift from grandma!" I cried, "Give that back to me!" 
     "Come and get it then!" grinned the ghost. I ran to fetch it, but I was too late. He had already tossed it down into the cellar. As I tried to go down after it, the pirate had kicked down the ladder so I could not climb down. I started to look for something to help me down. Before I knew what was happening, a second ghost lifted a lantern and threw it down into the darkness, setting flames to the cellar. 
     "No!" I cried. There was nothing I could do now. The ring had to be a goner for sure. Meanwhile, the ghost pirates escaped with me men held hostage on their. I sadly watched them depart. As the ship vanished into the distance, I wept."

     "But how did you end up down in there?" Sebastian asked curiously.
     "Well," Arthur continued, "As soon as the fire burned out, I decided I was ready to go down and look to see if my grandmother’s ring had been unharmed, so I took one step forward and jumped in, landing safely on a pile of soot. I searched hard, but was unable to find it. As the clock struck nine, and everyone went to sleep, I too was ready to pass out. I slept behind a pile of scorched crates. That was when I woke up the next morning to find you helping me out."

     "I know what they were looking for." Sebastian replied, by the time Arthur had finished his story.
     It was not the first time he had heard a tale from Arthur. The last time was in the cellar when Arthur told him the legend of how he had gone on a voyage for the Wave Sweeper. 
     "What was it?" Arthur said, curiously.
     "Well," Sebastian began, "Gail, told me about the legend of the Black Curzon. It’s a mysterious ghost ship in which those pirates you told me about sail. They are looking for seven rubies to unite in order the regenerate Kronos." 
     "Who's Gail?" Arthur asked.
     "She's the old beggar we met once. Remember how she made a bargain with me? Well, the reward she promised me was the seven rubies. She told me that they had just been stolen."
     "Will we ever retrieve them just in time?" Arthur wondered.
     "Hopefully." Sebastian answered, "For it is a long voyage to get there by ship. There headquarters is a remote island in the Gulf of Mexico."
     "We can fly there though." Arthur said fiercely, "If only we had Starpeedus." 
     "Good news!" Sebastian responded, "He’s right here!" And he whistled to Starpeedus who rose from the ocean, yawning. "Can you get us to the Gulf of Mexico by tomorrow?" the young Swashbuckler asked. Starpeedus nodded. 
     "But how will we know when to get there before it’s too late?" Arthur asked.
     "Relax," Sebastian replied, "We only have two more nights ahead of us before are time is up. Besides, Starpeedus is a magical sea dragon. He’ll get us there in no time. If he ever gets exhausted, he’ll make a few stops where we can spend the night." 
     "Okay! I’ll remember!" Arthur said, confidently.
     "Great!" Sebastian cheered. "In the meantime, let’s buy a hotel for us the sleep for night. It’s getting dark anyways!"
     "I have a better idea, Sebastian." Arthur bellowed.
     "Tell me!" Sebastian said finally.
     "Well, me mate has prepared hammocks in his cabin. Why don’t you join me on the ship."
     "All right then!" Sebastian cried, "Let’s go in!" And so they did.

The next morning, the two woke up bright and early from their hammocks to sit up and yawn. They ate a delicious breakfast of grilled salmon with with fresh vegetables and fruit on the side inside the cabin, then got prepared for their adventure. Starpeedus had finished eating his own breakfast and had had a gulp of water from the ocean, in which tasted rather salty, so he spat it out. “All right now!” Sebastian spoke at last, “Time to stretch your wings.” So Starpeedus waited for Sebastian and Arthur to get on his back, then took flight.

Hours passed before Starpeedus grew tired and decided to take a rest. They landed on an island with a wide green pasture dotted with white sheep. They were in Killarney, Ireland. The kind shepherd and his wife took the pair to their house. It was a little timbered cottage with a thatched roof. Inside was a dining room with chairs and table with a white tablecloth. The table and chairs were hand carved and made out of varnished wood, as well as the rest of the furniture, except for the living room sofas.
The kitchen had a stone furnace, a cutting table and cupboards where the cups, utensils and china plates was stored. The living room had a red carpet made of wool, the cotton sofas with soft fabric cushions mentioned earlier, and a painting of Jesus Christ hanging over the mantelpiece. In one corner was a library where the wife liked to read, and a desk where she worked. Upstairs, the bedroom was mostly bare, but with two beds and a spinning wheel with a basket of white wool beside it. They introduced themselves to each other and become acquainted. After a delicious supper lit by candlelight, with produce fresh from the garden and clean water from the well, the family allowed Arthur and Sebatsian to sleep on separate couches covered with warm blankets. Everyone had a good night’s rest.

The following afternoon, the two friends prepared to leave. They wished the shepherd
and his wife a farewell before departing on Starpeedus. Hours passed, when Sebastian noticed a ship down below. Could it be the Black Curzon? Curiously, he asked Starpeedus to fly lower. As they drew closer he noticed a few details. It was blue and misty with torn sails. It’s anchor was rusted and covered in barnacles. A man rose a flag high in the air. The flag had a skull and crossbones on it. Indeed it was. "All right boy, let's go down to that ship." Sebastian ordered to Starpeedus. The creature glided downwards, landing on the surface of the water. It began to follow the ship. All of a sudden, an island took view through the mist. At the top of a mountain was an observation tower. As the ship docked, Starpeedus swam to shore and hid behind a rocky peak. The pirates began heading down the gang plank. Behind the peak, the three of them kept quite until the coast was clear. Sebastian and Arthur followed the crew up to the observation tower, while Starpeedus waited for them in the ocean.

The observation tower was packed with men, gathering around for the ceremony. A platform stood in the center of the room. Just above that was an open portico at the very top of the domed roof. A giant mural of mythological gods and goddesses using their powers was painted on the ceiling. On the circular floor was another enormous mural that showed a map of the world. This was supposed to represent the good and evil being showered down to the mortal earth.

Meanwhile, Sebastian and Arthur peeked behind a large golden door at the back of the crowd. All they had to do now was fit in. But how? "Psst!" someone said. They turned around. There stood Gail. "Gail!" cried Sebastian with surprised, "What are you doing here?" Gail shushed him. "Please be quiet so no one hears us." she whispered. "Sorry!" he said in quieter tone. Then he asked her, "How do we fit in?" She waved her staff magically around both of them, turning them into ghosts. "May you change me into someone else, please? They'll recognize me!" Arthur asked. "With pleasure!" she replied pleasantly, and immediately transformed his appearance, as well as his voice. "Thank you for that generosity!" "Any time!" she kindly said back, "Better be on my way now." In an instant she snapped her fingers and vanished. "Wow!" Arthur gasped. "Okay now! Follow me please!" Sebastian called. "Here I come!" Arthur called back. Now was there chance.

While the captain gave a speech to the audience, Sebastian and Arthur snuck towards a small chest resting on a table. They knew it contained the rubies. Just in time Sebastian picked up the box and they headed for the exit. "Mission accomplished!" Sebastian said relieved. Gail stood at the end of the hall.  "Over here!" she called to them. Oops! She realized that she had just made a sound. Now they were caught! "Quick!" she panicked, turning them back into themselves, "To the beach!" And the ran with her, followed by the charging ghosts.

Starpeedus awoke, realizing there was trouble. "Starpeedus! Prepare to take us! We've got company!" Starpeedus saw Sebastian was right, and so he began stretching his wings, ready to take flight again. They eventually made it before the pirates caught up with them. Arthur climbed on first, but before Sebastian got on, he turned to thank Gail for helping them get through. "Have no fear. I'm always there to help you." she said, giving him a smile of honesty. "Now hurry and let me deal with them!" Sebastian and Arthur managed to escape with the rubies in time on Starpeedus, while the pirates approached Gail, snapped her fingers, vanishing once more. "Where did she go?" asked one of the pirates. "Never mind her! We'll go after our pride possessions instead." replied the Captain. And so they stepped on board, giving chase.

"There gaining on us!" Arthur shouted. "Better go faster!" Sebastian called to Starpeedus who was too tired to go any further. The ship was right behind them, firing cannonballs at them. But they didn't hurt, because they were made of misty air, just like the ghosts and there ship. Sebastian didn't know what to use in order to defend themselves. Then he remembered the rubies. Of coarse! They had the power to regenerate lost souls. He had an idea. Opening the chest, he launched the rubies one by one at the ship. A blinding light suddenly shone, and all of a sudden, sunlight shone through the mist on a normal English sailing ship made of wood. As the fog cleared, the sailors, now made of flesh and skin, spotted the travelers soaring up in the sky. "Let's invite them down, shall we?" the Captain told his men. They agreed, and did so. Starpeedus had lost his breath. He finally decided to rest. As he landed on the ocean's surface, the friendly sailors welcomed them on board. They were pleased to be all back as themselves. Arthur stepped up to greet the Captain. "By the way, I have a little surprise for you." He offered Arthur a ring, the same one that belonged to his grandfather. "Thank you!" Arthur said happily while putting it on. He was relieved that it hadn't been destroyed. "It's your's now!" Captain Curzon, said with a smile. "Now then!" Sebastian cleared his through, "Can you help us get home, please?" "Absolutely," replied the Captain, winking. And he steered the ship back the Spain, with Starpeedus swimming behind.

The End

Friday, November 13, 2015

Marvelous Mary Poppins at San Diego Junior Theatre

Had a great time seeing some of my friends like Pierre Cozic and Vivi Peji in the San Diego Junior Theatre Production of Mary Poppins. Amazing actors-great show!

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Aztec Warrior

We are studying the Aztecs and I did this drawing.

September Boat Watching

Writing with Pictures

Smiling to bring home blue for grades K-8 at the California Center for the Arts: Writing with Pictures Exhibition.

Four of my pieces made it into the show

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Reptile Room Phrase worth repeating

It is very unnerving to be proven wrong, particularly when you are really right, and the person who is really wrong is the one who is proving you wrong and proving himself wrongly right, right?

-Lemony Snicket from A Series of Unfortunate Events, The Reptile Room

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Quest for the Wave Sweeper

Santiago López
May 30, 2015
The Quest for the Wave Sweeper
Creative Writing Draft

     On the docks, Sebastian J. Isaac, a sixteen-year-old swashbuckler, crouched inside a barrel of sardines. It was a foggy September morning in Cadiz Spain during the year 1632.  Sailors working outside hauled heavy loads of cargo down to the docks on horse-drawn wagons. Villagers dressed in collars, corsets and buckled leather shoes walked down the cobblestone roads. Even from inside his cramped barrel, Sebastian could hear the sound of music and drunk sailors in a nearby tavern called The Kraken’s Cavern.
     Now that the weather had turned cloudy, sailors began to freeze as they hauled the cargo onto the ships. Sebastian found out conditions were even worse inside the barrel. At the age of sixteen, puberty had expanded his body size, and now he was close to six feet tall and could not fit in the small barrel comfortably. To make matters worse, the sardines were extremely wet and slimy, and he felt as if he was taking a bath in a lake full of snails.
     All of a sudden, he felt himself being lifted and placed on a bale of hay. Peaking through a hole in the barrel, he saw that he actually was on a straw pile inside a wagon being drawn by a gray donkey with ruffled fur, chewing on a carrot. The wagon was heading towards a rickety old raft.  Sebastian was more than adventurous and wanted to stowaway aboard a sailing ship headed for a destination he hoped could save his village, Montoro. Soon the wagon came to a stop beside a raft of supplies. Reaching for the long, golden sword in his scabbard, Sebastian cleared away a wad of sardines and pushed open the loose bottom of the barrel. He crawled out, covered in sardines. Brushing them off lightly with his sword before placing his weapon back into his scabbard, a smell of the salty fish brought a sudden twinge of thirst in the pit of his throat. He walked into the Kraken’s Cavern for a bottle of rum, a mug of ale or a glass of cider. Quickly, he arrived at the bar.
     The bartender, was a bald, muscular man wearing an apron smothered in candle wax and ashes. Across his face was a long jagged scar and a patch over his eye, which made him look like a pirate. He had a peg leg that made him hobble, and the hook in place of his left hand gave him a menacing look. In his mouth, he held a tobacco pipe, and he blew a buff of smoke in Sebastian's face. He had a long red beard that draped down in braids, reaching his belly. His skinny, three-inch mustache curled up at both ends. As he held out a hand to greet Sebastian, the young swashbuckler noticed a tattoo of a sun with rays made of octopus tentacles and the face of skull with ruby eyes. It had an anchor for a nose and a mouth breathing fire with leeches poring out of sharp sword blades that resembled teeth. Wrapped around the skull-faced sun was a leech like sea monster with tentacles rising out of the waves.
     “What can I help you with, mucker?” the bartender asked him in an Irish accent before bursting into an extremely loud cough. “Mucker” is an Irish word for “mate”, which made Sebastian grin shyly. He looked around at the gambling men, drinking, smoking and laughing loudly. On the stage, drunk sailors played a Spanish tune on a guitar, a concertina and piano. Many men were slouching, fighting or throwing bottles. He gulped, wondering if he would be thrown out because of his age. But the bartender was too welcoming to throw any stranger out.
     “Well, I was wondering,” Sebastian stuttered while removing his hat to reveal masses of blond neatly groomed hair, “if I could have, uh, a glass of dark ale with extra froth on top.” 
     “Very well, mucker!” replied the bartender with a smile of friendliness, “Dark ale it is, then!” When Sebastian saw the sailor next to him drinking ale with shark fin, he thought it looked rather disgusting and was glad he hadn’t ordered that. Within a moment, his drink was prepared. Sebastian, took a sip of the ale and felt the fizzy froth bubble down his throat giving an enormous sigh of satisfaction. 
     “Thank you!” he told the bartender, who answered back, “Your welcome, mucker!”
      Suddenly, an enormous javelin crashed through the window and landed directly in the center of the dartboard that hung on the wall near the bar. The music stopped, the men gasped, and the pianist, who had seven drinks, passed out face down on the piano keys. Soon, the entire tavern grew silent. 
     From outside, a great explosion sounded! It shook the whole inn and the lights flickered out. Sebastian drew his sword and ran outside to see what the trouble was. The bartender and several patrons who were still conscious followed him. Before long, they discovered black smoke rising from the docks. Then they saw what the trouble was. The hay wagons hauling cargo and fishing raft had caught fire. Horses, cows, mules, donkeys, goats and even bulls were dashing across town in all directions. Even the fishermen abandoned their burning raft full of supplies and dived into the water. Several of the barrels and crates nearby were also blazing away. 
     All of a sudden, behind them, a second explosion sounded! It seemed to be coming from the old boathouse. And sure enough, it was. Within the debris of burning planks, a tall, black, form stepped out of the inferno. The silhouette was of a man with tentacle legs and arms. Through the smoke his blood-red eyes pierced the air. A plague of leeches poured out of his mouth that scattered the screaming villagers. Teeth as sharp as swords glistened in the mist and smoke rose from his anchor shaped nose. The phantom looked strangely familiar. In one, tentacle hand, he held a pistol and blew the smoke away. Then, in a flash, he sucked all the leeches back into his fiery mouth, and vanished like a dream into a blaze of sunlight. The fog and smoke cleared.
     “What a demon!” cried one of the sailors. He lifted his spyglass towards his eye to get a better view at the sun, but the phantom was nowhere in sight.
     “I know the legend of that devil all right!” said the bartender, who lifted his sleeve to show them his tattoo. 
     “Ooh!” everyone said, except for Sebastian who had noticed the resemblance. 
     He drew his sword back into his scabbard, and headed out searching for a place to sleep a few hours before attempting to stow away. Then he realized that in the commotion he had forgotten his hat, so he rushed back to the bar. As he picked it up and was about to throw down a few coins, the bartender grabbed him, delighted to see him again. “Fantastic mucker!” the bartender said, “sit down and tell me a bit about yourself”. With a big smile on his face, he moved closer to Sebastian, lifted him up and gave him an enormous hug. Sebastian felt uncomfortable to be hugged by someone he did not know well. Besides that, the hook poked him hard, though he did not get wounded by it. 
   “All right! Put me down please!” he begged. “One last one!” said the bartender, and gave him the tightest squeeze Sebastian had ever felt. He moved away from the pointy hook and out of the bartender’s arms.
     “I actually better be on my way!” Sebastian replied. 
     “Absolutely not! After all, we haven’t introduced ourselves.” the bartender proclaimed. “My name is Sir Arthur Hilch the Third! Named after me father and his father before him!” The man bellowed. 
    “Hi!” Sebastian said a bit shakily, “My name is . . . Uh . . . Sebastian, Mr. Hilch.” 
    “Pleased to meet you Sebastian!” said the bartender, enthusiastically, and gave him a firm handshake. Sebastian was glad that he had not shook hands with Arthur’s pointy hook. “Why don’t you join me!” Arthur suggested, “We’ll catch that lunatic once and for all!”
    “What lunatic?” Sebastian asked. 
    “This lad painted on me arm right here!” said Arthur, pointing to his tattoo. 
    “Oh!” said Sebastian understanding, “You mean that phantom?” 
    “Exactly!” said Arthur.
    Sebastian’s heart began leaping up because he remembered a legend he once heard and knew he had to search out the phantom to save his once beautiful village. ''You see," he told Arthur, “I come from Montoro but for many years, a curse has held our town in deaths grip. The river that gives life to us has been drying up and all the fish that fed us for generations have disappeared. Then a passing stranger told me the legend of the Wave Sweeper, a magical object that had the power to return water to our river. That’s when I ventured here Arthur. We are desperate and I’m absolutely ready for an adventure!” he said cheerfully. 
    “Watch your step, mucker!” Arthur replied, shaking his head in concern. 
   “Please!” Sebastian begged, “Call me Sebastian,” he said with hopeful eyes. “Something tells me we were destined to meet and it could be this legend is true”.
    “Very well, Sebastian!” Arthur said back, "Yes the legend of the Wave Sweeper is real. It lies on the Isle of Anghesey and many a man has died to get to a treasure that lies there guarded by a monster. You better be careful! It’s a treacherous voyage. Even for a young man like you!” bellowed Arthur, pointing his hook hand at Sebastian and drooling like a dog. 
    Then suddenly, he stomped his peg leg on top of Sebastian boot by accident. Sebastian drew his sword out of habit. Arthur backed away a bit, afraid if Sebastian wanted to injure him. Sebastian instead placed the sword back into his scabbard and replied, “Sorry about that! I would never defeat you with my sword. You just stomped on my foot by accident is all. I drew my sword to make you back off. Anyways, continue, please!” 
    “Well,” Arthur began, “to reach your destination, you’d have to cross the Island of Dragons, the Whirlpool of Hell and the Sea of Mythical Creatures that is guarded by . . .” then he whispered in Sebastian’s ear, “Starpeedus”. 
   “Who’s Starpeedus?” Sebastian asked with wonder. 
   “Shhh!” Arthur demanded, “You must never speak it’s name.” He continued to whisper,  “Starpeedus is a terrible leech-like monster with enormous tentacles and the head of a serpent. He is to be feared.” 
    “What does he do?” Sebastian asked. 
   “He gobbles up ships approaching the isle to steal the golden Wave Sweeper turning all the sailors trying to reach it into phantoms.”
   “Come with me into the cellar and I’ll show you a map!” he told Sebastian beckoning with his hook. Sebastian saw the shiny hook glisten in the sunlight. Despite his fears he knew he had to trust this man. Arthur smiled revealing a gold tooth as he grinned. He reluctantly followed him to the tavern cellar where the bartender lit a lantern. 
    The cellar gave Sebastian the creeps. There were rats hiding in the dark and a large bat hung from the ceiling. Cobwebs hung here and there, with spiders dangling from them. Of all things, spiders frightened Sebastian the most. Arthur fearlessly chased them all away with his hook and squashed a few spiders with his peg leg, while others vanished into the wall with the rodents. 
    Arthur suddenly gave a friendly smile, and his eyes lit up with delight. They were becoming fast friends and it was if Arthur saw Sebastian as his own son. "Take heart" Arthur continued, "with this map and my help, you can find the Wave Sweeper. But first it is important that you listen to my tale.” he said. 
   “Yes, please!” Sebastian said, interested. "Very well,” Arthur said. Then he lit his pipe and his face turned serious as he began the story of Starpeedus.

     Long, long ago, during the age of Atlantis, a comet struck creating a bright beam of sunlight. This beam formed a giant egg in the middle of the North Atlantic Ocean. In that time, a baby sea dragon was born. The gods and goddesses treasured him like their son, and Poseidon raised him and named him, Starpeedus. Over the years, Starpeedus grew up with blue green scales that glistened when they were wet and learned how to catch fish. He was well liked by all the gods and creatures of the sea. 
     By the time he was twenty-years old, Kronos, the god of war decided he needed a dragon to carry out his evil deeds, and so he cast a spell upon Starpeedus. He secretly used a powerful amulet to take Starpeedus under his control. The creature then wreaked havoc. He formed various obstacles for those who dared cross this part of the ocean, like the Whirlpool of Hell. Whenever a ship managed to pass the obstacles in one piece, he cruelly gobbled up the ships and with evil powers turned the sailors into phantoms. These phantoms worked as his slaves and invaded various villages while protecting a treasure on the Isle of Anghesey
     One day, I arrived with me crew. Six men were captured by the dragons who ruled their Island, and were toasted in firey breath. Seven were sucked into the Whirlpool of Hell, though a small piece of our ship survived as we hoisted the anchor onto a rocky island. Finally, we encountered Starpeedus himself. Ten of the remaining men were gobbled and transformed into ghosts including the captain, who is the phantom we saw today. I was the only one to survive. With a mighty harpoon, I leaped up for attack! It knocked me back, and I lost a tooth. Next, it swallowed me leg. I slashed at it a second time, but accidentally cut me face leaving this scar. I also lost me eye during the battle and the monster swallowed me eyeball as well. I only managed to stop it from killing me by stabbing its heart. The sea dragon cried out in horrible pain as if it were remembering something sad. At the same time, it savagely bit off me hand, before sinking back into the ocean.  As I watched the creature sink, there was a flash of lightning, leaving me with red scars that eventually faded into this tattoo. And then a deep voice spoke from the waves, “Sir Arthur Hilch the Third. Your courage has helped you survive the wrath of Starpeedus. However, you must be aware that Starpeedus is immortal, and will regenerate, unless a true hero finds his weakness! Farewell Hilch the Third.” And so I kept that in mind. When I reached Cadiz, I got me job here but never gave up on me search for a true hero that would defeat Starpeedus. Legend says that the golden Wave Sweeper it guards has healing powers that Kronos despises. Now it’s up to you Sebastian as I believe you will be the one to find Starpeedus’ weakness and complete your quest.

     “Bravo!” Sebastian cheered sarcastically while clapping his hands. “That was a rather epic tale invented by you.” 
     “Oh no, Sebastian!” Arthur said, no longer whispering while shaking his head, “That legend is a true story!” 
     “You’ve gotta’ be joking!” Sebastian said as if he didn’t believe him. 
    “Come on Sebastian!” Arthur said disappointed, “Use your head. Your search is why that phantom appeared in town this morning to frighten you!” 
   “Wake up you silly old man!” Sebastian said, “It had to be a hallucination probably caused by ale.” Sebastian scolded the storyteller, shaking his fist at him and rushing up the stairs and into a back alley. 
    Arthur chased after him. “Put your fist down” he cried, and lowered it with his hook. “Look Sebastian, that monster is guarding the Wave Sweeper. Me own father searched for it with me and his crew, but our ship never returned. The Wave Sweeper, is a magical statue of a golden boat and it is guarded by the dragon on an island called Anghesey.” Arthur began stroking his beard with his hook, when it got tangled in one of the braids.
    Sebastian thought for a moment and changed his tone, hoping the story might really be true. If he could find the Wave Sweeper, he might save the village. For a quick moment, his young mind began to wonder…perhaps he could even use it to make a great fortune. “Not so fast!” said an unfamiliar female voice coming out of the darkness. The bartender and the swashbuckler turned. Lurking in the shadows appeared an old beggar. Arthur lifted his lantern to reveal an old gypsy fortuneteller. She pulled out a crystal ball and an image of the Wave Sweeper appeared. “Greed will only make your heart selfish. And if someone selfish comes upon the Wave Sweeper they shall fall into a pit of leeches and be devoured. You must have a good reason if you wish to retrieve this magical boat. Listen to your heart alone, as the Wave Sweeper can heal and return the water in the river. Your village has suffered a drought too long, and people rely on that river. The fish will feed the families and all life will return. Only you can make things better, Sebastian!” 
     This made Sebastian feel special. “Thanks! How can I ever pay you back. 
     “A gold coin will do.” she answered. Then she offered wisdom in exchange for the payment. “A true heart shall make you rich beyond your wildest dreams. You must just remember to go on your adventure with a good heart." 
     “I will!” Sebastian said, “I promise!”
    "Very well!" the old woman replied, "and good luck on your journey!" She then tucked her crystal ball back into her pouch, and with the wave of her hand, she vanished.
    Sebastian smiled. Then he turned to Arthur. “Arthur, please hear me!” he said. 
    “What!” cried Arthur with more delight than he had felt in a long time. 
    "Will you be my partner for the voyage.” Sebastian ask him.
    “I knew it!” Arthur bellowed with joy. Then he gave Sebastian another tremendous hug, much tighter than before. 
    “Ouch!” cried Sebastian, “You’re poking me with your hook!” 
    “Sorry, Sebastian!” Arthur said, letting go. They were ready for adventure.

     The next morning, the two friends set sail headed North for the Isle of Anghesey. They sailed for many days and nights through both calm and turbulent seas. As they approached their destination Arthur’s tattoo began to glow, signaling that the menace was near. They had finally reached Starpeedus and knew the precious Wave Sweeper must be close by. In a flash of lightning, Starpeedus rose out of the crashing waves! Leeches poured out from through his vicious teeth. Waving his enormous tentacles, he grabbed the mast tightly and began to rattle the entire ship. Sebastian climbed up the rigging to the crow’s nest to get a better look. From this lofty perch, he suddenly noticed a black amulet secured to a chain wrapped around the great beast’s neck. Red sparks shot from the amulet igniting electrical charges that looked like fireworks. Sebastian knew immediately that this was the amulet that Kronos used in Arthur's tale, and was to be the source of evil. Leaping from the crow’s nest, he swung from a rope like an acrobat, drew his sword and slashed the chain that bound Starpeedus’s neck. Swinging down onto the main deck he used the chain to propel himself back on board. Once he was on the ship again he threw the amulet down, raised his sword and smashed it to smithereens. The curse was finally broken. 
    Once the spell had ended, the dark scales shed off the sea dragon's body, revealing glistening blue green scales. The leeches dripping from his mouth vanished into mist. Even the tentacles faded away like the shadows of night. The blood red glow in Starpeedus’s eyes disappeared. His wings were no longer stiff. They broke free, giving him the capability to fly once again! 
     The termination of the curse erased Arthur’s scar and restored his eye, hand, and leg. Only the tattoo was left and a grin revealing his golden tooth. 
    A large grumbling sound suddenly erupted causing Sebastian, Arthur and the crew to take cover. They wondered if it might be a storm, whirlpool or another sea monster approaching. Instead, Starpeedus belched out his captives covered in slime but suddenly breathing. The released phantoms had been changed back to their human selves and were now floating in the water. “Brilliant son!” shouted the captain. Arthur thought he heard the familiar voice of his father. He ran to the side of the ship and looked down into the ocean. There, smiling up at him was his beloved father swimming towards him. Arthur threw a rope into the water and ordered the survivors to grab hold. Finally all were safely aboard and reunited. 
     Free at last, Starpeedus slowly spoke in a monotone voice, inviting Sebastian to climb the scales up to his back. Sebastian got on and wished the crew a fair journey. Then, the creature's enormous wings began to flap as they took off, headed toward to the Isle of Anghesey. “That’s my mucker!” cried Arthur as the ship turned headed back to Cadiz. 
    The majestic sea dragon flew gracefully with Sebastian aboard. On the island, the swashbuckler carefully tucked the golden Wave Sweeper under his hat. It was no larger then a deck of cards, and fit easily there. Then he returned to Starpeedus' back, and together they took to the sky, on their way to Montoro.