Witches of Horizon are very rare, powerful and exclusively female magic users of the Realm, residing in dark reaches of its wast wilderness. Having a unique connection with the World-Under, they exist outside the natural cycle of life and death and thus ignore rules of magic borne from its tension and are not affected by powers derived from the Taglur.
The very first written records and folk tales on the Realm - mostly of Alurean origins, recorded on Vigil's initiative - already have mentions of these reclusive women, already ancient at the time, who assisted and hindered communities in Transborean woods. This leads many scholars to conclude that, somehow, witches - or whatever power lies beneath them - have existed from times immemorial.
It is speculated in Transborean folk tales that a witch is born when an innocent girl, deceived by a fey-spirit, drowns or takes her own life. The girl's soul gains new life by corrupting a newborn child and thus escapes the natural cycle and the purview of gods.
Steppenvolk, however, view witches as shards of the Blood Mother - ancient aspect of Deirdre - who sacrificed all of her blood to sate thirsty clay-children and, upon death, fractured into tiny shards of immortal soul, which still hold Deirdre's primordial knowledge even though she herself has forgotten it.
Nature of Power
From her birth, a witch has an intricate and unfathomable link with the fey realm - the World-Under-the-Lake - and borrows many of her powers from it. As an example, they utilise familiars, crafted from scraps of fey-soul and can shift into the World-Under almost at will - or at least much easier than it is for a mortal.
Witches are effectively immortal as they reincarnate after death. Their very existence is, therefore, an affront to goddess Leandra and the natural cycle that she watches over.
Wiches' power is hermetic and inscrutable. Extremely pragmatic, they eschew all the theoretical aspects of the knowledge they wield and focus on its practical, oftentimes ruthless, application. At the same time, their power comes from many sources. They learn the cantrips of the learned wizards, focus their innate power as sorcerers, leech and fool lesser fey by exploiting their connection with the World-Under and even bargain with gods for snippets of their power, often to the latter's detriment.
It is commonly thought that witches know a terrible secret about the nature of the Realm - a secret that undercuts its very existence and lies at the core of all its mysteries, the mere glimpse of which once drove all the dwarves to self-imposed exile. While no witch has ever confirmed it, it has not been denied either.
One of the most powerful weapons of a witch is her curse - which does not abide by any known custom or law of magic or reason and is unrivaled in its sadistic subversiveness and deadliness. The substance of a curse can be any ill that its originator wishes upon its victim - be it misfortune, a grim prophecy, inability to perform certain actions or even death and oblivion. While it is possible to lift such a curse, it would require either the witch's forgiveness, her complete and ultimate death or involvement from a power of higher order - a god of Taglur or the Fair Queen of Fey (who is also one of the very few entities capable of curses as or more potent as the witches').
Organisation and alignment
Stereotype of witches as evil and malevolent is not always true but has some grounds in reality - reinforced by scars of thane Boreale's legendary demise - as no two witches are similar.
Sometimes, in order to monitor each other's influence (or perhaps for want of companionship?), witches may form covens and work together towards whatever ill-willed or kind goal they briefly have in common.
Nanny Winter - a Transborean witch that used to reside in a remote village of Shwartzstein and was to some extent involved in the sagas of Viktor Fearlock.
Mother Vicca - a legendary hermit witch from the slopes of Moradin's Crown, that, according to legends, acted as a foster mother and mentor to Lementar the Half-elven before he joined the humankind as Rex Verstandt.