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Feather Witch was an eighteen-year-old woman of Letherii descent, who was born into slavery in a Tiste Edur Hiroth village located in the far northwestern region of Lether. She served as one of Mayen's handmaids and was destined to join House Sengar once Mayen married Fear Sengar.[1]

Feather Witch possessed the ability to cast the Tiles, the Letherii analogue to reading the Deck of Dragons. Her gift manifested before the age of four when her dreams walked back and spoke in the voices of the ancestors. A battered set of ceramic tiles of the Holds was exhumed from the grave of a previous talent and given to her, while ghostly ancestors took charge of her education.[1] When she publically cast the tiles, crowds of a hundred or more Letherii slaves came to witness.[2] The true extent of her power was far greater than her Tiste Edur captors imagined.[3]

She was loved by Udinaas, a fellow Letherii slave, but she did not reciprocate his feelings.[4] She was a virgin.[5]

Feather Witch was described as being beautiful with thick, long yellow hair, grey (or blue) eyes, heart-shaped features, and a small, child-like body.[6][7] She had the lean, cabled muscles of someone familiar with a lifetime of hard, repetitive work.[8] She wore moccasins.[9]

In Midnight Tides[]

Feather Witch cast the tiles for an audience of fellow slaves on the same night Hannan Mosag addressed the Tiste Edur regarding the Kingdom of Lether's encroachment on their waters. Udinaas attempted to stop the reading after encountering the dire omen of a white crow, but was too late. During the reading, Feather Witch was attacked by an invisible creature called a Wyval. Udinaas leaped to stop the attack and was direly wounded in the process. As both slaves were restored to health by Uruth Sengar's magic, Feather Witch secretly warned Udinaas that the Tiste Edur's access to Kurald Emurlahn was changed and no longer pure.[10]

Feather Witch had no love for her mistress. When Mayen overstepped her station to bless the arrival of Buruk the Pale's Nerek Indebted, Feather Witch reported her actions to Uruth Sengar. Mayen repaid her slave's betrayal with a switching.[11] When the resurrected Rhulad Sengar declared himself emperor of the Tiste Edur he forced Mayen to become his wife. The horrified Mayen redirected her anger at Feather Witch and regularly beat her, once leaving her face bruised and swollen beyond recognition.[12][13]

Early on, Feather Witch was suspicious that Udinaas had been infected by the Wyval, especially when he carelessly revealed information from the Wyval's visons and Wither's whispers. She angrily revealed to Udinass that she had purposefully called the Wyval upon herself and resented his interference. The Wyval's curse was meant to be her own freedom, not that of some Indebted. She forced him to take her into one of his visions where they discovered Udinaas' son, Rud Elalle, living amongst the Imass of the Refugium.[14]

Feather Witch accompanied Mayen as part of Rhulad's entourage when the emperor and his armies invaded the Kingdom of Lether. At Udinaas' recommendation, Rhulad took her away from Mayen and gave her over to serve the Edur healers.[15] After the Edur seized Letheras, Mayen made her escape into the city where she ultimately committed suicide with a knife. It was later revealed that a vengeful Feather Witch had given her Udinaas' knife and she was pleased her former mistress was dead.[16]

After Rhulad's confrontation with King Ezgara Diskanar in the Eternal Domicile, Feather Witch helped her new mistress, Uruth, tend the wounds of Binadas Sengar. She also collected one of Brys Beddict's severed fingers left behind from his duel with Rhulad.[17]

In The Bonehunters[]

Feather Witch now wore one of Brys Beddict's blackened, severed fingers on a chain around her neck. She accompanied Preda Hanradi Khalag and his Merude warriors as part of a Tiste Edur fleet sent to Seven Cities by Emperor Rhulad. They had orders to "inflict atrocities upon all strangers they encounter[ed]".[18] The emperor had also ordered that an open invitation be made to any warrior to meet him in personal combat. The Tiste Edur killed and terrorised the Anibar people of the Olphara Peninsula until the shaman, Boatfinder, asked Karsa Orlong to be their protector.[19]

Karsa tracked the mysterious grey-skinned raiders to their camp and slew many of them before his companion, Samar Dev, convinced him to parley with the Edur. Feather Witch's magic seemed to have no effect on the Teblor, but she helped serve as an interpreter with the aid of a captured Taxilian. Samar Dev noted the witch directed looks of unbridled hatred at her commander's back during the negotiations. The Preda delivered Rhulad's challenge to the Teblor, which Karsa accepted without hesitation. Feather Witch's hidden glee at the exchange did not go unnoticed by Samar Dev.[20]

Aboard the Tiste Edur ship, Feather Witch approached Samar Dev and attempted to communicate in a rough version of the Seven Cities common language. She complained that Taxilian did not make a very good teacher and demanded Samar Dev teach her instead. Samar Dev refused and Feather Witch threatened to have her killed. The scholar warned that such an action would result in Karsa killing all on board but the slaves. Taxilian later revealed that he was purposely sabotaging Feather Witch's lessons by mixing together the languages of the Malazans, the Taxilii Scholar's Dialect, the Ehrlii variant of the common tongue, and obscure tribal Rangala.[21]

In Reaper's Gale[]

When the Tiste Edur fleet arrived back in Letheras, Feather Witch was a changed woman. The sheer size of the world she had just traversed and all of its many peoples and the bewildering array of gods, goddesses, spirits, and ascendants they worshipped made the Letherii Empire seem small and religion pointless. In her eyes, all gods were facets of the same being who had turned its back on mortals. She no longer felt bound by the strictures of the gods because she no longer believed there was judgement after death--only oblivion.[22]

She abandoned Uruth Sengar and went to ground deep in the abandoned crypts of the Old Palace which Feather Witch had supplied with fresh water, food, and other necessities in her days in Letheras before the long ocean voyage. Hannan Mosag found her there and proposed an alliance to destroy Emperor Rhulad, which would send the Edur back to their tribal homelands.[22] Kuru Qan's ghostly spirit also approached Feather Witch warning her to be careful with the severed finger of Brys Beddict she possessed. They struck a bargain that she would wait for his aid before using it in her plans for vengeance.[23] For months she kept Brys' finger hidden inside her where it soaked up her blood, giving her some power over it.[24] But eventually she moved it to a small leather pouch.[25]

Feather Witch and the Errant by Dejan Delic

When the fading Elder God known as the Errant was inflamed by lust and ambition from exposure to the Demon spirit-god trapped in Settle Lake, he rashly sought to reclaim his lost power by initiating a war between the Holds and the Warrens. He stabbed Feather Witch in the side to use her blood as sacrifice in the Cedance, but she managed to gouge out his left eye using Brys' finger. As she lay dying, Kuru Qan's ghost slipped away in a fruitless search for a healer. Unable to wait any longer, she swallowed the Errant's eye, which had the effect of binding him and some of his power to her, saving her life and making her the Errant's Destriant as well as the High Priestess of his cult. It also gave her knowledge of the Warrens, and she claimed the blood now flowing between the Cedance's tiles represented the Warrens and its presence meant the Cedance finally mapped the truth of things. She taunted the god with her new knowledge of Oponn, claiming the upstarts played the Errant's game in his stead. Then she urged the Errant to claim the Empty Throne with Brys Beddict as Mortal Sword and Udinaas as Shield Anvil.[26][27]

Feather Witch and the Errant shared a fraught relationship, with the High Priestess attempting to manipulate him for her own advantage. She named herself the Errant's Destriant and created a temple devoted to him in the flooded tunnels beneath the Eternal Domicile.[28][29] She argued with the god that she knew better how to use his power than he did, using worship as a weapon.[30] She visited Udinaas in his dreams and proclaimed her love for him in an attempt to win him over, but the former slave rejected her.[31] Nevertheless, she was sure his greed would eventually win out and he would join her to forge a dynasty.[32]

Hannan Mosag, seeking to recover the lost soul of Brys Beddict, sent Bruthen Trana to Feather Witch to reclaim the champion's finger. Bruthen tracked Feather Witch to her lair and brutally stripped her of the finger.[33] When she discovered Uruth and Tomad Sengar had been imprisoned by Rhulad in the palace's flooded cells, she saw it only as justice, though she refrained from revealing herself to mock them.[34]

The cult of the Errant spread among the Letherii slaves and Indebted while in Feather Witch's care. She promised the disaffected of the empire a return to the golden age of the past when the Errant stood ascendant and was worshipped by all Letherii. The Errant scoffed at the idea that such a time ever existed, but his High Priestess insisted the truth did not matter when teaching the ignorant.[35]

By the time of the Bonehunters' invasion of Letheras, the temple's water had turned Feather Witch's feet gangrenous, her teeth were brown, and her once-golden hair was filthy. She pleaded for the Errant to teach her in the ways of love, claiming she was a virgin. The Errant called her out on her lie, reminding her of the slave, Gribna, who had raped her when she was very young. But when his statement was met with hurt puzzlement, he realised she had forgotten that awful truth.[36] Later when Bruthen Trana managed to return Brys Beddict to Letheras, she attempted to control the former champion through her connection to his finger. But in doing so, she fell into the water of her flooded temple. The Errant held her underwater to drown, claiming that sometimes a nudge was not enough.[37]

In Dust of Dreams[]

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Dust of Dreams.

Feather Witch's spirit briefly returned under the name Breath. She was part of a group of Letherii exiles who were wandering in the Wastelands of Lether and who stumbled upon Kalse Rooted, a seemingly abandoned K'Chain Che'Malle sky keep/nest. She was accompanied by Taxilian, Sheb, Asane, Last, Nappet and Rautos Hivanar.[38]

Breath was revealed to be Feather Witch, when Taralack Veed (who had been tracking the 'wanderers') explained that they were all part of Icarium.[39]

Feather Witch assisted Icarium in the final battle with the K'Chain Nah'ruk, by giving him the eye of the Errant with which to make a finnest – which constantly repaired Icarium's sky keep during the battle – as an Azath grew from it.[40]

Notes and references[]

  1. 1.0 1.1 Midnight Tides, Chapter 1, US SFBC p.49-50
  2. Midnight Tides, Chapter 1, US SFBC p.44/49
  3. Midnight Tides, Chapter 1, US SFBC p.56-57
  4. Midnight Tides, Chapter 1, US SFBC p.50/55
  5. Midnight Tides, Chapter 1, US SFBC p.57
  6. Midnight Tides, Chapter 1, US TPB p.43-44/48
  7. The Bonehunters, Chapter 16, US SFBC p.663
  8. The Bonehunters, Chapter 17, US SFBC p.702
  9. Reaper's Gale, Chapter 15, US HC p.438
  10. Midnight Tides, Chapter 1, US SFBC p.49-53/55-56
  11. Midnight Tides, Chapter 7, US SFBC p.225/240
  12. Midnight Tides, Chapter 16, US SFBC p.490
  13. Midnight Tides, Chapter 19, US SFBC p.566/568
  14. Midnight Tides, Chapter 15, US SFBC p.476-486
  15. Midnight Tides, Chapter 21, US SFBC p.642
  16. Midnight Tides, Chapter 25, US SFBC p.752/759
  17. Midnight Tides, Chapter 25, US SFBC p.759-760
  18. The Bonehunters, Chapter 16, US HC p.534
  19. The Bonehunters, Chapter 12, US SFBC p.483-491
  20. The Bonehunters, Chapter 16, US HC p.534
  21. The Bonehunters, Chapter 17, US SFBC p.702-704
  22. 22.0 22.1 Reaper's Gale, Chapter 7, US TPB p.171-172
  23. Reaper's Gale, Chapter 9, US HC p.231-232
  24. Reaper's Gale, Chapter 24, US HC p.785
  25. Reaper's Gale, Chapter 7, US HC p.173
  26. Reaper's Gale, Chapter 11, US TPB p.282-288
  27. Reaper's Gale, Chapter 20, US TPB p.627
  28. Reaper's Gale, Chapter 19, US HC p.569
  29. Reaper's Gale, Chapter 18, US HC p.537-538
  30. Reaper's Gale, Chapter 18, US HC p.537-538
  31. Reaper's Gale, Chapter 19, US HC p.569-570
  32. Reaper's Gale, Chapter 20, US HC p.627
  33. Reaper's Gale, Chapter 11, US HC p.296/298-300
  34. Reaper's Gale, Chapter 15, US HC p.438-439
  35. Reaper's Gale, Chapter 20, US HC p.626
  36. Reaper's Gale, Chapter 24, US HC p.775
  37. Reaper's Gale, Chapter 24, US TPB p.785-786
  38. Dust of Dreams, Prologue, US HC p.32
  39. Dust of Dreams, Chapter 18, UK PB pg.914-915
  40. Dust of Dreams, Chapter 24, US HC p.805-806/807-809
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