Life as a Mortal
Elaine Coventry was a troubled teen growing up financially privileged and emotionally impoverished in turn-of-the-century London. The scion of a wealthy bourgeois family, the only offspring of a marriage of convenience was a true psychic, plagued from childhood by a low-level telepathy which was essentially a form of preternaturally effective cold reading.
Constantly confronted with and frustrated by the hypocrisy so prevalent in English upper class society, she developed a rebellious streak and often clashed with her very traditional parents, being thrown out of one boarding school after another and finally leaving home at an early age for good, consigned to damnatio memoriae.
Elaine survived by attaching herself to rich donors who were into the occult and milking them for money. Realizing that the wealthy and entitled men who were her primary targets were all too eager to exploit her for other purposes, and knowing she would never be accepted in the powerful circles she really wanted access to, she used her talents of cross-dressing which she’d acquired as an absentee student stealing away for a night on the town. Thus, Allan Grey was born, an act perfected over time: a roguish cad, a Cockney street mystic come up from some East End gutter, exotic enough to be enticing, simple enough so as not be a threat.
Though she was a real psychic, she used her preternatural abilities combined with a rigorous training in sleight of hand by a card sharp of her acquaintance for charlatanry, pretending to be a medium able to communicate with spirits. At the time sécances were all the rage, somewhere between a harmless, ubiquitous pastime game for some and a true obsession for many - given how many small children and young mothers in all strata of society perished at a young age it was a macabre but lucrative business for con artists. Graduating from achieving rapid fame with astounding parlor tricks to becoming a spiritual aide to members of the Golden Dawn, the Freemasons, the Rosicrucians, the Ordo Templi Orientis, Thelema etc. she soon had excellent connections and lived in great luxury.
Life was an endless party, and a constant performance, for the mask must never, ever fall - neither the pretense of being a man, nor the truth about how she swindled the best and the brightest of society. Over time the many layers of lies led to a gradual loss of personal identity. The actress disappeared into her role. Allan - with his carefully cultivated mannerisms and fabricated backstory - was soon far more real than her.
The combination of terrible strain and loads of money drove her into abusing absinthe and laudanum, later adding cocaine as a morning pick-me up to be able to function at all. She had many admirers over the years, an endless parade of men and women who fell for her because they mistook attentiveness for empathy. She couldn’t trust anyone with her secrets and she became bitter and cynical over the slightest intimations of deceit. Thus, there was no intimacy for her, neither physically nor emotionally. Over time she grew jaded and distant, a user and abuser who only judged the worth of people according to how much they might be useful to her. In the end, she couldn’t even be bothered to mind the state of his own soul or body.
All of this changed with Penelope Newton, a poor waitress who worked at one of the clubs where high-ranking members of some of the fraternal orders Allan belonged to gathered after hours. She had witnessed Elaine’s performances first hand and believed in the gifts of the fraud whole-hearted. She turned to her because her teenage daughter Cassandra had vanished. The police wouldn’t help her for some reason and her employer wouldn’t take her seriously, believing that the young, pretty woman had run off with a lover or taken to a life of crime.
Elaine wanted to turn her down but the moment she shook her hand to shoo her away, her gift was triggered like it had never been before because Penelope was a low-level empath herself. Feeling Penelope’s pain and despair cut through the fog of Elaine’s inebriation, apathy and disgust. What’s more, she received the grieving mother’s constant nightmare vision of young Cassie, begging for her life, dying a thousand different deaths, one more horrifying than the others.
Overwhelmed by the surge of forced empathy, finding Cassie henceforth became Elaine’s obsession. She dreamt of her every night and had constant visions of her mother’s pain. She had to find her no matter what the cost! But it wasn’t just that. What she couldn’t even admit to herself was that, having a purpose, doing something for a good purpose, seeking truth instead of lies, she hadn’t felt this awake, this alive in years. She followed the only clue she had, a page torn from the young woman’s diary, speaking of a pleasant exchange with the owner of the club where her mother worked. Deeper and deeper into the rabbit hole the con artist turned detective went. She pursued the most obscure leads passionately, driven to save Cassie.
In the end she found Cassie, though it was only the poor girl’s ritually mutilated corpse, floating in the Thames. She hadn’t made it in time. Allan told Penelope a lot of merciful lies, giving her exactly the sort of vision of a better life that she knew the grieving mother could be happy with. But Elaine had some business to attend to, for on Cassandra’s corpse she had found a symbol she knew all too well from some of the dignitaries that were members of some of the fraternal organizations she was frequenting. Driven over the edge by finding her new purpose in life dead and all her hopes for doing something good and worthwhile for once dashed, she decided to seek vengeance and to pull down the murderous house of cards behind the club.
But trouble loomed for the dogged detective. Although as Allan Elaine was the enfant terrible of the occult circles, her character’s outré habits had always been tolerated because she had never asked questions of the powerful and complied with their demands in regard to her performance - she had been ‘one of the guys’, so perfectly adapted to an complicit in a culture of privilege, violation and silence that she had been invisible. All of that changed when she began to investigate. The great old men of the brotherhoods did not like their favored pets asking questions all of sudden.
The Kiss of Death
For, as it turned out, there was a secret conspiracy after all, an occult lodge for the 1% of the 1%, a game room for the true initiated elite, modeled on the debauched Hellfire clubs of old, who served a vampire at the center of the network - a mixture of herd and influence network for the Mekhet elder, the ever respectable, absolutely insidious Alistair Niall, High Sheriff of London in the all-night society and puppet master of the officials of the mortals’ city government (see Clanbook Mekhet).
Elaine headed to the secret meeting place to gather the final evidence to bring them all down. First she found the dreadful truth and half the cabinet assembled; very soon after she found herself strapped to a table, ready for consumption, killing two birds with one stone, getting rid of the witness and slaking the thirst of the master. Thus came the one time in her life when she couldn’t talk her way out of trouble and she had to face the horror all alone. She found what goodness and bravery there was inside of her in that red room where she knew Cassie had died when she saw the instruments of her demise.
When Alistair finally came into the circle of his loyal servants and immediately saw the truth about ‘Allan’ he was more amused then offended. One of the few living, active Mnemosyne - a lineage of the Mekhet obsessed with thoughts and memories contained in the blood of the owner - he couldn’t resist drinking the impressions of so interesting a life. But, as she lay dying the Mekhet elder reeled from the psychic feedback loop when he drank Elaine’s vitae. Feeling himself consumed as he consumed her, Alistair was overwhelmed by curiosity and questioned his victim.
He offered her the opportunity to avenge herself on the rich old men assembled in the ritual chamber, explaining that Cassandra had only been one of many and that many more would follow. Elaine demurred, however. Any of them deserved death, she said, but looking at the facts she had uncovered in her journey into darkness, she concluded that they would just be instantly replaced, probably by mortals long groomed to step up once their predecessor was gone. For the same reason it was useless to kill Alistair, for he himself was probably only a cog in the machine himself.
Alistair told her she was right, that the Kindred were above the law and beyond human morality because by God’s decree they were the sinner’s blight, a perfect perpetuum mobile of hell on earth, cogs and wheels, forever turning in the night from here to eternity, consuming the wayward and keeping the faithful obedient. Boundless, merciless perfection in which everyone and everything had its place, gods and monsters, wolves and lambs, all was according to the divine plan visible in the smallest details, secrets revealed in anything from holy scripture to the patterns of the cracks in the pavement. It was inescapable. It was inevitable.
Elaine broke down from the enormity of the revelation but she had to admit to the old Mekhet that he had been right and that she was both horrified and horrifically intrigued by that concept. Elaine asked Alistair to become his student and he, seeing much potential he would rather not see wasted, embraced her on the spot.
She spent the next year learning the basics of Kindred existence and being taught about the true nature of the world. At her sire’s side she saw behind the facade of mortal society and saw how much deeper the rot went than she had ever suspected in her most cynical moments. As Allan she accompanied her sire into the hidden places of the all-night society and absorbed all she could about how the predators lived. Soon she made good progress and would be a valuable addition to the tribe.
Alistair never suspected that even then Elaine was just doing what she had always been doing, performing that old trick of cold reading, following and leading, first mirroring the thoughts and desires of his mark to then subtly manipulate them. For Elaine was not done with vengeance for Cassie and stopping the abuses of the red room. She had not fallen to despair, had not accepted that the dark reign of her sire and his ilk were inevitable. In that dreadful moment of truth she had looked through the fallacy in the old Mekhet’s argument and decided to pass her own kind of judgment.
Finally, there was to be a reckoning on the night when they were all gathered in the red room and she would be the beneficiary of the blood sacrifice, accepting it in her sire’s stead, becoming party to the guilt and the secrets and being anointed by dark ritual. The old men were confused when she released the captive girl from her bonds and told her to run. They were horrified and when she side-stepped their pursuit with ease and locked the door. When Alistair arrived at the lodge that night, rising late from his slumber, he found every single member of his mortal network dead. Instead of his wayward childe, the enraged Mekhet found a letter pinned to the sacrificial altar.
“Just because evil is inevitable doesn’t mean I have to be its accomplice. Just because I can’t right all the wrongs in the world doesn’t mean that I can’t do something about the one that’s right in front of me.”
Alistair Niall survived the sudden fire at the exclusive gentlemen’s club that police later reported took the lives of some of London’s finest, upstanding citizens in a tragic accident. It took him weeks to recover from the damage and his bruised ego (and the second tradition) wouldn’t allow him to admit to anyone that his prized new childe had succeeded in killing a great many of his mortal puppets and had almost cost him his unlife. Instead he told everyone, Allan had died in the accident as well. Meanwhile, he searched for Elaine with furious anger, imagining all kinds of unspeakable things he would do to her. But he couldn’t find her anywhere and in time he somehow forgot she ever existed as if something had blotted her out of existence.
Elaine had been found by the Moirai…
Agent of the Moirai
This ancient and obscure Shadow Cult is known only by the name of the Fates in the Greek myths of Classical Antiquity and most Kindred consider them nothing but a myth. But the weavers are all too real, as Elaine found out. Their unseen masters watch and change what they call the Great Tapestry; they trace the threads of history, discover the recurring patterns, and manipulate them when they see the pattern beginning to repeat; grasping the shuttle, holding the scissors to cut the threads of lives, and changing the picture whenever it needs to according to their unknown and unknowable purposes.
The cult recruits members all over the world, looking for natural psychics, gifted observers, artful dissemblers. Potential recruits are tested by twisted and dangerous riddles. Those that make it through, solve the puzzle, exhibit the ability to change the Tapestry, get inducted into the ranks of the Moirai. They are given strange potions of mystically altered vitae and subjected to a mixture of intense brainwashing and rigorous training before they are released as agents into the wild.
Active operatives of the Moirai receive visions that instruct them to do things: political policies, financial decisions, relationships, intimidation and murder, the creation of ghouls, the forging of Vinculi, even the Embrace or destruction of a vampire, all without any apparent motive beyond the ancient plan to alter the Great Tapestry. Most of the Moirai follow these directives without understanding what effects their actions will cause - but they will die in the attempt to fulfill their tasks because the way their minds have been shaped.
The Moirai had long been present in London, some of its covert operatives studying the means and meaning of the mystically reoccurring cull of its supernatural inhabitants that happens in roughly 400 year intervals. One of its agents - whom Elaine never got to know except under the guise of Cassie Newton, taken from her memories and adopted for their lessons together - had taken notice of Elaine long before and had been instructed to watch her more closely once her investigations had been begun.
“Cassie” had intercepted Elaine in her flight from Alistair’s wrath and hidden her in a secret safehouse of the Shadow Cult. She was staked into torpor and put away for reeducation and future use. The operative used Moirai magics to obscure Elaine’s existence and began to covertly destroy all documents and other signs that she had ever existed, making her fade from everyone’s memory, in order to create a blank slate to be used as an agent in the future.
In her sleep, which lasted decades, she was subjected to a mixture of supernaturally induced conditioning and a multitude of vinculi to hidden members of the cult. The Moirai were careful to preserve Elaine’s personality (and her Allan persona) because those were what had given her her determination and made her so efficient, but they added many subconscious layers of programming to be triggered through subliminal messages hidden in everyday objects, such as advertisement pictures, newspaper headlines, popular songs and so forth. They also induced a fervent belief in the work of safeguarding and editing the Great Tapestry by making her believe that it was to keep humanity safe and the world stable, things which had been driving forces for her.
Elaine was reawakened from torpor after the outbreak of World War II and trained by “Cassie” - or rather, a progression of different operatives, specializing in different areas of tradecraft, all wearing Cassie Newton’s face - to serve as an agent for the Shadow Cult. The unique properties of her Mnemosyne bloodline would help her absorb entire lives and identities from drinking blood which, in addition to her Obfuscate discipline and talent for con artistry, would make her an expert infiltrator, completing spy missions.
Her first mission, two years later, took her to occupied France, where she sabotaged the plans of a coterie of occultist Nazi vampires who had come with Wehrmacht forces, seeking to locate and drain several mystically potent, hibernating elders of Celtic heritage sleeping in the catacombs of Paris. Slipping into a host of roles from a newsboy, to a butler, to the mistress of an SS major, to the man himself, she slowly and methodically worked her way into the inner circle of the vampire conspiracy behind the Ahnenerbe adherents. Her mission, which included a lot of near-miss discoveries and potential death situations proved to be a success, when in the end, Elaine assassinated Ventrue leader Wolfgang von Mansfeld, stole and destroyed the only map to the resting place of the elders and collapsed the tunnels leading there. She escape wartime Paris after a year by the skin of her teeth. The experience was… exhilarating.
Many more missions would follow over the years. Elaine lived for her work and her belief that what she was doing served a higher purpose for the good of humanity made her vampire nature and the subsistence on blood bearable to her. For someone as quickly addicted to pleasure and drugs, the needs of her undead existence made her even more of a hedonist than before, even as she reviled herself for giving in to her urges at the same time. She hated free time and could not stand to be alone with herself. Elaine would await each new mission eagerly and she would usually sink into despair and depravity when she had nothing to do.
All throughout the Cold War and up to the turn of the Millenium, Elaine moved from place to place, slipped into guise after guise, completed mission after mission and met with yet another “Cassie” from time to time. Then, in 2005, the unthinkable happened. All contact to her handler(s) broke off and she received no further messages from the Moirai.
Dancing with the Damned
At the time, Elaine had just been told to create the role of an orphaned neonate Mekhet Unbound, moving from Manchester to Edinburgh, interested in joining the Carthian Movement. Further instructions would await her there as soon as she had become and installed herself as Avery Darling. She spent a year building her identity as recently embraced Mancunian riff-raff, then moved to Scotland. She was welcomed at the court of Invictus Prince Rory Morrison and suffered all the indignities visited upon the newcomers and status-less that were par for the course at his cut-throat court, all for the purpose of playing her role, working the system, being ready for her assignment.
But that assignment never came. She spent year after year at court, perfecting her role - essentially a recreation of her old Allan Grey persona adapted to another era and other circumstances - but her marching orders never came. Her conditioning would not allow her to break radio silence or to leave without receiving new orders but her tortured need for action made waiting unbearable. She went through the motions of simulating her adopted life but more and more she began spiraling into a crisis of depression and a relapse into drug addiction.
Paradoxically, the Night of Ashes - which saw a great many of the Kindred of Edinburgh along with their Prince destroyed under mysterious circumstances - was Elaine’s salvation. During that bloody crisis when the Circle’s champion Finn MacCool defeated the deadly Striges and established the Crimson Throne, Elaine woke up from her addled stupor of purposelessness and despair. She did her best to survive the catastrophe and found the old rush again. Then she found another and helped them and suddenly, she had a mission: The one she had always had. Orders from above or no.
She’s good at being other people and then moving on but now Elaine is faced with finding out what it means to be herself. The name may be false and the mission might continue some distant day but for now she realizes that - whatever else happens - for good or for ill her actions are her call. She’s a con woman, a piss-artist and a libertine but there’s one thing she believes to be true. The Great Tapestry is real and in that greater whole every thread matters. And Elaine has found out, after all this time that she still cares.
Posing as the Mancunian Mekhet Avery Darling, Elaine has been a regular at court for the past decade, arriving under the old ruler and staying for the new one, always appearing at the edges of society, making connections providing her services as a private investigator, but never becoming fully involved, always a little removed, sometimes seeming to be just going through the motions required by the all-night society while looking for something else.
Tentatively drawn to the Carthian ideology of the Vox Populi, she is perhaps best known as in deep with the informal whisper network the Damned called the Cacophony, one link in the mighty chain communicating through street cant, veiled messages in social media, participatory art projects and so forth, or a good old chat in the dark booth of a pub's backroom.
As Avery Darling, Elaine is dressed in an elegantly cut but badly rumpled charcoal three piece suit and a tie at half-mast, adding a Burberry trenchcoat and a Trilby when she ventures outside.
Tall, whip thin and with androgynous features half obscured by strands of black hair, she often appears in a somewhat slumped but perfectly still pose, the wide amber eyes staring into the middle distance, moving as if tracing some sort of pattern around her. When she's interacting with someone she has an easy, personable smile.
She's constantly chain-smoking Parliaments and always has her little leatherbound notebook at the ready.
Name: Elaine Coventry
Chronicle: All that glitters is red
Mask: Social Chameleon
Concept: Psychic con artist turned agent of the Moirai
Covenant: Unaligned (current identity is nominally aligned with the Carthians)
Occult 2 (+1 Uncover Secrets)
Larceny 3 (+1 Nimble Fingers)
Empathy 3 (+ 1 Cold Reading)
Expression 2 (+1 Induce Hypnotic Trance)
Subterfuge 3 (+1 Establish Credibility)
Alternate Identity 3 (Avery Darling, PI from Manchester, + 2 to defend identity)
City Status 1
Cacophony Savvy 2
Languages (Mother Tongue: English; French, German, Italian) 3
Mystery Cult Initiation: Moirai 3
Safe Place 2 (- 2 penalty to detect or enter)
Sleight of Hand 2 (1 Larceny action per turn as reflexive action, these automatically go unnoticed unless someone is purposefully trying to catch her)
Trained Observer 3 (8-again on all perception/detection rolls)
Cloak the Gathering
Blood Potency 3 (maximum Vitae 12/spend 3 per round)
Humanity 6 (Touchstone: Melanie Gifford, waitress at her favorite pub whom she relates and talks to when she wants to unwind)
Speed 9 (18 via Celerity)
Initiative Modifier +4
- reconnect with the Moirai and complete the mission
- explore the tapestry of Edinburgh's mystery
- escape the cycle of depression and addiction by finding a fulfilling purpose (accomplished)
- stop the machinations of her sire and exact vengeance upon him (accomplished)
Beats 0 Experience 63 (63 XP spent)
- treat Humanity as 1 lower for all Bane effects (Mekhet)
- -2 on all rolls against blood addiction (Mnemosyne)
- amaranth addiction (result of diablerie)