Amarante Marie Leroux
Title: Alchemist, Priestess, and Commander of the Cirque du Mort
Race: Assumed Human
Hometown: New Orleans
Date of Birth: Unknown
Sarcastic, short-tempered, snide and callous. Rebellious and suspicious of anything that may impose upon her freedom. Though thick-shelled and hard to earn her trust, she is fiercely protective of those she actually calls "friend" or family. Mischievous, dark-humored, and though she comes from a criminal background, she is nonetheless honorable and true to her word. She is often curt with her crew mates, and has a distaste for any technologies that harnesses the power of Aether, which she believes to be the life source of the universe. She has a very carefree side to her, however, one that enjoys drink, smoke, and good music immensely. Most of the time, she appears relaxed and in control, smug and like she knows exactly how everything is going to play out. She often appears cruel in her joking, but it's simply her way of poking fun at those she cares about. She is known for having somewhat sticky fingers..
My name? That has always been a bit questionable, even to yours truly. While time and experience with the spirits on the other side have begun to shed light on the mystery that is my conception, what I can tell you is far more comprehensible to the average human mind. Today, you may call me Amarante Marie Leroux, or simply “Amy” (Ah-mee) to those lacking the mental capacity to fully register my first name. My name as given by my first adoptive family, however, is Marie Benoit. The story behind how I went from Marie to Amarante is a long and strenuous one, wrought with the mystery and charm of the Louisana Bayous themselves. But if you're ready for a tale, I'll start from the beginning...
It is estimated that I was born somewhere in the time of 1838, in a world far different than the one you probably call home. My earliest memories are from within the confines of the old Ursuline Convent of New Orleans, Louisiana, where the sisters who cared for me among other children simply referred to me as “Marie.” It was a dark time then, when the shadows and darkness of the swamps and their magic had yet to fully recede from the city that had recently been planted in their center. I saw many a foster family, and from an early age I had been deemed “cursed” and the source of much foul luck, as tragedy and sorrow seemed to follow me wherever I went. Nonetheless, at the age of five I was taken into the home of a well-to-do Caucasian family who ran the Benoit plantation just outside of the city. They were a figurehead of the city, as my new adoptive father – Theoren Benoit – acted as a prominent source of income with his cotton fields. It was Anna Benoit, his wife, however who chose to bring home the child who she referred to as a “porcelain doll.” I later learned that I would be living with three male siblings – and it became clear why Anna had been so desperate for a little girl. Nonetheless, she had little to do with her children and would often only put time aside for me whenever she wished to go into town to parade in new Sunday outfits. My true maternal figure became our nurse, a middle-aged servant who we called Miss Sarah. She was a lovely black woman, who often dressed in pure white and told us fairytales and stories of voodoo.
I lived with the family in a sort of tentative peace for about two years before what luxury and happiness that had been handed to me would be taken away. It was a late, November night in the year of 1845 when fire licked the sky and the sounds of screams filled the air. After years of mistreatment and cruel living conditions, the field servants laid siege on the house, first killing Anna and then going after Theoren. Though Miss Sarah attempted to talk the bloodlust out of the men who remained fueled by rage, her time was wasted when she fell with my brothers as well. I was only lucky enough to escape the fire, fleeing into the swamplands that surrounded our home into what, surely, should have been my death.
Yet, instead of succumbing to the many dangers that dwelt within the wilderness, I was discovered and taken in by a strange old woman I had seen on a few occasions while playing in the fields. She called herself Mercy Leroux, and claimed to be a practitioner of the magic I had heard about so much in the stories told to me by Miss Sarah.... The magic called Voodoo. I stayed with her from then on, to sate the loneliness that plagued her living conditions as a hermit in the swamplands. It was a quaint shack held high on stilts to which one could only approach by rowboat. We visited the city on rare occasion, but most of our time remained allocated to our solitary practice and home. Momma Leroux often made a point to clearly describe how near to the end of her days she was, and that she had taken me in as to pass on her knowledge of the craft. At the young age of seven, I became her apprentice and was given the name Amarante. Choosing to honor those from my former life, I kept the name “Marie” and became who I am today: Amarante Marie Leroux.
Our relationship was a close one, though I tended to look to her more as a mentor and teacher than mother. Mercy had a tendency of being cold and withdrawn, strict in her lessons and distant in her emotions. It was manageable, however, and in the end – I became her successor. I was a skilled practitioner of magic and divination, Mercy often commented on the energies that ran through me. But milestones are hard to prevent. At the age of sixteen, I stumbled in on my “mother” during ritual… To put it simply, I came upon the knowledge that her choice to take me in was not completely innocent. Our practice has two sides to the coin, and is neither good nor evil – and sometimes, it calls for blood sacrifice. For whatever reason I chose to never delve into, Mercy needed a young woman trained in the arts of the other side to sacrifice in order to perpetuate her own life. Needless to say… This didn’t set well with me. Nonetheless, she was far more powerful than I, nor could I violate the laws of our beliefs by doing away with my own mentor. I needed someone to be my hands.
Using a skull that belonged to Momma Leroux – that held a spirit of a long deceased man – I made those hands come to my aid. His name was Javert Marchand – a pirate from a time before me. He had been trapped by my mother as a live man after spurning her. It was only fair he pay me back.
Her death was quick, and my life was set from then on out. I chose to keep Javert as the reanimate that he was to serve me. Finally, I was free to live the life of excitement and adventure I had always wanted. And in return for his help – I always kept Javert alive. We became criminals on the run, traveling up and down the Mississippi River as fugitives. We were responsible for many of the infamous Louisiana heists of our time, yet always eluded authorities. My life was my own, my magic my prized possession. All things must come to an end, however, and our crime streak soon ran short in 1863. Chased into the swamps outside of New Orleans by a mob out for our heads, Javert and I retreated to my former home in an attempt to escape. It was a surprise when the crew of the Isabella intervened – picking us up only to leap through time moments later.
Some might call it luck. But me? Coincidences don’t exist. My friends in the spirit realm have more in store for Javert and I than either of us could ever imagine, and I'm more than certain we're about to find out exactly what those plans are...
© Airship Isabella 2012