I will be starting a new chapter for my Inigo Montoya-inspired Dread Pirate Roberts fan-fiction tribute to The Princess Bride in a few weeks or so.
Kye and I, with movies and television series we really enjoy, love to imagine "fifteen minutes later" for the end of the stories. For example, The Princess Bride. What happens to the characters fifteen minutes after the credits roll? Not literally fifteen minutes later, but just later, you know? We say "fifteen minutes later" simply because it's a handy, easy-to-remember label for the exercise. But it could be anytime: fifteen days, for example, or eight hours, or ten months. Whatever.
What do you think happens "fifteen minutes later" with your favorite characters and stories? Do you ever play that game?
Well, it's one of my very favorite games to play. I love it so much that I've written my scenarios down as fan fiction, and you can read them anytime!
In the chapter below, I introduce you to Inigo Montoya's "fifteen minutes later." Enjoy!
The Dread Pirate Roberto
I didn't know what to think of him at first, of course. No one knows what to think of strangers when you're introduced to them. Olive did the honors. I was the first to stick out my hand, but the new captain’s hesitation to grasp mine had nothing to do with affecting airs or any sense of captainly decorum. He was looking around, at the ship. The Revenge. His view came around to me, then down to my outstretched hand.
"How do you do?" he asked somewhat uncertainly. His Spanish accent was thick but wadeable. "Paloni? You are Duncan Paloni?"
His grip tightened. "Inigo Montoya," he said with obvious pride.
It was unnecessary, of course, to give his name. Everybody knew it. I have sailed with this ship going on a decade now and I've never seen the crew act like that: with visible awe as they took in the sight of their new captain. This was the man who almost singlehandedly brought down the corrupt Humperdinck monarchy and killed the vile Count Rugen. Many of the Revenge's finest had died by
Rugen's cruel tortures over
I admit to even feeling a bit awed myself. I tried to hide it. First Officers don't feel awe for their captains. They're there to keep their captains firmly rooted to the earth—or to the deck of the ship, as the case may be.
"You are Italian?" he asked, still gripping my hand. By now I'd noticed his incredible sword and struggled with that, too. I looked up into his dark gaze. He was smiling in a very congenial way.
"I was born there, Captain. But when I was a young boy my family moved to
"Too much tea," he said after recovering from hearing his new title. He shook his head. "Not enough moscatel. Do you drink moscatel, Paloni?"
"I've never tried it, sir," I admitted. In truth, I'd never even heard of it.
His smile faded, though it did not vanish completely.
"Tonight, then, in my cabin" he said.
He looked around, came close so only I could hear. "Uh … where is my cabin, exactly?"
Here's the letter I received from Westley three weeks earlier:
I am writing to announce my immediate retirement as Captain of the Revenge. My replacement will be joining you shortly. His name is Inigo Montoya, a Spaniard. He is a swordmaster of the first caliber and a first-rate tactician. The rumors swirling about
Florin about him are true: I was there when he brought
down the Humperdinck monarchy. He was our leader and captain, and his bravery
is something that will serve the Revenge
well. Like me when I first joined the Revenge
(and as I'm sure you remember, being the only one of the crew to stay on board over
the tenures of the previous four captains, including me), I had no knowledge of
ships or sailing or even proper pirating. I, however, had the advantage of
being the captain's valet for several years whilst I learned. You'll need to
school the new Dread Pirate Roberts—on-the-job training, as it were, quietly
and privately, of course—though I suspect pirating will come quite naturally to
him. Be his right-hand man, as you were for me. He has a very generous spirit; but
don't let him go too far with it, especially with the crew. He loves his drink
as well, which is also something you'll have to watch out for. The best way to
ensure his temperance is Purpose. Give that man a Purpose and the drink will be
forgotten until that Purpose is fulfilled.
Buttercup and I are to be wed in
at the estate of Captain Roberts (the first one, obviously). I would have
preferred to utilize the Revenge and
her crew for such a journey, but I think it best to give Captain Montoya a
completely free hand from the off.
Provided that Captain Montoya doesn't already have other plans, I would be pleased if the crew of the Revenge would join us in
Patagonia. You will need to
arrive by November 28; we're to be wed on the 29th. If we don't see you then we
will assume that the Revenge's new
captain is already plundering towards great wealth.
Your friendship is one I shall always cherish, Duncan. Thank you for all you've done for me.
The very best,
At eight o’ clock I knocked on his cabin door.
"Come in," he called out. I thought of Westley's voice, how different it was, how I'd gotten used to it. Captain Montoya's voice was hollower but stronger, with a natural and sonorous timbre that immediately caught my ear. He'd have no problem getting the attention of the crew, even without yelling. Another plus.
I entered the cabin.
He sat on a small couch that, as I recall, Captain Westley never touched, a wine glass of amber-colored liquor in his hand. The English oak desk at the back and downy bunk to the side were unmolested save for the presence of his sword and sword belt, which lay on the bunk. I looked back at him.
"The bottle and glasses are in the cabinet." He motioned with his glass hand.
I opened the armoire. The moscatel came in a fine green bottle sitting alone on the top shelf. I recall that he hadn't brought much with him when he boarded; the drink made up probably a third of his duffel bag. I reached for the bottle, poured myself a small amount, closed the armoire and turned to face my new superior.
"To the future," he said, lifting his glass. I could hear the doubt in his voice.
I wasn't going to have to hold this captain to the deck; not initially, at least. I was going to have to teach him how to walk first.
I lifted my glass. "To our future, Captain."
I took a sip of the moscatel. It was wine, sweet and fruity, with a very pleasant aftertaste. My delight must've been obvious.
"I told you," he said with an approving glint in his eye. He took another drink, as did I.
"Sit, Paloni, sit." He motioned towards a chair.
Being First Mate aboard a seagoing vessel can be a very tough job. I'd like to feel that I have weathered enough storms and battles and on-board politics to be an expert. But at that moment, sitting there with my new captain, I felt like a rank beginner. I didn't know what to say. I chanced a bold guess.
"There's something you've left behind, Captain."
He lowered his glass. "Come again?" he said quietly.
"I don't presume to read minds," I said quickly, misinterpreting his look, which seemed to flash impertinence. "Forgive me—"
"All my belongings are here," he said with just a hint of defensiveness. "I didn't forget anything …"
"I wasn't talking about material possessions," I said. I held up my hand. "Again, Captain, forgive my presumption."
"Material—? Ah." He got it. He took another sip. "Yes, I suppose I did."
"May I ask her name, Captain?"
He grinned. But the grin lasted only a second or two. "Not a woman," he said.
I wasn't about to ask, and it didn't matter in any event. After all, Captain Cummerbund wore a pink feather in his hat and ate with a pinkie finger sticking out, but no man dared poke fun at him. The single foolish sailor who did found himself floating shortly afterward in four separate oceans. Assumptions don't make an "ass of u and me"—on a pirate ship they make you a dead man. In any event, I didn't have time to form one, as this captain said:
"My best friend, Fezzik. He's been taken prisoner at Harshtree. I fear for his life."
I remembered the name. "Fezzik?" I said vacantly. "I recall the stories. Wasn't he with you when you stormed the
Captain Montoya nodded.
"A giant, right?"
"And a marvelous poet. He carried Westley's—" he caught himself—"Captain Westley's—body to Miracle Max's after
Rugen killed him."
"Is it true he carried you and two others up the Cliffs of Insanity?"
He nodded again, took another sip. He didn't elaborate.
"Wow …" I said breathlessly. "Forgive me, Captain, but that's hard to believe."
"I know," he said. "It is. And now he's a prisoner where few prisoners ever again see the light of day."
"How do you suppose he was taken? It must've taken an army!"
"Not an army," he said. He leaned forward. "You see, Paloni, Fezzik has a weakness." He held up a finger. "A single weakness. The men who subdued him must have known about it and exploited it."
"What is it?" I asked, fascinated.
He grasped his neck. "His windpipe. It is weak. A birth defect, most likely.... Fezzik never talked about it, and told me only after he'd drank a barrel of mead. Someone must have overheard him."
"Someone who wanted to take him prisoner? Who would want to do that?"
He shook his head and leaned back. He appeared tortured, worried beyond the capacity to contain it.
The solution was obvious, of course.
"So … if I may recapitulate," I began, "your best friend Fezzik has been taken prisoner for unknown reasons and resides now at Harshtree."
He nodded. He seemed genuinely oblivious to his new station, as though it were merely a ceremonial one and that he'd be leaving the Revenge in the morning. I knew then why the cabin had been for all intents and purposes untouched since he'd boarded.
"Harshtree is just a couple miles in from Dredskull Point," I casually pointed out, taking another sip. "Two days' sail time, three through stormy weather."
He nodded thoughtfully and waited for me to continue. He really didn't realize it. And it was right then that I knew he was going to make the Revenge’s finest captain. There were endless possibilities in that blank stare, all backed up with wicked steel and a towering sense of Spanish nobility that I'd intuited instantly upon his arrival.
That said, I'd have to spell it out for him.
"Your crew is assembled and ready, twenty-four total. We are the Revenge, feared all over the world. The Revenge, sir! And we are at your command. Isn't the warden of Harshtree one of
He'd figured it out halfway through my speech. I watched a glitter sparkle to life in his eyes, and a slow, hesitant smile form on his lips. He put the moscatel on the side table next to the sofa's armrest, turned back to look at me, and leaned forward.
"Can we succeed?"
"Like I said, sir, we're the Revenge. Success is all we do." I smiled. "You required only yourself, Captain Westley, and Fezzik to overthrow an entire kingdom."
I waited for that to sink in before asking, "Your orders, sir?"
I love being First Mate of this ship.
"We set sail for Harshtree in the morning," he declared. "And I will get my Fezzik back."