Enderal:Myths and Legends: The Ash Widow

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Myths and Legends
Volume 3: The Ash Widow
Composed by Archmagister Gawayn Girathû, 8112 a. St.

One of the perhaps most eerie and gruesome legends of Enderal is the one surrounding the Ash Widow.

The Ash Widow was a charming young woman who had been promised to one of the sublimes as his companion. Her hair was long and colored in a reddish blond in the likeness of late autumn leaves; and her eyes were tinted in the deep blue of the sea. She was wise and well-read, played the lute and enjoyed large popularity at her family's estate, in no small part due to her cheerful and buoyant character. Her future companion, the son of a rich count, also was of high repute; and when the two swore each other companionship, the bards were singing many a song of in praise of the two lover's dignity.

But not long thereafter the newlywed wife noticed discrepancies in her husband's character — though at feasts, with other sublimes present, he always spoke gently of those treading the lower paths — his wife heard him tell different stories entirely after a few cups of wine: He held no sympathy for craftsmen, artisans and, worse still, those dwelling in the Undercity.

"There is a reason as to why Malphas blessed us with our path", he said. “Our blood is worth more”. If initially it were such words that made the young woman feel anxious, words quickly turned into deeds: He had the legs of a stable boy who had saddled his horse incorrectly broken; and knocked out a serving girl's teeth after she had spilled wine on his coat. When the young woman confronted her husband about this, he merely regarded her dismissively and walked away.

As the years passed, the woman's sorrow grew with each new winter. Often she thought about running away, however, as her husband's crimes were not directed at her and he could even show noble behavior at times, she did not dare to put these thoughts into practice: After all, where could she have fled?

One day, however, things would take a turn for the worse: A young, Half-Aeternean maidservant had begun her service at the castle. She was hardly sixteen winters old, and of shy nature. But the woman noticed her companion's glances and stares — filled with a mixture of malevolence and lust that sent shivers down her spine.

Soon thereafter, the woman realized how the young servant was always avoiding her glance, the head bowed as if she were terribly ashamed in her presence. Her companion, too, came to their bed increasingly absent and unenthusiastic.

Day and night she pictured to herself what her husband might do with the girl until she decided to hide in the wardrobe on the day the Half-Aeterna was supposed to clean the chamber. Before, she told her companion that she would seek out the peddlers visiting the region near the castle, as they did every full moon.

As soon as the servant had shut the door with shaking hands, the latch rushed down. From within the wardrobe, the woman saw her companion standing in the doorframe, panting with excitement. The Half-Aeternean girl stood still, frightened and without any sign of resistance as the man grabbed her — it seemed that she had accepted her fate long ago. After being rudely pushed to the wall, where she hit her head, something unexpected happened. A wave of magic energy took hold of the man — the traumatizing event must have awoken the young girl's magical talents. Magical bands entangled the man's right hand and covered it in darkness. Angry and surprised, he grabbed her throat and the shocked girl was no longer able to keep up the spell unknown to her. When the dark veil dissolved suddenly, only a malformed claw remained where previously the man's hand had been.

Irritated by his body's wild-magical deformation, the man waited for a few seconds, thinking, though his healthy left hand remained at the servants throat. He concluded that he would be unable to continue walking the path of the sublimes when soon all world would know that he laid his hands at a witch — his previous life would be at an abrupt end. So he took hold of a glowing oil lamp, but before he was able to throw it at the still petrified servant, his wife stormed out of the wardrobe to stop him.

But it was to late — the blazing oil poured on the floor and in moments the woman's and the young girl's clothes began to burn. In the moment of their death, the servant's wild-magical powers merged with the deceived woman's desire for revenge to form a powerful and horrible spirit-being — the Ashen Widow.

After the fire was quenched, the man chopped off his deformed claw-like hand with a woodcutter's axe. To his family and the other ones present at court he insisted that the half-Aeternean servant had attacked his wife with wild magic out of envy, burning down a part of the room. He had tried to rescue his wife when his hand was burned in the magical fire, forcing him to leave his wife and remove the remains of his charred hand.

The count's son was able to preserve his good name, continued on the sublime path and finally succeeded his father. But up to the end of his life he was unable to find a new companion; and each night he encountered the Ashen Widow, who robbed him of his sleep and poisoned his dreams. His life as count and lord of the castle was a miserable one. And when his last hour approached, he realized that it would long be forbidden for him to enter the eternal paths; and with remorse he anticipated his next life which, in accord with Malphas' will, he would have to spend in the Undercity.

Author's note:

The myths claim that the Ashen Widow's ghost still walks among the castle's ruins; and those foolish enough to bring her husband's claw to the old castle will be able to raise her from the dead. We can only speculate on the claw's current location, but it is said that it still reaches high prices among antique dealers. Again and again, one of them sells the horrid remains for good money after acquiring it for little from disheartened and ashamed adventurers who did not turn out to be daring enough to conjure up the Ash Widow's spirit.

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