Campaign of the Month: August 2014
The Concord of Ashes
The Lexor Brujah
(modified from Constantinople by Night, p. 74)
While the Antonian Ventrue have ruled Byzantium through its emperors, the Lexor Brujah have overseen the mundane administration of the empire. Interested most in the plight of those who live under the weight of Ventrue and imperial ambition, the Lexor Brujah have inspired the creation of a unique and complex bureaucracy, without which life in Constantinople would grind to a halt. Led by Tribonius, a Brujah of Roman descent who survived the catastrophe of Carthage, the Brujah family of Constantinople has become an indispensable tool of the Ventrue.
The origins of the family date back to the second council of 489 CE, when Tribonius and his progeny (Theophilus and Dorotheus) were given charter to codify the old and obscure Lex Regia- Roman Law- into what would eventually be known as the Justinian Code in 530 CE. They were also assigned the task of codifying the ruling principles of the Trinity, and so established the Codex of Legacies. The Lexor Brujah have since added to the already lengthy code of Justinian, and are responsible for its contemporary incarnation.
Tribonius, late founder of the Lexor family.
The Lexor Brujah collectively refer to themselves as the Senate, or Gerousia. Their leader assumes the title autokrator and is held responsible for coordinating family activities. Below the autokrator are the senators, whose number constantly changes. Each senator (or gerousiastí̱s) assumes responsibility for some if the administrative branches of Constantinople, including law, trade and finance, construction and ceremony. Senators’ roles also include a number of lesser duties that change hands constantly, adding to the complexity of an already involved bureaucracy. The various codices that serve as the template for Constantinople’s bureaucratic and legal system number in the thousands. Only the late Tribonius knew them all by heart.
A PARTIAL ROSTER OF THE LEXOR BRUJAH
- Natalya Syvatoslav, Autokrator (7th gen. Childe of Tribonius [d], e. first years of the 11th century CE); a privileged lady of the Kievan Rus’ sent to Constantinople to take advantage of the extraordinary learning, Natalya fell in love with the city and elected to remain. The Ancient vampire Tribonius sensed a passion in her kindred to the one that quickened him in his youth, and brought her across in AD 1002. After lengthy instruction, her sire released her and bade her travel the world to better understand the possibilities of eternity, and Natalya did not return until the cusp of the 12th century. She would become an indispensable aid to Tribonius; rising to become his second and quasitor. His execution after the Latin Riots left her as the only logical choice for autokrator and so she remains in charge of a coterie in disarray, struggling to hold the family, and the bureaucracy, together. In addition to overseeing Regions I, III and XIV personally.
- Theophilus, Gerousiastí̱s (7th gen. Childe of Tribonius [d], e. early 3rd century CE); Over a 1000 years old, this Thessalian Brujah accepted the ascension of his much younger consanguineous sister with little grace. Plunged into a deep melancholy by the destruction of Tribonius, this old Brujah now neglects the regions of the city that are his portfolio. He rarely appears in Elysium any more, and when he does, it is only because his consanguineous brother and his childe, Bardas, have dragged him from the depths of his black despair. In addition to Regions 10, 11 and 12, his official portfolio in the Gerousia is trade, a sphere that was roundly scuttled by the incompetence of the Antonians in the Seventh and Eighth Councils and the canniness of the Italian traders in the years since. He also holds Domain over the Harbour of Kontoscalion and much of the Third Hill.
- Dorotheus, Gerousiastí̱s (7th gen. Childe of Tribonius [d], e. early 3rd century CE); Embraced within months of Theophilus, this Ephesian was always the more dynamic of the two. In the golden age of the city Dorotheus was one of the most prominent and active Cainites in the city, gifted with an enviable drive and energy. Like his consanguineous brother, however, he endured the rise of Natalya with ill-concealed envy and disgust. After Tribonius was slain, Dorotheus also largely withdrew from the Gerousia, and he now spends much of his time brooding and hunting his domain on the Third Hill while his childe, Ian, struggles to fulfill all of their responsibilities. Like Theophilus, he is prone to long periods of melancholy but this is occasionally punctuated by bursts of aggressive, manic energy. His portfolio is construction, a sphere of influence that has lain inactive for many years as the empire has fallen on hard times. He formerly managed the Regions 7 through to 9, most of which was lost to the Narsene Lasombra in the Eighth Council, and so in recent years he has taken an interest in the dilapidated District of Arcadius, and Regions 2, 4 and 5.
- Procet, Gerousiastí̱s (6th gen. Adoptive Childe of Tribonius [d], e. late tenth century CE); an inveterate traveller and meddler in the affairs of others, the senator Procet has been a largely absent but loyal senator of the Lexor Gerousia for over 150 years. He spent a good deal of his early years travelling in the company of his adoptive consanguineous sister and occasional lover, Natalya Syvatoslav. The 12th century saw him travelling the empire and its neighbours as an envoy of the senate, seeking to spread the influence of the family and promote the cause of justice. He rushed home when their beloved master, Tribonius, was sent to the Final Death for his part in the Latin Riots, and now serves Natalya as her able second and agent provocateur. Procet spends much of his time in the Latin Quarter, stirring up trouble for Bishop Alfonzo.
- Bardas Skleros, Gerousiastí̱s (8th gen. Childe of Theophilus, e. early tenth century CE); a descendant of a prominent Anatolian noble family and son of the noted general of the same name, Bardas was left destitute and friendless when his father revolted against the emperor. His intelligence and his talents ignored, he struggled all his mortal years to prove himself and the irony that he continues to do so centuries after his Embrace is not lost on him. Brought across for his ambition, his proficiency with military matters, and his curious talent for being solicitous without coming across as undignified, Bardas has failed to distinguish himself. Unfortunately, much of his time and energy is spent running to keep up with both his own duties and those of his sire. He is officially responsible for the bureaucracy of Regions 8, 9 and 10 and, unofficially, the Harbour of Kontoscalion and the portfolio of trade.
- Ian Musurus, Gerousiastí̱s (8th gen. Childe of Dorotheus, e. late eleventh century CE); a son of both Latin and Byzantine society, Ian hails from the Latin Quarter and he has spent a good deal of his existence keeping an eye on it for his sire and the Autokrator, He has made a number of allies and contacts among the Latin vampires that have proven useful to the family in the past, and Procet is known to use Ian’s expertise to better his own machinations in the quarter. Of all the Lexor family, he s the one who would best be described as "street smart; while certainly not lacking in education Ian does possess a certain roughness and lack of refinement that is obvious in the company of his fellows. Like Bardas, much of his time is exhausted trying to keep his sire’s portfolio and administration afloat as well as his own. He is responsible for Region 13 and the suburbs north of the walls of Galata.
- Sir Conrad de Monreal, Gerousiastí̱s (7th gen. Childe of Procet, e. 1194 CE); a once-famous Crusader and knight of Outremer, this warrior’s idealism and desire to put his incredible strength and fighting prowess to a worthy use drew Procet to him. He was Embraced shortly after the close of the 3rd Crusade, and has long served his sire as a strong right arm. Sir Conrad was an early member of the Concord, and travelled widely on Procet’s business but he has since devoted himself to averting disaster for the city he has come to see as his home. Rather than being given a Region to watch over, he has been tasked with gaining a foothold in the city’s military assets. He has chosen to concentrate his efforts on the Latinkon mercenary knights, foreigners of French, Italian, German and English descent who fight for pay and land.
- Aristarchus Acominatus, Gerousiastí̱s (8th gen. Childe of Natalya Syvatoslav, e. 1200 CE); although Embraced out of a sense of urgency, Aristarchus is the childe that Natalya has long searched for. Possessed of a sharp and shrewd mind as well as a relatively even and diligent temperament, he represents a suitable balance to Sir Conrad’s idealistic but aggressive and spontaneous edge. The neonate faces an uphill battle to master his new state and apply his talents to diverting disaster as the 4th Crusade looms on the horizon. He has approached his new duties with sedulous intent, but he has not been assigned any Regions to oversee, for Natalya recognises that he has enough to adjust to without overburdening him with sundry details.
The execution of Tribonius after the Latin Riots of A.D. 1182 sent the Lexor Brujah into disarray. His elder progeny Dorotheus and Theophilus have fallen into deep depression, leaving Natalya with the near impossible task of deciphering Tribonius’ countless ledgers and notes. Meanwhile, the family’s control over the city’s bureaucracy is slipping, making it difficult to exert influence over key departments. In private counsel with Procet, Natalya has admitted this, but blames it on the inefficient control of the three ruling families and the two have been conspiring to find a way to improve her role of leadership in the city.
The Lexor Brujah have never maintained a particularly large presence in the city, but over the centuries Tribonius, Dorotheus and Theophilus have sired numerous childer that have spread out into the other cities of the empire. Greece, Thrace, Thessaly, Macedonia and the Balkans all contain prodigal members of the Lexor Brujah, though these bonds have weakened as the power of the Byzantine empire has waned.
Since his return to the city in A.D. 1200, the neonate Sir Conrad de Monreal has finally found his niche in the family. In the course of his duties to his sire, Procet, he has slowly insinuated himself into the Latinkon mercenary knights that have become landowners in the lands around the capital. His reputation as a valiant knight, and his advocacy of their interests in the city have gained him considerable support. This influence is minor thus far, but the Lexor Brujah hope that Sir Conrad may go some way towards subsuming the neglected power base of the Antonian elder Belisarius in the future.
The Entrance to the Senate House at the Forum of Augustaion (as depicted by the Byzantium 1200 project). For some 700 years, it was the primary haven of Tribonius and Natalya, as well a the head quarters of the Lexor family.
RELATIONS WITH OTHER FAMILIES
Although the Lexor Brujah are an indispensible asset to the Antonian Ventrue, they were traditionally overlooked and taken for granted. Tribonius understood the role that his family played in the grand scheme of Constantinople, but the new autokrator, a Russian Brujah by the name of Natalya Syvatoslav, refuses to remain the meek servant. Over the last few years she has proven outspoken and opinionated, qualities which have not endeared her to the Ventrue.
Some have blamed her advisor, the secretive Procet, for engendering this spirit of defiance in her. Moreover, Natalya has begun to openly cooperate with Baron Thomas Feroux and his Gangrel, looking for ways to strengthen the legitimacy of the Codex of Legacies. At court she and Malachite the Nosferatu appear to be working closely together, pushing strong rhetoric regarding the moral imperative of the Dream over the pragmatic management of the Antonians. This is causing considerable tension in the Elysiums of the city.
RELATIONS WITH OUTSIDERS
For centuries the Lexor Brujah were a quiet family. It diligently devoted its time to precious tomes of laws and legacies. Natalya Syvatoslav knows that the time for change is approaching, though, and is searching for allies to help weather the coming storm. The autokrator has never Embraced, but this crisis is sure to change after she becomes more active in the city and finds a need for progeny to aid and represent her.
The Lexor Brujah are rarely held in esteem by their western brethren, who see their service to a Ventrue faction as a form of betrayal to those who perished at Carthage. Tribonius was always quick to remind visitors that while he was born a Roman, he was a citizen of Carthage and worked tirelessly on its behalf. Seven centuries later he offered his services to Antonius the Gaul because that particular Ventrue was not involved with Rome during the Punic Wars, and to hold a man responsible for the crimes of his family was a folly common to Rome. As the Trinity had turned their backs on the injustices of Rome any vestigial stain upon the Antonian Ventrue honour had been cleansed. Michael, the Dracon and Antonius stood for an ideal every bit as important as Carthage- that of the Dream. Indeed, Tribonius was heard to say on many occasions that the ideal of men and Cainites, inspired by God and working together to make a lasting tribute to Heaven on Earth, was the only way the Brujah ideal could move forward in the modern world. On one occasion he publicly claimed to his colleagues in the Praedicanda that Constantinople was the spiritual successor to Carthage- in effect stating that Byzantium is the Fourth City of Caine.
Natalya is at the centre of a storm of activity, working with the Baron’s Gangrel and the Malachite Nosferatu to strengthen the city in different ways while also trying to get a handle on the monster that is the Byzantine bureaucracy. She is aware of the apathy of her two elder brothers-in-blood, and has tried numerous times to bring Theophilus and Dorotheus into this scheme or that for the good of the city but so far without success. She relies heavily on Bardas Skleros and Ian Musurus to keep a semblance of order over the legion of clients, bureaucrats and clerks in their service. Procet is a tremendous, though decidedly loaded, asset to Natalya, though he is emphatic that the Dream must continue to influence the satellite cities of the empire as much as the capital. As far as he is concerned, the Dream must do more than survive; it must expand as a dynamic force in order to return to its former strength. His opposition to the Antonian family abroad is a matter of record, however, and his increased profile in the family has helped polarise relations between the them.
Dorotheus and Theophilus have failed to exercise their duties in recent years and have largely retired from Cainite affairs. Dorotheus vacillates between brief bursts of pious energy and long bouts of melancholia. Theophilus is even worse off, and rarely leaves his haven at all. Their progeny, Bardas Skleros and Ian Musurus, labour constantly on their behalf in addition to their own duties and are frequently active in the city at Natalya’s behest. In spite of their efforts, three doing the work of five is not helping, and the Brujah slowly but steadily lose their grasp on their portfolios.
Bardas and Ian are loyal servants to the autokrator, and are skilled ancillae in their own right. However they are currently overwhelmed with their additional duties, and their loyalty is forced to contend with their own sires’ marked coolness to Natalya. In spite of their skill they are rarely accorded much respect by their fellow Byzantine Cainites, as their visibility often makes them a lightning rod for criticism of the Lexor Brujah’s failings. Procet is also active, but seems content to operate as Natalya’s assistant rather than seek a leadership role of any sort. His role is more of a trouble-shooting one, as he seeks to patch those cracks in the power base that he finds while going about his own mysterious business. He has been active in the city for about a century and a half, and was originally inducted into the family as an adoptive childe of Tribonius. Since the old one was executed, Procet has stepped up his role in service to Natalya, and serves as her envoy to their Brujah cousins abroad. He is very active in this capacity and is frequently absent from the city.
Sir Conrad and Aristarchus are rarely accorded much respect by anyone in the family other than their sires and each other. Their role is an obvious one to the camp of Theophilus and Dorotheus. So far as they are concerned, these neonates are intended to bolster the authority of Natalya and Procet, nothing more. Their response is to ignore the young vampires, and they instruct their progeny to do the same.