She had dark brown skin and bushy brown hair that she cut short. Her dark brown eyes sparkled with life. She had a tall (5'10"), sturdy frame and a muscular build. When going into battle she donned full plate armor.
Holly's father was a faris (a holy warrior) from Zakhara and her mother a farmer from Daggerdale. Holly's father taught her a strong respect for justice and law, and told wonderful tales of the holy and just knights of his distant homeland, dedicated to his god, Hajama the Courageous.
Both Holly's mother and father were supporters of Randal Morn's rebellion against the occupying forces of Zhentil Keep, which controlled the dale under a puppet ruler. Holly accompanied her father on raids and helped her mother patch the wounds of others from those raids, so that the young woman learned early in life both the martial and healing arts.
At fifteen, Holly joined the Order of the Aster, a fellowship of knights dedicated to Lathander's church, which held similar beliefs to Hajama's. Shortly thereafter, she journeyed to Shadowdale to receive religious training at the temple of Lathander. While Holly was in Shadowdale, Holly's parents, uncle, and grandmother were killed in an orc raid on their Daggerdale farm. The orcs had been equipped and supported by agents of Zhentil Keep.
Holly was given leave to aid Randal Morn in his rebellion against the Zhentilar and served the rebel lord as a messenger, warrior, and spy. She proved extremely capable in the last role, owing to her youth and innocent appearance. During the rebellion against the Zhentilar, Holly was chosen by Lathander to prevent the resurrection of the evil god Bane, and she joined Joel to achieve that end. Joel often compared the paladin's relationship to Lathander with his own relationship to Finder.