Here There Be Monsters
Blanca is a pale grey half orc. Her hair and eyes are the only features that favour her long dead mother; she is a pale sun bleached blond and has pale blue eyes. She is tall, well-muscled, and has obviously coarse half orc features with undersized tusks and gently pointed ears. What truly makes Blanca stand out, even amongst the orcs, is her oddly misshapen face. It is jarringly asymmetrical, ugly to orcs and humans alike.
Blanca’s human mother was quite small and had terrible difficulty giving birth to her large daughter. Blanca’s head was squashed as the orcish midwife tried to pull her from her mother’s body after three days of fruitless labour. In the end, the only reason Blanca survived was that her mother, a cleric of Chauntea, used the last of her rapidly waning strength in a desperate plea to her goddess. Blanca was ushered into the world by miracle and death.
Blanca had been saved into a very difficult childhood. Growing up as a half orc was a constant struggle for younglings like Blanca and her father’s only other living half-human daughter, Zeljka. They were persecuted and derided as weak part-humans, having to scrabble for scraps of food and safe places to sleep. Blanca tried to avoid confrontations with almost anyone in the tribe. Her ugliness brought her endless extra taunts and beatings. She haunted the fringes of the tribe, observing, barely part of the society, and she eventually took refuge more and more frequently in nature.
In the hills and the forests she found respite from the tormenters of her tribe. She came to love nature’s harsh beauty, its plants and its creatures. Though she pays lip service to Luthic, the only goddess in the orcish pantheon, Blanca worships far more reverently the jaded majesty of a mountain, the fragrant miracle of a field of flowers, or the perfect danger of a raging bear.
During her sojourns in the wilds she took to meditating on nature’s grandeur during the twilight of the day, as the sun gives way to the moon and daytime grazers give way to the hunters of the night. During one meditation she had a vision of a Being of powerful Presence. The Being was cloaked in shifting shadows and yet clearly shifted forms, though none were clear to her sight. It seemed to Pronounce words that she could not understand, though she also had the contrary sense that she had always known exactly what the Being was saying. She awoke from the trance able to cast spells, and felt even more close to and dedicated to nature.
Blanca is shy even of the animals of nature, inured to the rejection that her looks earn her. But she watches and tracks the creatures and seasons of nature with an avid interest, fascinated by the rhythms of the seasons, the dance of predator and prey, and the processes of growth and decay.
One day Blanca came upon a she-wolf who was being hacked at by a human with an ax. Blanca knew that the wolf had recently birthed a litter of cubs. She struck at the human with swiftness and surprise on her side and savagely killed him. The wolf was gasping its last breaths. Blanca sadly stroked it, assessing its wounds, and the wolf instantly stabilized. Blanca had discovered the legacy of her long dead human mother. The potent healing energy of her dying mother’s determined drive to save Blanca had imbued Blanca with the ability to stabilize a dying creature by merely touching it.
Blanca took this revelation as a sign. She meditated beside the unconscious wolf, concentrating on the healing power she knew was a part of nature. After she came out of her trance she knelt by the wolf, laid her hands on it and focused her will. She felt healing energy gather around her, coalescing from the trees, the insects, the very rocks and breezes around her. She pushed the healing into the wolf under her hands. The wolf’s eyes opened suddenly and the wolf jumped up and growled and snapped at Blanca. The she-wolf ran away from half orc and the nearby cooling human body, back to its cubs, to protect them and lick its remaining wounds. Blanca expected no better treatment, and was content.
Blanca continued to watch from the fringes of her tribe, observing their behaviours with the same attention that she gives to the beasts of nature. At the grey slushy end of one winter she came upon a dog, obviously lost from a human settlement or group of travelers. It was young, barely out of puppyhood and she befriended it and named it Snowflake. All that summer she trained it. She kept it safe from her tribe, some of whom would have gladly killed and eaten it (either from casual hunger or pure spite).
At the end of autumn her sixteenth year passed, unremarked even by her.
[ I might add more :) ]