From the Ashes of Angels
Monique Iron Raven
Human Female, warrior
Dark hair, dark leather Armor, sharp sword….
Monique (the) Iron Raven:
Monique was born to unassuming parents in an unassuming town or the edges of Devonshire. It was a happy life…a simple life.
That life all changes when I was not yet four winders. I woke from a most surreal dream, or rather nightmare…of my parents deaths. I called for mom crying from bed…but there was no response. Nor was there a response from father. I tucked my head under the covers in fear and cried myself back to sleep. Eventually the next morning I awoke to the sound of the dog whimpering. I crept through the house in search of them. I found them laid out on the harth. They were stripped mostly bare, throats slashed, and a variety of cuts across their bodies. There were stubs of candles scattered around the room, both black and red.
The next night, I had the nightmare again and most nights thereafter. It pained me each time, and I would wake up in dead sweats. Slowly over many years I learned to cope with the dream and would remain asleep through it for longer, eventually I would see the whole scene set up and unfold…orchestrated by a cloaked individual. However, I would always wake when it came to the point of seeing their killer’s face.
A day or two after my parents’ deaths I was found huddled in the corner. I was to an orphanage in a bigger town.
Early on, at the orphanage I learned to be tough, merciless, brutal even. Surviving in an orphanage without the means to support the number of mouths it had. The adults would whisper that I was a problem child and that “I did not get along with the other children”. Because of my slight frame and small size the other children thought me helpless and week, one to be preyed upon for my blanket…my food, and because of the nightmares…….always the nightmare. At first I was kind, generous even…sympathetic to their plight. But they would just want..take…more. I would not be a victim. I drew the line, they crossed it. I found an strength I didn’t know I had and “corrected” them…
One day Brother Hwan came to visit the orphanage. He’d been asked to come at one of the adult’s request to see a troubled child blamed (rightly so) for various “incidents” at the orphanage. He witnessed some of the children’s cruelty towards me and my sudden retribution…total and complete…before he could intervene on my behalf. As he would later relate to me, he had been in total shock and went to see to the three older boys now laying on the ground while I ran off. He almost didn’t recognize me when the staff eventually dragged a quiet demure girl into the meeting room where he waited in later.
And so it was that I was sent to stay at a temple to the Raven Queen…because they would take me. I was 8, or maybe 10. I don’t really know. What I do know is that it is there that I found my first truly restful nights. No longer did the nightmare of my parents’ deaths haunt me every night. I served well in the temple. They thought manual labor would help take some of the bite out of me and quickly tasked me with cleaning dishes, mopping floors. I would sneak into the temple proper whenever I could. It was there that I befriended Alexi, the chief acolyte in charge of the temple proper/shrine area. She became something of a big sister to me. She’d first said that that the temple prober “was no place to be playing”…though I wasn’t playing, but that I could come in to clean whatever I could reach. It wasn’t long until I’d run out of things at floor level…and she came in to find me dangling from the main chandelier trying to polish it.
More and more I tended towards cleaning the temple area proper. For there, amongst the images and relics or the Raven Queen, did I find my greatest peace. I spent many hours amongst the balancing along the beams of the vaulted ceiling cleaning the chandeliers or else climbing and to the height of the statues. And so it went…I was given access to come and go from the temple proper and I could be found there in one corner or another, Happy and at Peace.
Then came my 14th birthday, and everything changed again.
The day itself was not remarkable. There was a special desert for me with the midday meal and some simple gifts from the Brothers and Sisters. The gifts were nice, but nothing out of the ordinary….except for one. It stood out for two reasons.
1. It was rather unique. A ‘statue’ of a raven in flight made of polished blackened steel. It was more than a statue however. When you cradled it’s body in one hand, palm up, the wings were sculpted in such a way they wrapped protectively around your hand. And if you gently squeezed the legs and stiletto like blade would extend out from between its beak, as I found out by accident. I clipped my left hand the first time it shot out.
2. No one knew who gave it to me. At first the “adults” din’t want let this “child of theirs” to have it…but eventually they did. I don’t know what or who changed their minds, but they did tellme in reverent tones that it “was a gift for me…though we don’t know from where…you should keep it.” And so I did.
That NIGHT, after a modest day of celebration, my nightmares returned in FULL. They were clear as day to me, yet in a surreal and ethereal world. Energy and lights darted between the candles and coursed through the room…and for the first time I didn’t wake when face to face with my parents’ killer. Instead I suppressed the fear, the sorrow, the pain…I was finally able to look up and see his face within the shadow of his cloak, teeth glinting in a wicked grin….vicious dagger dripping blood, as he loomed over their bodies.
The next day, I took to cleaning high up amongst the beams of the temple proper in search of some piece. A man came in to stand before the alter directly below me. Something about him caught and held my attention for a moment, but I couldn’t put a finger on it. Normally I paid little head to the pilgrims seeking their private moments of reflection. But something about him was odd. Maybe it was the way he carried himself, maybe it was how he didn’t seem to actually pay interest to the usual icons normal visitors did…but rather quietly scanned the room, almost like he was looking for something. It was a fleeting impulse then it was gone and the man went to leave.
Just before the door he stopped and turned sensing my presence. I must have made some noise or something for he looked up and flashed me a knowing grin and turned away. In an instant I knew. I did not think…I acted. I darted along the beam I was on, vaulted out into open air…grabbing the chain of a chandelier as I flew. I landed on my feet inches behind him, he turned….his face turning to a grin of wicked satisfaction. I drove the stiletto through his throat, wiping the smirk from his face.
An acolyte had entered the far end of the chamber and saw the whole thing, from my vault from the rafters to the pierced throat. He quickly scooped me up and ushered me away. Once my story was heard, and I was divinely tested, the clerics verified it and my intent…I was taken away and hidden.
Afterwards Alexi revealed to me that nightmares were divinely inspired….given to me by our Goddess so that I would know what needed to be done. They had known this for some time, but since the nightmare hadn’t manifested again they had believe they had been just to get me to the temple, and perhaps someday a reason for it would be revealed. And today it had. The man I’d just killed was the leader of an Orcus cult, who’d just arrived in town the day before.
They gave me a choice, continue on here and serve the Goddess by helping care for the temple…or use this gift and train to serve the Raven QUEEN as one of her guards.
…and so it was that at the young age of 14 I began formal training in the unforgiving art of death, as a warrior for the church, for our Goddess….The Raven Queen. Yesterday I turned 17, and under the full moon I was baptized into the Brotherhood. Alexi proclaimed me…Monique (the) Iron Raven.
My training now complete, I’m being sent into the world to do my part.