Motivation: Refocus the Realm on its core ideals
Anima Banner: A crackling blast of lightning briefly outlining incomplete mandala patterns.
Cathak Meladus believes that his father was a merchant who died before he was born because that is what he has always been told. This is a lie; Meladus is the product of an affair between his mother, an Exalted instructor at the House of Bells, and a famed patrician armorer named Mountain Opal. Thanks in small part to his disinclination toward personal introspection and in larger part to his generally trusting nature, Meladus has never suspected the truth.
Meladus had a charmed childhood, marked by luck, opportunity, and optimism. He grew up as much on the grounds of the House of Bells as at his family villa near Arjuf and conceived of a great passion for all things military while watching the cadets train and drill. From the time he could walk, Meladus believed that he had a calling in the Imperial Army, while a visit to the Opal family armory refined the focus of that passion in an unexpected direction.
Staring up at the masterwork suits of articulated plate, the battle-pitted prize shields and the rows of blankly stoic legionnaire helmets, Meladus became enraptured with the craftsmanship involved in their construction. He declared that this would be his calling, to enable the victory of the Realm through the work of his hands rather than the edge of his blade. Mountain Opal smiled, quietly proud. His mother was equally amused and annoyed. Neither realized the seriousness of the boy’s intent. Meladus’s Exaltation was, oddly enough, so uneventful as to be remarkable. He was chosen by the Dragons one night at primary school while a fierce storm off the Northern Seas lashed the coastline near Chanos where the academy was located. While other students slept or attempted to sleep, Meladus dreamed of soaring through the depths of a vast dark storm, buffeted by the wind and outlined in brilliant arcs of lightning. A particularly loud crack of thunder woke him, and it seemed for a moment as though he’d swallowed the storm from his dreams. Surges of energy ran from his stomach through his limbs. Confused, he woke up one of the other students to ask if he looked ill but was met only with wide-eyed staring, pointing and babbling. It was the same with the next few schoolmates he roused, until the entire barracks was soon awake, staring and whispering. Having finally realized what was probably going on, the youth went off to find the barracks monitor and calmly asked what he should do.
Shortly after Exalting, Meladus realized that it would be a waste of the talents of a Prince of the Earth to enter a career as a crafter of merely mortal armor. Rather than enrolling at the House of Bells, as he had always expected he would, he instead applied to the Heptagram to train as an artificer. There, Meladus became something of a black sheep student, uninterested in theory or laboratory work. He focused as heavily as his grades would allow on field applications and topics relevant to his intended career as a sorcerer-technician. This made him deeply unpopular with fellow students, who viewed him as an unrefined muscle-head, and also with his instructors, many of whom took umbrage at his open disinterest in and disdain for the school’s primary curriculum. He managed to scrape through to graduation, mostly through hard work. After secondary school, Meladus traveled to Thorns to visit with his sister and observe the legions in the aftermath of the Battle of Mishaka. It was there that his blissfully optimistic world-view finally ran face-first into the ugly realities of the Realm and the Threshold beyond. When Meladus questioned the tactical blunders of the campaign, the veteran soldiers laughed. During off-hours, they were happy to buy him drinks and regale him with tales of incompetent officers, half-hearted attempts to integrate with the native forces, lost orders, local resentment and all the ways in which the campaign had generally been a fiasco. The waste, pointlessness, and mismanagement of the Thorns campaign shocked and outraged the young Exalt, but that was nothing compared to the horror that followed.
Meladus watched as reports rolled in of the advance of Juggernaut and the army of undead and Anathema that marched in the great corpse fortress’s shadow, and he prudently withdrew alongside most of the garrison. His older sister, Cathak Kreys, stayed behind to gather intelligence on the Mask of Winters’s forces. She never made it out. Meladus is now a junior officer in the Cathak legions. Though he is able to work on the First Age war machines that inspired him throughout his youth, he takes little pleasure from his labors. Now that his eyes are open to the endemic corruption of the Realm, he can see little else. A devout Melaist, Meladus believes that it falls on the uncorrupted youth of the Realm to reclaim its ideals from the self-interested politicians who are preparing to sacrifice the bastion of all that is civilized and good in Creation on the altar of their own greed. As quietly as he can, he searches for allies.