One evening, following a raging storm of thunder and lightning, the majority of the Feralys crew relaxed under curfew, while the rest kept a watchful eye on the weather from the docks.
Crystal, one of those under curfew, could not rest. Conrad accompanied her, unable to sleep as well. The floorboards creaked, and the ship felt eerie.
Conrad kept his eyes on Crystal; his affections for her had grown as the days passed, but his confidence wasn’t enough to allow him to confess. But he had to try, somehow, to give her his thoughts.
“Is it just the two of us who can’t rest?” he asked her, hoping for alone time.
“Nay,” one of the men responded. “One of ye’ keeps moving about, and someone keeps breaking wind. Can’t get any sleep in this blasted ship.”
A soft rumble of mutters arose around the sleeping quarters as others agreed that they, likewise, were unable to get any shut-eye. Conrad sighed, leaning against the desk and softly beating his forehead against the wood in disappointment.
The mumbles silenced for a moment as Crystal glanced up, holding her lantern before her. “Well,” she said. “Who has any interesting ghost stories to share?”
There were a few uncomfortable shifts amongst those in the hammocks. Some didn’t want to venture into the ghost stories out of fear, but a handful were curious, and one spoke up.
“This vessel, is it haunted?” one asked. None seemed to know the answer. Conrad grinned, spinning around to tell a story.
“Have you heard the tale of the White Maiden?” he asked. “Some say she changes shape. Some say she has eyes that reach within your soul, and she haunts this very vessel on rainy nights such as this.”
“Don’t tell us!” one of the younger men cowered. Conrad smirked and continued.
“They say she’s looking for the man who killed her. She may have changed form and is still seeking for him to this day.”
“Lies!” a silver fox declared. “If this vessel were truly haunted, we’d have seen the ghosts by now, and heard the stories as well!”
It was then that Captain Reimina, who had overheard the conversation, stepped forward. Rather than scolding the others and enforcing curfew, she indulged their fear. As she stepped lightly down the stairs, her claws tapped at the wood and gave away her presence, which took some of the sailors by surprise to see the “White Maiden” approach in such a silent and ghostly manner.
Her eyes nearly glowing, Reimina grinned. “A lie, huh?” Crystal silently crawled into her hammock to avoid being noticed, but Conrad remained standing, facing the Captain with no fear of repercussion.
“Do you know the story, Captain?” Conrad asked.
“I know it well,” Rei answered. She took a seat upon a crate, and the sailors turned around to hear what she had to tell.
“Many years ago, there was a young King, who quickly became sick. He feared death, so he spent fortunes on doctors to try to cure it. However, none could discover what was wrong. Even so, he felt the symptoms, and the anxiety made him feel like he was losing his mind. Months passed, and nothing seemed to improve his health. Out of desperation, he sought out an oracle.
“The King offered a glorious pay to determine his fate and find a cure to his sickness. But when she looked into his future, all she saw was darkness and trails of blood. She told him that if he continued this path, the darkness would consume him.
“He did not like this answer, but he tried to accept it, though it tore him apart inside. To know that he would quickly face death was terrifying, especially so soon after achieving his power. He sold much of his property and gave much of his riches. But even after this, he was still unable to rest, so he went to see the oracle again. His sickness was still there, unchanged. What he needed was a cure.
“One of his eyes was the payment for the oracle to cure his sickness. And as soon as his eye was plucked from his face, he was free of disease.”
Rei stopped for a moment, glancing around the room full of curious faces. She cleared her throat before continuing.
“Years later, he returned to the oracle. He had yet to find peace, so he asked if she still saw darkness in his future. His fate was the same, but thanks to the eye he had given her, she could now see further into his destiny. He would be consumed by a deep, dark grave, the oracle revealed, and there was nothing he could do to change it. No matter where you go, she told him, I will see you, and you will still die.
“The King became angry. If the oracle would not see a way out of a terrible fate, then he would kill her. He hung her and left her body near a mountainside to be consumed by nature. Her ghostly corpse, dressed in tattered whites and soaked with blood, was visible even from ships sailing by on the water. After his grisly deed, he fled within the seas, forever on the run from this prophecy, inadvertently fulfilling it.
“It’s rumored that a woman in white will wander the decks of random ships, searching for the King who took her life,” continued Rei, her voice low. “It’s an eerie sight of mists and beauty, but the lady has a dark, piercing stare that paralyzes you once she looks your way. If you have darkness in your heart, it’s believed she can remove your life right there on the spot. But sometimes she takes other forms, things that will aid her on her search – a dragon, an insect. Sometimes, even a ship.”
Uncomfortable shuffles filled the sleeping quarters as sailors regretted their curiosity. Many closed their eyes to force slumber to take over.
“What was her name?” Conrad asked.
Rei took a quick sideways glance in his direction, before turning to head back up the stairs. “Some don’t know her name,” Rei responded. “But there are others who have met her spirit.”
“Have you?” The crew waited in anticipation.
“I have. As a young lass aboard Rustic. Her name was Fera Lyse.”