Ironteeth Witches are a species of witch created by the mating of Valg and Fae said to take after the Valg while the Crochan witches took after the Fae. Ironteeth witches all share a retractable set of iron teeth, nails and a clear eyelid for flying.
Ironteeth witches greatly resemble human women in shape (as they are all female) and many of them are beautiful however they are immortal and predatory in every other sense, they bleed blue blood and have a retractable set of iron teeth and nails. As the Ironteeth were known to fly on enchanted ironwood brooms they also have a retractable clear eye lid to protect their vision from the wind as they fly, where the mortals' would cry, hurt and close their eyes, the Ironteeth would see. By Manon's experience, they can temporarily and slightly blur the witch's vision. The Yellowlegs Clan are known to have saffron ankles, and the Blackbeak Clan prize black eyes flecked with gold only seen in the Blackbeak Clan above all others, the rest of their witches have no physically distinctive characteristic.
The matron or high witch of each clan is seen as each aspect of the Three-Faced Goddess, the Blueblood matron a young beautiful maiden, the Blackbeak matron a woman in her prime and the Yellowlegs matron an aging crone.
The Ironteeth witches are human only in shape, they are immortal and predatory in every other sense. The Ironteeth witches are born weapons with their iron teeth and nails, they possess superior senses to that or mortals, able to smell out their prey and they are much stronger and faster than any human. Their strength and agility are similar to that of the Fae, and like the Fae, witches are long-lived. After they have reached maturity they will cease aging. That was until magic left the continent since then the Ironteeth witches have begun aging normally until magic's later return. Along with their virtual immortality, magic returned the immortal speed and strength to coat their muscles and bones.
Witches are able to build magical objects such as witch mirrors, which are capable of seeing the past, present and future, communicating, traveling and mirrors that hold or amplify raw power. The only additional magical objects known to be built by witchkind are the enchanted ironwood brooms they used to fly.
Some Ironteeth witches can see the future the way an oracle can, and it is rumored that for the Ancients, the past, the present and the future bleed together. The Blueblood Clan claim they have the power but Baba Yellowlegs was known to be a gifted fortune teller and powerful oracle. Despite that, witches do not possess magic like the Fae and some mortals do.
The only magic they can unleash is called the Yielding. They cannot summon and wield magic, but for once in a witches life she can summon great power to unleash upon her enemies. The cost is that she is incinerated in the blast, her body yielded to the Darkness. As the Ironteeth witch yields life to the Darkness, its power fills her and unleashes from her in an ebony wave, a manifestation of what lies in their souls.
The Ironteeth society is ruthless and rigid; their culture is based around raising their witchlings to be heartless, loyal and bloodthirsty warriors. Centuries ago only some witches became warriors, called sentinels. However, since the witch wars, every witch born has been trained in violence. Their culture is hierarchical, each Clan is ruled by a High Witch called the Matron and the Matron’s appointed heir; every witch of the clan belongs to a Coven, there is no such thing as a lone witch. Within each coven there is a hierarchy, first a leader, and then the leader’s Second and Third. It is the duty of the Second and Third to defend their leader against all threats, even if it means sacrificing themselves. While the bonds between the witches of each coven are stressed upon, the leaders of the covens are raised to see their subordinates as expendable, and if they ever become insubordinate they are to be dismissed.
Among the Ironteeth witches, witchlings are rare and sacred; from the time of conception to the age of sixteen they are protected. For a witch to harm a pregnant witch, their unborn witchling, or their daughter it is the greatest crime and they are punished with enormous suffering in a long, long execution. There is no greater pride than to bear a witchling for your Clan; and no greater shame than to lose one.
To the Ironteeth, humans are seen as only good for two things; rutting and bleeding, for Ironteeth witches drink the blood of mortals like mortals drink wine. While witchlings are prized by the Ironteeth, relationships with mortal men are seen as weakness. However, affairs with human men is something that is very common and encouraged. Bearing a witchling is not only honorable but extremely difficult, and they need all the chances they can to conceive. Witches will use the man for pleasure and then murder him and dine on his blood. Witches also have intimate relationships with each other, for example, Thea and Kaya of The Thirteen are lovers and the Blackbeak Matron has a beautiful young dark-haired witch to warm her bed.
They worship the Three-Faced Goddess or the Three-Faced Mother, each representing an aspect of woman; mother, maiden, and crone. The call the Eye of Elena the Eye of the Goddess; the outer circle representing the crone, the interior circle representing mother the bottom circle represents the maiden and the eye inside is the “Heart of Darkness within her.” Because of this the matron or high witch of each clan is seen as each aspect, the Blueblood matron a young beautiful maiden, the Blackbeak matron a woman in her prime and the Yellowlegs matron an aging crone.
Blueblood prophets have the Eye of the Goddess tattooed over their hearts, and those who won valor in battle were once given those, to mark their glory – their status as being Goddess-blessed.
Legend had it that all witches had been gifted by the Three-Faced Goddess with iron teeth and nails to keep them anchored to this world when magic threatened to pull them away. The barbed iron crown the Blueblood Matron wears is supposedly proof that the magic in the Blueblood line ran so strong that their leader needed more iron and pain to keep her tethered in this realm.
The Ironteeth Witches believe that once they die they are claimed by the Darkness, they believed that the Darkness cured all.
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 our 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 the Fae 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.
Five centuries before the beginning of the series, the Ironteeth witches were brought together by the visions of the Blueblood prophets, visions of the Witch Kingdom with an Ironteeth on the throne. Together the Ironteeth Clans battled against the Crochan witches and their Queen, the witch sentinels fighting a bloody battle. Rhiannon Crochan held the gates to her city for three days and three nights against the three Ironteeth Matrons. Her sisters were dead around her, her children slaughtered; her consort spiked to one of the Ironteeth war caravans. The last Crochan Queen, the final hope of their thousand-year dynasty did not go gently.
It was only when she fell at dawn on the fourth day that the city was truly lost. And as she lay dying on that killing field, as the Ironteeth ripped down the walls of the city around her and butchered her people... she cursed them. Cursed the three Matrons, and through them, all Ironteeth. She cursed Yellowlegs herself – who gave Rhiannon her finishing blow. 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 we could catch them. Rabbits and deer would flee across the mountains. And the once-verdant Witch Kingdom would become a wasteland.
The Ironteeth laughed at the idea of it until the first Ironteeth witchling was born – dead. And then another and another, until the cattle rotted in the fields and the crops withered overnight. By the end of the month, there was no food. By the second, the three Ironteeth Clans were turning on one another, ripping themselves to pieces. So the Matrons ordered them all into exile, they separated the Clans to cross the mountains and wander as we would. Every few decades, they would send groups to try to work the land, to see if the curse still held. Those groups never returned. The Ironteeth have been wanderers for five hundred years. Eventually, humans took the land for themselves and it responded to them.
“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.”
- Ironteeth witches show respect by saluting with touching two fingers to their brow