It can’t be smoke that drives you here like a leaf
Caught in a funeral pyre or a sinner fleeing in shame!
What fell blast of Hell’s eternal fire brings you, cruel shade
Upon my porch, and feeds the tendrils of your fiery flame?
Begone, you ghost of the foul-mouthed past that stalks
The children of men, to warn of never-ending death
And griefs that ne’er can mend! Begone upon your walks
Of doom and leave me to life’s revelry and vice
Until its trinkets be a dream and I a shadow like you.
The four friends sat in the pale moonlight beside a flickering fire. The youngest of them was just short of thirty, the others led by four or five. They had long met in this clearing by the marshes, surrounded on all sides by woods. As the darkness grew heavier, their thoughts turned inward to the Marsh Fiend of Vetiver and Thyme. She travelled alone like a ghost far from home luring travelers to her side. And once they had seen her and gazed quietly at her while she smiled her forlorn smile.