The Spirit of the Passerida–An Aviandrian Ghost Story

The Spirit of the Passerida–An Aviandrian Ghost Story

(As Told By Dillyn)


Once, a very long time ago, two young men were in a heated discussion. “I’ve heard that the Passerida River has some of the best fishing in all of Aviandria,” one said.

“That may be,” said the other, “but it isn’t worth fishing there. That river is said to be haunted.”

“Haunted,” the first young man scoffed. “Surely you don’t believe that.”

“And why wouldn’t I believe that?” His friend asked.

“Because ghosts don’t exist,” The young man answered. “That story was likely made up by some person who wanted to keep others from the river so he could have the fish to himself. The Passerida River is as safe as any river.”

“I think it better to stay clear.” The young man’s friend was still hesitant. “There are too many stories, and they all come from a variety of sources.”

“And they are all just as ridiculous as the one preceding it.” The young man laughed. “I’ll prove it to you. I will make a wager. I will go to the Passerida River and fish for a day. If I see any ghosts, I will give you ten silver pieces. However, if I can go the entire time without encountering any spirits, you owe me the same.”

“I will take you up on that wager,” The young man’s friend answered, “but you must stay the night as well.”

“Very well,” the young man agreed, thinking he was about to make the easiest, and possibly the most pleasant ten silver pieces he had ever had the prospect of getting.

Early the next morning, the young man set out for the Passerida River. The day was bright and sunny, and a ghost seemed like the last thing he might see. He whistled cheerfully as he cast his line into the rippling waters, and sat back to wait. After an hour or two, both ghosts and fish remained absent. Concluding that he must be at an ill spot, he picked up his line and gear and continued up the river, hoping to find a more lucrative position. However, each spot he fished held the same disappointment.

The sun was beginning to sink lower in the west, and the shadows were sharp and long when the young man finally decided the tales of fine fishing in the Passerida River were every bit as false as those of the hauntings. “Oh, well,” he said to himself. “At least I have the consolation of ten silver pieces. This trip will not have been entirely wasted.”

As the sky’s brilliant blue faded to gray, the young man began to search for a suitable place to spend the night. However, he paused as he heard a faint humming coming from around the next bend in the river. It was a pleasant tune, and it sparked the young man’s curiosity. He made his way forward and discovered a young woman with her shoes off, wading along the shallows near the bank of the river. She didn’t seem to notice him, and he hesitated to reveal himself. Her voice was lovely, and her golden hair cascaded down her back in gentle waves. Feeling as if he were invading her privacy, he turned to slip away, but before he could go, the girl spoke. “Please don’t leave.”

The young man turned back toward the girl, who was facing him now, her light-blue eyes shining with cheer. “Please stay for a bit,” the young woman invited. “We get so few visitors around here, and I have been longing for a bit of company.”

Not entirely displeased at the thought of spending some time with such an attractive young woman, the young man agreed. “What are you doing alone by the river at this hour?” He wondered. “Is it safe?”

“Safe enough,” the young woman smiled. “My home is not far. I have walked along this river every night for as long as I can remember. What are you doing here?”

“I have made a wager with my friend,” the young man answered. “He believes this river is haunted. I told him I could prove it wasn’t. If I can stay here a day and a night without seeing a ghost, he will owe me ten silver pieces.”

The girl laughed. “And if you do see a ghost?”

“Then I will owe him the ten silver pieces,” the young man answered, “though I am not sure where I will get them. I am slightly ashamed to admit I do not have that much.”

“And what would you do if you saw a ghost? Would you run in fear? Would you try and challenge it?” the girl wondered.

The young man considered for a moment. “In truth, I do not know. I never even considered the possibility.”

“Well,” said the girl, a hint of merriment in her eyes, “I suppose the only way to find out would be to see one. There is no danger of that, however, until the sun has fallen below the tops of the trees.”

“But it has already done so.” The young man looked at the sky.

“So it has.” The young woman followed his gaze. “You would do well to find somewhere to stay for the night. If you have no other place, you may come to my family’s home.”

“That would be welcome if you have room for me,” the young man said, for, despite his bold words, the girl’s talk of ghosts had made him feel uneasy.

“There is room for you.” The young woman led him along until they came to a comfortable looking cottage overlooking the river. It was neither overly large, or overly small, and the faint trail of smoke coming from the chimney promised a cozy night.

The young woman led the young man through the door and to a small room in the back of the home. “You will be able to rest undisturbed in here,” she told him.

The young man looked around. The table was set for a meal, and a fire crackled cheerfully in the fireplace, yet there wasn’t a sign of anybody but the girl and him. “Where is the rest of your family?” he wondered.

“They are gone.” The girl answered. “But they are never too far. Do not worry about it for tonight. As long as you stay in this room, nothing will disturb you. Just please, do not try to venture out before morning. It would not be a wise idea.”

With that strange warning, the girl turned to leave, but almost as if having an afterthought, turned back and said, “The fishing on this river is best just before sunrise. I would try my luck then if I were you.”

And then she walked away, her long, honey-blond locks dancing over her back. The young man closed the door and turned his attention toward the bed. On a small table, he saw a plate of rolls, cold meats, and cheese. He had not noticed it there before, but feeling ravenous after his long day of fishing, he ate it with great enjoyment. After feeling quite satisfied with the meal, he put his head on his pillow and was soon fast asleep.

The young man only woke once during the night. He thought a strange sound must have woken him, but soon concluded it was only an owl, or other nighttime creature and immediately returned to his slumber.

The next time he woke, the sky was turning from the black velvet of night to the silver silk of dawn. The young man felt quite refreshed from the night’s sleep and decided to heed the young woman’s advice. Moving quietly so as not to disturb any members of the family, he took his fishing equipment and slipped out of the house. He moved a distance down the river to a promising looking spot and cast his line.

Almost immediately, a fish bit. Delighted, he pulled the line in and found a beautiful silver trout. It was a superb specimen, and, feeling encouraged by his success, he tried again. As with the first time, nearly as soon as his line touched the water, he caught a fish, and again, it was large and silver. He repeated the process eight more times before his luck seemed to run out.

By this time, the sun had risen over the trees, making the water sparkle as it danced over the round river rocks. Quite satisfied, he gathered his catch and started back toward the small cottage, hoping to thank the family for letting him stay before he returned to collect his winnings from his friend. To his utter amazement, however, when he returned to the clearing where he thought the house had been, he saw nothing but a pile of rubble and a crumbling chimney covered in vines.

Puzzled, he stood for a moment, trying to figure out what had become of the cottage he had stayed the night in. “I must have somehow gotten confused.” He tried to explain the phenomenon to himself. “Perhaps it is around the next bend, and I didn’t notice this place in the early morning dark.”

Having satisfied himself with this explanation, he continued on, expecting to see the comfortable little cottage appear at any minute. It wasn’t long before he realized he should have passed it already. This was only confirmed when he looked down to see his footprints from the night before pointing the direction from which he had come. With a frown, he noticed his were the only footprints there. The girl’s footprints were nowhere to be seen.

An uneasy feeling began to come over the young man, but he brushed it off. “Perhaps she walks more lightly than I,” he told himself, and continued home, no longer feeling so eager to find the strange cottage.

The young man began to breathe a bit easier when he had turned away from the river, heading in the direction of his town. As his mood lifted, his stomach began to demand his attention. He hadn’t yet had any breakfast. This didn’t concern him, for fresh fish makes an excellent meal any time of the day, so he quickly set about preparing a fire to roast one of his wonderful catches. As he sliced the fish open to clean it, he gasped in surprise. There, inside the belly of the fish, lay a single silver piece.

Curious now, he began to check the other fish. Just like the first, the second fish also had a silver piece in its belly. The third did as well, and the fourth. A few minutes later, as the last coin joined the other nine, he felt a cold shiver run up his spine. He held ten silver pieces in his hand. Ten silver pieces he would not get to keep. Ten silver pieces—the exact amount he knew he owed his friend.