Along the western coast of Galicia, nestled somewhere in the craggy mountains outside of the ancient city of Santiago De Compostela, was a sprawling estate just beyond the ocean's reach. Wine was not made there, even though the rich soil was perfect for growing succulent Merlot grapes. Sheep were not raised though the grass was the type that would bring about the finest wool. Bulls were not kept in the corrals though the demand for good quality stock for the bullring would fetch a handsome price. It was not wine or fabric or sport that had made the large estate as grand as it was. What kept the paint gleaming, the fountains murmuring, and the roses in perpetual bloom was the rich sound of thundering Iberian hooves over the rolling landscape.
The sea of flowing manes or the tossing of proud heads was not what had captured the attention of a sickly little boy that lay stretched out on a thick Persian rug in one of the many rooms of the villa that was the thriving pulse point of activity within the estate. With his chin resting on the back of his hands he watched wide-eyed at the battle that unfolded before him. And such a battle it was!
Lead cavalry horses reared up in surprise as the ground shaking boom of the long cannons took the mounted unit by surprise. Angry shouts from the painted generals were lost over the melee of clashing tin swords and parrying daggers. From the north a troop of stationary musket men, the French Musketeers, unleashed a volley into the exposed flank of the Spanish infantry. Men were cut down like sheaves of wheat under a farmer's scythe. The battle raged on as the French crept closer and closer to the walled city of Madrid, driving the Spanish army further and further back.
But wait! Who was that? That figure suddenly charging out of the city gates. Could it be? It was he! El Montoya! The greatest Swordsmaster that ever lived!
El Montoya rode hard like the devil into the fray upon his big grey horse as the Spanish soldiers cheered him on. With his rapier in his hand he went straight for the French musketeers and scattered them with a swish and a swing as his sword. Some of the Musketeers tried to put up a fight. They were very brave but they were no match for El Montoya.
Oh no! El Montoya! Look out behind you!
Distracted by the fleeing soldiers El Montoya did not see the long cannon bearing down on him from the French occupied hill.
The great cannon spat out a fiery cannon ball that soared through the air straight for El Montoya. His great horse reared in challenge but its bravery could not stop the deadly missile. El Montoya turned to face death head on. He would meet his end like a true Spaniard. He spat upon the ground in defiance and said his famous words.
"My name is El Montoya! You may try to kill me. I am prepared to die!"
The cannonball exploded into pieces when a giant fist intercepted it in mid-air. That giant fist belong to a giant arm which belonged to a Turkish Giant who was as tall as five men standing on each other's shoulders and as strong as a hundred wild bulls. It was Fezzik the Giant who had saved El Montoya's life!
Once again the brave and loyal Fezzik was there to beat back certain doom with his great strength. However El Montoya and Fezzik the Giant could not celebrate their triumph because soon they were surrounded by a hundred…no…two hundred French soldiers. Swords were drawn and muskets were pointed at them from every direction. In the distance the Spanish army rallied and tried to fight the French so that they could save the brave friends but there were just too many soldiers.
"This may be the end."
El Montoya readied his sword and glared at the approaching French swordsmen. He would take them all on.
"Then I am glad that we are friends."
Fezzik the Giant loved to rhyme even as he stared down the barrels of sixty muskets. He cracked his massive knuckles in anticipation.
"To the death!"
"With what strength we have left!"
A great cry went up as the French cannons boomed again. Cannonballs soared across the battlefield and knocked down the unsuspecting French soldiers.
What treachery was this?
Left and right they were tossed about as the cannons roared and coughed out fire and smoke. Soon no one could see their hands in front of their eyes the smoke was so thick. It was hard to breathe, impossible to see, and no one knew what was going on. Why had the French cannons fired down on the French Soldiers? What about the Spanish army? What happened to El Montoya and Fezzik the Giant?
No one moved very much until the smoke started to clear. El Montoya stood on his horse but even then he could see nothing. Fezzik picked him up and let him stand on his shoulders so that he could peer above the cloud of smoke that covered the field. El Montoya looked not to the Spanish army but to the hills where the French cannons sat. What he saw made him raise his sword in salute. The gleaming blade of his famous sword shone through the smoke and on top of the hill another blade flashed. It was the blade that belonged to the most infamous of all pirates that have ever lived. It was a Man In Black, wearing a black mask. El Montoya would not have believed it had he not seen it with his own two eyes.
The Dread Pirate Roberto had taken control of the French long cannons and won the day! He alone outfoxed the French when the entire Spanish army could not defeat them. No one was a dangerous or as smart as the Dread Pirate Roberto!
"Three cheers for the Dread Pirate Roberto! Scourge of the Seven Seas! For there is no one alive that is as brave and a daring as he!"
The little boy cheered along with the rest of the hand-casted army that lay scattered all across the carpet in the aftermath of the battle. So caught up in the Spanish victory he did not notice the figure watching quietly from the open doorway behind him.
The old man stood straight and poised, something that a man of his age would have had a hard time doing had it been anyone else. The many long-lived years showed on his hands and face but despite the thick streaks of white in his full silver beard and hair his dark eyes were as keen as ever under a pair of thick black eyebrows. A small smile appeared under his beard as he watched the little boy play with his toys.
"Miguel why are you not outside playing with the others?" The old man cleared his throat and gave the boy a questioning look.
The little boy, Miguel, sat up and shrugged his thin shoulders.
"Mamma says that it is too hot outside and that the horses are kicking up too much dust. It is bad for me to breathe the dust so I have to stay inside and play quietly."
The old man stroked his beard. "I see."
"But I do not mind. I am having wonderful adventures. The Dread Pirate Roberto just saved Madrid from the French. With the help of El Montoya and Fezzik the Giant of course. There is nothing that they cannot do. "
"Ah, those three again. So it was Madrid this time was it?" The old man asked as he entered the room and made his way over to one of the high-backed chairs that was just right for taking an afternoon siesta in. "And how many French soldiers did they defeat this time?"
"Hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of them. See? All of them were sent back to their mammas for being bad. The Dread Pirate Roberto made sure of it." Miguel picked up his three favourite figures and brought them over to the old man so that he could see how valiant and brave they were. Miguel placed the three friends into the old man's calloused hands before he crawled into the chair to sit on his lap.
"See? That is Roberto. And that was is El Montoya. Papa had to get Fezzik the Giant made special for me because no one is as big as Fezzik. He is heavier than the others but he is the nicest. Did you ever see Fezzik the Giant grandfather? Papa told me that you did, a long time ago, when you fought El Montoya in the bullring. But I am not supposed to tell anyone because it is a secret. Why is it a secret?"
Miguel's grandfather stared thoughtfully at the small painted figures that Miguel had given him. The one that was supposed to be the notorious pirate was a musketeer that had been sloppily painted over in black by a child's hand. El Montoya was a Spaniard stuck in the lunge position. The giant was slightly different, carefully created and painted by an expert hand that had done a decent job of making it look like the actual person.
"Grandfather?" Miguel looked up at the old man who was momentarily lost in his thoughts.
"Tell me Miguel. Which one is your favourite?"
Miguel thought about it for a moment before he pointed to Fezzik the Giant.
"Why is that?"
This Miguel did not need to think about.
"The others fight a lot because they want to. Fezzik, he fights because he has to. He does not want to but he must protects his friends so he does. In the stories Papa tells me Fezzik was always there to help no matter what and that is why he was different from everybody. Papa says that Fezzik was only afraid of one thing. He did not like to be by himself. He was the biggest and the strongest but he was afraid of being alone. I feel like that sometimes. I am not big or strong but I am always by myself. I could have been Fezzik's friend. Then we both would not be alone. We would have so many adventures with El Montoya. "
Hearing this Miguel's grandfather did not say a word for some time. He just nodded his head once more and enfolded Miguel in a hug that nearly swallowed the frail boy. There was no one around to see it but for a moment a gleam sprang into the old man's eyes. A trick of the sunlight perhaps?
"It is always about the adventures with you Miguel." The old man murmured and patted the boy on his back. "You know, I think you are right. Fezzik would have been honoured to have you as a friend. He may not have had many but the ones he did have loved him very much."
"How do you know this?"
"Because," the old man began, "I am your grandfather Miguel, I know everything."
"Will you tell me a story?"
"A story? What kind of a story?"
Miguel scratched an itch on his ear as he looked at the three painted figures in his grandfather's hand.
"One about them."
The old man chuckled and handed back two of the three figures. The lunging Spaniard he kept however, holding it at eye level so he could examine it closely in the light.
"I have told you many times about the Great Duel on the Cliffs of Insanity, of El Montoya's life-long quest to hunt down the Six-Fingered Man, and of how these two unlikely friends helped the Man In Black to cheat death and win back his true love from the evil Prince of Florin. But have I ever told you the story of how El Montoya came back from the dead just to prove that he was the greatest swordfighter in all the world?"
Miguel shook his head as he settled in the crook of his grandfather's arm in order to make himself comfortable. This was going to be a long story. He could feel it.
"Ah now there is a story. El Montoya could not have done it alone. Fezzik was there to help and so was the Man in Black. But it was a Spanish rose, El Montoya's Rosa, that managed that miracle. Would you like to hear it?"
Miguel nodded and closed his eyes so that he could bring the story to life in his head.
"Well then. It all began with a great horse chase followed by a very close brush with Death…."