Tenets and Traditions
- “We stalk the surface only to feed and grow our ranks. We do not live among the human pestilence.”
- ―The Master[src]
Despite considering themselves the elite of the vampire world, the Brethren of Aurelius were not allowed to live above ground among the human society. Humans were regarded by the Order as little more than animals to be preyed upon. The Order's members were expected to dwell underground, paying tribute to the Old Ones and to surface only to hunt for food or sire new vampires.
The life of a fellow vampire was considered valuable, worthy of respect for the "common bond" shared by all vampires. Taking the life of a vampire was a serious matter, only to be done with compelling reason. However, the seriousness of the matter depended on the will and whim of the Master.
Failure was punished with penance, with vampires being expected to offer their lives in case of serious offenses. The choice whether to spare the offending vampire fell to the Master, who would also choose mutilation instead of outright execution when displeased with his minions' actions. The vampire Colin had his eye gouged out when he and his cohorts failed to trap the Slayer, while Claw once lost a hand for displeasing the Master. Meanwhile, The Three lay down their lives at the Master's will when they failed to kill the Slayer, while Spike was expected to accept execution for ruining the Night of Saint Vigeous.
The Harvest was a mystical night celebrated each century, during which a Master vampire could draw strength from the lives taken by a minion, the Vessel.
The Night of Saint Vigeous
The Night of Saint Vigeous was the Holy Night of Attack in vampire tradition, celebrated each year on October 4, during which vampires believed their strength would be at its peak. In commemoration for the bloody crusade led by Saint Vigeous, the vampires would spend the three previous nights practicing self-mortification, fasting and chanting to reach the holiday on a near berserk state.
The fact that even an anti-traditionalist as Spike would observe the underworld tradition of "staying in", it is possible to assume that it was the same for the vampires of the Order. According to Buffy, Giles described Halloween as "dead for the undead," also saying "they stay in."
- “We lurk below, giving tribute to the Old Ones, until that promised day when we will arise! Arise and lay waste to the world above!”
- ―The Master[src]
The Order of Aurelius was founded in the 12th century by Aurelius himself. While it's unknown what happened to Aurelius, by 1760, the Master was its undisputed ruler. By this year, the Order's seat of power was located in the sewers of London. During this year, a few brethren of the Order witnessed how Darla, the Master's favorite, left the cult to be with her progeny and lover, Angelus.
Attempts to open the Hellmouth
By 1937, the Master moved to the New World with the hopes of opening the Hellmouth located in Sunnydale and bringing about the end of the world by releasing the Old Ones. However, an earthquake hit town in the middle of the ritual, swallowing half the town, including the church in which The Master was performing the ritual. As the ritual had already commenced, The Master was trapped within a mystical prison, like a cork in a bottle, too weak to break free. Instead, he was forced to rely on his minions, particularly Luke, the most powerful of his acolytes, as well as Darla, who returned to the Master after 1900.In 1997, the Order of Aurelius attempted to free The Master from his prison within the Hellmouth during the Harvest, with Luke serving a his Vessel. However, the Master's plans were ruined by Buffy Summers, the latest Slayer, who also slew several his the Order's brethren, among them Luke. Despite the Order succeeding in bringing the Anointed One to the Master, the ancient vampire grew weary with the loss of his "family". The death of Darla at Angel's hands caused the Master to break down. Nevertheless, words of encouragement from the Anointed One strengthened his resolve to continue making preparations for his impeding ascension.
As predicted by the Pergamum Codex, the Master confronted Buffy in the former's prison, but was quickly defeated, while numbers of vampires gathered around the Hellmouth to await the return of the Old Ones. Empowered by the Slayer's blood, the Master broke free of his prison, leaving the Slayer to drown.
As the Master left to witness the emergence of a powerful demon from the Hellmouth, Buffy was revived by Xander Harris, who administered CPR to her. Buffy confronted the Master again, ultimately defeating him by throwing him through the Sunnydale High library skylight and impaling him on a large piece of wood. With the Master dead, the members of the Order retreated, and would gather around the leadership of the Anointed One and move their lair to an abandoned factory.
The Anointed One's reign and disbandment
- “From now on, we're gonna have a little less ritual and a little more fun around here!”
- ―Spike announces the end of the Order of Aurelius[src]
A few weeks later, the Order gathered to discuss their new situation, the Anointed One's new second argued that whoever took the Master's mantle would become a target for the Slayer, prompting another Aurelian to propose that whoever killed the Slayer became the Master's successor. To ensure their success, they planned on attacking during the Night of Saint Vigeous. However, this new plan was ruined when the newly arrived Spike took a large group of the Order's members on an attack on Sunnydale High two nights before the Feast of St. Vigeous. With their numbers depleted and the Feast ruined, the Anointed's second demanded Spike to lay down his life in penance. Instead, Spike killed the Anointed One and took control of the surviving vampires, announcing the end of the order's rigid traditions and rituals.
Tansy Fry's reign
Years later, Tansy Fry, a member of the Order who was thrown out because her methods kept drawing unwanted attention, attempted to regroup the Order in Los Angeles, but was thwarted by Spike and Eddie Hope.
WishverseIn 1999, an alternate timelime was created where Buffy never came to Sunnydale after Cordelia Chase made a wish to the vengeance demon Anyanka. The Order of Aurelius reigned free throughout Sunnydale for two years. In the chaos of The Master's uninterrupted resurrection (because Buffy was in Cleveland), the only known vampire to oppose them was Angel, who was defeated and chained in a prison. After becoming vampires, Xander and Willow became the leading acolytes of the order. The order's main annoyance was the White Hats, which was formed by Giles, who summoned Buffy to Sunnydale. As the deaths of Angel, Xander, Willow, and Buffy occurred, Giles summoned Anyanka and destroyed her amulet, restoring the original timeline.
- "Welcome to the Hellmouth"
- "The Harvest"
- "Teacher's Pet"
- "Never Kill a Boy on the First Date"
- "Prophecy Girl"
- "When She Was Bad"
- "School Hard"
- "The Wish" (Wishverse counterpart)
- "Doppelgangland" (Wishverse counterpart)
- "Darla" (Only in flashbacks)
Behind the Scenes
- The Order of Aurelius returned in the first Buffy the Vampire Slayer Xbox game, set during the show's third season. Under orders from the Old One Laibach of the Abyss, Spike returned to Sunnydale and regrouped the remnants of the Order of Aurelius, along with new shapeshifting members Malik and Scylla. With help from the necromancer Matereani, they brought the Master back in a ghostly form, and he then possessed Angel to regain a physical presence before going about reuniting the Dreamers, a trio of powerful psychic demons who could warp reality. However, Buffy intervened once more, destroying the Dreamers, exorcising the Master's spirit from Angel's body, and then having the other Scoobies recorporealize the Master long enough for her to stake him once again. Presumably, the Order disbanded once more after this.
- Despite their limited amount of appearances in Season Two, the authorized Buffy the Vampire Slayer Encyclopedia refers to them as the Big Bads of the season, along with Angelus.