Full Name: Josiah Hudlin
Deep among the bayous in a lost parish of Louisiana sat an overgrown plantation. Dark, foreboding, and utterly uninviting it seemed only barely to be resisting the encroachment of a dark and untamed nature. Inside this festering manor sat a man who would serve no master. He sat alone in an old wooden chair and brooded dark thoughts. A man unlike any other sat in an overgrown manse deep in a lost parish of Louisiana, nestled among the bayous. The land was foreboding and uninviting, the rundown house’s walls overgrown with vines and barely resisting the encroachment of a dark untamed nature. A man who would be master sat alone in an old wooden chair, brooding, in that dark house.
The man sitting alone remembered his rise to power. But before a man could rise, first he had to fall. That had been his most important lesson.
Life had offered him little opportunity as he drifted through the system. His parents had succumbed to their own lives of squalid excess when he was young. It had been a miserable childhood, only enriched when his mother whispered in her self-induced haze of the blood of powerful priests that ran in their veins. Her veins finally gave out though, and he was left alone.
The social workers assigned to him made it clear that few were interested in adopting him because of his age. He was a good kid, generally well-behaved, and did what he was told. When he finally left his last foster home, he went into the world with very little. He sought to make a life, but was rebuffed. With few qualifications, despite obvious intelligence, and with no stepping stones, prospective employers turned him away. He was never sure what the reason was. The only place he could afford to live was in the city slums. With few choices left, he finally turned to crime to survive. Even as a criminal there were always those who took advantage of him.
He descended quickly, as he fell far into the stink and mire of the worst of humankind, and he was tested. The man was left with nothing and still others preyed upon him. He realised his own wretchedness and knew he could sink no further.
He had one stark choice – to sink, or to swim those foul depths to survive and become something, someone, else. His mother’s ramblings called to him. In his blood she had said, there ran the power of generations of voodoo kings and queens. And at that moment, with his choice made, he opened his soul and listened for the whispering of the darkest of Loas. He heard their voices and then he knew where his path lay.
What little humility and compassion he had left were slowly, inexorably, stripped away as discarded trappings of one life, as his journey took him to very dark places. There was the back-street curiosity shop where he stole a book of secrets, and the life of the proprietor. Then the pimp-voodoonista whose life he extinguished in exchange for an artefact of power, his skull-topped cane. The city morgue in a crumbling municipal building where he first animated a corpse to do his bidding as it slew the unfortunate attendant on duty.
Those had been the first necessarily gruesome steps on his journey. In due course he came to the attention of the Coven, an organisation with a secret history hidden far away from the world’s prying eyes. They recognised his aptitude and potential and nurtured his burgeoning talents.
With his acceptance to the Coven ranks his knowledge grew, and with knowledge came more power. But even as one secret was revealed to him, another would tug at the edges of his understanding.
He rose through the ranks, deployed where he was best suited. It was he who bent the Ghede in greater numbers to the Coven’s will. But through it all he began to see that nothing came without cost. Even his few failures such as the loss of the young voodoo queen-to-be, did not harm his ascent. And now he began to see the costs of his course.
To the Coven’s foes and its few allies he became Papa Zombie, front-line leader of the organisation. But the truth was a secret buried save only for the highest echelons of the Coven. There were mightier powers than his, greater influence, and more absolute mastery of what the Coven did. And that was his price to pay; to covet the power and rule of the Saints, and their ultimate master, Dimanche. To take that power he would have to do far worse than he ever had before and risk all that he had accumulated. What follows when a man has tasted great power, only to learn of his own insignificance in the grander scheme of things? In the schemes of others? His time trapped in Hellrock prison had showed him whole new worlds of possibilities. It had given him a look into the true nature of the Necroplane, and the power one man might wield – he was prepared to pay the price to acquire it.