Brother Ray was a veteran of the War of the Nine penny Kings and a former mercenary who reformed himself and served the Faith of the Seven.
Ray was once a sellsword who would do whatever he was told. His friends believed he was not afraid of anything, but he admits he was only brave because he was worried people would see him for what he truly was: “a coward who followed orders”. He burned down villages, stole crops, and killed anyone he was told to. He once cut the throat of a young boy as the mother, held back, screamed. That night, he could not forget the mothers screams, and became ashamed of what he was. After that, he became a man of peace, and an ordained septon.
Ray discovered Sandor Clegane, the Hound, in the Vale, apparently dead. He had a broken leg, and was covered in bugs. When Ray tried to bury him, the Hound coughed, so Ray loaded him onto a wagon and took him to be nursed back to health. According to Ray, the Hound appeared to die a dozen more times while he was helping him to recover from his near death experience, but always survived. Eventually, the Hound became healthy enough to help Ray and his “flock” in the construction of what appears to be a small sept.
Ray and his followers, including the Hound, are building a sept by a forest in the hills. He goes to talk with the Hound, and asks how many men it took to take him down. When he hears it was a woman that wounded him, he laughs. During a lunching break, Ray sits with the Hound and recounts the story of his discovery. He asks what it was that kept the Hound alive, and is told that it was down to “hate”, and being “tough to kill”. Ray disagrees, and tells the Hound that he is alive because the gods have a plan for him. In this conversation, Ray admits that he does not know much about the gods and wonders aloud if the Seven, the Old Gods, and Rh’llor are all the same deity; he concludes that the most important thing is that there is a force greater than humankind out there. Later, he tells the story of how he became a religious man to his followers. During the story, three riders from the Brotherhood Without Banners, Flynn, Lem, and Morgan, arrive.
Ray tells them the group has nothing to give the riders: no horses, gold, or weapons; only rest. The riders leave upon hearing this, and Ray refuses to fight them, claiming violence is a disease that should not be spread, despite the Hound arguing that it would spread anyhow if they did not prepare for combat. In exasperation, the Hound decides to go off into the woods to cut more firewood, saying that it would be a cold night. Ray offers to save some of the ale from dinner for him.
However, later on in the evening, the building site is sacked and every one of Ray’s followers are mercilessly killed. Ray himself is hanged from the rafters of the unfinished sept. His body is discovered by the Hound, who in retaliation picks up an axe to take revenge.
When Sandor finally catches up with Lem who is about to be hanged for his crimes, Beric Dondarrion and Thoros ask Clegane why he is after Lem. He replies, “He killed a friend of mine”, implying that Ray’s teachings have had a significant impact on Sandor.
In his sellsword past, Ray was craven and willing to commit atrocious acts of violence. However, after the harrowing incident in which he killed the boy in front of his mother, shame washed over Ray, causing him to follow a new path.
In the present, Ray is a wise, kindly man who dedicates his life to helping others. He reveals to his group that his main goal now is to “bring a little goodness into the world”, if only to make up for the wrongs he committed in the past. He is not too proud to admit that he will be haunted by his terrible deeds for the rest of his life, including the screams of a mother whose child he had murdered. Ray firmly believes in redemption at any time, as shown when he tells his congregation that it is never too late for someone to turn their lives around.
Ray is an extremely friendly man, capable of earning the admiration of a man like Sandor Clegane (who doesn’t have very high opinions of anyone). Ray has quite a good sense of humour, laughing when the Hound admits that the one who managed to defeat and almost kill him was a woman. Ray’s kindness seems almost uncanny, considering that he took under his wing a man with such a terrifying reputation as the Hound. Even when confronted by dangerous people who quite plainly threaten him and the people he cares for, Ray maintained a friendly exterior and even invited the members of the Brotherhood to supper. When the Hound confronts him for greeting followers of R’hllor with a Faith’s greeting, Ray bluntly answers “I’m a fucking septon, what was I supposed to say?”.
In regards to the gods, Ray takes a somewhat universalist stance, stating that he does not know much about the gods and that the Lord of Light, the Seven, and the Old Gods could be the same thing, and that what he knows is that there is simply some force greater than humanity out there. Not wishing to bring more violence into the world, Ray has adopted a pacifist attitude and eschews violence even when threatened; unfortunately, this love of peace proves to be his and his followers’ downfall.
Ray left quite an impression on the Hound, considering the fact that after his death, the Hound didn’t hesitate on going on a path of revenge for him, and even referred to Ray openly as his friend
- “I was a soldier once. All my superiors thought I was brave. I wasn’t. I mean, I never ran from a fight. Only because I was afraid my friends would see I was afraid. That’s all I was, a coward. Who followed orders no matter the orders. ‘Burn that village.’ Fine, I’m your arsonist. ‘Steal that farmer’s crops.’ Good, I’m your thief. ‘Kill those young lads so they won’t take up arms against us.’ I’m your murderer. You know, I remember once a woman screaming at us, calling us animals as we dragged her son from their hut. But we weren’t animals. Animals are true to their nature and we had betrayed ours. I cut that young boy’s throat myself as his mother screamed and my friends held her back. That night… I felt such shame. Shame was so heavy on me, I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t sleep. All I could do was stare into that dark sky and listen to that mother screaming her son’s name. I’ll hear her screaming the rest of my life. Now, I know I can never bring that lad back. All I can do with time I’ve got left is bring a little goodness into the world. That’s all any of us can do, isn’t it? Never too late to stop robbing people, to stop killing people. Start helping people. It’s never too late to come back. And it’s not about waiting for the gods to answer your prayers. It’s not even about the gods. It’s about you. Learning you have to answer your prayers yourself.”
- ―Brother Ray to his congregation, among them Sandor Clegane
- Ray: “I’m done with fighting.”
- Sandor Clegane: “Even if it’s to protect yourself?”
- Ray: “Violence is a disease. You don’t cure a disease by spreading it to more people.”
- — Brother Ray rebukes Sandor’s advise to defend themselves