THE WISP APPARITION ("WILL'O'WISP", "GRANTHER WILLOW'S LANTERN")

APPEARANCE - SPECIAL ABILITIES - TERRITORY
HABITAT/BEHAVIOUR - DIET - MATING - MYTH/LORE - RESEARCHERS

The Wisp, also known as "Granther Willow's Lantern", or more commonly as the "Will'o'Wisp" in many of the human lands of Sarvonia is a mysterious apparition known to inhabit desolate swamps, moors or bogs. There are also occasional sightings among old ruined fortresses and catacombs. The elves call this apparition the "injóh" (lit. "light creature"). There are many legends and myths told of the Will'o'Wisp, with most of them giving the Wisp a capricious and benevolent nature. Still other tales do not paint the Wisp in such a positive light, warning travelers never to follow a Wisp in the night for it will lead one to their doom. Regardless of the truth, many researchers cannot agree as to the apparition's true nature.

The Wisp Apparition

View picture in full size Picture description. One of the most mysterious apparitions known on Caelereth: the Wisps, also knonw as "Granther Willow's Lantern". Image drawn by Seeker.

Appearance. According to various eyewitness reports, the Wisp's colour can range from a soft blue to a dark red, and its size from a few nailsbreadths to almost half a ped. Typically, it appears as a floating ball of soft flickering light, about the size of an adult human's fist. Some accounts say that the Wisp can grow large, to the size of a human head or shrink itself to the size of a fingernail. The colour of the Will'o'Wisp also varies among the tales with most saying that the creature is typically a soft blue in colour. The Wisp is often seen floating about one ped above the ground or water. Its light is never very bright and barely illuminates the area around it. If it is approached or even looked upon directly, the Wisp seems to fade slowly away and disappear altogether and reappear somewhere else close by.

A common story among researchers of the Will'o'Wisp is that the apparition communicates through the changing of its colours. Some say that it glows a soft blue when calm and undisturbed. A soft red shade of colour may indicate anxiousness or aggression while a whitish colour may mean that the Wisp is afraid. No one has truly understood the reason for the colour changes however as asking a Wisp directly has never been possible nor has one ever been caught for study.
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Special Abilities. The full extent of the Will'o'Wisp's abilities is not fully known or understood. It is difficult to study, as it fades and vanishes when approached, only to reappear somewhere else nearby. As such, the apparition has never been captured for close study.

What is generally known is that the Wisp is capable of appearing in one of three shades of colours: blue, white or red, as mentioned above in the Appearance details. Each colour shade is never bright, always soft, as if hidden behind a veil of thin cloth. The wisp floats above the ground or water, moving slowly up and down or in small circular motions. The surrounding ground beneath a Wisp is never warm despite some theories that a Wisp produces heat.

Interestingly, the Wisp does appear to be at least partially solid as it avoids obstacles rather than passes through them. It has been observed that it can, however, vanish for a short time then reappear on the other side of whatever obstacle was in its path, such as a tree or stone, suggesting a way of travelling that is rather unique and seen only at this entity. Some have suggested that a Wisp may be able to traverse into other realities or that it actually goes through time instead of space to achieve this feat.

Some stories say that the Wisp has a hypnotic effect on those who try to watch it. Some tales warn that a wisp is capable of feeding from the warmth of a living being while others say that a wisp is sentient spirit who aids travelers to safety in the dark of night. The wisp has never been known to be able to be summoned or called. 
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Territory. The Wisp is known to inhabit bogs, swamps and similar places of moist and water ridden areas. Wisps rarely appear amongst areas of high civilization, meaning they would not appear in the middle of a fountain in the center of a busy city square. Rather, they seem to prefer to haunt lonely, desolate places away from people.

Graveyards, catacombs, and ancient ruins all are believed to hold wisps as well, although they are not sighted as frequently as in moors, bogland areas or damp forests. The Shadow Marshes are rumored to hold a great number of Wisps although no specific number can be ascertained due to the noxious fumes that permeate the once proud city of Fá'áv'cál'âr. A serious researcher would think twice before entering the realm of the shadow elves. The Silver Marshes, another large swampland, are also home to the Wisps and probably represent the most well known area of Wisp habitation in the south.

Some other places in Southern Sarvonia where Wisps have been sighted are the catacombs underneath the city of Ximax (recounted below in a personal experience by researcher Vekarn Tak'mal). Sailors passing too close to the Enclave of Alvang have reported seeing floating lights among the ruins near the shores.

Furthermore Santharia's largest forested region, the Thaelon Forest, has to be accounted as home to the Wisp, according to some tales told by travelers to the region. Specifically, the western region of the woods, called the Már'cál'ethrón (Styrásh for "Swamp Extension [of the Thaelon]") is said to be a favourite haunt of the Wisps. One oft-told legend tells of an Erpheronian courier who got lost in the Thaelon around 1500 a.S. His steed had gotten stuck in some deep mud and he had given up trying to escape when a group of Wisps appeared before him. The courier's tale is often imbellished in superstitious legend, depending on who tells it, but according to his descendants, the courier managed to free his horse and follow the Wisps out of the swamps and into a wandering group of wood elves who then led him to the nearest human village. When the courier tried to explain his rescue, he was laughed away and few believed him. Yet, presently, Ximax is probably the only place in Santharia where the belief in Wisps is widely accepted. In many other places, such as the Kuglimz lands, the belief in Wisps is regarded as superstitious lore.

In the Northern Sarvonia continent, among the ruins of Dak'dinal near the Kuglimz lands, Wisps have been seen (mostly from afar as very few people dare enter the wastes around the fortress). The Deep Winds Portal of Osthemangar is surrounded by some large frozen lakes where tales of the Wisp are known among some of the more obscure orcen legends. The Osther-Oc battle song, "Choan'ash'uon'kh'al'on'uck" (lit. "Choan the Worthy"), has a few lines in it that tell of an army of Wisps that were summoned from within the Deep Winds Portal to function as guides for the orcen armies as they invaded southern Sarvonia. The song has been translated as either being Wisps, demons or phantasms. Apparently, the Kh'om'chr'om word for "ghost" can also mean many other things, including Will'o'Wisp.

The Wisp is not just native to the Sarvonian continent, but the continent of Nybelmar as well, although fewer tales exist from there. Probably the best known Wisp haunt in Nybelmar is the damp and foggy Drifting Woods where they have been seen dancing among the thick flora and misty fog. Other less known areas include the Haunted Jungles of Shar and the Broken Woods of Marmarra.
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Habitat/Behaviour. The Wisp appears as a harmless, soft floating light by all accounts but recorded testimonies tell a different stories. Travelers have recounted experiences of traveling at night through a heavy forest or passing by a bogland and seeing lights dancing in the darkness, perhaps ten to fifteen peds distant. If the lights are watched directly, they seem to slowly fade away. If one were to look away, but keep the lights visible out of the corner of the eye, they seem to reappear strong and bright. If approached, the Wisp will also fade away and reappear somewhere else nearby. So far, it has been impossible for anyone to get much closer than five peds from a Wisp.

Some tales tell of unlucky travelers becoming so obsessed with catching a Wisp that they follow it through the darkness unaware of the dangerous bogs for which they are stepping in. As a result, the Wisp always seems just a bit farther out of reach but then the victim suddenly finds himself trapped in thick sinking mud with no means to escape. These accounts are also accompanied with a more terrifying tale of dark spirits known as the mystrans coming forth from the shadows to feast on the now trapped victim. Whether the Wisp intentionally leads the victim to this terrible fate is not known.

In most every account told of a Wisp's behaviour where a child is involved, the Wisp always appears to be very helpful or friendly. It is as if the Wisp favours children and tries to befriend them. One recent account comes from Ximax where a group of young magelings had gotten lost in the western edge of the Shivering Wood as they traveled with a caravan coming home from an expedition to collect reagents. The children were perhaps barely older than thirteen years old, two human girls and a Volkek-Oshra boy. They had wandered away from the caravan and soon found themselves near a small bog surrounded by thick, overgrown willow trees. As night fell, the children paused in their wandering when suddenly a single glowing ball of bluish light appeared before them. The children, desperate and shivering from the cold, followed the light for a distance of three strals directly into the caravan's camp. 
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Diet. As far as is known, the Wisp does not require any kind of sustenance such as food or water. Researchers have classified the Wisp as an apparition, and is not a living, breathing creature by all accounts. However, some researchers believe that the Wisp feeds upon mystical energy that permeates places of old magic, such as Tak'dinal or Alvang. The lost empire of Fá'áv'cál'âr, a place most certainly one that still holds some remnants of ancient elven magic, is thought to be home to the highest number of Wisps.

Still, some others believe that the Wisp is attracted to and perhaps gains energy from the emotions and thoughts of people it comes across. Perhaps the wisp feeds upon the fear or anxiousness of those lost in the Wisp's homeland. Maybe they are drawn towards the hopelessness and despair of lost people. In most legends, the Wisp appears to those who are in a strong, negative emotional state. Such theories are hard to prove as no one has ever come closer than two to three peds of a Wisp.
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Mating. Wisps have never been known to mate as other creatures do. In fact, it is not known how a Wisp is created. The demonologist Vekarn Kha'mal holds to the belief that the Wisp is born from the remains of the dead and that they are in fact spirits. Others have said that the Wisp is merely an illusion of the eye. His theory is that the Wisp actually can reproduce by joining together to create a larger Wisp or even separate themselves to create several other smaller Wisps. Kha'mal further theorizes that a Wisp may simply be parts of one larger entity that splits and joins as needed. For what purpose the Wisp would behave this way is not yet understood.
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Myth/Lore. To recount all of the myths and stories associated with the mysterious floating lights would fill many books and tomes:

An old Astran drinking song related to the Wisp, "The Rocky Road to Strata", has spread through much of Santharia. It is most commonly heard in a pub, as a group of drunken Proudmen and Avennorians chant the words, sometimes off beat, off tempo, and off key. It's not uncommon for some of the lyrics to be substituted, depending on region. While the story stays the same from region to region, there are thousands of derivatives of this song, many differing by only a word or two.

The Rocky Road to Strata

In the month of Singing Bird, from me home I started,
Left me darling wife alone and broken-hearted
Saluted my only boy, And he kissed me back
Left him with a toy, left him with a whack

Then off for Silvermarsh, leave where I was home,
Cut a thornbranch harsh, to banish wisps and goblins;
In a brand new pair of brogues to rattle o'er the bogs
And frighten all the dogs on the winding road to Starta

(Chorus:)
One two three four five,
Start from North and end in South- the winding road
And all the way to Strata, Whack fol la de rah!

In Nyermersys that night I rested limbs so weary
Even in daylight, it seemed too dark and dreary
Took a drop of svaq to keep me heart from sinking;
That's a ranger’s snack whenever he's on drinking

See the Mullogs’ teeth, while they lie underneath
Waitin’ for your sleep, 'twould set your heart a bubblin'
Asked me was I tired, aid did I require
Till I lost all desire for the winding road to Strata

(Chorus)

In a bind I next arrived, I thought ‘Gods take some pity’
I would be deprived a view of that fine city.
Decided to take a stroll, I ran among the gnolls;
Me bundle it was stole, by a Mullog not so pretty;

Something crossed me mind, when I looked behind,
No bundle could I find with me stick a wobblin'
Enquiring for the thief, I lost all my relief
I was in disbelief on the rocky road to Strata,

(Chorus)

From there I got away, a spirit ever-calling,
A floating will-o-wisp, in scarlet colours glowing.
Then followed I the glow, and as the wisp was fadin’
I nearly had a row, this spirit I was cravin’.

I glanced to my side, the spirit couldn’t hide,
Then I nearly cried, the wisp was back to hidin’;
I was to lose my head, wished I could find the red,
Or better far instead on the rocky road to Strata,

(Chorus)

The Great Ol’ Grandpa Willow, when the wisp had left me stranded,
Called meself a hero, I could forever languish.
Face began to blush, composure I was losing;
Great Ol’ Granther Willow, he began his schmoozing.

"Hurrah me soul!" says I, let the gifts now fly.
Dream sleep now did come nigh, I saw I was a hobble in,
With a loud "hurray!" Granther took me off my way.
Soon I lost the way to the rocky road to Strata...
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Researchers. For centuries, Wisps and stories of floating lights have been subjects of research for those interested in mythical creatures and apparitions. The two most prominent researchers are the Volkek-Oshra demonologist Vekarn Kha'mal and the rivermaid expert Ansrid of Necoma. Both researchers lived to tell of their Wisp encounter. A third researcher, someone with a more dubious reputation, is the Gnorian Waudrin Ghortz, who claims that the Wisp is but a figment of the imagination but his critics point out that, unlike Kha'mal or Ansrid, Ghortz has never encountered a Wisp before and never wants to. Return to the top

 Date of last edit 2nd Sleeping Dreameress 1668 a.S.

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