This secret collection of witches and wizards first came together after the great Fable migration from the Homelands
to the Mundane World. Having escaped the evil Adversary
, the group decided to stay with and aid the Fables, some of them owing their escape to other Fables and therefore feeling indebted to the group.
The witches and wizards, pooling their magical resources, helped to both create and hide Fabletown
from the outside world. They took up residence on the 13th floor of the Woodland building, mostly keeping to themselves. From time to time the witches would aid members of the community, but always for a price.
All of the characters were created by Bill Willingham
. The team, in its first incarnation, was drawn by Mark Buckingham
The 13th floor witches have always had a loosely based system of leadership. From time to time, a new person steps up as leader of the group to finish a certain task of their own choosing. Originally when the group first formed in the 1600s, the Fairy Witch
was the leader of the coven. Her task was to help establish Fabletown and to keep it hidden from the mundies. However, her sanity began to wane--Frau Totenkinder
is strongly hinted at for the cause of her dementia--and Totenkinder took over. Her self-appointed task was to help the group stay protected from and eventually overcome the Adversary.
During those long centuries, the groups membership was solidified with the additions of Prospero
, Mrs. Someone
, Mr. Grandours
, Mr. Kadabra
, and Ozma
. Also, Frau Totenkinder attempted to take a pupil in the form of Gretel
, her former murderer. However, her religiously zealous brother Hansel
found out and killed his sister. No new students of magic were taken after that day.
Along the way, different people left or were added to the fold. Noticeably, Mrs. Someone took it upon herself to help guard Briar Rose
while they were undercover in the Adversary's chief city. Even though Boy Blue
tried to get the witch to leave before Briar Rose's spell took hold of the city, she refused, stating that someone would need to guard the girl if the spell were ever to end. Also of note, Geppetto, the hated and villified foe of the witches, later joined the group after his downfall.
The group take a big loss when Frau Totenkinder decides to leave the Mundane world after unsuccessfully attempting to kill Mister Dark
. She resigns her post, leaving Ozma as the new leader with the solemn task of defeating the Fables' new and greatest enemy and restoring Fabletown.
Major Story Arcs
March of the Wooden Soldiers
We are first introduced to the 13th floor witches in this story arc when Snow White
decides to meet with them about the imminent war with the Adversary's soldiers. She tries to recruit them to help keep the non-detection spells high, but Frau Totenkinder tries to extort Snow for a hefty price. Snow reminds the coven that they can--and are--drafted in any major crisis per their agreement in signing the Fabletown Compact. Later, Totenkinder sneaks out of the 13th floor to battle Baba Yaga
who had been aiding the Wooden Soldiers
The Mean Seasons
When Prince Charming
decides to oppose King Cole
for the mayorship, one of his central campaign promises is to provide enchantments for all of the non-human Fables to turn them human. When Charming, at his victory party, approaches the 13th floor witches, Totenkinder flat-out refuses his request, saying that the reason the witches charge for their services is to keep demand down on their magics.
War and Pieces
The Fables concoct a plan on how to deal with the Adversary's most powerful ally, Lumi the Snow Queen
. Knowing that they will be incapable of besting her, they decide to put her into an enchanted sleep with the help of Briar Rose. Mrs. Someone, along with the Arabian Fable Hakim
, valiantly volunteer to stay by Briar Rose's side and guard her.
The Dark Ages
signed the Fabletown Compact, his past misdeeds were covered under the amnesty agreement. Having had many centuries of magical experience, Geppetto was sent to live on the 13th floor. He attempts to use some magic, but isn't capable of doing so. Totenkinder reveals that she allows the various members of the coven to use their abilities and, as such, has blocked his abilities until he learns how to behave himself. Geppetto reveals that he still has some ties to his former kingdom and can sense a great disturbance there. Soon after, Mister Dark
is awakened and uses his powers to undo most of the magic that was used to construct Fabletown, since the 13th floor witches had drawn power from the Witching Cloak
--his magical artifact--and he was upset at the abuse of his power. When the Woodland building crumbles around them, the 13th floor group advises King Cole to relocate to the Farm
, since the magical enchantments are still intact there.
On the Farm, the 13th floor group relocates to a pumpkin house in town. Once there, the coven talks at length about what to do concerning Mister Dark. Ozma challenges Totenkinder's leadership, insinuating that she was the one who drove the Fairy Witch insane many centuries ago. Totenkinder decides to withdraw from the Mundane World temporarily to prepare for her battle with Mister Dark. In her absence, Ozma steps up as leader--sending Maddy
to spy on their foe--but her ideas of power are soon meddled with by Geppetto, who seeks to be elected as leader of Fabletown, citing his previous victory over Mister Dark as proof of his ability. Ozma knows that she has to trump his claims and, borrowing power from her colleagues, decides to make a show of force in front of the other Fables.
At a town meeting, she questions Geppetto's claims of power and, to prove her point, changes Reynard the Fox
into human form instantaneously. Also, since she refuses to battle another magic practitioner in person, she put in a magical call to the Blue Fairy
--Geppetto's one-time prisoner.
In Fables #25 when the team first debuted, there were a few members who were never named. One of them, an elderly, shriveled woman in an orange and black starred sweater, has never made another appearance. The second--a young, black haired girl with a beauty mark on her face, has shown up several times since then but has never been named. Some sources site her as Miranda, the daughter of Prospero, but that moniker has yet to be attached to her in the comic.