The Lady of London, The Right Honorable Alder Elizabeth Sheridan, Marchioness of London, Countess of Kensington and Chelsea
Apparent Age: Late teens
Long-Term Aspiration: To so arrange Kindred politics in London that she can retire without both the city and the Marquessate going up in flames (literal or figurative)
Background: "You'll be my little birdie now, Ellie." These were the words that greeted Elizabeth Sheridan into her Requiem. Her sire, Walter Burnett, was a petty Scottish Laird and a priest in the Lancea et Sanctum, who, feeling the need for a little beauty in his unlife, Embraced a young artist's model and sometime-prostitute. He chose Ellie because the penniless girl, plucked from the streets where she worked at whatever trade would see her fed for another week, however distasteful, would be easy to control and dominate. Small, green-eyed, and freckled, Ellie was an absolute treat for the eyes.
But Ellie wasn't quite the 'Lady of the Evening' that Burnett was accustomed to. Born in Edinburgh, she came from good family, the daughter of a Highlands crofter who had lost his farm to bad weather and worse debt. Imbued with a fearsome drive to survive, Sheridan did whatever necessary to support herself and her family, and she was ill-inclined to accept the authority of anyone, and most certainly not from the kind of conceited aristocratic dolt who'd driven her family from their homes in fire and blood. Playing the part of the simpering plaything, she took Burnett out into the streets of Edinburgh to look at the sights, called some feral dogs and left them to figure out what to do with carrion that was still moving. Burnett tried to scare them off by firing a pistol into the air, only to find that its plugged barrel made it explode in his hand. The sight of shredded flesh and dripping blood decided the dogs, while Ellie sat back and watched with a gentle smile.
Ellie drifted across the British Isles for a while, but freed of concerns of mortal hunger or time, she wanted to do more than simply survive. She wanted to find others of her type, to learn what she'd become and how to cope with it. But really, more there was the fact that Sheridan had a hunger for society. The painters and poets of London amused her for a time, but it wasn't the same. Mortals could feed many of her hungers, but not all.
She came, in the fullness of years, to Aberdeen, where she tarried for only a few decades. That was her first attempt to re-invent himself as a lady of culture and learning, and it was a laughable one. By the time she realized what she was doing wrong (which was, essentially, everything), her reputation as a poser, buffoon and parvenu was set. Undeterred, she did what few Kindred in Aberdeen would contemplate: she left.
In York, he became Elizabeth Sinclair, and she made a much better job of presenting herself as discerning and educated. (She went back to her soft Scots accent, which helped.) By the time she felt ready to return to London, she had accumulated the equivalent of a college degree. There, she got a position at the Charing Cross Hotel in the 1870s, working as a night maid and, eventually, working her way up to the level of head of housekeeping. By now, the woman who had destroyed her sire in defense of her own freedom was happy to play at subservience — because play was all it was. Acting as the faithful “nice Scots girl” to the wealthy guests was Sheridan's grand joke upon them. She kept their rooms spotless and saw them off to the theater, and while they were dining, she fed on their sons and daughters.
Servility was fun as long as it was an act, which was why Sheridan felt the need to climb the Invictus ladder as remorselessly and rapidly as she eventually did. Kindred today know the Lady of London as the uniter, the moderate, the coalition-builder. That’s because the Kindred who got to know Sheridan the murderous mastermind aren’t around to talk about it. Their childer and colleagues tell stories, but without much credibility — just enough to keep the clans and covenants honest.
By the time of the Second World War, Sheridan was the High Sheriff of London, a position she occupied from deep in the shadows and far behind the scenes. She was involved in some very dark affairs during this period, with dealings on all sides of the Cold War. Rumors of her participation in the Cambridge Five business persist to this day. She was a born puppeteer, saying one thing to the Lancea et Sanctum, something else to the Carthians, and a third thing to her own Invictus, and not a one of them ever earned more than half the truth. Sheridan had a finger in every pie, all the while seeming the quiet, conscientious servant of Augustus Danby, the Lord of London.
When the reign of the Lord of London stumbled in 1966, Sheridan was there to unite the opposition, buffalo the shrinking elite and offer her enemies the mercy of a quick trip out of town. Then she claimed the throne as the vampire whom few really wanted, but everyone was willing to accept. She'd spent decades studying studying the aims and enemies of the city’s influential Kindred in preparation for a moment of weakness in Danby — Sheridan's subtle advantage over him was her willingness to recognize unpopular and lesser-known vampires as influential.
The Lord of London was displaced with a minimum of violence, but everything he had has been broken up among the elders who once supported him, from real estate to ghouls. Danby himself disappeared, but Sheridan presumes he is sleeping somewhere in London, dreaming of a bloody throne and his second chance at praxis. Now, the new Lady of London is concentrating on making her reign look smooth and invulnerable. She knows it can never be those things, but in 200 years, she’s learned how often reality takes its cues from pretense. She seeks a calm and sustainable court, which often translates to a bread-and-circuses approach to her followers. After all, “calm prosperity” isn’t sexy compared to the orgy of bloodshed some would-be Circle Princes espouse or the “total political liberation” promised by the Carthians.
Rubbing awkwardly against Sheridan’s need to keep her Kindred entertained is her genuine love of the city of London. For the lowest common denominator of Kindred joy is the lust for horror of the Beast. Feeding those low urges could keep her in power for a long time, but what shadow would that cast on her city? Sheridan listens to London and, better than any other vampire, understands how little influence her ilk truly have in the long run. With great effort they can, over years, make things a little bit better, if they dare. But they can so easily pull the city toward despair and injustice, even by careless selfishness. She knows she must protect London from her court, but to do so, she needs to control them, and to control them, she must keep them happy.
To keep them happy, she must endanger London.
Further complicating matters is the fact that Sheridan's own nature is ill-suited to the role of Prince. Sheridan was High Sheriff for decades, and as a spymaster and inquisitor she was excellent, but no matter how thoroughly she polishes her persona, Sheridan will never be comfortable as a public figure. The other Kindred of London intimidate her, with their boundless arrogance and bloody prowess, especially those that possess the qualities that she still (still, after two hundred years) fear she lacks. They have poise, grace, dignity, intelligence, education, articulateness... while Sheridan knows that deep down, she's still just an Edinburgh street girl named Ellie.
This isn't to say that Sheridan lacks power. She's a potent vampire in her own right -- the second-oldest active Kindred in London in modern nights -- capable of controlling men's minds and of transforming into cat, falcon, mist, or swarm of flesh-rending bats. The ranks of the truly ancient Kindred have recently been culled by the Black King affair, and Sheridan has been taking action to consolidate her power, though the loss of Alistair Niall has been a severe blow [The Jackal in the Fold]. Though the Circle of the Crone under the leadership of Abonde and the Carthians under Montjoy are largely quiescent forces (though Sheridan has been keeping a very close eye on Cynthia of the Mara), the Lancea et Sanctum under Solomon Birch are a constant danger, and one she may not be able to control much longer. Within the Invictus, Sheridan despises Sophie Penrose for the latter's effortless style, above and beyond any political grudge. Sheridan is keenly aware that she is a weak Prince, and she will do anything to strengthen her own position, however ill-fitting she finds it... because only she can protect London.
Mental Attributes: Intelligence 5, Wits 5, Resolve 6
Physical Attributes: Strength 9, Dexterity 6, Stamina 10
Social Attributes: Presence 3, Manipulation 4, Composure 4
Mental Skills: Academics 4, Investigation (9-Again) 4, Occult 1, Politics (Psychotic Iconoclasts, AKA Kindred) 4
Physical Skills: Athletics 2, Brawl (Claws x2, Swarm x2) 6, Stealth (9-Again) 6, Survival (Streets) 2
Social Skills: Animal Ken 3, Empathy (Analyze x2) 5, Expression 2, Intimidation 2, Persuasion 2, Socialize 2, Streetwise 1, Subterfuge (9-Again) 5
Merits: Fast Reflexes 3, Herd 4, Indomitable 2, Languages (French, Latin; Native is English) 2, Professional Training (Spy; Investigation, Stealth, Subterfuge) 5, Resources6, Status (
3+Well-PaidInvictus; Prince) 5, Striking Looks (Elegant) 1
Lair: Kensington Townhouse; Security 5, Warding 4
Universal Banes: Sunlight, Fire, Aura of Menace, Frenzy, The Feral Curse, The Aloof Curse, Silver
Defense: 5 (10/10 w/ Celerity & Quicken Sight)
Armor: 2/2 (7/7 w/ Tough Hide & Resilience)
Mental Shield: 2 (Indomitable)
Speed: 15 (90 w/ Celerity)
Blood Potency: 6
Anomaly of the Blood: Through some quirk or atavism of Vitae, Sheridan possesses the Disciplines and the Curses of both Clan Gangrel and Clan Ventrue
Disciplines: Animalism ●●●●●, Auspex ●●, Celerity ●●●●●, Dominate ●●●, Protean ●●●●●, Resilience ●●●●●, Vigor ●●●●●
Predatory Aspects: Feral Senses, Stalker, Tough Hide; Extra Sense, Quadrupedal, Venomous w/ Force of Nature
Beast's Skin: Falcon, Swarm of Bats, Cat, Panther, Wolf
Unnatural Aspects: Horrid Talons; Wings w/ Force of Nature
Devotions: Claws of the Unholy, Force of Nature, Quicken Sight, Vermin Flood
Vitae: 20/6; Herd 4
Bat Swarm……………….............0L/A............. 17……….....Ignores Defense; Distracted; Distributable
Horrid Talons…………….............3L/A............. 20……….....AP 2, Venomous (Toxicity 2)