The smooth-talking revolutionary
Born: August 7, 1685
Embraced: October 11, 1712
Apparent Age: Mid to late 20s
Road: Humanity (6)
Merits: Blush of Health, Enchanting Voice, Eat Food
Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeoning of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find me, unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.
Invictus (1888), William Ernest Henley
Emma is a short and well-fed woman, looking very hale and hearty for a Kindred, with ruddy cheeks and skin that is only slightly cool to the touch. She wears modern clothing, clean albeit simple, and never wears jewelry except for a necklace with her wedding ring on it, which is hidden underneath her blouse or shirt. Unless dressed for a formal occasion, she tries to blend in with London’s lower and working class, though her tendency to forgo skirts and dresses for a pair of pants whenever possible tends to make her stick out nonetheless.
Her waistlong, light brown hair is neatly braided on more formal occasions, though she prefers to either wear it open when she is relaxing or put it together in a tight bun if it bothers her with whatever she is currently doing – or if she expects a fight in the near future.
Perhaps the most striking thing about Emma is not her nigh-mortal appearance or her choice of clothing, but rather her voice – smooth and soft like honey poured straight into one’s ear, it’s a joy to listen to her talk, no matter what about, and when she sings, crowds swoon and cheer even without supernatural influence.
Once past her velvety voice, listeners find that Emma is a very social individual, highly skilled in the art of manipulation and a charming companion when she wishes to be. She can persuade, woo and argue expertly, despite the fact that she has never formally studied the arts of philosophy and debate, which doesn’t at all dissuade her from talking at length about her pet projects and interests. These topics span the range from the newest social movement among mortals to political twists and turns in the Kindred world, and as she prefers a discussion to a monologue, she does her best to include conversational partners as much as possible in these verbal engagements, often with great enthusiasm on her part.
Despite her tendency to be very direct on certain occasions, which may be misinterpreted as crudeness on her part, Emma takes care to display proper etiquette to her peers and betters. In private or among closer acquaintances, however, she pays much less mind to these matters and adopts a more relaxed demeanor, which means that she is often much harder to stop once she really gets into the swing of things.
“i can’t survive on
the kindness i show myself
but i’ll die trying”
— humans are not self sustaining (haiku #44)
Born in London as the first child of three, with a younger brother and sister following soon after, Emma quickly learned the lesson that if she wanted something, she had to find a way to get it herself. Her brother Dean was frail in health yet clearly the favorite of her parents, who allowed him much more leisure time than Emma and Paige, whereas the latter always seemed to find new ways to duck out of her errands and shift her responsibilities in their family’s tavern on to her older sibling. As she couldn’t get out of the work, the young girl decided that she’d profit from it any way she could and persuaded her brother, who was being taught by their father William, to practice his lettering and sums together with her in secret. She paid attention when their parents counted money during the evenings while she mopped the floors, and found reasons to accompany her mother Mary to the markets to observe her haggling for supplies. When she carried mugs to tables of gamblers, she studied their games of cards and dice, their expressions, their quips – and the ways they cheated. If there were news or stories going around the room, she listened. As Dean grew smug due to his knowledge and Paige became infatuated with the tall tales she heard, Emma learned to push her siblings into directions she chose – and on several occasions also out of harm’s way.
Years passed as her father groomed his son to take over the tavern one day and her mother started looking for matches for her daughters, but these plans never came to fruition. Shortly after his fifteenth birthday, Dean fell ill during an especially cold autumn season, losing first his voice, then much of his weight as fever claimed his body, and lastly his life – despite all care and efforts from Mary, who spent every waking moment fretting over him. Emma picked up what fell through the cracks during her brother’s sickness as her mother worked herself into the ground in an attempt to nurse him back to health and take care of her duties in the tavern at the same time. After his death, Dean’s place on the sickbed was soon occupied by Mary, with Emma herself frantically juggling her responsibilities, unfortunately to no avail as she succumbed to her illness as well. Losing two family members in such short succession tore at the already shaky relationship between the two girls and their father, a somber man who grew more bitter from his grief and turned to alcohol to soothe his pain and neglected his children. He seemed content to leave much of the workload of running the tavern to his daughters, and while Emma used the work to distract herself from the loss and the fear of her future, Paige grew increasingly more obsessed with escaping from London, as if by doing so she could simply leave her problems behind. Unable to keep tabs on her sister and with William unwilling to intervene, Emma couldn’t stop her from running away with a much older man who had convinced her that he could provide her with a better, more interesting life than the one she lead in London. Paige took whatever valuables she could carry, packed the meager possessions she owned, and took off in the middle of the night without any goodbyes, never to be heard from again.
“this is not the end
you have survived worse than this
so take a deep breath”
— don’t panic (haiku #26)
Left with only her father, who was by then just a shadow of his former self, Emma feared she might be swallowed up by her own grief in much the same way unless she found a way to prevent it. As luck would have it, the opportunity to do just that walked into her tavern one night, got drunk out of his mind and talked her ear off about his profession – the man was a journalist, trying to impress her with what he proclaimed to be his talent for storytelling, and while he failed utterly at his goal, he did indeed catch her attention. As it turned out, Arthur wasn’t the most intelligent man, and with a little bit of persuasion and alcohol Emma was able to coax him into spilling as much information to her as she wanted. Soon enough, her tavern became his favorite place to spend his evenings, and he even brought copies of his newspaper to read his articles aloud to Emma. She never bothered to tell him that she could read them herself and instead chose to humor him, thinking to herself that writing news ought to be much more interesting than running a tavern. One night, while Arthur was snoring on a table at the back, Emma snatched the article he was working on and rewrote it, doing her best to imitate his handwriting. The next day, when he walked in and tried to chat her up as usual, she convinced him that he had rewritten it himself while talking to her about it, and hid her amusement at how easily he accepted this lie. When he came in with the paper her article was published in, she waited until he fell asleep on a table to grab the newspaper and read it – excited to see the words she had written earlier. It didn’t take long for her to make this a regular endeavor as she learned to look forward to the evenings when Arthur would come in with his newest piece of work and leave after she had secretly edited it. It was additional work on top of everything else she had to keep on top of, but she clung to it fiercely nonetheless, not just because she enjoyed the writing itself, but also because she knew she could do it better than Arthur, and for once, she felt proud of what she did.
Just as she had settled into a comfortable rhythm with her new workload, William’s health took a turn for the worse. The alcohol seemed to be eating away at him just as his grief had done before, and Emma knew that once he died, she’d have a problem as she was still unmarried and couldn’t hope to continue on by herself like before. Time was running out, yet she hated the thought of handing over control of her life to a man as she had gotten used to being able to manipulate her father into doing whatever she wanted, granting her a great degree of personal freedom. She pondered what to do, torn between her wish for control over herself and her desire for safety, but she couldn’t find a clever solution to the problem. Her best bet would be to find somebody she could manipulate just like William, but there was only one person she knew who fit that description, and it didn’t make the idea any more appealing. Yet without any other choice, Emma married Arthur a month later, days before her father died.
“the fall is long and
the air thin, but the view might
be worth dying for”
— i’m afraid of heights what am i doing on this tightrope (haiku #81)
For Emma, it was very much a marriage of convenience and necessity; Arthur, on the other hand, was more smitten with his young bride, who was his junior by a handful of years and had grown up to become a pretty young woman. She continued to humor him as much as necessary, using whatever manipulation necessary to retain her freedoms, and eventually figured out the specific buttons she had to push to get her husband to acquiesce to her wishes. The first year of their marriage was a beneficial one for Emma, as she had the opportunity to become acquainted with the rest of the journalists working at Arthur’s newspaper, which turned out to be a boon in the long term. They were more talented than her husband and frequently gathered at her tavern, talking about their work without a care that she was around, which allowed her to listen in and learn even more. During the nights, after Arthur had gone to sleep or passed out drunk, Emma still rewrote his articles, soon slipping new ones among his papers which were produced entirely by her from things she had picked up while working. She stayed in touch with his colleagues, cultivated new acquaintances among her regular patrons to learn of news, and hired additional hands to help around the tavern as the business flourished. It gave her a rush of self-confidence and boldness, which didn’t go unnoticed by Arthur, who began to pay attention to how much time his wife spent with his colleagues and started shooing her away whenever they met. At first, Emma succeeded in placating him by avoiding the group when she knew her husband was around, yet the reprieve was only temporary. Arthur veered between a pleasant companion and a jealous drunk, a fact that wasn’t helped by his increasingly frequent outbursts of anger, which could occur in either state. Their arguments turned into shouting matches after the first few years of their marriage, as Emma refused to bow to his demands and stubbornly fought back against anything that would cut into her freedoms or her secret work on his newspaper, and her methods of manipulation eventually became less and less effective while Arthur developed more and more tolerance for alcohol. For the next years, their relationship remained in a tense state of peace and was mostly held together by Emma’s continual manipulation and charming, who used every tool at her disposal and fought tooth and nail for herself. However, they finally reached a breaking point when Emma became pregnant and started to lose her patience more often. The number of arguments between them picked up in frequency, and one night, it escalated into a physical fight. Arthur, who hadn’t done any physical labor in years and was more than slightly drunk, lost to his sober wife, who quickly went berserk and managed to knock out some of his teeth in the ensuing fistfight. However, the victory didn’t come cheap, as her husband hit her belly, and soon after he had stormed out of the house, Emma started bleeding heavily. An hour later, her child was out of her womb, dead, and yet she continued bleeding. Cursing her fate and her powerlessness, she feebly tried to stem the blood, but nothing she did helped. She clung to life out of sheer stubbornness, a refusal to die and give up despite death being seemingly inevitable. However, death wasn’t the one to claim her that night; Letho broke in first and snatched her from its jaws, unwilling to let her fighting spirit die with her or allow her potential to go to waste. Past the point of understanding what was happening to her, Emma tried to put up a fight, even weak as she was, but her sire won easily. When she woke up next, she was ravenously hungry – for blood and for revenge.
“i have not lived long
enough to justify the
fury in my soul”
— lies you tell yourself (haiku #64)
Suffice it to say that the first few nights Emma spent after her Embrace were tumultuous to say the least. She needed time to get used to her Beast, to which she lost control quite a few times, and had a lot of questions to her sire, whom she regarded with a mixture of gratitude and suspicion, fearing that her freedom was once more in danger with no way of wresting back control over it if it was taken from her. After a month, she was able to keep herself in check and had acclimated to her new existence physically, if not mentally, and could finally start listening to Letho’s lessons fully, despite some lingering hesitations on her part. He was a learned man, and while at first everything he taught her had immediate, practical applications, eventually his teachings shifted to more theoretical, academic matters. While he never succeeded in turning Emma into a very academically-minded woman, he did spark a love for social matters in her mind that lasts to this day, as well as a deep interest in mortal society.
When she was introduced to the Kindred world of London, Emma already knew enough etiquette and subterfuge to leave a decent first impression, especially with her ability to charm and manipulate, but her mind still lingered with her mortal past. On the first anniversary of her Embrace, she asked Letho for a favor: she wanted to find Arthur and finally finish what she had started in life. He granted her wish, helping her in tracking down the man who had abandoned her tavern and his newspaper after her death, and she got her revenge; despite only having basic combat training at this point and carrying a measly dagger as a weapon, Emma made short work of her husband, frenzying so horribly that Arthur’s corpse was unrecognizable by the point that Letho stepped in and forced her to calm down. She knew she should have felt remorse for doing what she did, murdering a human being in a fit of rage like this, but she couldn’t bring herself to regret. Looking at what her husband had done to her in her mortal life, all she could feel was a cold emptiness. After this night, she started wearing her wedding ring on a necklace underneath her clothing, as a reminder that she could make things right, if only she always persevered – and that she had survived adversity previously, and could survive again.
is getting on all my nerves
someone start a fire”
— unconventional prayers (haiku #19)
With this last private injustice from her mortal days resolved, Emma could fully turn her mind to Kindred matters. She grew to like Letho, thankful for the Embrace which she considered a boon, and enjoyed spending time with him, whether he was trying to teach her, albeit unfortunately unsuccessfully, in matters of higher learnings, sparring with her, or telling stories of his previous undertakings, both in life and death. Emma also picked up her involvement in her old newspaper once again, though this time she acted only by proxy for fear of breaking the Masquerade since her sudden disappearance had likely not gone unnoticed. As the weeks turned to months, then years turned to decades, she settled into a comfortable rhythm of her unlife. However, eventually what was a comforting routine at first devolved into monotony, and she felt an itch to do more with her life now that she had acquired previously unknown power and freedom of movement. When the newspaper she had clung to merged with a bigger paper, she packed some clothing, said her goodbyes to her sire, and went on a journey to travel the kingdom. Growing up in a tavern in London, she heard plenty of stories from people all over about the places they came from or had visited previously, and she craved to see them for herself, to spend time meeting new people, mortal and Kindred alike, and to learn through new experiences. Emma spent time in Wales, on the English coasts, in northern England, in Scotland and even traveled to Ireland, all the while staying in touch with Letho by writing long letters. She also kept a journal of her travels, and when she returned home in the late 1780s, she spoke at length with her sire about her journey, the people she had met and what she had experienced. She stayed in London for a few years before she joined a group of fellow Brujah on a trip to France, with the express purpose of observing the upheaval in mortal society as well as the ripple effects it would have on the Kindred society of France. While Emma didn’t speak French at all, she traveled with people who did, and though looking back she wouldn’t dare call it a fun journey, she appreciates the knowledge she gained from it. Before the turn of the century, she returned to London and stayed in the city until after her 100th Embrace anniversary in 1812 before once again traveling throughout the kingdom, this time returning to places where she had made Kindred acquaintances or friends to spend time with them and see how life was going, still writing letters to send home. In 1860, when her sire died in the Sabbat raid on London, she was in Scotland and didn’t hear news of the attack until a year later, when she started wondering why she hadn’t had a response from Letho in such a long time. She can’t remember much of the time directly after she learned of his death, as it has blurred together into a mush of grief and mourning in her mind, but she still hasn’t completely gotten over his loss. Once she felt she was ready to face whatever awaited her in London now, she returned to the city with the intent to stay for good – or as long as she could bear.
“nothing in this world
is more simple or trying
than this heavy grief”
— when tragedy transforms from an unwelcome guest to your constant companion you must learn to wear it well (haiku #98)
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