Voodoo Queens of New Orleans

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Chapter 58: Her Soul Wakes

I have tried with every fiber of my being to remember the rest of that night from my own account.

I have gone through multiple lave tets, have spoken to my ancestors and to the loa, have channeled my djab, have convened with other mambos in an attempt to remember the events that preceded Abraham ordering Hezekiah to give Aza the Gift of Darkness, but it doesn’t come to me. Some have told me it’s common to black out after possession, so I have settled at that conclusion.

I only remember the moment right before Marie Laveau possessed me and the moments after she abandoned my body. Everything between was told to me by others, so this account is stitched together by other witnesses; it is not my own, though I hope it will be one day.

**

Before Marie took over my spirit, I watched in horror as Abraham continued to point at Miss Aza down below. Hezekiah continued to gaze at Miss Aza as if the longer he stared, the larger the chance of Abraham’s request going away would be. But it never did.

“Abraham,” Hezekiah began, but he didn’t know what to say or how to sway his position. Hezekiah had committed the highest offense to Abraham, and the only way to amend for what he had done would be to carry out the order that Abraham had set fourth, but he couldn’t. Aza was family. To ask this of him would be to ask him to cross a line that he never thought he would cross.

“Don’t tell me that you want to protect that vile voodoo witch,” Abraham spat.

“She’s my family,” Hezekiah said—pleaded.

“Your family is gone. This brotherhood is all you have left. You shall be loyal to us as we’ve been loyal to you.”

I couldn’t move. I couldn’t even think properly. The situations I became tangled in only seemed to slip more and more out of my control. What could I do to protect Aza? I was powerless in comparison to the two vampires who stood in front of me. The only hope lied in Hezekiah and his conscience, but it was clear that he wasn’t sure which way he was going to go on this divided road. His jaw clenched as he continued to look down at Aza below, and for a moment, I thought that he would refuse. But after a moment of thought, Hezekiah closed his eyes and descended down below. His movement was quick; a shadow navigating the night. One moment, he was standing by the balcony railing, and the next, the remnants of the darkness in him floated in the air as he suddenly stood on the ground below in the driveway. The Coterie yelped at his presence, and shortly after, Abraham disappeared and reappeared below, too. The screams grew louder, the protest and readying of attach amplifying.

“What the hell are you doing?!” I heard Mama yell at him.

“I’ve given you everything, Hezekiah,” Abraham said to him as Hezekiah stood between Abraham and The Coterie. “I’ve given you purpose, I’ve given you a brotherhood, a new family. I taught you how to read, to write, to hunt! I have given you everything!”

“Kiah,” I heard Aza say. “Kiah, what is this?”

“Aza.” Hezekiah shook his head, wondering what there was to say, but he was only left with a choice to make. Aza was unsure of what the situation’s context was, but when she looked up at saw the grave expression on my face, she came to the conclusion that it was dire. That it involved blood and death. If I screamed for her to run, would it be of any use? Could she defend herself in any way? Could any of them?

Hezekiah neared in on her, and the Coterie gathered together and readied themselves for defense. But I knew it was no use. I sat there and watched them. All of them. These people that had been feuding for centuries, standing on opposite ends of this driveway before the bright lights of the Beaumont plantation house, anticipating bloodshed as the constituents inside the house danced to a tune. Aza knew that Hezekiah would do anything for his master, and she was realizing this as Hezekiah stood between her and his Master, the call of the night slowly overtaking him, bloodlust somehow distasteful in Hezekiah’s mouth when he knew it would be Aza’s blood.

And then he lunged forward.

The screams were piercing. The balcony I was on began to spin as I waited for the gurgling sounds of Hezekiah biting into Aza’s neck. But it didn’t arrive. Instead, the sound of an unexplainable force echoed instead. Doctor Ben had raced forward and shielded Aza as his magic flung Hezekiah and Abraham back into one of the pillars of the house; the entire structure shook. The music inside suddenly stopped, as everyone started to become aware that something was happening.

“Abraham!” A woman yelled. Running from inside the house, a woman with a dark blue ball gown had run out into the driveway. She was a vampire; she looked like she held some type of authoritative position in another clan, for she was at his side chastising him for his violence. But Abraham ignored her. Amidst the rubble that came off from the pillar he and Hezekiah flew into, he stood with a fury in his eyes that couldn’t be extinguished. He no longer cared for the rules and the territories and the treaties and the political correctness. He did not want to walk on eggshells around anyone, nor did he want to plot in the shadows. Hezekiah compromising their bond sent Abraham to a plane where rules did not exist, even in the presence of the Council, who had come outside to see what was happening.

“Abraham!” Russell had yelled. “Stop this nonsense!”

“You stay out of this!” he shouted. “This has nothing to do with you!”

“I’m warning you,” Russell replied, walking close enough to Abraham for it to become dangerous. “Do not do something you will regret. You know the rules.”

“I know your rules,” Abraham said, and at this point, the rest of his clan had come out to stand by his side. They looked anxious, wondering what would happen next; wondering if an era without the Council’s influence on their lives was coming. “And they ain’t mine.”

Abraham then looked to Hezekiah, who had gotten up and was standing close to the other side of the pillar. There was a lack of restraint in the way he stood in front of all these people. Despite the meeting that had occurred prior with the rest of his contemporaries and the Council, he was ready to risk the natural “balance” of things. And to know that Hezekiah was the catalyst for this sudden shift was groundbreaking. And Hezekiah knew this. But he also knew that Aza was his family, which is what prevented him from lunging forward so willingly the second time Abraham commanded him to give Miss Aza the Gift of Darkness.

“Abraham,” Hezekiah said, frantic. “After everything I’ve done for you? After everything I have done!?”

“You betrayed me!” Abraham hissed, in which the entirety of the clan turned to look at Hezekiah, the esteemed Elder who was seen as royalty. They looked as if the words coming out of Abraham’s mouth couldn’t be true, even though Abraham was the Lord of their clan.

“I know! And I’m sorry. I will do anything to prove I’m loyal, Master. Anything. But this? You...you know I can’t.”

“These witches have done nothing for you the way that I have. The only connection to you that she has is blood. Nothing more! You and me? We got over a century of a bond! And you’re willing to throw it all away for her?!”

Hezekiah couldn’t answer him outright, but Abraham knew the answer was yes. And this hurt him. Watching Doctor Ben stand in front of Aza, ready to defend to the death, almost seemed hopeless. Even the Council was ready to restrain Hezekiah or Abraham, if they tried to attack Aza again, but Abraham’s clan was ready to get in the way. Every possibility onward depended on what Hezekiah did next—would he succumb to the loyalty towards his master and turn Aza into a vampire, or would he fall victim to the bond of kin and spare her? Hezekiah couldn’t decide. He stood by the pillar, staring at Abraham with these wide eyes that were pleading, but Abraham was so hurt by the betrayal that this pleading look could not sway him. We all waited; The Council stood deathly still, waiting for Abraham’s next move. But he did nothing yet. All he did was frown when Hezekiah couldn’t make a decision.

Weak.” Abraham spat. “Do I need to make a decision for you?”

“Just do it, ’Kiah,” The unnamed female vampire said to him.

“No!” a voice yelled, and from inside the house, Sajida stormed into the driveway with a fury in her eyes. “Don’t you dare! You take another step and I’ll strike you both down with everything I can!”

The Coterie looked at Sajida with surprise and shock in their expressions at Sajida’s presence. She walked up to where Abraham and Hezekiah stood, completely fearless. Her eyes were bright; relentless.

Abraham couldn’t help but laugh. “Now you wanna be a part of the family squabble!?”

Sajida ignored him and spoke straight to Hezekiah. “If you do this, you’ll start a war that will be grander than any war you’ve ever been in with this ‘clan’ of yours. I swear to you, it will never end.”

“She’s right,” Russell said, garnering an uncomfortable look from Sajida. “You will be breaking many of the tenants in place that ensure peace between our factions.”

“Like he already hasn’t!” Mama said with anger on her tongue.

“Those cases have been closed already,” Sylvia said to her; she was referencing Abraham’s solitary confinement in the dirt; ‘an eye for an eye’ basically.

“Both of you,” Sajida began. “Just walk away. Right now. Take your clan and go.”

This was Sajida’s final warning; none of us could predict the wrath that she would unleash if Hezekiah followed his master’s orders. Aza still said nothing. She was stunned into silence, her face stone hard and nearly unreadable as she stood behind her brother. There was a small hunt of what could have been disappointment in her eyes as she waited for Hezekiah to do his Master’s bidding. But he still couldn’t. And this only angered Abraham even more; being threatened by the Council and Sajida angered him even more.

“Enough!” Abraham shouted. “Hezekiah, if you don’t give her the Gift of Darkness, I will end her life. And I don’t give a damn what war springs from it; you’ll live with the guilt, knowing it was your fault!”

There was an uproar; there was begging, pleading, yelling, threats. But it all became mute in Abraham’s ear. Hezekiah still did not move, so Abraham felt as if he was left with only one choice to teach Hezekiah a lesson for disobeying him. The last thing I remember was Abraham looking up at me—he almost, almost, looked apologetic. Because he knew I would never forgive him for what he was about to do. But at the same time, he looked uncaring. He looked as if whatever grand scheme he wanted to achieve with me would still be achievable even if he killed Miss Aza right in front of us. A scream of helplessness left my mouth the moment Abraham lunged forward, and right then and there, everything began to move in slow motion—Abraham running with his superhuman speed, with Hezekiah running after him. They moved so fast, the only ones who could register their speed was the Council; the other vampires caught wind of how fast they were moving shortly after. But I saw all of this in slow motion; I saw everything. And then, in one moment, I saw nothing.

I saw nothing.

**

From witnesses’ accounts, this is what happened after I saw nothing.

Abraham and Hezekiah were only feet away from Aza at this point, Hezekiah fast but not fast enough. Right before they got to Aza, everyone heard a piercing scream. The scream was from me, but it was amplified more than before.

There was an outward wind, and suddenly, the windows shattered, and everyone within yards of me flew in the opposite direction, human and vampire alike. I had descended from the balcony in a blink of an eye; in a split second, by body surrendering to the elements. The dust arose, the glass scattered in the driveway. Everyone from the party, having heard the loud cry and having seen the glass shatter from all around them, rushed out of the foyer and close to where the sound was heard; the situation had escalated.

I was in the middle of the driveway on my hands and knees, the space around me empty, for everyone was on the ground and still recovering. When the dust settled, everyone was silent. I began to stand up. I stood completely still, staring at the sky, then I looked ahead at the Coterie, Abraham, and Hezekiah on the ground near each other.

My eyes were completely white, glowing ethereally.

The Language of the Ancestors began to be whispered around everyone—the words of spirits, channeled through a vessel allowing them access into the mortal world; I was that vessel. No one knew what the spirits said; there were only whispers. Then, shadows began to dance against the trees and on the ground. No one moved; even the most esteemed vampires were in shock at the power of the ancestors being displayed, watching the shadows in fear.

Mama was the first one to call out to me, but I didn’t respond because in that moment, I wasn’t there. My soul was asleep while Marie Laveau’s soul awoke inside of me. And when she spoke, it echoed through my mouth for everyone to hear. Only a few recognized her voice when it was heard: Hezekiah, Abraham, The Council and their friends. The Coterie knew it was grave by the horrified looks on their faces; the strongest vampires were floored by her voice.

“You be a fool if you lay a finger on her now,” Marie said to Abraham. Abraham slowly got up, staring at me with eyes that were never seen so wide on him. Never did Abraham ever display this type of weakness, but to hear the voice of the Voodoo Queen he had murdered through his daughter sent him to an icy eternal grave. It was ironic—an irony he would have never expected.

“No...” Abraham whispered. “Ain’t no way. It...it can’t be...”

“Impossible,” Russell had chimed in. He walked down from the porch and approached my body very slowly. The rest of the Council urged him to come back, but he acted as if he couldn’t hear their voices.

“Marie?” He called out, and I had turned to face Russell; my face went sour.

“Murderer,” Marie growled at him. “Murderers!

The shadows grew in numbers, only they gravitated towards two people—Russell and Abraham. They snaked in the dirt, their claws reaching out but never being able to reach. Then Marie screamed one word into the air; to the spirits: Jacques. The name of Marie’s first husband misted into the night. The name of her first love; the man murdered by the Council. And suddenly, the shadows came to life. They took on forms of people, all different but each one with bright white eyes. Their skin was black, their clothes white but torn and tattered—the spirits of Marie’s co- workers long ago, killed by Terah during his war with Marie for Jacques’ death. There was screaming and chaos as the shadows spread out and wreaked havoc. But they could not touch these people; ones they got close, their bodies succumbed to the afterlife again, disappearing into nothingness. Russell stood still as everyone scurried about in panic; Sylvia had to come forward and drag him away from me.

“Lisa!” Mama yelled at me through the chaos. “Lisa, stop! Come back, please!”

But I was no longer there. It was Marie, and she did not respond to the name “Lisa.” Mama knew how dire this was; Marie II had possessed Mama several times before, but Mama knowing now, for certain, that Marie Laveau was my djab, and knowing what she was capable of through me, made her realize once and for all that there was no more running from the truth. It was out in the open, and not only did Mama see this truth, but the rest of the Coterie, Abraham’s clan, and the Council. They all now knew what Mama was trying to hide from the world, and this is what scared her.

The prophecy was truly being fulfilled.

It wasn’t until Marie realized what she was doing was wrong. Maybe the Loa was judging her for using her influence to spread fear and promote evil, which was what Marie was against in her own lifetime.

“This ain’t the way,” Marie muttered. My nose began to bleed, and the spirits slowly started to seep back into the ground until they were gone.

Blood dripped down my nostrils, coating my mouth, until I began to collapse, the white leaving my eyes until I fell onto the ground.

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