And so, dear reader, the scene is set, as in fair Granprix the sun doth rise on yet another glowing day, and the sea breeze kisses the shores with flecks of whitest foam in Pescadrix Bay. The scent of pine and wild sage wafts down the valley of the Haxabel from the soaring peak of Muntanya del Sòl Negre, and the soaring eagles spy upon the hares boxing in the rolling meadows above Castell Sebastian and Montaña Viejas. Vines, bursting with new buds, sweep up the south-facing slopes, promising another fine vintage to be sipped by the sophisticated citizens of this land of peace and plenty.
In Pescadrix, the capital, fishmermen spread their morning catch upon the quayside, their blurred fingers defying danger as their sharp knives swiftly slit, gut and scale a shimmering display for housewives, hoteliers and restaurateurs drawn hither by the echoing chants, each trader vying with his neighbour to tempt the silver and copper coins from the purses of passers-by. Boats and barges tied up with tautened ropes are busy with activity, as bronzed men with purposeful faces and bent backs lift and haul and roll and carry a hundred different cargoes from ship to shore and back again. Leather-skinned captains scan huge charts spread out on trestle tables, glancing at the limply flapping flags and distant hazy clouds before spitting on their palms and shaking hands with velvet-coated merchants who clutch lavender-scented kerchiefs to their noses.
Through his telescope, the harbour master scans a new arrival, three-masted and proud, its sails now furled and anchor buried deep, fifteen gunports strong on either side. A boat is lowered, a dozen muscled men sit now with oars to stroke, and nimbly down the side here comes a man in blue and gold, with bulging papers clutched beneath one arm.
“To shore and pull, you lubbers, pull! We cannot waste a moment, or our blessed land is lost!”
And so the news arrives that fair Granprix is in peril and everything she stands for may be lost.
To be continued…