Lady Elisabeth Ashbury is a vampire and philanthropic noblewoman, residing in London during the 1918 Spanish flu epidemic. She is the founder and main benefactor of Pembroke Hospital, and serves as a mentor to the recently-turned Jonathan Reid.
Elisabeth Samantha Mary Englewood was born in 1551, and lived her early years in the village of Hoddesdon, Hertfordshire. Her parents owned an establishment called The Bull Inn in the village.
In 1578, an outbreak of plague killed most of Elisabeth's family. William Marshal witnessed Elisabeth singing for her lost loved ones, unafraid of the plague. Marshal was moved by her voice, and perceived her to have a virtuous and pious attitude; he offered her immortality as a vampire, and she accepted. The two were very close and became like father and daughter to each other, with Marshal teaching Elisabeth all she needed to know about life as an immortal. They lived together until 1618, when Elisabeth decided to find her own path in the world and Marshal stayed behind in Hoddesdon. She assumed the name Elisabeth Blackwood.
Elisabeth travelled around Europe for several decades. She met many people who would be recognised as well-known historical figures. In 1666, Johannes Vermeer painted Elisabeth's portrait while she was in the Netherlands.
Back in England, William Marshal was infected by a Disaster that was only defeated in the Great Fire of London. Sensing her sire's pain, Elisabeth returned to England in 1667. Marshal turned aggressive due to being infected with the blood of hate, and he bit Elisabeth, transmitting the infection to her. Elisabeth fled, shocked by Marshal's behaviour.
Due to the blood of hate, Elisabeth became bloodthirsty and sadistic, taking pleasure in indiscriminate killing. By 1712, she had made a progeny of a man named Jacob, who took on her surname, and who had a similarly sadistic nature. Now known as Lady Blackwood, she and Jacob became infamous for their murderous exploits, especially in France, and even William Marshal was aware of them.
In 1786, Elisabeth finally returned to William Marshal. Marshal had spent decades searching for a cure to the blood of hate, and he finally acquired enough ingredients to create one dose of antidote. Elisabeth was hesitant to go back to Marshal, but Marshal promised to chain himself so he would not attack her again. Although Marshal expressed regret for infecting her, Elisabeth only smirked, but when he explained what the blood of hate had done to her, she lashed out. Marshal offered her the antidote, knowing he would gradually deteriorate, as a way to bring back her former peaceful nature, requesting in return that she take care of him. Elisabeth reluctantly took the antidote, but did not immediately consume it, and left London again.
Elisabeth held onto the antidote as she rejoined Jacob, and they continued their bloodthirsty spree in France. They were seen together at Versailles in 1788. In 1793, she took part in a massacre on an orphanage; afterwards, Elisabeth was compelled to drink the antidote, finally restoring her former nature. She abandoned her title of Lady Blackwood and returned to William Marshal in 1794, promising to take care of him.
In 1795, Elisabeth purchased the Ashbury castle in Scotland to provide Marshal with a safe hiding place, and inherited the title of Lady Ashbury. She had previously attempted to discreetly acquire Marshal's castle in Wales, but abandoned that plan when her identity was nearly discovered by Guard of Priwen founder Kendall Stone. She invited several architects to send her proposals for renovating Ashbury castle, and she sought the service of a Mr. McAlistair in September. The renovations were completed by 1807, and she arranged for Marshal's coffin to be transported from Temple Church to the Ashbury estate.
Lady Ashbury continued her travels, and additionally started several charitable establishments. In 1865, she proposed founding an orphanage for girls to Countess Alexandria Summerset, which later opened in the West End. She also founded Pembroke Hospital for the poor in the East End of London. In between her travels she would visit Marshal to care for him; in order to keep him from attacking another creature, she would let him feed on her own blood. In 1901, she adopted Charlotte, a ten-year old orphan from her orphanage; Elisabeth would not reveal that she was a vampire until 1907, when Charlotte was sixteen, though Charlotte had had her suspicions long before.
She became acquainted with Dr. Edgar Swansea while he was working at a sanatorium in Scotland, and in 1909 she invited him to become the administrator of Pembroke. With Dr. Swansea's help, Lady Ashbury would attempt to treat her cure of her hunger with blood transfusions. She was unaware that she still carried the Disaster's infection in her blood, as she was asymptomatic. In the meantime, Dr. Swansea permitted Lady Ashbury to feed on dying patients.
During the summer of 1918, in the middle of the Spanish flu pandemic, Dr. Swansea attempted to find a cure by experimenting with Lady Ashbury's blood, without her permission or knowledge. He transfused Ashbury's blood to Harriet Jones, an elderly flu patient. As neither Ashbury nor Dr. Swansea were aware of the infection in Ashbury's blood, it was transmitted to Jones who then spread it to her daughter Doris Fletcher, who in turn would spread it to a wider population, thus creating the Skal epidemic.
Events of VAMPYR
In the autumn of 1918, Lady Ashbury and Dr. Swansea are investigating a series of murders in the East End Docks, which they believe are the work of a vampire. One night, Lady Ashbury visits Dr. Swansea is in his lodgings at the Turquoise Turtle, unafraid of the Priwen guards patrolling the surrounding area. In the middle of their conversation, Lady Ashbury realizes that somebody is eavesdropping on them, and quickly departs. The eavesdropper, newly-turned Dr. Jonathan Reid, enters the room and asks Dr. Swansea about Ashbury, but Dr. Swansea reveals nothing.
Lady Ashbury later comes face-to-face with Dr. Reid in an abandoned canning factory. After subduing William Bishop, the Skal responsible for the recent unexplained deaths, Dr. Reid turns his attention to the injured Sean Hampton, but William Bishop revives suddenly. Lady Ashbury impales William through the chest before advising Dr. Reid to be careful when dealing with certain Skals. Dr. Reid realizes she is the woman he heard speaking with Dr. Swansea in the pub, and asks for her help; Asbury replies that she already has, and vanishes.
Lady Ashbury and Dr. Reid meet again after Reid's appointment at Pembroke. As Lady Ashbury looks after a dying patient called Renfield, Dr. Reid again notes that she is the woman who saved him at the factory, and a vampire as well. Ashbury requests Dr. Reid's assistance in dealing with a mystery blackmailer, who has been demanding large sums of money for several weeks. Despite making an initial payment, Lady Ashbury has refused to give any more money to her blackmailer. Suspecting that her blackmailer is someone from within the hospital, she wants Dr. Reid's help to discreetly identify and deal with the blackmailer. In return, she promises to answer any questions he has about vampires once he has completed his task..
After dealing with Dorothy Crane, the blackmailer in Whitechapel, Dr. Reid returns to Pembroke and witnesses Lady Ashbury feeding on Renfield, the patient she had been caring for earlier. Upset at being caught, Lady Ashbury admonishes him but soon calms down. Reid tells her he has dealt with her blackmailer, and Lady Ashbury allows him to ask her about vampires, London, and herself. When asked about the presence of Spanish flu in London, she reveals that she believes there is something worse waiting to happen.