Campaign of the Month: August 2014
The Concord of Ashes
The former Antonian Domestic Prefect of Constantinople, this harried ancilla is the last holdout of Anna Comnena's power in the city. She now makes her haven in the Genoese Quarter of Galata.
A pretty, pale young woman clearly of the Byzantine nobility, judging by her proud carriage and easy elegance. She is dressed modestly in faded and frayed finery with little jewellery. Her long, wavy dark brown hair is worn loose, and her piercing, light brown eyes have lost much of the haughtiness of yesteryear.
(Expanded from the character as presented in Constantinople by Night, p.115).
Embraced in AD 1169 from a good noble family with roots in the Imperial Senate, Irene formerly held the position of Antonian Quaesitor Secretarius until the Eighth Council of 1185. For their roles in apparently instigating the violence of the riots of 1182, the elder Domestic Prefect, Epirus, was executed along with the Lexor Brujah Autokrator Tribonius. In the wake of the council, her sire Anna Comnena put forward Irene as a candidate to replace the late Epirus, and the loyal neonate was suddenly thrust into the unwanted and unappreciated job. Theodorus Kolettis then succeeded her as Anna’s assistant.
In theory, she had access to tremendous power. As the Domestic Prefect of Constantinople, Irene should have been able to make use of any department of mortal power, and any Cainite Family, to ensure the good working order of the night-to-night running of the city. In practice, however, the Eighth Council gutted the power of her rank even before she was given it. Even so, Irene was one of the busiest Cainites of the city, constantly attempting to harness the limited powers of her office to effect a more efficient system. She made considerable use of her contacts and friends in the failing mortal Byzantine merchant class and aristocracy in the course of her duties.
Despite her energy and dedication, she was less than successful in her assigned task, as the Latin Quarter was beyond her purview, the mismanagement of the Angeloi had almost bankrupted the city, and the bureaucracy had spiralled out of control. To be fair her job was all but impossible, but matters were made worse because she was also ignored for the most part by the primary weapon that should have been at her disposal: the Lexor Brujah. They blamed the Antonian Ventrue for the loss of Tribonius, and by the end of the 12th century they were increasingly flexing their own political muscle over and around the Domestic Prefect. The Baron’s Gangrel enforced the Codex of Legacies without Irene’s oversight too, and she was embarrassed more than once by their over-zealousness. Malachite offered her little more than pleasantries and sympathies at court, although their mutual friendship with Gregory the Wondermaker sometimes gave the Nosferatu cause to “throw her a bone”.
Curiously, Irene seemed to get along quite well with Quaesitor Symeon and the Obertus Order, who appeared to be quite willing to work with her in her duties, and she was often seen heading towards the Monastery of St. John Studius on this errand or that. Indeed, Irene’s good relations with the Gesudians and the Draconians was one of her few redeeming gains in her tenure as Domestic Prefect, especially as countless others were denied entrance to their monasteries.
During the investigation into the murders of the Narsene Lasombra, Juliano and Adrianna, Irene was forced to accept ultimate blame for the scandal of failing to keep track of the Children of Calomena in the Greek districts of the city. This outcome was due to political manoeuvring on the part of the formative Concord on behalf of Petronius and Baron Thomas Feroux. The coterie’s lies absolved the Baron’s Gangrel of responsibility for the failure and placed the blame squarely, and unfairly, on Irene’s shoulders. This unhappy outcome occurred in spite of the fact that it was the Narsene Lasombra themselves who invited the Children of the Calomena into the city and that Irene had practically no resources available to her to keep track of anyone’s movements in the city at all. Sadly, being made the scapegoat of this matter, along with the powerlessness of the Domestic Prefect’s position, caused Irene’s status to fall even farther until she was the laughingstock of the capital’s Cainite community. Only the support of Quaesitor Symeon and her own sire, Quaesitor Anna Comnena, preserved her position and prevented her exile.
For her part, the Domestic Prefect weathered the storm of her disgrace with her chin held high. These failures appeared to make her officious and haughty in her duties, however, which did little to repair her reputation. Irene’s loyalty to Anna Comnena, who stood by her throughout her trials, only grew as a result, and she hoped to still honour her office and her sire in the difficult nights to come.
Throughout the events surrounding the 4th Crusade arrival at the Queen of Cities and their conflicts with the capital, Irene was quick to put herself forward as a negotiator for the cause of the Dream. Once again, she was backed in this by her sire as well as the Military Prefect, Belisarius, and she became one of several envoys who were customarily sent to the Cainite Crusade to negotiate for peace and more time to find the funds necessary to secure the passage of the Latins to Egypt.
Her visits to the Monastery of St. John Studius also continued. Through their own congress with the Library of the Forgotten and Achmet, Veceslav Basarab, Maude, and Iulia discovered that Irene was an ardent devotee of the Dream Circle. Despite her quietly spiritual nature, however, she remembered and understood their part in her dramatic, unjust political downfall, and her attitude towards them was frosty at best.
Irene survived the Great Sack under the protection of her sire, and in its wake she assisted Anna in her brief attempts to rebuild the Antonians in opposition to Nicepherus. This ambition was abandoned when their haven was fired by vampire-hunters late in 1205, and their faction soon quit the city to reestablish themselves in the successor state known as the Empire of Nicaea. Irene did not go with them, however, for avenues still needed to be maintained for Cainites of other factions to reliably communicate with Anna from afar.
She remains in the Queen of Cities, serving her sire in an ambassadorial role. This hardly equates to much status and respect, however, and she has suffered many indignities at the hands of Nicepherus and the other remaining Antonians, who all take pains to exclude and undermine her as a means of striking at Anna. Since 1212, Final Death threats from certain Latins caused Irene to relocate her haven to Galata, after tensions between Nicaea and the Latin Empire intensified with the Battle of the Rhyndacus and the Nicaean annexation of Paphlagonia. She remains there still, relatively safe under the protection of Gabriella of Genoa.
Embrace: AD 1169.