Campaign of the Month: October 2017
Blood and Bourbon
Devout houngan & Regent of Tremé
“He’s a despicable heathen whom all should seek to render unto ash. Off the record? I understand and appreciate his position, even if he chooses unorthodox methods to achieve his goals.”
Many people mistake Baron Cimitiere for a costumed mummer upon first meeting him. He appears to be a walking corpse, his flesh gray and sunken, his teeth and eyes yellowed, his hair falling to his shoulders in stringy clumps. He dresses in the traditional fashion of Baron Samedi himself—an old black suit, cane, top hat and sunglasses. Baron Cimitiere naturally smells of rot, but he takes great pains and uses a variety of cleansers and scents to hide that fact.
“Well, Lou, firs’ thing to keep in mind about the Baron is, he don’ want to be Prince. Never did, an’ my guess is, still don’t. What he wants is for the Lance t’ leave everyone into Vodou the fuck alone. That ‘cludes Vidal’s groupies an’ also any Licks who’d smile when they fuck ‘em over like Savoy an’ the Cottonmouths.”
“That’s his perfect world. The other Kindred cedin’ all things Vodoun, plus handin’ over Tremé an’ the Seventh, Eighth, an’ Ninth Wards to the Crones. Then leavin’ ‘em completely the fuck alone, t’ run things how they want, answerin’ t’ no Prince. City within a city.”
“But that ain’t ever gonna happen, not with Vidal an’ Savoy at least. An’ he knows it. So yeah, the Lance has gotta go down. Both halves of it. What happens after… well, that’d leave a pretty big hole. Somethin’s gotta fill it. Gotta be someone who’s Prince, even if the Baron don’ want the job.”
“He ain’t really talked too much about what happens then. Guess he thinks we should focus on makin’ that Lance-free city happen first. Cottonmouth an’ necro-incestuous-Mafioso-free too, ‘course. Fuckin’ sick the things they do.”
“But anyway. There’s still been talk, what the city’s gonna look like when—not if, we don’t believe in no if—Vidal an’ Savoy are gone. Baron might be Prince, if there’s no other option, but he don’ want the job. Might plug his nose and do it anyway, or might foist it off t’ some other Lick. It’d be his call though, and he won’t let nobody be Prince who don’t run things the way he likes.”
“How he runs Tremé, though. You get a good preview of what he’d be like as Prince. Easier for mortals to meet him up close than Licks, actually. That says a lot. He’s a houngan who goes by the name Toussaint. Real popular wit’ a lotta folks. Been passin’ himself off as a buncha diff’rent houngans since way the fuck back. Longer than I been around. He’s close t’ the kine, close in a way Vidal an’ Savoy sho’ as shit ain’t. Hell, I don’t even see him livin’ in any digs as sweet as a lotta dealers.”
“He actually gets shit done, too. I heard the stories ‘bout Papa Iblis. Hell, you was around for ’em. What, five times Xola’s age, an’ five times as mean? Vidal had decades to ash him an’ didn’t. Yeah, sure, he was fightin’ a pretty long slog-fest t’ set himself up as Prince. Maybe he woulda ashed Iblis, once things was settled down an’ he was comfy on his throne. Or maybe he wouldn’t, ‘cuz he don’t give a flyin’ fuck ‘bout some poor niggas who call Mary Erzulie, and gave even less back when they was slaves. All I know is, Baron was the one t’ ash that sick shit Iblis.”
“He’s the houngan. The houngan. People in all those neighborhoods, the ones he wants to make his city in a city, he’s the man they go to for… fuckin’ everythin’. Yeah, sure, your usual love potions an’ magic fix-alls. But a lot more shit too. Your kid’s gone missin’, he’s your guy. Cops killed your boyfrien’, he’s your guy. Funeral’s too much f’ you to deal with, he’s your guy. Landlord won’t fix the brown water comin’ out of your sink, he’s your guy. You need money t’ make your boyfrien’s bail, he’s your guy. You pregnant in school an’ don’t know what to do, he’s your guy. You down sick an’ can’t afford no ER visit, he’s your guy. Psycho ex won’t leave you alone, he’s your guy. You want a houngan to say the words at your weddin’, he’s your guy. Hell, neighbor’s playin’ music too damn loud, he’s still your guy. He’s a priest, doctor, judge, shrink, an’ your grandpa who knows best, all rolled into one."
“An’ he keeps the Masquerade. Des Jumeaux, they or the Baron have ways of making’ them look like him. You can run into Toussaint at Lil’ Dizzy’s, sometimes, chowin’ on po’boys in broad daylight. Or for any of that other shit that only happens at day.”
“An’ the people in his neighborhoods, they’re loyal to him, Lou, loyal ‘cuz he looks out for ’em when no one else does. He’s been there, helpin’ poor niggas out ever since you could buy ‘em as slaves. Kids grow up on stories of the things he, or I guess his ’predecessors’, have done for their grandpas, an’ it ain’t long ‘fore they’re goin’ to him for help with this or that. It’s a goodwill that’s old as dirt an’ strong as iron. Those people will go to fuckin’ war for him if he asks it."
“Hell, that’s the big reason Vidal an’ Savoy haven’t squashed him. Why you think they haven’t, when you can count all the Licks who follow him on two hands, an’ he ain’t got the cash for a suite at the Monteleone? That’s ‘cuz he’s got friends, fuckin’ everywhere. The nigga who waits your tables. The nigga who picks up your garbage. The nigga who mows your lawn. The nigga askin’ for change on your way to work. The nigga who mops the floors there. Them and a thousand more. Ask any of ‘em, odds are, they can tell you a story’ ’bout how… well, I told you what sorta shit the Baron does. Odds are, they can tell you a story ’bout the time when he was their guy."
“I ain’t sayin’ he’s a saint, now. He’s still a Lick. Still drinks the same juice they all drink. Still serves the loa, an’ that’s mostly the Gehde, an’ that’s mostly Baron Samedi, wit’ a black hand than his white one. An’ sure as shit, you piss off a houngan with as much power as he got, dyin’ will be a fuckin’ mercy. Maybe he’s cursed people who you don’ think deserve it. The loa don’t really see right an’ wrong the way most folks do. An’ neither do he. The way he does see it, he does right by his people, an’ he fucks anyone who fucks them. Fact is, you ain’t ever gonna find an elder who’s as close not just to the kine, but to the little guy as he is, an’ who gives a damn as much as he do. Unless you think you can ash every Lick in the city, I say, Baron’s the best one to be in charge of ’em."
“So yeah, Lou, that ain’t the kind of Prince I think he’d make—it’s the one I know he is. Because to the poorest and most fucked-over niggas in this city, guess what, he already is ya goddamn butt-fuckin-ya-slut-motha-till-she-moans-an-drools-like-a-bitch-in-heat Prince."
—Shatoya “Chica” Dupré to Louis Fontaine
Perhaps the most enigmatic figure in New Orleans, Baron Cimitiere is a savior to some, a threat to others, and a mystery to all. This strange Kindred arrived in the city in 1799, having left Haiti during the revolt against French colonial occupation. Of his time before, he speaks little, even to his most trusted followers. No one knows if he was native to Haiti or he traveled there at some point from elsewhere. He says only that he faced Final Death in Haiti and was restored to his current incarnation through the aid of the great loa Baron Samedi. Whether he speaks metaphorically or literally is another detail of which he does not speak, but he attributes his devotion to Vodoun to that event.
Combining traditional Vodoun rites with the potent undead magics of his covenant, Baron Cimitiere and is widely reputed as the mightiest blood sorcerer within a city already renowned for the puissance of its occult forces. For many years after arriving in New Orleans, the houngan was content to be left alone to participate in the growth of Vodoun culture. It was at this time that he gained his first Kindred followers in the city, as well as his far more substantial (especially since Hurricane Katrina) mortal congregations. Slowly, he began to realize that both New Orleans’ Kindred authorities posed a threat to his people—Prince Vidal because of his intolerant religious beliefs and his growing fear of Baron Cimitiere’s power and influence; and Antoine Savoy through his manipulation of Vodoun and its practitioners for what he believes to be purely political ends. Baron Cimitiere uses his considerable influence among the kine and his small but influential group of Kindred supporters in order to oppose both threats. On occasion, necessity has forced him to cooperate with Savoy against Vidal—as much as Baron Cimitiere despises Savoy’s misuse of Vodoun, it’s better than Vidal’s overt hostility toward it—but these alliances have always been short-lived arrangements. His enmity for the Tremere is also well-known. The clan’s Primogen Elsbeth von Steinhäusser has never forgiven him for his involvement in the 1811 slave uprisings (perceived or actual) that claimed her first childe’s unlife, and she remains one of Prince Vidal’s most fervent supporters in his crusade against Vodoun. As of the ancilla Julien Derneville’s disappearance, relations with the Warlocks seem to have deteriorated even further…
When he is not reluctantly involved in politics, Baron Cimitiere dwells in one of many havens located throughout poorer, predominantly black neighborhoods—the heart of Vodoun in New Orleans. He conducts frequent ceremonies for Kindred and kine alike. Most of his mortal followers believe him to be solely a powerful houngan, and they remain unaware of his undead nature. Baron Cimitiere has occasionally alluded towards connections with other groups of Kindred Vodouisants beyond his followers in New Orleans (in Haiti, Central and South America, the Caribbean islands and across the United States). These occasions have grown more frequent in recent years, but none save perhaps his followers can guess what such may bode.
The Baron and his faction fared poorly during Hurricane Katrina, which disproportionately impacted the communities in which they had built their havens and domains. The Baron vanished without a trace during the storm and was presumed deceased. His followers went underground in his absence, and a number of his most prominent ones met Final Death at the hands of Strix, hunters, or simple natural disaster. Bulldozers and jackhammers “coincidentally” destroyed survivors during the city’s reconstruction. Many Kindred wrote off the Circle of the Crone as finished in the city, and Antoine Savoy as done for once the Prince fully recovered his own strength.
Three years after the levees broke, the All-Night Society was collectively shocked when Baron Cimitiere calmly strode into Elysium, as if borne by the wake of Hurricane Rita. The still quite-undead Samedi proclaimed that he had met his second Final Death during Hurricane Katrina, a turn of phrase the Harpies noted with some irony. He was here before them after being restored to unlife once more by the great loa Baron Samedi. Much had changed in the storm’s aftermath, he cryptically stated, but one thing had not: “his task” was still unfinished.
He has worked tirelessly to complete it ever since.
Unknown. The Baron has revealed nothing of his lineage. Most Kindred assume him to be of low generation given his obvious age and power.