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Authors: Geanna Culbertson

Protagonist Bound

BOOK: Protagonist Bound
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Crisanta Knight: Protagonist Bound
© 2016 Geanna Culbertson. All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, digital, photocopying, or recording, except for the inclusion in a review, without permission in writing from the publisher.

This is a work of fiction. All of the characters, names, incidents, organizations, and dialogue in this novel are either the products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.

Published in the United States by BQB Publishing

(Boutique of Quality Books Publishing Company)

www.bqbpublishing.com

978-1-60808-154-7 (p)

978-1-60808-155-4 (e)

Library of Congress Control Number: 2016933377

Book design by Robin Krauss,
www.bookformatters.com

Cover concept by Geanna Culbertson

Cover design by Ellis Dixon,
www.ellisdixon.com

Other upcoming books in the Crisanta Knight series

Crisanta Knight: The Severance Game

Coming December, 2016

Crisanta Knight: Inherent Fate

Coming Spring, 2017

Dedicated To:

This book, like everything I shall ever accomplish, is dedicated to my mom and dad. You are my heroes, my coaches, my best friends, and I am thankful for you every day for more reasons than there are words in this book.

Special Thanks To:

Alexa Harzan Carter

Dear friend and big sister, it means a lot to know I can always count on you. You were one of the first people to read this, and for good reason. I am grateful to have you in my life.

Terri Leidich & BQB Publishing

Thank you for this (for all of this). Thank you for believing in me, and Crisanta Knight. And thank you for being the Fairy Godmother that made it so this protagonist’s wishes could come to life.

Alex Padalka & Pearlie Tan

I am eternally grateful to you for all of the hard work you have put in to make this book the best it can be. Whenever I describe my experience working with you both, I always say, “They pushed me to be better,” because I know it is the truth.

Gallien Culbertson

Brother, I appreciate your tough love, shrewd opinions, and the insult-laden banter that is our way of talking. Thanks for keeping me sharp.

I also want to thank Elise Fabbro, Claira Dieda, Erica Fine, Mary Roberts, John Daly, Ian Culbertson, & Kat Galindo/Paul Cassidy of Kinkos for their support of this project.

Bonus Dedication:

Since this is going to be an eight-book series, each book will issue a bonus dedication to individuals who have significantly impacted my life or this series in some way.

For this first book, I want to thank two of the greatest professors I ever had at USC—Aimee Bender and Geoffrey Middlebrook. Professor Bender, I loved learning from you. The work you exposed us to in our “Classic & Contemporary Fairytales” class inspired me tremendously, as did you. Professor Middlebrook, your Writing 340 course is one of the best classes I have ever taken. You helped me develop my own voice and ideas—you didn’t force anyone else’s on me. The work you allowed me to produce on “The Hero-Princess” archetype went on to be the foundation of my USC Discovery Scholar distinction, and enhanced my understanding of the characters and world I was already in the midst of creating.

CONTENTS

PROLOGUE

CHAPTER 1 ONCE UPON A . . . WELL, YOU KNOW THE REST

CHAPTER 2 WE Meet Again

CHAPTER 3 THE PITS (PRINCESSES-IN-TRAINING)

CHAPTER 4 UNEXPECTED UNPLEASANTRIES

CHAPTER 5 THE PRINCE & THE HERO

CHAPTER 6 THE CHANGE

CHAPTER 7 SNOW WHITE & THE SEVEN-MINUTE STUDY BREAK

CHAPTER 8 SOMETHING FISHY

CHAPTER 9 MERMAIDS LIKE TAFFETA

CHAPTER 10 TWENTY-THREE SKIDD

CHAPTER 11 I’M DOOMED

CHAPTER 12 I HITCH A RIDE ON A MAGIC MUSHROOM

CHAPTER 13 PAY ATTENTION: THIS CHAPTER’S IMPORTANT

CHAPTER 14 PEARL OF WISDOM

CHAPTER 15 FRAME JOB

CHAPTER 16 RAPUNZELED

CHAPTER 17 THE ART OF GOING AWOL

CHAPTER 18 MY RELUCTANT TRUTH

CHAPTER 19 EMMA

CHAPTER 20 AN HOUR IN CENTURY CITY

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

PROLOGUE

What most people think of when they hear the phrase “Happily Ever After” is the romance, excitement, and adventure that led up to it. Very few people think too much about the “after.”

That’s me by the way . . . I’m the “after.”

My name is Crisanta Knight, but I go by Crisa. You probably haven’t heard of me, but I’d bet anything you’ve heard of my mother. She goes by Cinderella.

Okay, don’t freak out.

The back-story is that I live in a world called “Book.” Book is an enchanted realm, and certain stories about the lives of the people here filter into our neighboring realms, like Earth, in the form of “fairytales.”

One year in my home world is equal to, like, twenty years on Earth, though. So, while you may know Prince Charming and Cinderella as characters in a four-hundred-year-old story, we know them as the current king and queen of Midveil, a.k.a. my mom and dad.

The thing is, not everyone in Book is what you might call the “main character” of his or her own fairytale. My parents and teachers tell me this just makes sense. Not every person is meant to be an epic-worthy protagonist, they claim, because the world needs supporting characters, and love interests, and antagonists too. Personally, I think it’s a pretty messed-up system. I mean, the idea that we can only live up to whatever archetype is assigned to us—never able to aspire to be something more or even something else—just feels wrong.

I don’t know, maybe it’s just me.

Anyways, as the daughter of Queen Cinderella and King Jeremiah Knight (Midveil’s former Prince Charming turned King Charisma), I am a princess. So, unlike many other people in Book, I’m actually guaranteed to be the main character of my own story one day.

As a result, I attend a special, extra-snooty private school for girls who are destined to be the next generation of female protagonists. My school, Lady Agnue’s, and the school equivalent to it for future male protagonists, Lord Channing’s, are geared toward grooming and preparing students for their impending fairytale fates.

Just so we’re clear though, the children who are chosen to attend these academies are not all royals like me. Nevertheless, they all do know for certain that they are going to have their own stories.

How, you may ask?

Good question.

A portal is said to appear in an area of the Forbidden Forest near the kingdom of Harzana. It is guarded by a group of Book’s most powerful Fairy Godmothers known as the Scribes.

Every so often this one-way portal regurgitates an actual “book.” And each of these volumes, though initially blank on the inside, always has the title of the story—the name of a citizen of Book—engraved on its cover (e.g.,
Snow White
,
Sleeping Beauty
—you get the gist). Ergo, that is how each school knows which children of the realm to take in.

Talk about living life paying attention to the fine print, am I right?

If you’re having trouble processing all of this, by the way, don’t worry. We ourselves do not even really understand the higher power that decides who we are. All we know is that somewhere in the off-limits part of Book, the Indexlands, a sort of prophet who has never been seen is responsible. We call her the Author, because it is said that she spends her life writing and nothing else. The words her enchanted quill pen into parchment become the realities that Book’s people live by. And
bing, bam, boom,
our fates are assigned and our identities are cast. We’re put into these perfectly neat little boxes of character development that the Author has picked out for us and the world goes on ticking to its succinct rhythm of calm and tidy conformity—tradition (tick), order (tock), convention (tick), sedation (tock).

The Author works on the original copies of our books wherever she is, and then a twin of each one appears in the Forbidden Forest for the Scribes to share with the schools.

However, since these books begin blank, chosen protagonists, such as myself, must train and prepare for indefinite fates at the academies. We are cursed to wake up each morning not knowing when the Author intends to set our stories in motion, and, more importantly, not knowing what those stories will be.

Given that they have no control over what the Author writes or when it will be written, the people of Book have completely embraced the idea that who they are is not something they can decide for themselves. Those roles, it would seem, have already been cast . . .

On that note, I believe that’s just about everything you need to know about my home world before you endeavor into it.

Wait; hold on a second. There’s something else I should mention, something important that I’ve left out about my realm’s rules, my princess-ness, my school, and so on.

I can break it down for you in five words.

I absolutely
can’t
stand it.

Once Upon A . . . Well, You Know the Rest

was going to be a great protagonist; at least that’s what my mom, Cinderella, kept telling me. She assured me of this that sunny morning in September as she did every day. I, however, continued to have my doubts. Honestly, I was as much princess material as a wolf was grandmother material.

Alas, my mother did not find this fairytale comparison witty or amusing. Instead, she was convinced that someday all of my training and breeding would kick in and I would become the pinnacle of poised princess perfection.

A lot of alliteration and expectations for one girl and one sentence, I know.

But, well, them’s the breaks.

Anyways, my complete lack of appropriate princess demeanor was only one of my problems. The other was that I really hated the whole “pre-chosen protagonist” idea. While everyone else in Book might have accepted the notion that they had no say in who they would be in life, I did not. It infuriated me to know that at some point the things I would do or say were inevitably not going to be my doing or saying; they’d be the Author’s.

BOOK: Protagonist Bound
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