Against the Darkness
It was a bleak autumn morning as the clerical procession moved through the pass. The Spineridge Mountains loomed on either side of the winding track, and unfriendly eyes watched the travelers as they moved slowly toward Escondale. At the signal of the horn, the marauders descended upon the outnumbered pilgrims, leaving dead and wounded bodies in their wake. The survivors, led by the Madera Briann Vascone, formed a meager remnant and struggled onward to their destination. Faith in the Raven Queen and her command of all fate was all that sustained the ragged group as they arrived at the Escondale Cloisters. Madera Briann’s faith also supported her over the next nine months before she bore a son into the world, the last reminder of a rapacious bandit attack.
The boy was raised by the Cloister over the next three years, where the Raven Queen’s servants treated him with varying degrees of indifference and conviction. Some saw him as a foul blot on the Madera’s otherwise laudable service, while others viewed him as a product of good from an otherwise terrible event. What his mother’s perspective and attitude were, few could say – but no one could deny that Ghent was always found participating in the Divine Ceremonials of the goddess from the time he could walk and lisp the Queen’s Canticles. After three years, Madera Briann Vascone took her son without preamble and pledged him wholly to the service of the Raven Queen, revoking her claim of motherhood and placing his feet on a path of lifelong service to the goddess.
Having been schooled in the catechisms and doctrine of the church, Ghent was given to an order known as the Raven’s Wings at the age of nine. Madera Briann assembled her novices and the members of the Cloister to witness Ghent’s vow-taking and the boy was taken in hand with several others of the city to be trained at Shadowhouse, the hidden monastic center of the Raven’s Wings. After only three years of instruction, he passed his first of the three tests, the Trial of the Eye, one of the few to do so before his coming of age at fifteen. While not the youngest to ever accomplish this, Ghent did realize this event was a promising beginning to his years in Shadowhouse.
An inquisitive and highly energetic boy, Ghent’s career at the monastery was marked by somewhat more than the usual number of rash escapades. However, a year after his Trial of the Eye, an unknown cult of assassins and evil clerics discovered and assaulted Shadowhouse. Ghent was injured but survived the attack and the subsequent escape through the wilds, reuniting with the fraction of survivors after seven weeks as a pale shadow of the healthy boy he had previously been. Only 52 of the original 207 members of Shadowhouse came through what would be called the Purge of Darkness. Many would see it as a purifying ordeal for the Wings, proof that the Raven Queen had fates of greatness in store for all the survivors, of whom Ghent was the youngest.
Eventually Shadowhouse was re-founded at another location and the Raven’s Wings gathered their strength once more. No student stays at Shadowhouse past the age of twenty, and many must attempt the Trials of Claw and of Wing years later. Ghent, however, was among the few who passed the Trials before his fledging and assignment. Like all those who leave Shadowhouse, his duties were selected at random to ensure the guidance of the Raven Queen. Ghent was therefore instructed to return to the Escondale Cloisters, where his mother Briann was now Madera Prima.
It would be months before mother and son spoke to each other outside of their performance of duties.
The catalyst for Ghent’s exploits arrived in the form of Signor Corvin Avée, a Raven Wing who came to Escondale in pursuit of a maddened necromancer. Enlisting Ghent’s assistance in his search, he eventually destroyed the dark magician’s powers and immolated his remains. For his skill and ingenuity, Ghent was officially Raised to the rank of a First Order Devotee of the Raven’s Wings. In a rare display of favor, the Raven Queen’s blessing was tangibly seen by a multitude of witnesses at his Raising, and Ghent became an Avenger of the Raven Queen under Corvin’s supervision.