Little is known about the past of the woman calling herself Helen Nightshade. Her first recorded activity took place in Chicago in the early 1900s. Helen and Exile
attempted to recruit socialite and activist Elizabeth Howard to their crusade against the Warlocks. Howard, a powerful witch, was able to see Helen's true self, and refused to join sides with her. Shortly thereafter, agents of the warlocks murdered Howard.
30 years later, Helen located another powerful witch to recruit in Los Angeles, one Amber Cassady. Unfortunately, the Warlocks found her first, and sent a rendwight to kill her before Helen and Exile could reach her.
Finally, in 2001, on the eve of the Warlock's escape from the Ashen Realms, Helen sent Exile and Golem
to rescue the last of Earth's witches, the Vala sisters. For reasons known only to herself, Helen deliberately delayed the rescue so that the youngest- and potentially most powerful- sister, Claire, was slain by weres. Jesse Vala
alone survived the slaughter and was brought to Helen to learn of her destiny as the last witch.
Shortly thereafter, Helen arranged for Claire's ghost
to return, before sending Exile, Golem, and the Valas off to the place of awakening, where Jesse's latent powers would finally surface.
Powers and Abilities
Helen appears to have some degree of foresight or prophecy, as she has demonstrated an insight into potential future events (such as the invasion of the Warlocks and the death of earth's last witch, Claire Vala). Exile suggested that she is responsible in some manner for the return of Claire Vala's ghost, so she may have some necromantic power as well. She is somehow connected to the primal balance of nature, as she is one of the first beings to sense when the warlock, Vigil, had destroyed the Elemental Lords.
Though she appears to be an attractive woman in the prime of her life, she is close to 100 years old, and may be older. Helen may not be entirely human; on the confrontation between Elizabeth Howard and Helen, Exile had this to say in his journal- "Elizabeth Howard saw past the veil, she saw Helen's true self. There was no aligning ourselves with her after that."