Author's Note & Disclaimer:

O.K., this is a little oneshot fic that I've just found at the bottom of my drawer that I figure was written around when I was thirteen. So looking back now, it's pretty bad...but I just thought I ought to do something with it, so here it is for your reading pleasure! It was for a school assignment at the time - we were studying The Princess Bride at school in English. So I know what my teachers think of it...the questions remains, what do YOU think? In other words, if you read it, please leave a review! Just to let me know you care...or don't...or whatever. It's word-for-word exactly how I wrote it when I was 13, though, so I already know about the atrocious grammar, overuse of words, etc.

And I don't own Westley, Buttercup, Inigo, Fezzick or the Rodent of Unusual Size.

This picks up right where the movie finished.

Across the dark, deserted courtyard of the Royal Palace of Florin, four horses galloped, ridden by four very different people. A young lady, fair-haired and blue-eyed, her golden hair streaming out behind her in the wind, rode side-by-side on a beautiful snow-white horse with a young man with sandy-coloured, wind-ruffled hair and sea-grey eyes. Following them were a tall, lean, dark-haired man and an absolute giant of a man with brown, curly hair, whose horse was straining under his massive weight.

As they headed away from the palace and along the edge of the dark, gloomy forest, a thought began to dawn on the dark-haired man, whose name was Inigo.

"Hey, I just thought - where are we going to spend the night?" he asked the young couple, a thick Spanish accent lacing his voice. The young couple, whose names were Westley and Buttercup, seemed not to hear the actual question.

"Does it matter?" Westley answered, gazing with an enraptured expression at Buttercup. Buttercup smiled back at her long-lost lover.

"Now that we have each other, nothing else matters," she replied.

Behind their backs, hearing this romantic little dialogue, Inigo and the giant, Fezzick, were pulling disgusted faces.

"He has a point, you know," Fezzick interrupted. Inigo looked at him in surprise - recognizing another's intelligent suggestion was not usually Fezzick's strong point.

"I think there's an old abandoned cottage around here somewhere," Fezzick continued, surprising Inigo even more - Fezzick actually making intelligent suggestions was even rarer!

"Well then, lead the way, old friend!" Inigo exclaimed. He then looked ahead to Buttercup and Westley, who were not paying the slightest attention, lost in each other's eyes.

"Hey - you lovebirds up there!" Inigo yelled up to them. "Fezzick reckons there's a place nearby we can spend the night." They turned around, and all three followed Fezzick, who trotted his horse straight into the growing gloom of the dark, mysterious forest. Buttercup hesitated slightly - she had had previous bad experience of shadowy-looking forests - but at a reassuring look from Westley, her doubts were forgotten. She threw her shining hair over her shoulder and quickly caught up to the others, who were disappearing into a thick fog that had begun to settle.

As the moon rose higher in the sky, it illuminated strange, glowing, silver mosses and lichens on the trees.

"What are they?" Buttercup wondered, gazing around at them.

"Moonlight mosses," Westley and Inigo replied simultaneously.

"Wouldn't touch them if I were you," Inigo warned her.

The group continued in silence through the trees, Fezzick in the lead, until suddenly he came to a halt. A rustle came from the bushes to the left of them, breaking the unearthly silence, and Inigo instinctively drew his long, slender, silver sword, which flashed in the moonlight. Buttercup drew close to Westley, who had no sword, dressed still in the clothes he had been wearing when he was carried from the Pit of Despair only earlier that day.

As they watched the place where the noise had come from, a long snout appeared, snuffling around in the dried leaves covering the ground. This snout was followed by a hairy, brown muzzle, armed with two sharp, pointed yellow teeth and two shining, black, beady eyes.

Fezzick rolled up his sleeves. Inigo watched the creature alertly, sword held out in front. Buttercup gripped Westley's arm, both of them recognizing the rodent to be the same kind of creature as the one they had met in the treacherous Fire Swamp. As the rest of its furry body emerged from the undergrowth, Buttercup had to stifle a scream - this one was nearly twice the size of the one which had attacked them before! It snorted and snuffled, moving slowly along the edge of the path, appearing not to notice the group, which had frozen on the spot.

Suddenly, it seemed to sense something, and pointed its nose straight up in the air, sniffing loudly. Slowly, it turned around, and then launched itself at Westley, with a speed that was surprising for a creature of its size.

The suddenness of the attack startled Westley, and he yelled and fell back against a tree. Buttercup gasped, and was about to run to him, but Fezzick stopped her with one dinner-plate sized hand on her shoulder. While she struggled, Inigo jumped quickly forward and drove his sword through the giant rat's furry body. It froze, twitched slightly, and fell still.

Inigo then turned back to the others. Westley was struggling to stand by the tree, where he had been temporarily stunned by his fall.

"I'm all right," he reassured them, using Fezzick's arm to pull himself to his feet.

"No you're not," Inigo replied quietly.

"What?" Westley demanded. "Really, I'm..." He looked down at his arm, where a patch of the glistening moonlight moss glowed faintly on his bare arm, and said a word that he had probably learned during his days as the Dread Pirate Roberts.

Fezzick's hand loosened its grip on Buttercup, and she made a move to go to him, but was stopped again by a snapped,

"Don't touch him," from Inigo.

"Why not?" Buttercup demanded. "What's wrong? What is that...moonlight moss?"

"It only lives in this forest," Inigo explained. "It is only visible when the moon is up - for that is when it is active, and deadly."

"Deadly?" Buttercup shrieked, panicking. "Westley! My love! You can't leave me again!"

Inigo silenced her with a raised hand.

"There is still a chance," he continued. "Only exposure to the moonlight will allow it to feed and grow. As long as Westley remains in the shadow until we can wash it off him, he will survive." He beckoned for the others to follow him, and set off quickly through the trees, all glad of the shadow the surrounding canopy of forest provided.

However, as the moon rose higher into the sky, shadows became fewer and fewer, until they were standing at the edge of a wide, moonlit, grassy clearing, in the shade of the trees. At the other end, under a high cliff, the reflection of the moon could be seen in clear, round pool of water.

"How do we get across?" Buttercup wondered. Inigo removed his jacked and held it over Westley's head, quickly making sure it would protect Westley's arm, shoulders and back, all of which were covered in the strange moonlight moss, before they both began to make their way slowly across the clearing.

To Buttercup, the clearing seemed to stretch on forever. Every step took a minute, every minute became an hour, and the life-saving pond never seemed to get any nearer. Keeping her eyes on Westley, though, she never noticed a sharp rock poking up above the ground, half-concealed by the ankle-deep grass. Inigo, in front of her, stepped over it, but just a few steps behind, Buttercup failed to avoid it. Her toe caught just on the edge of it and, with a yelp, she toppled forwards onto Inigo, who yelled something in Spanish and fell over. Fezzick and Westley both made a grab for the jacket, but it dropped to the ground and light fell upon Westley.

He screamed, and the moss's glow became so bright that just looking at it was almost unbearable. Gradually, the scattered patches and spots of it grew and spread over his body, creeping up his arm, across his chest and down the other arm, moving slowly down his body and spreading up over his face, until his whole form was enveloped in the bright silver light, and just his eyes could be seen, which were wide with shock.

At that point, Buttercup could bear it no longer. She pushed past Fezzick and Inigo, and made a grab for Westley.

"No!" she screamed, her hand closing around his arm. At once, the moss began making its way up her arm.

Just then, an unbelievable bright light shone out across the clearing from the trees - all the other moonlight moss throughout the forest had lit up, until the light became so bright that Inigo and Fezzick had to screw their eyes tight shut and cover their faces with their arms.

When they dared to open their eyes again, minutes later, there was no sign of Buttercup or Westley. The moon was behind a cloud, and all that could be seen were two patches of moonlight moss, growing on the ground by their feet.


By Aietradaea