Dreams at the Crossroads
The Magnus Orthodox Lasombra
Before the arrival of Michael the Patriarch and his lovers, the Lasombra ran Byzantium under the guise of a pagan cult dedicated to the Greek goddess Aphrodite. While they claimed to be the city’s eldest clan, the Lasombra were known among the Cainites to have merely stepped in after the disappearance of the majority of the ruling Cappadocians. Only Alexia Theusa remained to trouble them, and that potent elder appeared to be far more interested in merely being left alone to continue her studies.
Ectoris and his Lasombra brood ruled the Roman colony for a brief period before the more powerful Methuselah Triumverate arrived. In an ill-managed ploy to maintain power, Ectoris lost everything to Michael, the Dracon and Antonius, who were uninterested in bargaining for control and short on patience for the intrigues of their lessers. When the Triumverate began excising those vampires not affialated with their three families, Magnus, Ectoris’ eldest childe, betrayed his own sire. In a show of allegiance and solidarity with the new ruling families, Magnus presented the staked body of Ectoris to the Triumverate and asked for recognition of a family of his own creation. As part of the deal, the Lasombra, as former cult leaders, would assist in the evangelisation of the pagans of the new Roman capital. The Michaelite followers accepted the Lasombra as their wards and awarded the Magnus family Scion status at the Second Council of AD 475.
Under the new banner of Christianity, Magnus noticed that while the Dracon’s Obertus family controlled the reclusive monastic orders, they left the ecclesiastic powers of the eastern church unattended. Into this religious vacuum stepped the Lasombra, changing affiliations from the Cult of Aphrodite to the Church of Eastern Orthodoxy. Supposedly, it was at their behest that ties with the Church of Rome were weakened and eventually sundered, thereby securing their power base away from the Lasombra of Rome.
Many have claimed that the intrigues between Magnus and his Latin clan-mates culminated in the Great Schism between the eastern and western churches in AD 1054. The Church split along doctrinal, theological, linguistic, political, and geographical lines, and the fundamental breach has never been healed, with each side accusing the other of having fallen into heresy and of having initiated the division. Magnus’ jealous attempts to keep his more numerous Latin clan-mates out of the Byzantine ecclesiastical sphere has exacerbated these tensions, which could have been healed but for his manipulations.
The Magnus Lasombra officially number three members at all times. Michael insisted that they not deviate from that count, and when Magnus betrayed his own sire, he destroyed all of his consanguineous siblings as well, choosing to Embrace new family members rather than contend with those who considered themselves his equal. Obeying Michael’s edict, Magnus Embraced two new childer in AD 302 and 407, and the Magnus family has never deviated (at least, officially) from that number.
However, on various journeys to shore up his control of the Orthodox church Magnus has in fact Embraced many hidden Lasombra over the centuries, most of whom have been sent to important ecclesiastical centres throughout the empire.
Magnus, who is charged personally by the Patriarch with tending to the church’s wealth and organisation, still leads the family. His childer, Sarah the Chaste and Peter the Humble, oversee the daily rigous of church operations and worship while he concentrates on figures in positions of leadership. In addition, Sarah is responsible for cultivating the cult worship of Michael the Archangel among mortals.
A ROSTER OF THE MAGNUS ORTHODOX LASOMBRA
Magnus, Custodian of Orthodoxy (Childe of Ectoris [d], e. late 1st century CE)
Sarah the Chaste, Leader of the Cult of the Archangel (Childe of Magnus, e. early 5th century CE)
Peter the Humble, ecclesiastic bureaucrat (Childe of Magnus, e. early 5th century CE)
Magnus and his childer revel in the Cult of the Archangel, seeing it as an important extension of their power not just along mortal lines, but Cainite as well. Some wonder at whether the jaded Magnus actually believes his own party line, but at the very least, he has gone on record as saying that even if Michael is not, in fact, the Archangel Michael, then the devotion of the cult should make it so. In contrast to him, Sarah’s piety and willingness to listen is undoubted, and the latter elder is often sought out for discussion on the implications of the purpose of the Cult of the Archangel.
In support of his own growing power, Magnus helps Petronius keep the Michaelite house in order and protect Michael’s position as Patriarch, while Sarah the Chaste supervises the growth of the archangel’s faithful. Peter the Humble is largely ostracised from the family, and Magnus utilizes every opportunity to humiliate the family’s black sheep and to subsume Peter’s fragile influence base among the clerical bureaucrats.
RELATIONS WITH OTHER FAMILIES
The Magnus Lasombra are an introverted clan, preferring their own counsel (and that of the often easily swayed Toreador) above all others. They guide the Michaelites through advice and by manipualting mortal thralls. The Magnus are generally distrusted, and the despise the Malachite Nosferatu as greatly as they themselves are despised. Otherwise, the Magnus Orthodox Lasombra regularly discourse with the Antonian Ventrue and Obertus Tzimisce in an effort to keep the Michaelites spheres of influence alive.
It is also noteworthy that where the Cult of the Archangel is concerned, the Magnus Orthodox Lasombra welcome new devotees. Sarah the Chaste has become particularly prominent in making rounds of the Cainite social circles in hopes of finding new recruits to the cult, and as such she has become far more accessible than her sire.
RELATIONS WITH OUTSIDERS
The Magnus Orthodox Lasombra are deeply committed to preserving the authority and autonomy of the Orthodox Byzantine Church against that of Rome. Prince Constantius of Rome and his influential childe, Claudius Euginio have both offered generous rewards for Magnus’ head in the past. It is well known that their relationship with their Latin clan-mates could be called acrimonious at best.
The family does have allies within the empire, though, and are not so easily displaced. Prince Marcus Licinius of Adrianople supports the independence Orthodox Church, if only for his own machinations against his enemies in the western clan. Prince Basilio of Sophia is also a pious adherent of the Orthodox religion, and Nikomedes, the Cappadocian Prince of Smyrna, supports Orthodoxy as well. Together with Magnus the three of these elders can weave a potent web of influence and allies to see their goals realised- when they can be bothered.
As a rule, the Magnus Orthodox Lasombra are too disparate in their interests to indoctrinate a foreign Cainite through general consensus. Sarah is too busy with her duties and Peter altogether too self-absorbed and incompetent. Magnus, however, might become interested in the “right” (meaning Orthodox) people, and tends to approach newcomers for a one-on-one discourse to feel out their sympathies.
If Magnus is unsuccessful in his attempts to curry favor, he has a reputation for spreading vicious rumors and otherwise “bad-mouthing” those who spurned his overtures. While this has earned him few allies and a poor reputation himself, his influence with the Orthodox Church and Quaesitor Petronius is strong, and he has made more than one Cainite’s life an unliving hell with his manipulations.
Magnus could best be described a vicious, self-serving tyrant in his administration of his family. He mercilessly micro-manages the portfolios of his progeny to the point where he can actually get in their way (and frequently does). Sarah learned centuries ago how best to deflect his interest in her doings, but Peter never has, which has contributed to his generally indecisive and incompetent personality.
Much of the work on this page was written by Haligaunt for his chronicle The Concord of Ashes . I have made some minor changes to ensure the wiki’s are suitable for my setting and game. Many thanks to Haligaunt chronicle for all his hard work and allowing me to use his work.