|Parent||Alain & Bethany Johns|
Clarion Johns was born in 1980 AL in a small hovel on the outskirts of Vilpettee in Marais to Alain and Bethany Johns. He was raised by his loving parents as an only child. As former magic users and foreigners, his parents were hermits and outcasts. This instilled in Clarion a wanting to meet people and break down social walls that seemed to keep him from those on the 'inside'. In his early years, he would enjoy traveling into Cresentcrest with his parents, slanged “McHowlette Marsh” for the McHowlette clan is the local governing the city. Clarion always enjoyed the music and hustle and bustle of the big town. He mostly enjoyed the sounds of the city and the sweet music that filled Marish streets. It was this enjoyment that lead to him begging his parents to buy him a lute and to take him to the big city more often. Thinking that his studies of magic would be impacted, his father never took him to the city again. His dreams of writing an epic song and moving a crowd were temporarily crushed but not forgotten.
Until one fateful day a few years later he was washing clothes at the crick behind his house. It was completely quiet all by himself until he heard a tune being whistled. It caught his ear and it would forever be a song he would never forget. When finally he could see where the sounds was coming from a man on a raft was just passing by. The first thing Clarion noticed was the finely crafted lute on his back then he noted the cowboy hat on his head, that he was a dark skinned man who otherwise looked unassuming. Clarion had to ask him what that enchanting melody was and (of course) the man said Oh, Sherrywine. The man then pulled the lute from his back and began to play a rambunctious version of the song and Clarion whistled along. The man had such a good time that he gave the lute to Clarion, who was so surprised that he couldn't take his eyes off it, going over every nook and cranny of the lute. When he finally looked to thank the man he noticed the man was nowhere to be found. All that was left of the mysterious stranger was his finely crafted, dark wood lute. When Clarion flipped the lute over to inspect the bottom he noticed an inscription that had been craved in the bottom. “You owe me one, son.”
Clarion ran to the boat house and hid the lute amongst the rafters. Every day after dinner he would take a boat out and told his parents he was going to practice on shooting targets with his crossbow, however, what he was really doing was getting far enough away that his parents couldn't hear him practicing his lute, which he would play for hours. One night he heard a croak and a splash from the water, he threw down his lute, grabbed for his crossbow but by the time he could load it and raise it he saw a young man in a boat paddling up to him. Clarion introduced himself and the boy introduced himself as Guilliman. Clarion told him "as long as you don’t tell my father I’m here, you can stay." Guilliman said “I won't tell if you won't.” After they spit into their hands and shook, Clarion continued to play and play and play while the young boy sung along. The next night when Clarion came back Guilliman was there waiting for him. This went on for years, sometimes they would even boat to Cresentcrest and play from their boat while some of the old-timers would play from the docks. Finally one evening after Clarion had helped his pregnant mother with all the chores, he went out to practice. Bethany had told Clarion he was growing into a strapping young man and told him she loved him and to have fun practicing. Clarion had forgotten to bring his crossbow and Alain found it and decided to bring it out to his forgetful son. That was when Clarion was discovered practicing music while he should’ve been practicing shooting. Alain in his fury fired the crossbow into the lute, snapping the strings and the neck of the lute and nearly hit Clarion. Then they both heard Bethany yell “Alain, I think they are coming,” from the house. Alain demanded that Clarion be right behind him or he’d have forgotten the face of his father. After Clarion said goodbye to Guilliman, he went to follow his father back but half way home he decided to leave and see the world.
First stop, Vilpettee. Clarion begged that the tavern owner let him stay there for the evening and promised that, as soon as he got his lute fixed, he would play night after night to pay back the tavern keeper. Finally, with a smile and plea, the keeper gave in and agreed. The next day Clarion went to find a shop to fix his lute. He walked through the door of Pipes of Passion and saw a short, bearded man behind the counter. Clarion showed him the lute and asked if there was any way he could fix it. The dwarf told Clarion “Sorry lady, it’s nay fixable, but I can sell you a new one. I have but a wee collection though.” After Clarion strummed through the small collection to find the right one, he showed it to the store owner. Dwarf said that it was a mighty fine one and it would cost him 100 gold goats. Then the store bell chimed as someone walked in. It wasn’t until that moment Clarion realized he had no money. Clarion was frustrated and began yelling that 100 gold was an outrageous price and they he needed the lute to pay back the tavern keeper. The dwarf said "no gold no go", refusing to budge. Clarion placed the lute down and stormed out past the new comer who looked vaguely like the tavern keeper. Clarion left and sat outside watching all his dreams slip away. The man walked out with a large sack of money in his hand and saw Clarion. He offered to buy Clarion the lute, but in exchange he had to help the man out. Clarion was so ecstatic he didn’t even care what the job was. He thanked the man, the second son of House McHowlett, Michael McHowlette, took the money, and promised him to meet behind the tavern that evening. Clarion pranced in all smiles, placed the gold on counter, grabbed his new lute and left to go pay off his debt to the tavern owner.
That night, after playing with the tavern band, Clarion met Michael, who took him to a camp outside of town, where he introduced Clarion to a rebel group that were conducting stealth missions into Cresentcrest to steal supplies so they could feed the locals: no casualties, in-and-out sort of jobs, and Michael was their leader. Clarion agreed to work with them immediately and was equipped with a large crossbow, leather armor with a wolf’s head on the chest, and a dagger. He was the watch man and was proud to help and feed the locals. He really got to show off his skills when they were being chased by the Granville guard. He took a single breath and recited what his father taught him to recite:
“I do not aim with my eye. He who aims with his eye has forgotten the face of his father; I aim with my hand.
I do not shoot with my hand. He who shoots with his hand has forgotten the face of his father; I shoot with my mind.
I do not kill with my gun. He who kills with his gun has forgotten the face of his father, I kill with my heart.”
In that time he had rapidly killed three horses in the span of a few seconds, his hands a blur as he fired, loaded and shot true. Enough to create a wall of horses to prevent the Marauders from being followed. After that, the McHowlette Marauders sought to learn Clarion's crossbow technique. Clarion refused but said he would happily be support fire for however long they needed him.
His technique really drew the attention of a red haired woman amongst the Marauders, Lory Maleh McHowlette, niece of Michael McHowlette. There was a sense of competition amongst them, as the two youngest, to prove themselves. This competition is what brought them closer and bloomed into Clarion’s first love. For a few years there were all blade and crossbow: defending the Marauders as they held up deluxe stage coaches, and stole from large cities and manors, howling the whole time along with the Marauders, and after they would share a tent together. It wasn’t until one day Clarion put together that the men would take the gains into town and would come back with lots of gold. Also on a few night-raids, Clarion started hearing about important people being killed during the night-raids. He told Lory about his concerns as they laid together one night, he went to sleep and then was awoken later that evening by the leader and asked to follow him and the men into a local underground shelter.
Clarion was chained up, and Michael had his men remove some paneling in the roof and a beam of moonlight covered the band-leader. The man then fell to his knees, clenching and howling in agony as his bones were realigned and his jaw began to lengthen. He began to sprout hair everywhere. After his lycanthropic transformation was complete, the man-wolf hybrid walked toward Clarion saying “welcome to the real McHowlette Marauders.” After that, Clarion blacked out and woke up back in his tent next to Lory. He woke her and told her about this brutal nightmare he had. Lory told him not to worry and then distracted him with a kiss and more.
Clarion however had not forgotten about the shady deaths and gold that followed the Marauders. Clarion hatched a plan to get out of the situation and wanted to bring Lory along. So that evening while she and him where waiting by the cart, Clarion attempted to convince her to run away with him and the cart. When she refused and started to call for the other men, Clarion road off into the night and didn’t look back.
He decided he’d had enough of Marais and fled west until he reached the river in his favorite song and follow it to a city: a wonderful city he’d dreamt of for so long. A month later, he was walking by a farm and decided to rest outside it for the evening. That night he dreamt of going into the barn of the farm he rested next to. Something was wrong though: he could smell more and taste more in the air. His stride was all wrong. He smelled something wonderful in one of the stalls and when he got there he began devouring it. The next thing he knew there was a slight piercing sensation and he turned and an old man was yelling but Clarion couldn’t make out the words. The man smelled pungent and kept pressing forward. So Clarion turned to the back of the barn loped forward, pushed against the planks, and broke through. Clarion woke up with sweating amongst the dew. As he travelled on, he innately found caverns and Shelter Trees every once and awhile and found he slept peacefully most nights of his journey. Finally, he arrived at Sherryton.
He spent 9 years gathering stories from all over this big city from sailors, innkeepers, elves, and turning them into hero-ing songs. He managed to sleep in fancy hotels and assort with all sorts of finer classy folk, wooing them with his accent, his smile, and his songs. Until one fateful evening a woman walked into his life. She was a small girl that stood usually tall. She was as pretty as a dragon spice plant and just as exotic. Amongst all the gruff men and dirty furniture of this run down tavern, she stood unblemished as she caught the beat of the music. Then she began to dance: whirling movements Clarion had never seen before or thought humanly possible. She had entranced him and after she was done she was gone. Clarion threw his lute over his shoulder and dashed into the alley catching a glimpse of her scarf as she disappeared around the corner. He was running after her, chasing as if it meant his life. He followed her all the way to the docks and she fled up the gang plank. He was determined so he waited for the opportune moment, snuck on board, and waited until he was inevitably found.
Clarion waited two days avoiding being caught trying to sneak into whirling woman’s room. He was unable to make it in. Eventually he had to sleep. When he woke up he was on deck. Staring down the sword of Shang Tok, the Noddish Dragon Spice merchant. Clarion quickly declared he could help sing songs to distract and entertain the men on crew. Also he was fairly perceptive and could serve in the crow’s nest as well. Shang Tok was not convinced and right before his men were about to throw Clarion over board Shang Tok’s daughter, the whirling woman, yelled no, convincing her father that Clarion was an excellent musician. Nothing slipping past Shang Tok, and he asked how she knew. His daughter confessed that she had slipped about to get some entertainment before they left. Her father furiously scolded her but allowed Clarion to stay. He played music all day, he was stuck on the crow’s nest all night, and every chance he had he would talk the ear off of that enchanting dancer who was 15 years his younger. Occasionally she would whistle up to him and he would strum as she danced on the bow of the ship, intoxicating him with her rhythm and movements, until one night she finally whispered her name up to him. It carried on the breeze of the sea: Shang Yungzi|Yunzi]]. Shang Tok didn’t much appreciate how Clarion and Yunzi were getting along. Clarion also had the nerve to ask for a few nights off crow’s nest duty, claiming sea sickness. Shang Tok, never being a fool, noticed the pattern of nights Clarion took off and kept that to use later. Also the men would notice strange sounds coming from the cargo hold, where Clarion was bid to stay, as if an animal were loose down there. Every morning after it was always just Clarion who came out.
An entire year passed by on sea as they did their round to the Homeland, to the great pyramids of Nod, The Southern port of The Last Colony, and the Ceraxian ports of Hi-Sur and Tia Jhon, dropping off dragon spice to the wealthy and overly lavished of their respective societies, until they finally made it back to Sherryton. When Clarion and Yunzi were heading off to go to a ball, Shang Tok pulled Clarion aside and asked that Clarion meet him at sunset on the outskirts of town to discuss Clarion’s relationship with his daughter. Shang Tok spoke the whole time with a smile on his face so Clarion thought he had finally grown on the stern merchant.
Yunzi dragged Clarion away and took him to the Vinodrome. She wanted to drink and see some sport. They were playing Backraq that afternoon and after a few bowls of wine Clarion got up the courage to play a round. He stripped down til he was as naked as a jay bird. Clarion smiled as Yunzi eyed him up and down asking whether or not he could handle himself around on those brutes. To which Clarion responded by stealing her scarf and wrapping it around his neck. He said he felt confident but he was still missing something. He kissed her. It was short but it was strong and full of beard and passion and dragon spice, then he ran off. Yunzi hooted and cheered as he ran onto the arena. Clarion had finally seen his opponents: hulking neckless mountains of men standing in the arena grinning naked at this much smaller opponent entering the field. Clarion felt ill equipped in more ways than one. It must have been the evening finals. Right as the sun set, the whistle sounded and everyone rushed in toward the Backraq ball placed in the center. The mountains collided as they all struggled to get a grip on the ball and take it back to the outside of the ring. The ball had fallen to the ground and that was Clarion’s chance to, as a slighter man, dive and roll under the hulks to get a grip. Right when he got to his feet one of the men body slammed into him. As Clarion was slowly being pushed into the mud he caught a glimpse of the moonlight. He grit his teeth and in a drunken rush, sprung up knocking the mountain man away to collide with the rest. He had broken away and after that there was no catching him. He trotted back to Yunzi victorious with the backraq ball in hand. He dressed and courted her out of the Vinodrome with a victorious grin on his face and a blue scarf under his red beard.
Clarion kissed her again once they were out of the arena. This time taking his time with it, letting her know how much she enticed him, how much he cared for her, how their age difference didn’t matter to him, and how her father would never change that. After they had finished Clarion told Yunzi he had to go meet her father. She said she hoped Shang Tok had good news and that she would meet Clarion in the tavern where they had first met: the Muddy Lover.
Clarion rushed out to meet with Shang Tok so that he could get the meeting over with and back to Yunzi. He arrived on the outskirts of town where there was an abandoned warehouse with his name carved into the door. When he went inside he saw a girl, in nothing but a skirt, tied to a support beam. He immediately tried to help her when he did, he heard the door get locked and heard someone walking on the catwalk above him. He saw Shang Tok. Before he could speak, Shang shouted over him: “Clarion I know what you are. Besides the fact that you are a low-born peasant with nothing to offer my daughter but a penniless life, and a man past of his prime who can barely carry a tune. You are also a lycanthrope and that is the part that will make this easy. I am going to watch you turn. Let you feed on this poor whore, (someone more fitting a man of your station), and once you are done I will contain you and turn you in. During your trial I will convince my daughter of your infidelity, and once your heart is broken by your loss, I will allow you to die.” Before Clarion could retort with denial and anger, Shang Tok pulled a rope and the roof collapsed. Clarion leaped to shield the woman and after the dust settled he looked up and saw the full moon. Then he was in a nightmare: ripping this poor girl to pieces, methodically savoring the taste of her soft skin and her young heart, as he tore out her throat to stop her screaming. Then it was a blur. First an arrow pierced his skin. This time digging deep and wounding him greatly. He turned to the door, not recognizing the name carved in it. As he pushed and pushed he could hear grunting on the other side. He let out a deep low howl and pushed knocking the men behind back, and running, on two legs then on all fours, then two again, fleeing northward.
When he woke in a field miles away, naked, and bloody. He knew what he was from Shang Tok’s speech. What that meant for that poor girl, what that meant for his relationship with Yunzi... He cried, gathered up what little he had left, and travelled north for a few months, avoiding big cities and sticking to small hovels to do some odd jobs, playing his lute so he could sleep on a bed, then leaving immediately the next morning. He was never anywhere too long until one day he found his way into a small village called Zirathane, chatting with the barkeep Theresa in the Weeping Trout.
It was there that he was called upon by Christine Demarin to help travel to Bullybog to try and negotiate the water allocation between the two towns. There, Clarion demonstrated his powers of persuasion and convinced the Bullywug Queen that the water could be shared.
He continued to travel with Christine as she headed toward Easterton to ask Damian Easter to reinstate her as the Lady of Marinton. On the road, outside of Hadock, Clarion turned into a werewolf under the full moon necessitating the party's quick action to subdue him.