Louisiana Myths and Folklore, Volume 4
Read by Alleine Dragonfyre
Louisiana Myths & Folklore
Volume 4 – “The Voodoo Queen”
It was early evening and I had just come through the pass, and I could see the lights of Brittany ahead in the distance.
Rather than head straight for the city, it was often my habit to pass through Midmaer to gather reagents that only bloomed in the moonlight.
And of course, that’s where I ran into him again. Jacque, in his fine coat, stood at the forest’s edge almost as if expecting me.
He didn’t seem to have any particular agenda, and trailed alongside me as I walked the path through North Midmaer way, gathering nightshade and mandrake root as I went. He made small talk mostly, but seemed on edge as we passed under the shadows of the trees.
I left the path then, heading into a grove of trees I knew had bountiful roots and herbs. The grove was well lit by a shimmering will-o-wisp.
I headed toward it, watching my step to not trip over brambles and branches.
Suddenly Jacque’s hands grabbed my shoulders, halting my forward movement.
Fifolet!” he whispered harshly, then gestured I should turn around. I looked around, trying to figure out what he was so worried about.
“Its just a will-o-wisp,” I said, gesturing at the hovering purple floating creature. There are many of them in Novia.”
He looked at it dubiously.
“It is quite harmless,” I added.
Jacque did not look convinced. He continued to look at the will-o-wisp, then at me, then back at the wisp, frowning.
I laughed, and gathered my focus, calling upon the powers of moon magic to summon a will-o-wisp right there in front of us. It appeared with a whooshing sound, then sat placidly, glowing softly.
“Feu Follet” he said, more slowly. It still sounded like ‘feefolay’ to me. “Devil spirits. They lure you out into the woods, often to your death!”
Well, this one’s not leading anyone anywhere, look…” I said, running in a circle and the wisp followed me obediently.
Jacque still did not look convinced. “You have this as a pet? In my homeland, these fairy spirits lure people to their doom – you’ll follow it right into a lake and drown!”
I decided that this would not be a good time to demonstrate that I had taught my pet wisp to dance. I dismissed it with a wave of my hand. Jacque relaxed noticeably.
In the sudden darkness, the lights of a nearby house became visible in the distance. Without a word, Jacque started toward it. We passed under the eerie branches of trees; trees that seemed to watch us as we moved. It was an unsettling feeling. I had never strayed this far from the path, before.
Jacque walked to the side of the house, which itself seemed to be carved of a giant tree, and peered in one of the windows. He then mumbled to himself at some length in that same creole patois he’d spoken the night we first met, then walked back to where I stood, hidden in the forest.
“It is her,” he said simply, and started back toward the road. “We should leave this place.”
“You mean the supposed “witch” of Midmaer?” I asked. “She’s known to live in these parts. She does herbal remedies and such for folk. Similar to my line of work, really.”
He shot me a glare.
“I’d recognize her anywhere. Your Midmaer witch is Marie Laveau, the voodoo queen. I knew the rumors of her death were false. Look, there in the window! She lives still!”
I raised an eyebrow. And then Jacque told me her story:
Marie Laveau, The Voodoo Queen did indeed provide herbal remedies, and was a well known and influential member of society in her day, which was all the more impressive for being a woman of colour during that time in South Louisiana. But it was also said that she communed with the dead, and crafted spells on behalf of clients for good or ill, and engaged in rites with demons.
“She knew things, that woman. She’d give advice to all the prominent people in town, and somehow she always knew the outcomes.” From his demeanour, Jacque spoke of her as if she were someone he regularly passed on the street. He talked then of her funeral, which was attended by people from all social circles.
While it was said that she died peacefully of old age in her home, many people reported seeing her after her alleged death. While her daughters took over her shop, mystery and legend always surrounded what became of her. Whether her magic was real, or whether she was merely a gifted reader of people, her legacy has echoed through the years and become a part of New Orleans history.
Even a century later, people still mark an X on her grave (where some claim she is not actually buried) and leave offerings in exchange for magical favors.
“And at last now, the mystery is solved.” He said, as if it were blindingly obvious.
“She’s come here, just as you have. Just as I have.”
“But what need have we of Voodoo, here in Novia? The land itself teems with magic.” To emphasize my point, I summoned the will-o-wisp again.
Jacque raised his arms and exclaimed something I did not understand, but needed no translation, and headed down the road out of the forest.
He called out behind him, “If you see one of those fifolets, one that doesn’t live in your pocket, don’t follow it!”
And he was gone. The forest seemed to ..unclench a little. There was a light breeze, like the trees let out a collective sigh.
I looked back at the witch’s house, and saw a face at a window staring back at me.
She nodded her head once, slowly. Then drew the curtains.