Roll20 By Night
Malkavian fortune teller and spirit medium. From the Louisiana bayou, she practices a bit of Louisiana voodoo and sees things no one else can see. She owns an occult supplies business and she’s also a committed (heh) Camarilla backer.
Age: 90. Apparent Age: 40, embraced in 1966 (born in 1926).
Height: 5’7”, Weight 135 lbs. Long black hair, in neat dreadlocks, brown skin, brown eyes.
Marceline is a Black Haitian-American woman from the Louisiana Bayou. She still retains a noticeable Bayou accent. She is usually accompanied by her ghoul, Zohra, who also serves as her business manager and personal confidante.
Marceline grew up on the bayou of Louisiana in the 1940s. Every since she was petite, she had a knack for talking to the Loa, the spirits of the dead and of the world around her. Her granmé had the sight, too. Granmé Laveau taught Marceline how to talk to the spirits, how to listen to ‘em. But most of all, she taught her the tarot. For Marceline’s granmé was a mambo, a priests of Lousianna voodoo.
Louisiana voodoo was a mishmash of indigenous practices from Haiti, West Africa, the Caribbean, and native Americans, mixed with a healthy does of French Catholicism. The mambos like her granmé made a living mixing potions and preparing talismans for the local believers and, on occasion, casting a spell for them. All for a modest fee, of course.
Marceline learned both the occult practices of the mambo and the way in which a talented fortuneteller could read a mark cold and give them the reading they wanted to hear — even if the cards came up wrong. Even if the spirits were whispering something different, something darker. Folks wouldn’t pay for the darkness.
Marceline learned that the hard way. One night in her 13th year, she was giving a reading to a railroad man — granmé and herd set up a tent near where they were laying new track, giving readings to the men on their breaks. When Marceline went to give this man his reading, he saw something… someone… in the darkness behind him, looming over his shoulder. She knew in her bones who it was, but she refused to believe it… It was Papa Legba himself. Granmé taught her that Papa Legba is the middleman between the world of the living and the dead. He takes those that’s reached their time, but he also makes deals. Granmé says it was Papa Legba who made a deal with Robert Johnson at the crossroads. Papa Legba can’t always be trusted, she said, but he’s not exactly evil either. Not exactly.
Well, Marceline saw Papa Legba and then the Death card came up. Her voice wavering, Marceline gave the reading she saw in the cards: that the man was destined to die — and soon. He didn’t like that one bit and he told her so by breaking her jaw with his fist. The next day a railroad spike went through his head.
After that, she Papa Legba sometimes, but she wouldn’t tell her customers. Sometimes she would get the feeling that this made him smile, but she could never really see his face.
Her granmé died when Marceline was 18. She’d finished school, so she headed into New Orleans to make a living. For a decade, she told fortunes in the French Quarter to gullible white folks and occasionally provided real voodoo services in the 9th Ward for the small community of authentic believers there.
By the time she was in her mid-thrities, her fortunetelling was so successful that she managed to open her own shop, Duval’s Divinations. When she wasn’t in her shop, she took college courses in business and economics, dreaming of opening more stores. Throughout these years, though, she was still visited by the Loa. Sometimes they would tell her things… secrets. Other times they made requests of her, which she would do.
On the night of her 40th birthday in 1966, she opened up her shop as usual. A strange woman entered. She spoke with an odd accent…and said her name was Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven. She said that she’d been watching Marceline give readings. “I’ve been watching you,” she said, though it sounded like “vatching.” She continued, “And I notice zat you do not always tell ze truth. Zometimes you zee different sings….dark sings. But you tell ze customers some happy Unsinn and they go about their way. And then the darkness descends on them, unawares.”
Marceline was taken aback by this strange woman, not only by the admission of spying. But there was something alluring about the woman as well. The woman said that Marceline had the sight, but that she could give her sight beyond sight. And then she left.
The Baroness returned every night for months. Sometimes Marceline would give her readings. Sometimes the Baroness would watch Marceline give readings to others. And somehow, the Baroness always knew when Marceline had seen Papa Legba standing over the shoulder of her client. “Can you see him too?” Marceline asked. “No, dear, but I can tell when you do.” Eventually a rather one sided relationship developed, with Marceline falling under the Baroness’ spell. And then, the Embrace.
But after, after…. Marceline saw spirits everywhere, heard their yammering voices in her ears every minute of the day. She found herself in a maelstrom of voices and spectral faces. At first, it was terrifying. But over time, and with some help from the Baroness, Marceline eventually came to control herself, to be able to shut out the voices and faces for a time, to be able to tell the difference between the real spirits and those conjured up by the curse of Malkav bestowed upon her by her new sire. Eventually the Baroness returned to Europe — she had never intended on staying — and Marceline was on her own.
She remained in New Orleans for a few decades, growing her fortunetelling business. She opened up more shops, hiring fortunetellers to work for her. By the late 60s and 70s, the New Age boom was in full swing and white folk were flocking to her shops faster than her staff could tell their fortunes. With the profits — and they were healthy — she also began producing her own line of products and licensing them to dozens of other shops and also doing mail order. By the early 1980s, she was a leading occult goods company, specializing in voodoo themed goods.
One evening in the 1980s she interviewed an ambitious business woman. Marceline was looking to hire a financial advisor. Zohra Massi was a 40 something Lebanese-American woman, an MBA from Harvard, as well as a classical dancer. They became infatuated with each other and, over time, Marceline hired her on and also made her a ghoul.
After a few years together, Marceline offered her the Embrace, only to discover she was unable to give Zohra the gift. It shattered Marceline, but Zohra was not at all concerned. She loved her new powers and, so, they continued together, unchanged.
Zohra was a masterful business partner, managing Marceline’s handsome profits and parlaying them into a diverse portfolio of investments across a wide range of industries. Zohra had a family friend who gave her a lucky investment tip, leading her to invest a large sum of Marceline’s money in the tech industry before it took off, for example.
With Marceline’s uncanny vision and Zohra’s business sense, they converted what had become a nationwide occult goods business into a financial juggernaut. They kept the money flowing in thanks to the occult goods business, but it was smart investments in tech, banks, and the finance sector in the 90s and 2000s that brought her resources to the level they are today. And that tech company Zohra invested in back in the early 80s? Apple.
Today, Marceline still speaks to the spirits every day and she still attends to her occult goods and fortunetelling business. She now has a small imprint, Duval’s Oddities, that sells occult paraphernalia to speciality shops and online. She also has a small team of ‘psychics’ who take calls and give fortunes for celebrities and the wealthy.
When Katrina came, though, she simply could not bear to see all the ugliness that her city had become, so, at the advice of her companion Zohra, she relocated to Boston, where Zohra had grown up. She has now made herself known to the Camarilla of Boston and occasionally provides her eerie insights to those who seek it out as well. She comes across as a bit of a charlatan, or con artist, but in fact she sees things, knows things, somehow, that she shouldn’t.