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.
All four were in love with none but her and wasted many a full moon night waiting for her to come take them away to her lair in the Mounts of Midnight.
Vetiver and thyme were the fragrance she gave off before she made herself known and all four of the friends were wrapped in that scented cloak of her memory when the Marsh Fiend appeared. Like a breeze she drifted like a mist on the water before finally coming to rest beside the youngest who gazed upon her like a goddess of dreams and of doom. For they knew full well that whoever she chose would follow her till they were no more than a shadow of all they once were and transformed into a goblin serving her until the day of doom.
Tenderly she gazed upon him whose mingled fear and longing held her by the barest thread of pity until she reached forward to embrace the pale fellow in her scented arms of vetiver and thyme. But before she could do so, a candle was lit with a prayer by another in that number of friends. And the wraith disappeared with a shrill malediction and went to her unholy rest.
Ever after they recounted the story, exorcising her memory, and ever after they parted each time never forgetting to say to each one in his turn:
“When the fire wanes and the darkness calls
Remember the candle in the night.”