Seneschal of London, Countess of Shepherd's Bush
Covenant: Circle of the Crone
Apparent Age: Mid-twenties (actually 32)
Background: Emily Wescote was born a child of privilege during the height of the British Empire, and grew of age in the twilight of Queen Victoria’s reign. Though the Wescotes were not as rich or as respectable as they might have been (an alarming tendency towards manifesting violent black sheep marked the family), Emily and her three sisters were taught first by Irish governesses and then by French tutors. Their father, Sir John Wescote, was by the standards of the time an open-minded man, and he hoped for his four daughters to marry well, even as Henry, their brother, would carry on the family name. He was probably not open-minded enough to accept Emily’s hobbies, however.
The farmers around Wescote House had always had more than their fair share of hair-raising ghost stories and dark talk of curses, but Emily’s interest in the supernatural began when a passing spiritualist came through the county when she was just twelve. At the séance, he raised the dead, whispered secrets that he could not have known, and thoroughly captivated the young girl’s imagination. This was significantly more interesting than learning how to crochet.
Even then, Emily’s defining characteristic had always been an absolute refusal to bow to adversity – or to reality, on occasion – and she set about learning everything about the occult. She began to conduct interviews with local farmers to track down local legends and ghost stories – under the guise of ‘recording oral culture’ – and corresponded with figures in London and as far away as Paris and New York. By the age of fifteen, Emily had seen her first ghost, a drowned maiden in a local pond, and by the age of eighteen, she had managed her first summoning, a man of brambles-and-shadows called upon Walpurgisnacht.
In other ways Emily’s life progressed according to plan, as she was betrothed and then married to a certain wealthy American – he got a title, the Wescotes got money, Emily and her husband got to ignore one another utterly. She moved to New York then, entering Gilded Age society there, summering in Newport, attending balls, and hobnobbing – at a suitable remove – with the American industrial aristocracy.
Then, in 1907, disaster struck. Her brother, Henry, was struck down with what others called madness and what Emily suspected was the Wescote Curse. The young woman rushed back to Wescote House, only to discover that her father had had Henry committed to Moorgate Asylum, until his ‘fit of nerves’ was over and done with.
What followed was a thoroughly magnificent row. Emily was an unstoppable force, Sir John (from whom she had inherited her steel spine) an immovable object. They screamed at one another. They argued. There were frigid silences, threats of scandals, thrown objects, and in short, absolute terror for all involved. When her sisters tried to intervene, the two shouted them down. When Emily’s husband tried to take her home to America, she hexed him. Wescote House became utterly unlivable for a month, and then Emily packed her bags and departed for London. She had correspondents there, specialists in the occult. They could save Henry, couldn’t they? And if not, then Emily could get lawyers to at least get him out of Moorgate.
She took up residence in the Charing Cross Hotel and began a furious and swift acquaintance with the leading occult lights of London. She was for a time involved with men and women such as Aleister Crowley, Harry Price the infamous ghost hunter, Margaret Murray of anthropological fame, A. E. Waite of the Golden Dawn and Austin Osman Spare, the occult artist. Most significantly, she struck up a friendship with the head of housekeeping at the Charing Cross Hotel, a soft-spoken but brilliantly intelligent Scotswoman named Elizabeth Sheridan.
For the next eight years, Emily threw herself into the occult, her lawyers fending off those of her father and husband, both of whom eventually gave up on making her come home. Her husband largely thought he was well rid of her, though he never filed for divorce. In the meantime, Emily made no fewer than three separate attempts to break the Wescote Curse – though she was found and ejected from Wescote House on one of the occasions, on the other two she succeeded in summoning beings from other worlds, spirits or demons or other such horrors – but each time she was unsuccessful. Her efforts to see Henry freed from Moorgate were similarly thwarted, in no small part due to Emily’s own increasingly dubious reputation (as if the occult was not enough, Emily was also a noted suffragette).
Finally, in the winter of 1914, as the Great War raged, Sheridan suggested a new course of action to Emily. She knew a way, she hinted, for Henry to at least have freedom, and for Emily to have more time to break the curse. Emily Wescote, close to her wits end, agreed. And so it came to pass that she was Embraced by Elizabeth Sheridan, passing from one life to the next. Now, this was long before Sheridan was the Lady of London, nor even the High Sheriff. At the time, she was a respectable but not dominating Invictus Elder, and over the next few months, she took Emily in hand. Rescuing Henry did not take magic or lawyers. It merely took bloody, unnatural strength.
Sir John’s lawyers were immediately suspicious of Emily, of course, but with Sheridan’s help she hid Henry and waited for the attention to pass. When it did, the two siblings turned to face eternity together. Henry learned, by way of bitter experience, the limits of his curse, while Emily returned into her little home in the twilight world of occult London. In 1918, she divorced her husband, and lived out a seemingly normal, albeit highly eccentric, life until the late 1940s, when she faked her death and more fully joined Kindred society.
For a time, Emily and Sheridan drifted apart, Wescote concerned primarily with the Wescote Curse, her Sire focused more upon political affairs. After her emancipation, Emily joined the Acolytes, continuing to develop her sanguine witchery as a student of the Lady Abonde. She created new human identities so as to continue to engage with the mortal occultists of London, though after her near-Final Death at the hands of Catholic Inquisitors in 1959, Emily has kept a low profile. She Embraced another into the Kindred in 1972, and again in 1984.
Then in 1966, Sheridan became the Lady of London, and suddenly Emily Wescote’s sire was the most powerful Kindred in London. With that ascent came a new offer. Sheridan would make Emily her strong right hand, and in exchange, Emily would have Sheridan’s not-insignificant support for her occult research. Once more, Emily agreed.
In modern nights, Emily Wescote is the Seneschal of London. She is Sheridan’s lieutenant in all matters to do with the governance of the city, and her influence and authority are without bounds. Unlike her Sire, Emily is not some serpent given to secrets and diplomatic intrigue. Instead, she is a steam locomotive, bulling through all obstacles and battering them down with the strength of her will. Essentially, the way Kindred politics breaks down is that Sheridan, with the advice of the Primogen, determines what should happen, and then Emily makes certain that it does happen, the Herald tells everyone that it did happen, and the High Sheriff sniffs out and punishes any violations. More than the High Sheriff even, Emily serves as Sheridan’s iron fist.
Emily is also fairly high ranking in the Circle of the Crone, though since her becoming Sheridan’s Seneschal her rise has hit a glass ceiling, to Emily’s distinct frustration. Simply put, the Acolytes consider her too politically unreliable to advance any further.
To carry out her duties, Emily has several powerful tools. First and foremost, she is assumed to be working with the full backing and authority of Sheridan and the Primogen Council. This assumption holds even when it is not, strictly, true, but Emily is scrupulously careful not to abuse this particular power. Emily also has access to a great deal of monetary wealth, both her own (she divorced well), Sheridan’s, and that of the Court of London as a whole, serving as Master of the Exchequer for the city’s Kindred. She maintains a large number of lawyers on retainer – after her endless legal troubles with her own father, Emily speaks their language. And finally, she has a goodly amount of Acolyte blood-magic, in particular a talent for knowing what will happen right before it happens.
In her private life, Emily maintains a large house in Ealing, which she privately refers to as Wescote House, where she lives with her brother. Large, grand, and elegant, Wescote House is a rambling old pile of a house that serves as haven to Emily and her brother, and to Emily’s hobbies. The greenhouse attached to the house is filled with rare and exotic plants (many toxic), while the west wing indulges Emily’s love of rare insect collection, filled with all of the accoutrements of the trade; bell jars, tiny pins and needles, shadow boxes filled with hundreds of minuscule, transfixed creatures. She sometimes holds formal meetings in the shadow of her insect collection or her greenhouse.
Minor gentry from the English countryside, Emily appears as a self-assured, comfortable young woman. In contrast to her forbidding reputation, she is a friendly person, if not garrulous or outgoing by any definition. Emily is very warm and caring, although she does her best to avoid seeming matronly; she is willing to take the initiative to help anyone whom she thinks needs assistance. Despite her better intentions, she is a little overprotective of her brother, who is utterly embarrassed by this. She has a good sense of humor and is usually easygoing and pleasant, though her emotions run deep, and she can get very touchy if provoked. Unlike her brother, she is less optimistic about worldly affairs, often playing the pragmatist to her brother's idealism.
Which goes a bit deeper than that - calling her less optimistic is a complete understatement. For a woman of such cheer and good humor, she is surprisingly and amazingly pessimistic. Unlike many, she does not characterize herself by exclaiming proclamations of doom aloud - it is simply that Emily always assumes things will turn out for the worst. As such, she is always quick to try and take damage controlling measures. As a woman of great generosity, she will often take it upon herself to do this to help others out, even at cost to herself. Decades of undeath have taken their toll on her humanity, and the madness of the Ventrue blood brews in her veins, but Emily soldiers on regardless, refusing to bow to the horror of her existence.
This is in fact something of a theme for her. Emily is exceedingly self-reliant and bull-headedly stubborn, sometimes in the face of reality. This comes through clearest in how she has spent one hundred years trying to break the Wescote Curse, without much success, but it came through as well in her relationship with her father and husband, and in modern nights in how she carries out her duties as Seneschal. Though she can be subtle and obscure when she chooses to be, Emily’s preference, when confronted with a problem is to apply overwhelming force, enough so that no degree of finesse or skill can withstand it. Someone coming to the Seneschal’s professional attentions is liable to feel like a mouse avoiding an elephant.
Slender and leggy, Emily is an amply proportioned, pretty young lady (she was thirty-two when she died, and the Wescote family tended to age very well). She has slate-grey eyes and curly blonde hair which is usually coiffed and drawn back. Her jaw is a bit too strong to be fashionable, and it would be exaggerating for her to be called gorgeous, but her confident air and gracious smile has turned more than its fair share of heads. She is taller than most women, though her tendency to wear short heels evens this out somewhat. She usually wears pragmatic, comfortable clothing, sleek, solid black dresses with gloves and often a hat. Outside of her home, she almost always wears an enchanted black cloak as well. Though a radical feminist by early 20th century standards, to this day she tends to sniff a little at women wearing pants. She usually wears silver jewelry and has a flower pinned somewhere to her person, either on a hat or as corsage.
Mental 5; Physical 2; Social 5
Blood Potency: 5
Notable Powers: Horticulturalist of the Damned, Keep the Trains Running On Time
Banes: Holy Ground, Arcane Bond (Mini-Rosebush)