Elysium: The Elder War
Lancea Et Sanctum
Only barely recognized as an independent body within the Inconnu, the organization known as the Chapel and the Spear is a religious offshoot of the Peregrine Collegia, gathering together the faithful vampires of diverse creeds and cults. The mysterious and mystic Kindred of the Chapel and the Spear are dark harbingers of a new age, they claim, crude predators in service to divinity. The cruel pain of systematic oppression and deprivation are the operating norm for these vampires of faith, and yet, they endure — event thrive.
Originally founded by a small band of embraced Judaic slaves, the movement that would eventually become the Lancea et Sanctum began at the very bottom of Roman vampire society, espousing an approach to faith and servitude that was ill-received by the majority of the Inconnu. Reviled and dismissed by the upper strata of the Propinqui, the slaves bore a hard-scrabble existence in Rome's filthy fringe in the Peregrine Collegia, slowly bringing faithful new converts into their ranks. By the middle of the first century CE, an agreement forged by the original membership allowed for the inclusion of a number of small Gnostic and pre-Christian cults, some made up of no more than one or two vampires. Assembling religious tracts and philosophic arguments into a mishmash doctrine based on their various mortal faiths, they came together out of a sense of shared misfortune and forged a common creed of startling resilience. They met regularly in the Sanctum, a small, out-of-the-way chamber in Necropolis, and swore there to survive the persecution of the Inconnu and keep true to their various faiths.
But it was the advent of Longinian doctrine, the first real religious tract unique to vampires, that electrified the assembly. Brought to the Roman vampires by the disciples of Monachus, childe of the dark prophet himself, the Testament of Longinus gave the Kindred their own martyrs, their own saints and their own place in God's divine plan. The story of Longinus' conversion to vampirism on the blood of the Lord, and his subsequent sufferings and revelations overtook the assembly, and many existing texts were quickly amended to better dovetail with it. Some faiths were quietly eliminated from the gathering (most by simply ejecting them from the group, for the Lancea, as the followers of Longinus styled themselves, were loathe to slay vampires), while others maintained a presence, either by merging with the rapidly dominating faith or demonstrating their compatibility with it.
With the rapid success of early mortal Christianity, the Lancea et Sanctum grew at a startling rate. Embraced Christians and converted pagan vampires flocked to the assembly throughout the third century CE, despite (or, in some cases, because of) the persecutions of the Inconnu. While the Legio Mortuum hunted down those the Senex declared offensive, the Lancea et Sanctum opened its arms to all who sought shelter. All vampires were "Kindred," to the new vampire church, and all merited sanctuary. The brutal visitations of the Legio were endured, and strangely, no matter how thoroughly destroyed a cell of Sanctified Kindred might be, it always seemed to inspire the rise of another.
The constant defiance of tradition, including the importation of sorcerous arts from Egypt, the dissemination of a message that placed orthodoxy ahead of service to the Inconnu and the tendency to publicly deny the dictates of Roman vampire society made it impossible to reconcile with the philosophies of the Senex and existing vampire law.
Near the end of the third century CE, after a series of particularly violent attacks on the membership, the Lancea et Sanctum broke the last of its ties with the Peregrine Collegia, declaring itself a distinct legal body. The Collegia was only too happy to let the Sanctified go; for decades, the Sanctified had brought the Collegia nothing but trouble. Predicting the rapid destruction of the assembly, the Collegia made no effort to stop the Lancea's withdrawal, and didn't intervene on their behalf. The violence of the Legio Mortuum redoubled, raging throughout Rome. Horrifying battles were waged in the ash-strewn halls of Necropolis, coming to a close with the destruction of more than half of the newly independent assembly.
But tonight, the Lancea et Sanctum is as strong and as populous as it ever was. The fallen founders are martyrs, remembered for their great sacrifice and inspiring, unwavering faith. The outlaw priests of the self-styled "covenant" — for their arrangement is with God himself, as a body politic all on their own, not a Wing of any greater body — move through the shadows of Necropolis, bringing the word of the dark prophet to the Kindred and driving mortals into the arms of God. The Sanctified consider themselves the moral guides and guardians of the living and undead worlds. They speak openly and fearlessly to the vampires around them, holding true to the instruction of the Monachus. When the torchlight of disapproval shines upon the Sanctified, they hold fast to their faith, sacrificing themselves, if necessary, to preserve their doctrine and provide inspiration to their brethren. When it turns away, they move quickly, making inroads into any and all of the Wings of the Inconnu with astonishing alacrity. The Sanctified are hated and hunted, but they do not fear. They believe, wholeheartedly, that the will of the Lord works its way through them, and that their survival and proliferation is ordained. To them, the decadence and rot of Rome is all too clear, and the black night of final judgment is approaching with thunderous speed.
Any vampire willing to accept the doctrine of the Lancea et Sanctum is made welcome into the ranks of the covenant. Because of this open policy, the church is populated by a wide array of Kindred, drawn from all races, clans and places of origin. Those with Judaic or Christian mortal foundation most easily understand the language of the church, but its inclusive assemblies and the limited protection the Lancea affords also attract those of many splinter sects and Gnostic cults.
The membership of the vampire church is, admittedly, weighted toward those considered too wretched, feeble or otherwise undesirable to the Wings of the Inconnu. Seeking refuge in the arms of the Sanctified, the dregs of Roman vampire society always seem to find their way to the church, much to the amusement and derision of their betters. Whether they are ennobled by their newfound faith or debased by their pathetic eagerness to please is, of course, a matter of perspective.
Members of the Lancea et Sanctum believe that they are the undead agents of the one true God on Earth. In accordance with the teachings of Longinus and the assembled gospels of the Lancea's early founders, the Sanctified work to interpret, preserve and preach the message of divinity in its application to all vampires, everywhere.
The legend of Longinus and the veneration of the Spear of Destiny are central to the doctrine of the vampire church, taking precedence in the teachings of the burgeoning covenant. However, the teachings of Judaism and pre-Christian Gnosticism often overlap with Longinian doctrine, and many of the instructions of the church are fanciful, confused and even contradictory. The message of the Lancea et Sanctum has not solidified into dogma yet, and is constantly undergoing shifts in word and tone. What one priest says tonight by be completely different from what another says tomorrow.
Because of this mutable instruction, Sanctified Kindred are tolerant of a lot of strange views. So long as another vampire identifies as a member of the church and an opponent of the pagan practices of the Senex, most will accept her, even if they expend significant effort, thereafter, in debating her beliefs and attempting to win her over to their version of Sanctified doctrine.
Throughout the Lancea et Sanctum, though, certain commandments are already locked in place. No matter how the doctrine of the church is interpreted, these central statements remain unchanged and are expected to be obeyed.
Beyond these commandments, two philosophical threads seem to run through every variant of the church:
We Will Survive
For the Sanctified, there is one unwritten commandment that is understood by all: every individual must be prepared to sacrifice himself in order to preserve the church and its doctrine. The persecutions endured by individual members are considered insignificant, so long as they do not threaten the integrity of the gospels and the capacity of the church to seek new recruits. Likewise, any violation of tradition or law, especially those committed by the upper ranks of the Sanctified, is considered acceptable in so far as it promotes the survival of the church and the preservation of its teachings. There is, of course, a limit to this justification; those who truly go too far are likely to be reined in by their brethren — but that limit is fuzzy and difficult to define.
Judgment Is Inevitable
Much of the doctrine of the Lancea et Sanctum is contingent on the belief that the night of judgment is imminent, and that all vampires will soon realize their final damnation at the hands of the Lord. The pleasures and the torments of the Earthly plane are considered transient states, little better than one another and hardly worth the effort of pursuit. Those who seek to accumulate wealth and sensual gratification are considered venal and misguided, and those who become occupied with crafting tortures for their enemies are reminded to keep to the path of the righteous and leave the meting of punishment to the Lord above.
Members of the Chapel and the Spear may learn the discipline of Theban Sorcery.
A recent addition to the Lancea et Sanctum and, arguably, one of the forces most directly responsible for the advancement of its power, Theban Sorcery is a form of spiritual magic taught by the Egyptian Malkavians. Popular legend suggests that it was provided to the faithful Kindred by angels of the Lord, but more cynical vampires note its frightening utility and suggest that the Sanctified are scrambling, understandably, to find an excuse to use it.
Theban Sorcery is outlawed by the Senex, and dozens of Roman Kindred have met Final Death after facing accusation of practice of Theban Sorcery. Despite pressure from the leadership of the Inconnu, the magic of the devout is taught throughout the covenant.
Titles and Duties
The Lancea et Sanctum is still struggling to find official recognition, and, therefore, is generally less concerned with assigning rigid titles and duties. Most of the members are too busy concentrating on their continued survival (and the survival of their doctrine) to worry about who's doing what job.
That said, there are some terms of respect that have arisen naturally within the Sanctified membership.
Missionary: A local instructor or recognized authority on the doctrine (or doctrines) of the nascent church of Kindred is referred to as the Missionary. While ostensibly only a spiritual advisor, the Missionary is often turned to for tactical decisions and direction, becoming a de facto leader for his loyal students.
Martyr: A martyr is a vampire who has made a holy pledge to sacrifice himself in the name of the doctrine of Longinus, placing himself on the front line of battle with the oppressive Inconnu. While not necessarily suicidal, many of those who adopt this role understand their limited chance for survival and accept it without hesitation.
Martyrs are not necessarily soldiers. Many are Kindred willing to address the Senex on the behalf of the Lancea et Sanctum, or public performers of Theban Sorcery hoping to convert followers with the demonstration of miracle.
Rituals and Observances
The rituals of the Lancea et Sanctum are so many and so varied that it is almost impossible to catalog them. Ranging from private systems of prayer to the sacrament of great masses, Sanctified rituals are practiced throughout Necropolis in defiance of tradition and law. Anything goes, as far as the Sanctified are concerned, as long as it is infused with faith in the one true God and the religion of its followers.
THE STRANGERS – they will come. we have time
THE AUGURS – they can be forgiven of their mistakes if they will drink the blood of the Lord
THE SANCTIFIED – we are blessed with a truth that damns through denial
THE LEGION – Caesar's legions may not know how lost they are
THE SENEX – old men, old ways, old sins