There were no words in any language that could describe the sheer amount of anguish in Cinderella's tears. They racked her body with unimaginable pain and caused her to drop to her knees. She felt the soft hand of the good fairy Flora on her shoulder. She looked up and saw that tears also dressed her face in unfathomable sadness. The news of her beloved Fairy Godmother's death had been incredibly difficult to hear but Cinderella couldn't have possibly imagined the pain of watching her Fairy Godmother die in her arms. Cinderella envied Flora's strength for it long exceeded her own.
"So what now Flora? What can I possibly do against Eilonwy?" Cinderella croaked, her throat sore from earlier sobbing.
"Have courage dear. You wont be alone. Even as we speak, Fauna and Merryweather are going around, having the same conversation with the others."
"But what am I supposed to do? I don't have magic and I'm no warrior. I can't even lift a sword! How am I supposed to fight her?!"
"Never fear dear, there is one among the others that is a seasoned warrior. She shall train you to defend yourself."
"And what of my magical defense?"
"Also taken care of, we are sending you and the other's to the castle of a powerful sorcerer. His name is Yen Sid. He shall protect you from Eilonwy's forces and guide you in the ways of the mystic arts dear. Soon you'll wield magic far stronger than mine."
Cinderella grew still and quiet. She knew that what Flora was offering was the wisest choice. But what it entailed was frightening. She would have to face a woman who had already destroyed two kingdoms and killed countless people. Then something inside Cinderella stirred. It gnawed at everything she held true and dear. She wanted Eilonwy to pay for deaths she wrought, especially the death of her Fairy Godmother. But she was a princess now. She had a responsibility to her kingdom. She could never abandon her kingdom, or her husband. As if he heard her thoughts, she heard him call her name.
"I'm here, in the study!" She called. Even in times of distress, just the mere thought of how charming he is always made her smile.
He burst through the door, sweat covering his brow and his breathing labored. The moment Cinderella looked into his eyes, she knew something was terribly wrong.
"Cinder…ella…" he wheezed.
"Catch your breath my darling. What has happened?"
It took him a few minutes to regain his composure, then a sadness crept onto his face, before Cinderella could even repeat her question, he fell the floor sobbing uncontrollably. "Its my father…he has been killed!"
The words struck Cinderella down to her very core. Eilonwy was here. "By whom?" she asked, hoping against hope that she was wrong in her assumption.
"The solider who managed to escape reports an army of undead, shrouded in darkness."
"Oh dear!" Flora cried, suddenly pale with fright, "She's here! Quickly, you must muster your forces and form a defense of the castle. Evacuate your citizens into the castle!"
"She? Who is this witch that commands such a fearsome army and why are they attacking us? We've done them no wrong."
"Eilonwy…" Cinderella whispered, "She's here to kill me and destroy our kingdom."
If the news shocked her husband, he hid it well. His face grew hard and the tears he was shedding stopped abruptly. He fixed Flora with a stern look and asked, "Is that what you were here to tell Cinderella?"
"Can you take her from this place?"
"NO!" Cinderella cried, "I will not abandon my people. Imagine how they would lose hope if their queen ran from them in their time of need."
"It doesn't matter Cinderella, as your king and husband, it is my ultimate duty to keep you safe."
"And what of my duties as queen and wife? Am I to leave you here to die? Even if I become the warrior the Flora asks me to be, it will take time. By then, it may already be too late!"
"Yet if you go, you can reclaim our kingdom."
"I DON'T CARE!"
"CINDERELLA ENOUGH!" shrieked a female voice from the door.
Cinderella felt a shiver go down her spine. She knew that voice. There was only one person in the world who could yell her name in that manner and quite frankly, she was the last person Cinderella wanted to see right now.
"What is it that you need step-mother?"Cinderella asked, turning to face the door.
Lady Tremaine was an imposing woman. She stood with deadly poise and grace and though she had been reduced to nothing than a hermit within the castle, she possessed a fierce regal countenance of one who was once a noble. She walked in the room and looked at Cinderella with such contempt that Cinderella wanted to scream. After all this time, those empty cruel green eyes still filled her with fear and shame.
"This is not a queen should behave Cinderella. Throwing a temper tantrum like a child when asked to do something you do not wish to do."
"You would have me run too step-mother? I thought you of all people would enjoy seeing me be killed." Cinderella replied, feeling unusually venomous in the presence of her step-mother.
"I would have you think Cinderella. This fairy is offering you a chance at survival and retribution for your kingdom and you spit on it."
"Then tell me, oh wise and gracious Lady Tremaine, what of my people? They look to both me and my husband for guidance. What do you intend to do about them?"
Lady Tremaine flashed Cinderella her awful grim smile and turned her attention to Flora. "You, fairy. You possess a fair amount of magic do you not?"
"Yes, however my magic cannot be used for evil purposes." Flora replied, flashing Lady Tremaine a threatening glare.
"Can you change the likeness of something or someone?"
"…why yes, but what does that have to do with anything?"
"Fool. The answer is simple. You shall change me to look like Cinderella so that we may cover her escape and buy the kingdom some time."
"Step-mother NO!" Cinderella shouted, suddenly rising her feet. "Don't you understand what you're suggesting?"
"Of course, I suggested it after all." Lady Tremaine replied, chuckling a little.
"This is isn't funny step-mother! She'll kill you. I won't let you give your life for me!"
"You fool. This isn't about helping you. I am confident enough in my wiles that she will let me get close to her. And when she does, I shall enact my own revenge."
"My daughters were with the king when he was attacked. Drusilla died defending the king and Anastasia…died alone with one to help her. It is true that I have never looked upon you as a daughter but throughout everything that has happened with us, they have come to regard you as a sister. I love my daughters Cinderella, and as such I shall claim my vengeance while saving the woman my daughters called family. You will NOT rob me of this Cinderella."
Cinderella felt sick. Not only had Eilonwy taken her Fairy Godmother and her father-in-law, but now the only two people she considered as family were gone too.
"Cinderelly…" a tiny voice whispered.
Cinderella whipped around to see the tiny form of her mouse friend Jacque, crawling on the floor; a tiny stream of red marking his trail. Cinderella raced over to him and cradled him in the palm of her hand.
"Jacque! What happened?"
"Scary men attack annie. Gus-gus, didn't make it."
Cinderella felt fresh tears well up in her eyes, since they've mended things, Anastasia and Drusilla had started taking Gus and Jacque everywhere with them. "Oh Jacque, I'm so sorry."
"Is ok Cinderelly, is not your fault. I'm sleepy Cinderelly, I'm gonna sleep now, zoot zoot?"
"Ok Jacque, good night." Cinderella whispered, tears forming banners of sadness on her face. Jacque's answer was a small breath then a final smile. Cinderella laid Jacque on a nearby table and took out a handkerchief. As she covered her friend, she felt a hand on her shoulder. She turned to see her husband looking at her with an equally tear stained face at the loss of her first friend. She buried her face into his chest and just stood there. She realized that she had no more tears. Her sadness and anger were beyond that now. Now, she was merely empty. She looked up into her husband's eyes for what she thought would be the last time and smiled. She didn't want his last memory of her face to be of her in tears.
"Do it," she said, turning to face to Flora, "send me to this sorcerer. I will train and I will reclaim my kingdom."
"Very well dear, when you are ready."
"She is." Lady Tremaine answered, "We have no time to waste. Make sure to change my likeness as well."
Cinderella walked over to Lady Tremaine and did something she thought she would never do. She wrapped her arms around Lady Tremaine and embraced her in the tightest hug she could muster. Even more surprising was that Lady Tremaine embraced her back and just as tightly. As suddenly as the embrace began, it ended. Cinderella backed away and let a faint smile adorn her face as she looked into what seemed to be a mirror reflection of herself.
"May you have your revenge step-mother."
"And you yours." Lady Tremaine replied, sounding exactly like Cinderella.
"Cinderella dear, its time. There is much they need to do and little time to do it in." Flora called.
Cinderella went to her husband and kissed him once more. She walked over next to Flora and held her head high. She would leave with the appearance of a strong queen no matter how weak she felt in her soul. Flora waved her wand and soon a circular blue portal appeared in the middle of the room. Cinderella walked with heavy steps, the knowledge of the fact that when she returned, everything would either be destroyed or killed. It didn't matter, whatever Eilonwy did to her kingdom, she would unleash upon her tenfold. Until that time, the only thing she could do is become stronger. As Cinderella walked through the portal, she swore then and there, Eilonwy would pay dearly for what she cost her. Eilonwy would pay the ultimate price…
Eilonwy couldn't possibly describe her rage with words. Everything had gone accordingly in the beginning. Better even. She had killed their king and even Cinderella's sisters without even intentionally doing so. When she launched her first attack, Cinderella delivered herself to Eilonwy's camp before the fighting even started. She should have known that that was a sign. Things never go that easily.
As a final wish, Cinderella had requested that she be able to share a meal with Eilonwy to discuss the possible terms of surrender and that her forces not attack the kingdom until after the meal. The meal had been normal enough, pleasant even. It was then where everything turned sour. The food had been poisoned. Eilonwy had wrapped enough spells around her to prevent her from dying, but the poison had been potent enough to temporarily weaken her. As she struggled to regain composure, Cinderella had stabbed her with a poisoned dagger that she had hidden in the bodice of her dress. Eilonwy had to applaud the plan. For some spoiled little servant girl, Cinderella had executed a very well thought out plan.
Eilonwy took great pleasure in beating Cinderella into a bloody mess with her own fists after her spells had expelled the poison in her body. There was feral joy to destroying someone with her own fists. As Eilonwy was about to deliver the final blow, Cinderella's crumpled broken body turned into that of an older woman with such an evil in her eyes, Eilonwy was almost jealous. Eilonwy attempted to heal the woman so she could torture her for information but Eilonwy no longer had any light magic to wield. She cursed for thirty minutes straight after the woman died, laughing at Eilonwy's inability to elicit information from her.
Irritated beyond good measure, Eilonwy immediately ordered her army to attack. The opposing army was formidable in size but fell quickly. As her forces coursed through the castle and nearby villages, she kept receiving reports of them all being deserted. She personally went to investigate the castle to see if she could uncover any clues as to where an entire kingdom could have disappeared to.
She traversed hall after hall in the castle and found nothing useful. It sickened her to see that everywhere she looked; she saw portraits or murals of Cinderella. She loved and valued by the her kingdom even though she did nothing for them. She didn't protect them, she didn't help them, she didn't even dare to stand against Eilonwy for them! Eilonwy couldn't stand the sight of the pictures anymore and began to set them on fire with well aimed fireballs. She smiled as she the black flames began to devour the pictures and the rest of the castle.
As she walked past an empty study, something caught her attention. She sensed the residual glow of magic. She walked into the study and was able to clearly sense that someone had used a generous amount of light magic. The magic felt familiar, and it irritated Eilonwy even further that she could not place it. She looked around the study and saw a bloody handkerchief on a table. She looked at with faint interest. It was light blue and had a small flower design sewn into the corners of it. It looked as if it belonged to an older woman. Eilonwy had then felt a fury that she had not felt since her last conversation with her father. The Fairy Godmother must have survived long enough to warn Cinderella and used the last of her strength to send Cinderella away. Possibly to another kingdom to warn them of Eilonwy's coming.
Eilonwy couldn't stop shaking after her realization. While she didn't need the element of surprise to destroy the other kingdoms, she enjoyed how quickly it helped her end the resistance. It didn't matter. Her army was big enough that she could launch a multi-front assault on all of the kingdoms at once. Let's see Cinderella run from her forces now.