The Resurgence & Accordance War Edit
Exiled along with his house from Arcadia, Meilge of House Eiluned entered the body of a young teenager when he crossed into the mundane world. His host body was strong, well-formed, and handsome, with golden-blond hair and sky-blue eyes. After all, as a royal prince among the Eiluned (one of the few details of his life in Arcadia that he remembers), he deserved the best. A staunch Traditionalist, he served as a captain in the Accordance War, harrying commoners with both blade and cantrip. Part of the sidhe army, he fought across the breadth of the continent, until reaching New York. Near the end of the war, a band of commoners captured him, wounding him across the forehead and blinding his left eye with a blade of Cold Iron. They wasted no healing on him. The band hoped to trade him for several of their own compatriots captured by the sidhe. During the captivity that followed, as he sought to escape, an overzealous guard threw acid in Meilge's face, thus scarring him both in his fae mien and his mortal seeming. This time, one of his captors had enough compassion to save his eyesight. At the end of the war, a few weeks later, they released him.
Worse than the scarring of his visage, Meilge's psyche and soul were marked by his experience of the war. While he still thought the sidhe superior and believed in their right to rule, he now had great respect for the modern weapons and methods of commoners. Their ruthless treatment of him forever cured him of any romantic notion of chivalry or honor he might have held, and their sheer numbers taught him that he would need to win the commoners' support if he was ever to rule without the constant fear of assassination. More than that, he now knew they respected strength and ability, not bloodline. Though he loathed commoners even more for what they had done to him, Meilge coldly reasoned that he would need their willing support if he were ever to achieve a position from which he could exact his revenge.
While Meilge had always evinced the Eiluned tendency toward intrigue, he now fully embraced his Unseelie side. Hating High King David and Queen Mab for not ransoming him, he refused to take the small freehold offered him in New York. Instead, he returned to the Atlanta area where he had claimed a freehold during the Shattering. Meilge remembered he had once held lands there, but recalled nothing about that time. The wily Eiluned hid his Unseelie nature beneath a show of Seelie traditionalism and asserted his right to his old holding to Barabas (the Eiluned king of the area and Meilge's distant cousin). Granted his freehold, which lay south of Atlanta, he became once again the Duke of Summertree. In return, since Meilge had served in the Accordance War, King Barabas asked Meilge to become general of the royal troops. Meilge agreed.
Gaining Power Edit
Meilge soon discovered that he was barely tolerated by the other sidhe (or the more important commoners) in the area; ironically because he lacked the right pedigree. As a supposed "Northerner," he was seen in the South as little better than a carpetbagger. Further, gentlemen in the South were expected to conform to certain social conventions. Among these was having the good taste to adhere to a polite and acceptable mask, an outward show of good manners, bravery, bonhomie, and the appearance of conformity and success. Whether or not people were actually like that, they were expected to act and look as if they were. Meilge, with his morose, withdrawn manner and the terrible scars on his face, lacked the correct "mask."
Determined to force others to accept him, Meilge crossed the final line. Utilizing his freehold as a base, he soon gathered around himself a criminal empire designed to make him wealthy beyond imagining, reasoning that his social "betters" couldn't argue with what money could buy. He commissioned Murdoch of House Dougal, a noted inventor and crafter of chimera, to create a mask for him; a mask that would hide his scars. Murdoch crafted something far better than he intended; he created one of the greatest treasures of the modern age: an alabaster and gold half-mask that hides Meilge's true intentions along with his facial scars.
Soon after donning the mask, Meilge found acceptance, even admiration, among the fae of the area. The king took him into his privy court and relied on Meilge's astute political insight and diplomacy. Meilge was particularly adept at smoothing relations between nobles and disgruntled commoners and in gaining prestige (and building up a stock of favors owed to him) as he settled disputes. Meilge found that the mask allowed him to project the appearance of sympathy, fairness, respect for others, and friendliness... all without in fact feeling those emotions or actually having those qualities. The commoners came to trust, then love this noble who embodied enough traditional values to be colorful, yet enthusiastically supported change and modern ideas as well. He became the center of a burgeoning personality cult.
Hidden from the Seelie fae, however, Meilge continued to weave his web of criminal activities and build a base of power for himself. Using his criminal wealth, he bought a fanatically loyal personal guard. Finally he discreetly contacted some local Unseelie and joined the true Shadow Court. For their part, they were delighted that someone as important as Meilge now swore allegiance to them; Meilge merely saw them as one more group to use to his own advantage.
Rise to Kingship EditKing Barabas was an unjust and unpopular ruler. From the time he took the Kingdom of Willows by force during the Accordance War until his death in 1990 during a commoner revolt, Barabas' whimsical cruelty wrecked the kingdom. The revolt led to a direct assault on the king's freehold, an attack that ended in a stalemate. Under a flag of truce, a parley was called to discuss the commoners' grievances. As always, Meilge was called in to mediate. Tensions were high, and the parley was more disorganized than usual. In the confusion, a fight started that ended in the death of Barabas.
Popular as he was with both the sidhe and the commoners, Meilge was proclaimed king by Royal Lottery. Many outside the kingdom (and a few within it) suspected Meilge had somehow used his connection to the commoners to instigate Barabas' death. Just as many Kithain were glad that such a stalwart monarch was ready to step in and take over and didn't care if Meilge had arranged things; at least they were rid of Barabas. Meilge proclaimed his innocence, even going so far as to shut himself away for a week to mourn his cousin. Kithain empowered to use cantrips to see if Meilge spoke the truth found that he was not lying. The killer was never apprehended. With the evidence of Meilge's innocence in hand, High King David confirmed the Eiluned noble's right to rule the Kingdom of Willows as the heir chosen by lottery.
King of Willows Edit
Within a year of Barabas' death, Meilge had his predecessor's graceful home torn down and established his court in a gleaming, opulent, glass high-rise.
Operating from the heart of Atlanta's business district, Meilge acts as the godfather of a vast crime ring, conducts Shadow Court business, and rules his kingdom. Many of his subjects wonder at the continued spiritual decline of the kingdom but cannot argue with Atlanta's financial success.
Meilge is constantly surrounded by his personal guard, a cadre comprising trolls, Scathach knights, a few redcaps, a sluagh spymaster, and younger Eiluned knights-in-training. Fanatically loyal, the guard combines muscle and ferocity with guile and sorcery. Coupled with the Scathach's legendary ability to withstand Banality, these abilities make them a potent force. The only time the ruler of Willows is without his guard is when he sleeps; then, they guard all approaches to his chambers.
Though he is constantly wary of assassins (a paranoia left over from the Accordance War), Meilge hardly needs his guard within his holding of Willow's Heart. Most of his subjects view him with admiration, if not outright love. Only those outside his sphere of influence have any sort of clear vision of what Meilge is really up to. Some suspect him of wrongdoing because Eiluned are rarely trusted; others see the rampant crime in Atlanta and the fractiousness of Meilge's duchies as signs that something is wrong. Many rumors circulate, but no proof has ever emerged concerning his criminal activities, his supposed ties to the Shadow Court, or the murders he is said to have committed or paid others to perform. Many other kingdoms associate corruption with Meilge's kingdom, but nothing has been proved.
Meilge excels at intrigue and deception, but rarely reveals his perfidy to anyone else. He has cultivated the facade of a Southern gentleman, always well-spoken and polite (even when he is undergoing his periodic depressions), forever extending favors to others, and always ready to bravely defend his honor (though almost no one has the temerity to challenge his good name anymore). While his sword work is not legendary, he is accounted an excellent strategist. His abilities in acting are almost good enough to fool everyone, even without his mask. Though rarely betraying his skill in the Arts, he is a master of Chicanery, Soothsay, and Sovereign.
King Meilge is known to his people as a champion of modernity, but he has a curious traditionalist streak when it come to rulership. He is the acknowledged leader of the Golden Sickle, a Modernist political faction. Due to many trips outside Willow's Heart, Meilge has aged. Though he was a wilder when he became king, he is now a grump. With the assumption of that state, he took on the guardianship of another Eiluned noble; a young girl named Faerilyth, whom he has named his heir.
War in Concordia Edit
Not content to wait for a high kingship that may never come, Meilge has launched his own scheme to win the crown.He sent his ward, Faerilyth, to David's court at Tara-Nar, hoping she would prove a useful spy. Then his Dán took a hand in things. Unbelievably, David fell in love with Faerilyth, sought Meilge's permission and (against much opposition from his courtiers and many of the other monarchs) married her. In a show of love, David declared Faerilyth to be fully his equal, naming her High Queen of Concordia. To demonstrate his newfound accord with Meilge, the couple are beginning their Grand Tour of the kingdoms in the Kingdom of Willows.
Meilge has great plans for them. After removing David from the picture and confining him with guardians who will ensure he never emerges from Banality, Meilge can no step back into Faerilyth's life as her "guardian." devoted to her welfare now that the king has mysteriously disappeared. From there, he hopes to enforce her claim to the throne. After a few years as the power behind the throne, he'll be able to dispose of his ward as well. He will become High King upon her untimely death and unleash a bloodbath against the commoners that will make the Accordance War look like child's play. At least, that's his plan...
Meilge is tall (just under six feet) and of average weight. His hair, which was once golden blond, has bleached out into a pale straw color. his eyes are faded blue, but darken when he is angry. He wears well-cut and tailored suits when not in his freehold, but prefers courtly velvets and silks in dark colors when in residence. The upper half of his face is concealed by an ornate half-mask made of alabaster and gold. When he is not in his fae mien, the mask fades from view, though it still obscures the worst of his scarring. He smiles often, though such smiles rarely reach his eyes.
Meilge is a man obsessed by revenge... against the commoners who tortured him and the nobles who left him in the commoners' hands. Those experiences forever warned him, turning his heart to stone and darkening his beliefs. Nevertheless, he has seen the strength the commoners possess and has no wish to engage them directly. Instead, he masks his intention, acting as a friend to commoner and noble alike. Despite his ability to rule, he suffers wild mood swings, debilitating depressions, and nightmares and occasional killing rages. He's quite mad, though few among his acquaintances know that; he seems to focused and such a gentleman. Fully committed to the Shadow Court (though he masquerades as a member of the Seelie court), he works to bring on Endless Winter. He is one of the Shadow Court's most likely candidates to become High King when the Unseelie come to power.
Meilge holds the kingly treasures of Willows (crown, scepter, and seal). Though he has numerous smaller treasures, his greatest and most potent is the Alabaster Mask. This mask does more than conceal his scars; it also conceals his intentions and true feelings and prevents others from telling whether he is lying. The mask projects a literal false-face of fellowship, empathy, and honesty, which he uses to great advantage. Those in Meilge's vicinity always see his actions in the best possible light. Even when questioned while the Dreaming is invoked, he simply needs to state the exact truth; the mask changes what he says (or changes what the listener hears) into something else. When he engineered the murder of his predecessor, for example, he was forced to confess his guilt when magically interrogated. As he said so, however, the mask changed his words into denial of the crime. What came through was the sound of denial and the knowledge that Meilge spoke truly.