Mari Lwyd
Mari Lwyd

Mari Lwyd

Psychopomp, Mari Lwyd

Habitat: Underlands, Outlands (any season), Prime (in the winter)

Alignment: Neutral

Challenge Rating: 6

In the dark corners of the Underlands, where the veil ‘twixt life and death is as thin as a ghost’s whisper, there roams a creature most peculiar, yet strangely familiar to those who’ve trod the fields of the Prime Material — the mari lwyd. Picture this, berk: a quadruped, as thin as a starved shadow, draped in a shroud as white as the Ashen Waste’s bleakest desert. Its head, a horse’s skull, grins with an eerie, silent mirth. Ribbons and bells dangle from its bony crown, jingling a macabre melody that’s both festive and foreboding.

Now, the mari lwyd ain’t your typical psychopomp. It’s got a fondness for the cycle of the seasons, see, especially the cold embrace of the philosophical winter. This is when it’s most spry, dancing through the frosty air, a ghostly guardian of the dying year. It oversees the harvests, the solstices, the equinoxes — all the turning points of nature’s grand drama. But don’t think it’s some grim reaper, cutter. This bony beast is a friend to the living, particularly those toiling in the soil. It’s known to wander to mortal homes, ensuring the larders are stocked against winter’s chill.

And here’s a quirk for ya: the mari lwyd has a taste for the finer things in life. It adores a good feast, a splash of spirits (ironic, given its nature), though it never gets tipsy, mind you. It’s got a gentler soul compared to its kin, but cross it, and you’ll find its bite as harsh as winter’s frost, its hooves as heavy as the burden of the dead.

In battle, it’s no frontline brawler, but a bard of bones, boosting its allies with eerie songs and rhymes that’d make a bard’s heart weep. Its laughter, a haunting whinny, can infect others with uncontrollable mirth, leaving foes helpless as babes. It’s a valued companion to other psychopomps, a spectral mount of sorts, but don’t you dare ask it for a ride uninvited — that’s a sure way to earn its ire.

So, there’s your mari lwyd, a paradox of death and mirth, a reminder that even in the dark of the winter, life’s cycle goes on, and that there’s always room for a bit of cheer, even in the most unexpected of forms. A symbol, perhaps, of the eternal dance ‘twixt life and death, and the joy that can be found even in the bleakest of seasons.

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