The apparitions known as
"White Ladies" or in some regions "Grey Ladies", are ghosts that have been
sighted from Varcopas to the Icelands. Dressed in white or grey, they walk about
in the spot that is said to be the place of their death. The manner of their
death can sometimes be deduced from her appearance – for example, if a White
Lady is walking near a lake shore with wet hair and clothes, it may be safe to
assume she drowned.
They show themselves mainly to children and elderly people. While this could be attributed to an overactive imagination or senility respectively, it would be a very great coincidence that imagination and senility both produced reports that so closely resemble each other, even in cases where one would not expect the reporter to be influenced by other stories. Although there are relatively many sightings for so elusive a phenomenon, it seems that only humans are able to see them. It is noticeable that, compared to the amount of people living near some of the places where White Ladies appear, there are fewer sightings than could reasonably be expected if they were tangible, yet more than can be dismissed out of hand.
Image description. An apparition of a White Lady as said to have been sighted around Varcopas. Picture by Bard Judith.
It is not easy to give a clear picture of the White Ladies' appearance, since in
life they were each a different person. However, there do seem to be some common
points, the most prominent of which is the dress, which according to almost all
reports is of a white colour, as white as their face and even hair. In one
region – namely the Rimmerins Ring – she is dressed in grey clothes, although
her hair and face remain white. The reason for this is not clear from the
Another resemblance between the White Ladies is their hair, which is almost always worn long and loose. Only in a few instances was it said that it was done up with ribbons, so that that particular White Lady resembled more a young girl than a grown woman.
Other than that, however, their appearance varies greatly from one sighting to the next, depending on the region where they were seen. At times they are as a woman in the bloom of her life (if, quite obviously, dead), at others they are older, wrinkles visible around her eyes and mouth, although still standing tall and proud, not yet so old as to be stooped over with age. Lastly, they may appear as a younger woman, on the brink of discovering life. These are the times when their hair is bedecked with ribbons.
As far as we have been able to gather from oral or written reports of
encounters, the White Ladies do not have any special powers, other than being
visible after her death. They simply appear – sometimes once a year, sometimes
in a certain season or on definite dates – and after a while she disappears
again. This period is often one hour long, or else they complete a certain
ritual (such as the Iceland Lady) before going.
Afterwards, many more sightings were reported, both of the Lady of the Keep and other White Ladies. It would be near impossible to list each of the Ladies, but the following list is a compilation of the most common sightings.
The Rimmerin's Ring Lady
This "Grey Lady", rather than a White Lady, was first mentioned around the time of the unification of Southern Sarvonia. Up to the present day, some locals claim to have seen her, wandering around the Stonedale Quarry. Oral traditions about her origins persist to this day. She is claimed to be Franja Swanvild, a rich nobleman's daughter who had fallen in love with a simple farmer and lain with him. When her father discovered she was with child, he took her to the top of the Quarry and pushed her to her death. Ever since, she is reported to come to the Quarry on the anniversary of her death, wander around the Quarry, and vanish one hour later.
A rather more contemporary sighting is the White Lady in the lands of the Remusians. She was first seen in the winter of the year 1655 a.S., walking the battlements of the city, one time from start to finish. She has been spotted a few times since then, but always in winter. Although a name is not attributed to her, she is believed to be a widow grieving for her husband, a soldier lost in the year 1654, when orcs besieged the city.
On the Ximaxian peninsula, on the shore of the Diamond Lake, each summer solstice the figure of a young girl in her wedding clothes can be seen. It is said that she is the ghost of a young wind mage, newly wed, whose jealous bridegroom murdered her on their wedding night, and buried her near the lake shore. It is not known why he was jealous. In all likelihood he was paranoid that she would cheat on him, even if she never gave him a real cause to think that. On the summer solstice she stands on a rocky outcrop overlooking the lake, a wind blowing in her hair and clothes, even when the rest of the environment is utterly still.
There is also rumoured to be a White Lady in the university buildings of the Lorehold in Lorehaven. She is said to have been a librarian, pining for a love that was forever out of her reach. According to some reports, it is possible to see her when you are carrying a certain book – however, which book exactly is a point of contention.
Many more examples of White Ladies could be given. All the collected reports came from the Sarvonian continent, however. It is unknown whether the more exotic continents, such as Nybelmar or Aeruillin, know a similar phenomenon.
Mention of a White Lady has been made as far back as 2000 b.S. It is possible
that this one, or another, was sighted even before that, but there are no
written or oral sources left to confirm this. The oldest remaining source speaks
of a “Lady, clad all in white, wandering at night on the road leading from
Klinsor to Three Arcs Keep, or seen on the battlements of the Keep”. The text
goes on to speculate that she is the ghost of a young woman, a daughter of the
Keep, waiting for her lover, who left her one day with the promise of returning,
but he never showed. She waited in vain for two days, and then went out to
search for him, but she -likewise- never returned, except as a White Lady. The
text is not signed, and it is now impossible to ascertain who wrote it. More
recently the legend was repeated in a treatise by Waudrin Ghortz, contemporary
researcher of all things supernatural, in which he tries to refute the existence
of even one White Lady. He claims that the phenomenon cannot be real, since only
humans can 'see' these White Ladies, and none of the other races can. Therefore,
Waudrin says, they cannot possibly be more than myth.
Habitat/Behaviour. Again there is some correspondence between the different Ladies, in behaviour as well as appearance. Most of the time they do not seem aware of the person seeing them, rather they are looking out as if waiting for someone. In a few instances they have been known to approach the living (often a child or an elder), beseeching them with outstretched arms, although it is not clear what they would have them do. They disappear before actually reaching the person. It seems that they do not speak; in fact, all reports claim that not a sound comes from them, except perhaps the rustling of their white gown.
Another aspect of the White Ladies that all the sightings agree on is their profound sadness, which touches hearts likely to be moved and leaves the living wishing they could have helped her somehow. In contrast to the wailwoman, however, meeting a White Lady is not likely to result in insanity or death.
Myth/Lore. It is said that White Ladies can choose who they appear to, which might account for the relatively small number of sightings in heavily populated areas. The reason this was not added to the Special Abilities section is that there might be other possibilities. It does seem unlikely, since according to many of the reports they are not aware that someone sees them. On the other hand however, prospective ghost-hunters must be warned – one must not go looking for them, for then they will not show themselves. Alternative explanations include, if they are real, that certain individuals have a heightened sense of their presence or even just a closer affinity with otherworldly phenomena, or if they are not, that they are merely a fiction of the imagination.
They are most often seen by children and elders. Popular myth says that if a child sees a White Lady, that she will bless it and protect it throughout its life. In contrast, when one is seen by an older person, it is said to foretell their death – a peaceful death after a long life, surrounded by friends and family. It is said to be a guarantee that they will not feel pain or go in a violent manner. This is why older people are not always sorry if they think they have seen a White Lady. However, both these myths are hard to prove, as is usual for myths.
Related to these two myths is the curious tale of the Mardran family, living close to the Stonedale Quarry. They claim that the Grey Lady favours their family, for many of the members have seen her – not once, but twice in their lives. Once when they were children, and once again when they were old. Without judging the accuracy of this claim, the family does prosper, and the children seem to have a guardian watching over them, making sure that they do not get into an accident of any kind and reach a respectable age, after which they die peacefully. One example would be the time that Jorgun Mardran – grandfather at the time he was interviewed – was playing on the road near the house when one of the baneg bulls broke out. It seemed to be heading straight for him, but at the last moment swerved to the right, saving Jorgun from certain death. If the claims of the family are true, the Mardran family is perhaps descended from the farmer who the Grey Lady originally fell in love with.
A source of as much debate as their existence is their rest. Is it possible to help a White Lady, so that she leaves earthly bonds behind and moves on? Rumours are elusive, but it does seem as though a few Ladies have laid down their burden – whether through human intervention or otherworldly, it is hard to discern. In any case, some of the sightings date from far back, and no new sighting has been made in that exact place.
Interesting to note is the White Lady Mountain, in the Prominent Mountain range. She bore her name long before there was mention of the apparition, but her connection with the ghost dates from around 1000 b.S., when an anonymous bard from a nearby town wrote the "Lay of the Lady" - wholly ficticious, but it drew travellers to see the frozen waterfalls that he mentions, where the Lady was supposed to have met her violent death, or to trek to the shallow, yet snowy top where she is supposed to dwell on certain nights. Interestingly enough, some of these trekkers even claim to have seen her! The end of the Lay follows here. The whole poem can be found in the Library.
The Lay of the Lady
The tales of the White Ladies inspired the talented bard Gean Firefeet to write a song about them, which goes as follows:
Lady in White
Compendiumist's Note. “White
Ladies” have been spotted from Varcopas to
the Icelands, so they can be called a definite phenomenon - but how they come
into existence, why they are only ever female, and why they 'walk' when other
slain females are at rest is as yet unknown. The sceptics - led by
Waudrin Ghortz - would say that is
because they are no more than the figments of some senile imagination... but
then why are these tales so prevalent across our country, and from so many
different sources? Children, grand-dams, elders and maidens, have all reported
sighting the White Lady, and her legend is known everywhere.
In an attempt to describe the phenomenon – if not to ascertain their actual existence – this humble Compendiumist has talked with some of those who claim they have seen a White Lady, among whom the aforementioned Jorgun Mardran. It seems that, while some families believe they have a special connection with this or that Lady, there is not much distinction in who is graced with a glimpse of her. In each community where a White Lady is rumoured to walk, the local populace is a firm believer in her existence, even among those individuals (usually almost the whole village, with but one or two exceptions) who have not personally seen her. Outside these communities, scepticism is much greater.