Philadelphia By Night
Isandro Mortal Years
Lucio Lafitte Amor aka Renato aka Isandro aka Sand.
Born in 1821. Embraced 1864. Entered torpor two months later in 1865. Awakened March 7th, 2009.
Lucio was born in 1821, plopped into a small basin in the cramped back room of the infamous House of the Rising Sun. His mother was a mulatto whore and his father could have been anyone although his mother went to her grave insisting it was the daring pirate and hero of the Battle of New Orleans, Jean Lafitte. In fact the pirate did frequent the brothel when ashore. Within hours after his birth Lucio was abandoned to the orphanage of the Ursuline Convent.
His mother remained actively involved with Lucio despite the nuns’ efforts to distance her. By the time the boy was six he was spending many hours a day with his mother at the brothel. Being a child of New Orleans and barely more reputable than a slave he was introduced very early to the Loa of Voudou. His mother was a follower of Marie Laveau paid to have her boy blessed by famous voudou queen. Like many Vodun practitioners he learned to subtly mix in the gifts to the Loa with his prayers to the Saints. Often they became one and the same to him. This mixing and redefining of the spiritual would define his being throughout his mortal life.
At the convent Lucio thrived under the harsh education of the nuns and mastered his lessons easily. By his teens he was doing all the books for the House of the Rising Sun and supporting his mother, whose health was failing. He scratched together extra money hustling, gambling and sometimes enforcing. In the winter of 1838 he was chased out of New Orleans following an argument turned violent with the parish sheriff. He fled with only an old revolver and a charm of Erzulie fashioned into a medallion that his mother had given him. He left behind both his middle and last name and adopted the surname Renato, meaning reborn both to symbolize his new start and to throw off any trouble that might try to catch up with him.
1838 – 1840
He fled east and was soon arrested trying to steal some rifles in the Republic of Texas. Convicted he chose to join the army rather than hang for his crime. He spent all of the following year fighting a losing battle against the invading Comanche Indians and learned the trade of medic in the field. The Comanches pressed their advance across Southern Texas and Lucio’s company found themselves backed against the shores of the Gulf of Mexico. It was here while desperately trying to flee or find a place to hide that Lucio met the most influential woman of his life. Running with the Comanches a powerful red wolf was tearing apart the Republic soldiers shrugging off bullets and blades. It’s chaotic killing frenzy led the thing straight up to the stunned Lucio. The beast took his paralyzed terror for determined bravery and favored him with a wolfish grin before ripping him open with her bloody jaws.
Lucio survived the battle but as a deeply wounded prisoner of the enemy. Through his fevered delirium he woke several times to catch glimpses of a beautiful, but savage Mexican woman walking the Comanche camp. One morning he found her standing over him with an amused grin. Whatever he said to her in his fevered mutterings she grew angry and left. She was gone from camp when his fever broke the next day. His captors found him worthless as ransom but when he freely betrayed the scant military information he knew they cut free to fend for himself.
1840 – 1848
Lucio wandered the wastes south of Texas and bartered his meager skills for food amongst the few scattered Mexicans and Indian settlements. When the Mexicans and Cherokee Indians invaded Texas in 1842 he joined them fighting against his old army. This time he was on the winning side but he was again grievously wounded. When the Mexican army retreated from the captured San Antonio he returned with them and settled with the Cherokee taking a wife and fathering two sons. Among the Cherokee he studied their religion and native medicine, mixing the new in with the skills he had learned as a medic in the Texas army. His developing skills weren’t enough to save his wife however and she died of Yellow Fever in 1846. Angry and full of despair he abandoned his young sons to the Cherokee and joined the Mexican Army fighting against the United States and their recently annexed Territory of Texas. Fighting in a unit made of natives he spent the war doing covert strikes. It was futile though and the Mexican American War ended in 1848 with the Americans writing the victory conditions.
1848 – 1849
With the close of the war Lucio settled in the Salt Lake Valley. The land was part of the new Utah Territory ceded to the US by Mexico. Lucio lived among the Mormon pioneers in the valley doing scouting, native relations and manual labor. The Mormon settlement was only a year old and fresh from a year long exodus from Illinois. The culture and especially religion was intriguing to Lucio. He was most fascinated by their concept of an evolved and ascended God.
After a year of living with the Mormons he wasn’t fully welcomed into the tight community. His “mixed blood” kept him from priesthood and marked him an outsider but he had earned their begrudging respect for his intellect, medical skills, and interest in their faith. Just as he had settled comfortably in with the pioneers his life changed dramatically again with the arrival of the red she-wolf. He had not seen the wolf in almost a decade. She revealed herself as the warrior woman, friend of the Comanches. The intervening years had done nothing to dim her beauty and the two fell into each other. It was two days later that he learned her name was Rosaluna. The werewolf knew no discretion and it wasn’t long before Lucio was evicted from the settlement for a variety of charges including sloth, suspected larceny, sexual lasciviousness, and bestiality. Lucio happily left Utah and followed Rosaluna deep into Mexico skirting Texas borders, old friends and enemies.
1849 – 1864
Lucio Renato settled in Mexico City, setting himself up as a United States trained doctor with forged papers. He delved into the study and sometimes practice of the local native religions, both new and ancient. Rosaluna visited him a few times a year, always unexpected and always on her own terms. Her visits were always a whirlwind of chaos and lust. He loved her deeply but she refused him the secrets of her world and scorned his desperate pleas for permanent ties. Her visits always ended in violent arguments.
As Lucio collected local lore he began melding it together with his past religious teachings and mixed in occult theories. He founded his own small cult which briefly flared and then failed. His concepts proved too metaphysically dense to gain popularity other than as a curiosity. However his failed cult had attracted the ire of the local Roman Catholic Church. For the next decade until his death the Church would periodically harass him and slander his medical practice accusing Lucio of blasphemy and trafficking with demons. Ironically, one of the Church’s own priests practiced demon summoning and became a secret friend of Lucio. The persecution of the Church lent Lucio some credibility with the local occultists and he found himself pulled into their world. He began trading them discarded body parts, chemicals and even corpses for arcane secrets and mystic tomes.
In 1856 Lucio published a paper on his developing “Subverting the Dying God” hypothesis and further infuriated the Church. He was arrested and briefly imprisoned.
The signing of the 1857 Constitution plunged Mexico into the Reform War. Rosaluna appeared and pressured Lucio into an arms smuggling ring supplying her allies in the North. The war ended in 1861 with the victory of the Liberals and the capitol was moved to Mexico City. Taking advantage of the chaos France, backed by Spain and England invaded Mexico just as the civil war ended. The French swept Mexico and captured the capitol in 1863. Lucio fought in the brief but doomed resistance. A year later France crowned Maximilian the puppet emperor of Mexico. French control brought back the fading power of the Roman Catholics and the Church helped the French purge their enemies. Lucio went underground fearing for his life.
In December of 1865 Lucio was hiding out in the home of a local leader of the Black Sun cult, a group active in archeology dedicated to the goal of waking their gods, “demon stars made manifest on earth”. He had been supplying tools and translating text for them for the past several years. Always kept to the periphery of the cult he was never inducted. Still, one cold winter morning he was brought along with them into a series of newly uncovered ruins just outside the city.
The Black Sun cultists had been excavating the site for months and when Lucio’s group arrived they bypassed layers and layers of ancient lost settlements entering into deep pre-Columbian chambers. Buried in the dust of millennium old ruins a true ancient lay in torpor still impaled by an enchanted tree growing through its chest. The cultists freed the creature and the terrible god rose up and consumed the expedition in a storm of blood. Several chambers above Lucio heard the screams of his companions. As an outsider he had been forbidden from entering the sacred crypt with the rest. He fled hopelessly towards the surface far above. When the ancient finished her feeding she overtook him. Lucio stared in horrid amazement as the monstrosity pushed up through the stone beneath him. Eyes and teeth rippled across smooth milky skin. Bone barbs jutted at odd angles. Lucio flinched and the creature cut off his flight, moving with insect-like agility and speed. An icy calm washed through him as futility battled with wonder. His rational mind crumbled and he felt compelled to fall to the ground and grovel before her. But entranced by her eyes he was frozen in place. Her skin felt like crushed velvet as she enveloped him. The bite was painful but the embrace was worse. Like a river of broken glass flowing through his veins.
When he awoke he was alone. Stumbling and confused he returned to city where he was quickly captured and presented to the Prince. The Mexico City court of kindred ridiculed the story of his embrace and called him a liar but he thought he sensed fear beneath their haughty demeanor. He was taught to survive and set free. A scarce two months later Lucio was staked and buried in a mass grave. His slayer was the werewolf Rosaluna, his lover. She acted under orders of the kindred Prince. As she laid his body gently among the nameless mass of others she strung around his neck his mother’s old medallion. His most treasured possession he had thought lost decades ago. Then she screamed and wept over him. It was the first time she had cried in his presence and he never saw it.
His torpor dreams are furiously twisted and violent and filled with religious icons and twisted conceptual possibilities. His memories mix and cloud, some pieces glaringly clear and others lost completely. A predator haunts his dreams over and again sloughing off form to take new shifting shapes. Its skin is ever its trap, warm and tight like the arms of a mother should be. The sleeper burrows inward fleeing the warmth of sun and love. It is inside he will forge his god and when he is done his soul will split like an overripe fruit.
In January of 2009 a team of archeology students on a field expedition discovered a remarkably well preserved corpse and with the proper bribes obtain permission to wrap the body and ship it to the University of Pennsylvania. Its torpored body is intercepted by alert kindred before it can become a masquerade breach. He is awakened in a strange city and a strange time. He names himself Isandro meaning ‘freer, the liberator’ to remind him of his new dedication to transcendence.