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 (as they are all female) and many of them are beautiful. In contrast, their blood is blue, their hands' fingernails have retractable nails (often referred to as claws) and retractable iron teeth. As the Ironteeth witches are known to ride the skies—on wooden brooms with iron, until they were provided wyverns by Adarlan—, their eyes possess with a retractable clear lid to protect their vision from the wind. By Manon's experience, they can temporarily and slightly blur the witch's vision. Where the mortals' would cry and close and hurt, the Ironteeth would see.
The Yellowlegs Clan are known to have saffron ankles. Their Matron is chosen to be an ancient witch in honor to the Three-Faced Goddess' Crone version.
The Blackbeak Clan have no distinct physical features and their Matron represents a witch in her prime, the Goddess' Mother version.
The Blueblood Clan's Matron has a line of iron peaking from her brow. Whereas their Matron displays it, the Blueblood heir conceals it with a leather band. The rest of their witches have no physically distinctive characteristic.
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, when they startes aging normally until magic's later return. Along with their virtual immortality, realising magic returned speed and strenght 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 meant 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 child or their daughter it is the greatest crime and they are punished with enormous suffering in a long, long execution. There was no greater pride than to bear a witch-child 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. That doesn’t stop the witches having intimate relationships with each other, for example, Thea and Kaya of The Thirteen are lovers and the Blackbeak Matron has a beautiful young 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.
The Ironteeth Witches believe that once they die they are claimed by the Darkness, they believed that the Darkness cured all.
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.
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.
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