Elysium: The Elder War
La Senecta: The Wing of Ancients
Every recognized member of the Inconnu bows to the Senex, the formidable and influential ruling body of Kindred elites. It is a proxy body representing the will of the eldest of all vampires, composed of philosopher aristocrats and celebrity-seeking politicians. The noble legislators of the Kindred raise their many-timbered voices in the Necropolis Fora, determining the course of Roman vampire law for all. None rise against these legislators, because they represent everyone. If a vampire cannot find support in the Senex, he is not of the Inconnu.
In the founding nights of the Inconnu, the vampires of Rome were obligated, by dint of superior might, to bend the knee to the eldest among them: Aulus Julius, self-proclaimed childe of Remus. This elder was referred to, respectfully, as "Senex," or "the Old Man." As Kindred society grew, several handpicked representatives would speak for the ruler at gatherings of Necropolis, and were considered, for legal purposes, to be extensions of his body. To defy them was to defy him. To injure them was to commit the unthinkable: rebellion against the most potent of the Roman undead. Their synonymy with the eldest himself was expressed by inclusion: they, also, were popularly referred to as the Senex.
In time, the rule of Rome passed from a single elder to this collected body of representatives, but the name stuck. Although they are officially known as the Ala Seneca, most of the Kindred still use the respectful "Senex" when referring to them, either collectively or individually, male or female.
Now, the Senex is a fully populated legislative body, similar in form, if not function , to the mortal Senate of Rome. The Senex devises and disseminates the laws of the Inconnu, representing the interests of every Status-holding vampire in the domain. Every feature of the Senex's operation, from the system of debate that initiates legal change to the formalized posture and gesture of their public speakers, is an evolved descendant of the founding rule of the Inconnu. Tradition and familiarity ware the operating guidelines of the Senex, allowing for change only if it is slow, carefully reasoned and formally accepted.
True believers within the Senex consider themselves rulers and servants: furthering the needs of the Inconnu by giving the Kindred what they want while ensuring that their appetites don't spiral out of control. They may have the power to impose their will upon the citizens of the Inconnu, but they do so only in pursuit of a peaceful, equitable society. Cynicism and corruption are not allowed to take root in the Senex — at least, not according to its vaunted membership — and the collective voice of the Senex's assembly speaks with flawless logic and complete compassion.
Or so they say. In truth, the Senex is a body carefully constructed to skew its position in favor of the elder elite. Representation of the Inconnu citizenry is, according to critics, little more than a sop to keep the vampire population in line while the agenda of the Inner Circle of the Senex is enacted. Those privileged, powerful Kindred at the very center of the assembly, the so-called Invictus, are rarely opposed, enjoying near-complete authority to dictate and enforce the rule of law as they will.
Whether or not the vampires of the Inconnu trust the Senex, the Kindred cannot deny that the smooth function of Necropolis hinges on the Senex's continued operation. Lesser members of the Wing of Ancients take responsibility for the ongoing maintenance of vampire society, from the cataloging and legal division of territory to the translation and distribution of news and law to all corners of the domain. The nights before the rule of the Senex were a chaotic, bloody time of darkness and despair, brought to an end with the reason and the might of the elder assembly. Many of the Kindred still remember those nights, and warn potential rebels of the potential for their return. Better to obey a self-serving body of aristocrats and dwell in peace, they say, than to be no better than the barbarian beasts of the outer lands.
The Senex is largely composed of the most prestigious vampires of the Inconnu and their honorable descendants. Age and demonstrated wisdom are highly valued qualities in the membership, as are the credentials of a politically prominent lineage and respectable records of achievement. numerous younger Kindred fill the outer seats of the Ancient Wing, serving as public speakers, messengers and scholars, politicking in fierce competition to distinguish themselves and move closer to the enviable positions in the center of the organization.
Most vampires who join the Senex do so by right of Embrace. Before they are named legitimate and earn their first dot of Status (Senex), though, they must prove that they were moral, honorable Romans in life, free and without criminal stain. The vast majority of these Kindred hail from the Ventrue or Toreador clan. Those accepted embody the ideal image of the Inconnu: physically flawless, intellectually superior and clad in the very finest of cloth and precious metals. Their barest gesture sum up and conveys the astonishing achievements of the civilized Propinqui, bringing tears to the eyes of inferior vampires.
The rest of the Wing of Ancients is made up of Magistrates from the other Wings — those who have been elected by their peers to speak in the Necropolis Fora. They may be of any clan or background (much to the distaste of more traditional members).
The Senex is not eager to recruit new members. While other Wings may seek to expand their ranks as often and as quickly as possible, the Wing of Ancients cannot allow itself to bloat and become inefficient. It is an open secret that ineffective or slothful members are quietly pushed aside by the organization, losing their Status and falling prey to outside enemies just so that new blood can make its way onto the Forum floor and keep the Senex strong. As a consequence, all members of the Wing strive, whenever possible, to demonstrate their continuing worth and increase their fame — through means foul and fair.
Ostensibly, the Senex is still a proxy organization, representing the will and wisdom of a hypothetical single elder. Even if that elder no longer exists in real terms, this inherited function continues to guide the philosophy of the whole Necropolis assembly. individuals within the Senex are considered parts of the greater body. and any harm that comes to one is considered an attack on the whole of the ruling structure of the Inconnu. Every word they speak in public is considered an expression of that ruling structure as well, and every personal action they take is an expression of the will of that structure. Every member of the Senex accepts this burden the moment she takes her seat in the assembly, knowing that the burden will stay with her for the whole of her existence.
The Senex Speaks for All
No Status-holding member of the Inconnu is ignored by the Senex. No matter how low, no matter how disreputable or disgusting, every vampire is allowed (and encouraged) to approach the Senex with her concerns and be heard. While a specific member of the Wing of Ancients may not be willing to listen to, and speak on behalf of, a particular vampire, someone must — so long as that vampire is a legal citizen of Necropolis. Every member of the Senex takes on the responsibility of representation, and should be willing to speak on behalf of the lower Kindred of the Roman undead. Those who never seem to bring the concerns of others to the Forum floor run the risk of earning a reputation for self-absorption or sloth.
The Attendant effect is, also, that the debates and declarations of the Senex are assumed to incorporate the needs of all Roman vampires, and that they are applicable to all. It would be incorrect for legislation to pass without full consideration of its effects on all the inhabitants of Necropolis, and it wold be equally incorrect for a law to be meted out unevenly.
The Word of the Senex Is Law
The decisions of the Senex, arrived at by the confluence of the expressed needs of all Roman Propinqui, are considered final and most just. Unless a preceding declaration is questioned and reopened on the Forum floor, the declaration is considered writ and unassailable. As a result, all members of the Senex — from accountants and newsreaders to Magistrates and Consuls — are expected to treat their duties with appropriate care and solemnity. Frivolity and impulsiveness are frowned upon, for the whole of vampire society looks to the Senex for stability and preservation.
Reopening a settled issue is acceptable, but only if the introduction of new circumstances warrants a reconsideration of law. Wounded pride at a failed debate isn't reason enough to occupy the legislative assembly of the Senex.
Rituals and Observances
As the official dictators of religious and political law, the Senex is responsible for holding and maintaining the most important public rituals of the Inconnu. A plethora of official positions and subordinate bands have been created within the Wing for the express purpose of organizing Necropolis gatherings. Others take it upon themselves to dictate and assemble the decoration of Necropolis, including the commissioning of artworks and the presentation of official designated gathering spaces. While the Legio Mortuum may be relied upon to keep the peace at these events, it is the respect and honor owed to the Senex that drive the majority of Kindred to proper behavior.
Assembly: The most important recurring ritual of the Senex is the gathering of the assembly at Forum, held under sacred invocation to bring the favor of the gods adn ensure the integrity of those present. The monthly gathering, convened to discuss the operation of Necropolis, the needs of the Propinqui and the presentation of amendments of law, is open to all members of the Senex, and may be witnessed by any vampire of the Inconnu. The Forum is invariably filled to capacity, with members of the Wing seated in radii of descending Status (so those with the highest score are closest to the center — hence, the "Inner Circle"), often spilling out into the attached corridors, straining to listen as speakers make their cases.
Officially, convention of the assembly is only allowed in chambers consecrated for this solemn purpose. A permanent ban of Kindred violence is applied in these halls, and frequent sacrificial offerings are made by high-ranking officials of the Senex to maintain the blessings of the gods. Many believe that the divine favor invoked by these sacrifices ensures that the operation of the Senex is pleasing to the deities above, forging a direct link between the law of the Inconnu and the gods.
Before each monthly meeting of the assembly, auspices are read to ensure that the time and place are most correct for a favorable outcome. While these readings were once the province of the officials of the Senex, they now fall to the Cult of Augurs, a subordinate Wing of the Inconnu. It is not uncommon for a meeting to be delayed or moved at the last moment because of an unfavorable reading — an occurrence that might be irritating, but is always considered beneficial. Better to speak in an atmosphere of divine approval than to push forward and offend the powers that be.
The formal debates of the Senex occupy the bulk of these meetings, and are held with a similarly religious adherence to protocol and tradition. The two (or more) speakers conducting a debate are invited to step into the center of the Forum circle, from which they address the whole of the assembly. The debate is conducted under the direction of a Consul, who has the power to call for closing arguments, continuances or recesses. The body of the Senex assembly votes on the outcome by an expression of the Division of the House — by seating themselves (or standing) behind the speaker they support, and responding to statements they approve of with applause.
Celebration of Bruma: Every year, on December 25th, the whole of the Inconnu mirrors the mortal world in its celebration of Sol Invictus, the "Unconquered Sun." on this night, all are forbidden to feed on mortals and expected to participate in the dark festivals of the Necropolis, reminding them of the dark place that vampires are consigned to away from the living world and the warmth of the Unconquered (and unconquerable) Sun. No light is lit throughout the tunnels of Necropolis, and no warmth is brought to the Kindred for the whole of the night.
But it's not the darkness that the vampires celebrate. it's the endurance of the living world, and the understanding that this, the longest night of the year, carries with it the knowledge that the sun and its progeny will never be completely dimmed by the vampire nation, as dictated by the natural order of the world. All Kindred are reminded: their place is outside of the cycle of life and death, and below the cities of the living. Kindred are subordinate to the mortal world, no matter who powerful they become.
The acknowledgement of this subordination isn't as solemn as it may seem, Many vampires see it as a release from worry and obligation. If they are not superior to mortals, then vampires will not aspire to place themselves among the gods — and will not invite the wrath of those gods. if vampires accept their place and make a point of rejoicing in it, they will please the forces of divinity and remain undisturbed.
Criminals condemned to Final Death by the Senex are often imprisoned to await Bruma. On the night of the celebration, they are crucified in east-facing formation and left to burn in the dawn, as a find reminder for all civilized Kindred: the sun is, and ever will be, the death of all vampires. The sun cannot be conquered.
THE AUGURS – diplomats and advisors of the mysteries
THE LEGION – the columns that hold up the capitol
THE SENEX – servitude, age, and wisdom bear the weight of rule
THE STRANGERS – the step-children we raise to show our charity and authority
THE SANCTIFIED – let their God come and debate our Remus, if they are so sure of him