The Will-o’-the-Wisp is an unusual creature hailing from the British Isles. Appearing from a distance as a floating lantern light, they are famous for drawing travelers to their deaths, lost and alone.
The Will-o’-the-Wisp does not have a set history, as in many cases it appears as an illusion. They show themselves late at night, appearing from a distance and never up close. Travelers that follow them will find themselves hopelessly lost in the woodlands or bogs, and few are ever seen again. Whether the wisps truly intend to lead anyone anywhere, to their deaths or otherwise, is unclear.
Many legends consider the creature a lost soul, trapped between heaven and hell with nowhere to go. Left on earth, they wander lost places and may seek company in the ones they’ve led astray.
Traits and Behavior
The Will-o’-the-Wisp is usually only seen from afar, where it appears to be the bobbing light of a candle or lantern. They retreat when approached, leading anyone following them further and further into the darkness. Travelers often mistake them for another person wandering in the night, and follow for the hope of aid or company. Looking at their light is known to cause comfort and calm in people.
Up close, the wisp is a point of light, around the size of a fist, and floats aimlessly at around shoulder height. In the light of day, or if exposed to light such as a campfire or torch, the wisp will become all but invisible, and appear as a small patch of haze similar to a mirage. In large groups they appear in a multitude of colors, but alone they generally share the color of a candle flame.
Wisps are usually seen alone at first, then multiply as one follows them further. This seems to indicate that they naturally gather in more remote areas, so as a traveler follows one further from the safety of roads and towns, their numbers will appear to increase.
Wisps are sometimes believed to be lost souls; they appear in greater numbers in places that have seen death. Their comforting glow may play into the idea that they are a loved one lingering in the area.
Wisps are also known to show up in places where magic or other supernatural activity has occurred; they may be drawn to the area or they could be born there. Their life span or what causes them to appear is not known.
They will avoid heavily populated places, and only linger near the outskirts of civilization. Some believe seeing one is an omen of death or calamity; others believe that following one will lead to treasure. Given many treasures have been fought and killed over, and wisps propensity to linger in places of death, both may be accurate.
Will-o’-the-wisps, as stated, do not appear to directly threaten travelers so much as lead them astray through their light into the dark. The best way to avoid their influence is to travel in groups, and to stay on traveled paths.
Their calming influence can draw one into a state of distraction, so be alert and wary to anyone suggesting to follow the light, no matter who has suggested it. If in doubt, insist on not traveling until the morning, and do not follow travelers in the night that have not verbally responded no matter the emergency. Wisps are not known to imitate human speech, so a lack of response can be a clear indicator that you are not facing a human.
Of course, there are other creatures in the night that are more equipped for trickery, and they are not so easily thwarted.