Campaign of the Month: August 2014
The Concord of Ashes
Basilio the Elder
The Prince of Sophia; an elder known to be both devout and loyal, but something of an autocrat in his style. His position has grown increasingly untenable in recent years.
This man’s aquiline nose and delicate jawline mark him as an aristocrat, though the darker shade of his skin would indicate Iberian ancestry rather than Greek. He wears the fine robes of a Byzantine aristocrat, though his bejewelled weapons follow the style of the Bulgars. Dignified and solemn, he exudes authority and power.
(modified from Transylvania by Night , pp.74-75)
The Lasombra known as Basilio the Elder has ruled the city of Serdica since the Byzantine Empire came to once more rule Bulgaria in the early years of the 11th century. For centuries he has manipulated the insular and divided Bulgarian Tzimisce voivodes, balancing their restive and combative temperament with their desire for a neutral ground to meet and a stable market to dispose of their minions’ livestock and crafts. With the failure of the Byzantine empire to hold the region, his position has grown increasingly untenable since AD 1186. Unless he can adapt to the new political climate, it is clear that Basilio the Elder will soon face challenges to his authority.
Originally attracted to the area by his interest in the Eastern Orthodox Church, Basilio left his comfortable surroundings in Rome and travelled to Constantinople. There he established close ties with its Cainite rulers, allying himself with the Magnus Orthodox Family of Lasombra and gaining their favour. Having established himself, he immediately set about finding a sizable demesne befitting his talents. The Antonian and Magnus Orthodox families had identified the city of Serdica, called Sredets by the Bulgars and sometimes Sophia by the people of Byzantium, as a locus of potential authority. The Bulgarian Empire had collapsed under the withering pressure of the armies of first the Kievan Rus then those of the Byzantine Emperor’s John I Tzimisces and Basil II. Its ambitious prince had been a thorn in their side, leading the resistance against Byzantine rule for the 3 decades it had taken for the last remnants of Bulgaria to capitulate. Gabor had proven himself completely unwilling to accept the over-lordship of Constantinople and dismissive of Magnus’ requests that an envoy be sent to oversee the city’s Church of Holy Wisdom. The city would be a fitting target for his ambitions, if Basilio could take it.
The Tzimisce voivode, Gabor, had over-extended himself in his attempts to become Cainite overlord of Bulgaria, and his heavy-handed, arrogant ways had stirred up resentment from his subordinate voivodes and knezi. Most of his progeny and more loyal supporters had gone to the Final Death resisting Byzantine expansion, and those that remained he increasingly treated like rank fledgelings. It was a simple matter for Basilio to play upon their fears of Gabor’s ambitions, fan their resentment into rebellious anger, and present himself as a compromise candidate benefitting all. In return for promises that their own demesnes would be spared by the Antonians, many of the Bulgarian Tzimisce secretly capitulated and fell into line behind Basilio. When the armies of Basil II marched on Sredets to demand its surrender, Basilio and his allies made their move.
Lured into the trap of believing his fellow Bulgars were coming to support his stand, Voivode Gabor was ambushed. He surprised his attackers with his indignant ferocity, however, and a savage battle ensued. The Tzimisce voivode’s remaining brood were slain in the struggle, but Gabor fought with great skill and destroyed a number of Basilio’s allies as well. Although grievously wounded he managed to escape, outwitting his pursuers (who expected him to flee to Carpathian allies in the north) and secretly taking refuge with the Obertus monks in Constantinople.
With his Domain secure, Basilio declared himself Prince of Sophia. The remaining Bulgarian Tzimisce returned to their own demesnes, tacitly accepting Basilio as the prince of the capital but not their overlord. He soon also confirmed himself a provincial Scion of the Magnus Orthodox Lasombra. For nearly two centuries he has managed to place himself as an intermediary not just between the voivodes, but also between they and the Antonians. Many Bulgarian Tzimisce have served in the forces of the Byzantine Ventrue, a development that has rankled the Obertus to no end. Basilio has also made himself a strong advocate for the Greek Orthodox rite, and maintains alliances with other powerful Lasombra in the region with similar concerns. The Sophian Lasombra and the Licinian Lasombra of Adrianople have been particularly strong allies. Magnus remains in contact with Basilio also, but while they are nominal allies the Magnus Orthodox family have done little to hold up their end since the Bulgarian empire’s resurgence.
In AD 1186, the armies of Ivan and Peter Asen retook Sredets for the Second Bulgarian Empire. Basliio the Elder’s nearest traditional allies are now some 200 miles away, and he is known to be loyal to Constantinople. While he has long been recognised as a capable prince and a fair (though autocratic) ruler, his position is now far from tenable. He is a Byzantine relic, a shadow of his former power, and he knows it. Worse, his rivals know it too. The Tzimisce that were once his allies of convenience no longer find his distant loyalties quite so agreeable, and the younger Fiends that have replaced those who fell openly plot against him. In the volatile political climate of Bulgaria , Basilio could find himself ousted or facing Final Death at any given moment, simply because he has failed to support Bulgaria’s independence from New Rome.
He has three loyal progeny of his own within Sophia. Aten Takerzies and Dimitar Boleslas are capable ancillae in their own right, loyal through the Blood Oath and skilled at mobilising their resources. Kostadin has potential, but he is too young to be of much use when the Domain is threatened with conflict. The other Cainites of the city, a population he is intentionally kept low, are either too self-involved or too effete to be of much use either. He could perhaps call upon old alliances and ask for help from Marcus Licinius of Adrianople, but he knows that the Bulgarian armies already mass on the Byzantine border. In these dark days, Basilio has few friends to call upon.
In an attempt to cultivate other alliances, Basilio has welcomed the Assamite known as Husayn al Fatin. He has found much in common with this polished and cultured Easterner. Both Baslio and Husayn support order and work to quell the worst excesses of the rowdy Bulgarians. They both see trade as a civilising influence, and so they support peace as a means of protecting the commercial routes. It has presumably also occurred to Basilio that a friendly Turk in his court is a good idea, because if his Domain should be compromised he will need friends with distant friends of their own. If he is ousted, many Tzimisce across Bulgaria will likely hunt him for his blood. Also, with the threat of the Latin Crusaders looming, what few allies he has in Constantinople cannot be relied upon, and in any case, they may take exception to his failure to keep Bulgaria pacified.
For the Prince of Sophia, these are worrying times indeed…
Unbeknownst to Basilio, he has even more problems of which he is yet unaware. Veceslav Basarab knows that his sire, Gabor, still covets his old Domain, and has long laid plans to return to it in triumph. Furthermore, the cunning old Bulgar has secured the services of an Assamite to bring Basilio down at the crucial moment, thus leaving the Lasombra at the mercy of Gabor. Could Husayn be aware of this contract? Worse, could Husayn actually be the assassin?
Lineage: Childe of Erasmo Casimiro Alonso de Curcio, Childe of Marcellus Rufus, Childe of Boukephos, Childe of Lasombra