Witches are one of the cursed races of Thasys, former humans who didn’t directly degenerated from mana, but from a series of events that shaped their very nature. And their story is a bloody one…
Our story begins in the human kingdom of Caldaria, at a time when most magical races had been created from the Dragons’ influence and almost all humans were already free from the touch of mana.
This kingdom had grown in a fertile valley at the feet of a former Dragon’s nest, an extinct volcano rightfully named the Cauldron of Abundance. The volcanic lands fed the population and wide pastures spread on the flanks of the Cauldron. Despite their wealth and good education, the caldarians had developed a society based on pagan beliefs that idolised the volcano: the eunuch priests of the Cauldron were revered by all and had their say in all matters – were they political, religious or military.
Caldaria was a prosperous realm, and its remote location in the south protected it from most conflicts, while allowing decent trade opportunities with the rest of Thasys. It was known as the last kingdom before the deep south, and acted as a commercial and diplomatic link between the civilized part of Thasys and the wild lands.
When the Cauldron first awoke, Caldaria collapsed in panic. The lava burned through the fields, devouring any settlement built on the black sides of the volcano, advancing slowly towards the feet of the mountain. The king, his ministers and the priests held a high council in emergency. After hours of debate, the priests agreed upon the fact that the god needed to be appeased – and that it should be fed one pure-hearted woman for each hectare of burned land. The caldarian army raided a few villages and the terrified girls were thrown ceremoniously into the flaming mouth of the god. The lava cooled down after a few days and fields were sown on the fertile layer that covered the volcano anew. The women were mourned, and years passed.
A second eruption came. Women were sacrificed again. Then a third, bigger. A fourth, bigger yet. A fifth. Caldarians stopped counting when generations were born that had never seen the first awakening, and women lived knowing their existence would likely end in the fangs of the mountain god.
Centuries passed. The kingdom lost its commercial influence, and started to strive to maintain the cohesion of its population. Slowly, people started to notice changes in the female caldarians. Baby girls were born with small humps on their foreheads and such children seemed to bring misfortune with them: crops rotted at their feet, milk went sour in their hands, nightmares struck people living under the same roof. They were chosen uppermost as sacrifices in the hope of stopping the spread of this strange illness. But they continued to appear, seemingly in any family; and as generations went, the humps slowly grew as horns. The girls were nicknamed witches.
One thousand years after its first eruption, the Cauldron entered in a fury that had no precedent. Lava raged through most of the kingdom, the burning rivers separating villages and cities into small, isolated isles that barely survived the heat. The priests acknowledged that the time had come to get rid of witches once and for all – the impurity of these denizens was most probably what had enraged the god. All known witches, of all ages, were gathered into an endless procession that was ordered to jump into the volcano.
When the first woman reached the gaping maw, she turned to the executioner that was hurrying her forward. She softly touched his arm and he shoved her away and into the abyss. As soon as she touched the lava, the man screamed and went up in flames. The other women quickly reached to their escorts and touched as many men as they could; as they were slain or pushed into the pit, so were the men cut or set aflame. At the end of the day, only a hundred witches were still alive and disappeared into the night. The Cauldron entered its final blast and wiped Caldaria from the map in a sea of fire.
The wasteland that is now Caldaria has broken all links between the deep south and the civilized Thasys. Witches have spread through the country and hid themselves; with time, their power transformed into the ability to mark their victims and bound them to their will. They lose their power with age and have taken a habit of sacrificing themselves in fire to renew the power of their sisters – of course, few witches immolate themselves willingly.
But how does this thing work?
Witches are our example of how humans react when touched by Destiny. By destining their women to live a specific life and death, the caldarians unknowingly created an artificial fate for them. This linked the women to the mana of a Dragon’s nest and caused them to slowly mutate. The exact nature of the witches’ power is quite simple: when they touch someone, they create an artificial fate that unites their victim to them. Through this thread of destiny, they manipulate and enslave the captive. Simple as that.
We want the races of Thasys to be varied, and not simply reduced to humans who mutated when touched by the magic of Dragons. We have a wide array of races that were actually born in very different ways. It all comes down to how they mutated, but the diversity of means highlights the richness of Thasys’ universe and the range of shapes that mana can take. Witches are the race that puts forward how Destiny can affect people in a very concrete manner and show a small portion of the strength this power carries.
Today, fate still randomly touches the female newborns of humans, causing them to grow as witches. As long as Destiny exist, witches will continue to appear. And this is far from the only force that still cause humans to mutate…