Rin'kai, A Life Before
On the subject of the birth of drow children and their rin'kai in Evemore—a truly unique and fascinating, if not sad, tradition. It is unclear how this ritual came to be; perhaps it was out of necessity or a long-forgotten altercation between prior families. The origins don't impact much of the ceremony and thus I shall leave it out of this report.
The crux of this performance, the rin'kai—or "loose thread" (although I debate the accuracy of this translation, I have been assured that it is close enough for my purposes)—serves as namesake and chief mechanism for the ritual. As it's been explained to me, the rin'kai is what we "abovewalkers" consider or regard as the soul. I was quick to dismiss this at first but have since held my tongue regarding the metaphor; it is literal.
I write ahead of myself however, and thus I should start at the beginning. When a drow child is born—not a rare occurrence, bordering on the same frequency as elves of other locales and regions—it is born with a specific mark. It looks, by all my observations, like a tattoo or inking. It is normally or commonly located on the chest near or above the clavicle, but can be on either side of the neck; and in rare cases, the lower sections of the jaw—occupying halfway up the cheek and ending just below the earlobe.
These rin'kai are wholly unique in style and shape to every individual. I've been assured that, while no one can translate them now, the markings read to mean something special. In today's rin'kai rituals, there is a common enough understanding and records kept of which rin'kai belong to whom.
That "whom" statement may seem out of place, but each rin'kai, as mentioned before, is a soul. I've not been given the details regarding what makes this possible, but the drow have found a way to capture the soul of an individual upon death; not in some malicious or unholy way, I've been assured. This soul waits to be reborn into a new physical vessel in a structure known as the Dark Fount. Once a drow child reaches the age of 12, they are brought to this fount and invited to accept their rin'kai. Most children do, as they believe and are taught it is their right and purpose.
Personal feelings aside, this process effectively "overwrites" the will and personality of the child as they are lowered into the Dark Fount. The child in question is almost immediately lifted out of the waters after being submerged. These rune-like markings glow upon surfacing; the child is taken to their home and left to be for a full day. Once the day elapses, the "previous them" is all that is left.
I have asked several ritual experts both above and here in Evemore regarding the concept of loss of will and personality. I am agreed with above, but the denizens of Evemore emphatically explain that the child "always was" the person the rin'kai claims them to be—that this is simply another transition for that individual. These drow even go as far as to name the child after the previous rin'kai's owner.
Rarely, the child refuses. They are allowed to do so, by the way. If this happens the rin'kai is dulled through some sort of pacification magic I've yet to identify, as it cannot be removed. The child is then allowed to live their life freely.
To that end, there are also incredibly uncommon instances where a drow child is born without a rin'kai. These children are not shunned, nor are they spurned for their lack of the mark. These are considered "new" souls or beings.
I've yet to hear what they think of the children who "reject themselves."
Caleb Dawson, Chief of Al de Barrenian Xenoanthropology Convservatum


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