Finally decided to make my Youtube channel that I have been debating on making for a while now. The first video has been posted and I hope you all enjoy it. The link to the video can be found below. Warning the sound quality is not as good as I would have hoped.
In the kingdom of Berne, it came to past that the only daughter of the noble King Iomair came of age to claim her birthright. Preparations were made while the father and his daughter, who had locks of gold, met in secret to discuss the trials that lay ahead of her.
“This trial will not be easy my child.” Stated the king cautiously. “Not even I can know the details of the perils that await you. It is decided by the people who have placed their trust for you to rule as their future queen. In this way, you will have an unwavering faith from those you have sworn to protect. That does not mean that they will go easy on you. I have been told that they even enlisted the help of some of our high priests to ensure that you are thoroughly tested. Take heart my dear Goldilocks and know that I support you from afar.”
“I will my father and I will make you proud. There is nothing that will deter me from achieving that which I have trained for all my life. No more words for now, let me go forth to prove my worth to the people that will follow me.” Eagerly responded Goldilocks.
The man moved to the side as he followed his confident daughter out the door, feeling nothing but pride. They were met with cheers as the royal duo paraded down the streets to a great maze. The two looked at wonder at the greenery that stood before them. Not even the night before did this stand where it grew now. It was clear to the royalty that the people wanted to ensure their future.
As they stood flabbergasted, a priestess dressed in a white dress approached them. Upon her head she wore a ring of flowers and a golden belt carved with knots that sat around her waist. Across her skin were painted marks that faintly glowed.
She addressed them, “Hail King Iomair and his daughter Princess Goldilocks. I sincerely hope that you succeed today your highness. Allow me to explain the rules of this trial. You can bring within the maze a sword, shield, flint, hammer, wrappings, and a pot. There are three trials you must overcome before seeing the end. Only then will you be allowed to exit the maze, otherwise the vines will keep you closed in. Here are you supplies, now venture forth and may you find victory!”
Goldilocks nodded before raising her fist to her people. A cry of support came from them as they watched their princess cross the threshold and into her trial. As the priestess said, the vines closed the entrance behind her while the warrior shrugged at the mist that creeped and darkened her view. She feared not what lie ahead of her. Carefully, she followed the winding ways until coming to a clearing. To her surprise, she found stuck on top of a high tower a full size adult bear. It growled and snarled at the intruder but had no means to reach her. Vainly, it pawed at her from the edge of its platform before reeling back in fear of falling from such a height. The princess smirked at the ferocious creature before passing the tower. She only stopped when she heard a whining coming from behind her. Hopelessness was beset in the creature’s eyes as she felt a pang of pity hit her heart. Looking around, she found rubbles of wood and nails scattered about. One nail after another she constructed a great staircase to reach the beast. At first, the princess put her shield up and sword pointed at the bear. She was certain the creature would attack her at first sight, but she was soon surprised as the bruin walked gently towards her and nuzzled into her neck. Patting the great animal on the head she continued her journey, followed closely by the male bear.
Together the duo moved ever down past what seemed like miles of vine until again they came to a clearing. This time their lay in the middle of the plain a female bear. It slowly began to arise only to fall in a faint. A growl emanated from the creature but not from its mouth. The poor bear had been starved to the point of exhaustion. In her mind, the princess ridiculed the treatment her people had given the creatures as she pulled out her pot. Growing close by were stalks of wheat of which Goldilocks broke down to grains. Next, she went to a nearby pool of water and filled the pot. A mixture began to brew as she threw the grain in with the boiling water and spurtled the meal. To finish, she picked from her armor bits of sea salt that had fallen off the salted pork she had eaten earlier in the day. Once the food was ready, she placed the pot in front of the great female. With what seemed like gratitude, the bear gobbled down the meal spilling it everywhere. It was only mere moments before it got back on its feet and cuddled into the male bear. A sweet sight even for the abrasive princess. The creature duo began crying out into the open ear and then listened. Curious, Goldilocks listened too as she could hear a faint cry. It seemed the bear couple had heard it too for they barreled through the walls of the maze. Closely following behind, the warrior could hardly keep up. Finally, the two in front of her stopped and gave a sad sound. There in a bed was a cub with two of its legs broken by human hands. The parents watched over snuggled into their cub as they tried to comfort their offspring. An anger whirled inside the warrior, someone was going to pay for this when the trial had ended. Grabbing the bandages and ripping two legs from the bed, she made a support cast for the young creature. It seemed to help as it stumbled onto its feet and leaned on its parents. The warrior smiled seeing the three together as she continued onward, followed closely by her three new friends.
Only an oak tree lay in front of the groups escape toward beams of light. They made their way toward the exit before the land began to shake. The tree came to life as it swatted its limbs at the intruders. Fearing for the cub, the warrior caused her new friends to retreat behind a nearby wall of the maze. Over and over in her head she tried to think of a way to get around the creature but could not find an option. At last she cried to the gods to help her against this new foe. Her prayer was answered as a beam of light shone in front of her. The bears bowed at her coming as the goddess Artio stood before them. Quickly, the princess followed suit but was brought to her feet by the deity.
“Arise my child. You have not faltered yet in this trial; so why should you start now? I have chosen you to teach a lesson to the mortals of this realm to respect nature; something they sorely lack. This I know you can achieve for you are my daughter through the King Iomair, who kept it secret to protect you from harm and prodigious. With these, you will not only be able to communicate with these great creatures, but instantly heal any of their injuries. These are called the Wheat of Leigheas and any leftover you will be able to grow more of, but only by your own hands. Now go, claim your birthright so that you may impart my will against these mortals.”
Quickly, the warrior gave some wheat to each of the bears as each was strengthened and healed of any affliction. The adult male talked for the three as he looked toward the princess.
“My thanks from myself and my family for helping us in our time of need. Those vile humans know not of natures true intention; only how to warp it for their own plans. For now, let us focus at the task at hand. Our bite can easily break that tree to bits if we do so in the correct locations.”
Goldilocks thought for a moment before answering, “If we take out its roots it will have no life to continue upon. Follow my lead and we will attain freedom only together.”
The creatures nodded as the princess led them into the fray. Limbs and branches swatted at the group as they ducked the onslaught. One such swing almost took out the warrior if it were not for the youngest bear breaking the limb in two. Goldilocks used this to jump up from its back and strike the tree at its core. Of course, the creature seemed almost unfazed until it came toppling down from the two parents that had torn off the roots from the trunk. The battle being won, the new friends set forth towards the exit. A rain of cheers came from the crowd before it came to terrified screams. No one had expected her to return with those beasts, they wanted her to let them die.
Loudly, Goldilocks screamed, “Who is responsible for this?! Who dare disrespects these magnificent creatures?! Speak now and I may just spare you.”
No one dared to utter even a whisper. It was only broken when shocked murmurs spread once they heard bear noises erupt from their own princess. The murmurs turned to screams as thirteen men were dragged to the stage by the great bears. With a single slash of her blade, Goldilocks beheaded the disgraceful men. Then she looked toward the crowd and shouted.
“Let them be an example of what happens when one decides to disrespect nature itself. Under my rule we will attain peace with the land around us, healing it from the wounds we have inflicted upon it. For I, Goldilocks, Daughter of King Iomair and the goddess Artio, will not stand for anything less. Go now and release any wild animals you chose to tease in your homes and help saplings grow to mighty trees.”
Both scared and admired at the strength of their new queen, the villagers did as they were told. Next the warrior turned onto the priestess who stopped her with her words.
“Hold great queen. I am not your enemy in this cause, for I too serve the gods, more specifically the god Gwydion. You see, it was I that set the final obstacle, unbeknownst to the villagers that now lay dead at your feet. My lord wanted me to test you to see if you could live up to the name of your mother, the great goddess Artio. This you have succeeded and more for you could have only gotten past the mighty oak with the help of all three. I look forward to seeing how you transform this kingdom.”
With that the priestess of the trickster god vanished in a puff of mist, cackling before fading away. King Iomair was delighted at his daughter’s success and bestowed upon her his crown. The next few years were a form of transition as the human town soon grew side by side with nature. Bears were not uncommon to see walking beside the citizens and helping them with their day to day activities. All the while Goldilocks remained upon the thrown knowing that some day that her and the alliance of the bears, would be put to the test.
There once was a kingdom where not an ounce of conflict grew. No one sought ill will from one another and they prospered under the rule of King Humpty Dumpty. All was well until the jealous brother of the king placed a curse upon his sibling. Violently, his victim began to change into a great stone egg. As the monster tried to attack his brother, another spell was placed upon him. His once kind mind was erased and left hallow. The wicked brother claimed the throne while placing Humpty as the guard to the castle. Day in and out, allies tried to enter the castle, but were stopped by the former king. This monster would only allow them to enter if they could beat him in a game of riddles. If they lost, the egg would swallow them whole and gain their knowledge to fill his empty head. Soon, Humpty had an unfathomable hunger for information. Time passed on as the kingdom lost hope and was forced to live in a state of chaos. But, as fate would have it, a hero came to save them.
Aurora, accompanied by Captain Phillip and a werewolf known as Red, came abound into the royal city. They could see for miles the obstacle that awaited them while it sat upon the wall of the castle, Humpty Dumpty. Quickly, the group ducked into a local tavern to discuss their plan.
“Ah, finally I can get a drink.” Sighed Red as her hand reached for the bottle. It was soon slapped away by Captain Phillips who looked at the werewolf sternly.
“What do you think you are doing little man?” Questioned Red.
“Keeping you on task. The booze will only cloud your judgement and comprehension of the plan that Lady Aurora has developed.” Answered Phillips. A low growl came from the woman as the man put his hand on the hilt of his blade.
“Enough.” Commanded Aurora as she sat down between the two. “In fighting will never accomplish our goal.
“What is that exactly? You were not very forthcoming on the details while on the ride to here.” Asked Red.
“Our mission is to slay the great beast Humpty Dumpty and then his master. They have long held this land hostage in a state of chaos. Once they are disposed of, this kingdom can then again prosper.”
Red shook her head, “And what exactly is wrong with this land? As far as I can see, it is the same as any other pathetic village that we have passed.” As if the gods had taken the cue, swords poked the back of all three foreigners. Slowly, they turned to see the whole tavern was armed.
One of them spoke boldly, “We will be taking your valuables if you please. It should sustain our kingdom a little while longer. Maybe we can even have some fun after each of you are stripped of even the clothes on your backs.”
The man saying this had begun to touch Aurora’s chest. In turn. She grabbed one of her arrows from her quiver and dug it into his shoulder. The man screamed in pain as he began to panic, realizing that he had also lost his sight. A brawl broke out as Red smiled. With a howl, she transformed before the terrified townsfolk. In vain they tried to slash at her, not landing a single blow. Red grabbed one of the blades and broke it to pieces, to the horror of the wielder. One punch and the man was sent flying across the room. She grabbed a bottle from the floor and took a swig before smashing it at an incoming opponent. It shattered to pieces knocking the man out as she used the remains to stab another attacker. Captain Phillips had begun meticulously slashing down one foe after another with expert swordsmanship, much different than the barbaric tactics of his ally. Parry then a blow before his enemies were struck down. Aurora, on the other hand, had not moved since stabbing the man who had dared to touch her. Her arms were crossed as she watched the display of strength from her allies. Finally, some of the villagers rose up in arms against her. She looked at them with a stern look before slowly pulling forth her sword. Immediately, the battle was over as their attackers looked at the cursed blade; pale as death from the blood of Dain. They fled screaming in terror from the tavern and the inevitable death that would come from even encountering such a weapon. Pleased with herself, Aurora sheathed her blade and sat down with her comrades once again.
“By using the Amulet of Go Léir A Fheiceáil as we rode here, I noticed that there is a weakness on a corner of the castle. For three days and nights, I will distract Humpty with a game of riddles. While doing this, the two of you will hack away at this weakness with pick axes. Once the wall begins to crumble, Red will attack from the other side and push the beast forward. Only then will he fall to pieces. After that, his master should be no problem.” Finished Aurora. The three spent the rest of the night enjoying each other’s company; sharing wine and good food that was left in the tavern.
The next morning came as Aurora approached the great beast known as Humpty Dumpty. Rumbling came from the creature as it snored in its sleep. Slowly, his colossal eyes opened as they looked upon the maiden in front of him. To Aurora’s surprise, he began to chuckle a guttural laugh.
“Aurora the Warrior, the hero that saved her kingdom from the sorceress Carman and her three sons. Flying from her bow, arrows covered in the blood of Dub that blinds anything unfortunate to get struck. Her blade dipped in the blood of Dain of which a single cut will kill any living thing. Wise enough not to wear Dother’s armor of which her father was not. Once an ally of my kingdom, it was somewhat unfortunate to hear of his passing. Now upon his throne sits a goddess since his lazy daughter does not want to take her birthright and now comes to challenge me. I suspect you wish to restore this kingdom due to your father’s and I’s former friendship?” Lectured Humpty.
The warrior thought for a moment before answering. Obviously, the creature had attained much knowledge by the way he spoke; surprised that the beast had recent information that happened only a few months ago. She had to be careful about how she proceeded.
“Such a sharp mind for someone who used to be so empty headed. I am glad that you remember my father Humpty. He did speak fondly of you while he waited at my bedside.” Started Aurora.
The great beast chuckled again as he interrupted, “You misunderstand warrior. I have none of my memories, just others’ knowledge of who I was as a king. A fool I used to be, trusting others and insisting on peace. Only conquerors and deceivers get what they want in this world. Enough reminiscing, you know there is only one way to pass me. So, which battle of wits shall we partake in today?”
“A game of riddles. Back and forth we shall go, telling and answering riddles until one of us can neither solve or concoct. Over and over we will go with no breaks to ensure that only the smartest prevails.” Explained Aurora.
The egg rubbed his hands together before he said, “Good. This should provide with some much-needed stimulation for my brain. I shall begin this game of riddles. It grows more and more with every passing minute, breathing while consuming all around it. Its hunger is never satisfied while its anger grows. Dancing and leaping in destruction while it makes its way. Its roar terrifies every being that stands in its path. Only when it no longer breathes can the creature disappear. What am I?”
“A fire.” Answered Aurora. The egg nodded before the warrior gave her riddle, “It flies ever straight as it screams along, the very air fleeing from its path. From one end to another it flies, only stopped when something crosses in front of it. Its victims scream as its bite digs in deep, sometimes it poisons and others it burns. What am I?”
“An arrow. My dear if you are going to make it this easy you might as well climb into my mouth already.” Remarked the egg.
The warrior smirked as she looked up defiantly at the monster. “You are in for a surprise then Humpty.”
Back and forth the two went, each of them getting more clever and clever with their riddles. All the while Captain Phillip and Red continually pick axed the corner of the wall; cracks began to crawl through the bricks as each day ended. Three days and nights came and passed as the two riddle makers never stopped. The fourth morning came as the eyelids of the egg were heavy.
With a groggy voice he boomed, “How are you not tired by now child? Neither one of us have gotten a moments rest and yet you stand as if you have gotten several nights of sleep.”
“For twenty-one years I slept, I no longer require much to function. You will soon no longer need it.” Commented Aurora.
“What do you-“ The egg began to say before the wall started to crumble. Bewildered at the commotion he did not notice as Aurora pulled back her bow and landed an arrow in each of his eyes. Blinded, the creature panicked as he was pushed forward by Red. He took a great fall and broke into many pieces. The knights behind the walls rushed out to see what had come of their protector. In vain, they could not put the great beast back together and fled at the sight of Aurora walking towards the castle. Captain Phillip and Red soon joined her as they made their way into the inner throne room. Cowering behind the throne was the being who had caused this catastrophe. The king’s brother held his hands in front of his face as Aurora picked him up by the collar and threw him into the wall. With a steely resolve, she looked at the man, who to her surprise was blind.
The warrior smirked as she spoke, “The man in the bar. My does fate smile upon me. You scurried out of there like a coward, only able to be so daring when you can rely on others, then leaving them to die. The audacity you had at touching me with those sickened paws, let’s just say I hope the gods find you the most ill-fated end for your miserable soul.”
Not even giving the man his last words, she slit his throat with her sword. His dead body turned to ash before flying off into a swarm of flies. The three finished with their task, sat in the floor of the throne room. Each catching their breaths before laughing at the simplicity of the adventure.
The laughter soon ended as Red arose and asked, “Am I free then from my curse? Was that the mission you needed me for? If so that was incredibly easy and way too nice of the gods.”
“Unfortunately, that was what I would call a team building exercise. Before we can even hope to undertake the task that will free you, we must learn to work together as a team. Fear did strike me when you and Phillips were not getting along in the bar. It seems it was for not. I promise you that you will be free, but you must humor me so that we all survive the oncoming trials.” Admitted Aurora.
Red nodded in acknowledgement, although she was bitter at the lack of trust from her leader. The werewolf looked over to Phillips who had an apologetical look on his face and held out his hand. Tentatively, she grabbed his hand and gave it a shake, a symbol of a new kinsmanship between the two. Aurora smiled as she saw comrades that she could live and fight for.
Another night of merrymaking was in procession in a crowded tavern in a town whose name no one remembers. Laughter, story-telling, and idiotic babbling filled the air as old and new friends shared in good times. At the bar there sat a young woman covered in a red hood, never stopping her intake of alcohol. Across her skin were a number of claw marks and bites; signs of great conflict and an attitude to match. No one dared to come near her, except one foreigner. She sat next to the intimidating figure without an ounce of fear. The woman in red seemed to ignore her presence as the liquor continued to pour down her throat. Finally, the foreigner spoke,
“Seems to me that you are the only one sulking on this fine night. Come, why not smile a bit and share in the partaking of stories. Tell me your name and the most exciting of tales. The sky is alight with the stars and moon that…”
Suddenly, the girl in the hood smacked the foreigner backwards against a nearby wall. She glared menacingly at her victim with her red eyes alight before going back to her drink. Seemingly foolish, the foreigner rose up and sat next to the hostile woman. A chuckling emitted from the hood before the woman within it spoke aloud,
“Stubborn, I like that. You want to hear a tale then huh? Let me tell you one, but I guarantee you that there will be no laughter found within it. I am only known by the name of Red for my past name I do not deserve. It started upon a night like this, I was out riding upon my silver horse with my white hood when out of the shadows a werewolf pounced upon the two of us. I tried to defend us, but I was knocked back by the strength of this creature. Hours crept by as I lay in darkness, only awaken by the rays of the coming morning. When I awoke I found only bits of my beautiful horse left. My anger and sadness knew no bounds as revenge became my only thought. I marched to the temple of the goddess Epona and demanded for the high priestess, my grandmother. The attendants worked fast to retrieve her as she appeared before me in a long gown with a moonstone carved into a horse’s head. She looked at my questioningly before asking,
‘My dear granddaughter, what is the matter? Have you finally come to your senses and asked for forgiveness from the great goddess? It is only then will you find peace in your parent’s death and see the purpose that is meant for you.’
I scoffed at her before responding, ‘No, I came to make you aware of what the goddess that you revere has done to us. As you know, she took my parents away many moons ago but gifted us a silver horse. For a while, I was happy with the gift that I had been giving, but sure enough your goddess had to ruin that too. A werewolf, a creature of the moon, attacked me and killed my beloved horse. What do you have to say to your goddess now?!’
At first, she seemed unfazed by my news, making me even angrier, but then she did something I never thought I would see. She grabbed her necklace and shattered it against the ground. That is when our quest for revenge began.”
Red took a few more sips of alcohol as she paused from her story. The stranger was stunned by the words that came from the woman’s mouth. She asked,
“Revenge on a goddess? How foolish could you be? The gods and goddesses are not to be trifled with. How are you even still alive?”
“Shut up and I will tell you.” Responded the harsh woman. After finishing what seemed like her eighth glass she continued, “First, we wanted revenge against the werewolf, the goddess was afterwards. We knew that we needed at least a third to even attempt to kill the beast. So, we came to this very tavern and hired the services of mercenary who used only axes to kill his victims. The three of us then headed into the forest to hunt for the beast. It took days to even get within the right area to find its den. In that time, the three of us bonded and partook in merrymaking much like those around us tonight. But like most good things, it came to an end. We were attacked in a flash by the beast. Without a second thought, it killed my grandmother by biting down on her throat. I screamed in anger as I went after the beast with no plan. It easily pinned myself underneath it as it tore into my skin. I would have been dead if it were not for the mercenary. He threw three axes into the side of the beast, making it come towards him. I went towards my grandmother’s body and found the shards of the moon necklace she once wore. Then I heard a dying scream as the body of the mercenary lay cold and bloody upon the ground. It was just me and the horrid beast left to battle. I took up one of the axes and grounded the moonstone into the axe head. With my weapon ready, I charged forward once again to kill the wretched beast. It moved to the side, barely escaping my swing as it latched onto my arm with its teeth. My other hand was still free as I chopped again and again into the beast. It died after the first two strokes, but I did not care. Over and over again I struck it until my white hood was stained red. As I looked at what was left of the body, it began to change to a human form. Horror struck my face as I saw the dead body of my father upon the ground.”
Red had to stop for a moment, her past causing her to be visible shaken before grabbing a whole bottle of wine and guzzling it down her throat. The room had stopped their fun and were listening intently to her story. She noticed this as she gave them a murderous glare, to which they all returned to their fun. After a few deep breaths, she continued,
“As I stayed at bended knee at my loss a beam of light from the moon above came down in front of me. A being formed from the radiant glow as a goddess stood before me. She kept her hair in a pony tail and had a riding hood of silver around her shoulders. Across her shoulder, she wore a belt of moonstones that glowed within the dark night. She looked at me with a disappointing gaze while she spoke,
‘What have you done? My dear you were always so headstrong, but this is beyond that characterization. Anger blinded your judgement and reason. Your father was so close to finishing his sentence before you struck him down. Now, you have lost him forever.”
I was stunned by the figure in front of me, not because she was a goddess but because I had recognized her.
‘Mom?’ I asked questioningly.
The goddess sighed as she replied, ‘Yes, my dear daughter. You see you were only half right about when you thought the goddess took your parents. When I committed myself to your father and him to me, we were told by the other gods not to reveal my identity to anyone. For many a year we both kept silent of my true nature until one night in that dam tavern. Your father was with some of the other men in the village who began to mock me. They said horrible things such as I was a whore looking for redemption by the goddess Epona by becoming a priestess. Due to anger and alcohol, your father rose to defend my honor revealing who I was. Of course, this broke the vow we made to the gods and he was immediately struck by the moon. He transformed into a werewolf and killed all around him before running into the forest. Many moons passed, and he hid within the woods; not killing another soul until he felt the pull of the silver steed, the one I gave you. Another test by the gods to see if you were worthy of being in my presence again. This you failed miserably. Had it not seemed strange that he did not kill you at the same time? You were knocked unconscious with no way to defend yourself, easy prey to anyone. Worst of all you dragged two others to their deaths because of your anger. My dear I am sorry, but you must be punished. Henceforth from here on you will guard my temple as the beast that drove you to such foolishness.’
The moon struck me with such power it overwhelmed my mind. All I could hear was howling and feel a hunger for flesh. That night was the end of me as a human for now I am cursed to walk this earth as a werewolf until my sentence is finished. Serving as the guardian of the temple of Epona just a short distance away.”
With her tale finished, she had finally stopped drinking from the alcohol she had been given. Her eyes had softened from her tale from the fury she had started the conversation. The foreigner smiled as she talked to werewolf,
“So, you are the woman I have been searching for. I am going to need your help Red. The gods have decreed only one that has been bathed in moonlight can defeat the foe I face now.”
Red plucked an eye brow up at the foreigner, intrigued by her offer. Before agreeing to anything she asked one question,
“What’s your name?”
A small smile appeared on her mouth as the foreigner responded, “Aurora.”
How long had it been since she had seen the outside world? All she knew was the inside of her father’s castle, well at least in the last ten years. Most of that time the woman spent in the dungeons, only being let out to clean the castle that her step mother and step sisters now ruled over. The three made her life a living hell. Every day she was let out of her shackles to clean. Her cruel sisters would blast her body with spells to make her scream. Constantly, pain wracked her body only matched by the way the woman felt like dirt. She was not allowed any help through her daily cleaning routine. Although, when her sisters and mother were busy with other matters of the state, she summoned animals to help her finish her chores. This gave her time to rest and to catch up on reading. Today was not one of those days. Today they had shackled her particularly tight and had thrown the usually cinders into her eyes. They called her Cinder, not even addressing her by her real name.
Cinder was fading in and out of consciousness. Someone stood in front of her; a person she swore was glowing with light. She shook her head thinking it was only a hallucination from the lack of food.
Then the figure talked, “Ella, daughter of the king of the land of Gaul, a place bathed in sunlight and blessed with the rich soil of volcano. You have suffered greatly these past ten years. The injustice you have suffered is incalculable, but it was not without purpose. Unknown to you, you have been building up strength to take back your kingdom. Your father had a noble heart and that same heart beats in you.”
Finding her voice, the princess responded, “Who… who are you?” Her eyes could now focus on the stranger. She wore a long pink dress embroidered with flames as a red veil lay over their head. Around her neck she wore a golden necklace embedded with a Ruby in its center. The red head had a sweet smile and lovely complexion as warmth seemed to radiate from her.
“My name is Hestia, goddess of hearth, architecture, domesticity, and fire. I was a virgin for many a century until meeting your father. He was such a kind man, taking me into his home without seeking anything in return after I was injured by a chimera. He intended to my wounds and listened to the advice I gave him about his castle. I felt so warm around him. This filled my being until I decided to no longer contain it. That was how you were born. The only reason I left was due to an urgent matter on Mount Olympus. When it had passed, and I had finally returned, your father had been enchanted by your stepmother before being killed by her.”
A tear fell on the goddess’ face before she continued. “I sought advice from an oracle in the far-off region of China in the territory owned by the Shang. She revealed to me the only way to defeat the wretched woman and her enchanted daughters. She foretold to me that my daughter would avenge the death of her father once she reached the age of nineteen. Within you has the potential to blaze a fire bright enough to snuff out your oppressors.” Her mother said as a fire lit in her hand. She floated it to her daughter’s chest as it sank within it. “Trust in the fire that burns within you my daughter. Know always that I am with you.” With that, she disappeared within a burst of flames.
As her mother vanished, the princess could hear footsteps coming down the staircase. Her vile stepmother Tremaine dressed in an expensive gown made of silk and other fine linens. Jewels adorned her fingers and the crown of the former king set upon her head.
The old bat stuck her nose up to Ella as she spoke, “Ah, if it isn’t my deceased husband’s bastard child, all full of ash upon your face. The name Cinder really suits you my dear. Now, the only reason I grace you with my presence is that you left the kitchen quite a mess the last time you cleaned. You should no better to leave specks on my dishes. So…” The cruel woman pulled from her side a cat of nines whip. “You must be punished.” Strike after strike hit the princess’ stomach as the warmth her mother’s fire began to spread. The more she was hit, the more the fire burned brighter as she felt a new surge of power. Still, her cruel stepmother did not notice as she continued her attack.
The old crow’s words soon confirmed her doom. “Your mother was nothing but a common whore. No wonder she left you to rot.” That did it. The cuffs around her wrists and ankles melted away as fire erupted from her fingertips. Tremaine scurried back like a rodent at the sight of pure power standing in front of her. The locks of hair that hung from Ella’s shoulders acted as an inferno while flowing into the air. The princess’ eyes turned into a crimson red while she stared at her abuser. Pure terror was the last feeling the stepmother felt as the blaze burned her to an unrecognizable crisp.
From the charred corpse, Ella ripped the crown from her stepmother’s head and placed it upon herself. She strode up the stairs, scorching the floor with each step. As the door opened, she was met by a host of knights that had heard the former queen’s screams. They were mystified by the sight before them, but soon brushed this off as they charged forward. These mere mortals were no match while they cooked in their own armor. Through the castle she went, cleansing it from the putridness her step mother had wrought. The men that the former queen had employed were pathetic fighters and were no match for the true ruler’s fury. The real challenges soon approached her. Her two step sisters were glowing with menacing magic and screamed like hell cats. Blast after blast they met in strength, shaking the very foundation of the castle. The duo could see they were making no ground and summoned cat-like men with glowing red eyes. Valiantly, she fought against wave after wave of these creatures; her strength never failing her. Realizing that she could not keep this up forever, she summoned a wall of flames that barricaded her from the enemy.
With great haste, Ella retreated further into the castle; stumbling across a young man named Henri. Before striking him down, he bowed to her and pleaded, “Please Princess Ella! I live to serve you and your lineage. My family, the Charmers, have served yours for generations. We were your father’s oracles and kept many secrets from the vile Tremaine. When she stuck your father down, she did the same to mine. I was forced to serve as a foot servant to the trio. I endured in the hopes that one day you would finally rise to power. Your father knew this day would come and trusted my family with this container; saying only you would be able to open it.” From the sack on his back, he pulled a large metal sphere and set it at the feet of the princess. As her hands touched the strange object, it began to glow as it opened to reveal a peculiar pair of objects. It was two glass slippers with parchment stuck between them. The princess took the latter and began to read what was inscribed upon it.
“My sweet Ella. I fear that I will be long dead before you read this and that you have suffered for my weakness. Tremaine and her twisted daughters have been enchanting me. Only for brief moments I am not under their spell and in these moments, I seek to ensure your future. The people will gladly follow you once you dispense those hags. These slippers will allow you to turn your bird friends you sang to as a child into much more magnificent creatures. I love you my daughter and even in my death, I will always be with you. Love your dad, Gentille son of Doux.”
A tear fell from Ella’s eyes as it steamed on her cheek. For years she thought she had no love but was clearly wrong. She sang an ancient song as her birds flocked together before her. Slipping into the gifts her father gave her, the princess focused on the flock as fire whirled around them. They soon changed form and size as Phoenixes now perched before her. Astonished at their transformation, she patted each of them as she turned to face her enemy again. The demon cat-men filled the hall as she made their way toward them. They mewed a twisted cry as they came slashing toward her. It was then her birds erupted behind her and tossed her oppressors against one another. Beaks tore into flesh as the twisted creatures could not stand against Ella and her forces. Hearing the howls of their minions, the two witches turned the corner to see their step sister with her own followers. Blasts of magic launched from their hands as they tried to keep the Phoenixes at bay. It was no use. Ella protected them with shields of fire as they eliminated the entirety of the cat-like horde. All that was left were the two hags.
The Phoenixes took to the air alight with fire as they whirled around their enemy. A fiery tornado formed around the witches. In vain, they attempted to escape; trying spell after spell to escape. Nothing worked. Fear overtook their being before getting struck down with a fiery sword through each of their chests. Like their mother, they were burnt beyond recognition as Ella stood over them triumphant. Henri of the prophet family of Charmers proclaimed a joyous victory, spreading the word throughout the kingdom. Soon, villagers flocked to the castle, exalting their princess with praises. She was soon made Queen of Gaul and appointed Henri her high priest, reestablishing the fallen order. They dedicated the new directive to the goddess Hestia, whose ideals of a safe home and loving family were followed for many years to come. Still, the new queen would feel unrest and would partake in many adventures to come, calling herself Cinderella.