Excerpt for The Princess's Spirit Trilogy #1-3: An Early 21st Century Liberty Movement Story by , available in its entirety at Smashwords

The Princess's Spirit Trilogy:

An Early 21st Century Liberty Movement Story



Copyright (c) TaraElla 2016. All rights reserved.

Smashwords Edition



The Music in this Book



The music included in Chapters 3, 6, 9, 11 and 19 of this book is available on the original TaraElla albums LOVE IS ALL AROUND US and YOUR LOVE MAKES THE WORLD BEAUTIFUL.



Visit www.taraella.com to get these tracks and other music from TaraElla.



For more Princess's Spirit Ideas



There are more fiction and non-fiction titles by TaraElla relating to the Princess's Spirit concept.



TaraElla also maintains a blog and (upcoming) show inspired by the Princess's Spirit, called The TaraElla Show.



Visit www.taraella.com to find out more.



Disclaimer



All events described within or in relation to Pacificland are fictional. Any resemblance to real events are coincidental.



While effort has been made to describe accurately the international historical events referenced in the book, the accuracy of such events described cannot be guaranteed.



Chapter 1

Angelle's New Era



Angelle had just finished her breakfast. As she turned away from the table and started walking back to her room, she took a glance at the calendar. The thought that it was already the 16th of February 2003 suddenly hit her. It's been more than six weeks since her self promised new era had arrived. She needed to do more to prepare for this important year, the foundational year of the great new era.



2003 was going to be a big year for Angelle. It was the beginning of her 'development' as an aspiring Cultural Royal, one of the group of people elected to help shape Pacificland's future, and to many, one of the highest honours that a Pacificland citizen can have. This year, like most other aspiring cultural princes and princesses of Pacificland turning 14, she would start at the Royal College of Pacificland, which she gained admission to last year, to the celebration of family and friends. Of course, going to Royal College was itself a great thing, and most graduates are set for life in terms of jobs and careers. But that was not Angelle's real goal, not that she had told anyone else about her grander plan. Many great lords and kings, (and maybe one day even a queen?), had their start at the Royal College, and then got elected as a Cultural Royal, something that Royal College students have a great advantage in, as per tradition.



Being someone historical. Contributing to the history of Pacificland, and hence potentially all humankind too. It's the dream of every idealist. It was certainly the dream of Angelle's mother, Anne, when she was young. She was not even a student at Royal College, and yet she became one of the few who were popularly elected to the Heirs Council, a council for up-and-coming Cultural Royals, running on a friend's friend's ticket. Regrettably, she only ever made it that far. It wasn't easy to get further without the proper connections, the proper titles, the proper prestige. Her father was always much more practical. He was brought up with the knowledge that his heritage wasn't of sufficient prestige to carry him anywhere far, and so focussed his efforts on the economic improvement of his house. Regrettably, too, all that went up in smoke during the major stock market crash of 1997.



Angelle is determined to follow her mother's dreams, and this time she is determined to find success. 'The second generation makes it,' she has often told herself. Surely she still has plenty of disadvantages to overcome. A less than prestigious background and limited resources due to the family's partial financial ruin for one. But it's the 21st century, a time when technology levels the playing field in everything, right? In her parents' time people had to cultivate vast information networks to be able to have a grasp on developments from every corner of the world. But thanks to a development called the internet, even well-informed commoners can now know more about the current world than some old lords. In a few years' time, when everyone moves to broadband internet, and the promise of 'Web 2.0' comes true, things will get even better. (Angelle didn't exactly know what 'Web 2.0' meant, but she was sure it was going to be important.)



Technology isn't only good for gathering information either. It could also become a great tool used to overcome hard limits imposed by conventional systems. Just a few days ago she read in the papers that a band of musicians banished by their patron two years ago nevertheless were still making quite a fortune using technology. They recorded their music in a garage with the assistance of computers, and distributed their music to their already well developed fan base via the internet. Just a few more years ago, any band of musicians banished by their patrons would find themselves limited to playing for extremely small audiences, almost begging for a living. Many such bands would have to become boring ceremony bands, playing the same tired old stuff at every wedding they go to. With the right patrons musicians get to be known and popular around the world, playing to filled concert halls of thousands of people everywhere they go. Without a patron, life gets very difficult. But even here, things are changing.



Besides technology and the levelling playing field, there is something else in Angelle's favour too, she believes. Recent history has shown that she has a talent for bringing people together to work as a team. This mostly refers to the teams of 'leftovers' she has often been able to assemble, and become leader of, for things such as school projects or local karaoke competitions. From the outside, Angelle often just looked like one of the smarter social outcasts or 'leftovers' who therefore had to do this work. But Angelle knew that if she actively begged she would have been allowed to join a team before being 'left over'. It's just that following another leader was not how she was designed to work. This year, she was going to start her new era by assembling her team, doing what she does best. But this time it was not going to be a 'leftover' team. She was going to actively reach out to build this dream team. A team that will help her overcome all sorts of disadvantages, and most importantly of all, the connection and prestige disadvantage.



She would need to get to work soon. The new era kicks off. Angelle isn't entirely sure whether she is really ready, but she has waited her entire life for this. "Bring it on," she thought. "I'm ready."



Chapter 2

The Royal College



From the outside, the Royal College looked just like any ordinary, gray building, like all the other ones found in this part of town. But as Angelle stepped into its doors into the foyer, the place suddenly seemed much older, much more classical. For unlike the building itself, which had only about 50 years of history, the interiors were hundreds of years old. The bricks, the columns, and even the furniture, they were all disassembled from the previous Royal College building in Western Europe and shipped here to be reassembled. Beyond the foyer was the inner courtyard. It too looked classically European, for it was a replica of the front garden of the old Royal College.



Angelle felt awkward walking in a long robe, especially since it was in red, blue and gold, her family's house colours. Not to mention the warm weather today made things even worse. Her right arm is also getting tired from carrying the family sigil, a large flag of red, blue and gold again, hoisted on a golden flagstaff. It won't be like this every day though, because students are only required to wear their royal robes and carry their family sigils on Welcome Day and other special occasions. In front of her, Angelle could see a sea of colours, stretching as far as the eyes can see. The colours of every robe, representing the family colours of each house, was at least slight different, just like no two sigils were the same. Well, except for those who are siblings or cousins, of course.



Following the stream of people in front of her, Angelle stepped into the grand doors of the lobby. The lobby was a moderately small chamber, with two staircases on the left and right leading upstairs, and another set of big, grand doors at the end, leading to the inner courtyard, which appeared to be deserted at the moment. Instead, everyone appeared to be streaming up the staircases. In front of the staircases, there was a sign pointing houses A-M to the left staircase, and houses N-Z to the right one, so Angelle knew clearly where she had to go.



Once on the upper floor, Angelle could see a long corridor with the sign 'Discussion Rooms', with many rooms on both sides. But this was not where the people were going today. Instead, they passed into a place called the 'Allies Living Quarters', which featured a comfortable lounge with sofas and a small kitchen, and two lifts leading to 'Floors 3-25'. But this wasn't their destination either. Angelle could now see that they were actually heading for the Great Hall, its grand entrance could now be seen at the end of the lounge of the living quarters.



Once inside, Angelle could see that the Great Hall really does live up to its name. In fact, it looked like an even larger version of the Pacificland National Opera House, itself a replica of the Opera House in Paris. There was a sea of red chairs, with signs carrying the letters of the alphabet standing in front of every few rows. Angelle knew she had to find the letter J. Once there, she noticed that each chair had a person's name and a house name on it. After searching for some time, she found the one labelled 'Angelle, Easterner', and sat down. At the back of each seat she noticed a familiar slot. Thanks to her having watched Heirs Council meetings on television before, she knew this was the place to put the house sigil.



After what felt like forever, a tall, old man walked onto the stage. He was dressed in a robe that had five colours, red, yellow, green, blue and purple. Angelle immediately recognised these as the school colours of Royal College.



"Welcome students," he said.



"Welcome to the Royal College, for the new students. For the old ones, it's welcome back for another year. For those who still don't know me, I am Holland Northhome, Principle of this College. I know it may be boring for the old students, but for the benefit of the new students, I'm going to have to give the annual introductory talk again.



"Royal College is a very old tradition indeed. For the last 422 years, it has provided a great education to future royals around the world, from the oldest campus back in Northern Europe, where the college was founded, to our second campus in Western Europe, and finally, in the last half a century, in this rather new campus.



"Young royals are the future of our society. As such, we have a duty to provide you with the best education, so that you can learn from our history, and have the capacity to think critically in facing the future, a future of uncertainties, a future where new challenges arise with every generation. For hundreds of years, our students have gone on to become important thinkers, leaders, and even in some cases, revolutionaries, the best example of which was during the movement to introduce a popular vote of the King, or a similar position, often called the President or Prime Minister, in many kingdoms.



"Back in Europe, the College used to provide education only for the allied kingdoms of Europe and North America. Today, the great tradition of alliances amongst these houses is still represented here, most notably in the Allies Living Quarters. However, after the humanity crisis of the Second World War, we could no longer continue this boundary of exclusion. Therefore, since the College moved here to Pacificland, we have also welcomed the guest houses, those from places as varied as the Asia and the vast continent of Africa. These houses are represented in the Guest Living Quarters, on the other side of this building.



"Now, it's time for another great tradition of the College. I will call upon each student, in alphabetical order according to the name of their House, to come up on stage and be officially enrolled as a student at the Royal College. Each student will also be given their timetables. Every enrolment will be photographed by our professional photographer, and the photos will be given to you next week. Now let us begin. Miss Abigail of House Acadia!



Angelle felt a bit nervous, but was also a bit excited. After all, this was considered a rite of passage for all aspiring royals.



After what felt like an eternity, she finally heard her name being called. "Miss Angelle of Easterner!"



Angelle walked on stage, lifting her head up high, trying her best to smile and look confident. "If you can't even handle this, how can you achieve your dreams in life," she told herself.



Once on stage, the process was quite simple, surprisingly. All she had to do was to sign her name on a piece of paper, and receive her timetables from Principle Holland. It was all over within three minutes.





Chapter 3

The Princess Spirit Society



It is already 3am in the morning, but Angelle still cannot sleep. Tomorrow is Societies Day at the Royal College, and it is an opportunity to start building her future that she just cannot give up or mess up. On Socieities Day, the two hundred or so clubs, or Societies, as they are officially known as, are invited to set up stalls in the Inner Courtyard and Outer Courtyard of the college to recruit new members, and will be provided material to do so free of charge. New Societies can also be registered on that day, and start collecting members immediately. In fact, half of the Inner Courtyard is reserved for new Societies each year. It really is a great opportunity to make friends, and look like a leader. Trouble is, Angelle still doesn't know what Society to start. The list of Societies she received yesterday looks like it has every conceivable Society there already. What more could she add?



Angelle decided to get up and write a song. She found that sometimes that can help.



"Listen to My Heart



What they tell you is just so confusing

Sometimes you don't know what to do

And in this world there are so many crossroads

Which path should I go down



Sometimes I wonder why some cling onto

Walls that only make

Their own lives harder than how it should be

Let them go and we'll have freedom



I'll just listen to my heart

Live by doing what feels right

What really makes my life better

Should be the way to go



There are many stupid rules

But they don't do any good

Why should we be bothered with them

When we should know better



Time resolves all things

But at what cost

For me, will it be too late

Have you asked



I'll just listen to my heart

Live by doing what feels right

What really makes my life better

Should be the way to go"



As she reached below her pillow, Angelle noticed that a book was there. She remembered that it was 'The Princess Spirit', the book she was reading just before she went to bed, the book she would read before any important 'battle' in her life. When she was young, her mom gave her this book. Inside there were 20 lessons for young princesses, which she took to heart. When she becomes a Cultural Princess, she will lead by example, fulfilling the ideals in the book, she had promised herself since then. "Yes, this would be her great idea. Tomorrow, she would go to Royal College to start the Princess Spirit Society," she thought. She could now sleep, knowing what to do finally.



*****



As she walked into Royal College today, Angelle could see that people were already setting up stalls in the Outer Courtyard. As she stepped inside the College building, she could see a long line that had formed in front of the registration and supplies stall. She joined the line, and fifteen minutes later, she was allocated a stall in the Inner Courtyard, and a set of materials including a few cardboard pieces, crayons in ten different colours, and some blu-tack.



After she got to her stall, the first thing Angelle did was to use different coloured crayons to write The Princess Spirit Society on the banner located at the top of the stall. A multicoloured title would surely gain more attention, she thought, not to mention that it looked pretty nice. Next, she wrote down the 20 lessons from the book onto the largest piece of cardboard, using every crayon exactly twice, cycling the colours. She then stuck this piece of cardboard on the stall, so everyone walking by could see it. Now that the stall was set up, she just had to wait.



After two hours, she had her first visitor.



"Hi, I'm Jenelle," the tall blonde said as she walked towards the stall. Angelle was excited to finally have a visitor.

"Hi, I'm Angelle, and we are setting up a new society today, the Princess Spirit Society," Angelle said.

"I'm going to have to stop you right there. Who's we? Where are the other people," Jenelle said.

"Well... they are busy... so I'm left to look after this stall, because I'm the president," Angelle said.

"Busy or non-existent? I actually guess non-existent, because I don't think anybody else wants to be a part of the rainbow crayon princess society," Jenelle said.

"It's not about rainbow crayons, you know, it's about a great idea. The Princess Spirit," Angelle said.

"Oh, The Princess Spirit. It sounds like I'm too old for that. And most people here would be too," Jenelle said, and started walking away.

"Don't you want to find out more?" Angelle screamed out.



Angelle almost cried. But she knew she had to carry on. It would look bad otherwise. "Those destined for greatness never give up on their dreams. Those who give up were simply never destined for greatness in the first place. Never give up despite the odds," she said to herself. So she pretended to smile, and after a while, was back to normal.



*****



At the end of the day, the names of three other first years, 'Princess Natalie of House Eastpark', 'Princess Jenny of House Gold', and 'Prince Daniel of House Benring', were on the signup sheet. (They literally wrote their names this way.) This was still a start, Angelle thought. Not that Angelle knew a lot about these people yet. They came in a group, all three of them, and they just read the cardboard and put their names on the sheet, and walked away. The next step was to connect with these people, and see if we can all be friends.



Chapter 4

War Breaks Out



Every day when classes ended for the midday break, the Princess Spirit club, i.e. Angelle, Natalie, Jenny and Daniel would walk together along the corridors and down the staircase, and through the doors outside to the inner courtyard, where they would sit in the warm sunshine and have their lunch. Today, however, the courtyard looked different. There were many people in there, mostly older students from the upper years, and they were holding up banners and chanting loudly. Angelle and her friends walked towards one of those people, and asked him what was going on.



"We are opposed to the War in Western Asia," he said. "You don't like wars, do you? You should sign our petition!"

"What war are you talking about?" Angelle asked.

"The government here in Pacificland will join an international war against a country in the western part of Asia. The war is aggression. We simply wish to tell the King we, the people, don't want the war. Signatures of young future royals like you will help us greatly," he said.

"But why does the King want us to go to war, if the people don't want it?" Angelle asked.

"The reasons are complex, it's all about who looks powerful, but it's just bad for humanity," he explained.

So the King is joining an international war to look powerful? The King of Pacificland needs to do this? Angelle was surprised. Angelle didn't like the idea of war anyway. Princesses shouldn't support wars, she believed. She thought of the Princess Spirit Book again. One rule was to help the less fortunate, and another was to never wilfully harm others. War seems like something she can't support.

"And what's the reason for the war again, according to those who want it?" Angelle asked.

"I think they say it's about spreading liberty," Jenny said.

"Of course that's what they say. They always say that. But it's about making themselves look good. You know, to some people, a King who leads what looks like a just war, even if it's actually unjust, looks like a hero. It's good for their re-election," the young man explained.

"But bombing people to give them freedom? That doesn't make sense?" Natalie asked.

"Of course it doesn't make sense to you and me. But many people don't think that way. They see a King spreading justice around the world," the young man said.

"But why this country many miles away?" Angelle asked.

"But that's the point. People who are so 'foreign' that they are 'them' and not 'us'. Isn't it?" Natalie said.

"Your friend is very right. So are you going to sign our petition?" the young man asked Angelle again.



Angelle looked at the others, not really knowing what to do.

"My parents never sign anything like this, so I think we shouldn't," Jenny said.

"It's sometimes OK to sign petitions, but you don't want to be associated with certain organisations. It will ruin your future," Natalie offered.

Angelle really felt bad about just walking away now, but she shared similar concerns as her friends.

"Do you represent an organisation?" she asked the man.

"We are the Social Justice Group," he replied.

"And everyone else is part of that too?" she asked.

"Not really. There are many organisations out here today," he replied.

"Does anyone not represent any organisation here?" she asked.

"I think there are some. Most people here represent organisations. But it's OK, if you sign, it doesn't mean you join the organisation," he replied.

Angelle thought for a while.

"I'm sorry, but I think I'll sign a petition not associated with an organisation. They all go to the King anyway, right?" she said.

"I guess you can say that. Nice to meet you then," he said, and they parted.



Angelle and friends searched through the crowd and talked to lots of people, from lots of different organisations.

Finally they found someone who fit their criteria.

"We are not an organisation. We are Freedom Fighters. We fight for freedom," the young man explained. He gave them each a booklet. "Read this. It explains what freedom is, and why you should support freedom too."

"You really don't represent an organisation?" Natalie asked, still a bit sceptical.

"No, we don't. Indeed, our petition has the college letterhead on it, and it has no organisation name anywhere. It would break school rules to add the name of another organisation on documents with the college letterhead," he explained, and let them look at the petition book.

Angelle was satisfied. She decided to sign, and the others did too.



"We just did a good thing, I think," Angelle said.

"Me too, actually," Daniel said.



*****



When she got home, Angelle had a lot to think about. Kings and governments were supposed to look after people, right? Do kings actually join wars just to make themselves look good, at great cost to humanity? Or is there some other story? Can wars actually spread liberty? But isn't that idea ridiculous?



Thinking deeper, if the King wants to wage a war, where does his authority to do so come from? It's because the people trust him. Where does the money come from? The people again, in the form of taxes, of which her parents paid a lot every year. "I wouldn't want to help pay for a war I don't want and the rest of us don't want either. A real princess doesn’t do that," Angelle thought. But thinking deeper again, there's no choice, really. Taxes have to be paid. But don't we pay taxes for running the country, not for wars miles away? This made Angelle question the virtue, or lack thereof, of the King and the government again. More importantly, she was also now questioning if we really lived in a free country, here in Pacificland. So much for 'spreading liberty' if you don't even have enough at home.



Freedom. What is freedom? And why is it so important, why is this keeping her up at night, and why is this the justification of war? Can wars spread freedom again? She decided to read the Freedom Fighter's booklet. Maybe it will give her some insight.





Chapter 5

The Princess Spirit's First Test



A few days ago, Angelle had spent a whole night reading The Freedom Fighter's Manifesto, the booklet she received a week earlier from a self-proclaimed Freedom Fighter. These few days she couldn't take her mind off what she had read. The booklet talked about many things that had not occurred to her before. The booklet talked about how freedom was good for individuals, families and communities, and was ultimately better than what any good king can provide for his subjects. This is in contradiction to Angelle's upbringing, where she was taught that nations thrive with good kings and fall when they have bad kings. The book also contained interesting quotes from 'freedom thinkers'. "So-called good kings often still do plenty of things detrimental to the welfare of people and families everywhere, like wage wars on innocent people, so they can stay in power," was one quote that got Angelle thinking really hard. "Freedom is the ultimate protection against bad kings, because even with elections, bad kings can lie to get into power, and use tricky means to stay there forever," was another one.



One chapter of the book was particularly challenging for Angelle, however. It was the chapter on how kings around the world, including so-called good kings, actively oppressed gay and lesbian people and their families. "The so-called duty of good kings to uphold the so-called laws of nature is often really an excuse to impose a certain designed order on humankind, in a fashion often against what nature really is like," the book stated. The statement looked so logical to Angelle, but its implications regarding same-sex couples did not look so easy. "Same-sex couples should be allowed the freedom to marry as they wish, and it will be not only consistent with freedom but be good for everyone, couples who will have much to contribute to a society where they are loved and respected," was how it was spelt out in the book. What Angelle had learnt, up until now, was that a duty of a good king was to uphold the laws of nature, and people partnering with others of the same-sex was not what nature intended, so good kings had to discourage it. Her family had taught her this, and her previous friends also thought likewise. To support same-sex marriages would also be to go against majority opinion, considering that a poll done last year found that less than 30% of Pacificland's citizens supported the government granting equality to same-sex couples. At least in Pacificland, in 2003, people like Angelle's family and friends are in the majority, clearly, and a good king should know to respect that, she was taught in the first week here at Royal College.



Angelle decided to raise the issue with Natalie.

"What's wrong with gay and lesbian people?" Natalie replied, looking a bit disgusted.

Angelle thought she had gone too far, and decided to retreat a little. "It's just that the majority don't think gay marriages should be accepted. Good kings need to listen to the majority, right?" she offered.

"You really think that's true? That the majority should always rule?" Natalie said.

"It's what they taught us in week one," Angelle replied, a bit unsure now.

"The majority once thought that slavery was right too, you know. That's why we had slaves until less than 200 years ago. People were born or sold into slavery for life, and they lived a life of misery because the majority agreed with it. The majority can be unjust," Natalie said.

"So you support gay marriage?" Angelle asked.

"Of course. These people have difficult enough lives already, and anyone with half a heart wouldn't want to deny them even basic rights. I would be very sad if I couldn't marry the person I loved. How should they be any different?" Natalie replied.

Angelle thought for a while, and there was silence.

"Come have lunch with me today," Natalie said. "I'll introduce you to my sister."



Natalie was privately offended that Angelle didn't seem very comfortable with gay and lesbian people and same-sex marriages. For her, the struggle is personal. Her older sister, Ashley, is lesbian, and her family had been through a huge struggle with judgemental people everywhere for the past few years. Still, she understood that those who don't yet understand are the majority out there, and only conversation will improve things. "Angelle's not a bad person," she told herself. "Like everyone else, she's been brainwashed, and she just needs to learn the truth."

The other thing Natalie was worried about was if Angelle's attitude towards gay people may cause difficulties for their friendship group. Daniel is sure to come out as gay in the future, she was certain.



Just a few weeks ago, the lunch hall was a grand sight. Hundreds of round, wooden tables and wooden chairs, in a long hall decorated with dozens of pictures showing the history of the College, really made an impression. But now that Angelle has gotten used to it, it just looked, 'normal'. When she arrived at the lunch hall today, she headed towards the usual corner where her friends would sit, not even thinking twice about how the place looked. But today, there was another reason to be excited. Angelle was excited to meet a more senior student for lunch. Maybe she could learn more about Royal College, and how to survive it, she thought. As she approached, at one of the round, wooden tables, Natalie was already there, and seated beside her was a slightly older version of her. They do look very alike, Angelle thought.

"Hi Angelle," they both said, as she walked towards the table.

"Angelle, this is Ashley. Ashley, this is Angelle," said Natalie.

"Hi Natalie and Ashley," Angelle said.

"It's your first month here at Royal College?" Ashley asked.

"Yes," Angelle said.

"Are you liking it here?" Ashley asked.

"I think I am starting to like it more, especially with friends like Natalie," Angelle replied.

"You and Natalie, do you hang out together all the time?" Ashley asked.

"Well, almost," Angelle replied.

"We do almost everything together, we even signed an anti-war petition together," Natalie said.

"Last week?" Ashley asked.

"Yes. And it was Angelle's idea. She was also the one who started the Princess Spirit club, you know," Natalie said.

"So you're into the Princess Spirit too?" Ashley asked Angelle.

"You mean, as in the little purple book?" Angelle clarified.

"Of course. Where else?" Ashley replied.

Angelle was pleasantly surprised. She thought nobody else took the Princess Spirit thing seriously.

For the rest of the hour, Angelle and Ashley chatted about the Princess Spirit. Angelle was happy to finally find somebody who can share it with her.



"You know why the Princess Spirit book was written?" Natalie suddenly asked.

"To teach young ladies to treat the world around them better?" Angelle said.

"Yes, that's one reason. But the author was actually hoping that the next generation of princesses and princes would really take the messages in the book to heart, and overcome the prejudices and hate that have been passed down the generations, prejudices and hate that have plagued even the greatest kings and queens alive," Ashley said, looking a bit sad.

"Anyway, it was nice talking to you, but I have to go now," Ashley said.

"It was surely nice talking to you. I hope we'll meet again," Angelle said.



After Ashley left, Natalie and Angelle started talking again. But a few minutes later, Natalie's face turned serious.

"Angelle, there's something I actually need to tell you," Natalie said.

"What," Angelle asked.

"Ashley actually left because she was sad, and she didn't want you to see it," Natalie said.

"Why?"

"She's actually in love with a girl, and has been upset that not everyone likes it. Her girlfriend has been talking about getting married Canada, where the Prime Minister there has said he will soon allow same-sex marriages. But the families of some of her childhood friends won't allow them to attend," Natalie said.

Angelle fell silent. Ashley looked normal. She had always thought that one must be at least somewhat weird to be gay.

"But..."

"What?"

"But she looked so normal."

"Yes, gay and lesbian people are normal. Everything else is a myth," Natalie said.

Angelle began to cry. She didn't know why. She was confused.



*****



When Angelle got home that evening, she locked herself in her own room, thinking about the day's events.

She took out her now torn copy of the 'purple book' and began reading it all over again. When she was young, she would read it the way her mother had taught her to. Not that it was the wrong way, but she only applied it narrowly, to her own life and to 'everyday' circumstances. Now she could see that the Princess Spirit was more than that. It was not only a challenge to be a better person, but also a challenge to think different from the generations that have come before, and be better than them. To take care of the less fortunate sometimes means to challenge the majority and the established norms. And if everyone failed to do that, we would be failing in our duty to care, to fight for, and to love everyone. Society had failed people like Ashley, and the established norms and taboos, have kept even good people from seeing the truth. There isn't even enough freedom for people to really follow the way of the Princess Spirit, when it comes to things like standing up against the king and his 'advisers' on stupid wars that hurt people, and when it comes to helping people like Ashley to just have what everyone else takes for granted. No wonder the Freedom Fighters say there is not nearly enough freedom of conscience in our present world.



Angelle is now a changed person. It will take a few more weeks to fully clarify her new ideas, but there is no going back. She is a new Princess, and she has a new fight.





Chapter 6

Angelle's Big Decision



The inner courtyard is a sea of colour today, as Angelle and her friends entered There's excitement all around, as nominations for Heirs Council open today. Five people have announced that they will be running for Heirs Council so far, and four of them are students at this school. Heirs Council is one of two ways, and the easier way, to become a Cultural Royal. In this case, one has to be both a member of the council and have enough support from the other members to be elected a Cultural Royal. But this is still much easier than running for direct election as an adult citizen. Most people running for Heirs Council would also be expected to be students at Royal College, as the student body here holds half the votes, as per tradition. Red and yellow, deep blue, three shades of green and orange and purple are the respective colours the four candidates have chosen, and flags and banners of these colours fill up the courtyard today.



Angelle is feeling dizzy because she didn't slept well these past few days, and the loud noises from Heirs Council candidates and their supporters in the inner courtyard today doesn't help either. But for Angelle, she has one big decision to make, and it is all anxiety and no excitement for her. Of course, nobody expects a first year like Angelle to nominate, and to do so without proper reason risks being seen as attention seeking. But as long as one can give a convincingly proper reason, it's also the perfect way to get a profile to prepare for future races, and those who end up with the biggest prizes tend to have big profiles starting early. In other words, it's a huge risk to take, and one that may bring great rewards. She had even talked this over with her mother, who encouraged her to go with her heart. To go with her heart...



"I've made my decision. I'm going to nominate this year," Angelle suddenly said aloud.

Her friends looked shocked.

"Are you alright," Jenny asked, a bit concerned.

"Yes, I am. I mean, I'm actually scared, but I think it's the right thing to do," Angelle said.

"If that's what you want, we're excited for you. But let's talk over it inside," Natalie said.



*****



The conversation continued after they all sat down in the cafeteria.



"So you're really going to do this," Daniel asked, trying to look serious.

"OK. Listen. I know it's a big risk to take, for myself. But I can't just think about myself. Since that day I met your sister, and we had that conversation about the Princess Spirit, I've decided that I must take a stand for it. You know, I started to realise that the Princess Spirit is much bigger than what I thought it was all along, and it's something people should really think about. I need to share this with the world, sooner rather than later," Angelle said.

"So you're standing up for people like my sister now? Good on you!" Natalie said.

"People change, you know. I was misinformed, my apologies," Angelle said.



"But you're going to run on just one book, one idea?" Jenny asked. "Will people take it seriously?"

"Of course the Princess Spirit is just a starting point, and I will have a detailed platform, like everyone else. We have a few months to get it together," Angelle said.

"I like your enthusiasm, Angelle, but Jenny probably has a point. You know, the Princess Spirit is seen by many as a kid's book, just like Cinderella and all those other fairytales of Princes and Princesses. Many people will not take it as seriously as platforms based in economic theories, religious values or even populism," Natalie said.



Angelle paused to think for a while.



"You're right. The Princess Spirit is just where we want to get to in the end. However, unlike in fairytales, it will not happen magically. I will offer practical solutions to help us get there. For example, I'm also inspired by that freedom stuff, you know, and they have a big platform. I think a lot of it will fit well with the Princess Spirit. I mean, no wars, no discrimination or hate, letting people be themselves, it all fits. It's all about breaking through the things that trap us, as a society, things that prevent us from realising the Princess Spirit," Angelle said.



"Sounds great. If that's what you're going to do, know that we're behind you," Natalie said.

"Thanks. In fact, you are all welcome to join my team," Angelle said.

"What team?" Daniel asked.

"The Heirs Council team, of course. You run with me, and you may get a seat on the council. Once on the council, you will vote for me as Cultural Royalty in return. Have you heard about that?" Angelle said.

"Wow, that sounds exciting. I'm in," Daniel said.

"I'm in too. I'd like to be your adviser, if you don't mind," Natalie said.

"Sure. I need some advice, and what you've provided me with so far has been great," Angelle said.

"One thing though. You will need ten votes to be Cultural Royalty. You've only got three here," Natalie said.

"Well, once there, we can collect votes, persuade people, right? Especially with a smart adviser like you?" Angelle said.

"Fair point," Natalie said.

"How about you, Jenny," Daniel asked.

"I'll think about it," Jenny said. "I'm just a cautious person. But I'll be supporting you anyway."



*****



They say that before you do something potentially life-changing, you should do a good luck ritual. That's what Angelle believes anyway, and one of her good luck rituals is to listen to this song she has loved for many years. Whenever she listens to it, it seems that everything will be just fine.



"Beauty



Sometimes it's just the rain

And sometimes it's just the sun

Whatever time we all need

Something to cheer us up



It may be just the night sky

Filled with little stars

But for us it can hold

More meaning than a book



We all need those little things

To remind us of what's worth living for

We all need those little things

Just to show us beauty

And in those beautiful things

We can see why life is worth living



It's just a little book

But to me it's the key

To a time when this world

Seemed like a paradise

And with it I can try to

Build the magic again

And for us love can last an eternity



And when I am under a

Dark cloud and the storm

I won't be afraid if

I have those dreams with me

And we'll keep on going

Till the great moments come back

And for me the world always

Is a world of hope



We all need those moments

Just to show us what life is all about

And then we can carry on in those darker periods

So cherish those little beautiful things

And hold onto those great moments

And live the most out of what comes our way"



*****



Angelle and her friends got into a taxi together after classes. Normally they would go home, but today they were all going to the same place, excitedly.

"You want to bring these people home with you today?" Angelle's driver for today asked.

"Not really. But can you please take us to the Registrations Office, on Kings Road?" asked Angelle.

"You know, my job is to take students home, not do this. But... if you're nominating, then that's... fine with me. So you're nominating? For real?" the driver asked.

"Yes sir," Angelle said.

"You would be the youngest person to nominate in more than a decade, you know?"

"I know, and I'm up for the challenge," Angelle said.

"Good on you. You already have my support. Now let's go," the driver said.





Chapter 7

Purple and Yellow: A Force to be Reckoned With



Angelle and her friends had been campaigning in the inner courtyard every day for a week now, trying to gather supporters. Purple and yellow, a combination of the colour of the cover of the Princess Spirit book and the traditional colour representing freedom fighters, has now joined the many other colour combinations being represented amongst the banners and flags colouring the courtyard. However, the purple and yellow team was still amongst the smallest, and was now being surpassed even by teams that have come on board later. Today, it seems that even the red and brown team, which had only been here for three days, has definitely got bigger than purple and yellow, with its seven members.



"Looks like my team is bigger than yours," Jenelle said, as she approached the a dozen or so people rallying around the purple and yellow banners.

"Really?" Angelle asked.

"Are you blind?" Jenelle said, pointing to the two dozen or so people now standing behind her. Jenelle had gained a 'cool girl' reputation in the past few weeks and the most superficial people are now following her around apparently. "We aren't even running for election and we are twice your size."

"So what? Why don't you run for election then?" Angelle said.

"We don't run for elections because it's only for people who want to waste their time, sitting through boring council meetings. But if we did, we would do a much better job of it than you people, clearly," Jenelle said.

"If you aren't running then you're irrelevant and can be ignored. Goodnight," Natalie said.

"Trying to be smart, right? If you were so smart you wouldn't be this loser's sidekick. But clearly you're just not smart enough, so you're over there instead of over here," Jenelle said.

"Your crew doesn't stand for anything except being selfish and stupid, why would she want to be over there?" Angelle said.

"Did you just call us stupid? Let's go and tell the student media," Jenelle said.

"Just ignore them," Natalie said to Angelle.



*****



That Team Angelle is struggling is actually unsurprising, given that all the other teams are headed by more senior students, who have taken their time to build connections. It would be unrealistic to expect purple and yellow to be the biggest team here, Angelle thought, but if she wanted to make a real impact, she would have to at least raise her profile a bit more.



"Imagine if only I could get on television. I could be like that guy in California who just got elected," Angelle said.

"Yes, that would be nice, wouldn't it," Natalie said.

"But only rich people with lots of connections can get on there, right," Jenny said.

"Yes, that's true. But that's the beauty of technology. The world is changing, and soon people are not going to need to get on TV to be that popular guy," Mandel, one of the newest members of Team Angelle, said.

"But how?" Angelle asked.

"You know, the internet. The blog thing is getting big these few years. You know, where you have a website you can post to regularly, and people will come back to read it again and again if they love it. It's kind of like having your own TV show. Only that it's text based, of course," Mandel said.

Angelle looked interested.

"I have one actually. I'll show you after classes today if you want," Daniel said.



*****



Angelle and her friends gathered excitedly around a computer in the library. They could only have it for half an hour, since they did not have a prior booking, and even had to queue for half an hour just to get this computer. But it was more than enough time for what Daniel had to show them today. Especially since the internet connection in the college library is supposedly fifty times faster than what most people have at home. It's called 'broadband internet', apparently.



Daniel's blog looked exciting. It had a background of blue, green and pink, his favourite colours, and even a photo of him that was professionally taken. It had entries posted every week or so, and it told the story of his life.

"Those colours are gay," Mandel said.

"We have decided that homophobia is not OK here," Natalie said.

"I'm not saying he's gay. I'm just saying that the colours don't look good," Mandel said.

"So you're using the word gay to mean bad. We don't do this here, you know," Natalie said.

"OK, let's not argue over this. I'm fine," Daniel said.



Meanwhile, Angelle was too absorbed, studying the blog, to notice the argument.

"As my advisor, would you think something like this would be helpful for me?" Angelle asked Natalie.

"It wouldn't hurt to try. What not do it?" Natalie said.

"I'll show you how to start one. And make it look way better than this one here," Mandel said.



And so they started the blog, Angelle and the Princess Spirit. Of course it had a purple and yellow background, and a photo of Angelle wearing those colours, taken in the inner courtyard a week ago, to commemorate the start of their campaign. Angelle decided that the first entry should explain her deep connection with the idea of the Princess Spirit, and how she proposed to make it happen, via 'liberty and love', her new signature phrase.



*****



Angelle has been very excited these few days. After monthly efforts of recruiting people to Team Angelle every campaign day in the inner courtyard, Team Angelle was still quite small. In the first month after nominations, when every day was campaign day in the inner courtyard, she had only limited success. Early days, she thought. However, it only became even harder after that month was over, and campaign days were held only once a month. Without the ongoing momentum, people became much less interested. Angelle's blog had also helped a bit too, though not as much as she had hoped, at least up until now. After more than one year of posting on her blog and promoting it in every way she can, she had only gathered a few thousand readers, and of those, only a dozen or so offered to volunteer for Team Angelle. So with the elections only two months away, Team Angelle had only around fifty volunteers, and a few thousand pledged supporters. Compare that with the front running teams, with thousands of volunteers and millions of pledged supporters. Angelle wasn't going to compete with them, not this time around, but she knew she needed more to make at least an impact.



But now, everything was about to change. One of the editors of a quite well known website had read Angelle's blog, and liked it very much. He has decided to run a story on his website about Angelle, and her blog. Angelle gave him a 'virtual interview' a few days ago, which was nothing more than filling in a questionnaire sent via e-mail, and attaching a few professionally shot photos with the reply. The story went up today, and to Angelle's pleasant surprise, it had brought in more readers than she ever did on her own.



"I've reached 12,537 readers today," she texted Natalie on her phone.

"Wow!" was the reply she got.



It was still too early to tell what kind of impact this late boost would have, on the level of support she would get going into the election. But still, this was VERY encouraging for Angelle and her team.





Chapter 8

The Debate



A few days have now passed since Angelle's blog became, well, widely known. In the internet vocabulary, one could say that it had gone 'viral', i.e. that it is spreading like a virus. More websites, including even more popular ones, had also featured the blog, and by extension Angelle herself, in these few days, and as a result, she has now had more than 300,000 readers. She was now a 'force to be reckoned with', according to some journalists.



Today, she also received an invitation to debate, from a fairly large, though not front-running team. It was quite the honour, she thought, as it generally meant you are now in the big league. The invitation was sent from a group called 'The Rules Guardians', for a debate to be run at the Royal College after classes next Monday. Angelle summoned her team for an 'emergency meeting' to discuss this.



"We definitely should accept this, right?" Angelle asked.

"You'd be mad not too. Imagine all the media attention. Debates in the last few months always get media attention," Natalie said.

"I would have to agree," Mandel said.

"And for once, I can agree with him," Daniel said.

"So we're doing it. Does anyone know anything about The Rules Guardians?" Angelle asked.

There was silence.

"I don't think they are that famous. I know that the invitation states that they have over a million supporters, but for some surprising reason, they are not famous. I for one haven't heard of them before," Natalie said.

"So shall we still do it?" Angelle asked.

"Of course. Just go for it anyway. It isn't as if it's a trap or that they are lying, if there's a debate it means that they have the numbers to book it, so the invitation isn't lying. It doesn't matter who they are, either. It only matters that you show the world who you are," Natalie said.



*****



As Angelle was about to prepare for her debate, she realised that there was still one important thing she needed to do. Her family had not been aware of her platform yet, as they had given her some autonomy to figure out the best way to do things, as they put it. Some aspects of the platform may be, to put it mildly, unexpected by her family, and when the debate goes public, it may cause some shock.



Angelle decided to show her mother a copy of the platform. She nervously waited as her mother read it carefully, from cover to cover.



"Well, you know that I don't agree with everything that's in there, but I know you've got to be flexible in the way you bring people together, so I'm going to respect whichever way you go," her mother said.

Angelle was relieved.

"So... can you brief our family on what I'm about to do, in case it's not what they expected?" she asked.

"Yes, I will. We all understand that this is an important start for your career, and you need to bring as many people on board as possible right now."



So that was one more problem solved. One day, Angelle will need to tell her family about how recent events have changed her beliefs, from the bottom of her heart. But for right now, this will do.



*****



The Grand Hall of Royal College was divided into three parts today, Angelle could see as she and her team walked in. The back part of the hall was designated the 'neutral zone', whilst the front part, including the stage, was evenly divided into two, purple and yellow on the left, white and dark blue on the right. Angelle had read about this kind of arrangement in books in the past, but seeing it herself was a whole new experience. Being at the centre of such a debate was another new experience, and on a wholly different level too. Secretly, she felt a bit nervous.



*****



Angelle and her team had been waiting nervously, on their seats in the purple and yellow side of the stage, for about an hour now. The neutral zone was now more than half filled with students waiting to watch the debate, and the purple and yellow side of the audience section had a few familiar faces, mostly friends of people involved in Team Angelle. But it appeared that not only were The Rules Guardians late, but the white and dark blue side of the audience section was also empty. Something looked suspicious, Angelle thought. Or maybe it was only her nerves.



Suddenly, a tall blonde figure dressed in white and dark blue entered from the side of the stage. It was Jenelle.

"So she's The Rules Guardians?" one surprised member of Team Angelle asked quietly. Angelle felt her heart sink.



Jenelle walked towards the microphone.

"Hi everybody, I am Jenelle Lacey, and I'm here to deliver a message on behalf of The Rules Guardians. The Rules Guardians have decided to pull out of this debate at the last minute, I'm sorry to say," she said.

There was an awkward silence in the room.



"The Rules Guardians are normally open to debating with other teams, teams that may share a different viewpoint on various matters. However, as their name says, they are committed to certain values, namely the traditional values that help protect our families, societies and nations. And a last minute reading of the Princess Spirit Team's platform was found by senior team members to be incompatible with such values. Consistent with their rules of shunning people and organizations who are enemies of their cherished values, the president of The Rules Guardians has decided to pull out of the debate at the last minute, as he cannot in good conscience honour an organization whose values are clearly opposed to the good order of human society. That is all," she said, and walked off the stage.



There was heated discussion amongst the audience now. Angelle could vaguely hear that people were confused about what was actually happening, and the words 'lesbian' and 'gay marriage' were being uttered every now and then.



*****



After school that day, Angelle and her team confronted Jenelle, as she was leaving.

"Are you behind the whole The Rules Guardians thing? You need to be honest," Natalie said.

"No, I'm not a member of any election team, as I've said before. Elections are not for cool people like us anyway. I was just helping them deliver a message," Jenelle said.

"So why did you do that?" Angelle asked.

"You know, The Rules Guardians is about to become the coolest team here, and cool people are attracted to each other," Jenelle said.

"But nobody even knows who The Rules Guardians is," Mandel said.

"Well, not after everyone and their parents gets one of these in their mail," Jenelle said, handing them each a pamphlet. "Goodbye guys."



Angelle read the pamphlet.

"The Rules Guardians is committed to the traditional values that help protect our families, societies and nations, the very values which are under threat from people who think they know better than centuries of history...



"Right now, around the world, our values are under attack. In the past four years, gay marriage has gone from being globally rejected to being legalised in two European countries, one US state and several Canadian provinces, and there will be more to come if we don't act soon enough. In fact, our very own King, here in Pacificland, is leaving his options open, refusing to defend the time-honoured definition of marriage being between a man and a woman...



Angelle suddenly had a realisation. The pamphlet looked and read very much like one her parents recently received from Senator Jashor, who is running for election to be King of Pacificland against the incumbent King March. One of Jashor's favourite lines of attack against King March was that he had not instructed government departments not to recognise recent same-sex marriage certificates from Canada, instead allowing each department to act on their own conscience. Jashor often pledged to introduce laws to prohibit this from happening, based on similar laws already enacted and enforced by the American and Australian federal governments. Could The Rules Guardians be an extension of Jashor and his team? If so, they had big money behind them, and Team Angelle would be in big trouble.


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