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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: In-Law(s) (05/08/08)

TITLE: Two More Tests For Prince Pembroke
By Jan Ackerson


Prince Pembroke looked happily at the ribbons and medals displayed before him. He embraced the older man standing at his side. “Sir Seersucker, thou hast tutored me marvelous well! Forsooth, I couldst not have gained such breadth of wisdom in the princely arts, hadst thou not been my faithful companion.”

Sighing, Sir Seersucker removed Pembroke’s hands. “Y’know,” he said, “now that you’ve passed Ye Olde English, you don’t have to talk like that any more.”

“Yessss!” said Pembroke, pumping a fist. “Anyway…those classes were hard.” He fingered his medal for Recognizing Enchantments. “Remember when I thought that kitten was really an ogre?” The two men were silent for a moment, remembering. Seersucker patted Pembroke’s back.

“Well, now that you’ve mastered Rescuing Damsels, you’ve only got two tasks left and then…you’ll marry Princess Serendipity. Ready, sire?”

“You bet!” Pembroke stroked the jeweled hilt of his sword. “Can I slay something?”

“Sorry. Your last two tests are Tolerance of Weirdness and…Dealing With In-laws.” At the word in-laws, a shadow passed over the sun. “Sire, these will be your most difficult tasks. Can you remember all I’ve taught you?”

“You bet…when do we start?” Pembroke looked around, expecting to see a Weird Person lurking behind the curtains.

“Your horse is waiting. You’re off to Jellonia, where the people are…well, you’ll see. If you pass this test, you’ll be ready for…” Seersucker whispered. “…the in-laws.” Far away, a raven shrieked.

Several hours later, Pembroke approached a small castle. Night had fallen and Pembroke was weary, but eager to demonstrate his Tolerance. He worked the doorknocker and was greeted by two young men who introduced themselves as Mortarboard and Willy-Nilly.

“Happy to meet you,” said Pembroke, relieved that his hosts seemed Not Weird.

Willy-Nilly took Pembroke’s hat. “You’re probably tired. I’ll take you to your room.” Hopping on one foot, Willy-Nilly and Mortarboard headed down the corridor.

“Well, that’s weird,” Pembroke mumbled, but he followed, hopping all the way, feeling smugly Tolerant. When they finally reached the door, Pembroke was winded. “Thanks,” he said as they unlocked the room. “Say—why do you hop on one foot? Not that there’s anything wrong with that…”

Mortarboard regarded Pembroke seriously. “Saves on shoes.”

The next morning, Pembroke awoke after dreaming of Serendipity. He dressed hurriedly, then hopped toward the smells of sausage and eggs.

Mortarboard and Willy-Nilly were at the table, waiting. When he approached, they burst out laughing. “Why are you hopping?” asked Willy-Nilly. “We only hop on Mondays. It’s ridiculous to hop on Tuesdays.”

Abashed, Pembroke lowered his foot and sat. Breakfast looked scrumptious: honeyed porridge, fluffy eggs with sausage, bowls of mixed fruit. Not wanting to embarrass himself, Pembroke watched his hosts. To his astonishment, they sat on their hands and attacked their plates face first, surfacing seconds later with food-besmirched mouths. “Have at it, Pembroke!” said Willy-Nilly. “It’s delicious!”

Pembroke lapped at his porridge. “It’s delectable, but…why no silverware?”

Mortarboard snorted. “Less work for the kitchen staff, of course.”

Pembroke nodded thoughtfully. “Right. Well, then.” He finished his breakfast and left the table with egg on his chin.

Days passed in which Pembroke found himself riding a goat, yodeling between noon and five o’clock, and painting his fingernails orange. For each Weirdness, Mortarboard had a reason. Pembroke wondered when this test would end so he could get to the In-law Test, and Princess Serendipity.

One morning Willy-Nilly suggested badminton. Feeling relieved—badminton was distinctly un-Weird—Pembroke agreed. Mortarboard produced the equipment, then summoned a servant. “Bring the birdies!” Promptly the servant appeared, carrying a cage of twittering doves.

Pembroke gasped. Surely they weren’t intending to use actual birdies…wouldn’t that hurt them? But Mortarboard and Willy-Nilly were in position, waiting for Pembroke’s serve. He shuddered, then grasped a small struggling dove and tossed it into the air, preparing to swing…

…and it flew away. Mortarboard and Willy-Nilly laid down their racquets.

“Man, we really thought you were going to pass.” Mortarboard shook his head. “We had you doing every weird thing we could think of, and you were so kind-hearted. I can’t believe you blew it by being willing to whack that dove.”

“Was that—the exam?” Pembroke smacked his forehead. “Rats! Well, there’s still the In-law test…maybe Serendipity will still take me, even with one failed subject…”

“Ummm, about that…” Mortarboard said. “Serendipity’s our little sister. This was the In-law Test…you blew it, Pembroke.”

Pembroke sat heavily in the grass and rested his head on his racquet. Overhead, a dove took careful aim.

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This article has been read 1380 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Verna Cole Mitchell 05/15/08
Somebody VERY creative and with an excellent sense of humor had some fun here. I did, too!
Sheri Gordon05/15/08
Love the characters' names, and the hopping on one foot. So creative and funny. And the badminton part is a hoot. Very creative take on the topic.
Leigh MacKelvey05/16/08
This was ... well... weird!
Weird and delightful and funny and full of wit and fun and enjoyment! Thou art so fulleth of the Creative juices, wouldst thou pondereth upon sharing a
goblet of juice with me?
Joanne Sher 05/16/08
Oh MY!! This had to have been a HOOT to write. I started laughing in the second paragraph, and literally did NOT stop! Absolutely delightful. There is so much cleverness in here, I have to read it again (and again and again) to pick up on it. I love the little raven/dove parallel. What a hoot this ALL is!!
Laury Hubrich 05/16/08
Hilarious! So funny to read on a Friday morning! I loved your ending -- nice aim:) You hit the target perfectly with this entry!
Debbie Wistrom05/16/08
Seersucker, Jellonia, the sun shadowed at 'that' word, the raven crying,,,,,,in a word-Wonderful!

Most definietly a favorite.
Sara Harricharan 05/16/08
Awww! I almost felt sorry for the prince, but mostly I wanted to whack those other two. lolz. This was good, just the right amount of humor and the Ye Old English test was simply hilarious! Great job with this! ^_^
Dee Yoder 05/16/08
Poor Prince Pembroke...all that weird work for nothing. Love the characters and every little funny thing about this story! It's perfect.
Lollie Hofer05/16/08
I loved the last test because it shows a person's true character. The truth is, he didn't deserve the fair maiden. Not really. Being willing to harm an innocent animal for the sake of being accepted doesn't speak well of his character. This was fun to read, I laughed lots. At first, I thought you were going to make us read Old English through the whole thing. I was very relieved to find it was just in reference to passing a test. Well done, sire, (or lady), well done.
Beth LaBuff 05/16/08
Ha ha! I love everything about this!
Betty Castleberry05/17/08
Oh my stars! How FUNNY. I have a sneaking suspicion I know the author of this piece. I don't know what to say, other than I'm gonna read it again!
Lyn Churchyard05/18/08
Forget Wheaties for breakfast! You had a box of 'Smarties'. What a great story. You have to feel for the poor prince though. I thought the test was just a little unfair.
Great writing girl!
Joy Faire Stewart05/18/08

Love the characters and wit, very creative and a lot of fun!
LaNaye Perkins05/18/08
This was just too funny! Twisted, is the best word I can think of to describe it. This was great!
LauraLee Shaw05/18/08
Laugh out loud funny...amazingly witty and creative.
Debbie Roome 05/18/08
Your creativity is amazing. This grabbed my attention and I had no idea where it was going. Well done.
Sally Hanan05/18/08
Brilliant! A raven shrieked in the distance...hahahaha.
Sharlyn Guthrie05/18/08
It's always a treat to read your entries, and this one is great fun down to every last detail. Totally out of the box!
Dave Wagner05/19/08
Great humor, light-hearted fun. Enjoyed it. A bit puzzled at the ending, though. I thought these tales always had a happy ending? :)
Benjamin Graber05/19/08
Jan, I LOVE your creativity, as always!
Joshua Janoski05/19/08
“Y’know,” he said, “now that you’ve passed Ye Olde English, you don’t have to talk like that any more.”

LOL! That's my kind of humor right there, Jan. I loved loved loved this story! So hilarious and original. Had me smiling the entire time. :)
Marita Thelander 05/19/08
Oh Jan! Jan, Jan, Jan...had me smiling at my computer from the name Sir Seersucker all the way to the careful aim. Then I burst out laughing and caused my family to glare during their sacred TV show. ROFL.
Chely Roach05/20/08
H-I-L-A-R-I-O-U-S. Period. Loved it.
Holly Westefeld05/20/08
Jan, this is one of my favorites of all of your stories that I have read! What a fabulous allegory about discerning the boundaries of tolerance. I loved your last line.
Kristen Hester05/20/08
You have passed the creativity test. Bravo!
Janice Cartwright05/21/08
This is a scream... with a message: a touch of Alice in Wonderland and a dash of Pilgrim's Progress but mostly Jan. I wondered if PP was going to swat at live in-laws, er... I mean birds. Guess he deserved to lose.:)
Carole Robishaw 05/21/08
There comes a point when we must strengthen our backbones, and PP couldn't/wouldn't. What a shame. But what a great lesson for us all.

Thank you for this well done story.
Cheri Hardaway 05/21/08
Oh... this was so good! I just chuckled all the way through it. What a talented writer you are! Thanks for a wonderfully fun read! Blessings, Cheri
Aaron Morrow05/21/08
Forsooth! It appears that I have sullied myself while perusing this highly jocular tale. Verily, as a jester thou hast no match! Fabulous! But I must ask thee, what is the Wierdness in orange fingernails? Perhaps the hue?
Beckie Stewart05/21/08
Excellent writing, as usual. You are definitely a master at words.
Angela M. Baker-Bridge05/21/08
I can't even begin to imagine how you came up with this ... chocolate overdose maybe? Very entertaining and a lesson in how to write right. Thanks...
Peter Stone05/22/08
You had a lot of fun with this one, especially with the names. Princess Serendipity had me waiting for Pembroke to discover her accidentally. I also saw a serious message there, a lot of people give into peer pressure and do what is wrong, simply to impress others.
Joanne Sher 05/23/08
Congratulations, Jan, on placing 27th overall. Great job!
Betsy Markman05/23/08
Not many entries make me laugh out loud, but this one did! Especially the very last line. PERFECT!