By Digital Circe
(woman to wolf transformation)
Story warning: graphic violence, nudity
Cinderella was a beautiful girl, blessed with bright blue eyes, soft golden hair, and a brilliant smile. She was not vain, but demure and honest. And once upon a time, she was happy. She was born Elise Trestakk, and her father had been a successful and well-to-do merchant. Her mother had died in childbirth, but in those days of magic, her father had secured for her a fairy godmother to give the girl comfort and strength. The child was unaware of the arrangement, but the fairy was there, spreading her wings over the radiant girl as she sat by her mother's grave under a willow tree, both keeping their own silent vigil.
Her father had sought to speed away her tears, and give her closer family than servants for those long absences when he was off on business to another city or country. To that end, while abroad he met an alluring woman also recently widowed, Kari deGhent, who had two girls of her own. In short order, they were wed, and Johan Trestakk was happy. But his new bride was not, being slow to master the language of her new home, and she raised her own girls, Claudette and Isabella, with her wounded pride.
Life went well for the family, until the day that Johan Trestakk fell ill of pneumonia on one of his travels, dying a few days later in a faraway land. In the years that followed, the Lady Trestakk grew colder, crueler, as her sense of alienation increased. Her young daughters, despite their foreign-sounding names, had picked up on the customs and speech of their adopted country more readily, but still, Kari filled their ears with scorn for the land and its people. Johan had left them rich, but they were alone. And so, the blossoming girl Elise came to symbolize all that Lady Trestakk hated about the land. She was beautiful and without deceit, and made friends easily. So her step-mother raised her own daughters to hate her, to torment her, and treat her like a slave. And under that load, Elise died, Cinderella being born in her place. The girl was made to wait on her step-family hand and foot, taking on her new name from the streaks of soot that covered her. But still, Cinderella's beauty and honesty and kindness of spirit attracted attention over Claudette and Isabella. And Kari Trestakk's hatred for the girl grew ever more sharp.
The years went by, and despite the treatment of a slave, Cinderella blossomed into a gorgeous young woman. She was possessed of an exquisitely shaped face, fine golden hair, and large, firm breasts. Her step-sisters were pretty as well, but touched with idleness, both grew heavier and rounder than Cinderella, and in any case their plainer beauty next to hers made them appear less attractive to others. In retaliation, Kari Trestakk did her best to hide her slave-daughter away from sight.
In those years of bondage, Cinderella buckled under the weight of the world. She had been the apple of her father's eye, and now it seemed no one loved her. She struggled with despair. Her only solaces were her sojourns by her mother's grave, weeping, unaware of the fairy godmother that prayed for her and rubbed warmth into her shoulders and gave her strength, and cried along with poor Cinderella. Her father's grave was far away, in a distant nation, so her mother was to lie alone forever in the cold, hard ground.
Lady Trestakk became curious where Cinderella went, and followed her one evening into the garden. She watched Cinderella go to the willow tree over her mother's grave, and whisper something. She moved closer, listening carefully to the girl's prayer.
"Give me strength to endure my enemies," Cinderella whispered. That was all she ever asked for strength. Not vengeance or wealth or freedom. And in some small way, Kari hated her more for it. Were their positions reversed, the Lady Trestakk would certainly pray for Cinderella's misery and death. Those types of feelings were something Kari Trestakk could understand. Mercy, or a desire only for strength to endure, were not. In anger, she wanted to push the child into complete despair.
But Kari Trestakk had some small magical gift, and she could see what Cinderella could not the fairy over the grave blessing and comforting her. And it was not difficult to determine that this fairy was a godmother to the poor girl. That was an unexpected and powerful ally for the girl, and Kari would have to tread carefully.
It took Lady Trestakk a few weeks to decide on a course of action. In jealousy, she had decided that Cinderella's beauty must come from the fairy. But to take it away, Kari Trestakk would have to bind the fairy. She searched through her husband's correspondence and business accords and journals, needing in frustration the help of Claudette and Isabella to read the difficult passages. Finally, she discovered what she needed. The fairy's name was Aethelwyne, and the means to summoning her were recorded in Johan's careful script. He had once done a great favor for the hidden folk, and the fairy comforted Cinderella all too willingly.
Carefully, Kari gathered together the instruments that she would need for the binding, trusting her daughters with salt and iron, while she took her bell. The trio went out under the willow tree, at dusk, when the fairy would be approaching along the songline. Cinderella looked up at the three in surprise, tears streaking her cheeks. She was unaccustomed to seeing them here. "What do you want?" she asked timidly. "Is there a chore I've forgotten?"
But the three women ignored her, looking towards the eastern horizon, and then Kari rung her bell and lit a candle. Claudette struck at the air with her iron poker, and Isabella poured salt in a circle, and suddenly the stately fairy appeared in it, clutching her fresh iron-borne wound. Cinderella gasped in shock. "Fairy Aethelwyne!" Kari exclaimed. "I have bound you with salt and bell and fire and your true name. For your freedom, you must obey my commands, or I will have my daughter strike you again with her cold iron." The fairy only turned her chin up defiantly, unafraid.
At the sight of the injured fairy, Cinderella rose instinctively to help her. But at Kari's signal, Isabella swung her iron poker at the girl's belly, and she collapsed in a heap. Isabella struck Cinderella again, and Aethelwyne cried out, her composure suddenly lost. "No, no! Do not hurt my goddaughter! I will do as you command!" Both girl and fairy sobbed, afraid not for themselves, but for the other.
"So you admit that you've been lending her your power," snarled Lady Trestakk. "Well, I command you to give her no more aid. But you must do one thing more, for your freedom and her life. I want her beauty. More, I want even her status as a human being taken away. I want Cinderella to be a mere dog! Fairy! I command you this transform my step-daughter Cinderella into a bitch, forever!"
Cinderella gasped in horror, and the fairy nodded in defeat. "I am sorry, my precious goddaughter," Aethelwyne whispered, and raised her fingers. "Kari Trestakk, your command is fulfilled. Cinderella will be a bitch." Suddenly, Cinderella began to shake, and her moan changed in sound to something more like an animal. Then, her eyes turned yellow.
Kari laughed, and her daughters joined with her. "You dog! Crawl on your belly like the mongrel mutt you are!" Kari shouted, kicking the girl. She howled, fur beginning to push from her flesh, hauling herself to her hands and knees.
"She isn't fit to be our slave," laughed Claudette.
"Perhaps she can be our guard dog," suggested Isabella. "Cur! Stupid, craven bitch! Do you think you can even be a good guard dog?"
Cinderella whimpered as her musculature changed. A tail grew over her bottom, and her ears pointed out of her hair. Fingers and toes shifted to paws, and her softly rounded curves shifted to the gangly flanks of a bitch. Her family laughed at her as her muzzle grew, the basic shape of her fading into a distinctively canine form. She began to pull free of her clothes, as her body became too strange for them, and she began putting on weight and muscle. Her coat was still blonde like her hair, but was liberally streaked with grey the color of ash and cinders.
"She's getting big," Isabella said nervously.
"The better to be a watchdog," said Kari, proudly. "Let's go, girls, and give our cur time to acclimate herself. Dogs sleep outdoors, after all." As she turned to go, she disrupted the salt circle with her foot. "You're free to go, fairy, but keep your promise you are not to help Cinderella again!"
The fairy stared at the retreating women with hatred, but it is beyond the power of the hidden folk to lie. What she had promised, the fairy would do. She looked down at her precious goddaughter. Sure enough, Cinderella had become nothing more than a baying beast. But her godmother had managed to subvert the curse Cinderella was no dog, but a wolf. A she-wolf bitch blessed with power and speed and predatory instincts. She smiled, sadly, hoping that she had given her goddaughter enough. Insensate, the animal ran into the forest, overwhelmed with the scents and sensations. Her muscles moved like smooth stones in oil under her furry coat. She was powerful. Athletic. Immense. And still beautiful, in her way.
The vicious animal howled. Overwhelmed, the blonde-and-ash colored wolf ran through the night, the cacophony of sensations beyond her conscious ability to discern. She remembered running, and leaping, and eating, and finally sleep, but the feelings were too much to process.
When she woke the next morning, Cinderella felt cold on her bare shoulders. She stirred slowly, still disoriented, but then began to become aware of something beside her. Opening her eyes, she recoiled from a horrible bloody kill, mostly devoured. She stared, nauseated, at the disarticulated bones of a deer. Her belly felt very full.
Her mind swirled, unable to settle. She had thought herself a wolf. Could such a thing be true? Recognizing her nakedness, she looked around for something to wear, and saw a line of laundry near a gypsy camp by the wood. Ashamed, she pulled off a smock, pulling it down over breasts and belly.
"You! Girl! How dare you!" an old gypsy woman called, waving a stick at Cinderella. "I should curse you, thief!" Cinderella started to sputter an apology, but the gypsy cut her off with a harsh cackle. "Ha, no need! Cursed you are, already!" she said, pleasure and malice evident in her voice.
"What am I?" Cinderella managed, weakly. Fresh tears welled up in her eyes.
The gypsy laughed darkly. "You must never forget. You are beast. You crawl on belly like animal you are. Now begone! Leave me and mine alone, beast!" The girl turned and fled, terrified.
She wandered through the woods all day, afraid to return to civilization. Could it be true? Who could she go to for help? Her step-family would do worse to her, she was sure. But what of the fairy? She scrunched up her brow, thinking hard. What was its name? "Aethelwyne?" she whispered, finally. "Are you there?"
Slowly, light coalesced, and the fairy from the night before appeared to her. Cinderella gasped, terrified. This time, the radiant fairy had her side bandaged, where she had been wounded with cold iron. "Oh, beautiful Elise! My precious, beloved goddaughter!" she said, holding out her arms. "I am so sorry that this had to happen to you." And she clapped the terrified girl in a deep hug.
my godmother? How can this be? What has been done to me?" Cinderella asked meekly.
"Your father did my people a great favor many years ago, and I have watched over your vigils under the willow tree since your mother died," Aethelwyne replied. "Even though it seems like it, you have never yet been alone. But now, I'm afraid you will be. Your step-mother has forced me to withhold my strength from you. And made me commit a terrible cruelty to you, as well."
"I've become a monster," Cinderella said, dully.
"I am sorry, Cinderella, but you are now a wolf. I have turned you into a bitch, as your stepmother ordered me. You can still take on a human shell, maybe even exert a little control over your new wolf instincts, but you will always be a beast under your pretty mask of flesh. It is the best I could do, to subvert what your step-mother wanted. To make you powerful and self sufficient, and not a weak, whipped cur. You are swift and deadly, my child, and little can hurt you physically."
"But I don't want to be a wolf. I don't want to be vicious," she whispered, her lip quivering.
"That cannot be helped now, my sweet child," the fairy said sadly, stroking Cinderella's beautiful hair, feeling the girl's sobs and trembling. She let the girl cry for a while, in memory of her human life. As night fell, the girl had begun to regain some composure, and the fairy stepped back, walking beside Cinderella along the cool paths of the wood.
"You're leaving me, aren't you?" Cinderella asked at last.
"I would be a danger to you, my child. I must go where your step-mother has no way of using me for further mischief. After tonight, you shall never see me again."
"What shall I do when I am alone?" the girl asked, her voice beginning again to quaver.
The fairy looked at her, and took hold of her shoulders. "Nil desperandum, Cinderella. Remember that. Never despair."
As the witching hour approached, Cinderella felt the stirring of the animal inside her, a separate mind and will behind her own awaking. With soothing from the fairy, Cinderella settled down, not struggling against the inevitable. She felt the beast awaken, under her flesh, and it began to stir, looking for a way out. Her skin felt alternately tight and loose as the thing inside her shifted around, looking for a means of escape. She stretched, pushing her arms forward and humping her back, and felt flesh begin to tear through along her spine. Then she felt air on her back, her real back, like she was shivering out of a stifling, constrictive garment. Her heart beat faster, and the sudden taste of free air was intoxicating.
She shifted her shoulders, shaking off the skin from her furry back, and jerked her head a few times until it pulled out of the hole, the skin of her human head deflating as it left. She blinked her golden eyes, muzzle working slightly, as she smelled the air and the intoxicating rush of sensation. She pulled her forelegs out of what had once been arms, shredding them in the process, and let her former upper torso sag around her new lupine waist, deflated. Muscles shifted, taking on their true forms and proportions, and she turned, using her jaws to tear off flesh from around her flanks and hind legs. At last, the growing animal was entirely free of the flesh prison, her blonde-and-ash pelt quickly drying as she shook herself off. She looked down at the torn tatters of skin, and then back at her godmother, who stood proudly. "It's all right, Cinderella. Let it happen," she said, and Cinder wolf let the beast overtake her. She howled at the moon in an instinct she didn't understand, and turned, sniffing the air. She trotted deeper into the wood, intent on an interesting smell, and didn't witness her former flesh dissolve behind her.
The fairy stayed with her all that night, making sure the beast was acclimated to her new self. She was a graceful predator, confident and serene and without mercy. She hunted, and smelled, and listened, and explored. She was alive, in a way completely alien to a human. And the fairy watched, making sure that her former charge was strong enough for the cruel world around her. Then, at dawn, she kissed the sleeping wolf and departed from the world, forever.
The Cinder wolf stayed in her new form for three days and nights. Sometimes the girl was fleetingly aware of the sensations the beast encountered, and sometimes not. But the wolf was in control.
On the fourth day, Kari Trestakk and her daughters were busy about the household, when Claudette spotted Cinderella walking purposefully up the path. They were surprised to see her again, and human, too. They had assumed the humiliated dog had rushed off to drown herself in despair. Had the fairy reneged her promise?
Barefoot, Cinderella walked into the house and entered the kitchen, preparing a small meal for her family as she had always done. The women spoke quickly, in hushed tones. How had the miserable and friendless girl defeated their curse? She should be a cringing, timid dog. And Lady Trestakk noticed something more while Cinderella went about her mundane tasks, she performed them with a proud bearing out of keeping with her former submissive behavior. Quickly, she tried to call upon Aethelwyne, but the fairy had returned to the land of the fay, and despite her best efforts, Kari couldn't summon her back.
Meanwhile, Cinderella completed her chore and called her step-family to lunch, although with considerably less meekness than was customary. Warily, they came, only eating what they had seen Cinderella eat, and watched her nervously as she then went about her normal routine of menial tasks, finally retiring at dusk to her filthy pallet in the servants' quarters. She had spoken not a word about the events under the willow tree.
After she had retired, Lady Trestakk quickly sent Claudette out to buy ochre and lodestone, that she might use in some small ward. But it was an act of desperation, as her gifts with magic were too modest to perform deep works.
In her room, though, Cinderella was not asleep. Even when she appeared human, deep down she was an animal. Her instincts, desires, were different, and the beast called to her. And Cinderella could clearly smell and hear when Claudette left the manor, hear her shoes on the cobblestones as she hurried to collect the items before all business locked up for the night. Almost by instinct, the golden haired girl rose, and hurried silently out into the streets and alleyways of the city, entirely naked. She could feel her conscious mind receding, as the wolf took charge of her beautiful limbs, eager to tear free of the flesh prison. Soon she saw her step-sister, hurrying down an alley to short-cut to a late market. Trivially, she ran ahead, stepping into the alley to cut her off.
Claudette gasped as she saw the naked Cinderella, dropping her purse. "Step-sister! Where did you come from?" she asked, her voice thin and reedy. "Where are your clothes?"
Cinderella looked up and down Claudette's plump body appreciatively, her instincts taking full control of her conscious thought. She smiled, walking forward, and her eyes turned gold and reflective, her teeth beginning to grow into fangs.
"Speak to me!" the frightened girl exclaimed, but Cinderella remained silent as she closed the distance, circling slightly to push Claudette up against a wall. She pressed her fingernails into the flesh of her own upper arms. A black ichor ran out, darker than blood, and color drained from Claudette's face. Cinderella tore off her skin, exposing her true form underneath. The girl stared helplessly as Cinderella practically molted, human flesh sloughing off her arms to reveal slick and wet wolf pelt.
Cinderella took hold of each of her extravagantly beautiful, large breasts in her hairy hands and tore them apart, an ugly tear running across her cleavage and belly, revealing wolf flesh below. At arm's length the plump breasts tore off, and she cast them aside, her posture changing. Her fanged snout was emerging from the girl's open lips, and as she snarled the human mouth began to split along the corners. Her yellowed, wolfish eyes sunk below the sockets, as the shape of her head, her flesh mask, deflated around the warping wolf head underneath it.
She took hold of her golden hair and tore off the flesh of her head along with it, tossing it to the ground. Claudette shrieked, looking down at the discarded, boneless flesh. The eye sockets were empty, hair disarrayed, and it was torn off abruptly at the mouth line, but it was still clearly the face of Cinderella staring back at her. Claudette looked back up at the transforming beast, still wearing a flesh necklace of her boneless lower jaw. The animal snarled, her wolfish but humanoid form shifting, growing; now that it was free of skin, becoming more obviously the build of a huge canine.
Shock made way for self-preservation, and the frozen girl finally turned to run. But the Cinder wolf had positioned her well, and leapt cleanly, throwing Claudette to the ground. She barely saw a glimpse of blonde and ash colored fur before the animal she had so foolishly helped create had her pinned. She started to scream, but the wolf's jaws were on her throat, and with a flick of the animal's neck, it was torn out. Claudette gurgled, her eyes growing wide as her skin paled, blood pooling out from her mortal wound. Soon, she lay still, and the wolf pulled her off, dragging the body away from the lights near the city center to a more private place.
In private, the vicious, blood-hungry beast tore into her stupid step-sister, glutting herself on warm human flesh. The animal was nothing more than a predator, and nothing but the instinct to hunt, to kill, to eat, crossed her primitive animal brain. Nothing so human as revenge motivated the huge she-wolf. Just the taste of blood; the taste of meat filling her hungry muzzle and belly. She growled as she tore a bloody arm loose, ripping tasty muscle and fat off of bone. The corpse was looking less and less like Claudette, and more like ragged meat.
Within an hour, the kill was picked over, and the wolf bitch was gnawing on a bone, sucking the marrow from the unrecognizable remnants of her foolish step-sister. She had enjoyed the meal, meat marbled with a delightful amount of fat to add to its piquancy. She stood, and stretched, and returned to her temporary den in the servants' quarters.
By the next morning, new human flesh shrouded the beast. The town was abuzz with gossip about the bloody wild animal attack, and Cinderella was a little proud that she was capable of causing such a stir. She was still troubled by the violence of the attack, but the wolf remained strong in her mind, thinking and feeling things for her. She could tell with some unease that the beast was learning from her.
In the Trestakk household, Kari and Isabella were in a panic when Claudette did not return. Cinderella quietly served them as before, and took little notice when the rags around the victim were identified as Claudette's dress. Mourning ensued in the house, although the wolf in human flesh took little note of it. What little was left of Claudette was committed to the ground in solemn ceremony, the God-dispensing priest murmuring hopeful things about the last days. Carefully, the two watched Cinderella, certain that her reappearance as a human instead of a dog had something to do with the attack. But Kari's insignificant talents were unable to divine any concrete answers.
In the course of the next three weeks, Cinderella killed four others. She hadn't meant to, but in the quiet of the night, the smell of blood had made her hungry, and in instinct she had hunted until the hungriness was sated. She really was a monster, she realized. And the monster was getting smarter. It could dominate her even while shrouded in human flesh, mimicking her mannerisms and even trying to copy her voice to attract a meal. The beast was a constant whispering presence, even when the remnant of Cinderella seemed to be dominant.
She moved through the motions of her life as if in a dream. Cleaning, cooking, mending, washing. Kari remained suspicious and afraid of Cinderella, but couldn't very well go to the authorities and confess to black magic. Nor could she have the girl arrested, and killing her without a plan seemed risky given how the plan to turn her into a dog had apparently failed. Finally, Kari sent Isabella to get help, to find a medium among the gypsies that could protect them or give them insight. She went in broad daylight, since all of the animal attacks had occurred at night.
Cinderella watched her leave, feeling hunger stir in her belly. Quietly, she abandoned her chores and followed her step-sister, out of the city and onto the fields that led towards the gypsy settlement. Her mind wrestled with what she knew her body would soon do, but she seemed unable to turn back, her inner wolf growing more restless and irritable at the mere suggestion. She caught up with her plump step-sister easily, watching the heavy girl breathe deeply as she walked. One more time, Cinderella pleaded with herself not to continue, and once more she was rebuffed. The beast rose up in her mind, consuming her weak, insipid human reasoning. She tore off her flesh shell, eager to resume her true form as an animal. How much of an impediment humanity was! She wanted to howl and hunt and kill like a beast should.
She leapt, silent until she collided with Isabella's back, knocking her to the ground with a startled shriek. But her screams were of no avail, for the huge wolf had chosen a place far away from witnesses or intruders. Isabella struggled, slapping uselessly at the wolf, and tried to turn face up. Seeing the golden eyes of her attacker made her own grow wide, and she momentarily lost her voice. Her struggles to turn over and back up had caused one plump breast to pull out of her dress, flopping around with her movements. The wolf lowered her head and sniffed at it.
Isabella tried to beg for mercy, babbling and simpering and praying for deliverance. The beast ignored her words, and fixed her teeth around the exposed flesh. Then the wolf tore off Isabella's bulging breast in her jaws as the pitiful girl shrieked in pain again. She chewed, devouring the fatty morsel in full view of her maimed, mewling sister. The girl grew paler as her blood flowed out, struggling to escape her death.
Isabella's voice grew thready, her struggles less intense. She tried to press a hand against the animal's face, but the Cinder wolf simply bit it off, chewing it up as the girl jerked around in deep shock, a bone-deep cold descending on her. She felt the jaws close over her face, and tried to murmur a final prayer. Then the animal tore it off.
The wolf pulled her kill towards scrub brush, to add precaution to her meal. Then she sated herself on the delicious meat. No remnant of Cinderella was discernible in the powerful, magnificent predator. She feasted as an animal in the warmth of the afternoon, and then retreated to the forest for the night.
The next morning, the remnants of the human girl at last reasserted themselves. She was becoming used to this feeling, but still dreaded the coming of the monster. She tried to stay out of town, so that when the hunger took her, she would kill animals in the woods instead of people. But even that precaution was thwarted, when the beast ran across a doomed hunter.
So Cinderella returned to her home. Her step-mother was still in mourning over the loss of Isabella, and the town was awash with rumors of savage animals stalking the streets at night. Kari Trestakk was pale with shock as she saw Cinderella approach her with breakfast, now certain that the girl was responsible for the deaths of her daughters. She resolved to kill her first, even without spectral insight into the matter. She planned to do it at noon, with the iron poker. She hoped that would counter fairy magic; and was unsure of when the attack on Isabella had occurred the journey should have all been during the day, but if the girl had been careless, she may have tarried. Her devoured remains had not been found and identified for two days after she went missing.
So it was that the Lady Trestakk ordered Cinderella to scrub the floor in the basement catacombs, and went down quietly into that lonely place after her at noon with iron, when she hoped that the sun would prevent whatever power Cinderella might be using to become a hunting-hound or mastiff or some other predatory dog.
But Cinderella did not change into an animal, she truly was one albeit one that could wear a human shell. Her senses easily detected Kari coming up behind her, her soft footfalls, the smell of her sweat and fear. Cinderella smiled sadly at the floor, her hair shrouding her expression. As her mother began to strike, the wolf in human form leapt forward, reversing course as soon as the poker rang against the flagstones, and pushed the older woman to the ground. Her eyes were yellowed and feral, and fangs glistened in her mouth. Kari watched in horror as the muzzle began to push out of Cinderella's lips and claws pushed out of her fingers, snatching the poker away and bending it without concern. And she was consumed with terror.
The negligent step-mother whimpered, begging, as Cinderella's sides tore, unable to contain the eager wolf form inside, and she sloughed off her useless flesh to expose the creature beneath. Her body shifted, taking on mass and becoming more lupine now that she was free of her prison, and she smelled the distinctive odor of urine. Kari had wet herself in fear. The wolf almost smiled at that, an excited rumble coming through her throat as she looked at the whimpering, begging woman. So, her blubbering step-mother had resolved not to go with dignity. So much the better.
The wolf bit into her shoulder, eliciting a shriek of pain, and then clawed at Kari's calf, hobbling her. Picking her up by the shoulder wound in her jaws, she tossed the cruel woman deeper into the basement, hard enough to break a bone. She pounced, inflicting more superficial wounds on her quarry, and not giving her a moment to recover.
Some part of the animal was not consumed with instinct this time some part of her enjoyed tormenting the woman, savored something akin to revenge as much as the meal to come. The vicious beast allowed the remnants of Cinderella's mind some sway, some presence in her feast, instinctively deferring to the wronged girl, who deserved to see her step-mother suffer. For her part, the tatters of Cinderella's spirit recoiled, cringing from her animal ferocity and her step-mother's humiliating end.
At last, after long minutes of prolonged agony, the animal tore out Kari's throat. Then she settled down to eat, and didn't stop until there was no flesh left on the disarticulated, broken bones. She hurried out of the house, rushing to the woods to spend the rest of the day alone. Let someone else find the bloody end of Kari Trestakk.
She stayed away all day and night. At midnight, Cinder wolf howled at the moon, a long, primal scream motivated by the bestial instincts now in control of her mind, that the bitch had no hope of understanding.
She remained a wolf the next day, and the next. The vicious beast marked her territory with the remains of her step-mother. In some primal corner of her mind, she thought it fitting neither of them were humans now. Cinderella had discovered her true form in the body of a wolf, and Kari Trestakk had taken on her true form as a moldering pile of dung. Fitting, in both cases. Later, the beast groomed herself, licking her anus clean of the foul-smelling remains of her worthless, defeated foe.
When she returned, she came back as if she had been out of the country since her transformation. The royal authorities told her about the horrors that had befallen her family, and she listened quietly. The wolf had matured, and didn't run wild with instinct and hunger anymore. It could control itself and plan. Since her step-mother had apparently been torn apart by vicious animals, and both of her sisters had preceded her in death, Cinderella inherited all her family's property, as the new Lady Trestakk.
She had little need for the trappings of a large house, and liquidated many of her assets, putting the wealth her father had earned into banks. Most of the paid servants had already resigned, terrified by the gruesome death of their employer in the basement. The rest left soon after. She planned to, as well.
But fate was not done with Cinderella. The prince of that land, a handsome but headstrong man, had long refused to take a wife, and the elderly king and queen were preparing a ball that all the eligible young women of suitable rank or stature in the area might be introduced to him, to see if they took his fancy. As the lady of the house, she was invited to the ball, that the prince might consider her for a bride, too.
The wolf had no need for such entertainment, but what was left of Cinderella deeply wanted to wear a fine gown and behave like a groomed lady as she had not done since she was nine. So she carefully selected and bought a beautiful gown of rich blue silk, and bathed and prepared herself to attend Prince Edvard's ball. Deep in her mind, so deep she hoped the wolf couldn't see, she also hoped that the powerful sorcerers in the employ of the king might be able to dispell her curse.
So Cinderella arrived at the ball, overwhelmed by its lavishness. She had had little need of her proper education and courtesies since her father had died, but they came back to the girl naturally. She was beautiful, her rich blonde hair done up in a tiara and her full bosom swelling as though it would burst out of her gorgeous blue gown. Her heart fluttered. She felt wonderful in her finery, her dress perfectly accenting her figure. She was finally a lady, not a slave or an animal. The only thing that disquieted her was the wolf; she could feel it watching her, learning from her, as she engaged in courtesy and pomp.
She passed many servants of the king - some guards in armor, others waiters in uniform, and some men in rich robes, that she knew to be wizards of the court. One of these looked at her, and immediately turned away, hurrying towards the prince. Her heart leapt. He had recognized her curse! Perhaps she could be saved. She perked up her ears towards the distant conversation, just in case the wizard was suggesting that she was a danger to be destroyed, rather than a maiden to be saved. Her eyes widened at what she heard.
"That one, sire the Lady Trestakk," he said. "She is not a woman but a wolf, and if you tame such a creature it will be a powerful ally, and weapon against your enemies." Prince Edvard looked at her, curious, and smiled. Her heart fell, but the prince was coming toward her. They had no intention of healing her.
The prince stopped and examined Cinderella, and she waited for his inspection. He stared openly at her big, soft breasts, impressed that such a pretty, feminine form sheathed such a powerful and merciless sword. At last, he invited her to dance, and she in courtesy accepted.
The couple twirled about, one of many dances the prince had performed that evening. They spoke while they danced, just as the prince had felt out all the other ladies that had taken his eye enough to become more familiar with. But this conversation had a different form from the others.
"I hear your mother and sisters were devoured by wolves," he said, almost idly. Almost as if he was concerned.
"Well, it is not safe at night, with beasts on the prowl," she answered. "Sometimes, animals attack us when we are unable to defend ourselves."
"My dear, it is not a pack of wolves. It is but one beast, and a were-wolf at that a monster that masquerades as a human."
Cinderella swallowed. She knew where the conversation was headed. "It appears as a man, my lord?"
"No, sweet dissembler. It appears as a woman. As you. You are the she-wolf, the beast that haunts our streets."
Cinderella looked away. She nodded, slightly.
"I thought as much. No, my dear, fear not. It is a quality that I highly regard in you, and not something you should be ashamed of. I sought you out for that specific reason, quite beside the facts that your physical beauty is beyond reproach, and the bequests and contributions of Johan Trestakk are not forgotten in this land." He kissed her hand. "Come back to me after midnight, at the conclusion of the ball."
So Cinderella watched Prince Edvard continue to socialize, pretending to be interested in various other ladies. At the witching hour, when the clock struck midnight, the festival began to break up, rich families returning to their own lodgings. But a wizard, naming himself as Christoffer, took Cinderella by the arm and led her deeper into the castle, to a lavish study. Several servants, soldiers, and wizards waited there, and it was not long before the prince arrived.
"Well, my dear Lady Trestakk," he said amiably. "Shall we discuss the future?"
"As it pleases you, your majesty."
"It does. May I call you Elise?"
"If you wish, sire. But that girl died with my father many years ago. My name now is Cinderella, a name chose by my late step-family as I lay in the ashes."
"And you killed them out of a sense of revenge?"
Tears began to well up in Cinderella's eyes, but they did not fall. Indeed, she was prevented from crying, for the wolf took charge in her mind. "No, prince," it spoke in her melodious voice, now laced with confidence. "Not at first. It was only convenience. They were near me, and their scent was with me. But I was young then, and by the time my step-mother fell, I was in control of when I hunted, and whom."
"Ah, the animal speaks!" the prince exclaimed, clapping his hands. "At last. You are a unique creature, Lady Cinderella, and I long to know you more closely. I long to know if you would make a fitting mate for a prince, for a king."
"As you have said, I am but an animal. A beast."
"You are a wolf in human flesh. It is an amazing thing. Do not denigrate it. How many men have had the chance to unite with primal forces of nature, since the time of pagan gods passed away?"
Cinderella nodded. "Would you like to see me in my true form? As a girl I am beautiful enough, but as a beast I am truly magnificent."
"Yes! Yes, I wish to see it all!" Prince Edvard cried, and she bowed, taking off her tiara and shaking loose her golden locks. She turned to a servant, and took a crystal wineglass from his tray. Then Cinderella shattered the glass in her fist, using the shard to cut a line from her throat down her cleavage. The thick black ichor oozed out, quite unlike blood. The girl hefted her ample breasts, tugging them free of her gown, and pulled on them, widening the hole in her flesh and revealing matted wet fur below. Her blue eyes turned yellow, an animal light emanating from them. The prince stared, entranced by the awful, wonderful sight. Wizards and soldiers moved slightly, in case the beast should think to strike the prince.
She grew large, flesh and blue silk tearing to accommodate her lupine form. Claws tore through her fingers, and she reached up and ripped her face away, allowing her muzzle through. She shredded the train and dress of the gown, freeing her rejointed, hairy legs. The girl cried inwardly at the ruination of her beloved dress, that had seemed to her a symbol of her humanity.
The beast's tail twitched, liberated from constraint. Her blonde-and-ash fur, still slightly wet from its flesh prison, shone in the firelight. Her proportions changed, becoming fully lupine, as she tore off the rest of her human flesh, leaving it strewn about the room with the rags of blue fabric. Only the ragged remnants of her much-loved ballgown still clung to the she-wolf.
"Amazing!" the prince gasped, a strange light in his eye. A wizard nodded. All eyes were upon her, in awe and fear. Her sinewy muscle and thick pelt defined the huge, powerful animal. The prince had never seen such a magnificent beast. "Beast, can you still understand me?" he asked. The huge Cinder wolf nodded. "You are all I expected and more. Are you fierce? Ordinary wolves are strong only in packs. Does your size make you more than any of your natural kin?"
Again, the beast nodded. The prince smiled. "A demonstration is in order, if you don't mind, Lady Cinderella. He looked around the room, and his eyes seized on one of his soldiers. "Anders, come here," he said, and with some hesitation, the man came forward.
The room grew silent. Anders tried to draw his sword, but the Cinder wolf was far too fast. She leapt with no hint of indecision, striking him across the chest, and pinned his arms, leaving the sword partially in its sheath. Quickly, she had seized his throat in her jaws, and torn it out before he had even had a chance to scream. Anders's eyes grew wide and pale as he made little gasping sounds, and shuddered as his life left him. The she-wolf devoured the man greedily. The prince and the wizards watched, impressed, as the animal glutted herself on raw, ragged meat.
The prince stepped forward to get a better view, near the remnants of Cinderella's flesh and gown. He picked up one of the large round breasts from the discarded ribbons of her flesh, and rubbed the pretty bauble against his cheek before her human shroud finally dissolved into nothingness. Yes, he wanted this Cinderella.
The blue rags continued to cling to the flanks of the massive bitch as she feasted, and finally rose, pacing about, muscles tensed with nervous energy. She knew that she had just been tested, and had passed. She growled, a sense of pride running through her.
The prince was quick to meet with his father the next morning, to tell him that he wanted to wed the Lady Trestakk.
"I want this brutal beast, father. I want this vicious, unstoppable animal to be my property, and have its powerful jaws around my enemies' throats."
"My son, such a beast would make a fine weapon, provided it were controllable. Were I a young man, I too would have desired its power more than your mother's fleeting physical charms. But it isn't to be. No one can tame it. And it will turn on you in its own unreasoning bloodlust. Look into its eyes. It may look like a girl, but no human thoughts enter its primitive, animal mind. View it dispassionately, as it is a dangerous wild animal, whose thought processes are nothing like our own. Heed my council, and destroy it."
But the prince would hear nothing of his father's council, and he sought the hand of the beast to be his wife. Cinderella demurred, wishing to know his heart. Did he want her just as a weapon, or as a queen? She asked to spend time with him, and he agreed, fascinated by the beautiful woman.
"Take me hunting with you," she asked.
The prince smiled. "It isn't seemly for ladies to hunt."
"Not as a woman. Use me as your dog. Satisfy yourself of my bloodlust, and my ability to track and hunt and kill."
The prince agreed, and against the council of his advisors, the two left alone together. She remained a wolf the entire first day of the hunt. They tracked a large wild boar, the Cinder wolf carefully maneuvering and provoking it into the open. Then the animal tore out its throat, leaving the boar gurgling impotently in the last moments of its life, legs still kicking. Prince Edvard put his spear through it, and the hunters dined well that night.
The next day, Cinderella remained human part of the day, to display her skills within her bare flesh shell and to talk more freely. They hunted smaller game, fox and beaver, and she continued to impress him with her subtlety and skill. The part of her mind still ruled by the girl was flattered that he was so taken with her, wanted her as a wife despite her bestial nature. Obviously it was because she was powerful and dangerous; but there were worse reasons to be loved. When she finally shed her naked human form around midday, she exulted in his rapt attention. She was an elegant animal.
On the third day of the hunt, she again spent much of the day as a beautiful woman, tracking a great stag at his side. He was excited to view her in her unclothed human beauty, although not as excited as he was when he saw her raw, naked savagery and animal nature. He did not ravish her then, despite her bareness and beauty. They spoke long, feeling the heart of the other.
"How did you become a beast?" he finally asked.
"It was a gift from my godmother. My step-mother sought to turn me into a whimpering cur, but her intercession gave me instead the body and mind of a she-wolf."
"Ah, so she unwittingly initiated her own execution! The irony is delicious. It is a peculiar gift from a fairy godmother, but one I am glad you possess."
"She wanted me to never be weak again. You see, as Cinderella, I have long struggled with the abyss of despair. But the wolf does not."
"You will have little to despair of as a princess, and eventually a queen."
"Such things are the dream of all little girls. To be princesses, and to belong to something great. But for me, the desire to belong, to stand at the side of my father again, is greater than the desire to be a princess of the greatest stature."
"Understandable," said the prince. "But why not enjoy the trappings of royalty, since the other thing is impossible?"
"I fear I am little fit for it," answered Cinderella. "There are other girls more queenly than me."
"Ah. It is true that while you are beautiful and buxom and blonde, so are many girls, and you are neither the best nor the worst of these specimens. Far from it. Were you a girl, you would be a very pretty but ultimately forgettable face in a crowd. But instead, you are a beast! You possess the characteristics most needed by our noble house. You are a powerful, vicious, and remorseless killer perfectly disguised as an average attractive blonde girl. But you suffer none of the frailties of a simple maiden. No, you are all power and grace and tooth and claw. Savagery and efficiency, undiluted by human weakness or emotion. You are a perfect and fitting weapon for a prince, and I long to make you my own to hold you in my hand as a sword."
"Just a sword, my prince?"
"A queen, meant for better than just a breeder of heirs. A queen that can be used against our enemies."
"How so, my lord? There are but few opportunities for the fair sex to intervene in affairs of the state."
"Ah, but you can seduce a rival in your human form, and then kill them when they are alone and exposed. None will suspect you."
"Ah. Seduction. So I am to be shared. Do you not want issue from me, then?" asked Cinderella, a touch of sadness, of the human, coloring her voice.
"If necessary, I can breed heirs off a concubine, so that you can be saved to whelp pups like yourself. There might be questions, but a prince can obtain human children on other maidens, to pose as yours. Ours will be a perfect union of man and beast, with a great force of nature tamed by a potent human will."
She smiled, grimly. "I am a wild animal. I cannot be tamed."
"So my father suggested. But think what all I offer you! The greatest assassin has never been able to shed as much blood as you will, the richest wolf has never laired as lavishly as you will. You will indulge all your sensations, enjoy the fullness of your dual nature when you are my weapon, my wife. My strong right arm."
She shook her head, disappointed in the small role he saw for her, as a mere instrument to carry out his plans, and nothing more. "Your offer seems magnificent, were I a woman," she said. "But I am a beast, and humans are but walking meat to me, be they prince or pauper."
"What are you saying?" he asked warily.
"I will never be a slave again, to you or anyone else. If I must be a wild beast in the woods to be truly free, then better a beast than a human, and better wild than a pet in a gilded cage. I will not willingly bow down to a life that will cause me to despair."
"What are you doing?" he asked, feeling for his sword. "Think! I can yet convince you."
"I honor the words of my godmother," she answered. And Cinderella's eyes turned gold.
Prince Edvard drew his sword, training it upon her. "I am not food for you!" he warned. "And if you will not be mine, I will put you down like the beast that you are!"
"Please try," she said, growling tones overlaying her voice, and as he lunged, she snatched his wrist, twisting with inhuman strength and speed. The prince screamed, and dropped his weapon, as the girl's flesh tore, revealing fur beneath.
She grew to her full size, skin ripping away from her real body. The prince reached for his knife, but the beast seized his belt in her jaws and tore it off, flinging his weapons away from him. Unsupported, his trousers fell, and he tripped over them in his haste to withdraw. The wolf kicked her hind leg, shaking off the last ribbons of shredded skin, her proportions settling. She put her weight on him, preventing his escape.
"Get off, animal!" he raged, but there was nothing he could say to her now. She eyed him thoughtfully, and his protests hushed. Then the beast ripped off his penis, swallowing the flesh down her bloody jaws. The prince gurgled, unmanned. Nausea welled up in his belly. Why hadn't he listened to his father? His penis had become food, as if it were merely the pizzle of a bull! He slapped at her head as she bent forward, biting at his belly and eating his flesh while he still struggled. Soon, it was all over, and Prince Edvard was gone.
The Cinder wolf would not abide a master. If she was always to be a beast, she would use her power for herself, not for a prince. She howled at the moon, her heart beating to an ancient, primitive drum, and let herself slip entirely into her animal mind. What had once been the consciousness of Cinderella would never again pretend to rule the glorious, vicious beast. She would embrace her animal nature, forever.
The animal became a legend in shadow, sometimes using her beautiful, buxom, eternally youthful human shell and the wealth she'd secreted in banks across Europe to travel from country to country, seducing unsuspecting prey and devouring them; other times remaining a beast for months at a time in the woods, feeding on conventional prey. But always she remained a predator, a wolf, unaffected by human worry or compassion or empathy, and concerned only with hunting and glutting herself with meat.
No mercy. No pity. No love. But no despair, either.