Clay is the third of five children born to Harmen and Cherise Whately in the town of Pembray in Braddon. Harmen is a graduate of the Nine Spires, the arcane college in Dessania. Unlike many other trained mages who have gone on to work for large retainers in far corners of the globe or been sucked into their own intricate research in secluded towers, Harmen returned to Pembray to run the Quill and Raven Curiosity Shoppe in Pembray as his father and grandfather before him.
Clay’s elder brother and sister are currently studying at the Nine Spires, while the younger siblings hope to attend the college when they are of age. Clay, however, drifted in a different direction than the rest of his family. While he does have some aptitude for magic, he has always had more of an interest in the gallantry, glory, and valor of the knighthood. Since attending a tournament in Varrone as a young boy, Clay aspired to be a knight.
Despite some attempts by his parents to spark his interest once again in magic, Clay stayed singularly focused on training to become a knight. Without proper training or equipment, Clay resorted to sparring with scarecrows using broomhandles.
It eventually became clear to both of his parents that Clay would not be dissuaded. And after many tussles with other local children, it appeared as though Clay had some very promising potential in combat. The Whately’s called upon one of Cherise’s cousins, a knight in Aidenton named Symas Haley. Symas took Clay on as a squire, and moved him to Aidenton to train.
After nine months as Symas’ squire, Clay had ridden with him into six battles against the wild tribes of the Greatspine. In the seventh battle, Symas was incapacitated, and one of the barbarians had reared back to deliver a killing blow when Clay stabbed the barbarian thrice in the side. The barbarian dropped his hammer, screamed in agony, and spun around as quick as lightning. They were eye-to-eye, Clay’s dagger still in the barbarian’s side, when Clay noticed the barbarian’s face shift, his eyes go golden-yellow, and his grow exponentially. The barbarian spat blood, yowled, and gnashed at Clay’s throat. Clay continued to wrench and twist the dagger while blood splattered into his face.
The barbarian fell after the longest 10 seconds of Clay’s young life. When Clay went to inspect the man’s face, it was just that: a man’s face. There was no sign of yellow eyes, misshapen features, or elongated fangs. Clay tries to chalk the memory up to tense nerves, but he can remember it so clearly and vividly.
That night, as he and Symas supped at the barracks in Aidenton, a rider came bearing the sad news that Harmen had been slain in a Lizardfolk raid on Pembray. The rider informed Clay that arrangements had been made for him to travel south at once to make it back to Pembray to be with his family for the funeral.