The sun released its grip upon the sky, finally falling below the horizon, and along with it
came the mist. It rolled into the streets from all directions as the hours passed until it coalesced
into a great fog, obscuring vision and adding an unnatural weight upon the souls who stumbled
through it. There was, however, one entity within the mist that night who was not burdened by
By human estimations she was ancient, though she chose to belie that with her
appearance this evening. During her last emergence she opted for the guise of the Old Hag,
which drew out a more powerful response but gnawed at her pride. So tonight she would
assume the persona of The Lost Bride, and floated silently upon the grounded clouds, listening.
Eventually, she found what she sought. Footsteps shuffled across a stone street with a
confused rhythm acting as the hallmark of someone who had strayed from their intended path.
Utterly alone, and ripe for the picking. The Lost Bride gently glided down into the path of the
footsteps and settled onto the center of the street. When she was sure that her voice would
properly carry through the fog, she set herself to the wailing.
Fog or no, the sound was piercing down to the deepest levels. The Lost Bride had put
centuries of work into perfecting her wailing and it served as another flower in her bouquet of
vanity. She allowed herself a small smile of self-satisfaction as she heard the victim stop cold
just in front of her, still hidden in the mist. With a practiced gesture she lifted her arm to cover
part of her face while she wailed, which compelled the fog to draw apart in front of her like a
curtain’s revelation of a freshly-dressed stage. The covering of her face was another masterful
tactic that pulled the unsuspecting victim closer to investigate despite their best judgment.
Curiosity was about to kill another cat.
The Lost Bride allowed her wailing to degrade into measured sobbing. Under her arm
and through the loose lacing on her cuffs, she saw that her prey was a woman in modest
garments. With any luck, the woman’s humble way of life cursed her with the strongest
superstitions. The deeper the fear, the finer its wine. The Lost Bride heard the woman draw
“There there, dearie. That’s enough of all that.”
Something in the woman’s tone was all wrong to the Lost Bride’s ears. There was no
sign of trembling in her voice, no hint of hesitation. Most importantly, not a drop of terror to drink.
The Lost Bride began to lower her arm to get a better look when that same arm was violently
seized by the woman.
Taken by surprise, The Lost Bride looked up into the face of the woman grappling her
with hands of iron. Upon first glance the visage was as common and plain as a pebble in a
quarry. Then their gazes locked and within the eyes of the woman The Lost Bride sensed a
familiar presence. She found she could not look away as the woman's face began to subtly shift
and flow, and all the while deep within the eyes something far more ancient and powerful than
The Lost Bride was steadily rising to the surface.
When the women spoke now, The Lost Bride heard it twice, once in front of her and once
“You’ve been out here too long, banshee. You should have come with us across the veil
when the deal was first struck on these lands. We allowed your tarrying because your pride in
your work was well-known, and it was thought that once enough death was forecast you would
yearn for the company of your comrades and return. Yet instead, that pride grew into a hungry
beast, and you fed it with desires outside your station. No longer did you carry out your duty and
remind the humans of our power through the inevitable toll of death’s bell, but you chose to
prepare and sup upon that death yourself. It is too much, and we shall tolerate it no longer.”
Those last words were only spoken by the voice behind The Lost Bride, and she found
that she was permitted to break the women’s gaze and turn to that voice. To The Lost Bride’s
horror, the fog behind had parted to reveal not the stone streets but instead a wide river with
currents surging. On the opposite shore across this river stood this woman’s true form. Though
she retained the humble garments, her raw hands and the basin filled with blood-soaked
clothing at her feet revealed her as The Washer Of The Ford. Her eyes burned with a primordial
crimson, identical to the stains on the clothing.
The figure across the river spoke alone again.
“You’ve stained your pretty dress, dearie. It’s time we wash it clean again.”
The Lost Bride began her wailing anew. She could not hear the Washer compliment her
skill as those raw, bloody hands dragged her down to the shoreline and the waiting basin.