A interview with the Witch

Just as man does not swear his humanity, nor does death glorify his work. I am, however, painfully true; Nor pariah of an inept god or the rarity of a nature whose borders are constantly moving. I am, just, someone who was Other

The war over Aundair

 

Macabre story of Tharsys Itsindi, “Daughter of the Night” of the Karrnitha side, who at 11 years old was forced to participate in fifty murders in Aundair during the last war.

“We had to throw three shots at the back and two at the head.the horn began to prepare.When the horn made another sound, we cast the phantasmal killer spell. All fell back. Let there a little, bleeding and agonizing with fear until all of them died. Then they were loaded in a tilting trolley, I do not know where they buried them. ”

Tharsys was born in a village near Karrn (Vedykar) and after the beginning of the so-called Last War against Aundair, she was mobilized at the front by the Karrnitha army, where she participated in the most difficult battles with his father, the General Jaeden Ir´Itsindi. “In the war I tried not to kill anyone but many times I had to do it because if you don´t do it, they kill you,” she recounts in the only interview granted in life Tharsys Itsindi.

Under development

The Lost children of Eveningstar

Last year, the village of Eveningstar celebrated the 725th anniversary of a macabre event still familiar through children’s fairytales more than seven centuries later. The village of Eveningstar is full of references to a real tragedy – one recorded on the thoughts of the villagers around the city the so-called “The Lost children”: “In the year of 1284 DR, on the Lingering Mists – the 26th of Elesias, 130 child­ren born in Eveningstar were seduced by a witch, and lost at the “Calvary Koopen  a dark, dank cave.”

 

The_High_Road_of_Shadows_adpack_iconThe village of Eveningstar hasn’t forgotten this loss. The road where, supposedly, the children were last seen is called: road without drums”. Even so many years after the event, no one is allowed to play music or dance there. Oral tradition preserved and enriched the story until the Sisters Glumn included it in their compil­ation of Eveningstar Legendary Halls Tales (1816–1884 DR). In the Glumn’ version, Eveningstar is hit by a plague of rats. A seemingly hero-like figure appears, in the shape of a mysterious stranger woman with red hair dressed in black clothes. She promises to rid the town of the vermin, and the people of the village of Eveningstar promise her money in exchange. The rat-catcher has a strange, almost supernatural gift: she plays a tune on her pipe that lures the rats into the Starwater River, where they all drown. But, blinded by their greed, the village folks refuse to honour their promise and pay the woman her fee. The woman leaves the town, plotting her revenge. When she returns to Eveningstar, she wears the attire of a witch. She plays a melody that hypnotises the children, who follow her to the dark and dank cave, never to be seen again.

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The cruelty of the denouement strikes us doubly, because it surpasses our expect­ations. What initially looks like a classic ‘Overcoming the Monster’ plot turns into a nightmarish tale of disproportionate revenge. The Witch’s retribution oversteps the boundaries, suggesting society’s ultim­ate taboo: child murder. This twist is so shocking that many versions have been tempered, with the Witch orchestrating the disappearance of the children only to get the money she is owed; the children go back to Eveningstar and the village folk learn their lesson. Far from simplifying the story, this presents the Witch as a more interesting hero, a complex, modern one – someone who has to challenge the establishment in order to survive in difficult times. And yet the tale’s elements of greed, revenge and infanticide send us back to the early years of the Spellplague, a violent period of deep contrasts. The legend contains enough material to have inspired the popular and the poetic imagination for centuries – but what really happened on that fateful day in 1284 DR, and who was the mysterious Witch?

Traces of the tragedy

The main difficulty when trying to trace the roots of the legend is the lack of primary sources. The earliest surviving reference to the tragedy of the Village of Eveningstar is a note in a manuscript copy of the Academic Treatise (1370 DR), generally this sheaf of papers details the various early ages of the Realms. It makes for a dry and uninspiring read. According to both this manuscript and the inscription found in the compilation of Eveningstar tales, the events took place on 26 Elestias 1284 DR. There are, however, reports of scholars who accessed earlier documents that are now lost. Cormyrian physician and demon­ologist Torgan Falmer mentioned in the fourth edit­ion of his collaboration in the Volo´s Guide to Cormyr. (1577 DR) some of the historical sources that contained mult­iple references to the tragedy of the village: “These facts are thus written in the annals of Eveningstar and are religiously guarded in the archives. They are to be read also in the sacred books of the Clerics of Amaunator, and to be seen in the painted panes of the same church in Eveningstar; of which fact I am an eyewitness. besides, as confirmation of the story, the older magist­racy was accustomed to write together on its public documents: ‘in the year of Mystra and in that of the going out of the children’, etc.”  Falmer was probably referring to the book by Ed Greenwood (July 1995). Volo’s Guide to Cormyr. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 142. ISBN 0-7869-0151-9.or to a collection of local historical documents called Legendary Halls. legendary-halls-hd

The Clerics of Amaunator exhibited another piece of the puzzle, a glass window dating from the 1300 DR depicting the stranger woman dressed in black robe taking away a crowd of children dressed in white. The window was destroyed in 1760 during the Drow invasion, but it inspired a 1592 DR watercolour by the halfling bard from The Dales “Indoril Alune” that preserves its essence and represents the main geographical elements of the legend – the Starwater River, and The Stormhorns, the witch and the children, the village itself with a dark entrance to a cave.

The Black Death

Although neither the found manuscript nor the glass window of the church suggest that rats played an important part in the Eveningstar events, folklore has assimilated the figure of the Witch with that of a rat-catcher. The first surviving reference to rodents appears in the year 1500 DR in the Tome Eveningstar Imports and Exports, (c.-1502–69), An oversized ledger containing detailed records of the imports and exports of the village, followed by Volo´s aforementioned in the Guide to Cormyr, both written almost three centuries after the tragedy. If the rats were most likely a later addit­ion rather than an original element of the village episode, they gave depth to the tale and resonated in the popular imagin­ation thanks to a play of macabre symbolic associations. The image of a rat-infested village instantly brings to mind thoughts of the plague. Plagues and epi­demics have had a continuous impact on the collective imagination, taking us back to the plagues that ravaged Ten Towns in Icewind Dale. The woman, able to defy the curse with the power of her music, is thus invested with supernatural abilities.

In later representations, Death presented himself as a skeleton wearing a black attire, a reaper who always laughs last (perhaps the reportedly widespread fear of reapers seeing in the dark places of the Realms  – might even derive from this image). The Witch thus becomes the mistress of the rats, the Black Death (known at the time as the Great Death or simply the Pestilence) personified, and the one responsible for taking the lives of the 130 children of Eveningstar.

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Associations of the Witch with the Black Death aren’t limited to the subtext of the tale. The Spellplague has also been used to contextualise the story; However, the peak of Black Death in the región of Cormyr was between 1348 and 1362 DR, that is, more than 64 years after the date of the children’s disappearance if we follow the Academic Treatise`s chronology. In addition, the plague would have swept away the lives of many people and not just of its children. Perhaps oral tradition gave the Witch the identity of a rat-catcher after the plague had struck and Alunen preserved this new variation in his Chronicle write in 1559 DR. Ever since then, the witch has become the most iconic of rat-catchers. Throughout this period of time, it was a well-respected and well-paid occupation in the Realms after the Spellplague, an essential service for towns infested with vermin. But it was a risky business – rat catchers’ proximity to rodents made them prone to deadly diseases – and perhaps one that deserved a hero: Rat Catchers’ Day is still celebrated on 26 Elesias to commemor­ate the events in the village.

Village of lost children

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In the earliest accounts of the Eveningstar events, we are told that the children were “lost”, but not necessarily dead. The Sisters Glumn, at the end of their version add that “some say that the children were led into the dank cave, and that they came out again in some area in the deep of the King Forest,” a conclusion retained by Robert Browning in his 1842 DR poem “The Witch of Eveningstar”.

The terms from the Manuscript used to describe the place of the children’s disappearance (“Calvary Koopen,The dank cave”), have been interpreted in different ways. The historian Bard Hans Dobbertin from The Dales assimilated the word Calvary, place of the skull, to the word Koppen, meaning head. This might suggest that the children of Eveningstar were “executed”, or perhaps the word Calvary is merely used to describe the skull-like shape of a stone, like the found inside the cave.

In this light, the story of the Witch might be seen to bear certain similar­ities to that of the Children’s Crusade, an extraordinary series of events that purportedly took place in 1212 DR, but all the versions finish in the same way, the legend says that they starved and died along the way.

Dead can dance

Another episode that shares features with the Witch events took place in 1277 DR in the town of Arabel, 30 miles east to Eveningstar. A group of children marched in a dancing procession towards the Redwood, 120 miles to the north, where they were said to have collapsed with exhaustion. Unlike the children of Eveningstar, the Arabel youngsters were rescued by their parents, who took them back to their homes. Still, some of them were said either to have died or remained afflicted with a permanent tremor. The events at Arabel are considered to be one of the first manifestations of the spell now knows as Otto´s Dancing Sphere, usually interpreted as a form of mass hysteria related to religious fervour. Otto Sphere was reportedly spread by “the sight of sufferers, like a demoniacal epidemic, over the whole Cormyr and the neighbouring villages in the Dales”. Those affected were described as unable to control their movements, or to stop their endless dance, and many were said to have died of exhaustion. As with Eveningstar, we have an image of a crowd of children led away by music, perhaps to their deaths.

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 The Otto´s Dancing Sphere, whose festival is celebrated on 24 Elestias, or the Dance of Selune, whose day is celebrated on 15 or 28 Elestias, depending on the calendar. It is no coincidence that these three dates are set around Midsummer and the Pagan celebrat­ion of the Summer Solstice. Early descriptions of Dancing Mania strongly suggest that its origin was related to Midsummer celebrations, a vestigial hangover from Paganism, and, as such, condemned by mostly churches or deities: “No on the feast of Selune or the solemn­ity of any other saints performs solest­itia [solstice rites] or dancing or leaping or diabolical chants.” Indeed, those affected by the Dancing Mania were thought to be possessed and therefore consigned to mass exorcisms. Traditionally, Midsummer was also considered to be a time of initiation for Witchcraft. It’s possible that the children of Eveningstar, like their predecessors from Arabel, could have been participating in a evil ritual, marching off to the woods or a cave while dancing to the music of black attired woman. But, unlike the children of Arabel, the Eveningstar children never returned to home.

The Witch as a trickster

The scarce and enigmatic reports of the loss of an entire generation in Eveningstar reverberated down the centuries from the Sword Coast to the Sea of Fallen Stars. Literal interpretations of the story present the Witch as a kidnapper or a psychopathic pederast. This vision has endured in popular culture but its underlying idea was first expressed five centuries ago, in the work of a Cormyrian physicist and Alchemist Jobus Fincelius (De miraculis sui Temporis, 1556 DR), who believed that the Witch was the Devil in disguise: “Of the Devil’s power and wickedness will I here tell a true history. About 180 years ago, on the solstice, it came to pass at Arabel, that the Devil went about the roads visibly in human form, piped and allured many children, boys and girls, and led them through the town-gate towards into the woods”.

This characterisation of the Witch as a demoniacal archetype always represents her as possessing malevolent intentions and, crucially, supernatural abilities: she is able to lure animals and children with the music of her pipe. Such musical skills recall the satyr found in the Stormhorns mountains, whose melodies were said to inspire panic and other uncontroll­able reactions, both positive and negative. We should remember that with the spread of religión to the Sun God around the region, the horned and goat-legged Pagan entities lent his attributes to Myrkul, replacing the image of the Devil.

Over more than 700 years, the Witch of Eveningstar has become an archetypal Trickster figure. The Trickster is known for challenging the establishment, breaking the rules and spreading anarchy. In her dual nature, she can be seen as malignant or mischievous, but she is also a messenger of the gods and an agent and symbol of transformation. The Witch, like the Trickster, is a shape-shifter who wears a number of different masks – the psychopath, the hero, the rebel… even Death himself.

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*Like Shakespeare’s Puck or Barrie’s Peter Pan, she spreads a net of enchantment, leading our children to the Otherworld. Whether this Otherworld was a new land to colonise, an altered state of consciousness or the realm of the dead remains a mystery.

*Based on the tale the Pied Piper of Hamelin*

The hell announced of a cat abuser.

When Luciano Fornaroli, a notorious octagenarian, a notorious cat abuser, was resuscitated by the healers of the village on Christmas Eve, many thought that certain subjects are simply too lucky. I can say the opposite: I know what awaits you on the other side. I know because he told me.

I clarify that Luciano was not a man given to confidences, I even doubt that friendship was possible with him. In any case, the anecdote that I am about to tell was told me during a drunkenness.

Never, as far as I know, Luciano showed mercy for the Tressyms that had the misfortune to cross his path. His cruelty was extreme, to the point that the cats of the neighborhood howled at the moon when they sniffed it lurking in the streets.

I will not give a detailed record of their evils with animals. Their cruelties were so many, and so varied, that I dislike even putting them in writing. Suffice it to say that it was the scourge of beggar cats, whom he tortured by emptying their eyes with a knitting needle, and then watching them with a trace of vague satisfaction as they fled desperately. It is known that his mother, Miss Emilia, who knitted with a arachnid ability, was blind, but I do not dare link that to Luciano’s devilish hunt.

On Christmas Eve, Luciano was struck down. His wife, I suppose, hesitated to call for help; But the truth is that she finally did. Although the healers took almost twenty minutes to reach his home, they managed to save him.

The Lucian who returned from death was no longer the same. From one day to the next he abandoned his nightly rounds. He even shivered when he heard a muffled noise in the distance.

Months after the stroke, totally drunk in the Lonesome Tankard I dared to ask for references about that incident. You know, lights at the end of the tunnel and this kind of stuff. His face tightened.

“No tunnel,” he said, “no light.

“But did you ever feel anything being dead, Mr Luciano?” To see something?

-Tressyms. To all the cats that ever crossed my path, waiting for me. For a moment, none moved.

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End.