Story Time - The Princess Bride
[AN: Okay. Some people may remember I did a few stories set in a weird "Princess Bride" hybrid universe, with elements from "Who" and various anime added to the mix. However, I never wrote the "Princess Bride"-equivalent story for that universe.
[This is not that story.
[This is a completely _different_ "Princess Bride"/"Who" fusion story, complete with fencing, fighting, self-insertion, torture, hate, revenge, complaining characters, Martians, bad men, good men, devious bastards, chases, escapes, lies, truths, bad jokes, and miracles.
[On with the story.
[Adapted from the screenplay by William Goldman]
[FADE IN ON: a child's bedroom, apparently recently refurbished, with sparse furnishing - the kid who sleeps here doesn't appear to have much in the way of stuff.
[A large black dog-like creature, JAMAIS, is resting by the side of the bed. He's got a seal-like head and neck, a furry belly, and no tail.
[Lying in the bed itself is a little girl, CHLOE, with a pair of headphones on, nodding along to the music from her radio. She's a skinny little thing, can't be more than eight or nine, with long blonde hair, wonky milky-blue eyes, and a pale, freckled face, which, at the moment, is looking even paler than usual.
[Right about then, ANJI, CHLOE's adopted mum, enters the room. She's an Anglo-Asian woman, in her late twenties, brown eyes, brown skin, black hair cut into a neat bob, currently wearing a plain blouse and skirt, and carrying a book.
[CHLOE sees ANJI come in and quickly sets the headphones aside. ANJI takes a seat on the bed, fluffs the pillows, and rests her hand against CHLOE's forehead, feeling the temperature, before removing it again]
ANJI: Hey, Chloe.
CHLOE: [mumbles] Hi, Mum.
ANJI: Are you feeling any better?
CHLOE: A little, I guess... [looks cautiously at the book]
[ANJI notes CHLOE's look]
ANJI: It's okay. I was, um... I was looking through the library, I saw this book, and, I, um, thought maybe I could read it to you, while you're, um, recovering.
[CHLOE lifts herself up in her bed, trying to get a look at the book]
CHLOE: What is it?
[ANJI picks up the book, and shows CHLOE the cover]
ANJI: "The Princess Bride", adapted by William Goldman from the book by S. Morgenstern.
CHLOE: What's it about?
ANJI: True love. Miracles. Fencing. Fighting. Giants. Monsters. Chases. Escapes... [trails off, frowning slightly] Actually, it sounds pretty much like life with the Doctor, except for the part about true love... huh. [shakes it off] Well, I enjoyed the movie, but I haven't read the book, so, um, I thought maybe we could read it together...?
CHLOE: [sitting up a little straighter] Okay, Mum.
ANJI: [tiny smile on her face] All right. Let's get started...
[She opens the book]
ANJI: "The Princess Bride", by S. Morgenstern, adapted by William Goldman. Chapter One...
[Note: The NARRATOR is ANJI]
CUT TO: Ext., Farm.
NARRATOR (v.o.): Buttercup was raised on a small farm in the country of Florin.
[TRIX materialises in the stableyards, holding the reins of a horse. She's in her mid-twenties, with short mousy-blonde hair cut in a bob, catlike green eyes, and a pointy nose. She's wearing a rather shabby, faux-medieval, peasant's dress]
TRIX: [extremely surprised] What the...?!
NARRATOR (v.o.): Trix?! What the- I mean, what on _Earth_...?
TRIX: Anji? What the hell's going on around here?
NARRATOR (v.o.): ...Oh no. The book.
TRIX: What book? What're you talking about?
NARRATOR (v.o.): ...I got it from the TARDIS library. I wanted to read Chloe a story. [sighs] You'd think I'd know better than to trust the TARDIS library by now...
TRIX: [decidedly unhappy] What's going on here, anyway?!
NARRATOR (v.o.): Um, well... from what Izzy tells me, once I open the book, it snatches those most appropriate for the part and pulls them into Story Space, complete with setting and everything... [considers] Which is probably not what you want to hear...
TRIX: [about to lose her temper] So how do I get _out_ of this?! [tugs at her dress]
NARRATOR (v.o.): Um, as far as I can tell... before you can leave, I have to finish telling the story...
TRIX: Oh my God... [grits teeth] Okay. What's the story?
NARRATOR (v.o.): "The Princess Bride".
TRIX: The... huh, sounds interesting. Always liked playing royalty... even if they do have names like "Buttercup". [looks up] So who's my Westley?
NARRATOR (v.o.): I'm just getting to that bit. [clears throat] Ahem. Buttercup's favourite pastimes were riding her horse and tormenting the farmboy that worked there. His name was Westley, but she never called him that.
[FITZ materialises in the stable doorway in the background. He's a few years older than TRIX, and a good few inches taller, with long shaggy brown hair, blue eyes, a long nose, and a couple of days' worth of stubble]
FITZ: [very startled] What the... [looks down at himself] Oh Hell, not _again_... [looks up] Anji, what the Hell do you think you're playing at?!
NARRATOR (v.o.): Ask Trix. [continues reading] Nothing gave Buttercup as much pleasure as ordering Westley around.
TRIX: [obviously enjoying herself] Farmboy, polish my horse's saddle. I want to see my face shining in it by morning.
FITZ: Yeah? Well, polish-
NARRATOR (v.o.): Uh-uh.
FITZ: Uh-uh? What do you mean, "uh-uh"?
NARRATOR (v.o.): I mean "no go", Fitz. I'm reading this to Chloe.
FITZ: ...Aheh. Um... Hey, Chloe!
CHLOE: [off-screen] Hi, Fitz! Are you and Trix okay in there?
FITZ: Oh yeah, doing great. [eyes TRIX] Just great.
CHLOE: [off-screen] I'm sorry, Fitz. I don't think Mum intended for this to happen, otherwise she wouldn't have started reading the book...
FITZ: [attempting to shrug it off] Eh, no problem, Chloe. Anji finishes the story, we get out of this place, and we can maybe settle down, have a chat... [pauses] Um, we do all get out of this, don't we?
NARRATOR (v.o.): Mostly. At least if the book is anything like the film...
FITZ: Mostly...? Anji, can I have a word, please? In private?
NARRATOR (v.o.): ...Okay.
[FITZ moves a little away from TRIX, just far enough so she can't hear. She raises an eyebrow, but says nothing]
FITZ: Okay, first off, I thought we agreed after "Grimm Reality" - no more fairy tales!
NARRATOR (v.o.): I know, I _know_... If I'd known this was going to happen...
FITZ: [remorselessly] Y'see, the thing about fairy tales and happy endings, the thing is... the amount of bloody _crap_ you have to get through to _get_ to the happy ending!
NARRATOR (v.o.): Well, look at it this way, Fitz. This time, you get to be the hero.
FITZ: Uh-huh. Y'see, the other thing about fairy tales is, it's usually the hero who gets the biggest pile of crap. Speaking of which... [lowers voice] _she's_ the heroine?
NARRATOR (v.o.): ...Yes.
FITZ: Anj, I had to spend six weeks pretending to be married to her. Six bloody weeks. I've had more pleasant torture sessions!
NARRATOR (v.o.): Don't look at me. You two wouldn't have been _my_ first choices either.
FITZ: [sighs] At least it's not drag... I'm still getting fanmail for 'Fitztiana', and _that_ was two years ago...
NARRATOR (v.o.): Ouch.
FITZ: Tell me about it. What _really_ scares me are the marriage proposals... [pulls himself together] Okay. Tell me this - do we end up married?
NARRATOR (v.o.): I think I can safely say you most definitely do _not_ end up married.
FITZ: ..._That's_ a relief.
CUT TO: Int,. Bedroom.
CHLOE: Um, could we get on with the story, please?
ANJI: Of course. Now, where were we.... ah. Ahem.
CUT TO: Ext,. Farm.
NARRATOR (v.o.): Nothing gave Buttercup as much pleasure as ordering Westley around.
TRIX: [somewhat bored] Farmboy, polish my horse's saddle. I want to see my face shining in it by morning.
FITZ: Um... [whispers to the NARRATOR] What's my line?
[TRIX raises an eyebrow]
NARRATOR (v.o.): "As you wish".
FITZ: As you wish.
[He watches as TRIX walks away, then sets to work]
NARRATOR (v.o.): "As you wish" was all he ever said to her.
FITZ: Well, _that's_ going to make conversations easier...
DISSOLVE TO: Ext., Farm.
[FITZ is chopping wood. TRIX drops two large buckets next to him]
TRIX: Farmboy, fill these with water... please. [turns to go]
FITZ: [eyeing her suspiciously] As you wish.
[TRIX stops and turns; FITZ manages to look away as her eyes stay on him]
NARRATOR (v.o.): That day, she was amazed to discover that when he was saying, "As you wish", what he meant was, "I love you".
FITZ: ...WHAT?! I mean... WHAT?!! Hold on a moment! I thought you said-
NARRATOR (v.o.): I said you don't get married at the end. I said nothing about whether you fell in love.
FITZ: [looks up at sky] Kill me now.
DISSOLVE TO: Int., Farm Kitchen, Dusk.
[TRIX is working in the kitchen. FITZ enters with an armful of firewood and unloads it, glancing nervously at TRIX all the while. TRIX's expression gives nothing away]
NARRATOR (v.o.): And even more amazing was the day she realized she truly loved him back.
TRIX: I'm sorry, farmboy, did you say something?
[FITZ shakes his head]
TRIX: Well, now you're here, fetch me that pitcher. [indicates a pitcher she could easily get herself]
FITZ: [mutters under breath] Get it yourself, you lazy cow...
TRIX: Hm? What was that, farmboy?
FITZ: [still muttering] All right, all right... [normal level] As you wish.
[He picks up the pitcher and hands it to TRIX; realises their hands are almost touching, and looks up into her eyes.
[There's a definite gleam in TRIX's eye, and a decidedly nervous look in FITZ's.
[He breaks contact and bolts out the door]
DISSOLVE TO: Ext., Westley's Hovel, Sunset.
[TRIX and FITZ are locked in a passionate kiss... well, passionate on _TRIX's_ part, at least. FITZ seems more interested in trying to escape]
CHLOE: [off-screen] They really kissed?
CUT TO: Int., Bedroom.
ANJI: [nods] Uh-huh.
CHLOE: Wow. I didn't think they liked each other like that... [blushes a little] Well, not yet, anyway.
ANJI: [tinysmiles] Neither did they.
CHLOE: So what happened after that?
ANJI: Let me see... Westley had no money for marriage, so he packed his few belongings and left the farm to seek his fortune across the sea.
CUT TO: Ext., Farm Gate.
[FITZ and TRIX are locked in another passionate embrace - well, as far as TRIX is concerned, anyway. FITZ, however, looks ready to do anything to get out of here, up to and including grievous bodily harm]
NARRATOR (v.o.): It was a very emotional time for Buttercup -
FITZ: [mutters] She's not the only one.
TRIX: [looking up into FITZ's eyes] I fear I will never see you again.
FITZ: [I should be so lucky] ...Of course you will.
TRIX: But what if something happens to you?
FITZ: Hear this now: I will come for you. [yeah, right]
TRIX: But how can you be sure?
FITZ: [gagging over the words] This is true love. You think this happens every day?
[He attempts a grin; TRIX responds with her own, sincere, smile, throws her arms tightly around him, and pulls him in for another kiss, before letting him go.
[She watches as he walks away]
NARRATOR (v.o.): Westley didn't reach his destination. His ship was attacked by the Dread Pirate Bond - Bond? Isn't it supposed to be Roberts? Hm. Well, the rest looks okay - who never left captives alive. When Buttercup got the news that Westley was murdered-
CHLOE: [off-screen, gasps] Murdered? But he's the hero! They can't do that!
CUT TO: Ext., Farm, Close-Up.
[TRIX is staring out the window of her room]
NARRATOR (v.o.): She went into her room and shut the door. And for days, she neither slept nor ate.
TRIX: [voice empty of all emotion] I shall never love again.
HOLD ON her face, perfect and perfectly sad.
CUT TO: Int., Bedroom.
CHLOE: ...Does she ever love again?
ANJI: Hold on, hold on. Let me read, okay?
DISSOLVE TO: Florin Castle, Day.
NARRATOR (v.o.): Five years later, the main square of Florin City was filled as never before to hear the announcement of the great Prince Zagreus's bride-to be- Zagreus? What the- Okay, something's _definitely_ wrong here. I thought it was supposed to be Humperdinck... [quietly, so CHLOE can't hear] _Please_, whoever wrote this, whatever you do, don't let this be the real Zagreus...
CUT TO: Castle Balcony.
[The EIGHTH DOCTOR stands by the balustrade. He's about FITZ's height, although he looks taller. His long brown hair tumbles almost to his shoulders, framing a long face, with eyes that seem to shift colour, from grey, to blue, to green.
[Standing behind him, to one side, are the FOURTH DOCTOR and ROMANA. The FOURTH DOCTOR is an elderly man with curly white hair, a long white beard, sparkling blue eyes and a toothy smile, while ROMANA is an elderly woman, with long white hair trailing down her back, framing a round face with blue eyes.
[Standing on the other side is KASTCHEI, a dark, imposing figure who looks to match the EIGHTH DOCTOR in strength. His dark hair is cut crewcut fashion, and he wears a pair of dark sunglasses which conceal his eyes.
[Trumpets blare as the EIGHTH DOCTOR steps forward to the balcony and raises his hands]
EIGHTH DOCTOR: My people ... a month from now, our country will have its 500th anniversary. On that sundown, I shall marry a lady who was once a commoner like yourselves -
- but perhaps you will not find her common now. Would you like to meet her?
CUT TO: Ext., Castle Staircase, and as a figure just begins to become visible-
CUT TO: Ext., Castle Courtyard, as the crowd sees the figure, and, collectively, holds their breath-
CUT TO: Ext., Castle Staircase, as the figure appears in the archway.
And she looks absolutely regal, every inch the princess.
EIGHTH DOCTOR: My people... the Princess Buttercup!
[TRIX descends the stairs and begins to move amongst the crowd.
[As she does so, the crowd does something very strange: without any instruction, they go to their knees, great waves of people kneeling.
[TRIX appears deeply moved by this. She stands immobile among the crowd, blinking back tears]
HOLD ON TRIX.
NARRATOR (v.o.): Buttercup's emptiness consumed her. Although the law of the land gave Zagreus the right to choose his bride, she did not love him.
CHLOE: [off-screen] She didn't?
NARRATOR (v.o.): She didn't.
CUT TO: Ext., Forest.
[TRIX is riding her horse through the forest, guiding it with impressive skill]
NARRATOR (v.o.): Despite Zagreus's reassurance that she would grow to love him, the only joy she found was in her daily ride.
CUT TO: Ext., Wooded Glen, Near Sundown.
[The glen is lovely, quiet, and quite deserted, at least at first glance.
[TRIX reins in]
Voice: A word, my lady?
[Two men and an Ice Warrior are standing close together on the path.
[As might be guessed, these three are not your standard commuter types.
[Standing in front is SABBATH, a large, heavily-built man who looks as if he could give Orson Welles or Alfred Hitchcock a run for their money. Beside him is CHANG LEE, a young Chinese man with curly black hair, holding himself straight and tall, and beside _him_ is SSARD, an Ice Warrior, who stands a good seven feet tall, his helm covering his head, leaving only his mouth and chin free.
[Off-screen, CHLOE eeps]
SSARD: [mutters] This is ridiculous.
NARRATOR (v.o.): ...Sabbath? Okay, now I _know_ something weird's going on.
SABBATH: To be perfectly honest, Miss Kapoor, I mislike the situation as much as you do - moreso, I suspect. And I assure you, neither I or my former associates are responsible for this.
Now, if we can kindly get on with the story, we can end this ...farce... as soon as possible and get on with our lives. Is that acceptable?
[The NARRATOR hesitates]
LEE: [hisses] _Anji!_
NARRATOR (v.o.): ...All right.
SABBATH: We are but poor, lost circus performers. Is there a village nearby?
NARRATOR (v.o.): "Circus performers"? Talk about "truth in advertising"...
SABBATH: Miss Kapoor...
NARRATOR (v.o.): Sorry, sorry...
TRIX: There is nothing nearby, not for miles.
SABBATH: Then no-one will be able to hear you scream.
[He nods to SSARD, who sighs, mutters something to himself about "mammals", reaches out, and grabs TRIX by the neck, rendering her unconscious. As she begins to fall-]
CUT TO: Ext., Florin Channel, Dusk.
[There's a sailboat moored in a tiny, concealed spot by the edge of the channel. CHANG LEE starts getting the boat ready as SSARD carries the unconscious TRIX on board. Meanwhile, SABBATH rips some tiny pieces of fabric from an army jacket and tucks them along the saddle of TRIX's horse]
LEE: What's that you're ripping?
SABBATH: [not stopping or turning] It's fabric from the uniform of an army officer of Guilder.
SABBATH: [points straight out] The country across the sea. The sworn enemy of Florin. [slaps the horse's rump] Go!
[The horse takes off, and the three head for the boat]
SABBATH: Once the horse reaches the castle, the fabric will make the Prince suspect the Guilderians have abducted his love. When he finds her body dead on the Guilder frontier, his suspicions will be totally confirmed.
NARRATOR (v.o.): Yep, it's a Sabbath plan.
CHLOE: [off-screen] He's not going to kill her, is he?
NARRATOR (v.o.): Shh.
SSARD: ...You said nothing about killing anyone.
[SABBATH gets on the boat, which creaks slightly]
SABBATH: We are going to start a war - and you would be surprised just how many times war can be used to enable matters to come to their proper conclusion. This certainly looks to be one of those times.
SSARD: Killing an innocent, unarmed girl is dishonourable - quite apart from the matter of starting a war under false pretences.
SABBATH: Oh, the strong silent one speaks. You were _not_ hired for your opinions, you walking handbag! [sighs] I should have got those apes. At least they don't talk back.
LEE: I'm with Ssard. This is _wrong_.
[SABBATH is getting calmer and calmer, becoming ever more terrifying as he does so]
SABBATH: Oh. The sot has spoken. What happens to her is not truly your concern - I will kill her - [quieter] And remember this - never forget this - [advances on LEE and SSARD. Nothing shows on SSARD's face, but LEE is looking more than a little panicked] When I found you, Lee, you were so slobbering drunk you couldn't even buy that pizzlewater you call beer - [rounds on SSARD] - and you, friendless, hopeless, helpless, with only your vaunted honour to keep you company - Do you want me to send you back to where you were, lost and alone in Greenland?
[SABBATH glares coldly at them, then turns and leaves. LEE lets out the breath he's been holding and turns to cast off, before turning back to SSARD]
LEE: _Man_, that guy can fuss...
SSARD: [just *looking* at LEE] Fuss. Fuss. [His expression never changes] I think he likes to scream at us.
LEE: [equally poker-faced] Probably he means no harm.
SSARD: He is very short on charm.
LEE: You've got a great gift for rhyme.
SSARD: [considers] Yes, some of the time.
SABBATH: Enough of that.
[We can still hear their voices as the boat sails into the distance]
LEE: Ssard, are there rocks ahead?
SSARD: [peering out] If there are, we are probably dead.
SABBATH: No more rhymes. I mean it.
LEE: [innocently] Anyone want a peanut?
DISSOLVE TO: Ext., the sailboat racing across the water, Night.
[LEE is at the helm. SABBATH sits motionless, whilst SSARD stands guard near TRIX's body; for a moment, her eyelids seem to flutter]
SABBATH: We shall reach the Cliffs by dawn.
[LEE nods, glances back]
SABBATH: Why are you doing that?
LEE: Making sure nobody's following us.
SABBATH: That would be inconceivable.
TRIX: [opens her eyes] Despite what you think, you will be caught. And when you are, the Prince will see you all hanged.
[SABBATH turns cold eyes on her]
SABBATH: Of all the necks on this boat, "Highness", the one you should be worrying about is your own.
[LEE keeps staring behind them]
SABBATH: Stop that. It's almost over, no-one could have followed us-
LEE: Are you sure?
SABBATH: As I told you, it would be inconceivable. No one in Guilder knows what we've done. And no one in Florin could have gotten here so fast. [pauses] Out of curiosity, why do you ask?
LEE: Oh, no reason. It's just I happened to look behind us, and something's out there.
[SABBATH, LEE and SSARD whirl to stare back.
[It's hard to see anything. The moon's behind the clouds. The wind whistles. The waves pound. And it's suddenly gone very, very ominous.
[SABBATH, LEE and SSARD continue squinting back, trying desperately to see.
[There's still nothing to be seen. It's still ominous, but now with a side of eerie to boot.
[Then the moon peeks through, and-
[-something is revealed.
[A sailboat. Black. With a great billowing sail. Also black.
[It's some distance behind them, but it's catching up fast.
[SABBATH, LEE and SSARD stare]
SABBATH: Hmm. This might be a concern.
LEE: Well, _duh!_
[There's a splash from behind them.
[They turn to see TRIX has jumped overboard and is swimming away.
SABBATH: Get after her!
SSARD: I don't swim.
LEE: I only do the doggy paddle.
SABBATH: Veer left.
[TRIX is still close to the boat, and switches strokes.
[As the wind dies, another sound becomes audible. A high-pitched shrieking sound, still some distance off.
[TRIX stops suddenly, treading water]
SABBATH: [voice carrying across the water] Do you know what that sound is, "Highness"? Those are the Shrieking Eels - if you doubt me, just wait. They always grow louder when they're about to feed on human flesh.
[TRIX keeps treading water; meanwhile, the shrieking sounds are getting louder and more terrifying]
SABBATH: If you swim back now, I promise, no harm will come to you. I doubt you will get such an offer from the Eels.
[The shrieking sounds are getting even louder now, but TRIX stays completely silent.
[Something huge and dark slithers past behind her.
[Still no sound from TRIX, but a Shrieking Eel is beginning to home in on her-
[-and TRIX is very, very still, trying not to make any sort of movement-
[-and the Eel is closer, closer, closer... it's on her now, opens its mouth wide, and as it's about to bite down-]
NARRATOR (v.o.): She doesn't get eaten by the Eels.
CUT TO: Int., Bedroom.
CHLOE: [tight grip on her bedsheets] What?
ANJI: She doesn't get eaten by the Eels.
CHLOE: [confused] How do you know?
ANJI: [looking a tad embarrassed] I looked ahead.
ANJI: Do you want me to stop?
CHLOE: [shakes her head "no"] No. Read the story. [She grips her bedsheets even tighter]
CUT TO: Ext., Florin Channel, Night.
[TRIX is frozen, the Shrieking Eel's jaws are wide, ready to bite down, and-
[SSARD reaches out, knocks the Eel cold, and lifts TRIX back onto the boat]
SABBATH: Just put her down. Put her down.
[SSARD mutters something about "idiot humans" as he sets TRIX down; it's unclear whether he's talking about TRIX, SABBATH, or both]
LEE: [looking out behind them] I think he's getting closer.
SABBATH: [tying TRIX's hands] Sail on! We shall see if he proves a concern. [to TRIX] I suppose you think you're brave, don't you?
TRIX: [staring deeply at him] Only compared to some.
Copyright 2003 Imran Inayat.