Thursday, October 24, 2013

Inquest: Holly Ray Clowney [13th Age]

Holly Ray is the daughter of farmers living many leagues outside of Old Town.  She never thought much of her Ma and Pa's life before they had her or the hard yet peaceful life they all led together, tending their farm.  Holly Ray simply knew that her parents quietly loved her and they kept her safe and that was more than enough.  

It never seemed odd to her that on the nights of the full moon, her Pa would lower Ma into an old well that had long ago dried up or that he and Holly Ray would lock themselves in the old root cellar for the night.  For all three nights, in fact.

And so things went this way for the first fourteen years of her life.  Until the storms rolled in for close to two weeks straight, flooding the nearby creek and even causing  the old well to fill, once again.  She watched her Ma and Pa argue about it, until finally her Pa relented as Ma begged him to help her, that thing would be fine.  Hours later a monster out of nightmares ripped through the root cellar door, Pa shielded Holly Ray from the creature that faced them, while begging it to get away from them.  But, Holly Ray was overcome with fear and somehow set the creature ablaze...with her mind.  She couldn't tell if Pa was more worried about her or the monster as she fell into unconsciousness from using her newfound ability.

Holly Ray never got to ask him though, the next day, she woke up riding in the back of a wagon, driven by a soldier, headed for parts unknown.  She could just barely make out her family's farm far in the distance.  Her skin was covered in strange tattoos and she had a terrible headache that wouldn't go away.  A man in a dress uniform sat across from her, and when she asked where her family was, he sadly responded that something terrible had happened and it was best not to dwell on it.  When she questioned him about her parents, he sadly shook his head and told her to think about her future, it could be bright indeed, if she wanted it to be.

Holly Ray had found her way into the hands of Colonel Clevon Imlikin, who told her he was a member of the Grey Masters.  That night as they made camp, he explained that he had been close to her farm the previous night, when her own terror had allowed her to burn the monster that attacked her and her father.  But while she had saved herself, her Ma and Pa had not been so lucky.  Further, he told her that if she would listen and work hard he would train her to use her power.  He also explained, that one day if she were disciplined enough, she might even be invited to join the Grey Masters.  Finally, he explained that the tattoos on her body were designed to keep her from using her newly discovered ability.

It was then that one his men brought a dagger to her throat, drawing blood and the Colonel immediately commanded Holly Ray to burn the man.  And to horror, she did, even though her head exploded with stars and the tattoos boiled off of her skin, she burned the man to ash.  As Holly Ray collapsed to the ground, Colonel Imlikin quietly explained that there were many in this world who hunted beings like them.  But he would prepare her, and then exhaustion claimed her.

Then next day, the Colonel, who looked at her with both awe and a tinge of fear, explained that she was a Torch and that she was part of a select few of beings born with the power of the mind.  When she asked if she was a magician, Clevon scoffed, telling her she was something much more than a mixed blooded mongrel or greedy scholar and quite possibly the key to the 14th Age.

The Colonel proved to be a fair yet stern teacher and he trained Holly Ray in all matters of subject, self-defense and most importantly her power.  She learned that the Colonel was a Spyglass and his senses were far greater than most and even extended into the past and sometimes the future, but most importantly they allowed him to find other's that shared their gift.  Finally, after nearly two years, the Colonel was set to present her to the other Grey Masters and he told her how proud he was of her.  And deep down, Holly Ray was proud, as well.

They were staying in a village outside of Horizon, at a small Inn run by a couple who doted on Holly Ray, as Clevon  prepared for her introduction.  They ate a wonderful meal of venison and potatoes and she laughed at the old man's stories until it was time for bed.  But it was also the first night of the full moon and Holly Ray's other heritage, on her mother's side, finally expressed itself.  That night, as the clouds parted and the full autumn moon hung high in the night sky, Holly Ray transformed into a werewolf just like her Ma.  There were no survivors amongst the carnage of the following morning, the old man, his loving wife and even the Colonel fell victim to Holly Ray, the monster and the Torch.

As dawn bathed the holocaust in harsh light, a group of men in red and black armor quietly approached her, they made no move to attack, and one of them simply took her up in his arms and cradled her there.  And so, Holly Ray let herself be quietly taken to the man who contracted the Rom Pharr to Find her, Baron Voth.

Voth was ecstatic he had snatched her from the clutches of the Grey Masters.  The Baron gleefully told her that she was essential to his Obsidian Gambit whenever he visited her in her cell whenever the moon was full.  Each time he promised her that she would do great things one day.  For him.  And then he would bring in some poor, terrified fool to keep her company until the moon would rise.

When the Company of Badgers found her in her cell, she tried to warn them to leave her, that the change was only a few days off, but they insisted she come with them.  As they clashed with guards during the final push of their escape, it almost seemed like Holly Ray stepped in front of the will o' the wisp that attacked them and stole her life away.

But a werewolf is far harder to kill than that, and Cash the Bard warned his group that odds were that she would return to the living at the first light of the full moon.  And so the group prepares, waiting to help a young girl and hoping to protect themselves in the process.

Meanwhile, in the city of Necropolis, Baron Voth ponders the possibilities of Holly Ray's future, a future that a sad, lonely girl believes will never be her own.
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