2021 Goal

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    Andrew Schmidt

    Alright, what is your 2021 goal? Mine is to write a short story every month and then at the end of the year, I will select my favorite short story to make into a novel. I decided to do this, because overtime I noticed I had a notorious habit of beginning a novel but never usually finishing it actually. But this way, it should work out better.

    Speaking of short stories, I will share my short(ish) story for January, called “Princess Ruby and the Starfish Jester.” It was a little longer than I intended for it to be, but I still liked it. I’m already on my short story for February, called “Jehan’s Conquest,” a strange mix of dystopian and the classic Alice in Wonderland setting.

    I am tagging the people’s nametags that I remember (I haven’t been on here for a long time), but anyone is welcome to read, comment, and share their thoughts. So, here goes: @anne-of-lothlorien, @kari-karast @nuetrobolt @dakota

    I hope you enjoy.



    “No! No, this can’t be!” Her cries echoed against the golden walls. Her fists crashed against the chessboard, pieces flying across the scarlet carpets. “Father, please, this is the most terrible arrangement!”

    “Oh sweetheart,” King Goldie Phirehearth soothed, placing a hand on the princess’s shoulder. “Don’t be upset.”

    Ruby pulled back, arms crossed in defiance. She faced her parents, each regal and tall in their golden robes. Father sighed, a hand over his trimmed brown beard. She captured a sympathetic gleam sparkling in his vivid brown eyes. But her mother, Queen Ravena Jorchid, just frowned in disapproval, her lips pursed as she removed a strand of golden hair from her storm blue eyes.

    “You have come of age, Princess Ruby,” she announced. “It is unfortunate how reluctant you are. You haven’t even one particular interest in any of the finest young men of Jiadre.”

    “Neither have I ever captured a glimpse of their true appearance,” the princess snapped in a bitter tone. “Should unto the public my particularly unusual face be revealed, all dwelling in the Kingdom of Jiadre would believe me to be a lunatic.”

    Spinning around, Ruby inspected her reflection in the mirror. She straightened as she stood there, the vivid red statue of rubies she was. Her curled hair flowing down her shoulders, the most detailed features of her heart-shaped face, her elegant ruffled dress, and matter of fact, everything about her, was created from gleaming rubies. She was cursed.

    “Nonsense,” Ravena spoke with a simple wave of a hand. “The people shall love you. Be a little more confident.”

    “How can one love a curse? One can’t. An entire kingdom definitely can’t.” Ruby sighed, raising a hand to her temple.

    Goldie only shook his head. “Look, I am truly sorry. But the arrangement cannot be broken. If you never face your fears, you can never overcome them. There will be a day when you claim that throne, and all shall look upon you. Picture this opportunity as a chance to improve.”

    “Father,” the princess argued, “but I hate that throne!”

    A firm glare enveloped Ravena’s face. “How dare you, princess. The world does not revolve around you. This is for the good of Jiadre. Now return to your room. This discussion is over!”


    The princess stalked into her room, black stone and bright rubies surrounding her. A lamp shed scarlet light upon the chessboard on her desk. Blood red tears marked her cheeks like liquid jewels, and she folded her trembling arms.

    For her entire life, she had never spoke a word nor interacted with anyone other than her parents. But tonight all that would change. Father, in his entitled ignorance and with the help of Mother’s despicable persuasion, had arranged a chess tournament for all the highly eligible, respected young men in Jiadre. He who won the tournament would be her husband. It made her mad. Chess was her favorite game.

    All this time, she was encouraged to remain in the darkness, to hide her curse, but now, since she turned eighteen, it is expected of her to emerge a vibrant butterfly on display for all to look upon and judge critically.

    Well, she’d veil her face in public. It was that simple, but whoever her husband might be, he better prepare to share her darkest secret. Her parents would remain on the throne for a while more, but then, she would take their place and her husband as well, whoever he might be. But what might the people think about her? She was not prepared. She was cursed.

    The princess sighed and collapsed, melting into the black-and-crimson checkered silk of her royal bed.  She flicked a finger across her forehead, staring up at nothing in particular.

    Her father had told the tale a hundred times. The tale of a curse… and it all happened exactly like this. Goldie Phirehearth, Queen Ravena’s husband, fancied a particular maid. Her name was Monica Bloodrose, a name that ignited bitter and sour feelings in her heart.

    Monica, the tale claimed, was beautiful, more so than even the Queen of Jiadre. But she also was a talented and particularly expressive artist. Thus was she all the more desirable. But her apparent peace and calm, along with her so-called beauty, perished in a snap when her Father, the King of Jiadre, dared flirt with that twisted woman and dared ask her petty little hand in a royal dance.

    Monica was furious. When she glimpsed Phirehearth’s heart and his dishonesty toward his royal wife, she revealed herself as a powerful sorceress, and cursed the King of Jiadre that he and his wife would have one child and one alone, one of unique and alien appearance. People would associate the princess with a dangerous figure concerning the legends, and whether she was kidnapped or killed as result Goldie and Ravena both feared.

    And so Princess Ruby never dared show her face. That is, to strangers―which included almost each citizen and noncitizen alike in Jiadre, save her parents.

    But again, tonight that would all change. She would be extra cautious; for thereon, she would take on another path in life. Her father concealed her, protected her, but he could not forever. Sooner or later, her face would be revealed, and she dreaded it.

    Because there were far worse people than Monica Bloodrose, people that craved power, people that dwelled in this castle, and should they have the chance, would steal the throne.


    Evening firelight illuminated the stone room in a golden gleam. Figures cast flickering shadows against the walls. Chess sets occupied the oaken tables, and then the bell rang. The chess tournament began. Young men pondered each of their moves, their fingers moving across the chessboards, attempting to mislead their opponents and strategize in order to win.

    Occasional chatter was present, but for the most part, people were thinking, not talking.

    From her vantage point, that is, from a secret entrance that blended into the wall, Ruby monitored the tournament, her door creaked open. As she remained there, veiled in darkness, she looked at each man, resentment building up inside her.

    Then the main doors crashed open, the chess opponents paused in their games, and in stomped a particularly arrogant young man. He was handsome, clad in a knight’s armor, with green eyes brimming in confidence and a strange twistedness the princess could not describe.  His dark hair was perfect, his complexion was perfect, and his smirk was so perfect… that she couldn’t refrain from cringing.

    “You are late, Sir Ace,” declared an apparently random person.

    “Me? Late? I am never late! No, everyone else is just in a hurry to arrive early,” Sir Ace responded, his posture another indication of arrogance aside from his words. “Now, who among you dare challenge me unto a grand duel of chess? I doubt there is anyone here who can win against me. The princess shall be mine in a matter of time, I assure you.”

    Ruby’s lips curled in a judgmental snarl. I will never belong unto any idiot, and most definitely not you!

    “Is that so, Squidbrain?” the man, who had rung the bell, questioned.

    A couple men snickered in the background.

    Sir Ace straightened his spine, tightening his jaw. He clearly resented the insulting nickname. The knight was so arrogant, believed he was the source of absolute infinite knowledge that none could be compared unto his supreme intelligence, so he was compared to a squid. Squids, in animal terms, were intelligent, but compared to real people, animals were still animals and animals were stupid.

    “Yes, that is so,” he at last quite dryly responded. Then his perfect smirked returned in full force. “In fact, I can picture in vivid imagination her elegant lips pressed up against mine. The princess is mysterious and I feel privileged to look upon her face. I doubt even one standing here among you have looked upon her, but I assure you, she is a delicate little flower.”

    It required the princess’s complete restraint to not gag, and she would have, but then she would have been discovered, which would have resulted in a melodramatic scene she did not relish.

    But despite Sir Ace’s arrogance, she was informed he was a particularly strategic and dangerous opponent, a mastermind in the chess realm. The sensation of him standing close to her, of him taking her in his arms and kissing her, sent a chill down her spine like icy fingers.


    While the princess wasn’t in her room playing chess with her imaginary friends, she loved spending her time in the Great Hall of Art. Each color, each design, was most detailed and complex, from nature pictures to legends, dragons, and the like. Knights, gallant and courageous, marched across the battlefield from their castle. The stars were multiple splashes of color, and the wall, all in all, was a rainbow of colors and shades, a work of professional artistry and sheer imagination.

    More than once, she had pondered whether the sorceress Bloodrose had painted these walls, but such a twisted idea sparked such an eerie feeling inside her, she decided she wouldn’t like to hear to the answer.

    As she ambled on, she exited the painted hall, finding an open window in a dark secluded area where the one source of light alone from within was a simple lantern. Her homeland of Jiadre spread out before her. It looked at peace in sleep, the stars and moon expelling a pale light in the darkness of the night.

    Well, it looked almost asleep. In the distance, there was a bustle of movement, and the bright flash of animation and color, all in celebration of the Starfish Festival. Ruby sighed and leaned a bit forward, admiring the perfect view. Her Jiadre, complete in ancient buildings and vibrant houses, was a beautiful masterpiece of architecture. She reached out a hand to touch it, but all she grasped was air. She blinked, her hand falling back down.

    She couldn’t touch it. She was disconnected from the world, an isolated monster, a curse that no one could love…

    “Well hello there, princess. How are you doing?”

    Her heart thudded hard. The princess darted right, pressed up against the wall near the window, but in a position her face wouldn’t be revealed. She swallowed, fists clenched. Had he seen her? She shook her head. It was too dark, he couldn’t have.

    “Don’t fear now. I am simply interested in a little conversation.”

    Ruby glanced over her shoulder. The figure standing beneath her window was, as far as she could tell, a shadow. She stumbled back.

    “Who are you? And what is your business here?” the princess hissed. “I don’t like strangers.”

    “I can tell,” the mysterious stranger said with a chuckle. “Well, princess, name’s Reckless Checkless. But please, call me Check.”

    “I think both those names are ridiculous. I shall call you Checkless, not simply Check or, for that matter, the lengthier version, Reckless Checkless,” she responded. “And call me Princess Ruby. The term ‘princess’ is rather vague.”

    “As you wish,” he said, and she heard a crunch as he approached a step. “It is not required that you hide, you do realize? Isn’t that exhausting, you know, hiding your entire life?”

    “No,” she replied, feeling uneasy. “I am never. Now, I believe you didn’t answer one of my questions. What is your business here?”

    “To rescue you, of course,” Checkless replied in a calm voice. “Rescuing is different from kidnapping, but it is similar.”

    “I have no idea who you truly are, but me… to be rescued? I am not that stupid,” Princess Ruby snapped, remaining in her position beside the window. “Now, depart from me. I shouldn’t even be conversing with you. If my parents had discovered I was speaking with a stranger…”

    “But your parents won’t, at least not yet,” he spoke, his words quick. She couldn’t see him, but the tone in his voice indicated he was smiling. “Oh, and Sir Ace Kastor, that wretched fool, was declared the chess tournament winner. He was arrogant, but he was right, I have to admit.”

    Startled, Ruby spun around as she peered, just a little that is, from her window.

    “You are lying,” she hissed. “That can’t be true.”

    “No, I speak truth alone,” Checkless responded. “In fact, as we speak Sir Ace is coming for you. Goldie Phirehearth has privileged the imbecile with the honor of looking upon that pretty face of yours.”

    “What?” she said.

    She spun around. In the distance, footsteps approached, coming closer, becoming louder. She closed her eyes. Oh great, awesome.

    “But I can rescue you,” Checkless added. “Squidbrain can be, in fact, particularly… terribly passionate.”

    Oh, even more awesome.

    “But I can protect you from him.”

    The princess turned to look down from her window. “This was a nice chat, but I shouldn’t be chatting with you. You are reckless, Reckless Checkless. I shouldn’t even be with you. May our paths never cross again, stranger.”

    “Ah, you dislike rescuers and strangers. Tell me, why?” Checkless asked, and Ruby stopped in her tracks. “Is it because you fear I might see your face? Well, I already have―isn’t it made from rubies?―so please, don’t hide. Besides, in time to come, you shall be the Queen of Jiadre. Someone is bound to look upon you, and look upon that… face. That face you have kept hidden.”

    The footsteps increased in volume.

    How, in all Jiadre, did Checkless know how she looked? She clenched her fists, anger flaring like a wildfire inside her soul. How dare he be so… stalkerish?

    With a final glare, Ruby said over her shoulders, “No, no one―other than who I have allowed―shall ever look upon my face. Not even you, not again.”

    Then she dashed across the surface. And she crashed into a tall man.

    She jumped back with a gasp.

    “Hi there, it’s Reckless Checkless again, but for real, please, don’t scream.” He chuckled, leaning in close. “Don’t scream, because Squidbrain will hear you.”

    The footsteps―those dreaded footsteps!―were even louder than before. Her heart beat faster in her chest.

    “Checkless, how did you―?”

    “Don’t ask. Here, this will conceal you.” Checkless handed her a dark cloak with a big hood.

    She clutched, perhaps a little viciously, the clothing, and abruptly jerked it from his hands. She slid the cloak on, the hood up, her royal gloves on, and then cocked her head, eyes on Checkless. Aside from her parents, she had never, this close, looked directly into another person’s face, despite the fact that the features of Checkless’s face were subdued under the cover of darkness.

    “Now, we escape?” the princess said. “Or should I consider this kidnapping? Fine then, we can escape, that is, from Ace. But mark my words should you speak of this moment, or that of any secrets concerning me, I will kill you… painfully.”

    He smiled, and she wasn’t sure she rather liked it. “Alright, then, we escape.”

    The footsteps halted. The princess glanced over her shoulder. Before her stood Sir Ace, but he wasn’t looking at her. She tensed, standing a little taller.

    Then Checkless touched her shoulder. She turned to look at him. He smiled, and with a dramatic flourish of his hands, her surroundings changed. She was no longer in the palace, no longer in complete darkness.

    She looked here and there, and all around her she noticed bright colored tents, decorated with various designs, but majorly starfish. She looked down. Vibrant green grass was beneath her shoes. She looked up. All around her, there was boisterous chatter and multicolor lights flashing in the dark.

    This… this… this was the Starfish Festival!

    She blinked, a tear escaping down her cheek. The strange lights, the bold colors, the craziest craziness, didn’t disappoint her imagination. But most in all, she loved the starfish. For here in Jiadre, legend compared starfish unto, well, the stars above, including the sun that heated the earth. In celebration, the Starfish Festival was held once a year.

    But never in her entire life had she attended one… that is, until now.

    Checkless approached from behind to stand beside Ruby, looking ahead. She paused, capturing a true look of the eccentric stranger in the light. He was clean shaven with broad shoulders and a square jaw. One of his silver eyes was covered with curled brown hair. He looked nice, but his costume, multicolored and decorated with intricate starfish, was ludicrous.

    And furthermore, she noticed, there was a multicolor starfish tattooed on his neck. She froze, eyes narrowed in recognition.

    Reckless Checkless was the Starfish Jester.

    People glanced over their shoulders, inspecting the princess and the jester. She slunk back, but there was no shadows wherein to hide. Instead, she adjusted her hood, making it tighter, concealing her face in darkness. Checkless smiled encouragingly, gesturing ahead. Fists tense, alert, the princess followed Checkless as he led the path.

    The Starfish Festival was amazing. She would have enjoyed the adventure, but everywhere her eyes lingered strangers passed and glanced in her direction, and their smiles appeared a little… friendly.

    The place was bizarre. Starfish appeared here and there in a random fashion. Mini figurines and stuffed animals, all starfish. Boisterous drums, impenetrable armor, polished stones, unique clothing, glamorous jewelry, patterned with starfish in all manners. But what captured her attention the most was the live exhibits in the torch lit aquariums. She halted, and Checkless halted with her.

    Princess Ruby approached the aquarium display. She pressed a palm against the delicate glass. A vibrant crimson starfish curled through liquid in graceful fashion across the golden sand. A couple other starfish, a blue one and a green one, occupied the exact aquarium, but other torch lit exhibits boasted even more exotic, complex, and vibrant starfish.

    “Oh hello, I don’t recall meeting you before,” a thickly accented voice spoke. “Are you a visitor? From where have you come?”

    The princess whipped around. A woman that looked to be in her mid-forties sporting flame red hair, a delicate freckled face, and the richest sapphire blue eyes, studied the princess as she perched on a stool. She wore a green emerald dress, and smiled with enthusiasm, raising a picture of a starfish for her to inspect. It was multicolored, and with a spark of sheer realization, Ruby noted the portrait looked identical to the jester’s tattoo.

    She began to open her mouth but closed it, taking a step back. Her hood was oversized, and time remained in the night hour, so, she hoped, her face wasn’t visible, or at least obscured.

    “I was born in Jiadre, like you, but I am rather reclusive. I don’t attend festivals on a frequent basis, but I did this one time,” Ruby provided as an explanation.

    She looked at the artist’s painting in admiration. It was pretty, and she would have loved complementing her artistry, but conversation was the last thing she needed right now. Nodding quickly, the princess joined the jester, hastily preparing to leave, when the lady called to her.

    “Can I inquire, why conceal your face?”

    Ruby stopped in her tracks, sucked in a deep breath, and spun around. “I have a physical condition of facial disfiguration. I feel a little self-conscious about it.”

    Before the inquiring woman uttered another word, the princess stomped away. Checkless increased his pace to catch up with her.

    “What was that?” Checkless hissed.

    “Nothing,” Ruby snapped. “I don’t like strangers.”

    He was silent a moment, and then leaning in, he whispered, “Did you have any clue who she was?”

    “No. Should I bother?”

    “Look! That was the sorceress, Monica Bloodrose,” Checkless said, apparently frustrated. “I advise you behave well in her presence. Her anger is forever as strong as her magic.”

    The sorceress’s name evoked terror and hatred in the deepest corner of her mind. The princess came to an abrupt stop, facing him with a steady glare.

    “Oh? And what have you in mind now? You ‘rescued’ me, I guess. But of all places, where the sorceress is presently occupied, why here? Enlighten me.”

    Checkless sighed, a crease in his brow. “We can discuss this topic. But elsewhere; there are more than several ears around here.”

    “Yes, which makes me all the more curious why you chose this location,” she said in her driest, most sarcastic voice. “For real, I should be in the palace. Father and Mother are equally paranoid.”

    “And take Kastor’s hand in marriage? I don’t particularly like the idea concerning that arrogant scoundrel ruling Jiadre beside you,” Checkless responded, eyebrows arched.

    Before the princess of rubies could speak, the jester raised a hand. He lowered his shirt, revealing a chain with a glass starfish containing a particular orange substance.

    “This is a magic powder, reaped from the corpse of Monica Bloodrose’s magic starfish. I consider it a present from her. It enables natural teleportation, but it is rare, and must therefore be used wisely,” Checkless said. “Now, aside from the palace, have a particular location in mind?”

    “A place of solitude is all I require,” replied Princess Ruby. She cast a suspicious look at his chain.

    “That can be arranged,” he said. “The graveyard is perfect. People fear the ghosts that ‘haunt’ that accursed place, but it’s just all superstitions. There we shall discuss various topics, but I must then return unto the festival. I am the central entertainment of the Starfish Festival, after all.”

    Checkless snapped a finger.

    The world around the princess perished from view. Surrounding her, the stars and moon overlooked the eerie stones placed randomly across the hills. In the distance, the hustle and bustle of the Starfish Festival, and palace and ancient buildings of Jiadre, could be seen.

    “You would like to discuss my intentions? And the fact a ‘random stranger’ like me is running around with Jiadre’s princess?” Checkless asked. “Well, my answer is simple. You should have a close look at the land you shall one day rule. Besides, in doing so, you shall have more of a chance meeting people―actual, live people―because perfect social skills are required of a royal queen. Your parents are terrible parents, stunting that area of growth, in which you particularly deficient.”

    “And who claimed ‘perfect social skills’ was required? When I am queen, another besides me will be selected to perform my eloquent speeches, another besides me will enforce the strict rules I have commanded. I will have an intermediary, Checkless. A minor number alone will be unfortunate enough to look upon my accursed face.” The princess scowled under her hood. “Don’t command me how I should live. Return me, and there at the palace I will deal with Sir Ace. Alone.”

    “But I can’t,” Checkless refused. “Like it or not, Phirehearth remains on the throne even now. He is king, and because he is king, his position enables him to command any wish he desires―in this case, his desires extend unto a marriage between you, Princess Ruby, and the entirely respected but utterly arrogant knight, Sir Ace Kastor. And believe me, Kastor is a despicable creation.”

    “Oh, is that so?” Ruby would have liked to rip that chain from around his tattooed neck and be gone then and there. “Tell me, other than accepting a tour of Jiadre, and performing discussion, other than this, what exactly am I doing?”

    “Well, I chose the Starfish Festival on purpose,” Checkless said. “There, I would like you to meet someone. An old friend of mine, that is. He has never revealed his original name, but his title―the Thronemaster―is well known. No, he doesn’t recline on majestic thrones. The name just sounds cool.”


    “Ah, Check, there you are!” the Thronemaster exclaimed. His white hair was wild. His eyes, storm blue and brimming in chaos, looked even wilder, with a mischievous smile stretching across his pale face. His robe, perhaps even more insane, was silk white, sprinkled in a hundred little blue starfish. “I was beginning to panic, but I shouldn’t have. You are the Starfish Jester, I must be reminded!” He looked at Princess Ruby, paused then grinned. “Oh, this girl has stolen your heartless heart, eh?”

    “Look, she doesn’t like to talk. So I advise you, don’t engage her in idle chitchat. The poor girl might have a psychotic breakdown.” Checkless meant it like a joke, but it evoked a glare in the princess.

    Laughing heartily, the Thronemaster spread his hands in her direction. “Tell me, what is your name, girl?”

    Princess Ruby wouldn’t dare speak her name. Instead, she glanced at Checkless. Clearing his throne, the Starfish Jester whispered several words in the Thronemaster’s ear, and his entire face turned serious.

    “Alright then, follow me, folks,” the Thronemaster commanded. Then in a darker voice, he whispered, “Check, this is bound to be most interesting.”


    Starfish, one color or another, sprinkled the black velvet, like aquatic constellations in the galactic system. Inside the tent, seated on a redwood table, with Checkless beside her, the princess faced the Thronemaster. He smirked with clasped hands, fingers interlocked, inspecting her in the most thorough fashion, never blinking, never once.

    “Princess, I find this suitor… unacceptable,” he at last spoke. “To win, Ace cheated. He used a magic spell.”

    Her eyes widened. She was surprised, but deep down inside she had noticed something, strange and twisted, about Sir Ace’s demeanor. Something dark.

    She looked up, face blank, staring at the Thronemaster.

    When that didn’t provoke a dramatic reaction from the princess, he pressed on, “Ace is a sorcerer. In fact, he is Monica’s brother. And because the Starfish Jester rescued you―I have no idea how he did it―I can help you.”

    Ruby blinked in silence and cocked her head. She leaned in, that is a little, and whispered, “Please, enlighten me.”

    “It’s simple. Expose Kastor as the sorcerer he is, and his deceit. I should hope Goldie Phirehearth reconsiders the arrangement. However, should the sorcerer practice another spell and attempt to manipulate Phirehearth, or another, and accomplishes success, do not hesitate to kill your suitor.”

    She raised a finger to her temple, eyes narrowing. “Oh, and that is so simple? You look so eager. Just kill him yourself.”

    The Thronemaster’s mouth twisted in a crooked grin. “I would deem that improper. Princess, I have no place to dispose of Kastor.  You, however, aren’t like me. Isn’t his intrusion your business? He seeks to ascend the throne. This business is with you, not me. Self-defense on your part, and Kastor’s termination perhaps, in this case, I would deem proper, but you are, unlike me, in a position designated to execute this plot.

    “I, however, am designated to inform you. Because as Jiadre’s future queen, I believe you should be prepared for Earth’s most ridiculously ludicrous, exceedingly corrupt, twisted romantic suitors that the devils themselves hired to oppress kingdom upon kingdom! You see, I am concerned concerning the throne, and who inherits it, hence the fact I am the Thronemaster.”

    “Well, you are particularly… informative,” the princess said, lips pursed. She looked at Checkless, scowling. “Is this a joking game? Well, I don’t like it. I like chess, that’s it.”

    The jester shrugged, raising a brow. “The Thronemaster is not done.”

    “I hope so,” she said, looking the Thronemaster in the face…

    And he was smirking. “Now, that said, let’s have a look at this, shall we?”

    He slid open a drawer and curled his pale hands around something, placing the object with delicate grace upon the polished table. The Thronemaster removed the golden silk wrapped around the object, and there, sparkling in the dimmest light, was a gorgeous ruby.

    The princess couldn’t believe her eyes. That belonged to her.

    “Oh, don’t look surprised,” spoke the Thronemaster with a wave of a hand. “I collected a trace of your DNA―I doubt you have a clue what that is―and then, I experimented. Thus I invented this brilliant creation for you. Within a particular range, this ruby negates any magic. With this, rest assured, princess, you shall never be forced in a marriage with Squidbrain.” Then he added, “Oh, and princess, the lightning conditions are supreme, and you are seated across from me, so, don’t hide your face, would you please? I can see it… perfectly.”

    The princess glared in smoldering anger. She tossed her hood from her face, revealing her scarlet braids and true colors, her solid anger, but as she did, she was stricken with a sudden pulse of vulnerability and hyper vigilance. Her stare flicked to the windows, which were closed. Good, no one was peeking in. More strangers than she would have liked had seen her face tonight.

    The Thronemaster laughed, placing a hand on his chest. Checkless just sighed with a shake of his head. Her rage returned in full force. She raised a fist and pounded the table, leveling a glare at the strange imbecile. The Thronemaster’s delirious laughter was cut short, and he turned to look at her.

    “How dare you mock me?” Ruby’s voice was burning, trembling, in aggression. “Who do you think you are?”

    He didn’t flinch, didn’t blink. “I am the Thronemaster, princess, belittled and unwell-known in Jiadre’s higher ranks,” he gestured in her direction, pausing between his words, “but I am well-known, famous in fact, among the peasants and Jiadre’s poor scum. I doubt you will be familiar with these names, likely because your parents were quite blinded in their assurance of supremacy and entitlement to even consider memorizing them. I am the son of Stormchaser and Amazonzin, slayers of Ghalatherandus.

    “Ghalatherandus was a legend, a gigantic woodland monster with bumped, ill green skin, terrible elephant-like ears, multiple death-craving golden eyes, a scorpion tail, torn flightless wings, and the most despicable loincloth! He wears his shoes backwards, giggling as he hunts for mushrooms. His humongous toes had to be severed and submerged in boiled water and pepper in order to kill the monster! It was quite the task, but it was done!

    “However, even more a legendary was my grandmother, Sour Violet, a famous winemaker, and my grandfather, Mastermind QZYX―that’s an abbreviation for a particularly lengthy, foreign name―famous for his bewildering mind manipulating abilities and―!”

    “Thronemaster,” Checkless interrupted, “the princess hasn’t time for a lecture on the bizarre. You have informed her and she now has access to this… invention. Your duty is complete.”

    “Oh, I just got a bit carried off,” the Thronemaster rambled, arching a brow. “Princess, forgive me. For me to act like that, oh, princess, it was terribly rude.”

    Oh now, he acted polite? She wasn’t sure how to react or respond. The Thronemaster was just staring at her, awaiting a simple response, but his face was blank, hard to read, and at last, she was relieved when the jester obliterated the unusual silence.

    “I’m sure the people are rallying in the festival at this hour,” Checkless said, smiling at the princess. “Perhaps a couple tricks, eh?”

    The princess massaged her temple, rolling the Thronemaster’s magical gem in her palm. A couple tricks? Perhaps… she had a little time for tricks.

    The Thronemaster laughed. He reached behind, snatched a bottle of wine, and laughed a little more, in an even more incredibly obnoxious manner.

    “Yes, I would love a couple tricks, but I shall observe from the window,” the Thronemaster said, “and have, in celebration that the Jiadrean princess is warned concerning her corrupt suitor, a little of Ol’ Sour Violet’s merry wine! Ha!”


    With gloved hands, Princess Ruby adjusted her hood slightly. It was dark, despite the torchlight, wild colors, and the stars above. Curious people surrounded the Starfish Jester. Checkless loved the attention, but the princess was determined to blend in, to be silent, concealed, unnoticed, and camouflaged in darkness.

    Checkless flashed another smile in her direction. Playful and mischievous accurately described it. He… he was a nice person, but here, at the moment, she couldn’t engage in conversation or socialization, lest she attract the attention of even more strangers.

    The Starfish Jester bowed. The crowd cheered. Checkless arose, grinning. With a dramatic flourish of his fingers, starfish―real ones, but no longer living ones―had appeared in his hands. The stars looked vibrant and beauteous. And with a talent that amazed Ruby, Checkless juggled the starfish.

    Then he summersaulted, and landed backwards, all the while still juggling. But what he did next was even crazier. Somehow, she did not know how, the starfish burst into flames. The jester juggled faster and faster, and his fingertips weren’t even burned.

    He spun around, raising his arms, grasping each starfish and tossing it. They looked like shooting stars, piercing the darkness, each one flaming and vivid. But then, each star was extinguished, one by one, as they plunged into the river from which the starfish had been collected. The princess had to admit it. That was rather impressive.

    The people cheered. Checkless bowed and arose. The thickness in the crowd dispersed. He shot an impish grin at the princess. He approached her, extending his arm, but she accepted it at last, with a bit of hesitance and reluctance.

    Leaning in close, he whispered, “Alright, I believe you have reached your limits for the night. Perhaps you would like to return unto the palace? I hope the Thronemaster’s little present does you well.”

    Princess Ruby halted in her tracks. Releasing a deep breath, she looked up into his adventurous, enthusiastic face, and averted her gaze.

    “Thank you.”

    “Don’t thank me,” Checkless said. “That rescue was the insane Thronemaster’s idea.”

    “No, not about… that,” the words leapt from her tongue. “Thank you for the tour of the world I never knew. My entire life was spent behind walls. Thank you. I appreciate it, but inside, I still feel… a chronic emptiness I cannot describe.”

    Checkless raised her chin, forcing her to look at his face. “You will make a great queen. Don’t live in isolation and fear. Be confident. There are more worlds to be explored than you could ever imagine.”

    The princess smiled, cocking her head. “Yes, I suppose. But I suggest we be on the move. Father and Mother are, as I believe I have mentioned before, equally paranoid.”

    “As you wish,” replied Checkless.

    He slid his arm around hers. Together, the princess and jester began their amble home within the Starfish Festival.

    “There! Over there!”

    Ruby and Checkless froze. Heart beating, she looked up. In the shadows, Jiadrean knights approached on horseback. Sir Ace was in the lead, and he wore a savage grin. Perhaps she was in such a position he captured a look of her face through her hood, or a bit of torchlight revealed her distinct ruby color, but somehow, he recognized her. And his grin was all the more savage.

    The princess spun around. She was surrounded.  She glanced over her shoulder at Checkless, but she didn’t see fear in him, only a brave and encouraging smile. He twirled the chain around his neck in his fingers, straightened, and approached Kastor with confidence, but not arrogance.

    “What’s this about?” His tone was humble, but at the same time, a little accusing. “Have I committed a crime to offend His Majesty?”

    Ace smirked darkly. “This is a clever game you are playing. But this not a game of chess―and were it chess, you would be in checkmate.” He smiled intently at Ruby, making her squirm. “So, we have the princess in our midst. I would believe the Starfish Jester, being as clever as he is, and a talented trickster at that, might at least be stealthier than this. You, Reckless Checkless, I declare Jiadre’s worst kidnapper!” His smile turned murderous. “Kill him.”

    Before the Starfish Jester could react, a knight whipped out his crossbow. A death arrow flicked through darkness, finding a place in the jester’s chest. Blood discolored his vibrant clothing around his wound. He looked desperate, in pain.

    Princess Ruby released an enraged, earsplitting scream. She rushed forth and kneeled beside her new fallen friend. He looked up into her hooded face, a sad smile forming on his lips.

    “I―I’m sorry,” Checkless stuttered. “Please, f―forgive me.”

    Then the Starfish Jester was gone, with no trace he had ever been here, form and all. She wailed, scarlet tears splattering against vibrant grass.

    Sir Ace chuckled.

    Her sadness withered and turned cold. A flaming rage and an incurable thirst for vengeance built up inside her. She arose, her glare hidden beneath her hood, hands clenched at her sides.

    “You foul serpent! How dare you?!” the princess growled. “I will kill you for that!! I will kill you!!!”

    Ruby would have strangled Sir Ace then and there, but a firm hand gripped her shoulder. She jerked back, spun around, froze.

    Her father and king, Goldie Phirehearth, sighed with a grievous look on his face. “I feel your pain and loss, but punishment for a crime, in particular kidnapping the princess―my princess―is so very much required.”

    Her rage smoldered and burned deeper. “You let this happen? Father, how could you?!”

    “I truly am sorry,” he said, sounding so patient. “Let’s return unto the palace. You require sleep and a clear head for the big day tomorrow!”

    “Oh, and what is tomorrow?” she questioned, angry and sarcastic.

    Father was silent a moment, but then he replied, “The wedding.”

    Her blood rushed cold. Panic strangled her from the inside. She glanced from Father to Sir Ace.

    And Sir Ace was smirking.

    She hated him to her bitter core.


    Princess Ruby pressed a hand against a bright painted window. She stared longingly, and sighed. Turning, she inspected her regal appearance in a single mirror amidst the brilliant emerald room.

    In the golden light, her ruffled, high-collared, rosy red wedding dress, embedded in rubies, sparkled and glistened. She wore several necklaces of rubies, a pair of rosy red gloves, and an elegant mask that matched her dress and concealed her entire face. In fact, her mask was stained with blood red tears. Her hair was concealed with royal lace.

    No one at the wedding should look upon her true face. Not when she was declared queen, not at all, despite how much Father had attempted to prepare her.

    A knock from the door jolted her from her thoughts. She spun around, clutching her drawer from behind.

    “Who are you? I am not done preparing!” the princess shouted, heart pounding.

    “Princess, you have been preparing for three hours. You can delay the wedding, but you cannot stop it.”

    Before Ruby had a chance to react, her door creaked open. Sir Ace entered. He wore a smug smirk on his perfectly arrogant, despicably handsome face. She gasped in horror, in rage at his intrusion.

    “What are you doing? It is not tradition that the groom should look upon the bride before the royal wedding!” she exclaimed. Then she added in a flatter tone, “Besides, I don’t like you anyway.”

    “Well, that’s unfortunate, because, you look rather lonely up here. Don’t you accept company?” Sir Ace inquired in false innocence.

    Ruby was having trouble pinpointing his intentions. Was his motivation that of cruelty, or had he come for another reason, that is, to attempt to thoroughly understand her and just have a casual talk? The latter was unlikely to be true.

    “Company? That’s a silly word. I have survived for extended periods of time lacking it,” the princess snapped with a fierce edge in her voice. “Those that I accept are close and dear.  You, Sir Ace, are not close and dear. You are the last suitor I would consider. Had I a choice, I wouldn’t proceed on with this marriage at all, in fact.”

    He studied her, and a subtle smile―she could not tell whether he was amused―crept across his irritating face. “You are unique among the sisterhood. I’ve had young women from all kingdoms beside me, but you are… peculiar.”

    What? Her eyes narrowed. “You dishonest, flirtatious imbecile, may I inquire, those women, did you abandon them? Well, that’s what I’m getting at. It is truly a wonder the sorceress, Bloodrose, cursed my father rather than you.” She noticed a slight, tense change in his overall facial expression, and pressed on, “Oh, I see, you are her brother.”

    “Yes… and it is my utmost pleasure to be of service unto you.  You are more perceptive than I have credited you for.” He was smiling bizarrely, and she completely disliked it. “This is a wondrously pleasant conversation. I do look forward to having more. After all, I have even deeper secrets I would to like to share with you, my future wife and queen.”

    Princess Ruby glared. Her shoulders tensed. Disgust welled up inside her, fear and anguish clawing at her heart in despair. The idea of a marriage to Sir Ace was repulsing. He was an evil sorcerer. He commanded the execution of the Starfish Jester.

    And Reckless Checkless, despite the fact she had known him just once, he had changed her world view―Jiadre wasn’t as terrible she had imagined it. She wished she could have known the Starfish Jester more. He could take her on adventures. She could escape from her confined life, from people, from everything. And he was so nice. But dreams were separate from realities. Realities could be particularly unpleasant, as was the case with this one.

    She turned to stare at the window, refusing to look at his obnoxious face. “Leave. Please, just leave. I no longer wish to look upon you.”

    “Alright,” he replied, releasing an exaggerated, irritating sigh. “I shall leave, but once the bishop declares us husband and wife, refrain from expecting this particular treatment.”

    Princess Ruby jerked back at Sir Ace, words twisted in hatred leaping from her fiery tongue, “I will never marry you.”

    Before Sir Ace could respond, footsteps sounded and came to a stop. The princess glanced over Kastor’s shoulder, and standing there at the entrance was another knight, clad in silver armor and a shiny helmet.

    “Yes, Squidbrain, she might be correct,” the knight said. “There is one man. He claims that he was uninvited to the tournament in an unjust manner. He would like to challenge you in a game of chess. Whoever wins, he and he alone, shall be privileged with marriage unto the princess.”

    Her heart leaped in her chest. She was lost in a sea of hope, doubt, and fear. This one man… perhaps he was finer than this arrogant scoundrel, or was he worse?

    But Sir Ace just smirked, cool and arrogant.

    “Oh…?” Kastor purred. “I have won all the games. Never has one man defeated me. He can’t win. I feel both insulted and amused―I don’t usually feel that way.” He glided from the room, casting a devilish grin over his shoulder at the princess. “Don’t be overridden with false hope. You will just be disappointed.”

    Then he was gone.

    She had an ill feeling. That wicked sorcerer! He would just cheat again using his magic! But then she froze. Or would he? She flung open her dresser, and smiled, raising a special gem concealed in golden cloth.

    Suddenly, she had the craziest idea.


    From the princess’s vantage point, from her secret door, she raised her eyes to observe the golden-walled, silver-floored, bronze-ceilinged room. In the center, surrounded with a mass of people, was a golden table. Seated there, a pawn between his fingers, Sir Ace considered his next move. She glanced from him to the other opponent, and a silent gasp escaped her lips. A cluster of explosive surprise and paralyzing confusion pierced her thoughts.

    So, that trickster didn’t die…

    Reckless Checkless, the remarkable Starfish Jester, appeared deep in concentration with a furrowed brow and attention focused on the chessboard. He slid his queen across the chessboard, and a couple around the table snickered. Sir Ace smirked, glee and pleasure sparkling in his eyes. She didn’t know what he was thinking, but she did know for certain, if she didn’t intervene, that sorcerer would be her final suitor.

    Princess Ruby approached a step and halted. What might the people think regarding her? And what excuse would she have to remain? For her to act upon socialization was rather uncharacteristic of her.

    She removed her hand, and her door slid closed.

    “Don’t let the people see your face,” a little voice inside reminded her.

    Her face, her accursed face…

    She tore her mask from her face, clenching it in both hands. To remove the cloth and expose her face, gleaming in rubies, made her feel vulnerable. But she could not ignore her father’s words, “If you never face your fears, you can never overcome them.”

    Shaking her head, the princess released a shuddering breath. She had never revealed her face unto another besides a various several. She trembled and swallowed hard. Unnerving sensations chilled her bones. As Jiadre’s queen-to-be, someone was bound to look upon her and her face was bound to be revealed at some point.

    But she had no intention of letting that happen. She was not prepared.

    Princess Ruby slid on her heel to leave. A dark and crooked laugh echoed in the distance.  Turning around, she froze. Fiery, steely blood rushed through her veins. She recognized that laugh. It belonged to Sir Ace, and he sounded particularly… sadistic.

    “You are a fool, little starfish. When I take the princess’s hand in marriage and am declared the kingdom’s monarch, my first command will be your execution―the most torturous form of execution in Jiadre! Once you are in checkmate, this is game over.”

    Her insides smoldered and burned, crimson as red hot coals. How dare that wretched scoundrel! He would be punished for his actions, for his foul words! She pressed her secret door open a sliver. The game was about done. And Reckless Checkless was losing. He looked incredibly flustered.

    Sir Ace was smirking, gloating. “I claim the princess. She is mine, not yours. I can only imagine how our children will look like. However, imagining that is a little difficult, as I haven’t looked upon her true face… now, that is. But I shall.”

    Rage blossomed inside the darkest places of her heart. Her fear died cold. Her unquenched hatred, and her impulsive anger, howled in her mind, forming a wild hurricane. Her mask plummeted to the floor. She clenched a gloved hand around the magic-cancellation gem, storming into the room in her regal wedding dress. A seething glare marked her enraged face.

    Her face…

    The obnoxious snickering stopped. Gasps filled the air. She froze, horror strangling her in a hideous deathtrap. The people had all seen her face. How could she be so… stupid?

    All she wanted to do was run, to escape their judgmental stares. But instead, she stood taller, looking more regal and fiercer than ever. She glared at anyone who dared look her in the eye.

    Her conscience screamed at her in terror, but she feigned false confidence. She directed her attention at the chessboard before her, and then at Sir Ace with a fiery stare. She approached in a steadily forced manner, attempting to calmly collect herself, but she couldn’t stop fidgeting with her dress.

    “Sir Ace, think twice before making such absurd claims,” her forced words rang clear and even, and she even smirked, but her lips quivered under the people’s thorough and curious however suspicious inspection of her. “I would like to see how this game ends―no one favors missing all the fun. I am curious, who didn’t invite me?”

    Checkless smiled, but it was brief. He shoved a rook across the board, capturing the scoundrel’s knight, throwing Sir Ace on the offensive. Magic negated, and because he could no longer win using his unnatural powers, Sir Ace was at a major disadvantage, lacking true experience in chess play. In fact, Sir Ace was the flustered opponent now.

    Ruby remained standing where she was, that is, until a servant with polite manners positioned a violet silk chair beside the golden table for her because she was the royal princess. She heartily accepted it, and once seated, crossed her legs, staring unblinkingly at Sir Ace in a rather non-princess-like attempt to make him as uncomfortable and distracted as possible.

    Despite the fact Checkless was significantly outnumbered beforehand, in no more than a little time had he dispatched more than half of Sir Ace’s pieces in quick, tricky moves. Then at last, with a clever motion all his own, Checkless cornered and entrapped Sir Ace’s king. A moment later, Checkless chuckled. He tipped over Sir Ace’s king.

    “Checkmate!” the Starfish Jester declared with a gratified smile. “Squidbrain, what happened? You had been doing so well.”

    Princess Ruby arched her eyebrows at Sir Ace. The room burst with laughter. His face was bright red, trembling in rage.

    “You ― you cheated! You cheated!” Sir Ace exploded, arising from his seat.

    “I don’t believe so. I can only see one cheater in this room. That’s you, Sir Ace,” Ruby snapped. She noticed a couple guards across from her, and hesitantly, reluctantly, raised her voice. “Guards, seize this imbecile!”

    The guards shared a puzzled look. But with a serious glare from the princess, the guards did as commanded, one gripping Sir Ace’s arms from behind his back, the other directing the point of his blade at Sir Ace who, jerking around but couldn’t break free, practically drooled with seething hatred.

    “Using magic, Sir Ace cheated in the tournament, but this time,” she paused between her words and opened her hand, a gorgeous ruby sparkling in her palm, “this canceled his magic. Guards, take this with you, and make sure that it remains within close range of that scoundrel at all times. Or else his strange magic shall overcome your mortal souls. I must not forget to mention, he is the sorcerer brother of Monica Bloodrose.”

    Gasps shot through the room.

    “Remove him from the room. I can deal with him later,” Princess Ruby commanded, burying the ruby in one of the guard’s palm.

    Screaming furiously, the rotten sorcerer was hauled from the table. Just like that.

    Facing Checkless, her drilling glare softened. “I believe Father generously arranged… something. Perhaps, a glamorous royal wedding, wasn’t it?”

    Checkless smiled sincerely. “I believe so. However, there does not have to be a wedding, if you are not prepared for this―”

    “No, no,” the princess interrupted, beaming. “We have the wedding tonight! I am so thrilled―I won’t even have to kiss Sir Ace, not even once! Mark my words that would have been a nightmare!”

    The jester grinned and the people applauded. It was uncharacteristic of her, but she smiled. Perhaps the Jiadrean people weren’t as unscrupulous and depraved as she had conceived. It was ironic, that at one moment, she had feared people and had remained hidden all this time, to then revealing her face and all the sudden feeling more comfortable with their company, that inside, she felt incredibly twisted and messed up. How… how could she…

    Her parent’s overprotectiveness and her curse had driven her insane with wild fear. Father and Mother had taught her to conceal her face in order to protect their heir from conspiring figures, but had also, in a somewhat contradicting manner, attempted to prepare her, to prepare her should her face ever be revealed, to be brave, because her parents could not protect her forever. Well, now she had revealed her face.

    And no one even cared.

    How spectacular… and devastating!


    Father was surprised by her actions. Mother, however, frowned in the strongest disapproval ever. Despite that her “kidnapper” was now her husband, he did win the chess tournament. The wedding was as glorious and glamorous as any royal wedding, but Princess Ruby found it was strange she was happier about this than her parents.

    There was much laughter and delight that wedding evening, and scrumptious delicacies, and more, and all this time she was amazed how much she had dreaded it all. But the wedding was now over, as the princess dwelled in the royal garden with her face unveiled, still in her wedding dress, and a ruby ring on her ruby finger. Her gaze lingered in the distance, and an unfamiliar peace and new courage which she had never felt before blossomed in her soul.

    Her parents had unintentionally deceived her, although it was their best interest at heart to protect her. For her entire life, she had believed she would be judged unfairly, scorned and frowned upon, and hated, all due to her unique and peculiar appearance. But that wild jester didn’t judge her. She was glad she didn’t let him lose that game.

    In that moment of rage, when she stormed into the room, she was so preoccupied that for a moment, and it was a moment she would never forget, that she had revealed her secret―her true face. When she remembered, it was too late. However, her parents appeared the most displeased with her. It puzzled her, as Father was the one who never failed in attempting preparing her for this moment, to be more confident, but when she had revealed her face, and didn’t flee, thus displaying bravery, he was concerned? She didn’t particularly understand.

    Perhaps Father and Mother worried someone might take advantage of her unusual appearance, and spread false rooms concerning her, that she was some demon of a sort, but despite how vain this sounded, everyone seemed to love her (as Mother had said earlier). It was just so unusual, after all these years, to speak to another person; that is, a stranger. But still, her social skills were terrible.

    As the princess contemplated her life among the garden flowers, absorbed and deep in thought, she didn’t notice Checkless approaching from behind until she captured his smile in her peripheral vision.

    She spun around, and relaxed. He would make a good king. He had experience studying and exploring Jiadre, unlike her, who was confined behind walls for most her life. On the other hand, she could just imagine what a malevolent king Sir Ace Kastor would make.

    Checkless stood beside her, his eyes wandering afar off before settling on her. “Can I tell you a secret?”

    “Perhaps…,” Ruby replied, forcing a smile. “It better be more interesting than Sir Ace’s secret―that he was Monica Bloodrose’s brother―and he claimed he had even darker, and equally uninteresting, secrets to share than that.”

    He grinned, mischief sparkling in his eyes. “My real name isn’t Reckless Checkless; that’s just a nickname some people call me instead of Starfish Jester. That is the secret.”

    Ruby pursed her lips, eyes narrowing. Then she mimicked his bright smile. “Oh?” she said, in her deepest, most mysterious and dramatic voice. “And what is your real name?”

    “Drake Jehuka-Natashik,” her husband replied. “Yes, that’s a quite unusual and lengthy name. No one, aside from my parents and siblings, call me that.”

    “I rather like it, actually. It is unique, ridiculous, perhaps even a little twisted,” the words leapt from her tongue before she could stop them. Once she spoke, however, she realized that ‘ridiculous’ and ‘twisted’ probably weren’t the best words to use in properly complementing someone.

    He just laughed. “It is a foreign name. I am of foreign blood, but I was born here, and therefore I am considered a Jiadrean citizen.”

    “Well, I also have secrets. Perhaps a little too much, in fact,” the princess paused between her words, “er, at least, more than the average young lady. Would you like to hear them, or rather, should I say, most of them? You shall one day be king, and rule Jiadre beside me, after all.”

    “I would indeed,” replied the smirking jester. “We both have our own worlds we must share, despite how chaotic, how bizarre, and diverse each one might be.”


    And thence onward, Queen Ruby and King (er, Drake) Checkless ascended the throne of Jiadre. Goldie Phirehearth and Ravena Jorchid soon recovered from their shock concerning the tournament event and their daughter’s unexpected marriage, and stepped down from the throne, making a path for the new rulers, who with a little advice from the elders, reigned over Jiadre and all therein prospered and flourished.

    It changed Ruby forever, and all for the better.

    As for the little scoundrel, Sir Ace, his abrupt disappearance remains an unsolved mystery. It is rumored Monica Bloodrose paid her brother a generous visit. What she did to him no one is sure of, but Ace most likely suffered a very unpleasant and very much deserved punishment. One way or another, his face was never seen again…

    The end! Cheers.

    Random Stranger: "What do you want to do when you grow up?"
    Me: "Write every inch of your future."


    Thanks for sharing your goal, @andrew, and your story! This year I’m hoping to write two novels–finish the one I’m already working on, and do a new one, start to finish.

    Andrew Schmidt


    Wow, that sounds like a goal! I hope your novels are as awesome as you plan them to be!

    Random Stranger: "What do you want to do when you grow up?"
    Me: "Write every inch of your future."


    I hope so too, @andrew. Thanks for the good wishes!

    Anne of Lothlorien


    This story is so awesome!!!!!!!!!! And original… a princess made of jewels, a chess tournament for her hand, a starfish festival… I’ve never read anything like it! Also, I absolutely adore Checkless. 🙂 My favorite line…

    ““We both have our own worlds we must share, despite how chaotic, how bizarre, and diverse each one might be.”

    Really good job on your first story of the year!

    My goal is to publish a short story on Story Embers, finish the first draft of my novel, The Apprentice Spy, and a few other non-writer things.

    I'm short, I like words, and I love people.
    No, I didn't draw my profile pic.

    Andrew Schmidt


    Thank you! Also, great goals you have there! The Apprentice Spy, was that of dystopian genre? I think you might have told me at some point, but I can’t remember for sure.

    Random Stranger: "What do you want to do when you grow up?"
    Me: "Write every inch of your future."

    Anne of Lothlorien

    @andrew Well, to be honest I haven’t pinned down the genre. Maybe… historical dystopian fiction?? There’s trains and early automobiles, so it’s not modern times, but it is dystopian in the sense that’s it’s not the world the way we knew it. The government and societies and people’s roles and everything is different, the way the world works and all that. It’s not set in Ohio or England or something.

    I'm short, I like words, and I love people.
    No, I didn't draw my profile pic.

    Andrew Schmidt


    Well, it sounds very interesting. I’m writing my short story for February right now, and at one point, it seems almost dystopian/perhaps futuristic… but then again, there are knights (who have laser guns) and the MC is using robotic goldfish to spy on the corrupt Queen of Hearts. And the Mad Hatter (he goes by Georgias in this story) is so poor he can’t even afford tea, and so he is very mad at the collectors because of it – so, uh yeah, it’s kind of interesting to write.

    Random Stranger: "What do you want to do when you grow up?"
    Me: "Write every inch of your future."

    Anne of Lothlorien

    @andrew Maybe you could call it… dystopian fantasy? *scrunches up face in thought* I think that would work. Knights = fantasy and laser guns = dystopian? Or maybe it would actually be science fiction fantasy?

    I'm short, I like words, and I love people.
    No, I didn't draw my profile pic.

    Andrew Schmidt

    @anne-of-lothlorien, hmm, I think dystopian fantasy would suit the name of the genre mix I am currently writing in.

    Random Stranger: "What do you want to do when you grow up?"
    Me: "Write every inch of your future."


    @andrew Hey, Andrew! I haven’t been on here in ages either… I’m on the Young Writers Workshop Community now.

    My goal for this year is to write four or five novels.

    Your story is yours and no one else's. Each sunset is different, depending where you stand. -A. Peterson



    really enjoyed your story!! It’s so unique and put together extremely well. Excellent job!

    My 2021 goal is to finish my WIP that I started almost exactly a year ago, and to complete another novel that I’ve been plotting for the past few months.

    Is it weird that both of those stories include rubies in one way or another? XD (one the jewel the other as a name)

    Be weird. Be random. Be who you are. Because you ever know who would love the person you hide.

    Andrew Schmidt


    , that sounds like an ambitious goal! Good luck!


    , thank you so much! I appreciate it. Also, excellent goal!


    Sorry for not responding soon; I forgot to check my notifications on SE.

    Random Stranger: "What do you want to do when you grow up?"
    Me: "Write every inch of your future."

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