The first chapter of our Wraith story. Meet Cassandra Sinclair, Vissenta Giovanni, and the Necropolis of New Orleans.
New Orleans, Louisiana: 1908
While New Orleans has all of the charm expected from its French and then Spanish influences, a darkness looms under the surface. The infamous and repugnant Jim Crow Laws originate from the Plessy v. Ferguson case of 1896. In 1891 Mr. Plessy had been arrested for attempting to ride in a first class whites only train car. He sued the train company with his lawyer arguing that the segregation violated his 14th Amendment rights. The case made it to the US Supreme Court who (wrongly) ruled practices of segregation legal as long as both sections were “equal.” Racial injustice abounds throughout the city as well as the entirety of the South.
Prostitution, while not technically legal, is regulated by the city and contained in an area officially named “The District” but colloquially known as Storyville. It is named after the city Alderman, Sidney Story, who put forth the legislation after studying the legal red light districts of Europe. The area services the poorest of the poor to the elite of the city where ladies of the evening can be researched like cattle stock due to the publication of the infamous Blue Book.
The Necropolis of New Orleans in the Shadowlands: 1908
It’s been a couple of weeks since the death of Cassandra Sinclair. The Shadowlands of New Orleans are like looking at her home through a murky window. The atmosphere is darker and it’s alarming to see people, the quick, pass by in the Skinlands as they are, for the most part, oblivious to her existence. The feeling of when one passes through her is horrible. It hurts. It’s best to be avoided. What’s worse, she’s able to see how close to death these people are as they have a tell about them. It’s almost like the counting down of a clock.
Interaction between herself and the quick is difficult and if it can be achieved the response is either one of confusion or terror. Her mission, her drive to see justice to the one who ended her life so abruptly will not be without its difficulties.
Fortunately, for Cassandra the wraith who reaped her from her caul has taken her under her wing. It’s strange in a way because it seems that she needs Cassandra just as much if not more so than Cassandra needs her. While she speaks with high language and archaic words, who the Hell even talks like that anymore, Cassandra has grown rather fond of Vissenta Rossi as well as the man who only calls himself Dante. It’s hard to tell but at times there appears to be a familial resemblance between the two, but he’s not there much.
When Dante does appear it’s only for a brief few minutes to speak to Vissenta before he leaves. He tries to impart wisdom, mainly to Vissenta, but he certainly doesn’t exclude Cassandra if she’s present.
“There are those out there who would take advantage of you.”
Dante also makes it clear that anything they can interact with in the Shadowlands, as an artifact or an object of daily use, comes at a cost. Either it was brought over to the Shadowlands with someone when they died, or more disturbingly, it’s made out of souls. There are those who reap as he did and Vissenta does, but instead of helping the new wraith enfaunt, they see it as a commodity. Be careful who you trust.
When Cassandra asks Dante why he and Vissenta freed her from her caul, he tells her that it is his duty. He tells her that he doesn’t see the need to subjugate fellow wraiths. He calls it his “atonement," but doesn’t feel the need to explain for what he is atoning.
Cassandra and Vissenta sit together at their shared haunt, an abandoned library, when Dante appears. He speaks quickly as he is prone to do but tells the pair that if they wish to follow in his footsteps, as Vissenta has indicated, there’s some information he has about a caul. A young lady was killed last night in Storyville. Cassandra asks how she died. Dante explains that she was hacked to death. He’s not sure if it was with an axe as Cassandra was, but it has been said that she was brutalized. Cassandra is ready to go.
Dante continues speaking to Vissenta telling her that if she would like to help those, and show that she really wants to help, then he will speak to her about her sire. He tells her that he understands they haven’t had much time to speak, but he’ll try and find a way. Vissenta nods, but before she can speak, he’s already walking towards the door. Do you really want to know? It’s just going to be something horrible. The shadow, the self-destructive voice in the back of the head, is vastly different than the beast. She can’t decide which is worse: the beast takes control and makes you do things you’d never want to do, but this…this is you. Vissenta tries to just ignore it and feign purpose even if she doesn’t feel it in the moment.
Cassandra wonders what Dante means with “sire”, but she doesn’t want to but in. She’s more concerned with what happened to this murder victim. Perhaps this will hold some answers concerning her murder.
The pair follow Dante to see if they can get some additional information. He walks briskly and then turns down an alleyway. They pick up the pace until he turns to them and tells them both that this way is not for them. Cassandra tells him, “Excuse me, Princess. Just trying to help a murdered lady out.” As Dante begins to leave, both Cassandra and Vissenta feel this sense of dread scream deep in their corpus. It almost sounds like a storm. Wherever he’s going feels primordially terrifying. Vissenta decides that there’s no need to tell them twice and she and Cassandra head towards Storyville with Cassandra, as the city native, leading the way.
Storyville is a relatively easy place to find. At this time of the day, many people are getting off work. Many of the dock workers are headed over to spend their money on liquor and women. They can hear the lively sounds of festivities as they walk towards the District. There are a lot of people, however, and the wraiths don’t exactly want a crowd walking through them. Cassandra leads them down a side street hoping to avoid the traffic. Both of their shadows offer to help them navigate the crowds. Both of the women ignore their darker natures with Cassandra reassuring herself that it’s ok to be in a caul for a bit. There’s no need to give into the voice just to get there quicker. 24:00