Do You Think This Happens Every Day? by Emachinescat

A Princess Bride Fan-Fiction

SUMMARY: "Death cannot stop true love...it can only delay it for a while." My name is Westley, and I very recently almost lost everything worth living for. Have a seat, relax, and I'll tell you my story-the story of Buttercup, the Princess Bride.


A/N: Hi, I'm EMcat (Lizzie, whatever) and this is my 1st Princess Bride Fanfic, so bear with me. I love this movie, and so I'm telling it from Westley's perspective-except you get to see a lot more than in the move. Let me explain. No, there is too much. Let me sum-up. (1) His thoughts. (2) His deep, dark fears. and (3) The parts of the story you only heard about, but didn't see on screen. So, to "sum-up", its the story within the story, plus the whole movie which (if you're like me) you know and love. So here goes. Be warned: it is a one-shot, but it is long! Okay, okay! Well please review and here it is!


Do You Think This Happens Every Day?

I do not own Princess Bride or the original movie plot; however, I do own my ideas and thoughts that I project into this story.

I met Buttercup when I began working at her father's farm as a "farm boy". I was eighteen, and, coming from a home of poverty, trying to earn enough money to live, this place was as good as any other. I liked it there; the trees were always so green and luscious, the animals were well-behaved, the pay was decent, and I was treated fairly by most everyone.

It was Buttercup's greatest joy in life to torment me. Farm boy, she called me. My name was Westley, but farm boy would work just as well.

She was beautiful, with eyes like sapphires, and golden locks caressing her shoulders, hanging down in glorious abundance.

"Farm boy," she'd say, looking upon me as if I were naught but a bug, "polish my horse's saddle. I want to see myself shining in it by morning."

"As you wish," I would always reply; I never said anything else to her.

One fateful day, Buttercup brought me two buckets and ordered, "Farm boy, fill these with water." She paused for a second, looking into my eyes and then, "Please."

I studied her for a moment. I now realized the inevitable: I loved her. She seemed perfect. She knew how to carry herself like a lady, she was demanding and harsh, yet beautiful, and I could see that she was really very gentle, very kind. I had to tell her. My mouth tried to form the phrase, "I love you," but all that came out was, "As you wish."

I think that she sensed my feelings toward her. And that evening, I found that she felt the same about me. As I was preparing to leave the house, to go to the servant's quarters, she said, "Farm boy." I stopped and turned, gazing at her in utter admiration. She now seemed lost for words. Finally, she gestured to a pitcher just above her head. "Hand me that pitcher."

I moved closer, slowly, and for a heartbeat that seemed like an eternity, our eyes locked. I reached up, still gazing into her eyes, and gave here the pitcher.

I then realized that an unbreakable bond had been made. Not by words; nor just the way we looked at each other. No, this was an unspoken love. True love. It would last forever.

Soon we decided that we wanted to marry. I, however, had no money for marriage. I decided to go overseas and seek my fortune.

As I prepared to leave, I embraced Buttercup passionately. As we slowly pulled away from each other, I saw that there were tears in her eyes. "I fear I'll never see you again," she said, in a voice barely above a whisper.

"Of course you will," I replied, stroking her hair gently.

"But what if something happens to you?" she sobbed, burying her face in my shoulder.

I gently pulled her away from me so that I was looking directly into her eyes. "Hear this now," I said. "I will always come for you."

"But how can you be sure?"

"This is true love," I responded. "Do you think this happens every day?"

She smiled, and as our lips brushed and we embraced once more, my heart filled with emotion. What if something did happen to me? But then I remembered: Death does not stop true love. It only delays it for a little while. No matter what, I would see her again.

I boarded my ship with confidence. I had never sailed before, but how hard could it be? I soon found out that it could be extremely strenuous. I worked long hard hours with the other men of my rank, from releasing the sails to sweeping the deck. Every day I thought of Buttercup, and with every passing day, I missed her more. I hoped beyond hope that I would be able to find good work overseas, and that I would be able to return to Buttercup within a year, two at most. Then we would marry, and everything would be perfect. I had no way of knowing that many, many perils lay ahead before we would be reunited once more.

After a week on the ship, we were attacked. As our pursuer drew closer, we saw with horror that this was not just any pirate ship—it was the Dread Pirate Roberts. Roberts, as all knew, had been attacking and plundering for what was going on fifteen years. He never left any survivors, and never took any prisoners. That being the case, everyone on board the ship knew what their fate would be.

When I saw the ship approaching, my first thoughts were of Buttercup. I was surely going to die here; I would never see her again. No, I said to myself, death doesn't stop true love. It can only delay it for a while.

We scurried about the ship, trying to find weapons, as this was just a merchant ship, no cannons were on board, and there were very few guns and even fewer swords. My weapon ended up being a hammer. I was doomed.

We still tried to outrun Roberts, but our efforts were fruitless. Soon Roberts had caught up with us and was boarding our ship. The battle was horribly bloody, and when I was not fighting for my life, I got a sickening feeling in my stomach as I saw my shipmates being slaughtered, dozens of friends falling to the ground, lifeless.

Roberts then pursued me. I had been lucky so far; I was by no means good at fighting; good fortune had merely been on my side. But that was about to change. Holding his sword to my neck, Roberts' sneering eyes searched my face. He seemed baffled that I didn't seem frightened, for although I was, I concealed it. Hiding my feelings was something that I was exceptionally good at.

"Please," I said calmly, looking the masked pirate directly in the eyes.

"What?" he said, "No bribe attempts? Not even blubbering? What is that about? Oh, you're different from the rest."

Ignoring his comment, and the sword that was pressing against my neck, I repeated, "Please, I need to live."

Intrigued by my outwards calm, he asked why. "Why do you need to live?"

"True love," I said simply. When there was no reply, I went on, "She's beautiful. The most beautiful woman in the world. She has eyes more brilliant than any sapphire you could obtain from any of your raids…golden hair that caresses her shoulders and falls down her back in stunning abundance…her lips as red as a ruby, heart kinder than anyone on earth…faithful, true…her love never wavers." My voice did waver, however, as I thought about Buttercup.

There was silence for a moment before Roberts said, "What is your name, boy?"

"Westley."

"Hmm…well, Westley, you intrigue me. I'll tell you what. I've never had a valet before, so that will be your job once I take you to my ship…but I'll most likely kill you in the morning."

He said that every night for three years. "I'll most likely kill you in the morning." By then, however, we had become friends, and the phrase was more of a "good-night" than a threat. I learned how to fence and fight exceptionally well, and soon I could beat even Roberts in a duel.

One fine summer day, Roberts took me to his cabin. "Westley," he said, "can I trust you with a secret?"

"Of course."

He took a deep breath and said, "I am not the Dread Pirate Roberts."

"What?" I asked disbelievingly. "But—of course you are…the whole crew calls you that—"

Before I could finish my protest, Roberts cut me off. "No—see, the name is what strikes the fear into the hearts…no one would surrender to the 'Dread Pirate Ryan', as that is my name. I inherited the ship from the previous Roberts, who was not the real Roberts either. Apparently the real Roberts is living like a king right now…he grew so rich he wanted to retire—as it is with me."

"But who shall inherit your ship?" I asked, but in the back of my mind, I knew the answer.

"You, my boy, you. You've proved your worth to me."

He spent two years on his ship with me, and a whole new crew, calling me Roberts the whole time. Once the crew believed, he left, and I took command of the ship.

"Where shall we sail to?" asked one of my men, looking at me with something rather close to fear in his eyes.

"Florin," was my immediate response. I had find Buttercup. I had spent five years without her…I missed her sorely, and knew, just knew, without any doubt, that she would wait on me. But maybe I should have doubted.

I left my ship in a well-hidden harbor, and ordered my crew to stay there until I returned. Upon entering the city that I used to dwell in, I realized how much change had happened since I was last here. No, the city had not changed—still ruled by Prince Humperdink—I had never though highly of him. The people were the same, the buildings were the same…I was the one who had changed.

I five years time, I had gone from a looked down upon farm boy to the Dread Pirate Roberts. I had always been dressed in old clothing—ragged and worn. I now wore all black, with a mysterious mask over the top half of my face. No one knew who I was, but that didn't matter to me at the time. All that matters was finding Buttercup.

I went up to an old lady with dull gray eyes. "Where might I find Buttercup?" I asked, hoping I didn't sound too harsh, but after five years on a pirate ship, it was hard not to.

Looking slightly taken aback, the woman said, "The princess?"

"The princess?" I repeated, confused.

"Did you not know?" She shook her head. "Prince Humperdink is marrying the lady Buttercup. Let's see…I believe she used to live on that farm way over that way."

I stood there, dumbfounded. Buttercup was marrying another? And not just anyone, that ugly, rich, scabby prince. No, it must be some mistake. It had to be.

"Yes," I said impatiently, "but where might I find her?"

"She usually goes on her daily ride this time of day…I watch her ride out from the castle every morning…she goes that way—through the woods, the ones near the very sea that separates Florin from Guilder."

"Thank you, Ma'am," I said quickly, and ran towards the woods as fast as I could. When I arrived at the coast line, my heart nearly stopped. There, on a small boat growing further away by the second, was Buttercup, surrounded by three men. What they were doing with her, I knew not, but set my heart on rescuing her just the same.

I borrowed a small boat from a fisherman. By the time night had fallen, I could see the boat that my love was captive on.

I concentrated fully on keeping up with their boat. Soon I could dimly make out three figures at the edge of the boat, staring at me (in what I presumed to be amazement. I heard the word, "Inconceivable!" being yelled from the boat. I almost smiled. They were getting worried. At that moment, there was a splash, and I saw with horror that my beloved had jumped into the water and was swimming frantically toward my boat. Eel infested waters. "No!" I cried out, but the wail of the eels had grown too loud for her to hear. I was about to jump into the water (and probably to my own death) to save her when one of the men on the boat slapped the eel that was pursuing her and pulled her aboard their vessel once more. The rest of the night was quite uneventful.

As dawn finally approached, I could see that I had grown closer to the other vessel during the night. I could now distinctly see the figures moving around on the boat as they sailed toward a gigantic structure which I knew to be The Cliffs of Insanity.

Soon they had climbed out of the boat, and I saw with horror that they were going to climb a rope hanging down from the thousand-foot cliff. Two of the smaller men, along with Buttercup were being strapped to a giant as I approached the land. The giant moved up the rope steadily, but I was right behind him. By the time I had jumped ashore and began the long and laborious task of climbing the rope, they were nearly halfway up. "Inconceivable!" I heard from above my head.

I then concentrated solely on getting to the top. Sweat trickled down my forehead and my muscles ached in fatigue, while my hands burned from the rope, but I did not stop. Instead, I forced myself to go faster and gained.

Not long afterward, the foursome disappeared over the top of the cliff. I kept climbing rapidly. Soon I felt the rope jerk slightly and realized that they were cutting the rope. Good thing that my reflexes were so quick, or I would have fallen to my death. I instantly grabbed hold of two rock that were jutting out, using them as handholds, and placed my feet on a small ledge. I stayed there, clinging for my life.

I looked up and saw the three men looking down at me, mystified. "Inconceivable!" I heard once more.

"You keep using that word," I heard the Spaniard say. "I do not think it means what you think it means."

I did not hear the rest of their conversation, for I began to climb, grasping desperately for any handholds as my feet groped for a place to stand. As I stopped to catch my breath, about thirty feet from the top, I heard the man who was obviously the leader say to the Spaniard, "If he falls fine, if not, the sword."

I half smiled. I decided instantly that I would fight him left-handed, just so I wouldn't be too hard on him. That is, providing I even made it to the top.

Not long afterward, the Spaniard looked over the cliff and yelled, "Hello there!" Frowning, I looked up at him, annoyed, as he continued, "Slow going?"

"Look," I said, "I don't mean to be rude, but this is not as easy as it looks. So I'd appreciate it if you wouldn't distract me."

"Sorry," he apologized, and he disappeared again. I then returned to my agonizing task.

I hadn't gone five inches before he appeared again. "I do not suppose you could speed things up?"

Irritated, I replied, "If you're in such a hurry, you could lower a rope, or a tree branch, or find something useful to do."

"I could do that. In fact, I've got some rope up here," said he. He paused, then continued, "But I do not think that you will accept my help, since I am only waiting around to kill you."

"That does put a damper on our relationship," I yelled back.

"But I promise I will not kill you until you reach the top."

"That's very comforting," I said sarcastically. I did not trust this fellow, but then again, who would trust someone who openly confessed that they were going to kill you? Continuing, I said,

"But I'm afraid you'll just have to wait."

"I hate waiting," he muttered, barely audible. He turned, then popped his head out again. "I could give you my word as a Spaniard."

"No good," I grunted, struggling to find another handhold. "I've known too many Spaniards."

"You don't know any way you'll trust me?"

I thought for a moment, then said, "Nothing comes to mind."

The Spaniard's face became very determined, yet a bit sad. "I swear on the soul of my father, Domingo Montoya, you will reach the top alive."

I pondered his statement for a moment. I realized that he was serious. "Throw me the rope," I said quietly.

When the rope was in my hands, the Spaniard pulled me over the top. "Thank you." I stood there, exhausted, but determined not to show it. I reached to pull out my sword, but the Spaniard held out a hand.

"Wait until you're ready."

Relieved, I said, "Again, thank you." I slowly made my way to a boulder and sat down upon it, and, pulling off my boot, was amazed to see several sharp rocks tumble out of it.

I noticed the Spaniard staring at my hands. I looked at him quizzically, and he sat there in silence, staring at me.

Finally, he said, "I do not mean to pry, but you don't by any chance happen to have six fingers on your right hand?"

I looked at him questioningly. Why on earth would he ask me such a thing? "Do you always begin conversations this way?"

"My father was slaughtered by a six- fingered man," came the sad reply. When I did not answer but merely held up my right hand, showing only five fingers, he continued. "He was a great sword maker, my father. And when the six-fingered man appeared and requested a special sword, my father took the job. He slaved a year before he was done."

He gently handed me the sword. I took it and was amazed by the precision and hard work it showed. "I've never seen its equal," I said truthfully, giving the Spaniard back his sword.

He went on with his story. "The six-fingered man returned and

demanded it, but at one-tenth his promised price. My father refused. Without a word, the six-fingered man slashed him through the heart. I loved my father, so, naturally, challenged his murderer to a duel ... I failed ... the six-fingered man did leave me alive with the six-fingered sword, but he gave me these." He fingered two identical scars on either side of his face.

"How old were you?" I asked, intrigued by this man and his life's story.

"I was eleven years old. When I was strong enough, I dedicated my life to the study of fencing. So the next time we meet, I will not fail. I will go up to the six-fingered man and say, 'Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.'"

We sat in silence for a moment, each lost in our own thoughts.

Finally, I spoke up, "You've done nothing but study swordplay?" Maybe this would be a bit of a challenge after all.

"More pursuit than study lately. You see, I cannot find him. It's been twenty years now. I am starting to lose confidence. I just work for Vizzini to pay the bills. There's not a lot of money in revenge."

"Well, I certainly hope you find him someday," I said, getting up.

"You are ready, then?"

"Whether I am or not, you've been more than fair," I replied.

"You seem a decent fellow," said the Spaniard, whom I took to be named Inigo, "I hate to kill you."

"You seem a decent fellow," I echoed. "I hate to die." I then unsheathed my sword and we circled.

"Begin," said Inigo.

Then our epic fight begun. One would strike and miss, then the other. The sound of clashing metal echoed through the rocky terrain as we fought, each merciless. I was rather impressed with his skill.

"You're using Bonetti's defense against me, ah?" Inigo said.

"I thought it fitting, considering the rocky terrain," I retorted.

"Naturally, you must expect me to attack with Capo Ferro –"

"Naturally, but I find Thibault cancels out Capo Ferro, don't you?"

All this time, we were both fighting desperately. I, at the edge of a large castle ruin, jumped to the sand below.

Inigo was quick to react. "Unless the enemy has studied his Agrippa," he said, "which I have!"

He then did a rather impressive back flip and landed in front of me. The fight continued.

I begin to drive Inigo towards the edge of the cliff, however, he showed no sign of fear. "You are wonderful!" he exclaimed.

"Thank you," I replied. "I've worked hard to become so." Oh, how true was that.

"I admit it," said Indigo, with an odd smile on his face, "You are better than I am."

"Then why are you smiling?" I asked suspiciously.

"Because I know something you don't know."

"And what is that?"

"I am not left-handed!" he called out, then switched arms.

Gradually gaining the advantage, he backed me up a stone staircase ruin and nearly ran me through several times.

"You're amazing!" I praised him as he rammed me into a stone wall.

"I ought to be after twenty years," was the only reply.

"There's something I ought to tell you," I grunted as smashed me against the wall.

"Tell me."

"I am not left-handed either." I triumphantly switched hands and quickly gained the advantage. At one point, I knocked his sword out of his hand, and to retrieve it, jumped and grabbed onto a bar suspended fifteen feet above the ground, and swung off, landing roughly on his feet and grabbing his sword.

In the back of my mind, I realized that this was the perfect time to show off. I threw my sword; it landed perfectly, blade in the sand, and threw myself onto the bar, doing a flip and then a somersault through the air. After a perfect landing, I gripped my sword and struck an elegant pose.

"Who are you?" Inigo asked, staring at my mask.

"No one of consequence," I was quick to respond.

"I must know."

I eyed him carefully. "Get used to disappointment."

"Okay," he said, then attacked once more. On and on we fought, and soon, I was in control. He dropped to his knees as I knocked his sword out of his hands. "Kill me quickly," was all he said.

I circled him, considering, then said, "I would sooner destroy as stain-glass window than an artist like yourself…however, since I can't have you follow me either…" I then hit him over the head with the hilt of the sword and he crumpled, unconscious. "Please understand," I said to his motionless form, "I hold you in the highest respect. I then raced off.

I ran until I reached an area with many large boulders. I slowed down, listening for anything suspicious. Satisfied at hearing nothing, I took one step forward and—crash! A large rock sailed from behind a boulder and hit the one next to me with such force that it broke into several pieces. Then out stepped the giant.

"I did that on purpose," he said, picking up another rock. "I didn't have to miss."

"I believe you," I said in full honesty. There was a pause and then I said, "So what happens now?"

"We face each other like God intended. Sportsmanlike. No tricks, no weapons. Just skill against skill alone."

My heart sank. How would I ever defeat him?

"You mean," I began, trying my best to sound offhand, "you'll put down your rock and I'll put down my sword, and we'll try to kill each other like civilized people?"

"I could kill you now," came the reply.

I slowly put down my sword and remarked, "Frankly, I think the odds are slightly in your favor with hand fighting."

"It's not my fault being the biggest and the strongest. I don't even exercise."

We circled, then I lunged at him, running into him with my arm. He didn't budge, although a searing pain surged through my bruised limb. I stared at him for a moment, then charged him again, this time putting both arms around his gigantic waist and trying to pull him over. The effort was pointless. Annoyed, I broke away from him. "Look, are you just fiddling around with me or what?" I asked.

"I just want you to feel you're doing well. I hate for people to die embarrassed."

This time it was he who lunged at me; however, I slid under his legs and righted myself.

"You are quick!" said the giant, advancing on me.

"Good thing, too," was my reply.

"Why are you wearing a mask?" he inquired, punching at me all the while. "Were you burned by acid or something like that?"

"Oh no," I said, dodging another blow. "They're just terribly comfortable. I think everyone will be wearing them in the future." I then jumped onto a boulder behind him, and, before he had a chance to react, jumped onto his back and held fast to his neck, squeezing as hard as he could.

"I just figured out why you give me so much trouble," the giant remarked as he rammed backwards into a large stone. I grunted in pain, but did not loosen my grip.

"Why is that…do you think?"

"Well, I haven't fought just one person for so long. I've been specializing in groups. Battling gangs for local charities, that kind of thing."

He then rammed me against another rock. "Why should that make any—difference?" I grunted with difficulty, as he slammed me once more into a rock.

"You see, you use different moves when you're fighting half a dozen people than when you only have to be worried about one."

All this time, I had been squeezing his windpipe as hard as I could. Now he crumpled.

With much difficulty, I turned him over and put my head to his heart. It was still beating. "I do not envy you the headache you will have when you awake," I said, "but in the meantime, rest well, and dream of large women." With that said, I ran off in search of my love.

As I ran, I thought about Buttercup, and what she had done. Why would she marry another? Bitterness filled my heart, and though I tried to get rid of it, part of it still consumed me and I felt a twinge of anger towards Buttercup.

Soon she was in view, blindfolded and hands tied, she was sitting erect with a small bald man pressing a sword against her neck. My pulse quickened.

"So," said the man in his high voice. "It is down to you, and it is down to me."

I advanced toward them, and the man said, "If you wish her dead, by all means keep moving forward."

I paused briefly, then said, "Let me explain."

"There's nothing to explain!" he retorted. "You're trying to kidnap what I've rightfully stolen."

"Perhaps an arrangement can be reached." I continued to advance upon the two.

"There will be no arrangement," he said firmly, gripping Buttercup firmly, "and you're killing her." I winced as he pressed the knife against her throat with new intensity.

I thought for a moment, then said, "But if there can be no arrangement, then we are at an impasse."

"I'm afraid so," the man responded. "I can't compete with you physically, and you're no match for my brains!"

"You're that smart?" I asked doubtfully.

"Let me put it this way," he said. "Have you ever heard of Plato, Aristotle, Socrates?"

"Yes," I said, recalling the famous Greek philosophers.

"Morons."

"Really?" There was silence for a moment as I pondered the situation. Finally I said, "In that case, I challenge you to a battle of wits."

"For the princess?" So it was true. She was marrying the prince. I showed no emotions on the subject and merely nodded. "To the death?" I nodded once more, waiting for his reaction. I was pleased when he said, "I accept."

"Good. Now pour the wine."

He poured the wine into two separate goblets. I then reached into my pocket and pulled out something I always carried with me; something that could always come in handy: a vial of Iocane Powder. I carefully pulled the lid off and gave the vial to the man. "Inhale this," I ordered, but do not touch."

He took a big whiff and remarked, "I smell nothing."

I took the vial back from him, a plan already forming in my mind, and said, "What you do not smell is called Iocane powder. It is odorless, tasteless, dissolves instantly in liquid, and is among the more deadlier poisons known to man."

"Hmm."

I took both goblets and turned, hiding them behind my back as I put Iocane into each goblet. Smiling, I realized that Buttercup's abductor had no way of knowing that while I was Roberts' captive, I built up an immunity to the deadly poison. Now it had little, if any, affect on me. I turned back to the man with both goblets, face expressionless. I mixed them up a bit, then put one in front of me and another in front of him.

"All right, where is the poison?" I said. "The battle of wits has begun. It ends when you decide and we find out who is right and who is dead."

"But it's so simple," said he. I nearly laughed. He obviously had no idea what was in store for him. I kept a straight face, however, as he continued, "All I have to do is divine from what I know of you. Are you the sort of man who would put the poison into his own goblet, or his enemy's?" He paused for a moment, studying me. I did not react, but remained indifferent. After several seconds, he went on to say, "Now, a clever man would put the poison into his own goblet, because he would know that only a great fool would reach for what he was given. I'm not a great fool, so I can clearly not choose the wine in front of you. But you must have known I was not a great fool; you would have counted on it, so I can clearly not choose the wine in front of me."

I decided it would be best to show some mock nervousness, just to make him believe that he was intimidating me. That decided, I smiled a bit apprehensively and inquired, "You've made your decision then?"

"Not remotely," was the pleased response. He really thought he was getting to me. "Because Iocane comes from Australia, as everyone knows. And Australia is entirely peopled with criminals. And criminals are used to having people not trust them, as you are not trusted by me. So I can clearly not choose the wine in front of you."

I was rather impressed by his knowledge; he certainly was smarter than I had thought. "Truly, you have a dizzying intellect," I stated, which brought on a new burst of excitement from the man.

"Wait until I get going!" he shouted, then paused. "Where was I?"

Hiding my smile, and doing my best to look serious, I answered, "Australia."

And he proceeded. "Yes - Australia, and you must have suspected I would have known the powder's origin, so I can clearly not choose the wine in front of me."

Once again putting on my best nervous half-smile, I said, "You're just stalling now!"

"You'd like to think that, wouldn't you?" came the pleased response. "You've beaten my giant, which means you're exceptionally strong. So, you could have put the poison in your own goblet, trusting on your strength to save you. So I can clearly not choose the wine in front of you. But, you've also bested my Spaniard which means you must have studied. And in studying, you must have learned that man is mortal so you would have put the poison as far from yourself as possible, so I can clearly not choose the wine in front of me."

"You're trying to trick me into giving away something. It won't work."

"It has worked - you've given everything away - I know where the poison is!"

"Then make your choice," I ordered, feigning more nervousness than I had ever felt in my life.

"I will," he said triumphantly. "And I choose—" he stopped in mid-sentence, and staring at something behind me, eyes wide, he yelled, "What in the world can that be?"

I figured that he was trying to trick me, but for good measure, I turned and looked behind me. "What? Where?" I asked. "I don't see anything."

"Oh, well, I-I could have sworn I saw something. No matter," was his reply. As I turned and looked at him once more, he began to chuckle.

"What's so funny?" I asked suspiciously.

His answer was even more doubtful. "I'll tell you in a minute. First, let's drink - me from my glass, and you from yours."

He picked up his goblet, and I did likewise. I saw that he waited until I had taken a sip to drink out of his own. Coward.

"You guessed wrong," I said, smiling in victory.

The man laughed maniacally. "You only think I guessed wrong—that's what's so funny!" he exclaimed. "I switched glasses when your back was turned. You fool." I remained silent, annoyed at his deceitfulness, but remained calm at remembering that I too had done something uncalled for—and that his time would soon be at an end. He went on, laughing hysterically all the while. "You fell victim to one of the classic blunders. The most famous is: 'Never get involved in a land war in Asia.' But only slightly less well known is this: 'Never go in against a Sicilian when death is on the line!'"

I sat there in silence, watching as he roared with laughter. Wait for it, I said to myself. Wait for it. Any minute now.

And then it happened. In mid-laugh he stopped abruptly, then fell over, hitting the ground, dead. The whole sight was rather comical. But I had more important things to dwell on. Like Buttercup.

I walked over to her and pulled off the blindfold and untied her hands. She looked at me curiously, but not without a hint of fear in her stunning eyes.

"Who are you?"

I hesitated. For a moment I considered telling her everything: how I had been captured and taken as a valet, how Roberts had grown to like me, how I was now the Dread Pirate Roberts, and how much I had endured to get back to her side…only to find out she was engaged. Bitterness swept over me once more, and I decided to keep her in fear a while longer…

"No one to be trifled with," I said, helping her up. "That is all you ever need know."

She looked at me skeptically, then gazing down at the dead Sicilian, said, "And to think, all that time, it was your drink that was poisoned."

"They were both poisoned. I spent the last few years building up an immunity to Iocane powder." That being said, I gripped her hand—oh, how many times I had longed to feel her touch again!—and dragged her across the rocky plateau. We ran for several miles, and when I saw that she was out of breath, I roughly released her and let her sit. "Catch your breath," I ordered harshly.

It was so difficult to treat my love this way, but my anger at her unfaithfulness would not waver, and my heart ached in grief, so I stayed at it. Just for a few moments longer, I kept telling myself.

"If you'll release me ... whatever you ask for ransom ... you'll get it, I promise you..." Buttercup said.

My anger consumed me once more. I promised I would always come for her…she said she would wait for me. But she didn't. I laughed bitterly. "And what is that worth, the promise of a woman? You're very funny, Highness."

She glared at me—it pained me so to have my love look at me that way. Or rather, the prince's love. My heart ached even more as she said, "I was giving you a chance. No matter where you take me ... there's no greater hunter than Prince Humperdink. He could track a falcon on a cloudy day. He can find you."

"You think your dearest love will save you?" I inquired hotly.

"I never said he was my dearest love." My heart leaped strangely, but sank at the next sentence. "And yes, he will save me." She certainly had a lot of faith in that warthog-faced buffoon.

I kept my cool, however. "You admit to me you do not love your fiancé?" I said, gazing into the eyes that I loved so much.

"He knows I do not love him," she replied.

A new surge of anger came over me and I muttered, "'Are not

capable of love' is what you mean."

She stood up defiantly and snapped, "I have loved more deeply than a killer like yourself could ever dream."

Without thinking, my fist went up as if to hit her. She flinched, but said nothing. "That was a warning, Highness," I said. "The next time, my hand flies on its own. For where I come from, there are penalties when a woman lies." Rage abundant in my heart, I grabbed her hand and pulled her along once more

Not a word passed between us as we raced along; I was left to wallow in my misery and what I had almost done to my love in silence. When we had run for several miles, I stopped once more.

"Rest, Highness," I ordered.

I took in our surroundings. We were nearly to the Fire Swamp—the very place I wanted to go, where I would be safe with Buttercup. No one would dare follow us there. The rocky ground dropped off into a steep grassy slope and led to a ravine. That ravine would lead us to the swamp. I resolved that when we had rested, we would slowly, carefully, make our way down the slope, then make our escape.

I knew that I would have to tell Buttercup of my identity soon—but being angry and afraid, I held off.

My thoughts were interrupted as Buttercup said, "I know who you are." What? She couldn't! A sick feeling crept into my stomach. If she really did know who I was, why didn't she seem joyous. Her next sentence, however, relieved me. "You're the Dread Pirate Roberts. Admit it."

At ease once more, I replied, "With pride. What can I do for you?"

She glared at me and said, "You can die slowly, cut into a thousand pieces."

She's not talking to me, I had to remind myself. Only to who she thinks I am. Still, it hurt. I showed no feelings, however, as I said, "Hardly complimentary, Your Highness. Why loose your venom on me?"

"You killed my love." My heart gave a jolt at that statement. She did still love me. She was angry at Roberts for "killing" me.

I remained indifferent, and said, "It's possible. I kill a lot of people. Who was this love of yours? Another prince like this one?" I winced. "Ugly? Rich? Scabby?"

"No!" she snapped defensibly. "A farm boy. Poor. Poor and perfect, with eyes like the sea after a storm." Her description of me made tears prick the corners if my eyes. I forced them away, and tried to remain unnerved. She paused for a while, gazing into space. She finally continued, in a stronger voice than I had heard before, "On the high seas, your ship attacked, and the Dread Pirate Roberts never takes prisoners."

"I can't afford to make exceptions," I explained. "Once word leaks out that a pirate has gone soft, people begin to disobey you, and then it's work, work, work all the time!"

"You mock my pain!" she yelled, tears pricking the corners of her eyes.

"Life is pain, Highness," I said sourly, thinking of her engagement. "Anyone who says differently is selling something." I paused momentarily, as if I was gathering my thoughts. I then said, "I remember this farm boy of yours, I think. This would be, what, five years ago?" I paused. How would she react to me telling her that I killed her love? Maybe I would see how much she really cared for me.

When there was no answer, I asked, "Does it bother you to hear?"

She turned her head and said softly, "Nothing you can say will upset me."

And so, I continued with my narrative. "He died well, that should please you. No bribe attempts or blubbering. He simply said, 'Please. Please, I need to live.' It was the 'please' that caught my memory. I asked him what was so important for him. 'True love,' he replied. And then he spoke of a girl of surpassing beauty and faithfulness. I can only assume he meant you." I paused, bitterness creeping into my heart once more. "You should bless me for destroying him before he found out what you really are."

"And what am I?" she asked, standing up to face me.

"Faithfulness he talked of, madam. Your enduring faithfulness. Now, tell me truly. When you found out he was gone, did you get engaged to your prince that same hour, or did you wait a whole week out of respect for the dead?" Finally, I had said it. Finally, I had gotten it off my chest. But I did not feel relieved as I thought I would when I heard Buttercup's reply.

"You mocked me once, never do it again!" she yelled. "I died that day!"

At that moment, I heard the sound of horses and saw with dismay that the prince was on our trail. So caught up in watching his approach was I that I did not have time to react to what happened next.

"You can die too, for all I care!" Buttercup said, then shoved me over the edge of the plateau and I began to tumble headfirst down the grassy slope.

I was beaten and bruised as I rolled, flipped, and cartwheeled down the slope, but I managed to yell up to my love, "AS YOU WISH!" As I fell, my mask fell off, revealing my true identity.

I then closed my eyes and tried to block out the pain of the fall, but distantly heard her say, "Oh, my sweet Westley! What have I done?"

I then heard her falling behind me. No, I thought, don't come after me! If I lost her I couldn't bear it.

I was aching all over when we finally came to a halt at the bottom of the ravine. I lay there, motionless, for a moment, then forced myself to crawl to Buttercup, who was beginning to stir. When I reached her, she looked at me in amazement as I put one hand under her and gently pulled her closer. "Can you move at all?" I asked softly.

"Move?" she said, still stunned. "You're alive! If you want I can fly." She threw her arms around me and we embraced for several minutes.

When we finally broke apart, I said, "I told you I would always

come for you. Why didn't you wait for me?"

"Well…" she hesitated. "You were dead."

"Death cannot stop true love," I said, gazing into her eyes. "All it can do is delay it for a while."

"I will never doubt again," came the heartfelt reply. We then embraced once more and kissed.

When we broke apart once more, I helped her up and said, "Your fiancé is hot on our trail—our only chance of escape is through the Fire Swamp."

I gripped her hand and began to run toward the forbidding looking forest, but this time she went willingly. When we had reached the edge of the swamp, I saw that the prince was looking down upon us from the top of the plateau. "Ha!" I exclaimed.

"Your pig fiancé is too late! Just a few more steps and we'll be safe in the Fire Swamp."

"Nonsense," I said, brushing off her statement. "You're only saying that because no one ever has."

Once in the fire swamp, I saw why the rumors said that no one had ever left alive. The place was dark and forbidding; the trees looked like they were evil…and eerie noises echoed through the gloomy blackness—in the midst of day. Sounding offhanded, I remarked, "It's not bad, actually." Buttercup looked at me as if I were insane. "I'm not saying I'd like to build a summer home here, but the trees are actually quite lovely." I held my sword in front of us, and we moved along. Slowly, but we moved all the same.

As we passed through a cluster of trees, we heard a strange popping noise. Looking at each other hesitantly, we moved forward. At that moment, a spurt of flames erupted from a hole in the ground and caught Buttercup's dress on fire. She screamed, and I forced her to sit, where I put the fire out.

Helping her stand, I stroked her face and said, "Well now, that was an adventure. Singed a bit, were you?"

She shook her head and said, "You?" I too, said no. Once again, a flame shot out of the ground, but this time I was quick to move her out of the way.

"Well, one thing I will say," I remarked, "the Fire Swamp certainly keeps you on your toes." And taking her hand, we plunged deeper into the swamp.

"This will all soon be but a happy memory because Roberts' ship Revenge is anchored at the far end," I said happily as I cut away vines and branches from our path. "And I, as you know, am Roberts."

"But how is that possible, since he's been marauding twenty years and you only left me five years ago?"

Finally, a chance to tell my story. And so I began, saving her from the flame spurts throughout the whole narrative. "I myself am often surprised at life's little quirks. You see, what I told you before about saying 'please' was true. It intrigued Roberts, as did my descriptions of your beauty. Finally, Roberts decided something. He said, 'All right, Westley, I've never had a valet. You can try it for tonight. I'll most likely kill you in the morning.' Three years he said that. 'Good night, Westley. Good work. Sleep well. I'll most likely kill you in the morning.' It was a fine time for me. I was learning to fence, to fight, anything anyone would teach me. And Roberts and I eventually became friends. And then it happened." I paused, gathering my thoughts as we drove deeper into the forest.

"What?" said Buttercup, and I was pleased to see that she was interested. "Go on."

"Well, Roberts had grown so rich, he wanted to retire. So he took me to his cabin and told me his secret. "I am not the Dread Pirate Roberts," he said. "My name is Ryan. I inherited this ship from the previous Dread Pirate Roberts, just as you will inherit it from me. The man I inherited it from was not the real Dread Pirate Roberts, either. His name was Cummerbund. The real Roberts has been retired fifteen years and living like a king in Patagonia." Then he explained the name was the important thing for inspiring the necessary fear. You see, no one would surrender to the Dread Pirate Westley.

"So we sailed ashore, took on an entirely new crew and he stayed aboard for awhile as first mate, all the time calling me Roberts. Once the crew believed, he left the ship and I have been Roberts ever since. Except, now that we're together, I shall retire and hand the name over to someone else. Is everything clear to you?"

Buttercup nodded, still looking slightly confused, and took a few steps. She suddenly screamed and I saw with horror that she had sunk into the sand—like lightning. I hacked a vine into (it was still attached to the tree) and, taking a deep breath, dove into the sand sinking as fast as she—however, I had a vine to hold onto. And hold it fast I did. I groped around blindly for my love, fear in my heart. I could hear nothing but the sound of rushing sand; my arm ached from holding to the vine. Just when I was about to run out of air and think that all hope was lost, I gripped tip of her hand.

I pulled her to me and she gripped my waist firmly. Using my remaining strength, I pulled us to the surface.

Up we came, gasping for air, and a sight for sore eyes. We dragged ourselves to safety. I lay on my back next to the Lighting Sand, taking huge gulps of air, coughing and sputtering. I could hear Buttercup beside me, but for a moment, I lay there, exhausted. As she continued coughing, however, I forced myself up and rubbed her back as she crawled further away from the fatal sand. We then embraced.

I then saw something horrifying: in a tree just above our heads, two giant rats crouched, growling. I had heard of them, but thought them only legends—the R.O.U.S.s—Rodents of Unusual Size. My thoughts and fears were cut off when Buttercup gasped,

"We'll never succeed - we may as well die here."

"No," I said, helping her to her feet. "No, we have already succeeded." I then helped her along, away from the giant beasts.

"I mean, what are the three terrors of the Fire Swamp? One, the flame spurts. No problem. There's a popping sound preceding each, we can avoid that. Two, the Lightning Sand. But you were clever enough to discover what that looks like, so in the future we can avoid that too."

"Westley." I stopped as Buttercup gripped my arm apprehensively. "What about the R.O.U.S.s?"

Not wanting to alarm her, I said, "Rodents of Unusual Size? I don't think they exist." At that moment, something heavy flew through the air and landed on my chest, knocking me to the ground, and Buttercup screamed. I saw with horror that it was an R.O.U.S. I struggled desperately to free myself from under its great weight—I had to get to my sword, which I had dropped when the thing attacked me. I put up an arm to punch it, but instead, it dug its razor teeth into my flesh and drove them deeper and deeper into my arm. I yelled in pain and used my other arm to punch it in the head, rolling it off of me momentarily. I took that small opportunity to crawl across the forest floor, and reach for my sword, blood running down my arm…but I never made it. The creature jumped on me once more, dragging me away from the sword that was just inches from my desperate fingertips.

We wrestled, and it seemed like the rodent was winning until I threw him backwards and as he scurried to get up, I ran for my sword. However, he started for Buttercup, and at her cry of "Westley!" I abandoned my sword and jumped on the beast, grabbing its matted fur. Buttercup tried to assist; she picked up a large branch and used it like a club, hitting the thing several times in the head. It knocked her over and advanced, but I lunged at it, knocking it clear off its feet, and we went rolling across the forest floor.

At last, we stopped. It had me pinned. It lunged and sunk its teeth deep into my shoulder. I yelled in pain. All seemed lost when I heard a popping sound coming from the left of me—and I was hit by an idea. I rolled over and once more we were rolling across the floor and when we stopped, the flame spurt erupted on the rodent and it released its hold.

I stood up, shaking. My shirt was ripped and blood caked my shoulder. I hurried and gripped my sword, and walked over to the creature, which growled feebly and walked slowly toward me. I stabbed it thrice in the ribs and it fell to the ground, dead.

I made my way to Buttercup who looked horrified. She eyed my

wounds and said, "Are you alright?"

"Now that you are safe, I am." We hugged and continued through the forest. Now that we knew the secrets of the Fire Swamp, we were able to avoid its dangers and got out fairly quickly. Soon we were free from the horrible darkness and walking once again in the sunlight; Buttercup clinging to my arm. We were almost to my ship, almost to freedom. We stopped in a beautiful beach near its anchorage and she faced me, saying, "We did it."

"Now was that so terrible?"

We leaned into a kiss just as hoof beats drummed on the ground and the prince, his right-hand man, and several soldiers rode up to us. I put my sword protectively in front of Buttercup and myself.

"Surrender!" ordered the prince.

"You mean you wish to surrender to me? Very well, I accept."

"I give you full marks for bravery," said he, "don't make yourself a fool."

"Ah, but how will you capture us?" I asked, casting around desperately for an escape route. "We know the secrets of the Fire Swamp. We can live there quite happily for some time. So, whenever you feel like dying, feel free to visit." I was not going to lose Buttercup. Not after I just got her back. All this time, she was looking behind the two of us, fear in her eyes. I figured that there were soldiers there; ready to shoot me if needed, but I didn't care—I never surrendered to anyone—especially a pig.

"I tell you once again—surrender!" he ordered, this time more harshly.

"It will not happen!" I yelled defiantly.

"For the last time—SURRENDER!"

"DEATH FIRST!" I screamed, then realized that was what I was sure to get.

Before the prince could respond, Buttercup spoke up. "Will you promise not to hurt him?"

"What was that?" the prince asked, looking at her doubtfully.

"What was that?" I echoed, my heart sinking. How could she do this? Throw away her love? Go back with him?

"If we surrender, and I return with you, will you promise not to hurt this man?" I stared at her, dumbfounded.

The prince raised his right hand. "May I live a thousand years and never hunt again." From that point on, I knew he was lying.

But Buttercup had no knowledge of that. She continued, "He is a sailor on the pirate ship Revenge. Promise to return him to his ship."

"I swear it shall be done." I then noticed that he leaned over and whispered something to the count, who nodded.

Buttercup then turned to me. "I thought you were dead once and it nearly destroyed me. I could not bear it if you died again, not when I could save you." I just looked at her, disbelieving. What about all I had told her? Death cannot stop true love! Didn't she believe? Didn't she swear to never doubt again?

Before I could react, the prince swept her onto his horse and galloped off. Three crossbow-men came from the trees and surrounded me. Unknowing of what was to happen to me under the "care" of the count, I was nervous, but did not show it.

"Come sir," said the latter. "We must return you to your ship."

The soldiers forced me forward, and I stood before the count, mounted on his horse, and said, "We are men of action. Lies do not become us."

The count smiled evilly. "Well spoken, sir." He nodded at one of the soldiers behind me, who instantly began tying my hands behind me. I hardly noticed, for I was gazing at the count's right hand. He noticed my stare and inquired, "What is it?"

"You have six fingers on your right hand. Someone was looking for you," I remarked, remembering Inigo. That statement seemed to anger him greatly, and he lifted his sword above his head and hit me with the hilt. There was a searing pain in my head and then blackness as I faded into unconsciousness.

I did not open my eyes as soon as I came to my senses. I heard the ragged breathing of someone above me, felt an uncommon, eerie chill go through me; I seemed to be lying on a hard surface, and when I tried to move my arms and legs, they wouldn't budge. I felt someone patting my injured shoulder with medicine and opened my eyes to see a rather scary sight.

A man stood above me, face and hair paler than a ghost. The Albino continued with cleaning my shoulder as I looked around for a moment.

I was in a dim, damp room made of earth that was filled with various torture devices. My shirt had been removed, and I was chained to a wooden table by my wrists and ankles; I couldn't move my position in the slightest.

"Where am I?" I asked. My head was pounding furiously and my shoulder stung.

"The Pit of Despair," the Albino croaked. "Don't even think—" he stopped, coughed, then said in a completely normal voice,

"Don't even think about trying to escape. The chains are far too thick. And don't dream of being rescued either. The only way in is secret. And only the Prince, the Count, and I know how to get in and out."

So in short, all hope was lost. My heart sunk. Why they had done this to me, I knew not, but the unfairness of it bothered me greatly. I was promised to be returned to my ship and then taken to a secret torture chamber, where I was chained and helpless. Once again, I did not let my feelings show. At least, not too much. "So I'm here until I die?"

The next statement sent a sickening feeling into the pit of my already churning stomach. "Until they kill you, yeah."

I wanted to ask what I had done to deserve this, but merely glanced at the Albino applying medication and asked, "Then why bother curing me?"

He sighed, and answered, "The Prince and the Count always insist on everyone being healthy before they're broken."

It was then that I realized how I was going to die. "So it's to be torture?"

He grinned and nodded.

Fear gripped my heart, but I merely said, "I can cope with torture."

The Albino's grin suddenly vanished as he shook his head.

"You don't believe me?"

He went back to the task of curing me and said, "You survived the Fire Swamp…you must be very brave." He paused, then amused glint in his eye, "But nobody withstands the Machine."

The Machine? I wondered what sort of torture device that could be. Since I couldn't move to look around me, I could only see things that were on either side or above me. My eyes fell on an Iron Maiden, a cruel torture device that could kill a person instantly. A device where they stretch you out. I could handle that. But what was this "machine" he spoke of? I found out far too soon.

Two days passed. I had been in the Pit of Despair for quite some time now, and it was still horrible. The Albino constantly told me stories of how the Machine had never been tested on anyone, and I was to be the guinea pig, if you will. I stayed chained to the table the entire time, but even so, my strength slowly returned as my shoulder wound healed and I ate the food that the Albino forced upon me (the food was torture within itself). But at least they weren't starving me. Yet.

That day, ten days until Buttercup's wedding, the Albino announced that I was strong enough for the Machine. "I'll just tell the count you're ready. He'll come by tonight to try it out."

He then disappeared into a small room and cam out with several odd looking contraptions. They were black and had suction cups attached to them. He advanced on me, and then set to the task of strapping one to my head, so that there was a suction cup on each temple; my chest, so there was one over my heart and one parallel to it; and my stomach, so there was one on each side. I was helpless to stop him, but I did give him some nasty looks while he went about this task. Then he declared that we were to wait for the count before I was hooked up to the Machine.

Torture is horrible. Anyone who has been through it can tell you. Most people who have never been through it can tell you too. But what no one ever mentions is that waiting for the inevitable torture that awaits you is just as bad. As I lay there on the hard surface that I had come to know all to well during the past few days, I dreaded seeing what monstrosity the count had in store for me. The hours passed like years, the minutes like months, and the seconds like days. I knew what was going to happen to me, and since I was powerless to stop it…that made my predicament even worse.

After what seemed like years, I heard the count coming down into the pit. I instantly pushed all the fear I felt out of my eyes. He wasn't going to get pleasure from taunting me.

At his order, the Albino wheeled the table upon which I lay to a large, horrifying Machine. It looked like it was water-powered, and it consisted of many freakish contraptions. A large lever rested at "0", but evidently the Machine could be powered up to "50". My stomach jerked unpleasantly.

"Beautiful, isn't it?" Count Rugen said as the Albino began attaching long cords to the suction cups that rested on my temples, heart, and stomach. I just glared at them. Both of them. "It took me half a lifetime to invent it." He paused, savoring my reaction, then continued, in an evilly pleasant voice, "I'm sure you've discovered my deep and abiding interest in pain. At present I'm writing the definitive work on the subject. So I want you to be totally honest with me on how The Machine makes you feel."

He walked to the lever and said, "This being our first try, I'll use the lowest setting. He pushed it up to "1", then stood there, savoring what he saw next.

The first jolt of pain came when the water started rushing. Then it was constant—constant and unbearable. There was nothing other than pain, nothing else existed. It consumed me, filling my brain and ripping at my limbs. My body convulsed violently and I desperately attempted to break free of the chains. I gasped and groaned, wanting it all to go away…I forced myself to look at the count, who was smiling pleasantly. The only thing I remember thinking at that time was, How could you do this? I'm innocent…you're a monster.

It ended as suddenly as it begun, although my body still convulsed and I gasped for air. The suction cups seemed to have grown tighter, almost unbearable, as if they had actually been sucking something. Had they? I wondered.

"As you know, the concept of the suction pump is centuries old. Well, really, that's all this is. Except that instead of sucking water, I'm sucking life. I've just sucked one year of your life away. I might one day go as high as five, but I really don't know what that would do to you. So, let's just start with what we have. What did this do to you? Tell me. And remember, this is for posterity, so be honest - how do you feel?" During the count's whole speech, I was still in terrible anguish.

At his statement, I didn't care anymore. This was wrong. I was helpless. I was in agony. And he was enjoying it. I cried.

I dreaded every day of my life after that. I would lie on that table…unable to move, still hooked to the Machine, knowing that that evening, I would be made to suffer once more. I got to where I had almost lost the will to live, but the thought of Buttercup kept me going. I had to live. For her.

I went through this torture for ten days. Then, on the day of the wedding, something completely unseen and horrible happened. I was lying there, hooked up to the Machine, when the prince came storming into the pit, face livid. I knew at once he was angry at me; perhaps Buttercup had found out that I wasn't on my ship.

He made his way to my side, then said, "You truly love each other, and so you might have been truly happy. Not one couple in a century has that chance, no matter what the storybooks say. And so I think no man in a century will suffer as greatly as you will."

My heart sank rapidly and fear consumed my mind as he strode to the lever and pushed it up. All the way up. To fifty.

"Not to fifty!" the count yelled. But it was too late.

Never has there been such pain. I was in more anguish than anyone had ever known in the century. My very being was on fire, all the while, being stabbed continuously, I was being shot, being hanged, being burned at the stake…the Iron Maiden had me in her clutches…

I screamed. I had never been in such anguish. Agony. Torment. I fought like a demon to escape my bonds. The suction cups continuously got tighter. Soon I was lost to everything but pain itself.

Then, slowly, the pain seemed to go down, although the Machine was still full force. My own screams were becoming distant…my life seemed like a memory. I then realized—I was dying.

Soon everything ceased all together. I felt nothing, saw nothing, heard nothing…was nothing as I slipped into the black abyss that was death.

I was dead…but something inside of me seemed to not want to let go. Part of me, somewhere deep, deep in the black oblivion, something clung desperately…

It was that small part of me that heard these words: "Hey! Hello in there. Hey! What's so important? What you got here that's worth living for?"

And it was that small part of me that used most of its remaining strength to answer back, "Tru-u-u-ue lu-u-uv."

Something odd happened. I felt something sliding down my throat, and in death, one does not usually feel such things. But I felt it. A few seconds later, my eyes snapped open. I was propped against a stone wall with a person on either side of me. One was a giant; the other was a Spaniard. They both looked strangely familiar, but I couldn't think why. Upon seeing them, I exclaimed, "I'll beat you both apart! I'll take you both together!"

The giant instantly covered my mouth with a large hand. When he was sure that I would be quieter, he released me.

I tried to move. Nothing happened. In fact, the only thing that seemed able to move was my mouth. Why is that? I wondered. I couldn't remember anything.

"Why won't my arms move?" I demanded.

"You've been mostly dead all day," came the giant's reply. And

then it all came back to me. The torture, the prince, his anger, the count…Buttercup's wedding day.

"We had Miracle Max make a pill to bring you back," said the Spaniard. Miracle Max…he worked for the king all those years…until the king's stinking son fired him!

"Who are you?" I asked. "Are we enemies? Why am I on this wall? Where's Buttercup?"

The Spaniard studied me for a moment. "Let me explain." He paused, thinking. "No, there is too much. Let me sum up. Buttercup is marrying Humperdink in a little less than half an hour, so all we have to do is get in, break up the wedding, steal the Princess, make our escape after I kill Count Rugen."

I pondered the situation. "That doesn't leave much time for dilly-dallying," I remarked, wiggling my thumb.

"You just wiggled your thumb," the giant, who I learned to be Fezzick, said encouragingly. "That's wonderful."

"I've always been a quick healer. What are our liabilities?"

"There is but one working castle gate," was the Spaniard, who I remembered to be Inigo. He and Fezzick lifted me up slightly so I saw the gate…and a lot of men. "And its guarded by sixty men."

"And our assets?"

"Your brains, Fezzick's strength, my steel."

My hears sunk miserably. "That's it? Impossible. Maybe if I had a month to plan I could come up with something—but this?" I shook my head.

"You just shook your head," said Fezzick, as if he were speaking to a child. "That doesn't make you happy?"

Irritated, I used all of my strength to turn my head and face him.

"My brains, his steel, and your strength against sixty men, and you think a little head jiggle is supposed to make me happy?" I thought hard, and a plan started to form. What if we could scare them off instead of fighting? But it would require more things than we possessed. I sighed in frustration. "I mean, if we only had a wheelbarrow, that would be something."

Inigo turned to Fezzick and said, "Where did we put that wheelbarrow that Albino had?"

"Over by the Albino, I think."

I grimaced inwardly at the thought of the Albino…and the wheelbarrow, which was undoubtedly to be used to carry my lifeless body to a place where they could dispose of it…

I forced such thoughts out of my mind and muttered, "Why didn't you list that among our assets in the first place?" I thought some more. "What I wouldn't give for a holocaust cloak."

"There, we cannot help you," said Inigo.

"Will this do?" Fezzick held up a large black cloak. Perfect!

"Where did you get that?" Inigo asked.

"At Miracle Max's. It fit so nice, he said I could keep it."

Impatient to put my plan into action, I said, "Alright, alright, help me up."

I had no strength whatsoever. It was a chore just to keep my head up.

When we were standing (or rather, they were standing, holding my limp form between them), I said, "Now, I'll need a sword eventually." My head flopped limply to the front. Fezzick sat it straight again.

"Why?" asked Inigo. "You can't even lift one."

"True, but that's hardly common knowledge is it?" My head flopped uselessly to the back. Again, Fezzick came to the rescue. "Thank you….now, there may be problems once we're inside." My head flopped again. This time Fezzick kept his large hand on my head, keeping it from happening again.

"I'll say," said Inigo, then began bombarding me with questions.

"How do I find the Count? - Once I do, how do I find you again? - Once I find you again, how do we escape?"

He was cut off by Fezzick. "Don't pester him; he's had a hard

day."

"Right. Right. Sorry." Fezzick made me nod my head, then, with me in-between, we crept toward the castle to put my plan into action.

"Inigo?" said Fezzick.

"What?"

"I hope we win."

It was almost time to go. We had the wheelbarrow. We had the cloak. We had a plan. And Inigo had explained everything to me, so I now knew that he had decided that I could help him get into the castle, and that he heard me screaming when I was being held captive and tortured, and when he got to me, I was dead, so they took me to Miracle Max's. And that was that.

It was dark. I was propped up against a wall once more, my head lying uselessly on a box. I still had no strength, and it took everything I could muster before I was able to put my hand in with the others for the handshake.

We (well, Inigo) propped Fezzick on the wheelbarrow and draped the cloak over him. It now looked like he was floating. We lit a candle and got ready to use it. Then Inigo and I got behind the wheelbarrow, and I held onto Inigo while he pushed Fezzick toward the castle. Before we had come into view, I heard from inside, "Mawwaige. Mawwiage is what bwings us togethew today. Mawwiage, that bwessed awwangement…a dweam wifin a dweam…" The voice trailed off. The wedding had started.

"Ready?" I said?

"Ready." We pushed Fezzick towards the sixty men. He held out his arms yelling, "I AM THE DREAD PIRATE ROBERTS. THERE WILL BE NO SURVIVORS."

The men saw his ghostly form and panicked. There were scattered cries of, "Stand your ground men!" but they were frightened.

"Now?" Inigo asked, indicating the candle just waiting to plunge fear into the hearts of the men.

"Not yet," I replied and Fezzick continued.

"MY MEN ARE HERE, AND I AM HERE, BUT SOON YOU WILL NOT BE HERE!"

"Now?" said Inigo desperately.

"Light him."

He lit the cloak and it burned brightly…the men decided this was enough. As the burning, floating figure came closer, they ran their separate directions. "THE DREAD PIRATE ROBERTS TAKES NO SURVIVORS. ALL YOUR WORST NIGHTMARES ARE ABOUT TO COME TRUE. THE DREAD PIRATE ROBERTS IS HERE FOR YOUR SOULS!"

They scattered. Soon there was one man left. Fezzick threw the burning cloak off, and, with me leaning on Inigo, we advanced on him. He tried to run and close the portcullis, but before he could, Inigo shouted, "Fezzick, the portcullis!" and Fezzick pushed it up and advanced on the guard.

"Give us the gate key," I ordered.

"I have no gate key," was his stupid reply.

"Fezzick," said Inigo, "tear his arms off."

"Oh, you mean this gate key."

Soon we were in the castle. Fezzick was in the lead, sword

brandished in front of him, followed by Fezzick, who was dragging me, my legs weakly trying to move, but at no affect. I was helpless. Nonetheless, I myself dragged a sword in my limp arm.

We came to a corner. Before they advanced, both Fezzick and Inigo looked at me. I signaled for them to go on. Before we had even gotten ten paces, Count Rugen (my stomach flipped) and several men ran around the corner. "Kill the dark one and the giant," ordered the count, "but leave the third for questioning."

I certainly hoped Inigo would be able to do this…within thirty seconds, every one of the soldiers lay dead on the floor. Inigo then advanced on the count. "Hello," he said, smile playing at his lips, "my name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die."

He raised his sword, and the count did likewise—but then he did something completely unexpected. He chased him desperately. Fezzick and I looked at each other.

Soon we heard a door slam and Inigo screaming, "Fezzick I need you!"

The giant glanced at my limp form and said, "I can't leave him alone!"

"He's getting away from me, Fezzick! Please, Fezzick!" Hearing his friend's desperation, Fezzick propped me against the suit of armor and patted my back, saying, "I'll be right back."

But I couldn't wait. I had to act now. With strength that I didn't know I had, I wrenched myself free of the suit of armor and slowly but surely dragged myself down the hall. The effort was antagonizing, but it didn't stop me. I came to a door marked "Honeymoon Suite". This was it. I forced the door open and crawled inside, hoping no one was there yet. I was in luck. I dragged myself across the floor and onto the bed, where I lay, utterly exhausted. And not a moment too soon.

As soon as I had positioned myself on the bed, sword by my side, and a plan of what to do when the prince came in forming in my mind, Buttercup entered the suite, face pale. I had never seen her so distressed. Or beautiful. She did not see me, but walked to her desk, where she pulled out a small wooden box. Out of it she took a knife. She was just about to plunge it into her heart when I said, "There is a shortage of perfect breasts in this world. 'T'would be a pity to damage yours."

She turned and saw me. "Westley!" She flew to my side. She jumped onto the bed and covered my helpless self with kisses.

"Oh, Westley, darling!" she said. I said nothing, just gazed deep into her marvelous eyes. "Westley," she said, "why won't you hold me?"

"Gently," I said, as she continued to bombard me with kisses.

"At a time like this that's all you can think to say? 'Gently?'"

She lifted my head up and pressed my lips against hers. It hurt.

"Gently!" I repeated. She let go, thinking I would hold myself up, but it was impossible, so my head fell limply and hit the headboard. I grunted in pain.

Buttercup looked at me quizzically. "What's wrong, Westley?"

I tried not to worry her too much and merely said, "I've been through a horrible ordeal today, darling. I'll be okay though. Just give some time."

She studied for a minute, then her eyes clouded over with tears.

"Oh, Westley, will you ever forgive me?"

"What hideous sin have you committed this time?" I asked, knowing very well what she meant.

I was right. "I got married. I didn't want to. It all happened so fast."

I thought for a moment then said, "It never happened."

"What?"

"It never happened."

"But it did. I was there. This old man said, 'Man and wife.'"

Gazing deep into her eyes, I said, "Did you say 'I do'?"

She thought for a moment, then said, "Well, no. We sort of skipped that part."

"Then you're not married. If you didn't say it, you didn't do it." I watched her smile for just a moment before I spotted the prince entering the suite. "Wouldn't you agree, Your Highness?"

He glared at me as Buttercup turned to see him. "A technicality that shall shortly be remedied." He paused. "But first things first." He took out his sword and advanced on me. "To the death."

It was time to begin my plan. "No," I said. "To the pain."

He stopped, looking slightly confused. "I don't think I'm familiar with that phrase."

"I'll explain," I said, "and I'll use small words so you'll be sure to understand, you wart-hog faced buffoon."

He closed his eyes, looking extremely vexed, and glared at me, saying, "That may be the first time in my life a man has dared insult me."

"It won't be the last," I vowed, then I said, "To the pain means the first thing you lose will be your feet, below the ankles, then your hands at the wrists, next your nose."

Looking annoyed, Humperdink cut me off. "And then my tongue, I suppose. I killed you too quickly last time, a mistake I don't mean to duplicate tonight." Once more he advanced, but I stopped him.

"I wasn't finished. The next thing you lose will be your left eye, followed by your right –"

"And then my ears. I understand. Let's get on with it!"

"Wrong! Your ears you keep, and I'll tell you why." I paused for a moment, creating a suspenseful mood, then continued in a low voice, "so that every shriek of every child at seeing your hideousness will be yours to cherish - every babe that weeps at your approach, every woman who cries out, 'My goodness, what is that thing?' will echo in your perfect ears. That is what "to the pain" means. It means I leave you in anguish, wallowing in freakish misery forever."

When I finished, I was pleased to see fear in his eyes. However, he looked at me and said, "I think you're bluffing."

My answer was this, "It's possible, pig - I might be bluffing - it's conceivable, you miserable vomitous mass, that I'm only lying here because I lack the strength to stand." I paused, hoping beyond hope that this would work. "Then again, perhaps I have the strength after all."

Using all the strength and will I could muster, I forced myself into a standing position. It was painful, but I had done it. I did not fall, I didn't even waver. "Drop your sword." I ordered.

His sword hit the ground instantly. I motioned to a large chair. "Have a seat." He was seated. "Tie him up," I said to Buttercup, and she did just that.

At that moment, Inigo ran into the room. He was covered in blood and looked triumphant, so I realized that he must have done it. He must have killed Count Rugen. "Where's Fezzick?" he asked.

"I thought he was with you," I replied.

"In that case—" I began, overdoing the limit by trying to walk. I pitched forward.

"Help him," Inigo said to Buttercup.

As Buttercup put my arm around her shoulder and let me lean on her, she asked worriedly, "Why does Westley need helping?"

"Because he has no strength," was Inigo's reply.

At that moment, Humperdink almost jumped out of his bonds. "I knew you were bluffing." He turned to Inigo and said, "I knew he was bluffing."

My friend pointed his sword at his throat. "Do you want me to dispatch him for you?"

"Thank you, but no. Whatever happens to us, I want him to live a long life with his cowardice."

Just then, we heard a shout from outside. "Inigo!" It was Fezzick! We all made our way to the large window, except for the prince, who tried to come, but was held back by his bonds. Buttercup helped me limp along.

We saw Fezzick standing outside with four beautiful white horses. "Ah, there you are. Inigo, I saw the Prince's stables, and there they were, four white horses. And I thought, there are four of us, if we ever find the lady - hello, lady - so I took them with me, in case we ever bumped into each other." He seemed to think for a moment, then said, "I guess we just did."

"Fezzick," said Inigo, looking completely flabbergasted, "you did something right."

"Don't worry," replied the giant, "I won't let it go to my head."

Buttercup then climbed onto the windowsill and jumped down into his arms. She looked positively stunning as she fell gracefully. I motioned for Inigo to go ahead. He was about to jump when he turned back to me. "You know," he said, "it's very strange - I have been in the revenge business so long, now that it's over, I don't know what to do with the rest of my life."

I thought for a moment, then patted him on the shoulder. "Have you ever considered piracy? You'd make a wonderful Dread Pirate Roberts."

He shrugged and I smiled as I forced myself out of the window. Fezzick caught me and sat me on a horse. Inigo then jumped.

Soon we were riding to freedom.

I soon got my strength back. After we knew we were safe, the four of us stopped to rest. A wave of love swept over us (Buttercup and I, not Inigo and Fezzick) and we kissed. Soon we were married and knew we'd be together forever. Inigo became the Dread Pirate Roberts with Fezzick as his first mate—the Dread Pirate Westley—just for laughs.

Then we all lived happily ever after. Wait, scratch that last part. That never happens. Well, it does in fairy tales. But not in real life. This however, is not real life. But it's not your every day, ho-hum, run-of –the-mill fairy tale either.


~Emachinescat ^..^