User Image

Name: Castalia

Likes: Clean water, bright silver fishes, poets, singing, quiet, rainfall at dusk and laurel leaves floating on her water.

Dislikes: Dirty water, when people throw shiny baubles into her waters, arrogant people who demand things of her, fishermen, stagnant water and too-big spaces.

Nymph. Mermaid. Spirit of inspiration. Castalia's been called this and more throughout the ages. What she really is doesn't matter, the fact remains that she once watched over a little river in the ancient world. She was fascinated by humans, knowing none of her own kind (the river was barely enough to support her, after all), and would give the gracious visitors to her waters the gift of inspiration. Having no spoken language herself, she was surprised when the humans used her gift to compose poetry and song. It took her a long time to learn the languages of man, and she was spotted many times in the process.

Unfortunately, stories spread of a beautiful nymph who could bless a visitor with creativity. Soon, the banks of her river were overwhelmed with artists seeking inspiration. The fish were taken and eaten, her waters stolen for relics, even used to clean sacred spaces. Castalia wanted no part of it. Though she had to learn their words, it was never difficult to peer into the hearts and minds of humanity, and what she saw in the newcomers frightened her. She hid until they went away.

She kept hiding, ignoring all pleas for help, and all offerings, until one day a young boy was deposited on the shores of the river. The one who left him was terrified and sorrowful, but the child was full of joy, cooing delightedly at the silver fish that swam her waters. When he tried to go after them, she pushed him out of the water, and kept him from drowning.

She had no idea what to do with a human child (or any child of the land), and so asked the wood spirits for help. They responded, and between them all the child lived and grew. In time, he grew to be a fine youth, for the wood spirits knew more about humans than any other in the woods. Castalia even blessed him, and his singing and poetry entertained her for many evenings. She learned that she could communicate with him, as she did with the wood spirits. It was difficult, as his mind was far more closed than theirs, and of course those of water and those of land see things quite differently. He named her, as he named them all, and she soon knew the sounds for "Castalia", and would come when he called.

But the idyll was not to last, and one day the wood spirits led him away, telling him that it was time to join the others of his kind. He did not return the forest for a very long time, and when he had the spirits were shocked at the change in him. He was old now, but he still called out their names in a voice that had hints of its old richness. They welcomed him, but puzzled among themselves at the strangeness of mortality.

At dusk, he went to drink from her waters, as he used to. As he knelt, the wood spirits pushed him in, and Castalia held him fast, until he had stilled. It was better this way, they agreed. He hurt to look at, and knew his mortality was hurting him as well. Death was the only way to alleviate that pain.

When the next panicked human left a child by her waters, Castalia thought long and hard, and when he fell into her waters, she did nothing. What was the point? He would leave and become old in so short a time, and having seen one human grow up, she was in no mood to see another.

And so time passed. People stopped leaving children, but the odd adult did still come to sit by her waters. If she found a soul she liked, she would prod their minds a bit, and give them the inspiration to finish their works. But she never showed herself again. Soon even that was boring, as they wouldn't even talk anymore.

And then the pollution came. The trees were all destroyed, the wood spirits killed, and if she wasn't overfished, they died in her now-muddy waters. Unable to stand it, she swam away, determined to find a new home...

Seasonings: A bit of glittering fish scale, laurel leaves, pure fresh water, stones worn smooth, and rainwater.

Skills: Giving inspiration, seeing into minds, guarding and purifying small bodies of water, watching small children, and hiding.