Frau Totenkinder is a fictional character in the comic book series Fables, created by Bill Willingham. Leader of the magicians of Fabletown, Totenkinder (a pseudonym which approximates to "dead children" or "children of the dead" in German) represents many of the unnamed witches found in tales and legends. 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. She has appeared throughout the series as an integral part of the Fabletown community, both defending it against the Adversary's mages and making her own deals with its residents.
Totenkinder was born a beautiful girl into the Fog Mountain tribe and grew up there, apparently during the Paleolithic era. 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 who expected to marry her, 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 had become known that the two had slept together, both would have been banished, so Aurac denounced her, accusing her of consorting with demons, which led to her banishment 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 assisted those who were kind to her, creating the three Billy Goats Gruff to eliminate a bridge troll that was causing problems for a village that won her favor, and blessing those who she felt worthy. She took her revenge on the town of Hamelin by giving away 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, Flycatcher, and Rapunzel. 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. Eventually, 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.
Since arriving in Fabletown, Totenkinder has kept a relatively low profile. With the general amnesty absolving her of her past sins, she has assumed leadership of the various magic-users present in the mundane world and has shown an interest in helping others, including, with some irony, her old foe, Gretel, in studying the magical arts.
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