Everyone was wildly popular and successful. Danielle had finished her high school career at the top of her class and a 3.99 grade-point average. (It would have been a 4.0, except for that unfortunate incident in which Mr. Stuart had been turned into a pink frog, and all the chemistry students had been penalized.)

Erik, as always, was strong and handsome as graduation day approached. He'd received a full-ride scholarship to play rugby at the Northern Kingdom Knighthood Institute. He could have attended any college he wanted, but of course, he'd chosen the best of the best, and someday, would most likely make for a dashing knight.

Joel hadn't been happy not to make the art and music school he'd applied to, but what did that matter? He'd been accepted into one of the best prophecy programs in the country, and seemed rather excited by the opportunity.

Ashley was dreadfully jealous of them all. She knew that she should be happy for their friends and their amazing success, but she couldn't quite bring herself not to resent that they'd all done so well while she floundered.

She wasn't smart, or athletic, or all that good at casting spells. She couldn't sing, or paint, or predict the future, or slay monsters, or scare anyone when she tried to be monstrous.

To make matters worse, her older sister Sarah was only a month away from receiving her certification as a bonafide evil sorceress, and she'd done so well in her studies that people whispered she could bring a reign of terror akin to that in the days of Tianberiorgan III. Her parents were ridiculously proud, and expected Ashley to be equally successful at whatever she chose to do after graduation.

Ashley didn't exactly have many choices. She'd only been accepted to three universities- not that she'd really applied to all that many. Because Ashley was for the most part uncertain as to what she wanted to do once she'd grown up, she hadn't put much thought into the college application process, and now was paying for it.

She could attend Enchanta Community College and become a peasant. Ashley didn't savor the idea of spending the rest of her life living in squalor with no purpose other than to flee when a dragon or ogre wondered too near, but at least she wouldn't have to work too hard for her degree. Except for the occasional fleeing, she'd have a lot of free time to do whatever she wanted.

WSW- the Winbourough School for Wickedness had accepted Ashley as well- mostly because Sarah had put in a good word for her in the admissions office. She supposed she would be all right as an evil witch or wicked stepmother, but she knew that if she went to Sarah's school, she'd always be compared to the perfectly evil sorceress. Ashley had been living in her sister's shadow for too long to accept that life.

Her parents wanted her to go to the University of Southern Merryland- a college known for churning out gorgeous princesses. Ashley was amazed that she'd been deemed lovely enough to be considered a princess, but didn't really want to attend the school.

Her parents, of course, could only talk about how princesses always married the best princes, and how they lived lives of luxury. They both thought she was too good to become a peasant, and weren't too subtle when they hinted that Ashley might really belong at USM.

Unable to flat-out disobey her parents' wishes, Ashley stalled, hoping for the inevitable letter explaining that there had been a mistake, and she wasn't fit to be a princess. It never came, and graduation day crept closer, and Ashley was still uncertain as to what she wanted to do with her life.