As a child, Rafa’s brother, Marach, fell gravely ill. It was only due to the skills of a talented healer that he survived. This healer was able to give life, where nature would have seen it ripped from him. Seeing the power of the healing arts for the first time, Rafa became a student of medicine. She learned much from apprenticing the healer that saved her brother, soon becoming a fine healer in her own right.
But as war with the Empire continued, and her people were pushed back further into the Western reaches, health and living conditions deteriorated. Disease began to spread, and her profession evolved to that of a plague doctor. She would wander through the festering slums of overcrowded cities, dispensing healing potions where she could, and merciful ends where she couldn’t.
Then the worst happened. Symptoms of Marach’s childhood illness resurfaced just as similar symptoms popped up all over the Drow kingdoms. Rafa vowed to find a cure and save both her brother and her people. But the disease progressed faster than her research could. Becoming desperate, Rafa began experimenting on the homeless outcasts that she had before treated. Their lives, already sealed to a sorry fate, would aid in her quest for knowledge.
Her order, her old teacher, none of them would have approved, none of them would have understood. It wasn’t just for her brother that she was doing this research, it was for her entire species. Being as long lived as they were, any epidemic such as this would take centuries to recover from. It was up to Rafa to find the cure.
The lives she took helped to prolong her brother’s. She kept him alive on a vast concoction of alchemical potions and strange medicines while she continued her research. Nothing worked. Malach passed away, his final weeks a distorted existence of pain and suffering. The epidemic spread, drastically cutting through the Drow population. The Empire quickly won the war after this point.
Rafa, so ashamed was she of her failure, vowed to never show her face again. The following years were hard. She had to rely on selling cheap alchemical drugs and potions to survive. She even took a few herself. They didn’t stop the pain though.
Images of death and disease haunted her conscious. That is, until she came to a realization. Her order had only ever worked to preserve life, in a feeble attempt to stay the hand of death. Theirs was only one half of the spectrum. In order to have true power over life and death, one needed an understanding of both. How could she control contagions, produce pestilence, and develop disease? These were the real questions that needed answering.
Rafa began her research once again, this time in darker areas than ever before. Once again, she took her subjects from places that no one would miss. Once again, she sold her services in order to survive, prohibited drugs and unlicensed potions. Rafa found that the places she took her practice required a degree of protection, and so she joined a band of similar disreputables. They would act as her protection, her traffickers, and occasionally her unwitting test subjects. One day, she would uncover the mysteries of life and death. Until then, her research was all that mattered.