Tasha’s Hot Cauldron of Everything!

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Thomas Kelly

Not ashamed to admit I’ve already pre-ordered my copy of Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything. How could I not?

Iggwilv, the notorious witch of Greyhawk, was originally a girl by the name of Natasha the Dark, raised alongside her sister Elena the Fair in the dancing hut of Baba Yaga. That little piece of information fueled my imagination and sent me on a mission to create tales from Natasha’s girlhood, providing Greyhawk’s most infamous witch with some backstory. As a fan of Russian folk tales, I cast the Natasha tales in the same style as the source material, mimicking and borrowing heavily from Russian fairy tales about Baba Yaga and her daughters. You can read my small and still-growing collection of Tasha stories here: Iggwilv Mother of Witches

If it’s not clear to you already, “Tasha” is just the diminutive form of the name Natasha. And speaking of nomenclature, it should be obvious to everyone that “Baby Yoda” is really just a clever cipher for the old witch of Russian folklore.

BABy YodA = BABa YagA

Well, maybe not. But it looks suspiciously similar to me.

Continue reading “Tasha’s Hot Cauldron of Everything!”

The Bride of Count Dahlvier

Mother of Witches: Part Seven

Fair Elena’s Betrothal

“The Flanaess is not wide enough to hide her from me!” Zagig Yragerne declared. He was wrong. He employed all means at his disposal—magical, abyssal, and otherwise—to locate his prodigal apprentice and avenge his wounded heart, but Natasha knew his methods and his means. She disguised herself cleverly, wrapped herself in scrying wards, and made her way through the wild ways until she came upon the dancing hut where she found Fair Elena feeding the scraps to the cackling geese.

“How is it that you have dared to come to this place again?” Elena demanded sharply. “Should our mother find you out, she will not deal gently with you this time.”

“I have come for your sake, my sister,” Natasha protested innocently. “My conscience pricks me, and shame goads at me. Was it not cruel and unkind of me to steal away Zagig’s heart as I did? Surely I was a jealous fool. But if you still want to be the old man’s wife, you only need to play it in the manner of the game we played with the Sultan’s son. You take my name and my face, and he will come to find you at once, I am sure. I promise you, after he has claimed you for his own, he will never let you go.”

Elena’s countenance darkened. “Oh cruel, cruel fate of Istus!” she sighed. “Too late you have come! Mother has pledged my hand to another of her disciples: a dweomer-master nobleman who dwells far off in the Northern Reaches. I am soon to go to him and to be wed to him.”

“Console your sorrowful heart sister,” Natasha said gently. “I shall go for you to the Northern Reaches and wed this dweomer-master of yours. He shall take me for you, just as Zagig will take you for me.”

Elena danced with delight among the cackling geese and laughed, “I know the reak well!” She threw arms around her sister and pulled her close in tight embrace. “Sweet sister. This kindness surpasses all others you have shown me. Please let’s not quarrel again over poopnoddies!” Continue reading “The Bride of Count Dahlvier”

The Sultan’s Son and the Witch’s Sister

Mother of Witches Part Three

The Sultan’s Son and the Witch’s Sister

There was a sultan who ruled the lands of Zeif in peace and fairness under the bright light of Al’Hatha’s truth. He stood firmly upon the Four Feet of the Dragon, and he had the satisfaction in his later years to see the son of his favored wife prove himself a worthy imitator of those virtues and a worthy heir of his sultanate. Only one matter troubled the old sultan, namely that his son had taken no wife. True enough, generosity, honor, and piety handsomely adorned the young prince, but without family, what does one truly possess? This lamentable deficiency gave the sultan much concern, for his other sons all married powerful houses, daughters of chieftans, pashas, and beygrafs from foreign lands who brought with them rich dowries, exalted titles, and strong alliances.

On an auspicious day, the Sultan said to his son Hussin, for that was his name, “I have consulted the rashaw and learned that you must seek a bride beautiful and powerful beyond all the daughters of Zeif. Do not marry a daughter of Zeif; do not seek a maid of Ekbir, be not seduced by the wiles of a Tusmit woman, and do not look on the dancing girls of Ull. Saddle up your steed, take your men at arms, and go questing into the far-off rebellious land of Ket. Beyond Lopolla, beneath the boughs of that dark forest, take a Ketite maid for wife. Her power and fame will eclipse all the daughters of the Bakluni. Istus has decreed it, and the rashaw has foreseen it.”

Since the young prince was always submissive and obedient to the sultan’s will and since he was much flattered that fate had so favored him with such a magnificent bride surpassing all other women, he consented to undertake the quest. Before departing, he asked, “And how shall I know which girl Istus has decreed for my destiny?”

The sultan said, “Ask the goddess for a specific sign. Let it be the maid that sets before you a princely gift of unmatched beauty. She should be the one Istus has chosen.”

This seemed reasonable to Hussin. He saddled up his steed and took six of his men at Continue reading “The Sultan’s Son and the Witch’s Sister”

Elena the Fair and Natasha the Dark

Mother of Witches Part Two

Elena the Fair and Natasha the Dark

There was once a gentle woman of Bissel with a few drops of Suel blood in her veins, enough to give her a fair head of hair. Despite that, she had a good heart in her chest and a good head on her shoulders. She married a decent Bisselite man, and she bore him a daughter. They called the girl Elena which in the old tongue means “light” or “beautiful.” The girl was both light and beautiful. Those who saw the child remarked, “Isn’t she a fairhead?” But before the child had reached her fifth year, her mother caught a mysterious fever. (Some said a hex had been set upon her.) As she lay dying, she said to her daughter, “Do not be afraid. Keep a pure heart, and no harm will come to you.” She gave her daughter a small wooden doll and said, “This was mine when I was a girl. Take good care of her as I have tried to care for you.”

Elena’s father mourned his wife for a year and a month. After that, he said to his young daughter, “It’s not right that you should be without a mother and I should be without a wife.” He married a Kettite widow who already had two older daughters. He said, “We will combine our families, and all will be well.”

Not all was well for poor Elena. The Kettite woman resented her step-daughter and Continue reading “Elena the Fair and Natasha the Dark”

Iggwilv in the Hut of Baba Yaga

Mother of Witches, Part One

In the Hut of Baba Yaga

In the lands of Ket, they say that Duhl Parath had three daughters. Kadar, the daughter of Hasnat, Ya’huth, the daughter of Nasri, and Hura, the daughter of the Houri Princess Jedta. When this last one was born, Duhl Parath said, “Have I need of another daughter? The ones I already have trouble me enough.” He tore her away from her mother, rolled her up in a ball, and threw her down to Oerth. Deep in the Bramblewood Forest a Kettite wife gave birth to a squalling girl. The midwife exclaimed, “Oh unhappy woman! This Needfest Godsnight you have borne for your husband a daughter! Would that Istus had smiled on you with a son! He might have made a great name.”

The father of the girl snatched up his newborn daughter and, without a word, took her out to drown her in the river. Continue reading “Iggwilv in the Hut of Baba Yaga”