Melanie Catherine Howe (born 31 March YE 850, Nottingham) is an East Mercian civil servant who mainly works with the Queendom’s Hycath Salvation Program as an advisor and mentor. A Baethla herself, with a wealth of knowledge on Hycathic magic, she has stated that her aim is “to build a bridge between the city and its Hycathic community in the service of growing and achieving together.”
Early life and career
Melanie Howe was born in what is now the Inner Circle to Geraldine Howe, an accountant, and Roger Barstow, a charity worker. As a child, she often accompanied her father on his volunteering efforts around East Mercia, and would sometimes play viola in a small string band to entertain those assembled. She has vividly recalled playing at an event entitled ‘The Symposium for Light and Grace’, organised by a team of volunteers including her father and Dr. Christopher Aldridge.
Geraldine Howe was a contributor and occasional advisor for the Nottingham Hycath Salvation Program; she enrolled her daughter in its youth wing. Melanie was educated in her craft according to the Program’s ethos of ‘benevolent control’, which strongly influenced her worldview. After graduating, she spent a year working in schools across the Queendom as a visiting mentor and often gave assemblies on Hycathism as interpreted by the Program.
Howe studied Politics, Philosophy and Economics at the University of Clifton, was a high achiever during her school years and graduated in YE 872 with a Double First. She had become convinced as a student that she had a duty to her Queendom to move forward the dialogue on Hycathic affairs in regard to how they could benefit and compromise with non-Hycathic affairs, as well as be applied for various advisory positions at Duchy and Queendom level. When none of these applications led to a job offer, she turned to journalism as an outlet and successfully landed a researcher’s position at the Immaculate Courier.
Howe remained employed by the Immaculate Courier for several years, gradually gaining experience and being asked to advise on stories where a working knowledge of Hycathism would benefit the piece, particularly concerning social issues. By this point, the Promised Land Campaign was in full swing, and these issues had become something of a political hot potato, only fuelling Howe’s sense of duty. Her editors at the paper recognised her convictions, and she was given the chance to write opinion pieces which had grown into a weekly column by the time King John II came to the throne in YE 877.
Howe identified something of a kindred spirit in John, feeling that his rhetoric of compromise and looking forward aligned with her personal politics. Her column took a supportive stance towards him as he settled into his reign, often courting controversy and sparking heated debate, causing her detractors to accuse her of rationalising the extreme policies of a tyrant. One notable incident occurred in YE 878, following the death of Queen Isobel in an attack by Will Scarlett’s rebels. Howe wrote a passionate piece in which she expressed the opinion that “true harmony with our beleaguered Isle will never be achieved with the use of fire for immoral destruction […] it is our responsibility as Hycathae to deny the rebels our fire, and for Hycathi to support us”. Her home was later firebombed and spray-painted with ‘MORAL DESTRUCTION’, a crime widely believed to have been orchestrated by supporters of Scarlett.
In the following months, Howe reconnected with the Hycath Salvation Program, where she was offered an advisory position in recognition of her achievements during the Promised Land Campaign. Feeling ever more convinced of her duty to East Mercian society, she accepted. In YE 880, after two years of service, she began mentoring small groups of Hycathae. Howe has occasionally given advice for fictional publications and, in early YE 882, appeared on the fifth episode of Dr. Annette Lynton’s The Clash of the Cousins podcast, in which she and Lynton discussed the life and legacy of Lucy of Bolingbroke and her contributions to the First Hycath War.