Influences and InspirationEdit
Rusalkas are creatures that feature prominently in the myths and legends of Russia. Typically, a Rusalka is the spirit of a young woman who died violently in a variety of ways, whether in childbirth or by means of suicide. The spirit of the dead woman comes back to haunt the waterway near where she died. While the spirit is not primarily malevolent, it can lure men and children to their deaths by drowning, men by seducing them, and children by offering them goodies or treats. However, if a Rusalka's death is avenged, then the spirit in question will be allowed to rest in peace.
Appearances in The Five Hundred KingdomsEdit
The Rusalkas are featured prominently in the third novel of the Five Hundred Kingdoms, Fortune's Fool.
Sasha is the first to encounter a Rusalka in the woods where he resides when his family sends him away from the palace. He approaches the Rusalka, and discovers a timid spirit rather than one that is ferocious. Rather than attacking him, he sits and listens to her until a herd of unicorns shows up for his and her defense, as both he and the Rusalka are virgin. He eventually brokers a deal with the Rusalka that she can remain in the woods, as long as she does not kill anybody and uses her abilites to scare men and children straight.
A different Rusalka is kidnapped by the Jinn residing in the Katchei's former palace, however this one is ferocious and ready to kill anyone who comes near her. Depsite the Jinn's warning, she lashes out at the other girls. Katya devises a plan to get rid of the Rusalka by using her gift of being able to breathe water to allow the Rusalka to "drown" her and bring the Jinn. The plan goes off without a hitch, with the Jinn storming in and burning the Rusalka to death for her refusal to follow his orders to not touch the other girls.
At the end of the book, it is stated that now there is a group of Rusalkas that live in the lake surrounding the late Katchei's palace, and they perform water ballets to the delight of the visitors who come to the palace.