Cinderella shifted her gaze to Angelique to see if this was acceptable behavior for a fairy godmother, when there was scuttling at her feet.

Four clean, well-fed mice scurried across the lawn, stopping in front of Sybilla.

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One mouse sat on his hind legs and twitched his nose at Sybilla. The other three mice cleaned their whiskers and occasionally helped pat a neighbor’s fur into place.

“Of course, I see. I’m sure she will not object to that,” Sybilla said. “In that case, I thank you for your kindness. Now, if you wouldn’t mind, be horses.”

There was a bang, and a cloud of smoke encased Sybilla.

“Drat! I forgot about that,” Sybilla coughed from inside the cloud. “Where are you, mice? Oof!”

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When the smoke rolled away, four horses, outfitted in black harnesses, were lined up in front of Sybilla. The horses twitched their noses a little too often, and their fur was the same shiny, well-kept, velvet brown as the four mice, but they took to their new bodies quite well.

“Magic,” Cinderella gulped.

“Sybilla’s magic,” Angelique was quick to add.

“Yoo-hoo! Yes, you two! I need a footman and a driver. What say you?” Sybilla called out to the two nearest goats.

The goats chewed mouthfuls of grass and looked unimpressed.

“How is that for gratuity? Is anyone else more prone to honor than these two pigs?” Sybilla called to the rest of the herd.

An ancient, shriveled buck goat Cinderella kept because she didn’t have the heart to see him slain approached Sybilla with one of the year’s baby goats—a doeling.

The doeling pranced and jumped, leaping over the back of the old goat, who baaed at Sybilla before knocking the doeling in the head with his horns.

“Thank you very much. I assure you the mice won’t be much trouble. I’ve already given them directions,” Sybilla said. “Now, be men!”

Nothing happened.

“Herm. That was embarrassing,” Sybilla said as the goat baaed at her. “I beg your pardon. Be a man and a girl!”

There was another explosion of smoke. When it cleared, an elderly driver dressed smartly in white and gray stood with a young girl who wore gray breeches, a white shirt, and a white hat.

“Very good; you both look grand. If you would stand with the horses, please. Now, a carriage. Duchess Lacreux, have you any pots or apple baskets?”

“Pardon?”

“Never mind. I see a pumpkin patch yonder. It is the wrong season, but with luck, that will make the pumpkin more cooperative,” Sybilla said, striding off towards a field.

She returned some minutes later, a suspiciously round carriage plated in gold rolling after her. The mice-horses arranged themselves in front of the carriage—their harnesses curling into place by magic—while the goat driver climbed into place.

The goat footgirl opened the door of the round carriage, revealing an inside of orange satin.

“I could not get it to entirely agree with me, but no one will see the interior anyway,” Sybilla grudgingly said. “Now, dearie, I am sorry to say it, but this magic will only work until midnight. The mice need to be home by then, and I must confess I need to leave the Werra city limit, and once I do, my magic will cease functioning.”

“I hadn’t thought of that,” Angelique frowned. “I, too, must be leaving.”

“Off to see that Arcainian princess?”

“Yes. If she can overtake Clotilde, it would be wisest to make our move as swiftly as possible.”

“Smart.”

“Perhaps,” Angelique said before turning her attention to Cinderella. “I will stay in the area with Sybilla until midnight, but on a night as suitable as this for my mount, I really should ride. When I fall out of range, my magic will fade as well. I apologize, but I cannot stay longer.”

“There is nothing to apologize for. I cannot repay you for this,” Cinderella said, gesturing to her clothes and the carriage.

“It was our delight,” Angelique said. “I wish you all the luck I can spare.”

Cinderella shakily smiled. “Thank you.”

Sybilla narrowed her eyes at Cinderella. “Do not be afraid, dearie. Your good cheer has more power than you know. Even your animals know you labor for them. Now, run along. You are fashionably late, but you haven’t much time to spare.”

“Thank you,” Cinderella said, accepting the goat-footgirl’s help into the round carriage. The door closed after her, and Cinderella barely had enough time to push aside an orange, velvet curtain to wave at the magical women before the carriage jolted forward.

Dazed, Cinderella sat back into the satin covered bench. “I’m going to the Victory Ball to speak to Queen Freja,” she said.

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