Leader of the magicians of Fabletown, Frau Totenkinder (which approximates to "Death of Children" in German) is the Black Forest witch from the Hansel and Gretel story. Her outward appearance as a rather frail old woman masks the fact that she is one of the most powerful Fables to have escaped the Homelands, and she could, in all probability, hold her own against most of those mages working for the Adversary.
Totenkinder was born into the Fog Mountain tribe and grew up there. Once she reached puberty, she began to experience premonitions, initially weak, but growing in strength and accuracy, until the tribe made her their shaman. She became romantically involved with Aurac, the son of the tribe's chief, until another nearby tribe invaded their lands. To avert war, the chief's son was married to the daughter of the other chief, leaving the newly pregnant Totenkinder alone. If it became known that the two had slept together, both would have been banished, so Aurac denounced her, accusing her of consorting with demons, leading to her being banished from the tribe. Realizing that she would need far greater power than she currently possessed in order to survive, Totenkinder ritually sacrificed her newborn son and was granted considerable power, which she used to take revenge on Aurac. She learned that, while sacrificing one child a year would keep her power, sacrificing two would prevent her from aging. Years passed as she heaped every indignity imaginable on the tribe that cast her out; ages passed and she remained unchanged, growing only in power and cunning. She assists those who are kind to her, creating the three Billy Goats Gruff to eliminate a bridge troll that was causing problems for a village that wins her favor, and blessing those who she felt worthy. She took her revenge on the town of Hamelin by creating an enchanted flute that was used to lure away their children. Prompted by her experience with Aurac, she waged her own private war against handsome princes and men of wealth and privilege, during which she was responsible for the curses on Beast and Flycatcher. In order to stem her own physical desires, she allowed herself to age considerably. Finally, tiring of dealing with others, she retired to a cottage deep in the woods, interacting with others only when a child passed, when she would dress up her house with sweets to lure them in to be sacrificed to keep her power. Finally, she encountered Hansel and Gretel, who outsmarted her and burned her in her own oven. Surviving in horrific condition, she was eventually rescued by Snow White and Rose Red, running from the Adversary's forces. Telling her about the mundane world, Snow and Rose attempted to help her reach it, covering a considerable distance with her. However, they became separated while traveling and exactly how Totenkinder ultimately reached the mundane world is unknown.
Fabletown and War with the Adversary
Totenkinder has been instrumental in resolving several crises that have hit Fabletown. When the evil Max Piper visited Fabletown in the 1920s, she drove him away after a fearsome battle, and worked to restore the Fables' fertility after he released virus to sterilize the community. While generally acting in the best interests of Fabletown, Totenkinder is something of a schemer and often seems to be playing her own game. Her help usually comes with a price, as Cinderella found out when she needed one of the witch's potions (although what that price was has yet to be revealed). She has established something of an alliance with Beast since his advancement to the position of sheriff; while this generally establishes itself as a quid-pro-quo arrangement of mutual favours, it remains to be seen if any darker reasons lie behind it
Totenkinder has been instrumental in resolving two of the recent crises to hit Fabletown. She defeated Baba Yaga in magical combat during the wooden soldier assault, much to the shock of the latter, who had always considered her opponent to be minor-league at best. She was also responsible for thwarting the plans of Yusuf, chief adviser to Sinbad of the Arabian Fables, when he released a d'jinn, instructing it to eliminate all his opponents and bring him great power and wealth. Totenkinder anticipated this possibility and ensorcelled him, so that, unknown to him, he actually instructed the genie to kill all his accomplices, then himself (in as drawn-out and painful a manner as possible; as had been intended for his opponents, had to be now intended for him) and then return safely to its bottle. Without her foresight, it seems likely that Fabletown would have been largely destroyed, quite possibly along with much of the mundane world around it.
She has established something of an alliance with Beast since his advancement to the position of sheriff; while this generally establishes itself as a quid-pro-quo arrangement of mutual favors, it remains to be seen if any darker reasons lie behind it. Totenkinder eventually reveals the nature of her spies in the Empire. She installed a magical brush in the woodcarver guild's tools which allows her to look through the eyes of any of the carved beings whose eyes are painted using that brush and to see what they see. Among her unwitting spies is Geppetto's pet owl. She has also been able to apply this spell upon Fabletown's zephyr spies, as per Prince Charming's request. This allowed for members of the Fables' magical community to see what spies saw, in order to make up for the zephyrs' lack of experience with solid beings. Very little escapes her attention in Fabletown; she was the only one to be aware of Snow White's seventh child, for example, and knew of the arrest of Trusty John, despite attempts to keep it quiet. She also has her methods of gathering information from within the Homelands - she claims to have numerous spies there and was aware, for example, that Boy Blue had been captured by the enemy during his time there..
She continued to assist Fabletown with their needs until the moment Mister Dark attacked. Having decided that the duel with the creature would be her last service, she rejuvenated herself (taking the name of 'Bellflower)' and traveled to the Homelands to find a way to stop him. There she found Dunster Happ, the sorcerer who had imprisoned ("boxed") him the first time, and requested his help. Although he declined, Bellflower remained with him, the two having developed feelings for each other.
She returns to The Farm to announce her duel with Mister Dark to everyone there. Her duel takes place in New York city, during which she dispatches his witherlings and destroys all the teeth he has collected, preventing him from summoning them again. Bellflower manages to actually wound him and, with the help of Clara and the other Fables, she is able to trap Mister Dark inside a gold statue. But he manages to escape and mortally wound her, apparently killing her. She didn't die but transported herself back to the Farm where she reincorporated, but having spent all her magic during the duel, she is no longer a match for Mr. Dark. As she had already decided before the battle that it would be her last, she leaves with Dunster.
She is seen again in the Homeland of the North, having been recruited by the North Wind to help with his sacrifice in dealing with Dullahan. However, they become trapped there until Winter finds them and brings them back with her.
She is seen again as a victim of Goldilocks where she and Dunster are felled by her sword. She is returned to life at the cost of his.
After her apparent resurrection, she had only a few magic left in her. Worse, is that she is again indebted to Rode Res when the latter helped her out, and was forced to work with her during Fabletown's Civil War. Her end came when Cinderella, tasked by Snow White to assassinate her, tracked her down in Dark's castle. The two fought, but eventually, Frau had enough and subsequently demolished the building, taking Cinderella with her. As the two lay dying, Cinderella used all of her remaining strength to jam her glass slipper unto Frau's skull finally killing her.
- Magic: Frau is one of the most powerful sorcerers in the Fable's series. Her powers even rivaling the Adversary and the Literals in powers. Being the Literal personification of all unnamed witches in folklore, Frau is very powerful. Some examples of her magic includes:
- Black magic: Seen where she changed Prince Ambrose into a frog or the time she turned Beast into a monster. She was also responsible for Sleeping Beauty's curse and turning Bigby Wolf into a human. She can also summon explosions out of thin air that can demolish buildings and kill monsters.
- Elemental Magic: She has the powers to control the elements. She has the ability to conjure fire, forests, and even control the weather in her battles.
- Illusions and Invisibility: Frau is responsible for hiding the presence of Fabletown from the Mundies. She is also knowledgeable of stealth, illusions, and invisibility.
- Shape-Shifting: She can change her appearance into a dragon or an Eldricth Abomination in her battle with Baba Yaga and Mister Dark.
- Immobilisation: Her magic is dark that anyone that has seen its true potential is paralyzed in fear, seen where King Cole watched her battle with Baba Yaga. She can also immobolize her enemies such as her final battle with Cinderella. She can also put sleeping and catatonic spells on her enemies.
- Mind control
- Summoning: She can summon or manipulate objects by her will ex nihilo. Though this is seen much when she transforms non-human Fables through the use of glamour, she also uses it offensively such as the time she summon three Billy Goat Gruff to defeat a troll, summon a two-headed monster to defeat Baba Yaga, or how she entrapped the powerful Mister Dark into gold. She can create objects such as infrastructures and city blocks out of nothing.
- Besides that, she can also bind and trap magical creatures and Eldricht Abominations away.
- Hand-to-Hand Combat: Frau is adapt in the use of her knives in battles as well as swords. Her weapons are imbued with magic to kill Eldricht Abominations.
- Experience: She is the oldest of all witches, and has her fair share of battling and defeating other powerful sorcerers and magical warriors in her time, as well as fighting some of the most powerful beings in her universe, such as a djinn, Literals and harbringers of doom such as Mister Dark.
- Magical Resistance: Being a Literal, Frau is highly immune to many forms of magic. Although she is vulnerable against powerful beings such as the Literal Gods themselves.
- In the same way that Jack represents many of the different Jack tales, Totenkinder is "just about every witch in fairy tales", according to Willingham, as long as that witch was unnamed in their story (therefore, Frau Totenkinder is not any of the Witches of Oz, nor is she Cinderella's fairy godmother or any of the named witches of Arthurian legend).
- Literal ethymology of her name would be translated as Mrs. Childkiller
- 15 Appearances of Frau Totenkinder (Fables)
- 4 Images featuring Frau Totenkinder (Fables)
- Quotations by or about Frau Totenkinder (Fables)
- Character Gallery: Frau Totenkinder (Fables)
- ↑ The Wolf Among Us