Humperdinck looked into his bathroom mirror and reached up with the fingers of one hand to touch the greying sides of his hair. Well, it was about time. Over nine hundred years had passed since the fateful day that the prince had caught up to his fiancee, Buttercup, and her love as they had left the Fire Swamp. The naive girl had actually offered surrender in exchange for Humperdinck's promise not to harm her precious Westley! Without hesitation, and with even less sincerity, he had offered that promise with the vow: "May I live a thousand years, and never hunt again!"

Prince Humperdinck had never believed in magic, as his father and mother had - part of the reason he had fired that ridiculous old "miracle man". So he had never dreamed that when he broke that vow, he would actually be held accountable by his own oath.

He had married again, of course, shortly after his fiancee and her odd little group of rescuers had escaped from Florin. It was his duty, after all, to produce an heir - and he certainly hadn't pined after any lost love of Buttercup, whose death he had plotted from the beginning. He had never been able to bring himself to hunt anyone or anything from then on, however, and it was also not so many years before he realized that he had stopped aging. That would never do for such a public figure as Florin's prince and later king, so he had found creative ways to disguise his youth and make it seem, through devious forms of makeup, that he actually was growing older. A task that might have been made easier with the help of his closest friend, Tyrone, who he sorely missed. Nevertheless, Humperdinck was able to do a more than adequate job of it on his own.

It had not taken him long to work out why he had stopped aging, or why he could no longer hunt. He was not stupid. Foolish, possibly; cowardly, certainly - but Humperdinck had a good mind, even sharper than his eyes, and he had always taken great pleasure in using it. Denied his previously much loved sport of hunting, Humperdinck could no longer hunt man or animal. So, he had had much time to examine himself instead, and had grown considerably as a person in the process over the years.

When his queen finally grew old and died, and King Humperdinck judged his eldest son ready to assume the throne, he faked his own death as well and fled from the land of his royal birth. He had travelled across the sea to his enemy land of Gilder to see if he could cause them some mischief during his next "lifetime", and made a life for himself there in the guise of a peasant.

To his surprise, although Humperdinck had meant to keep to himself socially beyond what was needed for his presence in Gilder to be believable, he found that his peasant neighbors were warm and welcoming as a whole. A few of them even made themselves good friends of his in spite of all his original intentions, and Humperdinck slowly grew to see the people of Gilder not as faceless enemy pieces from a strategy war game, but as a good people. He was only sorry that Tyrone had never lived long enough to reach the same conclusion - although, who knew what thoughts went through the mind of a dying man?

After a few years, he gave up his plans to cause the country any mischief, and only after the last of his closest friends in Gilder had aged and died did he move on to his next "life". In fact, after his experience in Gilder, something told Humperdinck to stay out of politics and war altogether from then on. He was too far beyond his natural time - it simply wasn't his fight anymore.

His propensity for avoiding traps had also allowed him to avoid being drafted even once during the many wars that had occured in the world during his extended lifespan. In that way, he was able to continue moving quietly from life to assumed life without getting overly involved in the quickly progressing world, until he found himself, over nine hundred years later, in an upscale apartment building in New York City, New York, United States of America. At times, he was almost wistful for the simpler place names of his own time, such as his own homeland of Florin. Now, there was a beautiful name, lyrical but to the point!

Nevertheless, his strange travels had found him here, and finally - finally! - his hair was just beginning to grey. His unbelievable sentence for breaking his vow was almost over. He would now, presumably, age at a normal rate and be able to live out the rest of his natural life in the customary fashion.

Maybe he would finally propose to Julie. As people said these days, 'there's no time like the present.'

Besides, he thought with a rueful smirk at his reflection, perhaps he was finally old enough to be in a real relationship.