The Tale of Melusine

Years ago, when I realized I wanted to tell a contemporary fairy tale, I researched many of the old ones. I kept coming back to the 14th century French fairy tale, Melusine. It had all the components of a great story: epic love, family dysfunction, and magic.

When I came across the version of the tale told in THE ENCHANTED WORLD: FAERIES AND ELVES, I couldn't help but wonder: what if the perspective was skewed? What if a different version of the tale existed in the Enchanted World? One where the story of the younger daughters was more important.

Inspired by this question, I began writing The Daughter of Light series.
To relate the tale of Melusine, it is necessary to begin with the fairy's birth and unhappy early life. She was, in fact, just half an elf: Her mother was a fountain fairy named Pressina and her father, named Elinus, was a mortal King of Albany--the ancient name for Scotland. Pressina agreed to marry the king only after he agreed to the elfin condition, which in her case was that he never see her in childbed. 
Her husband broke his vow on the day that Pressina gave birth to three beautiful daughters, Melusine, Melior, and Plantina. The fairy had to leave him then. Taking her daughters, she fled to a fairy island said to be Avalon.  
Years passed, and as the daughters grew, the lonely mother told them of Elinus and his broken vow, and as she spoke she wept for the love she had lost. When the daughters grew into their full powers, they took revenge. They lured their fathers into a mountain cave in North-umbria, and with a web of spells they closed the cave, so that Elinus remained a prisoner in the dark for the rest of his life. 
When Pressina heard what her daughters had done, she wailed with grief and rage, and she set upon them solemn punishments. The fates of the younger daughters are not important to the story, but that of Melusine--the eldest and leader--is. Her mother cast this curse: Every Saturday Melusine was condemned to become a loathsome serpent from the waist-down, and to stay that way for twenty-four hours. She was doomed, the mother said, not to know the joys of love, unless she could conceal her periodic deformity by finding a lover who would agree not to visit her on the day of her punishment. If that lover agreed to the condition and then broke his word, the mother added, Melusine would spend eternity as a winged snake in perpetual flight--and perpetual pain.
THE ENCHANTED WORLD: FAERIES AND ELVES by the Editors of Time-Life Books

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