Kelly McSkeath was the second of five children born to Irish farmer Connor McSkeath and his wife Meghann. Though the family sometimes lacked for the nicer material things, there was always an abundance of love to fill the gap.
From the time she was quite small, Kelly loved to hear her father tell stories of the ancient Celtic gods and heroes. Almost every evening, she would sprawl on the worn old carpet at her father's feet as he sat in his favorite chair and spun tales of the Tuatha de Danaan's battles against the Fomorians, or the adventures of Cuchulain and the Red Branch.
The stories that Kelly liked best, though, were those of the brave warrior women of her people. And none of those tales did the girl like more than those of Scathach, the legendary Lady of Shadows, warrior and trainer of heroes. Sometimes, as Connor tucked his sleepy daughter into bed, he confided in her that their family was related by blood to the legendary warrior-woman. Kelly drank it all in, and no wine could have been sweeter.
Just after her twelfth birthday, the dreams began, dreams in which she fought on the field of battle, clad in shining armor and wielding a flashing blade. When she told her father of the dreams, he just smiled, a little sadly, and told her to tell no one else about them. Being a dutiful daughter, she obeyed, though the dreams remained with her for years after.
On Kelly's fifteenth birthday, the family was visited by a cousin of Connor's named Ciaran. Dark and mysterious, with stormy grey eyes, he fascinated her unlike anyone had before -- especially when, wishing her a happy birthday, he gave her an exquisitely crafted pendant, a shining silver disk enameled with a black unicorn. As she fastened the gift around her neck, she was amazed to see that Ciaran looked different -- he had pointed ears, and was wearing a suit of armor, with a gleaming sword at his belt. Gasping, she looked from her cousin to her father and back again, and did not miss the tenderness tinged with sorrow in Connor's eyes, nor the glance that passed between him and Ciaran.
Ciaran kissed her forehead. "Awaken, little sister," he said gently. "The time has come to remember who you are."
With those words, she felt memories flooding back, and recalled the name she had borne for many lifetimes -- Keely of the House of Scathach, descendant of the Fae's greatest warrior woman. Her Faerie soul pushed its way free of its mortal cocoon, spreading its glistening wings in the radiance of the Dream Dance.
Ciaran took her to a nearby Freehold, where she was Sained with all due ceremony. He also taught Keely the arts of battle, and, true to her birthright as a child of House Scathach, she excelled at the fighter's craft. It was little surprise when she earned her place as a knight three years later, and though some of the more traditional knights grumbled about having to accept the young Scathach as an equal, she was welcomed by most of the others with open arms.
One of her colleagues among the other knights was Sir Aidan ap Fiona. A Sidhe with hair like sunset's fire, emerald-green eyes, and a ready smile, he was the first among the knights to befriend her, and as the months passed they found that friendship growing deeper, until the flower of love bloomed between them.
Never had Keely been so happy. In Aidan, she had found everything she could have wished; he was friend, shield-brother, lover, and soul-mate. He returned that love, and the two wanted nothing more than to spend the rest of their lives together. On a clear, warm Beltaine morning, as a faint breeze carried the scent of flowers, Aidan ap Fiona and Keely ni Scathach took one another as husband and wife, not only for life, but for all eternity.
Ciaran attended their wedding, and presented the couple with a most wondrous gift: a pair of daggers forged in the distant past by the finest smiths of House Scathach. One of these he gave to Keely, the other to Aidan, and the two were touched by the appropriateness of the gift.
The next three years were bliss, unparalleled and unalloyed. They defended the freehold side by side, and their love grew deeper with each shared adventure. Though the world might turn crazily about them, though the Winter might draw ever closer, as long as they had each other, they could endure anything.
Then, one dark night, it all came crashing down. The freehold was attacked by a band of Unseelie marauders, and Aidan and Keely were fighting on the front lines. They fought bravely, and might have defeated the scoundrels, had not one of them managed to wound Keely. Terrified for her safety, Aidan lost his concentration for but a moment -- and was run through from behind. Through tear-blurred eyes, Keely saw him fall, and launched herself at his attacker, but managed to take no more than a few steps before she stumbled, weak from pain and blood loss. Not one to waste such an opportunity, her foes Flicker-flashed out of the freehold to safety.
Keely cradled Aidan against her, her tears mingling with his blood. She tried to save him, but it was no use -- Aidan ap Fiona, knight of the kingdom of Leinster, son of the Silver Lion, breathed his last in the arms of his beloved. She buried him there, laying his sword and hers to rest beside him, but took the dagger he had borne, a twin to her own, and swore that she would find his killers and mete out the justice they deserved with those very blades.
A part of Keely died with Aidan; she became serious, withdrawn, obsessed with avenging his death. She threw herself into her studies of the combat arts with renewed zeal, and her only joy was in her skills with blade and fist, which grew almost daily. That autumn, she stood in the same grove where, three years before, she and Aidan had exchanged their wedding vows, and, as the leaves fell and the wind carried the faint smell of winter, she took a new vow -- to avenge his murder. Her daggers would drink deeply of the blood of the ones who had taken Aidan from her, or she would join him in the trying. To seal the pact, she took a new name, Raven ni Skatha -- Raven of the Shadows.
From her questions to the Kithain of a nearby Freehold, Raven discovered that the attack had come from a freehold across the border, in the kingdom of Ulster. Going as far on the western coast to Donegal and the shores of Ballyshannon Bay, she was both pleased and dismayed to find the Unseelie freehold of Blackmoon razed, its balefire extinguished, and its members fled to Concordia. Pleased, for the blackguards who had violated her home were now homeless themselves. Dismayed, for her quarry had moved onward. Rumors about the area indicated some sort of civil war between rival Unseelie in the area, one side affiliated with Ailil, the other with Balor. No Kithain could be persuaded to say which side won.
Crossing the great ocean to a new land was no small strain, but her vengeance drew Raven onward. Landing in the Kingdom of Apples at the metropolis of New York, she was soon invited to take her case before Queen Mab. The name of Aidan, a distant relation, had apparently opened doors. Her Majesty reluctantly admitted that agents of House Balor were regularly arriving from their mutual homeland, and that one had even been slain by her knights as a servant of the Dark, a 'Fomorian'. Based on her intelligence, the Queen directed Raven to search further West.
Since that time, Raven has traveled far in her search for Aidan's murderers. Among the mortals, she has adopted the alias "Kelly Corbeau" (as a sort of pun on her fae name), and hires herself out as a private investigator-cum-professional troubleshooter.
Kelly Corbeau is a lithe and supple woman in her mid-twenties with mid-length black hair woven into a single braid, and wide-set gray eyes. She prefers to dress in clothes that don't limit her freedom of movement -- jeans, simple shirts, and soft leather boots, all in unadorned black. Over this is a battered black leather motorcycle jacket, with a swiss army knife with a silver case in each pocket. Except for a silver pendant enameled with a black unicorn, she wears no jewelry.
As Raven, her features become finer, and her eyes take on a silvery hue. Her clothing becomes a set of black Chimerical chainmail that seems to absorb rather than reflect the light, and the daggers she wears on each hip shine almost with a life of their own. Silvery filaments and raven feathers are worked into the weave of her braid, which gleams with blue highlights when the light strikes it just right.