By Jamie Elizabeth Oppliger

In the time when fantasy was real and dragons, ogres, unicorns, and other such beings ruled the earth, there lived a girl. She was beautiful with long brown hair the color of a sparrow's brown feathers. Skin as soft and as beautiful as pink rose petals, lips a dark blood red, and eyes that were gray like a storm coming in from the sea; they could lure a man in and cast a spell of unconditional love over him.

She couldn't help being how she was. She was not spoiled despite the fact that all men worshipped her and did whatever she wished of them. She was, in fact, very kind and considerate to others. She lived in the land of Eve with her Granny. Her name was Seastorm, after her eyes. All animals loved her when they saw her.

Most girls despised her for her kindness and beauty. Her only real friends were the animals. The men of the village were not her friends; they just were nice to her because of her beauty. She had never been traveling outside the village. She wanted to travel the world and see the ocean and visit far away lands. Her Granny was worried that she would fall in love with some heartless, handsome, fool who only loved her for her beauty not her kindness. Since Seastorm was young she was reminded never to trust men after they see her beauty. Her Granny told her that the only way for her to get a husband is when she meets him; hide her face or her beauty somehow.

One day when she was washing the laundry, she saw a winged horse flying and then she knew something was wrong with her Granny. Seastorm left the clothes and ran as fast as she could toward the house. When she got there she saw her Granny sprawled across the floor. Granny was barely breathing and she told Seastorm with her last breath, "Take this locket and remember, don't fall in love with a man unless you know that he loves you for the beauty of your soul and not just your face." She threw herself over her Granny and cried.

Soon after, one of the women from the village came and comforted Seastorm and offered to take her in. Seastorm wouldn't talk for a week. All she could think about was her Granny and the Pegasus, and hold the locket. The woman who took her in was named Sarrasi. Sarrasi had a daughter Katherine who was as beautiful as she was cruel. Since Seastorm had come to live with Katherine and Sarrasi, men only came to visit Seastorm and never even looked at Katherine. They were jealous so they decided to make Seastorm do all the chores and work around the house. She had to wear old clothes full of holes and sleep by the fire to keep her warm. Katherine nicknamed her Cinderstorm.

Cinderstorm worked all day but she still was kind and her animal friends always visited her. She never stopped smiling and being kind to people and Cinderstorm never took off her locket. The soot was slowly covering up her beauty but the beauty of her soul still shone through. Cinderstorm never looked inside the locket until one day when Katherine yelled at her, "What is that stupid necklace that you're always wearing. Give it here." She took the locket and opened it, "a couple of pieces of hair! How stupid!" Cinderstorm picked up the locket and each individual hair. Somehow she knew it was hair from a Pegasus's tail. It was supposed to be a lucky charm that protected whoever wore it. She couldn't remember where she heard this but she just knew.

The next day there was a knock at the door. Cinderstorm opened it and saw a handsome young man wearing a velvet cape. "I am here to inform everyone in this household that the Prince Numair is coming and wants to stay in one of the houses of someone in the village. Will your mistress allow him to stay here?" "One minute please." She ran and got Sarrasi "What do you want Cinderstorm?" "A messenger from the prince is here." Sarrasi went down the stairs with her daughter to the door. "Yes?" "Prince Numair wants to stay in one of the houses of someone in the village will you allow him to stay here?" "Of course, we would be flattered. When does he arrive?" "Two days from now. The prince thanks you".

"Cinderstorm! Clean the whole house from top to bottom, make Katherine some new dresses, and air out the guest bedrooms. And step on it!" Cinderstorm went all through the house cleaning and making everything nice and neat and fit for a "prince". Sarrasi kept on finding new things for her to do so she had no time to clean up or make herself beautiful. The two days passed quickly and the prince came. When he entered the house he looked magnificent and intelligent. Cinderstorm immediately fell deeply in love with him. He saw her as a lowly servant and handed her his cape. "Hang this up," he ordered, "and don't get it dirty." She took it. "Miss Sarrasi and Miss Katherine will be down in a minute would you like to take a seat?" "Thank you," he said and then looked into her eyes and saw the kindness and beauty they held. He also saw that she had gone through pain and suffering. She stared back and they stood there for a couple minutes or a couple of hours they couldn't tell.

"Hello! Prince Numair we are delighted to have you stay at our house," said Sarrasi. Numair looked at her startled and blushed, "Well thank you for letting me use one of your spare rooms. My guard is putting our horses away and will be in here in a little while. Who is your maid?" "Oh her, she doesn't matter," said Katherine red with fury "She is a poor orphan brat that mother rescued." "Why is she covered in soot?" "She prefers to be dirty and sleeps among the ashes and cinders so we just call her Cinderstorm." "Cinderstorm come take the prince's bags to his room." Cinderstorm came in and grabbed two of the bags and started up the stairs. "Let me help you with the other bag." Cinderstorm just nodded and kept going up the stairs with the prince just following behind her. "That little brat took the prince away from you dear," said Sarrasi angrily, "but just wait, I have an idea." Sarrasi smiled wickedly and Katherine giggled.

The next morning the prince couldn't find Seastorm anywhere. "Where is the little servant girl?" he asked Sarrasi. "She has left for the city and she won't be back for a couple of days. I think... the day after you leave is the day when she comes back." She smiled and walked away. Meanwhile in the forest in a small hut by the river lay Cinderstorm sobbing. She tried calling out for help but after a few minutes she realized that she was out of hearing distance. She should have realized earlier that Katherine would never be nice to her. She could imagine how Katherine was putting all her charm on the prince and him falling in love with her.

After about ten minutes of crying and holding her Granny's necklace she heard a noise outside. "HELP! HELP!" she cried, "Who's there? Help me!" Whoever was there wasn't paying attention to her and she sobbed even harder. Suddenly she heard the lock on the door break. She ran to it and pushed and sure enough the door opened.

Outside stood the Pegasus. "Thank you, oh thank you Pegasus". -Sweet Seastorm, take your locket and smash it. It will give you what you need- she heard the voice in her head and she became frightened and angry, "Smash my Granny's locket! Are you crazy? She told me to protect it!" -You'll have to trust me Seastorm if I am to help you. I have protected your family since I was made thousands of years ago- "No! I'm not going to break my Granny's locket." She started crying. -Seastorm! Listen to me. Your grandmother and your mother both trusted me enough to break their most prized possession. Make them proud- "Okay." She set the locket on a rock and took another one and smashed the locket. It made a noise like a wind chime and a there was a bright flash that made Cinderstorm look away.

When she looked back there lay a beautiful lavender dress and glass slippers. "I can't put that beautiful dress on. I'm covered in dirt." -Come with me to the river- There was a still part of the river just off the main stream. -Bathe in the pool and then come back and put on the dress- The water must have been enchanted or magic because it cleaned her skin and made it pink. It smoothed her hair and immediately it was untangled and started to shine. She didn't look like Cinderstorm the servant anymore. She once again looked like Seastorm the beautiful maiden. "Thank you Pegasus. But my hair is soaking wet. So I dare not put the dress on." The Pegasus breathed warm air on Seastorm's hair and dried it. She put on the dress and the glass slippers. -Sit on my back and I'll take you to the house. Oh, by the way, wear this necklace- It was the locket. "But.. but.. I thought I smashed it" -you didn't smash it, it just seemed like you did. That is how I know if someone trusts me enough- "Thank you Pegasus," but the words were lost in the wind as they took off.

The prince sat in the living room of the house listening to stories about how "wonderful" Katherine is and how she is so beautiful. "...then she jumped underneath the window and saved the poor child. Isn't that so wonderful?" said Sarrasi. "Uh, What? Oh, Yeah" stuttered the prince. He was so bored hearing about all the "great" deeds she had done, but he had to pretend to be interested so he put on a smile and pretended to pay attention. "Numair. You don't mind if I call you Numair do you? Of course not, come outside with me and show me your horse. I just love horses." The prince reluctantly took her outside to the stable and right when they were going in Katherine kissed him.

"Oh Goddess! They are kissing! Pegasus take me away!" Seastorm started crying. The prince heard her cry out. "Cinderstorm wait! Come back! WAIT!" But they were already leaving. -He didn't really kiss her you know- "What! That is called kissing." -No, she kissed him and he was trying to stop her. He asked you to wait. Let's turn around and go back- "I don't believe you. They were kissing I saw it with my own eyes" Seastorm started crying again. "He never liked me. He just thought of me as a servant. How could I have been so stupid?"

"WAIT!" cried the prince. He ran to his horse, mounted him bareback, and the galloped off. "CINDERSTORM WAIT! WAIT FOR ME. IT'S NOT WHAT IT LOOKS LIKE," but she was already too far off in the distance. He followed behind as fast as he could, yelling for her to wait. -Wait for him child. He loves you because he saw your kindness while you were here. He saw you help the old man find his way to the village and he saw you when you helped the sick rabbit- "He was spying on me!?" -yes only because something drew him to you. He loves you, you know. Why don't you hear his side of the story. If you still don't like it then we can go- "No, I won't wait."

They stayed away while Numair was at the house. When he finally left they headed back home. "You insolent little brat why did you get out of the hut?" said Sarrasi furiously. "B.. b.. because.. Uh. . ." "Cinderstorm, that was you on the flying horse wasn't it?" yelled Katherine. "No! That wasn't me. I have no idea what you're talking about." Once again her name was Cinderstorm because that's all she thought she was; a servant, nobody special. She started to run up the stairs when Sarrasi called out, "Sew two more beautiful dresses for Katherine and I. There is going to be a ball tomorrow night and we need knew dresses that the prince hasn't seen us in."

How Cinderstorm wanted to go to the ball. She wanted the prince to love her but that was impossible because he thought she was just a servant. The prince was at the same time thinking he could never be with the nice Cinderstorm because she was too ugly and was just a servant. His parents, the king and queen, would never allow it, so he was going to try to forget her and at the ball tomorrow he would choose a beautiful bride that probably only wanted him as a husband because he would be king, not for his personality. He didn't want to marry an airhead but that is what most girls were that were beautiful.

The next night before the ball Sarrasi and Katherine were yelling at Cinderstorm to come help them get ready. "Where are my shoes? Where is my hairclip? Cinderstorm! Come help!" shouted Sarrasi. Katherine was looking in the mirror admiring her beautiful self. "Oh, mother. Do you think the prince will marry me? I am so beautiful he probably will choose me." "Of course darling! Who else would he choose? No one else is as beautiful and as lovely as you. Cinderstorm get my dress!" Cinderstorm was running around trying to do everything they asked but she was so sad that she couldn't. "Can I go to the ball?" "You, go to the ball! In what dress? You're so ugly and horrible no one would want to dance with you. I'm doing you a favor by not letting you go. If you don't go you won't get made fun of. You should be happy that I don't want people to be mean to you," said Sarrasi in a sickeningly sweet voice.

The prince was pacing back and forth. "I don't want to marry any of the pretty girls. I want to marry someone who likes me for my personality not my looks," thought the prince. He stopped, put on a fake smile, and decided to go out and face the crowd of girls who wanted him to choose them to marry him.
After Sarrasi and Katherine left in their stagecoach, Cinderstorm sat in her room and cried. -Do you want to go to the ball child?- said the Pegasus who was outside her window. "Of course! But how can I go in these rags? Please help me Pegasus." -All right, but I can't help you while you're inside come on out.- She stopped crying and walked outside. -Child, gather the following things so that I can help you: a rose that is fully bloomed, four of the work mules, a cat, and a mouse. Gather these as quickly as possible.-

Cinderstorm gathered these up as quickly as possible and laid them in front of the Pegasus. The Pegasus slowly touched each object with his foot and said something that Cinderstorm couldn't understand. The rose sprung up and turned into a pink stagecoach, the mules turned into beautiful white horses in gold harnesses, the cat turned into a stagecoach driver, and the mouse turned into a doorman. "Whoa, but what about my dress and my hair?" -Remember that calm part of the river that I showed you. Go there and you'll find what you need. The stuff will last until midnight so hurry, you have four hours.- Before Cinderstorm could say thank you the Pegasus had already left.

She ran through the woods to the river. She washed in the calm part of the river and when she came out there lay a golden dress and the same glass slippers as before. She put them on and tried not to break them. When she reached up to her hair to see if she could do anything to it, it was already put up in a French twist and curled. She walked back to the carriage and the doorman opened the door for her. She sat inside and they set of for the ball.

"If one more girl tells me how 'wonderful' I am, I think I'm going to scream," thought Numair. Then he saw walk through the ball, the most gorgeous girl he had ever seen. She was in a golden dress and glass slippers. Her hair was up on her head in curls and he fell deeply in love with her at sight; although there seemed to be something familiar in her gray eyes as he walked up to her to ask her to dance. Seastorm and Numair danced every dance together no matter how much the other girls protested. "There is something familiar about her mother," said Katherine stubbornly. "I know. I see it too. It's so unfair that he hasn't been able to dance with you yet. Once he danced with you he would forget her."

As Numair was dancing with Seastorm he started to remember how much he liked the servant girl and all her kindness even if she wasn't a noble or as beautiful as the girl he was dancing with now. The girl wouldn't even tell him her name. "Look," said Numair. "I like you and all, but there is another girl I'm in love with. She isn't as rich and beautiful as you, but she is kind and gentle and when you look into her eyes... You're eyes are like Cinderstorms! Cinderstorm is that you?" Seastorm was running. It was almost midnight and while the prince was talking she had already started to run away so she never heard what he had said. "Wait! Wait! Stop that Girl!" exclaimed the prince but she was already flying out the door.

Seastorm tripped on the way down the stairs and lost a shoe. She took the other one off and jumped into her carriage and set off. They lost the guards a few minutes before the carriage turned back into a rose and the animals turned back into themselves. Cinderstorm ran back to the river and sat on a stone and looked at the river. -You know he didn't love you when you were at the dance.- "What but I thought he did. He danced with me all night," exclaimed Cinderstorm. -He was trying to tell you in the end that he loved a servant girl named Cinderstorm and not you. He was talking about you, then he mentioned your eyes and it suddenly clicked to him that was you. He loves you for your kindness not your beauty.- "I don't believe you. Besides, I got what I wanted. I got to go to the ball." -I can tell when you're lying. You shouldn't even try to.-

The prince was sitting outside the castle with the glass slipper in his hand thinking how stupid he was for scaring her off like that. He will go and find her and tell her how much he loves her. Numair was about to get up and get his horse when he heard a musical voice that seemed like it was inside his head. -She never heard you tell her that you only loved Cinderstorm. She had to leave because the spell I cast wore off at midnight. Go find her and talk to her. By the way, her name is Seastorm not Cinderstorm.- "Who are you? Where are you?" -I'm above your head.- "A Pegasus! I have never seen one of your kind. How can I thank you for your help?" Numair bowed toward the Pegasus. -If you want to thank me go find her and tell her you love her Numair. But be careful of Sarrasi and Katherine. Those two are very tricky so make sure they don't suspect anything. When you arrive, make it seem like you're looking for the girl you danced with last night. Remember you don't know it's her when you arrive - So, the prince ran off towards the castle with the shoe still tightly clenched in his hand.

"Cinderstorm! Cinderstorm!" yelled Katherine. "Come over here and do my hair. The prince is coming. He's trying to find the girl he danced with at the ball. So, he's going from house to house trying the shoe on every girl in the kingdom's foot. Whoever can wear it will be his bride." Seastorm went over to Katherine and helped her put up her hair. "He only liked me because of my beauty. Pegasus was wrong. Granny warned me that guys would fall in love with me not because of my personality but because I'm so beautiful. Well, when he comes he probably won't even ask me to put on the shoe and I won't even ask to put it on." Seastorm thought about this the whole time until the prince came.

Katherine was busy checking her makeup and Sarrasi was too dignified to answer the door, so Seastorm had to open it. "Hello my prince." Seastorm said as she curtsied. "Come into the front room and Ms. Sarrasi and Ms. Katherine will be with you so Ms. Sarrasi can try on the shoe." "I would like you to try on the shoe also. All eligible ladies are supposed to," Numair replied.

Seastorm led the prince to a chair and with a surprised look on her face, stayed to try on the shoe. She was worried what everyone would do when she fit into the shoe perfectly. Katherine tried on the shoe first, but her foot was too big for the shoe. "One second, let me try again. My foot must have swollen since the ball because I had danced the whole night with you. My feet were sore and swollen. It really is mine." She let out an exasperated yell when she tried to stuff her foot in. The prince finally took it away and was about to turn toward Seastorm to have her try it on when Sarrasi said, "I'm sorry it doesn't fit any eligible girl in the house. I'll show you out." She started to push him towards the door.

"Wait, this girl didn't try it on. She deserves a chance." "What? A servant. She didn't go to the ball. She was at home the whole time cleaning up. She can't try on the shoe. She'd get it dirty," replied Sarrasi gruffly. "Are you telling me what to do?" asked the prince angrily. "Oh, no my Prince. You go ahead and have her try it on but if you get dust and dirt on it it's not my fault."

The prince walked over to Seastorm and put the shoe ever so delicately on Seastorm's foot. "It Fits!" cried Katherine right before she fainted. Seastorm took out the other shoe and put it on her other foot and she magically was in the dress and had her hair up just like during the ball. "Seastorm, I called to you at the dance and told you I liked you but I couldn't love you because my heart belonged to a servant girl. I didn't realize the two women I loved were the same person. Will you marry me? Please say yes because I couldn't live without your kindness and beauty," said Numair.

"Of course Prince Numair. But one Question, How did you know it was me?" "Well you're not going to believe this but a Pegasus helped me." "Pegasus helped you? That double crosser! I'll just have to have a talk with him later," laughed Seastorm. They went outside and instead of the prince's horse, at the gate stood Pegasus. So, Seastorm and Numair hopped on Pegasus's back and flew off into the distance and lived Happily Ever After.