©®™ Lt. Commander Richie
Disclaimer:It originally belonged to
the Brothers Grimm. But hey, it should be some kind of feat of amazing-ness that I managed to remember this much of the storyline, with THIS much detail, after only reading 'Aschenputtel' ONCE some time last week.
Once upon a time, there lived a beautiful princess. Her beauty was unsurpassed by any other woman in all of Wutai, and her father loved her very much. However, their country soon came to a period of strife, and during this long war the Queen of Wutai was killed. In grief, the princess begged her father to end the war. He complied, and Wutai was sent into a very sorry state of poverty.
Upon the princess' tenth birthday, the King took a new wife. With her, the new Queen brought two daughters. As the new Queen became head of the household, she doted upon both of her daughters in every way possible. However, the King's daughter, the first princess, was always the favorite of the three. One day the King packed his things all in a chest, and taking it upon one shoulder he turned to his family and said:
"My daughter Yuffie shall rule in my stead, for I leave to go into the world to seek new fortune for our fair country."
For a year the princess ruled, but still the King did not return. Finally, the Queen grew tired of being under the rule of the princess she despised so, and devised a clever plan.
"Yuffie, you will give your throne to me."
The princess, while proud of her father the King and unwilling to give up the post he had provided her with, had no choice but to listen to her elder and give up the throne at the top of the Pagoda. It was not soon after that the King returned, to find his Queen having taken the throne. When he asked, she replied:
"Your daughter Yuffie did not believe she could rule your country in your stead, and has taken the mantle of a Kunoichi."
The King, while upset at his daughter's failure, did not punish the princess. He returned to his throne for several more years, in which the country of Wutai flourished. During this time, the Queen's daughters looked down upon the King's princess with the utmost contempt. Instead of elaborate kimono and beautiful combs in her hair, the princess instead chose to cut her hair like that of a boy's and wear the garb of a Ninja. It wasn't long before the King once again packed all of his things into a chest, and throwing it upon his shoulder he turned to his family and asked:
"I go out into the world once more to seek fortune for fair Wutai. During my travels, is there not anything you wish for?"
The Queen, being greedy and black in her heart, told the King to bring back an entire set of Master Materia. Her daughters, being of the same sorry state, asked for beautiful kimonos and western dresses with which they could lord over the other noble girls of their same age. However, Yuffie, being pure of heart and selfless, only asked for one thing.
"Bring me the first Sakura blossom that falls in your path, and I will be happy."
Many years passed as the King went about his journeys, in which the Queen reduced the King's favorite princess to the level of no more than a palace guard. Because her element was that of fire, and the princess spent so much time sleeping in the ashes of the things she burned, her step-sisters gave her the name 'Shindarera', and no longer called her Yuffie. Soon the King once again returned to reclaim his throne from the Queen, bringing with him good fortune and many gifts. To his wife he gave Materia, to his two step-daughters many beautiful western dresses and elegant kimonos. To Shindarera he gave a single dried Sakura blossom, carefully preserved between two pieces of card.
The Kunoichi planted the single blossom on her mother's grave, and thinking of what her family had become and the Queen that hated her so but her father loved so much, she began to cry. Her tears fell upon the planted blossom, and from it sprung a Sakura tree in full bloom with wizened bark and drooping limbs. Every day, her training finished and ashes strewn about her hair and body, she would sit under the tree grown from the single flower and bemoan her fate.
Three years passed, and it happened that a western kingdom was once again ready to declare war unless a Wutain woman was to marry their prince Valentine out of love alone. In hopes of finding a suitor for the charming prince, a week of feasting and festivals was to be held. Seeing this as her chance, Shindarera took it upon herself to ask to accompany her father the King to the festivals. However, the King had already packed his things into his trunk and thrown it upon his shoulder, walking the long road to the festivals in hopes of meeting with the opposing King. Hoping to be allowed, Shindarera pleaded with her step-mother the Queen that she may go with them.
"If you are to go with us, you must defeat both Gorki and Shake within the hour. Elsewise, you must stay behind and lay upon the ashes as you so often do."
So the princess went to the shrine of Leviathan and prayed, wishing for a blessing to be put upon her weapon so that she may smite her enemies with a single blow. The Sea-Serpent God, feeling most generous to the only true princess of his sovereign country, granted her wish. Shindarera went to the Pagoda, defeating first Gorki on the first level and Shake on the second level.
"Step-mother, I have done as you asked and defeated both Gorki and Shake. May I now accompany you to the festivals?"
Looking upon her step-daughter in contempt, the Queen was ill-at-ease to allow such a dirty girl to be allowed to accompany both her and her beloved daughters to the festivals.
"If you are wanting so badly to go to the festivals, you must defeat both Chekov and Staniv within the hour; elsewise you shall not accompany us."
So once again Shindarera went to the shrine of the Water God Leviathan, and prayed to be given victory in battle. The Sea-Serpent God, looking down from his place in the heavens, saw her plight and gave the princess her wish. Shindarera once more went to the Pagoda, climbing to the third level to defeat Chekov and then the fourth so as to defeat Staniv. Her tasks completed, the princess went to her step-mother in pleading.
"Step-mother, I have done as you asked and defeated both Chekov and Staniv. May I now accompany you to the festivals?"
Looking once more upon her step-daughter in contempt, the Queen thought of a devious plan.
"If you are wanting so badly to go to the festivals, you must climb to the highest level of the Pagoda and defeat myself within the hour; elsewise you shall not accompany us to the festivals."
So once again Shindarera went to the shrine of the Water God Leviathan, and prayed neither for strength nor for victory, but for hope. The Sea-Serpent God, seeing her trouble and taking pity, granted her wish. So the princess ascended the stairs of the Pagoda to the final level, and challenged the Queen. However, not strength nor a prayer for neither victory nor hope allowed the Ninja princess to defeat her step-mother. So the Queen and her two daughters garbed themselves in their best kimonos and mounted Chocobos, taking the path the King had taken on their long way to the opposing Kingdom.
In her grief, Shindarera took to the Sakura tree growing from her mother's grave. As the blossoms fell about her, the Sea-Serpent God looked down upon Wutai and was upset at the betrayal of his sovereign princess.
"O great Leviathan, if ever there was a way that I should attend the festival tonight, I will serve you as your Priestess as long as I live."
The Water God Leviathan, taking no heed of her promises, bade fall from the tree a beautiful kimono patterned in pink with Sakura blossoms and Bamboo stalks. With it came a long strand of pearls upon a golden chain and hair combs decorated with many precious gems. Overjoyed, Shindarera cleaned herself and donned the kimono, draping the pearls about her neck and pulling her short hair into a beautiful style with the combs. Going to the stables, she found a single White Chocobo waiting for her with a rickshaw and driver already tacked and waiting. The princess situated herself among the pillows and sat through the long ride to the opposing Kingdom.
"Who is this maiden that comes so uninvited? The princess of some far-off land?"
The Queen, vexed that any woman could outshine her and her daughters, vowed to ruin her. But the woman was as graceful as any Geisha, and as she danced the entire hall lapsed into silence. It was soon she caught the eye of the prince for whom the festivals were for, his eyes as kind as any and his cloak buckled and red as he came through the crowd. That night he stayed by her side, and if any man wished to partake in a dance with her, he calmly replied:
"She is by my side."
It soon came that Shindarera happened to see her step-mother the Queen and her two step-sisters mounting their mighty birds, and she excused herself quite courteously from the arms of the prince. Boarding her rickshaw, the princess settled amongst her pillows and waited out the long ride to Wutai. Upon her return she went to the Sakura tree and disrobed, hanging the beautiful kimono of Sakura petals and Bamboo stalks on a bough. She dressed herself once more in her Shinobi clothes, taking the strand of pearls from about her neck and hanging it with the kimono. Next Shindarera exchanged her beautiful hair combs for her Hitai Ite, and as she left her Sakura tree to go to her step-mother the Queen the Sea-Serpent God reclaimed his gifts from the low branches.
Vexed by the beautiful woman that had so stolen the attentions of the prince the night before, the Queen ordered the Shinobi princess about as though she was no more than a Maiko under the instruction of a master. Once again the King's favorite princess inquired as to accompanying her step-mother the Queen to the festival, but she was met with the same rebuttal. So the Kunoichi went to the shrine of the Water God, and prayed for hope once more. With her convictions set, the princess ascended the Pagoda once more to defeat the Queen. But once more Shindarera was defeated, and once more Shindarera was sent to lay in the ashes of the things she burned. When the time came for the Queen and her two princesses to once again mount their birds and attend the festival, the Shinobi princess went once more to the Sakura tree growing upon her mother's grave and watered it with her tears.
"O great Leviathan, if ever there was a way I could attend the festival tonight, both I and my children shall be your humble servants as long as we live."
The Sea-Serpent God, taking no heed of the princess' promises, bade fall from the tree a beautiful kimono patterned in his cardinal colors of blue and white and printed with images of the sea. With it fell a long red ribbon from which a golden pendant inset with many stones hung and a comb and hair sticks decorated with many beads and flowers with falling blue crystals like rain. Once again Shindarera went to the stables, and once more she settled into the cushions of her ready-tacked White Chocobo rickshaw so as to sit out the long ride to the opposing Kingdom.
"Who is this fair Queen, who moves with the grace of a Kunoichi but possesses manners rivaling those of any Geisha?"
The Queen was once again vexed by the beautiful woman, looking on in fury as her princesses were rebuffed by the prince and his perfect partner with a simple sentence:
"She is by my side."
It was only after another long night of dancing did Shindarera see her step-mother the Queen and her princesses mount their birds and ride back down the road towards Wutai. She excused herself most courteously from the arms of prince Valentine, promising she would once more make an appearance. Once again she situated herself among her cushions, waiting out the long ride back to Wutai. In the early-morning light the princess stole to the Sakura tree on her mother's grave, disrobing once more and hanging the beautiful kimono in the branches. She donned her worn Ninja clothing once again and took the ribbon from about her neck, tying it to one of the branches above her head. With the utmost care Shindarera pulled the comb and hair sticks from her hair, replacing them with her Hitai Ite. As the princess returned to her step-mother the Queen, the Sea-Serpent god once again reclaimed his gifts from the branches of the Sakura tree.
As the Queen and her princesses had once again been out-shined by the mysterious woman that had so claimed prince Valentine's heart, she ordered the King's favorite princess about the Pagoda as though she was nothing more than a serving maid. As the Shinobi princess' step-mother readied herself for the festival, Shindarera once again inquired as to accompanying the Queen and her princesses to the festival. The Queen, already angry for being so forgotten by the prince, readily agreed. So the princess stole away to the shrine of the Water God, and prayed not for hope but for victory.
Once again the Sea-Serpent God heard, and in anger against the false and greedy Queen he granted the princess' wish without question. Shindarera took up her weapon once more, ascending the steps to the fifth level of the Pagoda so as to face her step-mother the Queen. The Queen's anger clouded her judgment, and by Leviathan's will she was defeated.
"Though you have defeated me, you still cannot accompany myself and my daughters to the festival. You have neither kimono nor comb to your name, and you are fit to do no more than wallow in the ashes of the things you burn."
So Shindarera was sent to lay in the ashes of the things she burned, and watched as her step-mother the Queen and her princesses mounted their birds and set off down the road to the opposing Kingdom. Throwing an awful rage, the princess ran to the Sakura tree growing on her mother's grave and watered it with her tears.
"O great Leviathan, if ever there was a way I could attend the festival tonight, any descendants of my blood shall serve you faithfully for all eternity."
The Sea-Serpent God, paying no heed to the princess' promises, bade a kimono more regal than the last two fall from the boughs of the Sakura tree. It was black and embroidered with gold, red and white petals falling from the shoulders down to the long train that was so fit for an Empress. With it came a beautiful golden headdress in the shape of a roaring Sea-Serpent and a string of pearls and rubies so long it wrapped around her neck five times. Upon setting the headdress in her hair, Shindarera's hair grew to the length any Wutain Empress would have, the ends brushing the ground in a river of ebony. Quickly the princess made her way to the White Chocobo and rickshaw, nestling herself among her pillows as she awaited her meeting with the prince.
"Who is this Empress who steals away the heart of the prince?" The Queen, already so angered by her defeat at the hands of Shindarera, devised a wicked plan so as to ruin the Empress that outshone any other woman. As the Queen and her princesses put her plan into effect, the Empress stayed by the side of the prince. Upon asking, any man or woman would receive the stiff rebuttal of:
"She is by my side."
It was much longer than before until Shindarera caught a glimpse of her step-mother and step-sisters mounting their Chocobos and heading down the road towards Wutai, and she politely excused herself from prince Valentine's arms. She ran down the castle steps with her train in her hands and her hair thrown over her shoulder, but the Queen had painted the steps with pitch and tar, and one of her Geta became stuck. Following after, prince Valentine only found her single wooden shoe upon the ground as he watched the White Chocobo pull the rickshaw away.
Once she was again safe under the boughs of the Sakura tree upon her mother's grave, Shindarera took from her head the headdress and her hair was once again reduced to its short style, and she tied it back with her Hitai Ite. She unwound her necklace from her neck, hanging it in the tree with many loops. Finally she disrobed, hanging her kimono on a branch and dressing herself once again in her worn Shinobi's garb. As the princess went to attend to her step-mother the Queen, Leviathan looked down upon the Sakura tree and bade his gifts disappear.
"Shindarera, lay yourself in the ashes you make and stay from sight."
The Queen was cross that nothing had become of the single missing Geta, but had heard that prince Valentine was going about the Kingdom of Wutai looking for the woman that the small wooden sandal would fit upon the shoe of.
"There are no ashes on which I can lay."
"Then practice your Ninja art upon the logs of the forest, and lay upon the ashes you create."
Heeding the words of his step-mother, the princess excused herself to the forest to practice her Ninja arts. Many things about her burned as she cried, wishing that perhaps her life could have been different. She laid in the ashes she created for many-a-day, weeping until the burned Bamboo forest was watered and the stalks grew anew.
A week passed, and the King returned with his trunk upon his shoulder and a smile upon his face. Peace and happiness followed him, as did wealth and love. It wasn't long before the prince Valentine came to the Pagoda, and the greedy and black Queen saw it as her chance to give away one of her daughters to a man who would care for them as though they were Goddesses.
"I seek the Empress whose foot fits in this Geta."
The shoe itself was tiny, but the eldest of the two princesses took the shoe first to her room and tried so very hard to put her foot into it. Yet her largest toe would not fit under the straps. The Queen took a knife from the kitchens and gave it to her eldest, saying:
"When you are Queen, you will have no need to walk. Sever your toe."
So the girl severed her largest toe and covered it with bandages, then pulled a Tabi sock over it to hide the blood. She returned to the prince with a Geta that fit perfectly, and he did pick her up and carry her to his rickshaw drawn by two of the fastest Golden Chocobos in both Kingdoms. As they set out the two Chocobos spoke, their tongues as clear as day.
"That woman is not the princess you so seek."
"Her toe has been severed and covered by a Tabi sock."
"Look, there is the blood."
And prince Valentine did look, and blood stained the white Tabi sock the princess wore. He returned to the Pagoda and reclaimed the shoe, and this time the younger of the two princesses took it to her room to squeeze her foot into it. She tried as her sister had, yet her foot was simply too wide. Her mother the Queen once again fetched a knife from the kitchen, and gave it to her youngest.
"When you are Queen, you will have no need to walk. Sever the side of your foot."
So the youngest severed the side of her foot and wrapped it in bandages, then pulled a Tabi sock over it to hide the blood. Again a daughter of the greedy Queen was presented to prince Valentine with a fitting shoe, and he picked her up and put her in the rickshaw drawn by two Golden Chocobos. However, the birds once again began to speak in a simple tongue, turning to one another with beaks clacking.
"That woman is not the princess you seek."
"The side of her foot has been severed and covered by a Tabi sock."
"Look, there is the blood."
And prince Valentine did look, and blood stained the white Tabi sock the princess wore. He once again returned to the Pagoda and came before the king, bowing deeply and reclaiming the Geta. He cast about for another princess, but became confused when he found none.
"Have you no other daughters, King?"
The King was puzzled, looking to his wife the Queen. Her heart was saddened by both her daughters rebuttal by the prince, and refused to answer or give up any information.
"I have my true daughter, my only princess Yuffie. However, she is a Kunoichi."
The King did sigh heavily at this, resigned at the concept of ever finding peace with the opposing Kingdom.
"I would like still to gaze upon her and discern if this Geta is hers."
The greedy Queen did frown so deeply that it seemed her face would crease permanently, and her orders barked were harsh and cruel.
"Shindarera is laying in the ashes of the Bamboo forest, and if you so verily wish to find her, you shall do it yourself."
The good King had already sent for his favorite daughter, however, and it was then that Yuffie was led into the room by one of the serving maids. Her face was downcast as she prayed to Leviathan, bowing low to prince Valentine like a servant would a master. And the prince did kneel and remove one of the princess' Ninja sandals, and replace it with the small Geta. The wooden sandal fit the foot of the Kunoichi perfectly, and with shaking hands the woman drew out its match from her weapons pouch. And so prince Valentine did gather the Shinobi princess into his arms and exclaim to the King:
"I do love your daughter, good King, and say that all hostilities be called off henceforth."
And so he picked her up and brought her to the rickshaw drawn by two Golden Chocobos, and Yuffie's whole family rode alongside the rickshaw on their own birds. But the Sea-Serpent God, displeased by the greedy Queen and her two daughters, bade that they turn to monsters. So then the Queen and her princesses were turned into Goblins as they crossed the next bridge, and their Chocobos bucked them into the river where they drowned. The King continued on alongside his daughter's rickshaw, happy to finally be rid of the greedy Queen and her two insufferable daughters.
And they lived happily ever after.
Eh... The way I painted it, getting their eyes plucked out was too good for the Queen and her daughters. Mostly because they still live. I just turned them into Goblins and drowned them.
So... If you read this, you must be a sucker for either the Brothers Grimm or Yuffentine written really badly.
-Lt. Commander Richie