Raita's Tears

In the thick pine-forests that blanket the lower echelons of Iskaldhal's southern mountains, travellers may occasionally hear the distant sound of a woman's sobbing. Some take it upon themselves to go after the source of this noise with noble intent, while those with darker hearts view this as an opportunity.   Whatever the motive, each soul who follows the sound finds the same result: a small and unnaturally vibrant pool of water bordered by cianowillow trees nestled in an unassuming grove, regardless of the time of year. In heavy winters where pure water is scarce unless one carves ice from the local rivers, this might be seen as a blessing.   Those with any common sense or knowledge of magic (the two are, of course, often mutually exclusive) will know better, as will any foolish enough to partake of Raita's Tears without the necessary preparations. The mixing of cianowilllow with the pool's innate magic gives the waters a heavy soporific effect that even those usually immune to sleep-inducing effects can rarely ignore for long, and when a victim has given in to the beckoning grasp of sleep, the true power of the Tears can take hold.  

Effects of the Tears

 

In their dreams, the victim will meet with a stunningly beautiful human woman who introduces herself as Raita. Her dark hair is pulled back into an elaborate plait, and her skin is tanned and tattooed, but not in any manner recognisable to the victim. From accounts given throughout the ages, these tattoos change depending on the dreamer - some have described them as dots, others as intricate art pieces. She will speak to the dreamer. When their conversation draws to a close, she will bid them farewell with a kiss placed upon their right temple.

She wouldn't shut up about going back there. At night, 'specially so. We told her that we'd get around to it later, then jumped on the next ship back over to Valathe. She knew we'd not be goin' back, so... she took matters into her own hands.

  The victims either awaken with no memory of the conversation but a strong feeling of loneliness and longing, or with the inability to speak of what they have discussed. In either case, the victims will have developed a strong attachment to the strange pool and will wish to return. If this is permitted and they drink from the pool a second time, they will be drawn into a deeper slumber that can last for up to a month. After waking, they will be consumed with the obsession of freeing Raita from her pool at whatever cost. If they deem themselves to have failed, they will commit suicide.  

We buried her body far away from the water, and had a cleric make sure she made it up to Pharasma. We didn't want to risk her getting stuck, too. But now I can't stop thinking about that crying. Maybe we should've helped.
— Partymate to a fallen victim. Later returned to the pool and died attempting to fulfil her geas.

If a victim is given the opportunity to return to the pool after drinking twice - and many will desire to, in their quest to free the woman - they will attempt to drink for a third time. This time, in their sleep, they will join Raita in the pool - and their physical form will shortly follow. If their body is prevented from reaching the pool after this drink, they will simply pass away. If permitted to enter the waters, their body will not be able to be retrieved. After a period of seven days, a cyan-skinned teenager or preteen wearing the victim's face and holding a seemingly-random amount of their memories will emerge from the pond. This teenage version of the victim will remember Raita fondly as a close friend, lover, or parent (depending on their initial age when entering the pool), and will be driven to study ways to set her free.

  This 'reincarnation' of the fallen victim will refuse to drink from the pool. No mortal magic can compel them to drink from the pool - if forced, the pool's waters will evaporate in their mouth. Other than their knowledge of Reita and younger age, they will seem entirely like their past self.   It is this last effect of twisted reincarnation that has earnt the pool one other title: the Font of Cursed Youth.

History

Knowledge gleaned from Raita herself and followed up on with historical record has revealed some of the true story behind her pool. Raita was a human woman of little consequence living in a small forest village in the mid-4000s. She attracted the attention of a powerful mage from nearby Yksinka as he passed through, but spurned his advances. Undeterred, the mage used his powers to bless the village with bountiful harvests and protection from the wilds in an attempt to impress her, but still she denied him. He was heartbroken, but prepared to leave. Seeing his change in attitude and willingness to leave her alone, Raita asked him a single question: why hadn't he asked her why she hadn't said yes?   For, you see, Raita had simply wished to stay in the village, and the mage had been asking her to leave with him. She had become quite fond of him, particularly as he was willing enough to leave her alone and not bother her incessantly. He laughed, and made the decision to stay with her. And that should have been the end of their tale, had it not been for the mage's former lover. She was infuriated with her chosen's decision to leave, and hunted the couple down. Invoking the power of her patron, the embittered woman slew the mage before Raita's eyes.The woman laughed at Raita's tears and declared that her soul could wallow in her own pity for the rest of eternity. Raita was slain, but her soul was prevented from moving on - instead, the woman forced it into the waters.  


  Raita's village was not spared the woman's destruction. Her pool remains the only sign that it ever existed. But this is not the end of Raita's story - nor that of her lover. A century after her entrapment, an exploring azata stumbled upon her waters and wept over the bitter tale she had to share. Though he could not grant her freedom, for the wicked woman had invoked powers beyond his, he was capable of easing her suffering. He placed her into an enchanted sleep in order for the passing years to tear less at her mind, and bid her to call out to passers-by to join her in the dream. If they could reach her, she could beg them to find her lover - for he knew that the mage's soul had similarly been trapped, and the two reuniting would free them both.   Where his tears had fallen grew the cianowillows, drawing many to wonder at their strange leaves - and beginning the mystery of the Tears for those who drew from the pool they bordered. It was not until hundreds of years later that the first instance of a reincarnation happened in the Tears, and current magical analysis has revealed no reason as to why it suddenly began to occur. In addition, despite at least twenty-seven attempts, the location of Raita's lover has yet to be discovered.

Alternative Names
the Font of Cursed Youth
Type
Natural Wonder

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