When the nature of the Purge became terribly obvious, most remaining Cells chose to abandon their Haunts and take it on the lam. Almost all of the runners were kneecapped via their Fetters, as the Hierarchy learned of their locations as well.
However, a scant few managed to make it out of Paris unmolested, either in the Shadowlands or the Skinlands. One such Cell was under the leadership of the adventurous Marie Claire LeUrsuline, who saw their best chance for survival to be a sea voyage. She'd heard various, conflicting tales of what lay in the New World, and decided it would suit; Her rather numerous Cell Skinrode sailors on a Naval ship bound for a French colony, far off in the Caribbean Sea.
Saint Domingue, once one of the richest regions in the world, had been in a state of disarray since 1791, when a mulatto uprising, followed by a slave rebellion, destroyed its sugarcane plantations and caused the death of thousands of colonists. Marie figured that she and her Cell could lose themselves amongst the upheaval for the time being. Then, once things had calmed down in Paris, they could make the return trip.
The journey across the Ocean was rough, complicated by occasional Maelstrom activity as they neared the New World. Most of the Cell knew something of the Monitors' arts, and created new, temporary Fetters for themselves on board the ship. Some were not as lucky, and had to constantly Skinride sailors. Those who failed at both were quickly harried away by the Shade-infested winds.
Marie tried to keep the others calm by insisting that the storms could not last forever. But as the ship sailed on the squalls became both worse and more frequent, and the Doomshades more numerous and hungry. Marie began to doubt her own judgment, but put as brave a face on the matter as she could: after all, at least they had a chance for survival, unlike their allies back home in France...
The Wall of Darkness:
And then, one terrible afternoon, the Cell caught sight of what seemed a solid wall of swirling, pitch black fog: a cloudy, tenebrous barrier that stretched as far as their eyes could see. The ship headed straight into it, and the Cell was forced back into sailors and Fetters as Doomshades and tearing winds attacked them.
It was a Maelstrom, yes, but one the likes of which the Wraiths had never seen before. It was like being swathed in mist at dusk, with the most weak of Maelstroms going on constantly, and more forceful, destructive Maelstroms whipping across the bow every so often.
One of their Cell spoke tales of the Third Great Maelstrom, and insisted that the Fourth had erupted. At first, the others scoffed, but after a few days of darkness, he wasn't the only one seriously considering the idea.
A Chilling Reception:
The journey through the darkness seemed eternal, but at last the outlines of land came into view - the isle of Hispaniola.
It was a place of verdant, fantastic green, rich mountains and bounteous, lovely beaches... at least, so far as the mortal sailors could see. To the Cell, the entire island was choked with death and decay, trees wrapped around with the horrid, squirming debris of the storm. Its shores were swarming with ravenous Doomshades, and its ground was littered with Nihil after Nihil, all spurting the awful contents of the Tempest up into the air.
The ship put ashore at Cap Français, and the Cell Skinrode the sailors off of it. They hoped to find fellow Wraiths - as it is possible for Skinriders to detect one another - and then ask the location of the nearest Haunt.
What they found astounded them: almost every mortal around the docks was host to a Wraith. Marie made contact with one such Skinrider - a rather nervous Enfant, nominally of the Emerald Legion. He'd been assigned to the army post here in life, and had died of an accident not long after the slave revolt of 1791.
He explained that this part of the Shadowlands was wreathed in a constant Maelstrom for so many months out of the year: this was the season of storms. Given their severity, the Hierarchy outposts on the island allowed their Legionnaires to seek shelter via Skinriding. So long as they did no more than ride, there was no official repercussion.
But even when the season changed, the island was not entirely hospitable. Maelstroms whipped across the sea, hordes of Doomshades pavaned across the land, and Nihils were everywhere. Ghostly pirates sailed the darkened seas, taking the outpost's tributes to Stygia and leaving the hapless sailors for the Spectres to eat.
That and, according to the rather nervous Enfant, the Wraiths of the African slaves had become a danger all their own. They had helped incite the rebellion of 1791, taking advantage of the slaves' "voodoo" to Skinride the living into battle. Even now, with slavery abolished and the former slaves fighting alongside the Colonists to repel British incursions, there was still a notable push on their part to rid the island of all Europeans.
Marie took all this in, and thanked the Enfant for his information by slitting his host's throat - sending him into a harrowing from which he would most likely not return. The loss of human life was regrettable, but she could not take the chance of his speaking of her, and her questions, to his superiors.
When the rest of the Cell heard the news, it was decided that it would be best to avoid entangling alliances with either side. They would have to rely on their own wits to survive, here, and it would be best to split into small groups to avoid outright capture. They agreed to meet infrequently in different locations, and swore to suffer the worst pains of the Labyrinth rather than betray one another.
And with that, they shook hands one last time, and then, by twos and threes, walked away.
The Time of Hiding:
Underground, the Cell's members did the best they could to blend in and survive.
In the time of clear skies they moved in secret. They holed up in abandoned Haunts or hid within humans. Some moliated themselves to look as other, solitary Wraiths and then did away with the originals. And then, in the time of storms, they hunkered down with the others, who were too busy with their own survival to notice the strangers amongst them.
Ever on the Cell's minds was an eventual return to France, but news from Paris never came. Every ship that entered the ports had not a single Wraith upon it. They made a bargain with one another that, should any of them be harrowed, they would try to return to the island with news once they arrived at their fetters at home. But Marie knew that such words were lies - she herself would not have dared risk the return trip.
As the length of their stay increased, more and more of the Cell was lost. Members would go out and never return. Some were found "going native" - taking part in the strange, "voodoo" rituals of that the local Wraiths indulged in. Such backsliders were punished when caught, lest they give their new friends any of the secrets of Croquer Morts.
However, no few of the backsliders escaped her attempts to police the ranks. Some of those who had infiltrated the local Wraiths discovered that they liked their ways of dealing with the dead world around them, and faked their own disappearance in order to be a part of it.
A Season of Change:
As the seasons stretched into years, many things changed on both sides of the Shroud. In the Skinlands, a former slave named Toussaint Louverture created an army of fellow ex-slaves to fight on the colony's behalf. They drove the British away from the island, and then, some time later, they put down the mulatto uprising as well.
The fighting brought over many Wraiths of European descent, which strengthened the beleaguered Hierarchy. However, the deaths of well-trained former slaves and mulattos added to the numbers of Wraiths contesting their hold. These Wraiths knew the island well, and with the aid of the living, they maintained a better hold on their unlives than the European Wraiths did.
When Toussaint's bravery and skill saw him made the governor of Saint Dominigue, the slave Wraiths took advantage of the celebration. An all-out assault was staged on what little remained of the Hierarchy, and the colonists and Europeans were no match for their adversaries' superior numbers. The citadels were stormed, one by one, and all within consigned into Harrowings. Those Wraiths not slaughtered outright were immobilized and tossed onto the shores for the Doomshades to eat.
It was an utter rout, and the last nail in the coffin for the Resurrection Men on the island. Marie assembled all the members of the Cell that she could, and they Skinrode a group of sailors heading back to France. Some of the Cell were left behind, but Marie felt that it could not be helped: they had to leave - now.
What happened to the Resurrection Men who boarded that vessel is not known. Did they make it back to France, only to be captured by the Hierarchy once they arrived? Did they even survive the return journey? Who can say...?
But of those who were left behind - or else
stayed there - there is more to be said...