W20: Wolves of the Crescent City
History of Wolves of the Crescent City
Before the City
The territory that became New Orleans has a history that goes back much farther than the arrival of the Europeans. All the lands around the Mississippi River were previously occupied by Native Americans and garou of the Pure Tribes. Around 2200 B.C, the river first deposited the silt that became the delta of New Orleans. There is evidence of human life there going back to at least 400 A.D. The Mississippian culture that developed in the area consisted of mound-building peoples who established a portage linking the river, Bayouk Choupique (later known as Bayou St John) and Lake Pontchartrain. This trade route was of great importance, showing the strategic value of the land far before it was settled by Europeans.
The Native Americans of the area were kin to the Croatan tribe. Louisiana has a very high concentration of powerful caerns for its size, drawing a large amount garou there. This lasted up until the Croatan sacrificed their tribe to bind the Eater of Souls in 1589. Knowing that the caerns could not stay unprotected, the Uktena quickly came in to take their place. For the next hundred years they worked to establish septs at the major caerns, closing and hiding those they did not have the numbers to watch. By the 1690s, Europeans were arriving in the area.
Early European Colonization and the Founding of the City
As French settlers began to arrive, they built settlements amid the hut villages of the Native Americans. They established a portage at the head of the bayou called “[[Port Bayou St. Jean]]”, accompanied by a rudimentary fort. These efforts were led by Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville.
As the European humans came, so too did supernatural beings. One of these was a Ventrue kindred by the name of Doran, who came to the New World hoping to recreate the glory of the lost city of Carthage. His plan to turn the city of New Orleans into a bastion of kindred civilization free of the masquerade would occupy the rest of his life, and over 250 years of New Orleans history. Other kindred came to the New World as well, looking for freedom and opportunity. Most went north to Canada, but some followed Doran down to Louisiana. He quickly became influential among them, as well as with the local politicians. In fact, he made Bienville his ghoul. Not all the kindred were his allies, however. In 1713, a Spanish Brujah named Simon de Cosa attacked Doran during the night. This was the beginning of a long feud between the two kindred over control of the city.
Cosa instigated enough resistance to get Bienville removed from office as governor in favor of his own servant, Antoinne Cadillac. He had Cadillac outfit Bienville with a small army and had him sent to go deal with the Native American uprisings. Cosa hoped that Bienville would die in battle, but his plan backfired. Bienville’s success in 1716 made him popular again, and he was reinstated as governor.
Bienville founded the city of New Orleans in this territory in 1718, choosing its location for the strategic placement in relation to the lake, the river, and the Gulf of Mexico. Cosa attempted to regain control in the 1720s, but was easily defeated. He continued to fight Doran, now firmly positioned as the kindred Prince of New Orleans, for the next 40 years while Doran continued the development of the city and created a strong intelligence network. Cosa utilized Native American tribes to attack European settlements, but never managed to gain much power. In 1743 however, Bienville escaped Prince Doran’s influence with the help of a mage and fled back to Europe. While this was a big loss for Doran, it was not as large as Cosa thought it was. The Brujah attacked again, thinking Doran was weak without his ghoul, but underestimated how many mortal followers the Prince had and once again had to flee the area.
The Garou Conflicts
In 1755, the English took control of Acadia in Canada. Unwilling to swear loyalty to the British crown, some French-speaking settlers fled Acadia and settled in Louisiana, becoming known as the Cajun people. These people were not exclusively of French decent; some were of English, German, Irish, and even Greek ancestry. European garou followed them, as there were Fianna, Fenrir and Silver Fangs who had kinfolk among the exiles. These garou were not just looking after kinfolk. They were also interested in expanding their territory into Louisiana, eager to find more caerns of power in the New World.
These new garou clashed with the Uktena, who had already lost land to the French settlers. As the Uktena fought the “wyrmcomers”, Cosa returned to attack Doran again, believing the garou fighting in the area would create trouble for him. This was not true, however. The new European garou had no idea what the kindred influence in the city was like, and were only interested in the caerns around it. The Uktena were aware of them, of course, but agreed to a temporary truce with Doran. They knew they could not fight Doran and the other garou at the same time, and they did not want the kindred to take territory from them while they were fighting. The Uktena chief of the time told his people that after they dealt with the newcomers, they would eliminate the kindred threat. This never came to pass. The Uktena lost much of their territory, including most of their land near New Orleans. Those that remained stayed hidden. The Silver Fangs left shortly after the conflicts ceased, leaving Fianna and a few Fenrir in the swamplands of Louisiana to guard the newly acquired caerns. Meanwhile, Doran beat back Cosa once again. Cosa sent word back to Spain lamenting his challenges in the New World, and a response would come soon after.
Arrival of the Spanish
In 1763 after the Seven Years War, the French colony west of the Mississippi River was ceded to Spain as part of the Treaty of Fontainebleau. This was affirmed again in the Treaty of Paris. A Spanish governor came to take control of the colony in 1766. Prince Doran was outraged at the action, which stripped him of most of his influence. Almost all his servants were forced out of office. In response, he riled up the populous to rebel against Spanish rule, and in in the bloodless Rebellion of 1768, they forced the Spanish governor to flee back to Europe. The colony functioned as an independent state for a time, but a year later Spain sent Count Alexander O’Reilly with 24 Man-O-Wars to retake the colony and institute Spanish law. They killed 5 of the rebellions ringleaders and imprisoned 5 plotters – all servants of Doran.
Prince Doran fled to his bayou haven, leaving Cosa to believe he would now have the upper hand. He knew of the lupines that dwelt in the bayous of Louisiana, and expected Doran to run into trouble with them. By then, however, most of the European garou had left to fight elsewhere, leaving only a few left in the rural areas of the colony. The Uktena had regained their territory outside the city, but where not yet ready to make their presence known. Cosa also believe that his influence would now be unmatched among the Spanish politicians. However, he did not realize the competition he had – Spanish Shadow Lords who had come with the new governor to take the caern that lay within the city lines.
Governor de Unzago was firmly in the hands of these garou, and when Cosa managed to institute a ban on all trade save that with Spain, de Unzago looked for ways to prevent the economic collapse of the city. Prince Doran still owned many of the wharves along the river, and the Shadow Lords worked out a deal with the kindred in secret to use the wharves for illegal trade. By 1788, over half the trade coming into the city was from England. The city was flourishing under this arrangement, and the arrangement between the Shadow Lords and Prince Doran set precedence for extended dealings between them that would continue into the 1900s.
The Shadow Lords were not the only European garou who were in the city proper. Bone Gnawers from Europe and from the surrounding colonies in the Americas made their way there as well. They did not know of the Shadow Lords’ dealing with Doran, but did quickly begin to realize how tainted the city was with Kindred. Though they were included in the Sept of the Crescent City that was established around the caern, the Shadow Lords excluded them from all political dealings and gave them only the most menial tasks. The Gnawers did what they did best – they quietly survived.
The Great Fires
In 1788, when Cosa realized how blind he had been to this new balance of power, he flew into a terrible, murderous frenzy. He gathered his ghouls and set off to find Doran’s haven and burn it down. Doran had left his haven in the city in a state of apparent use, making Cosa think the Ventruestill lived there. He set fire to the place, unwittingly started a massive conflagration that burned down a staggering 80% of the city. Now the kindred of New Orleans were unanimously against the Brujah. In the chaos, the Bone Gnawers were further distracted away from the Shadow Lords dubious dealings as they worked to help their kinfolk rebuild. Doran was unable to take advantage of the hatred towards Cosa at this point, for in 1790 he returned to France to help his sire survive the French Revolution. Unfortunately for Cosa, Doran returned within the year, resuming the fighting between them. In 1994, another fire was started that swept through the newly reconstructed neighborhoods. Nobody knew who started it, but the kindred put their bets on Cosa again.
Return to French Rule and the Louisiana Purchase
In 1801, under Napoleon’s rule, France launched a successful effort to retake the colony and remove Spanish rule. Cosa fled once more, while Doran began to plan for future confrontations. The Shadow Lords were pleased with the continued infighting between the kindred, believing that eventually they could drive the leeches of New Orleans to kill each other. Nobody was expecting what would come next. In 1803, the Louisiana Purchase was announced, catching both the kindred and the garou by surprise. William Claiborne was instated as the American governor, and put those loyal to him in all official positions.
War against the Technocracy and the Battle of New Orleans
Mages began to flock to the territory. Doran did not know for sure whether governor Claiborne was in their power, but his own abilities proved useless on Claiborne and his allies. It did not take long for the garou and the kindred to put together what was happening. The Shadow Lords told Dirab of the raids being made on caerns all over the territory. The Shadow Lords and Bone Gnawers worked with the rural garou to defend them as best they could. The few caerns that the Uktena still held were hidden well enough that they did not come under fire, and they did not step forward to assist the European garou. They knew that their invisibility was still crucial.
A mage by the name of Esau Grymes became the first to make direct contact with Doran. They met in 1814, and Grymes explained to the kindred Prince that these aggressive Mages were of a faction opposed to his own. Grymes was a member of the Cult of Ecstacy, and told Doran about the war between the Technocracy and the Traditions. He informed Doran that the Technocracy planned to take the city by force with British soldiers and rape New Orleans of its magical treasures, including the lupine caern. Doran in turn shared this information with the Shadow Lords, and a three-fold alliance was established. When the British came, they were easily defeated, losing over 2,600 men while the American’s lost less than 100. After this victory, the European garou had the momentum to push the remaining Technocrats and their weaver-tainted, caern-powered machines out of the territory. Many mages of the Traditions stayed, however, and all three factions agreed to stay out of the business of the others.
In the years following, the city flourished and bloomed. The ports were never empty, and the population expanded beyond 100,000. The kindred population grew as well to feed on the bloated populace. This would end by the 1850’s.
Disease and War
Sickness and disease plagued the city on a yearly basis. Thousands of residents fell ill at a time, and for the first time Doran realized that there were too many kindred in the city as they began to fight over the healthy humans to feed on. Bone Gnawers began to fight these kindred, and Doran could not retaliate lest he lose his alliance with the Shadow Lords. The Shadow Lords in turn told Doran that they had little power to control the Gnawers on the streets. Secretly, they simply wanted the kindred to be culled without getting their own hands dirty. The relations between Doran and the Shadow Lords began to deteriorate.
Mages, too, posed a problem. Voodoo had come to the territory starting in the early 1700’s, and with it came several awakened. These mages, mostly Verbena and Dreamspeakers, slowly established a growing influence among the African slaves that rivaled even the influence of the white slave-masters. Now, during the 1830’s, the Voodoo Queen Marie Laveau was working to sow further discord between the garou and the kindred. Interestingly, much of this was to eliminate the influence of the Settites that had grown within certain voodoo cultures. Though Doran had a fierce hatred of the Settites, Laveau either did not know of the distinction or did not care. The Shadow Lords soon recognized that other forces were working to disrupt the balance of power in the city, but were ignorant of who was behind it. The Uktena had been working to establish allies among the voodoo circles for a long time, and their kinfolk began to mix into these cultures as well. This cultural mixing led to the evolution of Southern hoodoo that continued into the 1900’s. The Uktena used their contacts as valuable spies, and hoped to push the European garou and the kindred into war.
By the time the American Civil War began, most of the kindred had fled the city due to massive downturn and aggression from Mages and the Bone Gnawers. In 1862, the city was captured by Union forces. At this low-point in his plan, Doran swore to make the end of the war a turning point in his dreams for the city.
Regrowth and Shifting Power
Doran used his remaining assets and money from his sire in France to help rebuild the city. Through the 1880’s and 90’s the city went through many ups and downs, but by the turn of the century it was once again the largest city in the South, with over 200,000 people. kindred once again began to cautiously return, and Prince Doran worked hard to keep them safe from the city-dwelling garou. The Shadow Lords were keeping a tenuous peace with Doran, but did not know the extent of this kindred revival. Amid the urban renewal, the Uktena lost much of the progress they had made, though they kept in touch with their hoodoo-practicing allies and kinfolk.
The Great Depression did not spare New Orleans, and by the time World War II began, most of the kindred had again abandoned the city. The Shadow Lords were confident that they would soon be able to rid themselves of the Prince of New Orleans, but in their hesitance to act quickly, lost the opportunity. By now, the Bone Gnawers were finally unraveling the secret alliance that the Shadow Lords had been keeping, but knew they could not openly accuse them. They waited, biding their time. For the first time since the Europeans arrived, the Uktena began to make peaceful contact with the Bone Gnawers. They did not tell all the secrets that they knew, but they began to plan the death of Prince Doran.
In the 1950’s, New Orleans again began to flourish. Doran saw his dreams coming true, and convinced a number of influential kindred to join him. In 1955 he celebrated his 250th year in the city, and used the opportunity to finally reveal his idea of “New ”/wikis/Carthage/new" class=“create-wiki-page-link”>Carthage" to his allies. Upon hearing his arguments for a city of vampires free of the masquerade, the other kindred were outraged. Prepared as he was for this backlash, Doran believed they would eventually come around. No more than a month later, Doran was assassinated by an unknown kindred. The garou were shocked – though pleasantly so. In his place, however, a Ventrue named Marcel who had long been a spy of Doran’s stepped up as Prince. Using his influence with the spy network, he was unopposed in his maneuver.
Reign of Prince Marcel
The Shadow Lords were less willing to deal with Marcel than his predecessor. They realized how much more extensive and powerful Marcel’s network of spies was, and quickly found themselves losing ground in the city and questioning their own contacts. Rather than risking direct war, they covered up their losses as much as they could, believing that they simply required more time to untangle this mess. They weren’t about to admit there was a problem and let it be known how long they had let this threat exist. Bone Gnawers began to tell of the corruption of the leeches, but the rest of The Nationturned a deaf ear to their cries.
Marcel was not as involved as a ruler, caring more about his own personal goals than keeping peace in the city. He did nothing to oppose segregation, or to stop the violent race riots in the 1960’s. The common people, in his view, were the problem of the wolves. Instead, he worked on increasing his influence in State politics. Over the next decades, the city sank into violence, crime, and darkness as corruption took hold. Forces of the Wyrm quickly moved in, sensing opportunity. Economically, the city does very well. Pentex makes sure the ports are never open, though who knows what comes and goes in New Orleans waters. Urban expansion in the 70’s and 80’s grew with the influx of business, filling Marcel’s pockets. The city did indeed become a city of vampires, but not at all in the peaceful dream of Prince Doran. kindred from all over the world take refuge here, knowing there will be easy prey. Other, nastier things came as well, keeping the garou occupied. In 1999, Antihelios rose in the Umbral skies.
By the beginning of the new millenia, the garou of New Orleans had pulled back as much as they could, keeping close to the caern. The Shadow Lords were getting desperate. A fire broke out at the New Orleans Fairgrounds (Elysium to the leeches) during the December of 2001. Though Mages were implicated, Marcel wondered if the garou were responsible.
No one was prepared for the devastation that came in 2005. The Uktena had noticed fluctuations in the Wyld energies of the state, but could not anticipate an event of this magnitude. Hurricane Katrina flooded 80% of the city when the levee and floodwall system failed. Massive amounts of Wyld energy bombarded the city. During the worst of the storm, strong gauntlet fluxes revealed the sickened penumbra of the city, even allowing the red glow of Antihelios to shine down upon the destruction. Though much of the population was evacuated, those that were still there suffered through a week of nightmares as Wyrm-creatures of all kinds were whipped into frenzy – including the leeches. Crazed by the chaos, they fed without tact or discrimination. Pentex shipments spilled vile chemicals into the city and the ocean. Marcel was unable to keep any sort of peace.
For the first time, it became apparent to all the garou in North America just how corrupted the city had become. Children of Gaia and their kinfolk flocked to New Orleans in the next year to help with relief efforts, while Fianna and Fenrir came from the surrounding South to deal with the Wyrm-creatures. Several prominent Silver Fangs, representatives of King Albrecht, came to assess the obvious failures of the Sept of the Crescent City. While the Shadow Lords were tight-mouthed and defensive, the Bone Gnawers did not hesitate to reiterate the claims they had been making for decades. This time, however, they were not alone.
From the shadows of their hidden caerns, the Uktena of Louisiana finally made themselves known. No one had known just how many there were, or how much they had learned as they observed from afar. The Uktena verified the claims of the Bone Gnawers, affirming just how bad it had been. But, to the horror of the Shadow Lords, they went a step further. They exposed the history of passive treaties with the kindred that had allowed the corruption to grow. The Shadow Lords still had great influence, and held strong that they had negotiated peace out of necessity as they waited for the right time to strike. Some other garou saw the wisdom in this; after all, it wasn’t the first time that garou had made deals with leeches in order to keep peace in cities. Still, no one could overlook the pride that kept the Sept leadership from notifying the Nation of the true state of things. The Sept of the Crescent City was formally taken from the hands of its old leadership. It it’s place, the Council of the Crescent City was established that gave each of the involved tribes a voice in these dark times.
Wyld energy fluctuations continued to emanate from several glades around the city. In April of 2006, Less than a year after the hurricane hit, a dormant caern was awakened in the [[Bayou St. John]] . The caern’s resident totem was Alligator, who is unpredictable and aggressive as the spirit reorients itself in a drastically changed landscape. The garou didn’t want the caern to fall into the hands of the Wyrm, but were unsure how to best approach it. Alligator was a powerful mokole spirit, and had no love of the wolves. Furthermore, the caern was severely Wyld tainted, making the situation even more dangerous. For years they were unable to even get close to the caern, despite their attempts.
Fall of the Kindred
The new Sept leadership continued to fight the corruption in the city, and this came to a head when they finally declared war against Prince Marcel and the leeches of the city in the summer of 2009. This war was fast and violent, and threatened the foundations of the masquerade and the veil alike. Fights broke out in the streets at times, and only through the efforts of both sides was most of the city convinced that this was some kind of gang violence. In the end, Marcel was killed, most kindred were slaughtered or fled the city, and the Caern of Dark Waters was almost taken by weaver-tainted government agents.
The Fera of the city, more numerous now than the Garou ever knew, stepped forward to condemn the Garou for their recklessness, both in instigating the war and leaving the Caern almost undefended. While the Garou had continued their violent crusade, a mixed group of Fera had reclaimed the Caern of Sleeping Scales, cleansed it, and reestablished it as a font of nature’s power, the strength of which had not been seen in decades. Where had the Garou been, they asked? The Fera declared that the Garou were no longer fit to hold the Caern of Dark Waters, and condemned the Council of Elders as a failed experiment in cooperation between tribes. Furthermore, they bared witness to the sins of the Fenrir and Fianna leaders who had escalated the situation against the better judgment of the rest of the council. It seemed that another war was eminent as the European Garou seethed with anger at these insults. Small fights broke out, and the more reasonable elders struggled to keep control of the situation.
As it so happened, these events were big enough to draw King Albrecht himself to the Crescent City. He met with the Fera – an unprecedented event – and reached an agreement with them. New Orleans was no longer to be the territory of the Garou. He would removed the vast majority of them, leaving only a select few to stay and assist the Fera, who would arrange their own hybrid leadership. The remaining Garou would have representation on this cross-breed council, and maybe, just maybe, the Fera and the Garou could learn to work together, setting an example in these dark times. This decision was challenged by many, and a Fenrir elder fought with Albrecht, calling him a coward for bending to the whim of these inferior changing breeds. Albrecht defeated him in single combat, once again establishing his dominance and his right to rule. Tired of the twisted city full of rot, corruption, and shadows, the Garou left with a bitter taste in their mouth. After the extended transitionary period, claim to the Caern of Dark Waters and the surrounding city area was officially ceded to the Fera leadership in early 2011.