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.