A Dirge of Oaths and Omens
Maester Meldrik Locke
Maester for House Locke
Due to several fused vertebrae, pronounced skeletal defects, thin, long strands of greyish-white hair and large, protruding, calcified tumors, Maester Meldrik Locke’s stooped and withered silhouette paints a deceptively ancient portrait of a man who has just barely entered his 48th year.
Despite his obvious physical challenges and setbacks Maester Meldrik is incredibly lucid, gracious and accommodating when engaged in social gatherings and interaction; a theater in which he always mitigates the impact of his appearance with heavy robes and court masks that obscure his hideous visage.
This courteousness and empathy – while genuine – belies a cunning, almost predatory awareness of the motives and intention of those around him.
An awareness that he uses to maximum benefit for House Locke.
Maester Meldrik can usually be found without fail in the subterranean chambers of Castle Locke deeply ensconced in any one of his various researches, dissections, autopsies or alchemical experiments when not engrossed in the house business of tending injured garrison forces, instructing the nobility’s offspring in their studies, political advising or simply managing and supervising the very busy castle servants in their day to day schedules.
Fiercely loyal and extremely dedicated to House Locke – and Lord Banon in particular – Maester Meldrik ruthlessly focuses himself to the task of advancing the power and status of the noble family that he believes spared him from an unlife of destitution, meaninglessness and moral bankruptcy by taking him in as castle maester nearly 2 decades ago.
Until that time not a single noble house would grant him even the courtesy of a nights boarding let alone admittance into their ranks due to his appearance.
Benefits: Knowledge Focus: Alchemy, Knowledge Focus: Underworld, Maester, Master of Ravens, Miracle Worker
Flaws: Sedentary, Pampered, Crippled, Disturbing Habit: Conducts frequent autopsies and dissections on both human and animal corpses for detailed illustrations and written recordings.
Animal Handling: 3
Drawback: Rank 0 (Sedentary)
Specialties: 2b Empathy
Specialties: 1b Bluff
Specialties: 1b Diagnosis, 1b Treat Illness, 2b Treat Injury
Miracle Worker: +2b for a successful diagnosis, with +1b for each additional degree of success. Convert 2 bonus dice into test dice to treat patient. Add education rank (2) to result.
Specialties: 2b Education, 1b Streetwise
Maester: +4 to all knowledge test results
Drawback : Rank 1 (Pampered)
Maester: +4 to all will test results
Intrigue Defence: 12
Combat Defence: 5
Destiny Points: 1
Movement: Move 1/ Sprint 4
Possessions and Equipment:
-Maester’s Quarters (Fully Equipped)
-Poisons(for both creation and antidotes): Firemilk, Greycap, Milk of the Poppy, Myrish Fire,
Nightshade, Pennyroyal, Sweetsleep, Tansy, Wasting Potion, Widow’s Blood, Wolfsbane
-Courtier’s Garb (Average Quality)
-Cane:(Cudgel) 1D Off-Hand, Damage = 1
-Dagger: 1D Def+1, Off-Hand+1, Damage = 1
Remaining Coin: 101gd, 46ss
- Gained: 9
- Spent: 0
- Remaining: 9
Attaining scholarly excellence and achievements well beyond the capacity of his peers despite his crippling birth defects and anatomical malformations; Maester Meldrik Locke is a living testament of the human will’s ability to overcome profound adversity.
Shunned for his morbid interest in the functions of the human body ( both living and deceased); envied for his towering intellect and despised for his grotesque condition; Meldrik Tillinghast was quickly delivered into the hands of the Archmaesters for schooling just before adolescence by a successful mercantile family that was eager to be rid of the social burden of raising him in Stoney Sept; where his presence would surely tarnish the facade of “ having everything short of nobility” that the family so coveted.
Grateful for the heavy cloak and cowl his parents made him wear to obscure his condition; Meldrik traveled south to Oldtown to begin a new life that to him glittered with the promise of riches of the mind and spirit.
Meldrik’s optimism and enthusiasm at the prospect of beginning anew at the Citdadel where he believed he would be surrounded by intellectual explorers, venerable antiquarians and dreamers such as himself were quickly crushed , however; by the cruelty and intolerance of others who both feared and mocked what they perceived to be profound, fundamental inferiority.
When Meldrik began to almost effortlessly surpass even the most favored and gifted in his classes is when fear turned to hatred and hatred spiraled downwards to acts of torment and abject cruelty.
When interrogated by the archmaesters as to whom was bloodying him before classes; Meldrik would not divulge their names. When the archmaesters threatened to punish entire classes if he refused to yield to their inquiry, Meldrik would still not divulge their names – which only served to infuriate his teachers and spread the visible disgust his peers displayed and visited upon him daily.
In his second year of Citadel something within Meldrik changed. The leering and scowling faces no longer brought him to silent, tearful rages; the daily beatings and destruction of his books no longer set his mind aflame with outrage at being unable to exact vengeance. No, instead Meldrik began to feel something entirely different; something entirely alien.
He felt pity.
He began to pity their fear of his hunched, awkward gate and dark cowl that hid an obviously misshapen neck and face; their indignation at his mental superiority and ease at navigating even the most complex of scientific premises; their self-loathing at taking advantage of such an inferior and defenseless physical specimen. He saw it all behind their eyes and something turned within him; a paradigm shift that lay bare before him that it was indeed he who possessed absolute power over them.
They were not his tormentors, they were his prisoners.
Toward the end of their initiation into “Studies of Human Anatomy” the archmaester proclaimed that as students of the human body that they would have to become comfortable with their own nakedness and those of their peers if they expected to treat injuries and heal others and that he wanted a volunteer to begin the awkward process.
Slowly; deliberately; Meldrik put down his stylus and began walking to the teachers lectern in the middle of the operating theater, the silence growing more profound and terror filled the closer he came to its light drenched center; the archmaester’s lips impotently struggling to form words in protest that never emerged as he walked backwards away from the pulpit – as if compelled by some force.
Turning to face this legion of aggressors and tormentors, Meldrik began to pull back the thick cowl obscuring his face, which immediately drew loud, horrified gasps invoking The Seven; making certain he would lock his gaze upon any who dared look him in the eyes.
With slow, deliberate care Meldrik removed every article of clothing, all the while never taking his gaze from his many tormentors, making certain to savor every moment; every inch that he dragged their screaming, pleading minds closer and closer to the yawning abyss of shame and self-loathing that they created for themselves…until he was completely naked before them.
Some sat frozen in shock; tears streaming and mouth agape or ineptly and quietly mumbling apology after apology at every passage of malformed, disfigured anatomy and every patch of raw, bruised and battered flesh spilling into the light.
“LOOK AT ME!” his voice thundered; directed at those few whom dared attempt hide their sobbing faces from his impenetrable, furious gaze.
“Alright Meldrik…” the Archmaester said softly with a knowing nod behind the now shaking Melrik, who stood defiantly in the light; his clenched, shaking fists locked against his hips, staring into the dark ring of the ampitheater.
“You are all dismissed…” the archmaester calmly continued as the defeated class solemly and silently filed out of the theater, as if in a funeral procession.
Life for Meldrik at Citadel would be forever changed after that moment. No longer would he be sneered at and despised but instead throngs of once venomous adversaries now moved to let him pass, or gave him nods of silent respect, and if a newcomer dared ridicule him they would swiftly and mercilessly be given the beating once reserved only for the future Maester of House Locke.
The remainder of Meldriks time at Citadel was spent basking in his newfound freedom; freedom from the bondage of self and into the infinity of boundless knowledge that the archmaesters and storied libraries had to impart upon his hungry, eager mind.
But the most fascinating studies of all were the studies that Meldrik conducted silently watching from the safety of not being noticed anymore; watching and becoming endlessly enthralled with the invisible strands of leverage that human beings lord over one another; the ceaseless drama of master and servant that lives within the heart of humanity like an insatiable parasite.
To this day Meldrik still finds that one subject – that never possessed an archmaester to teach it, or chain link to mark its mastery – to be the most fascinating of all subjects to study…
The subject of Power.
Relations: Talon’s Reach
Lord Seton Locke: (deceased) Exhausted and ill from exposure and nearly coin-less from months of travel northward from Old Town to secure a Maestership in any noble house that would accept him, Meldrik composed what little was left of his shattered dignity and shuffled wearily toward the young, Talon’s Reach guardsmen.
Fully expecting his request to speak with the available castle steward and inquire about a Maestership to be refused – as it had been so many times before – Meldrik was stunned when the guard asked that an official, notarized parchment stating his claim of Maesterhood be presented before an audience be granted with the Locke nobility.
Although arriving at this juncture with castle officials was something that Meldrik had reached countless times before in his travels across Westeros, he couldn’t contain his enthusiasm at the prospect of simply having a chance to make a case for acceptance before he would inevitably have to be physically searched or remove his cowl; annihilating all hopes of even a nights boarding, let alone a meeting.
“Relinquish your cudgel and follow me, please, Maester Tillinghast” The guardsman ordered after arriving from his short sojourn to the ancient castle while handing Meldrik’s wax-sealed parchments back to him.
“I..uhh..I’m afraid I need it to walk, young soldier… but please, take it. I only ask that you kindly assist me.” Meldrik pleaded while hastily refiling his parchments into a leather binder; nearly regretting the words escaping due to the desperation in his tone.
But he didn’t care how pitiable he appeared now, anything would be preferable over having to return to the drunken hedge-knight that he could no longer afford the protective services of; praying that some scrap of good fortune would provide the means to survive another month’s travel…to somewhere.
With an suspicious glance the guardsman offered his arm to Meldrik for assistance after receiving a nod from his fellow watchman and guided the stooped, cloaked figure to the waiting gathering that stood in the welcoming, orange hearth-fire light just inside the massive oaken doors of Talon’s Reach.
As pleasantries were exchanged Meldrik began to believe it all a blissful dream that he knew would come crashing to a horrific, demoralizing end once he was asked to remove his cloak and warm himself.
It was how it always ended.
As Lord Seton Locke confidently and majestically strode into the orange light – flanked by his charismatic brother Lasham and rosy-cheeked son Banon – Meldrik knew it was indeed a dream; a cruel, horrid fancy that his mind concocted to stave off his eroding hopes and shattered dreams of applying his talents and services to a noble family. A dream that would surely and abruptly end to the usual cacophony of vomiting and hacking that the obnoxious, drunken hedge-knight would be in the habit of spewing in the small, pre-dawn hours.
“Greetings Maester Tillinghast, please, do warm yourself by the hearth-fire…” Lord Seton said in a deep, smokey baritone; motioning to the inviting scene while only briefly slowing his momentum from his approach to the foyer. “Helena, please take the Maester’s cloak from him.”
Before Meldrik could impotently grasp at his cowl it had been taken down by the plump, attentive servant who now reeled in horror, her hands immediately covering her mouth as she vainly attempted to stifle her gasp; a gasp accompanied by a small chorus of breathless exclamations and uncomfortable shuffling. Meldrik slowly pulled his eyes from the floor as he began to reach for his cowl, peering upwards in time to catch Lord Seton’s son, Banon, turn to his Father, whom returned the boy’s glance; thoughtfully moving his eyes over his confused son’s face while furrowing his weathered brow.
“ Ill be taking leave now M’Lord.” Meldrik solemnly muttered “…thank you for your-”
“Wait…” Lord Seton gently protested, his eyes briefly steering to a stupefied Meldrik before returning to his son’s fresh, innocent face and then cautiously back again to the weary scholar “…please, break bread and salt with us, Maester.”
It was in that triumphant instant that Meldrik knew he had finally encountered no mere Lord, but a true Lord; a statesman that placed principal and character before vanity and the trappings of his class. Meldrik also knew that the invitation wasn’t extended out of pity, but out of respect and an innate sense of justice; to set an example to his son and followers. With this simple act of courtesy months of bitterness, intellectual and spiritual desolation were swept away, reinvigorating Meldriks resolve as he confidently set about the business of producing his qualifications to Lord Seton and his unflagging brother, Lasham; in the mothering warmth of the castle hearthfire.
It was as if they had merely continued a conversation that had begun long ago; a profound sense of destiny pervaded as the three passionately – and sometimes heatedly – discussed the political columns of power at work in northern Westeros and the honest appraisal of Lord Seton Locke’s place within it.
Invigorated and inspired after the meeting, Meldrik profusely thanked the servant for his assistance to his guest quarters, closed and locked the heavy oaken door behind him, set his weather-worn traveling gear at the foot of the bed…and wept.
He knew he was home.
But even Meldrik couldn’t have possibly conceived of the depth of devotion to his Lord and house that was forged and fostered within him over the following years. Talon’s Reach had become more than his homestead; more than a symbol of his will to succeed…it had become his soul.
That sense of purpose and destiny he had experienced the very first night of his arrival became a passion for the security and prosperity of Lord Seton and his legacy that only seemed to grow more powerful – and personal – with each passing year.
Meldrik adored his Lord; adored his sense of justice and honor, his restraint and his unwavering dedication to the future he was building for his son, Banon. Meldrik – having never been exposed to a man of such deep character – found a part of himself previously unknown before setting foot within the halls of Talon’s Reach and decided that he would sooner perish than permit Lord Seton’s honor – or that of his family’s – to be tarnished.
It was then that Meldrik’s journey into the underworld of Westeros began. Focusing his will, senses and intellect he ruthlessly delved into the dark undercurrent of society to locate informants, spies and remorseless cadres of poison dealers – mostly by proxy – until his awareness of the subversive forces at work within the northern expanse of Westeros gave him the tools to uncover and counter any treachery that may be aimed at House Locke.
Meldrik has taken Lord Seton’s death as both an affront to his psyche and as a devastating, personal failure in his responsibilities as Maester of House Locke. Despite his nearly unrivaled talents in treating infections, illnesses and injuries, and his obssessive execution of defensive countermeasures to ensure any known poisons be detected and removed, all attempts to both avoid and abate Lord Seton’s condition were met with utter failure; until finally, his beloved master succumbed to his disease and passed.
Knowing that the conditions of Lord Seton’s illness and subsequent death were not usual – a theory he has confided only in Lasham – Meldrik has begun to suspect the use of a virulent and exotic poison that he has not yet discovered; a notion he cannot yet prove or openly maintain until he has gathered enough damning evidence to present to Lord Banon. To reveal what little evidence he does have to his new Lord would only serve to enrage him with no avenue to direct his inevitable wrath; a reaction that may indeed be the intention of the aggressor, given the gathering political shadows in the north.
Just as he did while attending the Citadel, Meldrik now scrutinizes every subtle change in the body language of those around him; hunting for a weakness; a seemingly trivial tardiness in thier duties or nervousness in thier disposition that may reveal but a wrinkle of duplicity; that they may be capable of murdering a Lord.
Despite the realization that adapting to these new circumstances is paramount to House Locke’s survival, Meldrik still sees and feels Lord Seton everywhere; even as going so far as speaking to him in times of solitude, as if his ghost is watching events unfold from beyond.
Meldrik credits Lord Seton with sparing him from a life of moral destitution, poverty and intellectual bankruptcy; in addition to re-awakening his shattered faith in humanity; a debt Meldrik fully intends to repay with undying loyalty…until he draws his last breath.
Lord Banon Locke: Swearing a vow of celibacy to ascend to the station of Maester and being profoundly afflicted with disfiguring birth defects, Meldrik Locke’s chances of siring his own children have all but been annihilated. But this hasn’t prevented Meldrik from adoring Lord Banon as he would his own son. Banon’s security, preparedness for lordship and prosperity was everything to Lord Seton and by fully devoting himself to his Lord’s desires this too became Meldriks object of devotion – and still is.
Now that Lord Banon is master of Talon’s Reach, Meldrik’s almost paternal adoration for Banon has transformed into a deep admiration and reverence; not unlike his sentiment for his deceased father, Lord Seton. A sentiment that wasn’t difficult to make the transition to while witnessing Lord Banon’s adeptness with steel and steed.
While frustrated at times with the pace of young Banon’s pursuit of knowledge he could not ignore the ease and eloquence his future Lord displayed while in the seat of command; an innate charisma, sense of justice and power over men that seemed more a force of nature.
Now that Banon has seized the mantle of lordship, Meldrik fears that the young Lord may be too much like his father, however; nearly unwilling to accept the bitter reality of the political landscape and corrupt principals of his rivals; that his peers and adversaries would abuse their status and power so readily and frequently in their attempts to impose their will – and sometimes tyranny – over others.
But they do and they will.
Meldrik can sense that Banon is slowly accepting this more readily than his father did but is hesitant to press the issue, for Lord Banon must learn these bitter truths for himself. Wise enough to know better than to attempt to shield Lord Banon from every political pitfall that awaits him, Meldrik unceasingly dedicates himself to uncovering and thwarting the most treacherous of them that may lie in the shadows; shadows that seek to envelop the lighted path of Lord Banon’s honor-bound ideals at every turn.
Thankfully there are others at his Lord’s side that share Meldrik’s passion to intercept the dark forces aligning against Talon’s Reach by any means necassary…
Lasham Locke: Kindred spirit, confidant and at times even co-conspirator, Lasham Locke has become Meldriks most trusted friend and fiercest ally within Talon’s Reach. There have been many nights spent in the bowels of House Locke where the two have intensely conversed in hushed, empassioned tones while scouring over maps, comparing intelligence and plotting operations to safeguard Lord Seton’s – and now Banon’s – ascension to greater heights of power and glory.
Aside from Lord Banon there is no one in House Locke that Meldrik places more faith and unquestioning loyalty in than Lasham Locke.
More than merely the skilled executioner and arm of thier shared counter-espionage and intelligence gathering efforts, Lasham is someone Meldrik considers to be the brother he never had; thier connection and implicit understanding of eachother was nearly immediate and has only grown deeper with each passing year.
Functioning in an almost symbiotic fashion, Meldrik immediately researches and confirms all intelligence Lasham attains in the field by processing it through his underworld connections in the north and vast academic talents and tools; to yield yet another weapon Lasham can wield against the enemies of House Locke.
Only Lasham truely knows the depth of Meldriks nearly unbearable sense of personal failure at being unable to cure Lord Seton’s fatal affliction and may be the only one to sense Meldriks growing obsession to uncover the truth behind it.
Squire Devan Mormont: “…Squire Devan; while I realize that botany isn’t nearly as fascinating as the garrison sparring in the courtyard or chambermaids carrying linen down the hallway, I may still ask that you kindly pay attention to the lesson!” Meldrik breathlessly exclaimed while feigning an insulted, exasperated tone; a common tactic he employs to recapture Squire Devan Mormont’s focus.
A tactic that seems to work without fail and a tactic that Squire Devan is undoubtedly aware of in the near incessant – and good-natured – duel of cat and mouse that endlessly plays out between them in virtually every venue in which they interract; with the role of cat being most coveted and most often changing hands, depending on circumstance.
While Meldrik would indeed prefer that Squire Devan direct his attention to the lessons at hand more thouroughly than he does; he is also keenly aware of Devan’s young, impulsive heart possessing only one true passion to the exclusion of all others…
The passion for the sword.
Or perhaps is it the passion for what mastery of the sword may give him; the power and glory to restore honor to House Mormont.
Having resided barely a year at Talon’s Reach before young Devan’s arrival, Meldrik quickly took a liking to the lads good nature and mischevious streak. Upon learning of the youth’s misfortune Meldrik made a concerted effort to instill within the young man – via an almost comical overbearingness – that Talon’s Reach was now his home, so he had better focus himself on properly representing it; hoping that it would foster a sense of worth and purpose within the young man and also coax his mischevious streak to come out of hiding and perhaps nip at the heels of a “Stuffy old Maester”.
And indeed it did.
It was from this early rapport that Meldrik has grown very fond of young Devan, for Meldrik is all too familiar with the burden of carrying around the mantle of social “inferiority” that he suspects that Devan may also carry within him.
Like Banon, Meldrik’s once paternal fondness for Devan has transformed into a deep respect more befitting an adept swordsman of the realm; for Meldrik can sense a powerful destiny arising around this young man that grows more pronounced with each passing season.
The good natured games of cat and mouse are becoming less frequent between the two as a gathering storm on the horizon approaches; thier interractions becoming more tense, more tactical and more focused on subverting the encroaching shadows that seem to beset House Locke on every front.
Meldrik is slowly beginning to believe that perhaps Devan’s behavior in the classroom is a more accurate display of wisdom than it is of restlessness…
That the time for talking is over, it is now time to act.
Red Snow: “Being favored among the elite is but merely a prison, my dear pupils; for there is great power to be had in being fully underestimated and overlooked by your opponents” is a theory that Meldrik commonly and enthusiastically advances during his various lectures on warcraft and political science to the young, eager minds of House Locke; a theory he commonly underscores with dramatic verbal emphasis while unapoligetically leering at Red Snow.
This kind-hearted prodding has done little to abate Red’s apparently innate shame of being bastard born, however; a reality that has more than once thouroughly frustrated Meldrik’s resolve to urge his beloved pupils to embrace thier weaknesses and add them to thier personal arsenals and in doing so – adding them to House Locke’s.
The youth of House Locke occupy a previously barren place in Meldrik’s heart.
Bound by both Maester’s oath and malformations of the flesh, Meldrik is unable to sire his own brood; but has gleefully abandoned himself to his paternal instincts through his station as House Locke Maester.
Red quickly seized a unique residence in these paternal affections despite all of Meldrik’s attempts to remain impartial; he simply could not resist immediately empathizing with the youth being born into a fate beyond his power to control…a scenario Meldrik is all too intimate with.
Careful not to dote on or show too much favortism toward Red in front of the other young adults, Meldrik has on occation tried to blunt the sometimes heavy-handed – but well intended – discpline Lasham dispensed upon Red in his youth when the opportunity presented itself; taking extra precaution to emphasize and remind Red that it is because of his might and prowess with blade and warfare – not something as trivial as being a bastard – that Lasham focuses so thouroughly on correcting him; that with talent such as his it is paramount that it be directed to its ultimate conclusion for the prosperity of House Locke.
That ultimate conclusion has arrived now that Red has ascended from self-conscious, insecure boy to fearsome weapon-master.
The long afternoons Meldrik would stand at the ancient doorways of Talon’s Reach and watch Red and his siblings continue thier ceaseless saga of courtyard battles among the war-torn snow fortresses are but bittersweet lifetimes away from the threatening reality that now converges on House Locke.
The price for failure now will be far more severe that merely having to lay in the frozen white, watching the surviving combatants struggle for survival until the battle inevitably begins anew to the sound of sunny, spirited laughter and the promise of a warm meal by hearthside afterward.
Meldrik now – just as he did on those brisk, lazy afternoons years ago – silently watches Red and his siblings from the ancient portals of Talon’s Reach run out into the snow, beyond sight…
hoping they won’t fall.
Conn Wyndell “Wynd”:
Lyra Oakes Locke: