Bob the Musketeer was taking what he considered a well-deserved afternoon off. Exactly what he was taking it off from remained a matter of opinion. He was sitting comfortably on one of the benches outside the Gallo Loco Cantina, passing the time pleasantly chatting with Evita Hierra. She kept her hands busy making home-made jewelry to sell alongside the ‘magical’ wares that kept her business afloat. She had already handed him his daily checker defeat, and time for the afternoon siesta was fast approaching. Bob found his eyelids growing heavier…
“Señor, oh please help por favor!” The cry of distress assaulted Bob’s ears and he came wide awake instantly. He leapt up from his chair, entangled his foot on a discarded piece of leather, then engaged in a somersault with the hitching post.
“Are you alright?“ an anxious voice asked. Looking up, Bob saw Serena Gutierrez’s face haloed by the sun. Her concerned look caused him to reassess his actual condition. He started by flexing his fingers, then moving on to his toes. Managing that Herculean effort successfully, he next endeavored to sit upright, achieving this task with only minimal help from two Serenas to keep from flopping back to the ground.
“I’m fine,” Bob lied, waving her off. His head hurt, his backside was sore, and he had spilled his mug of yum on his pants. “The question should be, are you alright señorita, er.. señora?” Bob regarded the young daughter of Don Oscar Gutierrez. Now married, she remained a great favorite in the town of Santo Pollo, her bright smile a cheering sight on even the bleakest day.
“Oh si, señor, I am quite well, thank you for asking. Please, you helped El Toro save me from Froggo Villa, perhaps you can help me now since no none knows how to contact El Toro.” Serena and Evita took an arm each and helped Bob regain his feet, then settle him back onto a bench. The barkeep emerged with three mugs of yum‘n‘ade. Seeing as the situation wasn’t life threatening (this was not Bob’s first run in with that particular hitching post), he passed around the drinks before escaping back into the cantina.
“Now, what seems to be the problem?” Bob asked, his curiosity getting the better of him. ‘No good can come of this,’ he thought to himself, ‘I really should know better.’
“It is my dear friend and companion, Costanzia, is in trouble, not I,“ Serena started to explain. “She is to be married this Saturday, the day after tomorrow. Rico Garcia has the wedding dress in hand, Friar Cluck is readying the church, and the flowers are coming all the way from Puerto Mico. They will be very beautiful. Her father has rented the back room of the Gallo Loco for the reception. All is prepared, and Hector Varga promised to make the most magnificent cake ever…” Here Serena stopped and proffered a scrap of paper.
We know of your plans. We have taken the baker. We shall come on Saturday night and take what is ours.
There was no signature, but none was needed. It could only have come from the Toads and Salamanders of the Banditoad Trail. It was all Evita could do to stifle her gasp of dismay.
“Are those fools so dim as to not know without a baker there can be no cake!?” Bob asked incredulously. “No one can be that daft.” If there was one thing the people of Santo Pollo took seriously, it was cake. And Hector Varga was the Maestro de Pastel.
“They must be, for they have,” Serena spoke the unspeakable.
“Let me guess, someone needs to go after him.”
“Oh señor, I knew you would do it!!” Serena threw her arms about Bob, and he resigned himself to the inevitable. Patting the poor (actually rich) girl’s back, he uttered the also inevitable, “Now, now. There, there.”
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