The Camarilla rules in Londinium, as it rules throughout the civilized world, but Britannia is a frontier province, and Londinium is a frontier town, built by clever, industrious, ambitious chancers who were willing to take a risk on a life at the very edge of the Empire in order to make their fortunes. Two and a half centuries isn't so very long to an immortal, and Londinium's undead tends to be made up of rebels, malcontents, and those who found their ambitions and ability too tightly confined by the Camarilla's iron grip in more "civilized" provinces of the Empire. As with its mortal population, a large percentage of the city's Propinqui are natives who were drawn to the wealth and comfort that Rome offers its subject peoples.
The Senex are relatively few in number, and mostly drawn from the ranks of the Mekhet. There are few Julii in London, and most of the ones who are here are exiles, who were banished from Rome by the Senex for various offenses real and imagined. The Mekhet preference for subtlety and their own numerical inferiority have made the Senex of Londinium expert diplomats and conciliators, who rule through a complex web of political alliances rather than by decree.
They call her the Old Woman, although never to her face. In truth, she doesn't look very old; her perfectly-styled hair is nearly white, but it was always very pale, and while there might be fine lines on the skin of her face, her light blue eyes, as cold and empty as a winter sky, are as penetrating as they ever were.
She was the third daughter of a senator, married advantageously - to her father, not to her - to a man twice her age. She was intelligent, perceptive and thoughtful; he resented the daily reminder that her mind was superior to his, and beat her to remind her of her place. He reminded her, instead, of her extensive knowledge of herb lore, including potions that could inflict a seemingly natural death. The beatings ceased shortly thereafter. Her second husband was more intelligent, and appreciated her advice and insights. She guided his Senate career from the shadows for several decades. She loved him, after a fashion. His death was the result of a genuine illness, but whispers began to circulate about her, all the same. Respectable Roman society started to shun her.
Then one of her ancestors came to her in the night and made her an offer; a position of power in respect in her own right, not as a hidden manipulator. He didn't reveal the cost, but even if he had, she believes she would have paid it.
It shocked many when, after several decades building a place for herself in the Necropolis, she volunteered to travel to Britannia in Hadrian's wake, and take up the newly vacant position of Governor of Londinium. Many assumed that she'd lost some hidden political battle, and had been exiled. In reality, she'd simply begun to find the Necropolis stifling. In Rome, she would forever be a lesser player; in a distant, underpopulated city on the edge of the world, she would at last be a master of the game - and her own fate.
The Prophets were once the most powerful Wing of the Camarilla in Londinium. The first Propinqui to establish themselves in the city found themselves under sporadic attack from native vampires - mostly Gangrel and Nosferatu - wielding strange and deadly pagan magics. Without the protection of the Veneficia, those first Propinqui colonists might not have survived, and so the Cult of Augurs - even more than the Legion of the Dead - gained power and prestige from their perceived role as an essential element of the city's defence.
In the past fifty years, all that has gone to Hades. When the Temple of Mithras opened in 240 AD, the Camarilla sent a new Propinqui to Londinium to "oversee" it. It soon became obvious that this new arrival, Appius Vassenius Tanicus, had ambitions far beyond the spiritual concerns that were the proper business of the Wing of Prophets. The Mithraic cult was extremely popular in the legions; his position in the Temple gave Tanicus a position of influence with the Roman military that he started to exploit enthusiastically, establishing his ghouls in key positions to enhance the reach and influence of his cult.
Both Aeliana Tertia and Iulia Alpina were furious - Aeliana for Tanicus' infringement of the prerogatives of the Senex to "guide" mortal society, and Iulia Alpina for a cynical abuse of religious faith. Between them, they acted to curb Tanicus' privileges, killing or discrediting several of his key operatives, and forbidding him to create more. Unfortunately for them, they couldn't find sufficient justification to banish or destroy Tanicus.
Tanicus responded to their interference by taking his efforts underground, working to expand the Cult of Mithras through intermediaries that couldn't be traced to him, meanwhile cultivating his own base of support among the younger members of the Wing of Prophets. Iulia Alpina, aware of what he was doing but unable to prove it, started working against the Cult through similarly indirect means. The struggle has grown into a quiet, secret civil war which now consumes virtually all the Augurs' attention and resources.
Such cold intelligence and chilly inhumanity would be intimidating in anyone, but they take on an added edge of horror when they exist in the outward form of a child. In her brief life, Iulia Alpina was the daughter of the Roman Procurator who rebuilt London after Boudica's rebellion, but those scant twelve years in the sunlight have defined her far less than the two and a quarter centuries that she's spent in the darkness.
Most Propinqui have already formed their identities by the time of their Embrace; they've been shaped and molded by life-changing mortal experiences - adolescence, independence, falling in love, a career, triumphs and tragedies. Iulia Alpina never had a chance to experience any of those things, which gives her a strange kind of grim and terrible purity. Her undead state, and the beliefs and philosophies of the Wing of Prophets, are the very core of who she is, not mere mechanisms for coping with a post-mortem existence, Unlike most Propinqui, who think first of themselves, her first concern is for her gods and to the well-being of Londinium, with which she has felt an instinctive, empathic connection since the days when she still breathed. Some Propinqui use the world "fanatical" to describe her faith; others call it the stark simplicity of a child's viewpoint, untainted by the nuances and ambiguities of adulthood. Yet those who believe the Regina Sacrorum incapable of subtlety or complexity usually regret it. For some, it's the last regret that they ever experience.
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He claims to be of patrician blood, and he certainly looks the part. He's tall, muscular, swarthy of skin and black of hair, handsome in a lean and predatory way - the very image of a noble Roman soldier. His voice is soft, and gentle, but filled with authority and self-assurance. He conducts himself as a Roman noble should, disciplined and austere in his tastes, fair and just to his followers and unflinchingly ruthless towards his enemies. He calls himself a Julii, an aristocrat of the dead as well as the living. He certainly seems to share their blood-gifts, although the Propinqui he names as his sire met Final Death in Gaul during the realm of Vespasian. Only his cognomen, first mentioned in the letter from the Senex in Rome that introduced him to London's Propinqui, offers a hint of his less than noble origins - Tanicus, tanner. When he's asked about that, he laughs good-naturedly and says that it started as a joke made by the troops he commanded on the Rhine frontier.
People - living and undead alike - tend to like him. He's certainly more popular than Iulia Alpina, though perhaps less respected. Whatever else she may be, nobody ever doubts the Regina Sacrorum's sincerity or her superlative mastery of blood magic, neither of which is true of Tanicus. Still, he's a power in his own right in Londinium, and no-one, not ever the Governor herself, challenges him lightly.
The Legio Mortuum is larger than the Senex, but it emphasizes quality over quantity, and its members are probably the most individually capable of any Wing of the Camarilla in Londinium. For the first hundred or so years of the city's existence, its primary function was to prevent the native vampire clans from infiltrating the city and attacking the Propinqui, but that threat has lessened in recent decades, and now it serves mainly to maintain order among the members of the Camarilla
Metilia Galera grew up during the reign of the mad Emperor Domitian. Her father , Aulus Galerius, was an equites, a wealthy, middle-class importer of olive oil - the cornerstone of all Roman trade. Unfortunately, he made the mistake of supporting the attempted revolt of Lucius Antonius Saturninus, the governor of Germania Superior, in 89 A.D.
The revolt was crushed with the Empire's typical efficiency and savagery. Galerius was executed, along with his two eldest sons. His wife committed suicide, and his three younger children were sold into slavery. Metilia attempted to escape from the salve trader who'd purchased her, killing two of his guards in the process. A pragmatist to the core, the trader decided that her natural fighting talents would be quite a draw in the arena, an sold her to a gladiator school in Rome as a novelty act.
His faith was well-placed. Metilia excelled in her new "profession", becoming a favourite of the crowds. But she knew that it was only a matter of time before her luck ran out. After a year of meticulous planning, she cold-bloodedly murdered her master, and vanished into the night with as much of his treasury as she could carry.
In an attempt to shake off any possible pursuit, she traveled to the very edge of the Roman world, the frontier city of Londinium, where she used her stolen gold to establish a gladiator school of her own. It didn't take her long to become wealthy and successful, a respected figure in Londinium, if not an entirely respectable one.
What goes around comes around. She died, ironically, at the hands of one of her own gladiator slaves, who intended to do to her what she'd done to her own former master - murder her and abscond with the contents of her cash box. She killed the man, but was mortally wounded herself in the fight.
She doesn't know who sired her, or why. All she recalls is a dark shadow leaning over her as she lay on the expensive marble floor of her town-house, bleeding her life away. She recalls his laughter, like the rustling of dry, old leaves, echoing in the background as she was reborn into darkness.
There was never any question about which wing of the Camarilla she would join; she would consider none but the Legio Mortuum, and none but the Legio Mortuum would consider her. To the surprise of many, she remained unimpeachably loyal the the Legion's former commander for centuries, but when he slipped into torpor three decades ago, there was no question as to who would replace him.
Metilia is quite beautiful, with fair hair and snow-white skin, but there's something about her vivid green eyes that speaks of madness and imminent death. Her Nosferatu curse is manifests as an aura of imminent violence and raw terror that serves her well in her occasional bouts in the arena. She's allied closely with Aeliana Tertia, but their relationship is more one of equals than master and servant.
Rome might be a brutal invader, but if you're willing to play by its rules, you'll experience a lot more wealth and luxury than you would have as a free native tribesman. That's as true for the native vampires as it is for the native mortals. While many of the older, more established vampires of the British Isles saw the Romans as a threat to be expunged, the younger generation instead saw opportunities hitherto undreamed of.
The Peregrine Collegia is mostly made up of those young, native vampires - although some of them have become elders in their own right through the course of the city's tumultuous history. They dabble in anything that will make money, from importing silk, to construction, to gambling and prostitution. Politically, they're an afterthought, but economically, they're the Camarilla's backbone, and the other Wings are growing increasingly uneasy about their reliance on the Strangers' wealth.
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Small, cheerful, friendly and approachable, this youthful-looking Gangrel arrived in the newly rebuilt Londinium shortly after Boudica's revolt. He claims to be the son of a native tribeswoman and a Roman legionary, an unliving symbol of coexistence between Romans and Britons.
The Senex considered him a slightly sordid irrelevance, an undead camp-follower who survived by whoring himself out to soldiers and besting them at games of dice. It came as a considerable surprise to them when he bankrolled a significant percentage of the construction costs for Londinium's public baths, and a bigger surprise when they discovered how much influence he had over the city's mortal population, especially its criminal element. They made a couple of attempts to remove him, but their assassins... simply disappeared. At the instigation of the Senex, Cult of Augurs tried to use magic to strike against him, but the magic backfired in a fairly dramatic fashion, driving a couple of undead priests into torpor in the process.
The Senex pondered the situation, and decided that they weren't all that keen to find out how badly they'd underestimated Cabriabanus. They formally recognized his de facto position as master of the city's public baths, and not coincidentally, of its prostitution trade.
Cabriabanus is probably the most human (and humane) of Londinium's elders, but his compassion is disproportionately reserved for mortals. He has a reputation for being very protective of the whores and thieves who serve him, and Propinqui who kill or mistreat them have been known to disappear under mysterious circumstances. For all his unassuming manner, few of the city's undead population want him as an enemy.