This story is based on the Walt Disney Zorro - my all time favourite! I own none of the original characters and write purely for fun, never for profit. All characters not known from the show are my own creation.
The adventure takes place after Zorro rid Los Angeles of the Eagle. Special thanks to IcyWaters for being a wonderful beta reader!
Los Angeles, 1809
Raúl ran around the patio of the Fabregás hacienda, fighting every chair and plant within his reach with his wooden rapier he got for his eleventh birthday that morning.
His eight year old sister Soledad sat nearby watching him with a pout and a frown. The wooden rapier had come as a set of two. But of course her big brother rather played alone than having his little sister holding one of his beloved wooden toys.
"They're not girls toys anyway," he had told her when she asked him for the third time if she could join his game.
So Soledad had taken her seat on the wall next to the stairs that lead up to the top level. She knew Raúl merely wanted to wait for the arrival of his friend Diego and his parents. She also knew that as soon as Diego was around her chances of getting to play with the rapiers vaporised.
Just as they had done many times before, sticks serving as rapiers, Raúl would become the commandante of the garrison and Diego had to play the part of a wanted outlaw. They would run around the hacienda fighting and climbing and riding imaginary horses and shouting. Those were the times where Soledad wished she were a boy. She didn't care much for dolls and skirts but her parents would have none of that.
Finally, Raúl came to a stop right in front of her. Crossing her arms in front of her chest she glared at him until he burst out laughing.
"You still want to play fight?"
She nodded a bit too eagerly for her own liking, but she didn't care when the desired object - the second wooden rapier - was handed to her by her brother.
"En garde," said Raúl, raising his rapier into a salute as he had observed many times.
Soledad jumped off the wall and copied his stance. Despite her being a girl and Raúl's efforts to keep her out of his boy games, she had been involved in stick fights before.
"En garde," she replied.
They had just managed to divide some points amongst themselves when the sound of horse galloping close by distracted Raúl. Expecting his friend, he turned slightly to see if it was him and found that his sister had taken advantage of his distraction, pointing the tip of the rapier straight at his chest.
Since the horses that arrived carried Diego and his parents, Alejandro and Isabella de la Vega, that was the scene they were greeted with.
"Hola, Raúl," Diego called. "Don't you rather want to yield before she runs you through?" Diego couldn't suppress a smile and Raúl blushed from embarrassment.
"If you're so sure she won't put you in the same position, why don't you challenge her then?" Raúl replied. Then he turned to his sister who still had the rapier pointed at his chest.
"I yield," he said quietly and Soledad withdrew the wooden toy unable to hide a grin.
The de la Vegas chuckled in unison and dismounted the horses. Their arrival had not gone unnoticed by the other inhabitants of the hacienda and Don Javier Fabregás strode out to greet his friend Alejandro and his wife.
After a warm welcome, the adults went inside to sit in the sala and enjoy a glass of good wine, and Diego found himself with a wooden rapier being thrust into his hands by Raúl.
"Make sure you beat her, Diego. Else we will never hear the end of her tales about the day she did not only best her big brother, but also his best amigo. And don't try getting out of this because you don't fight with girls."
Diego grinned and looked at his friend. Raúl was half a year older than him but usually the fights they were having as Commandante versus Outlaw ended in Diego's favour. Much to Raúl's disappointment since his idea was that the older must be better than the younger. He must have felt triple humiliation to lose to someone younger who was also a girl, his sister of all people.
"Ah, I shall gladly defend your honour, mi amigo," Diego replied and took a good look, first at the rapier and then at Soledad.
Being two years younger than him Soledad was a full head shorter. But Diego saw her determination and knew he couldn't take this challenge lightly. He raised his rapier in greeting.
"En garde, Soledad."
Soon the clashing of wooden swords could be heard from the patio. Raúl had occupied the spot on the wall and saw how Diego let Soledad advance just to parry everything she tried with a smile.
After a few minutes, Diego decided to wrap it up and turned her attack into disarming her. Before anyone could say anything a figure appeared in the doorway.
"Soledad, come inside!"
Hearing the stern voice of her mother, Soledad knew there was no arguing with her. Handing back the rapier to her brother she went inside with a resigned glance at Diego. The latter continued to watch her until she disappeared.
Being an only child, Diego had no idea why Raúl continuously complaines about his little sister being a nuisance. For all he knew he would be glad to have a little sister - or brother - whom he could play with and teach things like fencing or climbing trees and walls.
"How come you let the fight go on so long?"
Raúl's voice pulled him out of his thoughts. Settling his glance on his friend, Diego smiled.
"She's not that bad and I wanted to enjoy it."
"Not that bad," Raúl snorted. "She's just a girl and girls are no good at fencing!"
"Then how come you let her beat you?"
"It was your fault, Diego," Raúl cried.
"My fault? How could it have been MY fault?" Diego asked with a tinge of anger in his voice.
"Your arrival distracted me!" Raúl said reproachfully. Diego's anger dissipated and he grinned.
"Ah, but you have to learn not to let yourself get distracted. Didn't your father teach you that? If you get distracted in a duel it could mean losing your life."
"I know," Raúl said quietly. "Our fencing instructor said it's my biggest fault." Raúl jumped off the wall.
"But now my friend, Commandante Raúl Fabregás has to make up for his mistake by defeating that petty outlaw named Diego. Ha!"
With that he charged at Diego who spun on his heels and dashed off, jumping over a chair and onto the edge of the little fountain in the middle of the patio.
Raúl chased after him and soon the laughter as well as the wooden clashing of swords resounded around the hacienda.
Inside, Soledad was standing at the window watching. She had been told to help prepare the birthday supper for her brother in order to learn a few things in the kitchen. Her eyes glued on Diego, she wondered why he couldn't be her brother instead of Raúl, who always belittled her.
Los Angeles, 1822
It was early evening on a summers day when Diego de la Vega bid his friend Sergeant Demetrio Lopez Garcia good night and left the Pueblo de Los Angeles on his faithful palomino.
His journey would take him straight home to his father's hacienda and he was looking forward to being reunited with his manservant and friend Bernardo who had stayed at home with a slight cold. Diego had insisted he'd rest a bit.
Darkness was beginning to fall and Diego spurred his steed on to avoid reaching home in complete darkness.
Although things had quieted down a bit after Zorro had not only rid Los Angeles of Capitán Monastario and the Eagle, he still didn't feel too comfortable riding alone after sundown without his sword at his side.
Usually he wasn't alone, but due to the circumstances he didn't want to push his luck.
Half-way to the de la Vega hacienda to the east, the outlines of the abandoned Fabregás hacienda could be seen.
Javier Fabregás had left California along with his children to return to Spain after getting word of the passing of his father.
Leaving in a rush in order to catch a ship bound to Spain that was about to set sail, he hadn't bothered trying to sell his hacienda. For about ten years now it had been standing empty.
Over the years, despite the effort of the neighbouring haciendas, looters had taken away most of the furniture and decorations.
Yet this particular evening when Diego cast a glanve in the hacienda's direction as he had done many times before, something caught his eye.
For a split second it seemed to him he had noticed the slight flicker of candle-light coming from one of the windows.
Before Diego had left for Spain, Capitán Rodriguez had ordered all doors and windows to be bolted and secured to prevent further looting and keep bandits from using the place as a hideout.
Diego pulled his palomino to a stop and observed the desolate hacienda. His eyes had not been deceiving him as he could see the light moving from one room to the next.
Without further thoughs Diego pressed his legs into the palomino's sides and approached the building. Hiding his horse in the brush outside the walls he could see the gate to the hacienda had been freed of the chains that had kept it locked.
His curiosity stirred, Diego entered the premises and quietly made his way towards the door to the sala. Gripping the knob he found it turned easily. He gave the door a slight push and winced at the creaking noise it made.
Listening for a couple of minutes, he continued his quest as everything stayed silent. Looking around he saw a light shining underneath a door. His memory told him it was the kitchen door.
"Holá!" he called. He had decided to make his presence known as not to startle anyone into attacking him since he was unarmed.
There was neither a response nor a noise of any kind. With a few steps he reached the kitchen door and pushed it open. On the remnants of the fireplace there was a storm lantern, its candle illuminating the door and parts of the kitchen.
"Holá!" Diego called again while taking one step inside the kitchen only to freeze as he felt the tip of a sword pressed into his chest. Despite himself he retreated slightly.
"Halt!" a firm voice commanded.
A firm but female voice as Diego noticed in astonishment. While he was still trying to process this information, the owner of the voice stepped out of the shadow, the light revealing bit by bit from bottom to top of the bearer of the sword that rose from Diego's chest to his throat.
Finally, as the sword bearer completed her move, her face was illuminated by the storm lantern unlike Diego's, whose facial features were still concealed by the shadows.
Upon seeing his captor Diego's mouth dropped slightly open as he let out a gasp of surprise. It had been years, but there was no mistaking who the dark haired, blue eyed beautiful woman was.
Diego's question was barely more than a whisper. The tip of the sword swayed slightly and dropped an inch as the woman stepped back without withdrawing the weapon.
"Who are you?" she asked, surprise lacing her still firm voice.
Diego took a step forward so his face, too, ended up in the reach of the candle light. The sword fell to the ground with a loud clang as she drew both hands up to her face.
"Diego?" she whispered.
At his confirming nod she sprang to live covering the short distance with one step, throwing her arms around him.