Witches are humans born with the potential to manipulate supernatural forces through a series of spells and rituals jealously guarded among them. Identified by the mark with which they are born and each possessing a different innate gift based on the type of mark they possess, Witches gather together in the form of Covens, the most influential of which is currently Hesperides. Witchcraft is generally borne through blood, inherited as a rule from mother to daughter -though male witches do exist, they are exceedingly rare and less powerful than female witches of the same Mark.
Every witch possesses a Mark, a physical deformity or strangely shaped birthmark that identifies them as having the potential for witchcraft. Marks are not universal, as they come in a variety of types that correspond to a different innate supernatural talent or power. The more powerful the mark, the rarer it is -covens actively seek out witches possessing the rarer marks, even going so far as to have open conflict over the custody of young girls with the most powerful ones. It should be specified that the gift conferred by a Mark is not the only weapon in the arsenal of a witch by far -but it is the only one she can use innately without ritual preparation or incantation.
Mark of the Cat
The least powerful and most common of the marks, witches with the Mark of the Cat can see clearer in darker environments, possessing a form of nyctalopia. The mark of the cat takes the form of an elliptical birthmark.
Mark of the Rat
The Mark of the Rat is only slightly less common than that of the cat, and it confers an enhanced sense of smell and taste, to the point where the witch can narrow in on those around her by this sense alone, far past the limits of human ability. It takes the form of a lozenge of freckles shaped like the bite mark of a rat.
Mark of the Hen
The Mark of the Hen is uncommon, but not to the point of being exceedingly prized by the covens. Witches with the mark of the hen have the ability to ease pain with a touch, and tend to have a deft hand at apothecary arts. They often fill the role of physicians in a coven. It takes the form of a birthmark with an oddly reddish tint.
Mark of the Toad
The Mark of the Toad is somewhat of a rarity, and one of the few gifts that grants the witch potentially dangerous ability. Witches marked by the toad can inflict the symptoms of envenomation on those around them with a touch -they must maintain contact to poison someone to the point of death, a process which can take over an hour, but immediate symptoms include slurred speech, lightheadedness, loss of fine motor control and hallucinations. The mark of the toad takes the form of golden-brown eyes.
Mark of the Serpent
The mark of the serpent is one of the most prized marks, allowing those that possess it to enflame desire and then destroy the mind through sexual contact. Witches with the mark of the serpent have no control over this or choice in the matter -anyone intimate with them becomes an enthralled, zombie-like slave within a matter of days. These thralls will obey the orders of any witch without question, and to the point of complete self-destruction. The mark of the serpent takes the form of eyes with serpent-like slits.
Mark of the Spider
The second rarest of the marks, the mark of the spider allows the witch that bears it to influence the psyche and thoughts of those around her in the same way a spider weaves a web -careful application and focus allows them to shift, adjust, or reforge memories, thoughts, and notions. Most witches born with the mark of the spider die before a coven can reach them, as the mark is extreme physical deformity -these witches lack a mouth and have a fused jaw, requiring intensive surgery or to be fed through the nostrils to even survive infancy.
Mark of the Goat
The most powerful and least common of the Marks, the mark of the goat is nigh unheard of -only a handful of witches are born with it every century. Though it confers no specific gift, the mark of the goat magnifies tenfold any other application of sorcerous power -rituals cast by or involving a witch that possesses the mark of the goat are able to accomplish feats and miracles most covens could only dream of. The mark of the goat is not a specific physical trait so much as a burning, overbearing vitality, an aura of palpable power and influence. Witches marked by the goat live only until their late twenties before dying of a sort of magical burnout. There are currently no known surviving witches with the mark of the goat, the last (the previous witch-queen of Hesperides) having been gruesomely murdered.