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Waidwen's Legacy, also called The Hollowborn Crisis, is a name given to a wave of hollowborn births that arose in the Free Palatinate of Dyrwood after the Saint's War in 2808 AI. Named after St. Waidwen, the affliction affects newborns, denying them a soul. The crisis lasted for 15 years until its resolution in 2823 AI.
The cause of Waidwen's Legacy is unknown at the beginning of Pillars of Eternity.
Hollowborn are children born without a soul or spiritual essence, a defect immediately made apparent by their silence at birth. They are completely passive and have no sense of their own awareness, or of those around them. As such they are unable to take care of themselves or accept nourishment, eventually wasting away in the crib.
The children born during the Legacy received various names. In Ondra's Gift, they were called "buoys", as they were commonly drowned in the waters of the port, their bodies floating on the water until the tide took them.
Often thought to be a parting gift from Eothas as revenge for its avatar's defeat and destruction at Halgot Citadel, the first hollowborn was birthed less than a year after the end of the Saint's War in 2808. Among the first children affected were Orlan, though the legacy eventually spread through most of the Dyrwood, from the western capital city of Defiance Bay and as far east as Stalwart, lasting 15 years. During the crisis, many Eothasian churches were burned and their followers hunted down, while others wrongly blamed mothers of the afflicted youths.
Animancers tried a variety of measures, but the one treatment that had the quickest success was transplanting the souls of animals into children. The theory went that since animal souls were lacking in defined personality, the child would grow into his or her soul over time and imprint over the blank slate. The cure originated at the Brackenbury Sanitarium in Defiance Bay through the use of special machinery. Eventually replica machines were mobilized and transported around the Dyrwood. Thousands of hollowborn received this treatment which was dubbed "The Salvation", and its children the "Saved". Some families used farm animals or household pets for the soul transplant, while others went trapping or fishing. Although the children were often socially maladjusted, with little regard for privacy or social norms, they became responsive and could take care of themselves.
Unfortunately, when the children began to reach puberty (roughly between nine and eleven years old) they turned into feral monsters, called wichts (Hylspeak for an uncontrollable child). They grew fangs and their appearance took on a gaunt pale, purple tone. Many families were forced to put the children out of their misery, while others hid them or released them into the wilderness.
Animancers later concluded that the wichts were a result of incompatibility between the animal souls and changes in the children's bodies, though this explanation came too late to help the thousands of "Saved" children who had already undergone the process. As a result, there was a public outcry against animancy, and many animancers were killed or beaten by vigilante mobs, with some forced to flee rural areas to the safety and anonymity of Defiance Bay.
The only true treatment came with The Watcher in 2823, who uncovered that the Legacy was an artificial creation by Thaos. Thaos had utilized ancient Engwithan machinery around the Dyrwood to divert the souls, disrupting the process of The Wheel. The Watcher confronted him beneath Eir Glanfath after stopping the machines. Thaos had hoped to achieve two goals with the Legacy; discrediting animancy and empowering Woedica, granting her dominion over the gods and Eora once again.
- Pillars of Eternity Guidebook, pg. 78-79, 108
- Per Woedica from Burned Book of Law.
- The Dyrwood, Part 6: The Saint's War and Waidwen's Legacy
- POE1 Durance Dialog: "I heard of the first tales, the orlan, suffering first..." He chuckles."
- The History of Eora, Volume III: The First Hollowborn
- Edér's first hand account: "The family whose farm I worked on, they had a little Hollowborn girl." and "Anyway, these farmers put their family dog's soul in their little girl. For a while the girl, she's making eye contact, she's feeding herself, albeit in a kind of messy way. Then one day she snaps. They found her gnawing on her brother's bones. Had to chain her up, put her in a cow pen."