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Authors: Maureen McGowan

Tags: #Fairy Tales & Folklore, #Juvenile Fiction, #Adaptations, #Interactive Adventures

Cinderella: Ninja Warrior

BOOK: Cinderella: Ninja Warrior
6.61Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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Table of Contents
 
For Bev Katz Rosenbaum, who gave me the chance, and for Catherine Grace, who’s as strong and beautiful as any fairy tale princess.
 
HOW THIS BOOK WORKS
 
W
elcome to
Cinderella: Ninja Warrior
, a different sort of fairy tale that’s twisted two ways. First, it’s full of adventure, loaded with danger, heaped with action, and sprinkled with magic. Second,
you
get to control what happens.
At three points during the story, you can put on Cinderella’s slippers and decide—if you were her—what you’d do next. By making these choices, you get to determine how her adventure unfolds.
But don’t worry—there are no right or wrong decisions, just different ones. As you’ll soon discover, Cinderella’s a pretty special girl. She’s strong and smart and brave, and if she can learn how to believe in herself, she’ll figure out how to reach her happy ending, no matter what challenges you throw in her path.
Each time you reach a decision point, you’ll be given two choices. Once you make your choice, all you need to do is flip to the next section in the story. When you reach the end of each section, there will be a guide to tell you where to go next.
Have you figured out the best part yet? That’s right—you can read this book over and over! In total, there are eight different routes that Cinderella can take to reach the end of her adventure. Eight stories in one! Can you figure out all the possible routes?
 
Enjoy!
 
Section 1
 
Home Not-so-sweet Home
 
1
 
C
inderella’s shoulders quivered with fatigue as she tipped the twenty-seventh wooden bucket of fresh water into her stepmother’s bath. The water, laced with sweet-smelling oils, sloshed up the tub’s sides, threatening to spill over the edges and onto the pristine floor that she’d have to mop again if the hot water escaped.
She brushed stray blonde hairs off her lightly freckled face, and then crouched to stoke the fire, which crackled as it heated the tub. Stretching her aching fingers toward the warmth, she rubbed the calluses on her palms and fingers. Along with her many other chores, the countless trips from the cellar to the upstairs bathrooms to fill three tubs twice a day had taken their toll on her body.
Cinderella had just turned eighteen, but her hands looked much older. Her real mother, one of the most powerful wizards in the kingdom, had died at her birth, and five years later her father died too, only days after he remarried. Her stepmother, also a wizard, treated Cinderella more like a servant than a daughter.
Cinderella often wished she were a ninja warrior—no, make that a ninja and a wizard. A wizard could break her stepmother’s entrapment spells, and a ninja, well, a ninja could give her stepmother what she deserved.
But hard work and determination carried more power than if-onlys and wishes. Her stepmother’s magic was powerful, and it seemed as if she’d thought of everything to keep Cinderella trapped. That was no excuse for Cinderella to sit back and do nothing, though. It was better to practice the few innate magic skills she had inherited from her mother, and to develop her self-taught ninja training. Sometimes the best offense was a good defense.
Enough of this whining
, thought Cinderella. There would be no time for training if she lazed about staring at the fire and daydreaming. If captured, real ninja warriors didn’t sit around thinking about escaping—they took action. She sprang to her feet and grabbed the empty buckets, ready to make the much easier trip down the three long flights of stairs to her cellar room. Her stepmother had used black magic to cast entrapment spells that kept her confined to the cellar, except to do chores during the day and to garden at night.
Twisting sideways, she squeezed through the tiny entrance at the top of the servants’ stairs that were dark and narrow in places.
When her father was alive, she’d been scared to even go near the cellar where she now lived. The few times he’d taken her down there to help fetch jars of pickles or retrieve her sled during the winter, she’d clung to his neck, burying her face in his srong chest. And they’d used the main stairs, which were not scary at all compared to the rickety back stairs that she was forced to climb. Still, she couldn’t suppress putting a slight skip into her step as she descended, jumping over the broken fourth step on the second flight and not even breaking her gait on the uneven rises.
On reaching the bottom, she gripped her buckets and moved into a crane stance to prepare for a side kick. “Ha-ya!” she shouted, and then her bare foot struck cleanly against the heavy wooden door.
The door swung open, hitting the stone wall with a bang, to reveal the cold room that doubled as a bedroom for her and storage space for everyone else in the house. She’d moved into the cellar at age five, right after her father died. The damp, chilly room no longer scared Cinderella; she had much scarier things to face every day—like her evil stepmother.
In the opposite corner of the room, her fluffy gray cat lifted his head from the straw-filled burlap sack the two shared as a bed.
“Hello, Max.” Cinderella walked toward the iron water pump on the far side of the fireplace and set the wooden pails next to it, ensuring they were lined up perfectly. She’d long ago discovered that the only way to avoid her stepmother’s punishments involved a combination of obedience and precision. Being compliant and faultless didn’t always work, but she aimed to stay on her stepmother’s good side, with hope that she might be released from this prison existence someday.
Who was she kidding? Her stepmother didn’t have a good side. Yet Cinderella had to believe she’d gain her freedom someday—without this hope to cling to, she’d go insane.
Max flicked his tail and it struck the corner of her most precious possession—her
Way of the Warrior
book. She dashed over and bent to tuck it back under the bed. It simply would not do if her contraband reading material were discovered. The only books she’d ever been allowed to read were the ones her stepmother selected for her lessons, and since age twelve, when she surpassed her older stepsisters in their studies, she’d been cut off from books altogether. She scratched Max’s favorite spot, right under his chin, and he purred and stretched. He was her only friend now; it didn’t matter that he wasn’t human. Sometimes, she was sure he could understand her words and even guide her actions.
Not long after she’d first discovered him as a tiny stray kitten in the garden, he inexplicably pawed her ninja training book off the enchanted library’s bookshelves. Cinderella had dusted those shelves nearly every day, and never had one book even budged. How Max had swiped it off the shelf remained a mystery. At first she’d only read the book to counteract boredom—the exercises seemed too intimidating to try—but every time she’d taken it out, Max had pawed at the pages, drawing her attention to the illustrations. Eventually she tried some, mostly to shut him up.
And it had paid off. The ninja training slowly improved her concentration, strength, and balance, and she soon found that she had other abilities—magical abilities—that required the same basic skills. While training in the garden one cold night a few months ago, she’d focused on the hoe throughout her meditation exercises. Finished, she flicked her hand, and the hoe moved. She and Max danced and skipped around the garden in glee. Well, she could only
assume
Max had been happy for her.
With practice, Cinderella could now move small objects over short distances with her mind—sometimes—and was thrilled she’d inherited even a small portion of her real mother’s powers. It was one thing to perform spells with a wand, but only the strongest wizards could perform magic using just their minds—wizards like her real mother. But even raw talent needed training, and with her mother gone, she had no one to teach her.
BOOK: Cinderella: Ninja Warrior
6.61Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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