Name: Morrigan Stirling
Play by: Gemma Arterton
Of a diminutive stature and a slight build, the fair-skinned Morrigan is an entirely unintimidating five foot three. But don't let her size fool you - a lifetime of hard manual labor has given her strong muscles that coexist alongside an undeniably female set of curves, with ample bosom, slender waist, and wide hips. Crowning her head is a tumble of loose mahogany curls that falls to her lower back, when unbound, which is a rare occurrence - she habitually wears this difficult waterfall of hair in a tight braid to keep it out of the way. Set within a face comprised of strong, distinctive features (that many have called lovely, although she refuses the compliment) are a pair of soulful, dark brown eyes, often downcast to avoid notice. In all, she could best be described as easy to forget and easy to overlook, and that's exactly how she wants it.
Morrigan has always been the girl everyone just forgets is there. With a tendency to keep to herself, staying out of the way and avoiding doing anything that would get her noticed, it's extremely difficult to get her to step out of her shell. Very few people have managed it within her lifetime, and with every year it grows a little harder - especially with the years away from those who managed to work their way into her heart. She keeps to herself and keeps her head down, but misses little - she's always watching, observing, listening and learning. More intelligent than her upbringing or her demeanor would indicate, she's well-read and has a sharp mind - and should anyone be unfortunate enough to rouse her temper, they'd soon discover she has a sharp tongue to match. Thankfully, this is exceedingly hard to manage, as she dislikes being unpleasant, unless it's earned. Beneath this distant exterior lies a warm, caring heart, and a quirky sense of humor. But all of these things are rarely seen, being aspects of herself that she goes to great lengths to keep others from learning about. Working past the defenses she's built and getting to know the girl behind the mask is not a task taken lightly, and if she thinks she'll just end up hurt, Morrigan will do whatever it takes to keep that person as far away from her as possible. She is particularly leery of men.
To find where she belongs, and actually be able to stay there this time. To find her place in the world. To stop acting and feeling as though she's invisible. To shed the shadow of her past and finally feel like she's living in the light.
Morrigan was born to Braden and Eithne Stirling in a little town in the highlands of Scotland. She was an only child, as Eithne was sickly, and barely survived giving birth to little Morrigan. The lass was still very young, about four years old, when Eithne took ill and passed away, leaving Braden to figure out how to raise a little girl on his own. He got many things right - he was an attentive and loving father who was always there for her. But there are some things a man just can't teach, and it wasn't long at all before Morrigan shunned dresses and dolls in favor of breeches and wooden swords. Her attempts to play with the boys of the village weren't taken well by their parents, and Morrigan soon found herself mostly ostracized by her peers - too tomboyish for the girls, not allowed to play with the boys. Left with no playmates, she floundered for a year or two, before finally one day stumbling upon something that truly called to her: Horses.
At seven years old, Morrigan discovered that she had a way with the elegant equines. She frequently snuck into the laird's stables, where the indulgent stable-hands took the girl under their wing. They showed her how to properly care for the creatures, how to brush their coats, and comb and braid their manes and tails. As she grew older, this branched out into how to care for their feet, how to hold them for the farrier, and eventually (when they could be sure the laird wouldn't catch them) how to ride. All of this came to her easily, and even grooms who had been working with them for decades marveled at how easily she worked with the animals, seeming to understand them in ways that no one else could, and even the most unpredictable and wild of horses took to her with ease. It seemed perfectly natural when, around the age of thirteen, she began to officially work for the laird in his stables.
Unfortunately, it seemed that tragedy hadn't yet finished with Morrigan. She was only sixteen when her father unexpectedly died, leaving her alone, and with his debts on her shoulders. Selling the house and most of the family's belongings to pay them off, she moved into the housing provided to some of the stable-hands and resumed living her life as she had been thus far, albeit minus her father, who she'd always been close to and who had been her rock. This lasted for two years, until she began to notice something strange. The laird's young son, who was a few years her elder, had been hanging around the stables fairly consistently, seemingly watching her. Morrigan didn't understand why, didn't grasp that she'd grown from a gangly, awkward girl into a fairly attractive young woman. It wasn't until she heard a rumor that the boy sought to bed her that she understood, and completely appalled by this fact, she packed up her life and fled.
Her steps led her to Kildare in Ireland, where her mother's family still lived. The McCullough clan took her in, but Morrigan never truly felt like she belonged there. After a year, she left them, seeking that feeling of belonging. It led her from place to place for a time, and eventually back to Scotland. She found herself in the service of another laird, this one far more respectable, caring for the horses of the man and his lovely wife. Although she was uncertain as to whether or not this was where she was meant to be, she tried to open her mind and her heart to the possibility, and to those around her. She befriended several people, and she began to think that just maybe, she'd found a home, and the family she'd longed for since her father passed. And then unexpectedly, a shadow from her past walked back into her life, in the form of Kade Tiernay. One of the boys she'd played with in her youth, he'd always teased her, calling her names and pulling her hair. He was surprised to find little Ana all grown up, and fancied himself smitten with her, even seeking permission to court her and make her his wife. That didn't last long. Kade's eye wandered and soon led him away, and Morrigan, who had hesitantly begun to open her heart to him, retreated into herself once more.
Whether it was the exhaustion of overworking herself or something else, she'd never know, but fate struck after a few months. She collapsed one day, and descended into a coma, plagued by a fever for many weeks. She was sent to her kin in Kildare once more, where she was gradually nursed back to health and consciousness over the course of a year. Once she was well again, she struck out, intending to return to the place she'd come to call home.. only to find it razed and abandoned. Rumors of those she'd come to know, those who had earned her trust and her loyalty, led her to another place. Her intent to try and start a simple life once more was entirely derailed by a series of strange events - stumbling upon a married Gypsy couple who first called her Horse Whisperer, meeting a wandering musician and falling in love with him.. losing him, rescuing him, and then losing him again, this time to his own wanderlust. Despite her love of the land and the people who made it home for her, Morrigan's heart, which had finally learned to love, was broken irreparably by this abandonment. Making her tearful farewells, she returned to her roaming ways.
She went to the continent for a time, wandering across Europe and into Africa. It was there that she was taken in by one of the Bedouin tribes, and was fortunate enough to work closely with the glorious Arabians they tended and bred. She learned things about horses that she'd never dreamed possible, and the connection she had with them grew even stronger. Roving with the nomadic tribe for a few years seemed to finally heal the hole within her heart, and she turned her mind once again to finding her place within the world, and those who made it feel like home. She boarded a ship for the Americas, where she'd never dreamed she would one day go, and thought that perhaps this land of opportunity might be exactly what she needed.
The very day of her arrival in Port-de-Paix, she met Oisean MacQueen. Befriending the burly Scottish lad came easily to her, with his open and pleasant demeanor. He even went so far as to help Morrigan secure work on a plantation owned by his brother’s wife, where she spent a year and a half in happiness. Her friendship with Oisean grew and deepened, and Morrigan thought that perhaps, finally, she had found her place in this world. But something still didn’t feel right within her skin - as though Fate still had something in store for her, and was warning the girl not to get too comfortable.
This instinct turned out to be correct. Morrigan had long kept in touch with her kin in Ireland via letter, and she was surprised to receive one from a cousin she’d been somewhat close to. Fiona McCullough had somehow ended up married to a rich merchant in Venice, one who had recently decided to establish a stable of Arabians in the countryside of the city proper. Sadly the man had absolutely no idea how to raise horses, and had managed to anger the Bedouin who had come along to care for the animals, making him quit and return to his home. Morrigan found herself presented with an unprecedented opportunity, one she’d only ever dreamed about: A stable all her own to run, with horses to care for and a breeding program to manage by herself.
It was too good an opportunity to pass up. She informed her employer that she had to leave, that her family needed her, and received the woman’s blessing to depart. The hardest part was making her farewells to Oisean. He had become very dear to her heart, and the thought of leaving him behind filled her with a sorrow she’d never before experienced. She made sure to tell Oisean where he could write her, or find her if he needed her, and boarded the first ship out of Saint-Domingue for Italy. Watching as Oisean grew smaller on the docks, she felt certain a large part of her heart remained within his hardened worker’s hands. Morrigan forced herself to turn toward the future and all that now awaited her.