Silver Serpents

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Silver Serpents
Silver Serpent
Silver Serpent, from Ultima VII manual
First appearance: Ultima VI
Last appearance: Ultima IX

Silver Serpents are gargantuan snakes who have long been prominent in both Britannian symbolism and Gargish cultural practices. Although relatively rare animals, these near-mythic creatures have been significant to both cultures on account of the stimulant and curative properties of their venom.

Description[edit]

One of the largest animals to roam Britannia, grown silver serpents have been found which outsize a large frigate.[1] Although seldom encountered, these beasts are formidable foes, and can easily overwhelm a poorly prepared adventuring party. Their venomous bite can rapidly prove fatal and their sheer bulk makes them difficult creatures of kill.

Silver Serpents appear to have been long native to the Realm of the Gargoyles, and their first major appearance in Britannia coincided with the wars of the late Age of Enlightenment. Their presence in Sosarian symbolism, however, implies that humanity may have had truck with them in the distant past.

Silver Serpents in Symbolism[edit]

The image of the silver serpent has been used since the times of archaic Sosaria, and has been found featuring prominently within numerous ruins and crypts. The stylized image of the glissant silver serpent was adopted as some point by Lord British as a personal emblem, likely as it was this symbol that was featured on the amulet which first brought him to the realm from Earth. This symbol also came to be adopted by the knightly Order of the Silver Serpent on Serpent's Hold, and features on their shields and standards.

While such serpents figured for a long time as largely mythological beasts for Britannians, in traditional Gargish culture, the silver serpent (or Vasargsarp) was a living presence in the midst of their people. Accounts have been made to the effect that Gargish warriors would routinely hunt the silver serpent and ritually imbibe its venom, allowing them to enter a berserkir-esque battle rage. An artifact known as the Silver Horn was at one point developed, seemingly for the purposes of such hunts, as it summoned the beasts to its location when sounded.

Much like the numerous cognates found within the Gargish language and the Britannian words of magic, the presence of silver serpent iconography in (presumably) pre-Sosarian civilization hints tantalizingly at possible common ur-culture or a past meeting of the two races in antiquity. No definitive evidence, however, has surfaced as to exactly why such commonalities exist, and their presence leaves more questions than answers.

Silver Serpent Venom[edit]

Main article: Silver Serpent Venom

The venom of the silver serpent carries stimulant and performance-enhancing properties, and in the years that followed the accord between Lord British and Lord Draxinusom, Britannians became interested in the substance once featured in Gargish battle rites. Over the next two centuries, the reagent saw abuse as a recreational drug, and as a means of exploiting Gargish laborers that they might work longer hours. Eventually, however, professional research into the venom was able to produce the restorative elixir, Serpentwyne, which was a much sought after commodity in the late Age of Armageddon.

Lore[edit]

Silverserpent2.gif
Since the days of ancient Sosaria, the silver serpent has been a part of our lives. Its form has been found etched on tomb walls, and ancient monuments have been found which were crafted in its image. Yet, a recent scouting brigade claims to have seen a dead silver serpent of incredible size near a gargoyle encampment. The scouts observed for a time and, upon their return, reported the gargoyles milked the slain creature of its venom and even ingested the fluid thus derived before entering battle. This ritual act seemed to give the gargoyles a short term increase in aggression and strength, though causing their death in the end. Whether the drinking of venom actually increased the gargoyle's strength is currently the subject of some debate at the Lycaeum.
This creature, seen in the symbols of ancient Sosaria, once more holds the fascinations of Britannia. The venom of the silver serpent is reported to have a strange and lasting effect on people. No doubt this shall be the subject of further study.

Notable Examples[edit]

  • Only one silver serpent is known of in Britannia during the time of Ultima IX, which long resided in the Cathedral of Love, that the monks therein might harvest its venom for the manufacture of Serpentwyne. Due to a conspiracy by the Guild of Buccaneer's Den, however, it was kidnapped from its haven by the pirates Aria and Dunston, and could be uncovered and restored to its rightful place by the Avatar.

Trivia[edit]

"Silver" the silver serpent from the manga
  • Yoko Tanaka's manga re-telling of Ultima IV, silver serpents appear as quadrupedal reptiles similar to dragons, and are said to be tameable only by paladins. In the story, the party hatches a baby silver serpent from an egg provided by the young Kati. This serpent, named "Silver," grows to adulthood over the course of the comic, eventually helping to rescue the heroes from a whirlpool threatening their ship.

See Also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. YorlUnderworld Dragon's Ultima VI TranscriptUltima VI. "gargoyles, serpents".