A Treatise on The Witches of Entheria
By Jacobion, Historian
Mention the word ‘witch’ to any bystander you might find, and you will most probably get a passing look of disgust. It is no secret that the Witches are vilified and made pariahs within any society they might come to be in contact with. Commonly associated with barbaric practices, primitive and sexual deviance, these isolated covens of women (and in extremely rare cases, men) savvy in all manners of Magical Schools are not keen on sharing their secrets with the outside world. As such, composing an official document concerning their structure, origins and aspirations has proven to be exceedingly difficult for historians. Fortunately, this humble writer was fortuitous enough to come across one Marissa Westfall, leader of a developing coven of witches in Umibe and a woman willing to enlighten us.
It must first be said that even among the Witches themselves, they have no surviving records from Hense’s age. Thus, historians are left to theorize as to what happened based on what they know did happen at that age. Below is the most agreed upon conclusion.
Before magic became so widespread as it is today, the only magic that could conceivably be performed by mortals was held in the possession of the Elder Druids. A dark and mysterious art, it compensated for the lack of a method to weave mana by utilizing objects infused with magical energy. Elder Artifacts, as they were called. This practice was respected among the populace, but still the art remained stagnant. Very few at the time were willing to take the considerable risk of experimenting with their beloved magic. But then out of the blue, a revolutionary arose. A young Elder Druid by name of Hense.
Hense was what we might call a prodigy. Skillful in the Elder Arts with an ambition to match, she grew enamored by the idea of this occult-like magic and forsaken simple distractions like social interaction in favor of studying what little was known about magic at the time. Her endgame required herculean efforts and a proportionate amount of time, but it paid off in the end. With her amassed knowledge and pre-existing talent, Hense performed magnificent feats, from summoning a wildfire to altering a person’s appearance (whether they liked it or not, granted) to even future sight, all seemingly without the use of an Elder Artifact. This did not escape the eye of contemporary Elder Druids and she did not escape their ire. Time and time again, the ‘Witch’, as she had been dubbed, went into confrontation with that age’s proto-mages and time and time again did she come out the victor, protecting her secrets. Some would seek out her guidance and take her as their master, thus forming the first shadow of a Coven. For a period of time, Hense was the most powerful being to exist in Entheria, solely because of her magics. There would arise one to rival her, however.
The Druid-King, Sloan. Vile is his name, uttered only in curses and stifled whispers. A man of considerable power and influence, with cruelty and ambition to match. Master of shadowy demons and unspeakable forms of magic, he desired to be the greatest wielder of magic, and Hense was a spanner in the works. A confrontation fit for legends broke between the two. Mountains were split asunder, forests were scorched clean, lands wept as the world shattered. Hense put up a fight, but even she had to bow down to the Druid-King’s power. With his magical authority, he banished the Witch into a realm of darkness and cursed her followers and their successors in the future. From then on, the ‘Witches’ were bound into pariahdom. Forever would they be shunned and seen as inhuman by all but the purest of souls. This did not stop them from spreading and flourishing. The word of the Witches’ magic did not stop to influence curious souls and a fellowship was born. Coven after coven popped up in all corners of Entheria, though few and far between in comparison to other magic institutions. Though Hense’s original teachings are lost to time, Witches of the current age continue to enact her mission: enlighten a generation with magic and curiosity, bound to no ruler and no god*. If they would be cursed in this regard, then why should it stop them?
- The irony here is that some covens praise Hense as Goddess of Magic. -M
In the eyes of scholars, the Witches are seen as an informal organization with little bearing on hierarchy. This is not false. They prioritize conducive learning dynamic over ritual and ranks. If there is one thing to be said about them, however, is that they are not a generally egalitarian lot. Many covens today and indeed in the past only deem woman as worthy witches. As of this age, this notion is getting less popular, but in the exception of Marayati witches (which have a male majority due to a different upbringing), witch covens are predominantly female as the only ones usually interested in being witches are, female.
The soul of the witches lies with the Apprentices. It is they who will actively seek out magic and improve it as best they can. A coven is generally willing to take anyone who is determined enough to learn and is a woman. Apprentices can seek out knowledge on whatever magic they please from themselves or from outside help, though this is frowned upon. In either case, to guide and aid the Apprentices are the senior witches, the Advisors, or Big Sisters as they are colloquially called. They often take the role of teachers whenever they need to and prevent the often young apprentices from doing something stupid. Individual apprentices will often take advisors for themselves as their masters, inspired by Valerian tutelage systems. Ultimately, all witches inside a coven must answer to the Magna, the undisputed leader of the coven itself and usually the most powerful witch in the area. Our source informs us that the Magna is by no means an official and absolute leader, merely the one the witches deem most worthy to look up to.