Surely by now you're wondering what the wonderful series Friends and Heroes has do with the fairy tales of Snow white and Cinderella, the answer is very simple. This is a fan's recreative retelling titled:
Bright as the sun
This is a tale of two diverse destinies, a tale of two lives that were fated to cross and join. Separated not only by a thousand miles but similarly different cultures.
Our story begins in Greece with a fabrics merchant, Hesperus, whose hard work made him and his gentle wife, Dulcea, quite wealthy. Yet they lacked but one blessing to make their joy complete, Dulcea longed for a child.
Not long afterwards, their wishes were granted: a healthy baby girl as delicate as a snowflake was born to them with red lips, skin white as snow. They named her Eliana.
The baby grew up to be a kind child who loved her parents very much. To her mother and father she was a princess. True she had no title nor crown nor castle, but she was the ruler of her own little kingdom whose borders were the house in the meadow on the forest's edge where her people had lived for generations.
But sorrow can come to any kingdom, no matter how happy. Because of one who wanted everything she had, starting with Dulcea's own husband. One that neither she nor anyone else understood why they'd become so embittered until one cold, foreboding night… the raised voices of two women could be heard arguing over the howling wind.
"What kind of monster are you?! You drove away my friends betrothed but the one you've always wanted was my husband!"
"What do you think? That I was going to let her be as- as happy as you this whole time!"
"You're mad, you need help!"
"No! What I need is Hesperus for to want me, to fall in love with me -"
"Stop it, don't say such horrid things!"
"They're not horrid, it's the truth! I've always loved him, he would've wanted me if he knew and he would married ME not you, and you wouldn't have gotten pregnant with a brat I hate!"
"I hate that brat! Don't you walk away from me because I've not finished!"
There's a struggle then a woman's scream and everything goes black…
The merchant, his daughter and the servants filed slowly by to shed their own tears for the recently deceased. But there was one among the mourners whose eyes were dry. There was one among the mourners whose heart was stone, whose soul was cold, and whose smile was deceiving. She set her eyes on the weeping Hesperus and schemed. Hesperus mourned the death of his wife with a broken heart but at the urgings of his family and friends, he wed again. But alas it was to his wife's elder sister, Florencia, a vain and twisted woman but with enough cunning to pass off as pious.
She'd always been secretly in love with Hesperus and deeply envied her that feeling became utter loathing when she'd found out her sister would become a mother.
The woman was cruel to the young Eliana and made no intent on hiding her disgust towards her.
"Let me be clear on one thing: I hate children, don't expect me to have any with your father. Though maybe I should just so they can make your life miserable. You don't want any trouble from me do you?"
"Don't you start crying!"
And that's how it was for the poor child.
However she reckoned without the young Eliana who even in child hood showed the promise of a beauty that would far outshine her own. She's twelve now. Unaware of the great journey that lay ahead of her.
"What a graceful little dancer isn't she?" the servants crooned.
"Her dear mother was just the same."
"Was there ever such a pretty child?"
"When she grows up she'll be a beauty."
Soon Eliana's beloved father was set to embark on a business trip.
"My little sunchild what might those dreams be?"
"The same ones I've always had: to travel the world, have my own adventure and lots of friends."
"Some dreams do come true."
"I hope so with all my heart."
"If anyone deserves it it's you my daughter, you're gentle and honest."
Sadly came the sorrowful day everything was turned upside down for the merchant's daughter.
"Father how I envy you: sailing to such adventure in other lands."
"Not just simple travel my child, but to trade and add a little to our homeland's culture and tradition by sharing it with other worlds."
The girl ties a long ribbon to tie gently around her father's wrist. "Wear it to bring you safely home."
They hug once before her leaves.
"I must go." he said to his daughter kissing her forehead.
From the window tops, Florencia watched and cursed her. The child in her eyes was her rival, a vile reminder of the first wife. She privately summoned a hunter as way to do away with the child days later.
"I order you to take Eliana to the docks. Take care of her. Make sure she doesn't come back!" she growled, "And bring me back her heart as proof of her demise."
The hunter reluctantly agreed and left with the child lying that her father would soon return.
"His ship is pulling up to the docks this very moment."
Eliana was just so happy she rushed to the pier not noticing how early nor why it was suspiciously empty.
She doesn't see the hunter get closer and closer more ominously until she turns around and see the large knife glinting in his hand.
"What're you doing?!"
"Don't! Please let me go!" she pleaded, "I'll run away to the village and never come back!"
The hunter soon faltered. "No, I cannot. Forgive me, but I cannot do what was asked of me. Your stepmother Florencia – she's mad jealous of your beauty!"
Eliana shivered, she knew her stepmother never liked her yet didn't think it'd come to this. "No, there must be some mistake…"
"There is no mistake!" The hunter replied, "But sadly I cannot let you leave either."
So he instead sold the frightened child to slave traders where she was soon given to some awful people in Crete.
"The answer is actually quite simple yet I'll tell it directly to your face: Nature has been far too generous to you. It has blessed you with astonishing beauty, well-honed wit and effortless grace." said her new mistress.
Doubtful, Eliana thought.
"Qualities all too visibly present in you now if only some of the slow-witted folk would recognize my own as the better options instead of yourself. To balance it out the scales that have been unfairly tipped in your favor it is only right that I treat you as what you are – my inferior."
Head wilted, the Greek let herself to be led into the servant's quarters. This was a mistake. This wasn't for her. They had the wrong girl. But the new circumstances were far too grim to be a dream.
In the new household, her new masters' daughter, Ilithya, was spoiled and domineering. Eliana kept to herself mostly, but Ilithya took every opportunity to humiliate the Greek child.
"Her clothes are too pretty, she can't do chores wearing that! You're Greek and an orphan aren't you?" she sneered at the other little girl, "And orphans are supposed to be dirty!" And she deliberately throws mud on Eliana.
From then on, she led the life of a slave waif, trying to survive long enough to return home once she's grown.
The women saw her as a despicable rival inferior to them and should be reminded of where 'her place' is.
While the men never knew her as another human being…someone with thoughts, hopes and feelings. Instead she was a gilded mask of sheer beauty something to be sought after, pursued and to be possessed like a prize or trophy!
At first it been fun and a little flattering in early childhood, but as she grew older Eliana learned there were awful disadvantages. That was her new life: the envious hostility of women and the greedy pursuit of men. Yet in her heart Ella struggled to remain the same and she remembered her mother's advice. "Have courage and be kind."
It would be three long years before she would find her own destiny. One she never even dreamed possible. Now a confused maiden of fifteen, Eliana escapes and climbs aboard a ship which in a few days would soon reach Alexandria…
To be continued…