...There lived a young girl named Madelyn. She lived in a small village in France. She was always a happy girl. She lived with her father, weren't rich, but theyhad a little more than enough, for he saved his money; he knew that one day, when he died, his daughter would need money to survive independently until she married.

Everybody in the small village loved little Madelyn. She always had a smile on her face, ready to play a game with anybody who was willing. She was a cheerful young spirit, with eyes as blue as the midday sky, and hair as golden as fine thread.

But one day, when she was eight, her whole life was changed. Her father had been courting a woman, a widow from a different region of was very beautiful and had two daughters of her own:Felicity was nine, and by far, a beautiful girl. With large gray eyes and hair of white-gold, none of her male companions could help but give her a flower from their mother's garden at some point. Verona was eight, and wasn't as concious about her looks as her sister was. She was considered plain, but she was still a beautiful girl. Her honey brown eyes always sparkled with delight, and her dark brown hair was always neat. Ironically enough, neither girl looked like their mother, who was tall, skinny, and had shining black hair, and deep green eyes. Her beauty was indescribable. She had an exotic beauty, and nobody could believe she was French, and not from Spain. Her name was Claudine.

The woman herself had had a wealthy husband, and Claudine had been a rather avid had used a lot of his money to hire maids and butlers and buy fancy clothing. After all, what was his had been hers, and that meant that the money was hers too. She certainly never had a problem with sharing this bit of knowledge with anyone, purchasing only the finest and most showy of objects, and proceeding to strut around town proudly, parading her riches.

Other than being extremely proud (and, not to mention, a narcissist), she was extremely social, always showing up at the grandest balls and parties...even if she wasn't invited. For you see, Claudine wasn't very well liked. Most people in their towndidn't appreciate her was just as well, only viewed those with lesser wealth to be good for nothing more than showing her material goods off only friends were the few other women in the same social rank as her: Henriette, and Ophelie. All three of them were exactly the same: materialistic, snobby, obnoxious, narcissistic, and they all felt they should be worshipped, oblivious to the fact that they were anything but. They were too busy staying atop the latest fashions,and gossiping about the latest scandals. However, Henriette and Ophelie were more likeable by the town, and even had a few friends outside of their "social circle". It was Claudine that everyone hated.

Claudinewas a wicked woman, possesed by greed, and hungry for what better way to have great riches and gain attention than to have one of her daughtersmarry Prince Coyan, the future King?They were all around the same age, she knew, for Prince Coyan's birth had been announced shortly before she had her first daughter, Felicity. She wanted one of her two daughters to marry him when he came of age, and who could possiblybetter candidates than her daughters? She prepared them for that day their whole lives, limiting their food, and teaching them lady-like ways, scolding them for not learning quickly enough, or not being interested enough.

When Felecity was 6, her waist became a bit bigger than it should have, and her mother starved her of everything but water for a week, until her waist slimmed back down. When Verona had eaten her food too quickly one night, Claudine locked her in a closet for three hours. Nobody ever knew of Claudine's behavior towards her children. They looked perfectly healthey, and if there was anything that Claudine was good at, it was keeping up appearances.

She was able to pull off the ultimate masquerade when she met a man named Vernon. She batted her eyelashes, was shy, modestly flirty, and honerable. Her manners were divine, and she was a caring girl who'd sell her soul simply to help somebody else. And Vernon, always seeing the good in people, saw nothing but the best in her. He was a man of trust and honor, and was going to marry the devil's daughter without knowing it. The people of Vernon's village approved, not knowing of her dastardly ways, since she'd come from a region across the country.

It wasn't until Vernon died that Claudine revealed her true personality. AndWith Veron's death came the downfall of little Madelyn's hope through her evil stepmother and wicked step sisters.

Some who have heard the story say it's nothing but a myth, poppycock, a silly fairy-tale told to tame naughty children who refuse to shut their eyes in bed and sleep. But others who hear the story know that it's nothing short of a miracle, and will pass the story down through the generations, the story of the maiden of cinders. The girl who survived living with her wicked step mother, and two cruel step sisters. But there are questions. Perhaps the fairy god mother didn't exist. And maybe, just maybe, our maiden of cinders wasn't what she seemed to be. And finally, perhaps one of her sisters wasn't so cruel to her, but truly had a heart of gold, or at the least, silver...