The Cost of Magic
The people of the Big Easy have always believed in magic. Sleepers, as Mages call them, call on hougans for magical protection, paint their doors with goat’s blood to keep away evil spirits, and pray to saints for their protection. And they know to fear the night. Vampire lovers where to feel the ecstasy of a Kindred’s kiss. Locals know that strange knick-knacks, odds, and ends are sold at the French Quarter on Fridays at midnight— that when the city lights go out, eerie green and purple wisps light the lamps of the French Market. If you want to gorget a terrible memory or heal a dying baby for the price of a thumb, that’s where they’ll tell you to go. The best parties and the best haunted houses are in New Orleans, and the locals will tell you that’s because they’re both run by fairies.
Mages, Werewolves, Vampires, and Changelings can b e seen walking down the street cavorting with one another as if they were the oldest of friends. It wasn’t always the case that the supernaturals knew about each other, let alone got along. Things have changed a great deal since 2010, when the spirit of New Orleans, the ancient god Hasathra’mawe, was raised from its nightmarish torment by a feat of magic only possibly by the combined powers of all the supernaturals in the city— and the sacrifices of a heroic few.
Places of power are what they are. They merely change their dance to the music of the times. As positive energies flow back through the once broken city, New Orleans comes alive again. Once the City of the Damned, now New Orleans is a city of song and celebration. And Hasathra’mawe looks upon his great bowl rumbling with revelry and grins drunkenly.
In the stories told by Uratha lorekeepers, Hasathra’mawe is a very old Incarna. In the First Tongue, the language of both the Uratha and the spirits, it means “bowl that accepts all that which flows into it.” The native humans of the region knew Hasathra’mawe by many names before it became called New Orleans. For thousands of years, the spirit was left to grow wild. It preferred the form of a horned serpent and became known to the first Native American settlers of its lands as Sinti Lapitta.
Hasathra’mawe began to remember people, then, and it quickly grew fond of them and adapted to a shape that they found pleasing, that of a tiny man. But Hasathra’mawe also liked being noticed. He would stay across the river from the people and throw rocks and sticks to catch their attention, and then he would run away into the woods. The people called him Bohpoli (“the thrower”) or Kowi Anuskasha (“the)one who stays in the woods”). The natives told many stories about Bohpoli, including that he would steal little children into the woods to teach them about herbs and medicines. These children would later return to become the medicine men of the tribe. Bohpoli would speak to them alone.
The nature of a spirit is in its name, and Hasathra’mawe accepted all who came into the land. When the Spaniards came, it accepted them. And it accepted the Acadians and the Creole and all the rest. Although it accepted many things, Hasathra’mawe also struggled with those who felt the greatest pain. As much as it wanted attention, it tended to identify with those who go the least and the worst of it. And so, in later days, it took the form of a homeless man. Over the course of the last century, it spent much of its time travelling the least traveled roads of its city, singing drunkenly and spreading as much joy as it could. But no one was listening anymore. As the 20th century drew to a close, the music of New Orleans was beginning to die, and Hasathra’mawe was growing ever more sickly and mad.
In 1990, Hasathra’mawe felt the descent of a great power into its bowl, and it knew that this would be its salvation. It shouted and sang and dance. Its tears blanketed the city in rain, when it shouted the city shook with thunder, and when it clapped its hands lightning burst across the sky.
In 2005, what the rest of the world knew to be Hurricane Katrina, Hasathra’mawe felt as a vicious attack. It was being eaten from within by a demonic entity called Samael and from the north by an evil spirit called Lekl’kuli. Lekl’kuli, the spirit of the corrupted city of Gardenview, turned humans mad with its blue fire, burning their minds and theif flesh and leaving them charred husks that cared for nothing but to tear and consume.
Hasathra’mawe and its loyal Urdaga warred across the vast expanse of Lake Pontchartrain with Lekl’kuli and its Anshega. Due to the actions of an Elodoth ghost wolf named Casey Ainsley and his ally Jordan Garver, the hated Beshilu joined the fight against Lekl’kili at the last moment, allowing Hasathra’mawe to turn its attention to Samael and contain it before finally destroying Lekl’kuli utterly.
The costs of the Pontchartrain Spirit War were tremendous. New Orleans was broken and its population scattered. Hasathra’mawe was forced to slumber or risk eternal death, during which time a parasitic Fae called The Goad bit into the left side of Hasathra’mawe’s resting head. The Goad fed on Hasathra’mawe, preventing it from ever fully healing from its wounds and driving it mad with nightmares and incomprehensible agony.
In 2008, three heroes (the fallen Oracle Theo Tamsin, a Ninth Light Thyrsus named Relm, and a Bone Shadow Irraka named Dylan Scott) defeated the Goad and gave Hasathra’mawe back its mind, but its body was still broken. It was only in 2010 that, during the world-renowned “Save New Orleans, Save the World” concert that billions of humans worshipping Hasathra’mawe in unison gave it the power to heal itself completely and confront its attacker, the Abyssal god Choronzon, summoned by the evil archmage Del’rocchio. It was then that Hasathra’mawe was able to once again take the form of the horned serpent and beat Choronzon back to whence it had come.
Hasathra’mawe continues to walk the streets of New Orleans in its preferred form, that of a homeless man named Bo, singing and dancing wherever it chooses to.
Don’t forget to tip.