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Crochan Witches

Status

Extant

Residence

Witch Kingdom (former)

Enemies

Ironteeth Witches

Notable Members

Rhiannon Crochan
Tristan Crochan
Rhiannon
Manon Blackbeak

Glennis

Bronwyn

Crochan Witches are a race of witches, the offspring of Valg and Fae who once ruled over the Witch Kingdom before falling to the Ironteeth. The Crochan Witches are described as peaceful and beautiful, taking after their Fae ancestors but Baba Yellowlegs described them as talented and dangerous warriors.

History

Millennia ago, when the Valg broke into the world, witches did not exist. It was the Valg, and the Fae, and humans. But the Valg were demons. They wanted the world for their own, and they thought a good way to get it would be to ensure that their offspring could survive here. The humans weren’t compatible – too breakable. But the Fae...the Valg kidnapped and stole whatever Fae they could and the offspring became witches. The Ironteeth took after their Valg ancestors more, while the Crochan witches got more of the Fae traits. However the people of Erilea did not want the witches there, not after the war, but King Brannon didn’t think it was right to hunt them all down. So he gave the witches the Western Wastes where they lived until the witch wars.

The Crochan Queen was the Queen of the Witch Kingdom and all witches until five hundred years before the events of Throne of Glass and the Ironteeth Clans rose against her. The Ironteeth Clans allied themselves and battled against the Crochan witches and the Queen in a bloody battle. Then as Rhiannon Crochan the last queen of the Witch Kingdom lay dying she cursed the kingdom so that the Ironteeth may win the war but they would never win the land. That for what the Ironteeth had done, they would inherit the land only to see it wilt and die in their hands. Their beasts would shrivel and keel over dead; their witchlings would be stillborn, poisoned by the streams and rivers. Fish would rot in lakes before they could catch them. Rabbits and deer would flee across the mountains. And the once verdant Witch Kingdom would become a wasteland.

She told the Ironteeth that there was only one way to break the curse; “Blood to blood and soul to soul, together this was done, and only together it can be undone. Be the bridge, be the light. When iron melts, when flowers spring from fields of blood - let the land be witness, and return home.”

When the curse proved true the matrons of the Ironteeth Clans ordered the witches to cross the mountains and wander as they would. Every Ironteeth witch has since been hunting down the Crochan witches, killing them and cutting out their hearts in the hopes of finding the one that can reverse the curse.

Since then, most Crochans spend their lives as refugees, pretending to be wise women and healers, hiding both from mortals and the Ironteeth Witches who hunt them.

Centuries after the war when the Ironteeth were thrown into exile Lothian Blackbeak, the daughter of the Blackbeak Matron had a child with a Crochan Prince the son of Rhiannon Crochan, they believed that she would be the one to break the curse on the land. Tristan Crochan spent years searching for his and Lothian Blackbeak's daughter, Manon Blackbeak when the Blackbeak Matron discovered him and killed him. Rhiannon, the other Crochan Prince's daughter and the then heir to the Crochan throne was killed years later by her unknowing half-sister Manon Blackbeak.

Currently, Manon Blackbeak is the rightful and last Crochan Queen.

Powers and Abilities

  • Immortality: Crochan witches age very slowly and as such have great lifespans.
  • Flight: Although they cannot fly unaided, Crochans can fly using brooms.
  • Battle prowess: Crochans are trained rigorously to become skilled warriors.

Culture

Like the Ironteeth, Crochans descend from the unions of Fae and Valg long ago. Their culture, however, is much more similar to that of their Fae ancestors.

Crochans are generally more benevolent than their Ironteeth counterparts prefer peace to war. Nevertheless, they are extremely capable warriors who are not to be trifled with. Bands of Crochan covens itinerate from camp to camp to attend to business. This semi-nomadic lifestyle is largely due to the Ironteeth’s half-millennium history of pursuing and hunting them.

Hearths play an important role in Crochan society. Each family has a hearth whose flame never extinguishes, but rather is kept burning and moved with them between camps and homes. There are seven Great Hearths. Glennis’s hearthfire was gifted by Brannon Galathynius to Queen Rhiannon Crochan. So priceless was this eternal flame that in her flight from the sacking of the Witch-City, Glennis’s mother made certain to smuggle it out in a glass globe, along with Rhiannon’s newborn granddaughter. It has been kept in the royal hearth since then. Before magic disappeared from the continent, the Crochans, on the advice of their seers, used Brannon’s flame to ignite ordinary fires, which they sustained until the return of magic. When magic did return, the eternal flame ignited in the royal hearth once more.

While Crochans will not balk from a necessary skirmish, they do not officially go to war until a Crochan Queen ignites the Flame of War. In order to do this, the queen must take a flame from Brannon’s eternal fire; that flame is passed from hearth to hearth and village to village.

As is true for the Ironteeth, Crochan reproduction is difficult and often dangerous. Maternal mortality rates are a concern, and conceiving in the first place can prove challenging. According to Manon, the Three-Faced Goddess made this so to prevent the Crochans and Ironteeth from overpopulating the world and consuming all available resources.

Male Crochans are a rarity: The vast majority of Crochans are female. Because of this, their society is matriarchal. The male partners of Crochans are almost exclusively not witches. (Whether or not Crochans partner with Fae is not specified, although given the Crochans’ Fae ancestry and known partnerships between Fae and humans, a Fae-Crochan union is most likely possible.) For their protection, these mortal men do not travel with their wives and lovers; instead, they remain at permanent Crochan villages or homes, where they presumably raise any young children they may have. Crochans choose mates for themselves, and the bond is spiritual and long-lasting.[1] As a rite of passage, each Crochan receives a red cloak when she first menstruates. Whether there is an equivalent of this ceremony for male Crochans is unknown.

Crochans hold fast to traditions pertaining to brooms. While the Ironteeth use ironwood to craft their brooms, the Crochans use redwood.[2] The quality of a broom’s twig bindings indicates rank or wealth. For example, a prominent Crochan’s broom might be bound with gold, whereas most Crochans employ lower-quality, more common metals, and the poorest resort to twine.[3] The Crochan rite of passage into adulthood entails sending young witches into the wilds to fend for themselves with only their knives and brooms.[4]

References

  1. Kingdom of Ash, Chapter 15
  2. Kingdom of Ash, Chapter 24
  3. Kingdom of Ash, Chapter 13
  4. Kingdom of Ash, Chapter 24

Trivia

  • Each Crochan is given a red cloak on their first bleeding.
  • Unlike the Ironteeth witches, there are male Crochan witches.
  • Baba Yellowlegs claimed that Crochan witches tasted like summer grass and cool water.