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The Pirate Bachelorette

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The tale of the sixth Dread Pirate Roberts, who had the distinction of being the first female to hold the title and was sometimes known as Ines Montoya, begins with her passing out.

It doesn't really, of course. That's no sort of a beginning for anything. Properly speaking it begins with her birth—or perhaps her conception, or perhaps the lineage of her family if you're really interested in that sort of thing (Montoya swordsmiths on her father's side, Arabellan farmers on her mother's; there, now you know), but the point is that the interesting bits of her life up to this point have already been fairly well chronicled. If you haven't had the opportunity to read them, I suggest you find yourself a copy of The Princess Bride by S. Morgenstern. The Cordeiro translation is good. Avoid Goldman's abridged version, he cuts out all the sociopolitical commentary and sacrifices any sense of context in order to just pack the action in there as tightly as possible, which is honestly emblematic of the direction that all of our entertainment is going these days, but I digress.

While you're waiting for the Morgenstern to come in, what you need to know is this:

We rejoin our heroine as she and her companions are riding for their lives on four white horses purloined from Prince Humperdinck's stable. Thus far Ines' day has included, among other things: waking up drunk, forgoing food in favor of more brandy, being forcefully revived by Fezzik, scrounging a miracle, storming a castle, killing quite a few guards, a footrace, getting stabbed in the gut and both shoulders, fighting and killing a master swordsman in that condition, jumping out a window, and finally a long panicked gallop to put some space between them and any pursuit.

Ines has, in fact, never fainted from blood loss before this point. Generally speaking, there are only a handful of people in the world who are skilled enough with a blade to cut her at all, and even fewer who can do so in a dangerous fashion. Still, the signs are not hard to read. Her left hand is soaked in blood where she's trying to hold all the inside parts of herself in place without actually thinking about what she's touching. The jouncing, rattling step of her horse goes quickly from agony to white-hot torture and then just as suddenly becomes very remote. It's difficult to focus on keeping her seat, though she knows she has to.

Just because Ines has never fainted from blood loss doesn't mean she's never fainted at all. There were times in her youth when she trained herself to exhaustion, and more recently bouts of drunken stupor that ended in an almost graceful slip from consciousness. The body has a way of conveying these things, if only to say maybe we'd better sit down.. Ines' vision seems to have narrowed down to her horse's forelock. She's dimly aware that this is a bad thing.

"Fezzik," she manages, "you'd better-"

catch me is what she means to say, but the world folds gently into darkness before she can get the words out.

 

For a long time after that she only regains consciousness in brief slips and flashes, just enough to understand that she is unwell and being cared for. When she finally opens her eyes for long enough to take in her surroundings she's lying on a pallet in a small room she doesn't recognize, sunlight and the smell of farm flooding through an open window on her right. Across the room Fezzik appears to be washing clothes in a large tub of water. He looks peaceable enough, so either they're safe or they're so thoroughly captured that it's no use trying to do anything about it. Not that there's a lot she could do; she feels as weak as a newborn kitten. She lifts the blanket and her shirt to find that her torso is securely wrapped in clean white bandages, though she has no memory of the wound being dressed. The movement catches Fezzik's eye.

"Ines! Are you awake?"

"I appear to be." She struggles to sit up and Fezzik comes to help her, drying his hands on his trousers with a frown.

"You should take it easy, you were hurt very badly."

"I'm fine," she says. Together they get her sitting and Fezzik pats her heavily on the back, beaming.

"I guess you are!"

"What happened? Where are we?"

"What happened is you fell off your horse. You didn't tell us you were hurt so bad."

Ines shrugs, then regrets it- right, stabbed in both shoulders.

"There didn't see to be anything to do about it at the time."

"Well, you gave me a scare."

"I'm sorry. That wasn't...fair," she says, to get the smile back on his face. It works.

"You frightened the mare," he offers after a moment's consideration. She's so damn glad he's back. She'd begun to think they would never see each other again, getting drunk in the Thieves' Forest day after day with no sign of Vizzini. When she was sober enough to reason she'd wondered if her defeat by the man in black meant that Vizzini had no more use for her, if she would languish there forever until she could no longer lift her sword and the six-fingered man would go forever unpunished.

She's thinking up another rhyme when the door opens and the princess appears. Well, maybe not the princess anymore; she's wearing a simple homespun dress, jewelry gone and hair tied back. None of it makes her any less beautiful.

"Ines!" she says brightly, closing the door and coming to sit on the edge of the pallet. "I was hoping you'd wake today. Your fever broke in the night, so I thought you might. How are you feeling?"

"A little like the way your Westley looked when we found him. And I could really use a drink."

"No drink," says Fezzik. "You're always saying how it slows down your sword."

She looks at him. Fezzik had been the first person in a long, long time to think that she was worthwhile. Vizzini had thought that she was good for something, and that was important too, important to have a use and a purpose, but for some reason Fezzik had decided that even without her sword she was someone good. It isn't so hard to say,

"All right, no drink." To distract herself from wanting it, she adds, "I had a fever?"

"Infection," Fezzik tells her, gesturing at her well-wrapped belly.

"You probably wouldn't have survived at all if we hadn't taken you straight to Miracle Max," Buttercup adds. "None of us had any money, of course, so he wouldn't heal you all the way, but he gave us a discount job in exchange for Westley reenacting his encounter with Humperdinck. That's why you've been asleep nearly ten days. You should be just about recovered, but apparently the fast-acting stuff is what's really expensive, so he wouldn't speed it up any more than that."

"Ten days?" cries Ines. "We've been sitting here for ten days? Where is here, anyway? Why hasn't Humperdinck caught us? Isn't he supposed to be the world's greatest tracker?"

"Easy," says Fezzik, pressing a quelling hand to her shoulder when she tries to scramble out of bed. It's Fezzik; she stays quelled. "I'll get you some lunch while the lady tells you about it, that'll make you feel better."

Ines is abruptly aware that she's starving. Ten days without solid food goes a long way toward explaining how weak she feels.

"Thank you," she says, sitting back against the pillow. Fezzik nods approvingly and goes to busy himself with the little cooking fire.

"First of all, there's no need to worry about Prince Humperdinck," says Buttercup. "It turns out that his plan all along was to murder me on our wedding night and use it to start a war with Guilder. Westley and I talked it over and we realized that no one actually saw what happened, so we sent him a message saying that if he promised not to chase us down we'd promise not to show our faces ever again, and he could go on with his war however he liked. I think he was quite shaken by the death of Count Rugen, actually, to give up the chase like that. The official story is that Guilderian assassins killed me on our wedding night and that the prince only survived because Rugen heroically sacrificed his own life to save him. I hope that doesn't bother you?"

Ines thinks about it. She doesn't particularly like the idea of the six-fingered man being called a hero, but more important than that is the memory of the naked fear on his face, the way he'd begged under her blade. She decides that she can live with the lie if it means she doesn't have to look over her shoulder for Humperdinck for the rest of her days.

"I wanted his life, not his reputation," she tells Buttercup. "All the martyrdom in the world won't make him breathe again. That is good enough for me."

"I'm glad. We're all eager to hear that story, whenever you're up to telling it."

Ines has a feeling she'll never tire of remembering Rugen's death. "I'd be happy to," she says, "but first, will someone please explain to me where I am?"

"Oh, I'm sorry! This is the farm where Westley used to work, before he came to us. His parents were farmhands here. He was born right in this room, actually." Buttercup looks around with a rapturous expression that definitely isn't deserved by the little one-room hut with its dirt floor and scant furniture. That's true love for you. It makes even shitholes seem glamorous, just by association.

"Does he own it now?" asks Ines, a little confused.

"Oh, no, but it's the only place any of us could think of where we wouldn't be found immediately. The owners always liked Westley, they only turned him out after his parents died because there was a terrible blight that year and there were barely enough crops to support the family, never mind an orphan farm boy, and no work to do anyway. They were glad enough to hear he'd survived. I gave them my earrings and necklace in exchange for letting us stay here for a while, and Westley patched up the worst of the leaks before he left."

"Left?" Ines feels like she's only actually catching half of Buttercup's happy chatter. The smell of whatever Fezzik's started heating over the fire is more distracting than she ever would have believed food could be.

"Oh, yes, there's only so long you can leave a pirate ship without a captain before somebody tries to mutiny. He's gone to settle things on the Revenge, at least for a little while. He should be back by the time you're all the way healed again, and then we can leave."

"Where are you going?"

"Well, we thought it was probably best not to stay in Florin, just in case Humperdinck's war doesn't keep him as busy as he thought it would and he decides to hunt us down after all. We do have those four lovely horses that Fezzik, found, though-"

"The farmers said they could stay in the barn for a while," notes Fezzik happily, stirring something in a little iron pot. Ines' stomach rumbles.

"-so I was thinking that maybe we'd use them to start a little ranch somewhere," Buttercup finishes. "They're really very fine breeding stock, you know."

"Oh," says Ines, a little unsure of how to respond to that flood of information.

"I think it'll be quite lovely," says Buttercup. "Which reminds me, Westley said to ask you when you woke up...were you serious about giving piracy a try?"

 

Ines knows how to sail, but it turns out there's much more to piracy than that. There are a lot of specific vocabulary, to start with, flags to learn, currents and weather patterns and shipping routes to memorize, ports friendly and not so friendly to navigate, a complex hierarchy the crew will expect to adhere to, and Westley insists that a basic knowledge of semaphore is really invaluable. Ines has never been a particularly quick learner, but she's a stubborn one; once she manages to fight a new piece of knowledge into her brain it sticks there for good. She sails under Westley's command for two months. They leave Buttercup and Fezzik fencing off the new ranch, purchased with Buttercup's crown once they'd gotten far enough away to risk selling it without raising too many questions.

When the two months are up Westley gives her a chest filled with charts and his three remaining all-black outfits. They're a little tight in the hips and a little loose in the shoulders, but it'll do for now. Fezzik follows her off the ranch like it had never occurred to him to do anything else, despite his fondness for the horses and the friendship he's struck up with Buttercup, and Ines has to stop and adjust her mask unnecessarily so that her eyes will clear enough to see the road.

Being the Dread Pirate Roberts is wonderful. Ines hadn't been lying when she told Westley that twenty years in the revenge business had left her at loose ends; she'd almost forgotten what it's like to just live for the sake of being alive in the world with all its strange people and places, discovering new things, doing what she likes. Some of the merchants they draw alongside don't believe that the Dread Pirate Roberts could be a woman, but the wonderful thing about the no survivors policy is that there's no real solid information about the Revenge, only rumor, so no one can disprove it either.

Ines doesn't much care. Whether they believe or not doesn't change the value of the gold and goods she takes from them, or the quality of the ships she sometimes strips and resells when she can be bothered to. If she's not in the mood for an argument she lets Fezzik yell the challenge, I am the Dread Pirate Roberts, there will be no survivors! That's generally much more effective.

 

They've been sailing for nearly a year when the no survivors policy first comes up against a bit of a hitch. The crew of the fat merchant ship they're raiding falls easily enough, but it turns out that in addition to their cargo they're also transporting a nobleman and his wife to a new home in Italy. The first Ines learns of this is when the esteemed gentleman backs himself into the captain's cabin with a knife to the neck of her wide-eyed cook. She really needs to give the support staff more fencing lessons before she allows them to come with the boarding party.

"Come any closer and I'll kill him!" shouts the man, somewhat unnecessarily, when Ines has been summoned from where she was inspecting the cargo hold.

"I had a feeling you'd say that," she tells him. The crew are gathering behind her and she has to find a way out of this, but she really has no idea what it is. She's fast, but the nobleman's in tight enough quarters that there's no way she'll get to him before he slits her cook's throat, and she is rather fond of the boy; that's how he talked his way into the raiding party in the first place.

"What do you want?" she asks, mostly playing for time. This is the kind of thing she needed Vizinni for. He would have known how to make the man stand down and made him look like a fool at the same time, but Ines has never had a head for strategy and she knows it.

"Unhand my wife," demands the man. Ines follows his gesture- made with the hand not holding the knife, unfortunately- to a woman kneeling behind her at swordpoint. She's wearing a dress and doesn't seem to be armed.

"All right," says Ines.

"What, really?"

"What can I say, I'm a generous soul." Her crew put up their swords at her nod, and one of them offers an arm to help the lady to her feet. Ines turns back to the nobleman.

"Now may I have my cook back?"

"What? No!"

"We've unhanded your wife," Ines points out, deciding not to mention that no one was technically handing her in the first place. Swording, maybe, but not handing.

"Now get off the ship!" says the man.

"...No."

"I'll kill him if you don't!"

"Then he will be dead, and there will be nothing to stop us from killing you," says Ines patiently. She's beginning to think that this man is less of a strategist than she is, and that's saying something.

"We appear to be at an impasse."

"Oh for goodness' sake," puts in the woman, and Ines turns to see her grab a discarded rapier from the deck and dart to her husband's side. Damn.

"This is what's going to happen," she says. "You are going to lower one of the ship's longboats, I know it has them, and fill it with enough food and water for two people to make it back to the mainland. Then you are going to stand aside as all three of us get in it, or else the person who isn't climbing at the moment is going to slice the throat of your cook here. Then you are going to sail away, and when you're at a good enough distance we'll let your man here jump over the side and swim back to you. Understood?"

That can't possibly make sense. There's no way a longboat with two rowers could outpace the Revenge, that must be obvious. Ines can't figure out what the woman thinks will stop her from coming back and killing them later. She must be missing something; next time they change out the crew she's got to get someone clever on board to deal with this type of thing.

"Understood?" repeats the woman, bringing the rapier up to the cook's throat. He whimpers a little. She's obviously never handled a blade before, but that doesn't matter very much in a situation like this.

"Do as she says," Ines tells her crew. They mutter a little, but ready one of the longboats. The couple and their hostage walk slowly over, the cook first with the man's knife at his back, followed by the woman waving her stolen rapier erratically. Ines is still trying to figure out what she's missed when the woman turns abruptly and stabs her husband between the ribs with what looks like all her strength.

The cook takes advantage of the situation to sprint for the other side of the ship. Otherwise, everyone is frozen in shock. The man's body hits the deck with a dull thud.

"Ugh, good riddance," says the woman, and kicks him in the side with one of her pointy silver shoes. "Pig."

There is a long silence.

"You've lost your leverage," Ines points out after a moment, tilting her head toward where the cook is huddling behind Fezzik.

"Oh, like you weren't going to kill us once we were in the longboat anyway," says the woman. "There was never any way for us to get out of this alive. I just wanted to be the one to kill him, you can't imagine how many nights I've spent dreaming of it. People tend to frown on that sort of thing, though. But, I thought, if we're to be murdered by pirates anyway that does somewhat alleviate the worry of gossiping neighbors, and I had always wanted to put a knife through his heart. I'm glad I had a chance to do it before I died."

At the end of this astonishing speech she raises her hands and waits.

There is another silence.

"Ines," says Fezzik worriedly, "I don't think we should kill the lady."

Ines was born on a farm poorer than Buttercup's, and she isn't even ranked in the top one thousand most beautiful women in the world (after that they stop counting), so there had been no prince to pluck her up out of the rocky Spanish countryside and make her great. She's never been a lady, she never will be one, and she doesn't have any particular feelings on ladyship in general. What she does have is a sword. There had been a great many years when she'd survived on prize money from dueling while she searched for the six-fingered man, and the men who refused to fight her on principle meant she sometimes had to go without supper or a roof over her head for the night. She rather hates the notion that fighting with women isn't appropriate just because of their sex.

However, she does have a highly developed sense of honor- it's hard to pursue a revenge quest for twenty years without one- and honor tells her that it is unjust to kill someone who has no weapon, no training, and no fault in the matter. Ines always figures that anyone they ambush knew the risks when they undertook to sail in these waters, but it seems unlikely that the woman had much say in departing for Italy with her husband.

"You know we can't let her go," she tells Fezzik, but even as she says it an idea comes to her. A memory, more accurately—Westley's story of how the previous Dread Pirate Roberts had spared his life. She could use someone on board who know how to think on their feet. Technically, no survivors means that no one can set foot on land claiming that the Dread Pirate Roberts spared their life. They don't actually have to be dead.

"I'll offer you a deal," says Ines. "If you don't want to die right here, right now, you can sign on to the Revenge and sail with us. I can't have you telling people I let you live, though, so even if we dock you stay on board and talk to no one. You want something from the port, one of us will buy it."

"Sounds better than death," says the woman. Then she cocks her head and smiles. "And better than most of my life, actually."

"I might still change my mind and kill you later."

"If you teach me to fight, it could even be a fair duel instead of an execution."

It would hardly be fair, even with years of training, but Ines admires the sentiment.

"What's your name?" she asks.

"Florianna," says the woman. Ines sheathes her sword and extends a hand to shake.

"Ines, otherwise known as the Dread Pirate Roberts. But you may as well get used to calling me Captain."

 

Anna, who's almost as happy to be rid of the first two syllables of her name as she is to be rid of her husband, takes to pirating immediately. She's a hard worker and cleverer by half than pretty much anyone else on the ship, and Ines gets so used to relying on her advice that it very quickly becomes frustrating to leave her behind every time they actually see action. The rest of the crew could use a bit of polish on their swordsmanship as well, really, so Ines takes on some extra food and water, digs out one of Westley's old charts that she'd scribbled her own notes over, and decides it's paid holiday time.

She steers them toward a little island south of Guilder. Nobody's ever gotten around to naming it, probably because nobody's ever gotten around to noticing it; Ines only saw it because they'd been blown off the usual shipping routes by a nasty three-day storm some months before. It's just a little narrow spit of land, a wide sandy beach and thick shady forest barely rising out of a long stretch of shoals. They anchor the Revenge and row the longboats in, and even then it gets shallow enough that they have to get out and wade the last bit.

Ines keeps them there for three weeks. They drill swordplay up and down the beach in the mornings and evenings, retreat into the trees at midday to avoid the sun, and spend their nights making bonfires and telling old stories. The island turns out to provide a generous amount of fruit, provided someone can scramble up the appropriate tree without breaking their neck, and one or two of the crew get creative with some spare netting and mange to catch at least a few of the thousands of fish that swirl through the shallows. It's all rather more comfortable than life at sea; Ines is a little worried that she's going to have trouble getting the crew back to the ship.

Men who sign on to pirate crews are generally looking for either fortune or adventure, though, and neither of those is to be found on the island after it's been thoroughly explored. The Revenge does sail again. Ines continues the fencing practices, making Anna complain about having to relearn everything to compensate for the pitch and roll of the deck, but everyone slowly and steadily improves. They stop relying on Ines' skill quite so much when boarding a ship. After a few years the rumors start spreading and every so often they'll get a hopeful in port who doesn't care about fortune or adventure at all, just wants a chance to train up their swordsmanship. Ines usually takes them on. It turns out that she isn't much of a teacher herself- geniuses often aren't, lacking the ability to comprehend not understanding their particular field by instinct- but by then there are other members of the crew happy to step into the role. Eventually her first mate retires and opens a fencing studio in Greece; she drops him off with good wishes and a few extra chests of gold to start him out, and promotes Anna to take his place.

There's one other interesting thing that happens as the years pass: Ines starts accumulating women.

It happens slowly, but every once in a while they'll run across another situation like the one Anna was in. Often it's wives packed along with their husbands or daughters with their fathers like so much baggage on an overseas voyage. Once they raid a ship with three slaves on board, all of whom would rather sail with the Revenge than risk the mainland with the brands they carry. Another time there's a princess being escorted to a political marriage in another country. They actually get hired to attack that ship, which means payment from the saboteur in addition to seizing the girl's considerable dowry, and makes Ines think of Vizinni for the first time in years. The contract doesn't say the princess has to die, though, just that she can't reach her destination, and Ines still doesn't think highly of killing someone who can't fight back and clearly didn't want to be there anyway.

The problem is that she set a precedent with the whole Anna situation. The crew begins to swell with enthusiastic but untrained women, to the point where Ines starts purposefully leaving them a little shorthanded against the inevitability of picking up another stray. They're all bound to keep the "no survivors" pretence going, so whenever the Revenge docks they have a little onboard holiday while the rest of the crew gets shore leave. As far as Ines can tell they mostly get drunk and play extremely high-stakes card games with their shares of the plunder. She'd worry about a mutiny if it were any other group, but even the women who aren't the most skilled of pirates- not all of them take to it as naturally as Anna, to be sure- are still the most loyal of all her crew.

She starts to get a little lenient. The next acquisition is a veteran ship's cook who definitely chose to sail of her own free will despite the risks, but Ines' last real cook decided the pirate life wasn't for him and fled the second they made land after the hostage incident. They've been making due with a general rota for meals ever since, and the results are less than inspiring. They retain the cook. After that it's a fourteen-year-old cabin "boy" in a truly terrible disguise. She's actually halfway decent with a sword and honestly thrilled about sailing, which definitely takes her out of the usual rescue category, but Fezzik picks her up gently by the back of the shirt and presents her to Ines, legs kicking futilely in all directions.

"Come on, Ines, we could use a cabin boy," says Fezzik.

"We've never had one before, and I've certainly never felt the lack," she tells him. "What does a cabin boy even do?"

"I don't know! But we could find out."

"Oh, fine. Put her down before she hurts herself."

The final straw comes in the fourth year of Ines' tenure as the Dread Pirate Roberts. It's a muggy, still afternoon, the sun beating down and barely a breath of wind to stir the sails. The Revenge is a beauty of a ship, though, and a breath of wind is enough for them to overtake a becalmed Moroccan merchant and swarm on board. It's a good enough fight, but they prevail in short order; it's hard to stand against Ines' crew these days.

She's taking stock of their injuries- three, and only one that looks serious at first glance- when word comes that she's wanted belowdecks, which means Anna's found something on mop-up. When faced with the oncoming Revenge most sailors will fight like wild things, knowing the only other option is death, but every once in a while someone will try to hide. Ines really isn't sure why. At least there's some honor in death by combat.

She's hoping that Anna's just found some interesting cargo, but no such luck. Her first mate is facing off warily against a tall man wielding an ornate short sword. The first thing Ines notices is that the sword is both well-made and well-kept, and showy enough that it must have some value as an ornament or a status symbol as well as a weapon. The second thing she notices is that there are three children huddled behind him. The youngest can't be older than six. The oldest is a girl with neat braids and a red dress, maybe ten or so, standing defiantly in front of her brothers. The two of them look terrified, but the girl is glaring past her father, nothing on her face but pure fury.

Ines puts a hand on the wall to steady herself. She's abruptly back on the rocky Arabellan hillside outside the little hut, watching the flash of the blade she now carries in the hand of the six-fingered man, blocking his way until he dismounts and accepts her challenge, standing blind with pain and grief and refusing to fall until he rides out of sight. The scars have long since healed; sometimes she forgets she carries them. She misses her father with a fierce, sudden ache that feels like it hasn't dimmed at all since the day he was murdered.

"Yield," she tells Anna roughly. "Take them onboard the Revenge. Lock them in my cabin, for now."

"Ines-"

"I will not kill a father in front of his children."

Anna looks skeptical, but sheathes her sword.

"You," says Ines, turning to the man, "if you do anything but drop your weapon and go quietly, your children will pay the price. Do you understand?"

The sword clatters to the deck. Ines eyes him critically; he still looks fairly capable.
"Bind his hands once you've got them stowed away," she adds. "If you try anything before I decide what to do with you, sir, the decision will not be favorable."

Ines' cabin is the second largest; when they first took over the Revenge Fezzik inherited the actual captain's quarters by virtue of just not fitting anywhere else. With a small family locked into her own room, Ines goes and spends the night with him. She brings along a few bottles of alcohol liberated from the Moroccan captain's stores. Fezzik stretches out on the pile of rugs he uses as a bed- the bunk is too small- and regards her steadily as she drinks and goes around in circles.

This is the dilemma: the family can't just stay on like the others have, as a pirate ship is no place for small children. On the other hand, she can't risk word getting out that the Dread Pirate Roberts will go soft on parents; that's a surefire way to get every sailor bringing their kids along, never mind the issue of tarnishing the reputation that six separate people have worked so hard to create. The whole illusion depends on not having any eyewitness accounts. She can't see any way around it.

"Do you have parents out there?" she asks at one point, near the end of the first bottle of wine. "A whole family of giants?"

"No, they were regular-sized," says Fezzik.

"Were?"

"The plague, in Mongolia. It was a long time ago."

"I'm sorry," says Ines. It seems strange that she didn't know that before, after all the years they've spent together. "What were they like?"

Fezzik shrugs.

"Nice. They wanted me to fight, ever since I was little."

"Were you ever little?"

"Not really, I guess."

Ines finishes the bottle and puts it down on its side. It rolls back and forth across the few feet of open floor with every swell of the waves, strangely mesmerizing. She may be a little bit drunk.

"You didn't want to fight?" she asks Fezzik. He shrugs again.

"I like rhyming better."

"Well, at least now you can fight where it's wetter."

"And so warm that I don't need a sweater."

"That's a good one." She nudges him with the tip of her boot and goes fishing for the next bottle of alcohol. This one is unlabelled and stoppered with nothing more than a rag stuffed into the neck, clearly homebrewed. Just sniffing it makes her eyes water. She takes a swig anyway, and barely forces herself to swallow before she starts coughing.

"Are you all right?" Fezzik asks. She waves him off before he can pat her on the back; she's broken ribs before and doesn't care to repeat the experience.

"I'm fine," she wheezes. "No more of whatever this is, though, it's vile."

"Perhaps it was brewed on an isle," Fezzik offers.

"If it was, it wasn't worth...while. Wait."

She holds up a hand, and Fezzik blinks at her patiently. It takes a while. As previously mentioned, Ines has never been much of a strategist. There's no well-trodden path for the idea to follow from the back of her mind to the front; it has to push its metaphorical way through a forest of sword lore, duck the tangles of a few different half-understood languages, and persevere through a rather thick haze of alcohol. It's a good idea, though, when it finally arrives.

 

The little island south of Guilder never does get enough notice to end up on any map except one, a private chart kept in the private records of the pirate ship Revenge. They call it Violet Islet, not because there's anything particularly purple about it, but because Fezzik got the whole crew in on a rhyming game while they were erecting the little round huts that now line the forest's edge, and that one just stuck somehow. The island provides fruit and fish and fresh water from a little spring the ex-princess finds, wood from the forest, occasionally small game if anyone can catch it. Every once in a while the Revenge swings by with extra provisions like bread and cloth, or with a new person who's been spared the sword but doesn't fancy life on board a pirate ship.

Ines and Fezzik retire there after another six years, leaving Anna to become the seventh Dread Pirate Roberts. They're citizens number twenty-six and twenty-seven. Ines spends some of her not-inconsiderate wealth on a sweet little sailboat, just sturdy enough to make the trip from the tip of Guilder but shallow enough to actually approach the island. They build a house- well, Fezzik builds it, mostly- near the little second cove where the water is deepest and leave it at anchor there. Ines tries to set up a forge for swordsmithing and turns out to be terrible at it. Fezzik tries to set up a vegetable garden that turns out to be a wild success.

Ines calls her little sailboat The Domingo. Some people say that ships aren't supposed to be male, but for the most part those are the same people who say that pirates aren't supposed to be female, so they're hardly worth listening to.