Campaign of the Month: August 2014
The Concord of Ashes
Sarah the Chaste
A demure and reserved elder of the Lasombra clan. Once of the Magnus Lasombra, responsible for the Cult of Michael the Archangel, she betrayed and destroyed her sire in 1204 and then took her place in the new order of the Latin Empire.
A young Orthodox nun with delicate features, porcelain skin and mournful, dark brown eyes. She is the very image of the penitent, chaste bride of Christ. Her entirely black habit is immaculate and a simple silver crucifix is her only adornment. She has a certain aura of mystery about her, in spite of her demure, almost meek demeanour. Since the rise of the new Latin Order in the city of Constantinople, she has taken to altering her epimandylion to a more ecumenical style, but she still wears all black.
(Expanded from the character as presented in Constantinople by Night, p. 98).
Sarah the Chaste was the dutiful daughter of Magnus of the Orthodox Lasombra for some 800 years. She and her brother-in-blood, Peter the Humble, helped their sire manage the ecclesiastical orders while the Obertus Tzimisce did likewise with the monastic orders. Magnus was a demanding and overbearing master, and while Peter fretted and stuttered his way through his duties, Sarah was always noted for her quiet competence and efficiency. Some even said (though never to Magnus’ face) that she should have been the true leader of the family, for if it were not for her sire’s insufferable insistence that he and he alone shepherd the true Christian Church, it is probable that the Great Schism between the Orthodox and Latin faiths would never have occurred.
Throughout the course of her centuries in service to her sire, Sarah masqueraded to the public of Constantinople as a nun whose vows required her to work for the benefit of the needy and the sick. Her role allowed to work in orphanages and among the needy, and she used this access to recruit for the faith and build the influence of her Family. She worked quietly, mastering the use of proxies to hide her agelessness in accordance with the Legacy of Shadows. Over the 11th and 12th centuries to the first years of the 13th, Sarah the Chaste was also given the responsibility of overseeing the Cult of Michael the Archangel. She officiated ceremonies and along with her Family and Petronius, she also controlled access to the torpid form of the methuselah himself. As such, nearly every Greek Cainite in the city worked to retain amicable relations with her, especially since Magnus’ company was considered onerous at best and odious at worst.
In AD 1196, Sarah the Chaste was present at the Antonian Blood Feast in the formative Concord’s honour. She was in typical form, being both demure and deferential in her sire’s presence. Even so, it was clear to the young coterie that many sought her attention when Magnus was otherwise engaged. Iulia and Lady Katerina exchanged pleasantries with Sarah in the interests of maintaining good relations with their distant cousin-in-blood, and it was obvious to the others that this was certainly not the first time they had done so.
In 1201, Magnus cast Peter the Humble out of the family and replaced him with Libanius, a newly Embraced cleric of the Cult of the Archangel. The fledgeling was an enthusiastic follower of his sire, and deeply respectful of the role his elder sister-in-blood played in the Cult of the Archangel. For her part, she allowed him to conduct the odd mass in order to build his confidence and test his worth, and he looked up to her with great admiration. She appreciated his enthusiasm for recruiting new members, especially among the young Cainites of the Families, but ultimately she began to distance herself from Libanius when his mental instabilities became obvious.
Years later, in the months leading up to the fall of the city, the Great Sack, and the destruction of the Dream, Magnus’ heavy-handed rabble-rousing caused much tension among the Greeks and the local Latins, and ultimately led to unrest that caused the Great Fire of August, 1203. The end result of the fire and the riots that preceded them was the addition of as many as 15000 belligerents to the enemy cause. This blunder left the Magnus Orthodox Family without the favour of the resurgent Petronius and his followers which in turn politically isolated the Lasombra as tensions with the Fourth Crusade took a turn for the worse. Sarah did her best to mend fences, but the only new ally she found in the Elysiums of the Queen of Cities was Iulia of Weißenburg, a neonate of little influence who sought any leverage at all to steer events away from the disaster she saw on the horizon. It would seem then, that in her desolation of choices, Sarah the Chaste was forced to secretly look for new friends in unexpected places.
On the 11th of April, as the crusaders were gathering their strength for a renewed assault on the city walls, Sarah staked Magnus as he walked amidst the ruins of the old acropolis, lost in reverie and heedless of his surroundings. In order to cement her new alliance with the Narsene Lasombra and preserve her own power, she and her retainers delivered her sire to his hated enemy, Bishop Alfonzo of Venice. Rumour has it that the bishop, his cronies, and Sarah herself tortured Magnus for eight days before they finally sent him to the Final Death.
As the smoke cleared and the city gradually returned to a vague semblance of normalcy, it swiftly became apparent that the times ahead would be difficult for the Orthodox clergy and monastics. After initial promises of religious tolerance, the new regime began to suppress the local faith, and many of the best churches and monasteries were turned over to the use of devotees of the Latin Rite. Alfonzo promised her much to keep her support on his suit for the princedom, and after his assumption of praxis in 1207 there were initial gains for her in reclaiming the use of some of these buildings. Moreover, seeing a vacuum in the competency of the Latin conquerors, she even made overtures into the monastic and ecclesiastical circles of the newly established Latin Patriarchate. However, the strength of Prince Alfonzo’s influence proved fleeting and she was left to contend with new players in her spheres of influence. The establishment of the Latin Empire of Constantinople brought to the city a number of foreign ancillae adept at manipulating the Western Church, and while they were many centuries her junior and individually weaker than Sarah, their savvy in their chosen medium soon locked her out and she was forced to withdraw and concentrate her attentions on the suppressed Orthodox faith once again.
Finding it to be as a useless anachronism and a pointless drain on her resources, she allowed the Cult of the Archangel to dissolve, and instead focussed her attentions on picking up the pieces with the clergy and finding new pawns where the exiled Obertus had left off. Initially, she gathered influence over Dókimos monks and nuns, but as the years have progressed so have her dupes advanced to the ranks of Rasophoros, Stavrophoros, and even Megaloschemos, potentially giving her the opportunity to place Hegumenoi (abbots) within the establishment. Together with her old associates among the Orthodox Ecclesiarchy, this represents a potent gain for Sarah the Chaste, even if the faith is currently on the back foot. Indeed, while she does not yet enjoy the influence her late sire had over the Orthodox Patriarchate, the broadness of her base is already far greater than Magnus’ ever was.
Sarah is still active in the court of Prince Alfonzo, but since 1212 she has been a quiet observer rather than an active player. The less capable intriguers of the Elysiums of Porphyry Shadows give her too little credit for her long centuries of careful moves under the domineering eye of her late sire. Although few among the Latin interlopers have divined the reason for her withdrawal, she aims now to reach out to other Cainite bastions of the Orthodox Church, looking to set up an alliance of potent elders to assist in bringing about the return of the true Christian faith to the Queen of Cities.
In 1218, she was surprised to find evidence that the Cult of the Archangel was quietly returning in numbers to haunt their old sites of worship. She recontacted lapsed adherents who remained loyal to her and had them infiltrate the reborn cult, only to discover that the Michaelites Paul Bathalos and Pakourianis the Dove were at the centre of it all. Curious about their motives, Sarah reached out to the former Muses of Sculpture and Painting, and found them guardedly receptive. In return for certain favours, she assists the cult in its growth and security, and uses her widening network of contacts to draw more potential converts from Toreador abroad.
Embrace: AD 402.
Lineage: Childe of Magnus, Childe of Ectoris (d), Childe of Hermaius (d), Childe of Zarathustra, Childe of Boukephos, Childe of Lasombra