Campaign of the Month: August 2014
The Concord of Ashes
The Military Prefect of the Antonians, this elder is an unliving legend among the Cainites of the city. Like many of his brothers in sisters, however, his mandate and power is a shadow of its former glory.
This weathered old man retains an impressive frame in spite of his age. His deep brown eyes are proud and he holds himself with regal dignity. A few wisps of grey hair still cling to his head. He is clothed in simple robes and carries a short sword in an old scabbard.
Flavius Belisarius is the greatest general that the Byzantine Empire has ever seen. Throughout the many years of his service to Emperor Justinian, he was directly responsible for reconquering many of the Mediterranean provinces of the former Western Empire that had been lost in the previous century. Belsarius’ reforms to the Byzantine heavy cavalry, known as the bucellarii, were modelled upon the tactics of the Hun horse archers and the Gothic shock cavalry. The result was a heavily armed and armoured cavalry unit that was capable of matching the barbarians in tactical mobility while exceeding them in technology. The bucellarii formed the nucleus of the new Byzantine military, and earned General Belisarius great victories against the Sassanid Empire in the east and the Vandals, Goths and Ostrogoths in the west. His actions in putting down the bloody Nika revolt with the assistance of Narses also earned them the attention, and favour, of the ancient Antonius. The subsequent rivalry with the eunuch would define many of Belisarius’ struggles later in life.
His victories returned the territories of Italy, North Africa, Sicily, Syria and Dalmatia to the empire, as well as parts of Iberia and the islands of Sardinia and Corsica. In addition, he reconquered the important cities of Carthage, Ravenna, Mediolanum, Naples and most importantly, Rome. He was the last Roman general to ever receive a Triumph, and one of the last to ever be named Consul. Many of these triumphs are even more impressive given the fact that his emperor was jealous of Belisarius’ skill and popularity, and frequently gave the general little or no support in his campaigns. Moreover, his own wife Antonina proved to be disloyal and debauched, carrying on many affairs at court. According to his former secretary and long-standing enemy, the historian Procopius, Antonina even bedded Belisarius’ own godson, Theodosius. Her actions constantly undermined and weakened Belisarius.
His greatest enemy, however, was the palace eunuch Narses. Sly where Belisarius was forthright, the eunuch understood the levers of power and frequently connived much of the intrigue that befell the general. Narses even proved to be a capable general himself, putting down resurgent Gothic armies after Belisarius had been recalled to the east. The eunuch often got the better of the general, both in mortal politics and for the attentions of Antonius but eventually, the quality of Belisarius prevailed and he was offered immortality while Narses was abandoned. The eunuch has never forgiven Belisarius, nor the Antonians, for the slight.
The neonate Belisarius was just one of many that thought they would never see the Eunuch again. The eunuch could not be discounted so easily however, and eventually earned the Embrace from the Roman Lasombra Galerius. Narses is now Prince of Venice and the Archbishop of Nod, as well as the master of the Narsene Lasombra of the Latin Quarter of Constantinople. He is one of the most influential and wealthy Cainites in the world. And he has never forgotten his hatred of Flavius Belisarius.
For his part, Belisarius requested the Praetorian Prefecture of North Africa for his demesne and Antonius was pleased to grant it. For the next century Belisarius based himself in Carthage, and developed a love for the region. He ruled well, and frequently conferred with his brother-in-blood Antonius the Younger. When the Arab conquest shattered Byzantine power in the region at the end of the 7th century, the ancilla disappeared. Little is known of him in the centuries after, save that he travelled Africa and the near east.
Belisarius reappeared in Constantinople after the Battle of Manzikert caused the loss of Anatolia to the Turks. He called for a Sixth Council, where he railed against the corruption and incompetency of the Military Prefect, Lyseros, and the Eastern Praetorian Prefect, Peter the Hermit. He petitioned for their destruction and to take on both of their roles in order to help reclaim the lost territory. His request was granted, and Belisarius advised the talented general Alexius Comnenus,supporting his rise to the imperial throne. The elder general was a constant presence in the lives of the Comneni and cared for them as if they were his own family, but his presence in the imperial demesne led to considerable tension and intrigue between he and Ducas, the Palace Prefect. Their intrigues were the backdrop for the strife between Alexius’ children John II and Anna, and they came to an end only with the assassination of John in Cilicia, from a poisoned arrow fired by an Assamite bow. Grief-stricken at the loss of a man he regarded not just as his protege but as a son, Belisarius withdrew from the politics of the Antonians. The Comneni faltered until the Embrace of Anna nearly ten years later, but not even her talents could keep the throne from slipping into the hands of the incompetent Angeli dynasty.
To this night Belisarius keeps a low profile among the Cainites of Constantinople. He does keep abreast of those tidbits of news and intrigue that his childe Helena the Armenian brings to his attention, but his interest is slight. The odd blood feast, such as the one in honour of the coterie, draws his interest and attention but otherwise he prefers to keep to himself or the company of the mysterious Assamite Shabah. The vizier diplomat is quite familiar with the Ventrue general, apparently having travelled with him at some point in the distant past, and Belisarius enjoys her company very much even if he does resent her clan’s involvement in John’s death.
Lineage: Childe of Antonius (d), Childe of Veddartha