THE WHITE LADY

APPEARANCE - SPECIAL ABILITIES - TERRITORY
HABITAT/BEHAVIOUR MYTH/LORE COMPENDIUMIST'S NOTE

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.

The White Lady

View picture in full size Image description. An apparition of a White Lady as said to have been sighted around Varcopas. Picture by Bard Judith.

Appearance. 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 stories, however.

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.
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Special Abilities. 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.

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. Return to the top

Territory. 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. Return to the top

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.
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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
revised by Gean Firefeet


Within a year he had returned
But she would not run down to him
Instead she turned, ran back and burned
Their house and threw herself therein.

Or maybe she went to the top
Of the White Lady mountain where
Beneath its flanks her life did stop
And did she find her lover there.

And every spring the mountain cries
Fresh tears from frozen waterfalls
Just like a flame, before it lies
And is put out by sudden flaws.

And if you venture past the tears
Of hope and up the mountain side
You might feel that the Lady nears.

The tales of the White Ladies inspired the talented bard Gean Firefeet to write a song about them, which goes as follows:

Fair Lady in White
by Gean Firefeet


She leaves not a trace, not a shadow you see
But when she comes by she looks always at me
Her fair eyes; like flowers with frostbite they be
So haunted, not sparkling, no trace left of glee.

Fair lady in white, won’t you tell me your name
Or tell me at least if we aren’t the same
Did fate break your heart or did he find a dame
Who suited him more, tell me, who is to blame?

The fairness of her; it is worthy of song
But chilly! You shiver when she comes along
And like all her kind - it’s not here they belong –
She saves on her speech and keeps guard on her tongue

Fair lady in white, oh please tell me your name
Or tell me at least; aren’t we two the same?
Did fate break your heart or did he find a dame
With whom he took off, tell me, who is to blame?

I once met this girl who I admired most
And I had to have her, no matter the cost
But when I did tell her, to me she was lost
Her heart it was covered with layers of frost

A lady in white she was, without a name
An icy-cold heart she had, was I to blame?
You’re dead with no lover and so is my dame
So tell me now, Lady, are you two the same?

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. Return to the top

 Date of last edit 24th Sleeping Dreameress 1668 a.S.

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