Seated in the corner of a tavern he watched the patrons with a mixture of amusement and contempt: Gypsies, Spaniards, Frenchmen, Moors, Toreadors, and Sheepherders. He was a long way from Castile, this was Basque country. He sipped his wine and listened to the band. Soon they would play their song and Maria would come to him. The heavy summer air would spring to life as the two would become one in the magic of the dance.
Soldiers entered the cantina, soldiers from France seeking to bring the Revolution to Spain. "Blackguards", he thought. The gentility of the French was now a myth at the end of their Revolution. What atrocities and unspeakable acts they had committed in the name of "Libertad" they now sought to bring to the Basque region and to Spain.
As the music changed, his Maria came toward him, lithely and petite, smiling at him. He finished his drink and stood up to take her in his arms for the dance, placing a single red rose in his teeth. Longing for her kisses, sweeter than any wine he’d tasted in Basque country.
A soldier intervened. Trying to claim her as his own, telling her she would warm the Frenchman's bed. Aghast, Don Miguel seized the soldier's arm, removing it from the wrist of his one true love.
"You're strong for a dancer, Spaniard.” growled the Frenchman.
"And you're slow for a swordsman", sneered Don Miguel.
“You and your Basque whore will pay for that, En Garde’”
The Frenchman drew his rapier, while Don Miguel leaped away from the blade and drew his own. However, Don Miguel's blade had no edge, a mere prop for one of his dances, yet, few in Basque Country knew him as the First Sword of Castile. His sword flashed and drove the Frenchman back to the wall, the needle like point drawing blood from the soldier's neck. His three cohorts rushed to his side drawing assorted rapiers, daggers, and stilettos to finish Don Miguel for cutting down one of their own.
Diving into them, he danced as if on fire, slashing here and there with his false blade. The cantina fell silent, yet the music was in his head and his heart as he whirled here and there, dropping his enemies to the ground, following his strikes with kicks and punches against four men armed to the teeth. Never once dropping Maria's rose from his own.
Written by: Mike Searson