Martellotto, a small town in Spanish Santa Barbara, where the people are happy. And why wouldn't they be? They have wine.
The Masked Grape of Santa Barbara had struck again. The evil Governor Tanin Valencia Ignatius Rodriguez IV had returned to one of his many grape mines to find his stock stolen, his men defeated, and his property defaced with the Masked Grape’s trademark “Y”.
“Who IS this grape!” he shouted, pounding his fist against the expensive desk eleven peasants had died constructing for him. His various Lieutenants, Colonels, and Captains of the Guard all averted their eyes, ducking his gaze. “Who!?” he demanded.
“We do not know, Governor. But his swordsmanship is excellent,” offered one of the braver underlings.
“What do you mean, ‘his swordsmanship is excellent?’” asked Governor Tanin Valencia Ignatius Rodriguez IV, with something more than a hint of menace in his tone.
“Some of my men have fought him, sir. His style is as lush as a fine dark berry, as alert and confrontational as our finest toasted coffee, and all with the nuanced panache of vanilla.”
“I see,” said Governor Tanin Valencia Ignatius Rodriguez IV. “And do we know anything USEFUL about him? Anything at all?” All of Governor Tanin Valencia Ignatius Rodriguez IV’s men looked at their toes. None of them had an answer.
Meanwhile, on a dusty path in South Santa Barbara, the Masked Grape finished carving the letter “Y” into the face of the third and final of the bandits he’d interrupted. The little girl they’d ambushed was fine, looking on as the heroic grape disarmed and marked the brigands.
“Never forget, seniors; the Masked Grape is for the people. The weed of crime bears bitter fruit, and my blade shall prune it.” The brigands, grateful for their lives, fled without further incident. But the little girl had noticed something. “Sir, your- your accent?”
“Ah yes,” said the Masked Grape through his impressive mustache, “I am originally from Spain, little one. But I find I thrive in Santa Barbara. Now, run home to your mother before you get into any more trouble, ok?” He leaped onto his horse, and seemed about to depart, but the little girl had another question.
“Senior Grape, why the letter Y?”
“Ah, it’s a secret, my dear. But I shall tell you, if you promise to hurry home and never again wander so far alone; these streets are not safe.” She nodded. “Very well, then, you in all of California shall be the only one to know that the true name of the Masked Grape is Ynez.”
“Santa Ynez?” she asked, her eyes wide and grateful.
The hero chuckled, and replied, “No, I am no saint, little one. Only a grape, however bold.” And off he road to further vex the evil Governor Tanin Valencia Ignatius Rodriguez IV. The little girl smiled, and began to walk home.
“Santa Ynez,” she said to herself, never more sure of anything in her life.
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