Extract from The Witches’ Law, 1463
“The Witches’ Law declares that any young maiden of magical lineage, should be promised to a man of valor, born on the same day and hour as she…”
“The Witches’ Law declares that their union shall be effective on the night the maiden’s powers are revealed. Not before and not after. A child of female gender shall be born of the magical union, or the witch shall die. Thus the magical lineage shall remain pure and without interference.”
“The Witches’ Law declares that it is the custom that any witch who arranges a marriage for her heiress without the Council’s permission is subject to the confiscation of all her land, riches and magical powers by the Council.”
A grey witch came into power at around 14 in the Middle Ages, today at age 15. The grey witch is betrothed, but the wedding usually takes place later, as modern society doesn’t approve of teen marriages…
The Grey Witches’ bloodline, six generations back, starting with Grace Addington-Hallewell. She married Barret Hallewell III, who died on the Western Front in France during World War I, only five years after Grace herself died giving birth to her daughter Ailey.
Ailey’s husband also died a hero’s death in World War II. He was one of the few killed in action during Operation Vulcan, the final allied attack in Tunisia. Like her mother, Ailey gave birth to a daughter, Glinda, at eighteen, but unlike her mother the pregnancy and birth were uneventful.
Glinda was Tara and Missy’s mother. Tara was born in 1946 when Glinda was eighteen. She was very much in love with her husband, and didn’t take the necessary precautions, but became pregnant again when Tara was thirteen. She never even saw her second daughter. As expected, she died in childbirth. For a long time Tara blamed her baby sister Missy for killing their mother…
Their father, Athan Grey, dived into his work and pretty much left his daughters to be brought up by their very stern grandmother, Ailey, in the family Cove in Bigwood Falls.
Subjected to traditions, young Tara was engaged to Earthan Murik, Jr. at the tender age of fourteen. She had only met him once, and she didn’t particularly want to wed to someone she hardly knew. That was the custom and who was she to rise against generations of well intentioned “breeding”? But young Tara was rebellious and did all she could to sabotage her upcoming wedding, from spilling tea on her future mother in law’s expensive couture suit to trying to run away.
All her efforts were vain, though, and she only succeeded in advancing the dreaded ceremony. She was 16 when her grandmother took her and her sister on a trip over the border to Lakeview Springs, a trip she didn’t know would end on the 24th of June by her standing at the altar facing eighteen year-old Earthan, who didn’t seem to fancy her either and almost passed out when the time came for the vows. But married they were, and that night young Tara cried and cursed, lying in her beautiful white dress on the large bed, waiting for Earthan to join her.
He never did. She finally found his body in the bathroom, poetically bleeding to death in the old-fashioned tub…
Now she was a widow, a sixteen year old virgin widow at least until the Council declared the wedding null and started looking for a replacement. They finally let her be as she feigned extreme sorrow, on the borderline of madness…
She finally lost her virginity to charming, but lethal, Magnus Darkling. Little did she know about her sister equally spending time in the beautiful vampire’s arms. Of course, he hid the fact that he was a vampire, but it would probably not have changed anything.
She met Rune Blackwood at a supernatural conference in Roaring Heights a couple of years after her encounter with the handsome vampire. The Council gave their blessing, eager for progeny, and she soon got pregnant, giving birth to Shasta at the age of thirty-five, which is unusually late for a Grey witch. They never legalized their union but Rune Blackwood payed a generous allowance, discreetly remaining in the background until his death in 1991.
Spoilt rotten, Shasta grew up to become extremely selfish. Searching for a father figure, she started dating an elder man, which brought the Council to Bigwood Falls with the mission to initiate her and get her shipped off to Germany, where her betrothed was waiting. Even if Tara saw her daughter’s flaws, she couldn’t be part of marrying her off so early. She feigned a major quarrel, and threw her daughter out – after thoroughly cloaking her. Shasta was happy to be free, and not very long after it was her turn to fall for Magnus… Against all odds, they had a daughter, Taïga. A daughter Magnus didn’t even know about, and who is the main character of this story.
Shasta married a wealthy Italian Count and Warlock, Leonardo di Grisogno Dell’Aquila. The count did not know of her daughter, and impregnated her with a son, Rowan, in a pagan ceremony which ensured the boy as much magical power as a firstborn.
Unknowingly to Leonardo, his father had made a pact with a demon, and now the demon came to get his due. There was no way Leonardo would give up his son and heir, the only way out was striking a new bargain… Shasta got pregnant again with twins, Frost and Willow. Frost who was duly claimed by the demon at his birth, leaving no choice to Leonardo but to leave his wife to bleed to death. She eventually did, never seeing little Willow who was saved by, and is now in the care of, Tuatha De Danaan, the fairies…
The Council and the Rules
The Council is international, with one or two local representatives in each country. They make the rules, and make sure nobody breaks them. There haven’t been any new rules since the 16th century anyway, as witches are very conservative, only experimenting with potions and -in some extent- magic formulas. Granny was one of the first who rebelled openly against the wedding rule, but was forced into marriage anyway. I guess in the beginning it had some meaning, controlling witches’ powers and land (if they didn’t have any, the marriage often ensured that the witch had roof over her head and someone “normal” to protect her).
Anyway, the rules only apply to the firstborn, female witch, who is the one to transfer her magical powers. There aren’t supposed to be more than one child anyway, and witches were the first to practice birth control, so if she got pregnant again it was because she wanted it. But the witch also played with her life – a male child usually implied death in childbirth (hence the rarity of warlocks in my story), and for each child born, the witch lost both some of her magical powers and health, so the magic she transferred to each child was less and less powerful. And most important, as I mentioned above, only the firstborn child can transfer her powers to the next generation.
That’s why Missy can do practically what she wants, even if she had a daughter, her daughter wouldn’t become a witch anyway. And why is Rowan, Shasta’s second born child a warlock? Leonardo ensured that by the pagan wedding rites, hoping for a successor. Shasta almost died in childbirth, but with the help of new, modern medicine, she recovered. And she was drugged and didn’t remember a thing about the first rite, when she was offered to the demon and got pregnant with his child (Frost). Willow is Leonardo’s, and a kind of bonus in the whole pagan-drug-fertility circus.
Shasta was supposed to get married, and she ran away, or got “kicked” out by Granny, just in time. Granny threw a cloaking spell on her, to hide her from the Council, but she never stayed for long in one place, never using her magic. She hadn’t had time to start her novice training anyway, so she had the capacities but not the knowledge.
She met Magnus Darkling, who immediately recognized her. Another Grey witch throwing herself at his feet – or at him… The Council doesn’t know who Taïga’s father is, he didn’t know it himself until Granny and Missy revealed it to him.
The Council found out about Shasta when she married Leonardo, but he is rather powerful and with connections in the Council, so they couldn’t get to her.
In fact there are loopholes in the rules, as the witch is supposed to marry someone chosen by the Council. Granny should have had to remarry to procreate, but she feigned deep depression – not hard after discovering your husband bleeding to death on the wedding night! Rune Blackwood was approved by the Council, even though they never got married. So Granny transferred her magical powers to a firstborn daughter, her contract is not broken. She can marry whoever she wants now, especially as there won’t be any more children. Shasta also had her firstborn daughter, Taïga, born out of wedlock, but things like that happen…