Like all dopplegangers, Maelik Kileam was abandoned by his “parent” at the age of six, and forced to make his way as a street performer on the Street of Dark Symphonies. Unlike most of his kind however, who could only mimic the people they’d come in contact with, Maelik Kileam was something of a shape-changing artist. He could mix and match different elements of people and personalities, essentially creating new identities. However, sometimes those personalities would take on lives of their own, and essentially become permanent voices in his head.
The first of these personalities was that of Prince Damon II (also called Damon the Last) who features prominently as an antagonist in many Blackspirian poems and epics, a role which calls for an actor who can display both buffoonish bravado, and self destructive tendencies (read “Lawful Stupid”). Maelik Kileam threw himself into researching the role, going so far as to visit the Museum of Trophies where a portrait of the royal family hangs in defeat, and eventually he even commissioned a masterwork longsword designed to look like the wizened-face sword called Navulon which Price Damon II wielded until his death. Eventually his talents gained the attention of Magnari Blackskull, who offered Maelik Kileam a permanent (and lucrative) position in the players of Blackskull Hall. Magnari came from old Nekrossian nobility, but since he favored Illusions to Necromancy, found no place among his kin in the College of Necromancy, and left to found the independent theater Blackskull Hall. He began to bill Maelik Kileam as a “Character Alchemist” and offered him the starring role in the yearly production of Damon II (a 400 year old “Richard III” style play written by the “Shakespeare” of the Lolthians: Jhikspar D’Vosh… and is considered a work championing Lolthian solidarity). A loosely written play open to a lot of interpretation (namely which Lolthian House actually claimed the Sword of Navulon after Damon’s death) each year Magnari creates a bidding war between the Lolthian Houses and each year the winner is favored with a more flattering interpretation of the text in the performance. After doing this for a few years, Maelik Kileam became something of a minor celebrity in the Art World, featuring in a number of other productions, but always returning to his starring role as the Prince each year.
Magnari also made use of Maelik Kileam’s talents and would loan him out to other productions and special performances. One in particular tested the very extremes of Maelik Kileam’s talents, and that was performing on the Black Stage, the opera house funded by the Legion (the collective term for the Undead). He was to take on the persona of the vampire poet Lustromo, who had committed suicide over a century ago by hurling himself from the Dragonbridge into the fiery Chasm, and leaving behind throngs of followers and admirers who felt absolutely lost without him. Lustromo was an apocalyptic nihilist who had written a powerful ballad entitled “Worlddeath”. This song, if performed correctly was a Dirge of Doom (and usually required at least an 8th level Bard to perform correctly) so Magnari actually gifted Maelik Kileam with a magical Doomharp so he would be able to give an accurate performance. There was a prominent marble bust of Lustromo in the lobby of the Black Stage, but Maelik Kileam did more than copy his appearance, he studied Lustomo’s works, met with those who knew him, and practiced, practiced, practiced until his Lustromo impersonation was so good, there were undead who mistook him for the poet returned when he finally gave his opening performance of “Worlddeath” on the Black Stage. The ballad, which is sung almost as a lullaby tells the story of a mighty tree as old as the world itself, whose branches “reached the stars” (whatever those are) and from which all life descended. The elves stepped forth from a flower on its upper branches, while humans burst forth from an apple on its middle branches, gnomes from the toadstools growing around its base, and dwarves crawled forth from out of its roots. That was until the Legion came one day and felled the tree, slaying all life that would rise again as undead… until the Dark Harvester come. Maelik Kileam’s performance sent chills through audience, and it was considered a great success, but long after the show was over, the vampire Lustomo remained behind in Maelik Kileam’s mind and his newest multiple personality.
Everything changed this year for Maelik Kileam after the yearly performance of Damon II. And it all stemmed from the major changes Magnari had made to the performance. The original story goes that after the defeat of Damon II’s forces, he fled with his followers through Kazak’Dur (an old dwarf city) and into the Underdark, where he was pursued by the four finest assassins from the four Lolthain Houses (D’Vosh, J’Zemmel, Thathis, and Icorith) who caught the prince in the dark and slew him. Though the text never specifies which Lothian delivered the killing blow, and ultimately claimed the Sword of Navulon, each Lolthian House has at one time or another claimed ownership of the sword (though none have ever produced it). This year Magnari added a mysterious fifth assassin, and additionally instructed Maelik Kileam to really stretch his acting ability and attempt to play Damon II not foolishly, but heroically… a true challenge but one that truly intrigued Maelik Kileam, who was fascinated by the concept of “Good”. The other major change was the interpretation of Damon II’s last line of the play. In the past Damon is considered to be a ghost when he delivers the line “I go to live with golden dragons” (apparently gold dragons take on a sort of “angelic” role in old human pagan religions, now long defunct). In this performance however, it is implied that Damon II escaped the Lolthian assassins, and “lived to return another day” like most good classic villains.
However… the Lolthians didn’t seem to appreciate Magnari Blackskull’s interpretation of Jhikspar’s work, particularly House Icorith, who had won the yearly bid for the favorable performance. Maelik Kileam never learned the culprits, but the night after their first performance, someone set Blackskull Hall on fire, killing many of the cast, including Magnari himself, and scattering the rest like so much ash. Maelik Kileam escaped the fire mostly unharmed, but now found himself without a home or a job, and though there is still a great deal of good will towards him in the Art World community, nevertheless no one seems to want to offer him work currently, for fear of angering the Lolthians… so Maelik Kileam has had to try other methods of employment.
His fascination with heroism has led the doppelganger to seek real life adventure and experiences (or perhaps he’s researching a new role as well), and as such he has become a mercenary, seeking what work he can in Grumchucker’s Square, the neighborhood of Blackspire known for its mercenary guildhouses (and pit fighters). While there he met a traveling Lolthian alchemist named G’eldatar D’Vosh who actually recognized him from a performance of Damon II a few years ago, and was something of a fan. The two became fast friends (there is no end to the excitement one can have with an alchemist as a drinking companion), and in time the dark elf brought him along to The Bloody Coin (a local mercenary’s tavern in the Square) to drink with some other mercenaries he knew: Melaria the medusa, Marv the troll, and Solina the vampire. Maelik Kileam can be very entertaining when he wants to be, and even more recently the group has been joined by a blue dragon named Stormtooth that somehow Melaria convinced to tag along. Needless to say, having a blue dragon for a drinking companion now means their crew always commands the seat of honor when they visit The Bloody Coin.
Among the mercenaries of the Square, Maelik Kileam also learned an orcish war chant that would serve as a bardic song if he even needed to inspire courage in his fellows (though the chant most often is a drinking song sung over copious mugs of ale by humanoid patrons)
Raise up your sword
Lift up you shield
Join your brothers on the battlefield!
Seek out the enemy
Wherever he lies
We’ll keep on fighting till one of us dies!
- Qaxaq & Vosov – two doppelganger actors who were also part of the Blackskull Troupe (though lacking Maelik Kileam’s creativity). They now are forced to work as street performers and resorting to their old con gags.
- Arxix Icorith – a Lolthian actor for Blackskull who actually enjoyed their performance of Damon II, and was on the outs with his family anyway. A fantastic liar, Arxix now makes his way as a professional gambler and can usually be found at the gambling tables at the Queen of Blades in the Grand Bazaar district.
- Maestro Phalagiari – a bard lich and proprietor of the Black Stage, who was the greatest source for Maelik Kileam’s research of Lustromo, and thoroughly enjoyed his performance of Worlddeath. It was he who told Maelik Kileam that Lustromo once famously said “Only slaves live truly authentic lives, for we should all be in the permanent grip of absolute terror…” before throwing himself into the Chasm.