Witches Profession in Thræsh's Hold | World Anvil


... and other heretics

  From the cultists of Blood ai Sûn to the mad alchemist of Rimeborrow street in the capital, those who practice magics outside the doctrine of the church have one thing in common. Well, most of them share more than one character trait with another, but ultimately, they are all this: human beings making choices, seeking power or personal gain or even knowledge, that led them down sometimes questionable and by literal definition unorthodox paths.   Witches however fill a particular niche within the world that stands out. They are perhaps the only living tradition in which knowledge of the places beyond the touch of the gods and their light, more commonly known as the Thrash, is shared intergenerationally and not learned from dusty tomes. They are also one of the few who do not use the knowledge and power that comes with this profession primarily for their own gain (though those definitely also exist).  

How to Become a Witch


1. Making Contact and Education

  For most Witches, their story begins by being recruited by a coven or a singular older Witch, which or who seek to apprentice her or to train a successor. In rarer cases the to-be Witch may approach her future mentors instead, though this is usually improper and will only be accepted if trust in the apprentice already exists.   After contact is made the apprentice is educated in the ways of Witchcraft, the details of which will be discussed further down. The education usually takes almost a decade, though becoming a full fledged Witch may happen earlier than that or later, namely by:  

2. Making real contact

  As is known, Humans and in fact all beings that dwell in the material realm are incapable of casting magic (see: Magical Seals) and instead require a being of higher order to assist them in the process. In the case of Witches, this is accomplished by forming a symbiotic partnership with Fae or Thrash beings, which by their nature are in opposition to the gods, though not necessarily malevolent.   This bond of partnership is established by the Witch attracting the attention of such a being and then negotiating a mutually benificial agreement. The exact details of this exchange are as varied as they can be, though the Witch almost always receives some forms of magical boons and access to occult lore, while in return furthering the interest of the otherworldly being along the way.   These relationships are most commonly open and free and will only last as long as both parties are willing to continue them, though there are rare cases in which one party coerces the other to continue the agreement further than they wish to. The otherworldly beings are often called "Familiars" but should not be mistaken for critters such as cats or owls, which occasionally keep Witches company.  

3. Leaving for her own home

  Once the Witch has found her Familiar, and feels that she has learned all she need from her coven or mentor, she will depart to find her own place to settle down. This tradition is rooted in the belief held by almost all Witches, that their craft and knowledge is precious and that by spreading themselves across the world as far as possible, the risk of this knowledge being lost is migitated.   The new Witch may stay in contact with her original coven or mentor if they parted amicably, but from now on does not "owe" them anything more than the same courtesy and respect she would show all other Witches.  

What a Witch can and can't do

  Though a lot of people within the world like to assume a witch is simply one who casts magic outside the Church of Order, this greatly simplifies the matter. Not all Witches actively practice magic, instead what unites them is their adherence to the old ways. To fully understand what makes a Witch though, you need to look at their environment. Witches always live outside larger settlements, though most, except perhaps the bog witches of the southeastern swamplands, live close to a smaller village or settlement.  

Lore and Knowledge, Aid and Counsel

  All Witches, even the ones not actively practicing magic, are women of great wisdom, which they are often sought out for by the local populace. All they know is passed down by generations of Witches that came before them and, if they currently have a Familiar, supplemented by the knowledge of higher-order beings.   The main area of expertise a Witch presides over is healing and cure, with their main work for their local communities focusing on anything from helping with births, to curing disease to easing the passing of those beyond saving. Adjacent to their knowledge of the human body, many Witches know the local plant and wildlife and what parts of them are useful. In addition to these common areas of expertise individual witches may also have learned about other pieces of knowledge, such as the stars and heavenly bodies above, of ores and crystals and their properties, and of the local history.   The second reason, therefore, that someone has to come to a Witch is to seek knowledge, which can help them along their way. What payment or trade the Witch receives in return differs on an individual basis. Some have an understanding with the local villagers that aid is freely given and in return the Witch receives food and helping hands as she requires them, while others expect payment, which they in turn use to stock their huts.   Finally, Before talking about real magic, it is important to address some common misconceptions about the supernatural abilities of Witches. Like all beings, Witches are incapable of seeing the future (though this does not stop some from offering pretend services of this kind) and unlike their supernatural partners, most Witches can not freely casts spells at will, being limited by preparation, effort and concentration.  


  Due to the varied and inhomogenous nature of Witches, those that can cast spells often have a unique set of abilities, from which some shall be discussed here. First and foremost, Witches excel in manipulating the bodies of living things, which was originally borne from a need to treat the sick, but can just as well be used to transform an uninvited guest into a homely beast.   Some Witches also learn spells that deal with transportation and levitation of objects or beings, while some others can communicate with lesser lifeforms and have these do their bidding. Many Witches can also infuse otherwise normal concoctions with further magical potency, creating potions and draughts that heal or harm when ingested, some even giving potent boons to the consumer.   Rarely a Witch, most commonly the de facto leader of a larger coven, displays mastery over many or all of these areas of magic, in which case she becomes a force to be reckoned with, essentially a master of her own realm, nigh omnipotent given enough preparation and resources.   All of these abilities, as should be reiterated, originate from a symbiosis with a Thrash being, a higher order being opposed to the Gods of Order, which perceives the world on a higher plane of existence than us mere three dimensional animals. These Familiars can lend some of their abilities to the Witch, channeling their power and/or knowledge through the mere mortal.  

Dangers of being a Witch

  Unfortunately, living as a Witch also carries some drawbacks. Some may envy you for your power, while others fear what you represent or what you could be capable of. Not rarely does a Witch need to have bargaining chips up her sleeve, find a new arrangement with the locals or in dire situations have to relocate to a new area.   The far more important danger to her occupation comes from the Church of Order and the Inquisitors they send into the world. One of the core tenets of the true faith states, that the Gods are the only higher beings that can be trusted to act in the best interest of humanity, which is why anyone found cooperating with beings of the Thrash, or Fae specifically, is a heretic of the highest order.   According to church doctrine, these actions open the door for dangerous beings to take influence of this world, potentially dragging everyone in the vicinity into trouble if not real tangible danger. Because of this the official punishment for this crime is death. Luckily for the Witches, many backwater areas and small villages still hold on to tradition and faith of the Thrash or Fae and the churches resources are too precious to hunt down every small Witch in every distant corner of the realm.   Still, should an Inquisitor find a Witch and consider her a danger to the safety of the local area, they have the full backing of the largest coherent organisation in the world to call on and so Witches find themselves in the precarious situation of being unimportant enough to not warrant Inquisitor attention, while still being important and needed in the communities they live in.
Sometimes, you may anger a Witch. If you do, these are the signs to look out for, just in case:  
Signs you have been Bewitched
Condition | Dec 24, 2023

Be careful not to cross your local Witch. If you do, some unfortunate fate may befall you.

  Want to learn more about the Inquisition that is hunting heretics such as Witches?  
The Inquisition
Organization | Dec 25, 2023
  Also you can learn about how some Witches can fight back against the Church:  
Marked by the Thrash
Spell | Mar 19, 2024

How do you fight against someone much more organised and coordinated than you? The Witches have found one possible way in their conflict with the Church of Order.

Cover image: by Ninodonlord (via Midjourney)


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Jan 7, 2024 14:39

Oh damn, I just read this and I can see why you commented the way you did on my Witches. So similar, so different. The same profession and the same people, but executed in writing, tone and style in a whole different way. I really, really dig that. Great job, Nino. :)

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