The Origin of Nightwitches
Historical records indicate that the legend of the “first Nightwitch” recounted above is largely fable. Actually, it can be reliably assumed that the source of the Nightwitch tradition comes from three different witch traditions, all of whom converged into the formal practice and tradition we know today.
The first source was a long‑standing tradition of witches known as “solitaries”. These witches preferred to work alone, as opposed to being members of large witch covens. They were also wanderers, adept at disguising their professions for reasons unclear at this time. These solitaries would only take one initiate at any one time, although there are stories where a solitary witch would take on more than one initiate, if the potential initiates were of the same family or clan, and some disaster had struck the rest of their family or clan. Like most witches, many of these solitaries were associated with the Skyrider dragon clan.
The second source was the tradition of hereditary witches among barbarian tribes. These exclusively female witches worked alongside the exclusively male shamans of their tribes, providing healing and directing the worship of Elethay and the tribal totems. Just like their male counterparts, these witches passed their lore down through a complicated set of oral traditions, as writing was unknown in these tribes. Because of the relatively small size of the barbarian tribes, witches among them were few, and rarely met except at large tribal gatherings. Like their solitary counterparts, they often only took one apprentice or initiate at a time.
The first and second traditions joined as the wandering solitary witches met with their sisters of the nomadic barbarian tribes. As part of that joining, the solitary witches adopted the oral traditions of their sisters, while teaching them the arts of concealment they had learned from their long wanderings. For their part, the barbarian witches taught the solitary witches the arts of memorization and the herb lore their lived depended on. Yet even this joining alone would not create the Nightwitches: that required the third tradition.
The third and most mysterious tradition was a sect that worshipped Elethay in her nocturnal aspects and trained their initiates in stealth and subtlety. While records are sketchy at best, and primarily altogether missing, it is now clear that the origins and traditions of this sect were with the Blackwind dragon clan. When the clan was banished, a few human members of the sect escaped to the lands of the barbarian tribes, where they encountered the combined solitary and hereditary witch traditions. There they joined their tradition of stealth and silence to the solitary and hereditary traditions. This was especially prevalent in tribes who venerated tribal totems such as the Moon Cat and other nocturnal hunters.
It took several generations for the three traditions to merge, but when it was done, the solitary witches resumed their wandering, this time spreading a new witch tradition, called “nightwitches”.