"All it takes is one bad apple to disgrace a whole tree. I come from a very long line of witches and I've only ever heard of one witch who eats children-but thanks to the story 'Hansel and Gretel', the whole world thinks all of us live in gingerbread houses and lure innocent youths to their deaths."
Most of the witches appearing in the Land of Stories series live in the Dwarf Forests. They have a monthly meeting at midnight of the full moon, which is said to usually be "uneventful" and low in attendance. The witches used to meet at a tavern called the Witches' Brew at Dead Man's Creek, but the tavern was destroyed by Alex in Beyond the Kingdoms. The witches still meet at the same place after that. Gargoylia lead these meetings until she was killed by Morina.
Hagetta explains to the twins that not all witches are ugly or indeed evil- they just have a bad rep. While most aren't necessarily evil, most practice dark magic and they believe it is a fundamental aspect of being a "true" witch. They often look down with disgust at witches who practice white magic like Hagetta as they believe they aren't true witches.
"Dark magic was known for leaving a mark on those who partook of it, and each woman's appearance had been affected differently. Some witches had warts, enlarged noses, decaying flesh, or eyeballs that hung out of their sockets. Others had been transformed past the point of appearing human and resembled other species. They had hooves and horns, tails and feathers; some even had snouts and beaks."
Most witches are humanoid; a hint at their origins. Dark magic effects each witch differently. A common mark is early old age, wrinkles, warts, long, hooked noses and sometimes a hunchback; just like the modern depiction of fairy tale witches. Other witches show signs of decay like rotting flesh and eyeballs which hang from their eye sockets. A few witches gain the characteristics of animals or nature. Arboris has skin of bark and twigs for hair, Charcoaline's skin glows with fire and her body, along with Gargoylia's is made of rocks held together by her kind's magic. Tarantulene gained extra limbs like a spider while Serpentina has skin of scales and reptilian physiology. The degree of a witch's mark can vary from sorceress to sorceress. The Sea Witch has the most severe appearance as half her body isn't human at all and is instead the body of a crustacean. Not even witchcraft can completely rid a witch of her mark, like Morina. While the beauty witch changed her warty grotesqueness to great beauty, it seems she could not hide her horns.
White magic may have the opposite effect. It is unknown if Hagetta was always beautiful and her magic left a mark of beauty on her or if she is naturally attractive.
Powers and Abilities
Like fairies, witches have their own form of magic called witchcraft. Most believe that the practice of dark magic is a fundamental part of a witch's culture so witchcraft consists mostly of black magic. Their magic comes in many forms and the strength of their magic varies among individuals. There are weak witches whose powers aren't strong enough to break in or out of Pinocchio Prison though their powers may still be strong enough if they are in danger. Morina is described as the most powerful witch in the world but even she fears and respects the Sea Witch and Snow Queen, implying that they are stronger.
Witchcraft can come in many forms. A lot of their spells utilise items like knives, potions and flying broomsticks. It can be very powerful as Hagatha was able to use magic to safely cut out the Queen's heart and allow her to remain alive without it. Hagetta used similar magic to cut a fragment of Bo Peep's heart without harming her, an impossible feat for science. Not all witchcraft requires such ritual. Morina cast a whirlwind spell to search her shop in less than a second and the Gingerbread House Witch could shift from an ugly hag to a more monstrous form to take down her prey. The Sea Witch showed similar power by growing in size. Not all witchcraft can come from nothing. Potions are a prime example as they require ingredients. Morina's entire craft sadly required the youth and life of children to be made.
Witches can be born with gifts and powers that most witches lack. The Snow Queen was known as a weather witch, suggesting there is a branch of witches whose magic specializes in weather manipulation. Some witches have the power of foresight; such as the Snow Queen and the Three Witches. Others, like Morina, use a crystal ball or other artifacts to see the future. A witch's mark can also grant her abilities related to their corrupted form like Serpentina ability to regenerate her arms and legs like a lizard's tail, Tarantulene's webs, Charcoaline's fire powers and the Sea Witch's gills.
Not much is known about the history of the witches so far; only that it was decided in the Happily Ever After Assembly that they are forbidden to enter the Fairy Kingdom. It is possible that witches were once human like Hagetta who looked perfectly ordinary. Their use of dark magic, its mark on their appearance and their bad relationship with ordinary humans and magical creatures seemed to have made them into their own faction, sisterhood or species.
1. The Wishing Spell
Only one witch is featured in the first book: the Gingerbread House Witch. She tries to lure the twins into her house but Conner thinks of a trick to get away. The deceased witch Hagatha is mentioned in Mr Bailey's travel journal.
2. The Enchantress Returns
3. A Grimm Warning
4. Beyond the Kingdoms
At the start of Beyond the Kingdoms, the monthly meeting of the witches attracts more witches than usual, because they want to discuss who is responsible for the kidnapping of 24 children from the kingdoms. They are afraid that the people of the Land of Stories will blame the witches and start a witch hunt. Hagetta suggests working together to find whoever took the children. Several other witches disagree, feeling that would betray their 'sisterhood'. The Masked Man tries to rally them for his army by claiming the fairies are trying to inspire the kingdoms to start a witch-extermination. The witches reject him, and Morina warns the witches that this will have dire consequences for them. The Snow Queen and the Sea Witch then arrive and reveal that they have been working together to curse Ezmia and use her as a weapon to take over the Land of Stories and the Otherworld, and when Ezmia was defeated by Alex, they shifted their focus on her and tried to curse Alex. Their curse wasn't strong enough and they ask the other witches to join them.
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