Chantarelle La Morte
LilyAnne Marsters life was marked by mystery and tragedy from the beginning; her parents were killed in a notorious mass murder/fire at her family's estate when she was just 2. Her mother, Chantarelle La Morte, was at the center of the speculation and gossip that surrounded the gruesome unexplained crime. She was a mysterious figure, living on a vast country estate in near seclusion. Extremely beautiful, with her piercing stare and hypnotic eyes, she spoke with a strange, heavy accent and was reputed to have psychic powers. No one knew when she was born, where she was from, who her family was, or anything else about her. She was very independently wealthy, which was nearly unheard of for a single woman in those days, especially for one so young as she. The source of her fortune, like her origin, was unknown. In 1858, she married a mysterious foreigner of Italian descent. They went into town for supplies occasionally in their dark carriage, but they didn't socialize with the locals. They seemed to have a circle of foreign friends that frequented their estate who were just as mysterious as they themselves. The couple was very private, and much local gossip was directed at their eccentric lifestyle.
Stories began to circulate about the secluded La Morte estate. Some claimed there were occult activities taking place there. They said Chantarelle was the descendant of a Gypsy witch, and that she was the head of a coven that practiced the dark arts. Some said she worshiped demons, or the Devil himself. Others claimed to have heard eerie chanting and seen strange lights coming from the estate in the dead of night. Many were afraid of the La Morte estate, and would not pass there after dark. Speculation swirled about the origins of her wealth, the background of her husband, the isolation of their home. In 1860, Chantarelle gave birth to a baby girl, LilyAnne La Morte. More speculation was aroused by the fact that the child was never baptized, christened, or even taken to church. The rumors spread and grew until it became impossible to tell where truth started and rumor ended. Adding to the confusion is the fact that no public record of the La Morte family exists.
One dark night in 1862, a horrible tragedy took place. Passerby on a road near the estate saw the glow of a blazing fire and summoned help. When rescuers arrived, they found little 2-year-old LilyAnne, sitting alone on the veranda of the burning house. She was dressed in a nightgown, which was marred with two large, bloody handprints. She was the only survivor of an unexplained night of carnage.
Strangely, every door and window of the house was barred from inside. Rescuers battered down a door to gain entry, and found the charred remains of 13 adults arranged in a circle in the Grand Hall. All were adorned in red silken robes. The bodies showed signs of mutilation, and Chantarelle La Morte's head had been severed and removed. It was never found.
The only other clue was a strange message carved into a tree outside the house- "LIX TETRAX." No footprints were found around the tree, or anywhere in the area.
Naturally, the murders and the circumstances surrounding them only fueled the rumors of Satanism and dark magic concerning the La Morte family. LilyAnne was too young to speak, and so could offer no explanation of the night's events. Having no known relations, she was put into the care of the sisters in a nearby convent until the age of 17, when she married and became Mrs. Alexander Marsters , and moved into the house on Shroud Hill.
The only memory LilyAnne had of her family came from a painted portrait of Chantarelle La Morte, which somehow survived the fire, and had been in the possession of the sisters at the convent. They gave it to the girl when she left the convent for her new home, and it was hung in an empty room on the second floor. In later years, as LilyAnne slowly went mad, she claimed to see horrible visions in the portrait.
The portrait still hangs in the empty room today.