Places:Erinsford:History:Coven of Summer
It had been prophesied at the making of the circle that it would die in winter, as a stag slain by an ingrate huntsman. Only one would survive, a vine winding around the haft of an axe.
The Green Sisters of Erinsford lived in the town and its surrounding villages for many generations, practicing their herbal medicine, midwifery, and subtle magicks. They were more or less an accepted part of life in Erinsford for most of the town's history. Then, in the last hundred years, other, more direct and less benevolent groups began to work in the Erinsford region. Magehunters, as they called themselves, entered the region, seeking out any human whose practices smacked of magick. The Brotherhood of the Fang and the Blackwidow Sisters also came to Erinsford. The alchemists and and spellcasters came into conflict with each other and the Magehunters. The Gardeners and the Sisters of the Green paid little heed to the conflict. They certainly did not help precipitate it. The Blackwidows, however, responded to the threat by afflicting the leader of the Magehunters with a lingering and unnatural death.
Their action only encouraged the Magehunters, who were more right than they knew when the blamed their leader's death on evil magicks. Another Magehunter died soon after, falling dead in the street after passing a disguised member of the Brotherhood of the Fang. The two deaths spread fear through the community and its leaders, some of whom supported the Magehunters. No one knew who would die next. The Magehunters recognized the fear of the people and capitalized on it. Soon, the inhabitants of Erinsford feared anyone who used magick. A number of Red and Green Witches escaped to safety, as did the evil alchemists. Fear soon became hatred.
When the tensions were ripe for explosion, the Magehunters went looking for a Witch or Alchemist to lynch. They found nearly a full coven of Sisters of the Green, accompanied by their Knights. The Magehunters attacked, inviting the ire of the Knights, who cut down two Magehunters with nothing more magickal the blade of a sharp battle-axe. The Knights had moved too soon, however. Their actions started a riot. The Witches gathered together to defend themselves. The Green Sisters raised walls of earth and bramble to keep the angry mob at bay. At the same time, the Red Witches summoned fire and water to attack the mob. The walls of earth turned to mud and the brambles burned to ash. Thus it continued, each Sisterhood casting magick which hampered the best attempts of the others. The mob continued to come, driven by fear and the Magehunters. The Red Witches carved their way through the city, burning down man, wall, and building as they sought to escape. The Sisters of the Green stood their ground and summoned their golems of earth and axe. The Knights fought off those who came too near.
The Knights and the Golems could hold the mob at bay, but they could not shield their ladies from arrows. One by one, the members of the coven fell where they were casting. Golem after golem crumbled to dust. The mob pushed the Knights back toward the remaing Sisters. The men, too, began to fall to the archers in the mob. At last, only two Knights and three Sisters remained, plus their golems, which were wielding the axes of the fallen. They fled the city, taking the path of fire which had been cut by the Red Witches. When the sheriffs of Erinsford arrived on the scene, they found only dead bodies and a mob which still wanted blood. The few remaining alchemists in Erinsford became very circumspect after that day.
They knew full well the fate of their circle. They had made that prophecy the mark of their fellowship. From the first and ever after, the vine-wound axe was the mark of the Coven of Summer. The circle also found fosterage for all its little ones. Many were hidden among the Half-Elvish folk or in permanent camps of the Forestkeepers, some of whom live for long years in one place, like a tribe of the forest. Thus the children of the Lady and the Axe-bearer are not lost. Some of the human children of the Circle were fostered in Erinsford, but these are few in recent generations.