Helena's grandparents, on both sides, were among the founders of Kimrin in 879. Her father had been 8 and her mother 6 years old when their respective families moved there from Tanq. Weston's family owned a ranch in Tanq, and they built a new one in Kimrin, where Elyse's father worked as a ranch hand. Weston and Elyse soon became friends, and later, as teenagers, they began dating. They married in 894, at ages 23 and 21. Two years later, Helena was born. Weston worked on his family's ranch, while Elyse became a kilner. In 901, Weston left his ranching days behind to join the army that was being raised in the Northern Alliance. By the time of the war in 903, he had become a sergeant. After the war, he was promoted to lieutenant.
In 904, when the surname law was passed, Weston's clan in both Tanq and Kimrin chose the name 'Tanner,' as they were famous for the leather they produced from their livestock.
Helena grew up on her family's ranch, and learned all she could about the work that was done there. She also often visited her mother at her job, and was always fascinated by the way fire could be used to make so many different things. It was in 910, at age 14, that she met Zeke Sanguine, who was an essentially freelance agent of the Army, based in Near Port under the command of Colonel Charles Woodman. His work had brought him to Kimrin, on some matter which Weston was assigned to help him with. Weston himself never cared for Sanguine, but Helena quickly took a liking to him. He showed her some magic, mostly tricks involving fire, and she expressed an interest in learning from him. Though he was technically only an adept, and therefore not permitted to take on apprentices, he became an unofficial master to her.
Her parents had already been concerned that Helena was somewhat antisocial, and disliked by the other kids at school. (The kids called her 'Helly,' derived from Hell, which they meant as an epithet, but Helena herself liked it.) In fact, her parents were concerned about her psychological health, so the idea of her spending time with Sanguine, who was rumored to be a psychopath, was not an idea they liked. But he seemed perfectly gentle and friendly in his interaction with her, and besides, Weston was up for promotion to captain, which he didn't want to risk by offending Sanguine. (Technically Sanguine held no rank, and was therefore below Weston in the chain of command, but since he reported directly to a colonel, he held a fair amount of sway.) So, Weston and Elyse cautiously allowed their daughter to learn magic from him.
Helly eventually learned that Sanguine was grooming her to someday join the spy network run by his friend, Macen Illustri. It was Sanguine's hope that she might someday secure a position within the Kimrin branch of LandOrder, which was led by Capp Primus, against whom Sanguine held an old grudge. He wanted her to become a spy for the Army, to keep tabs on the gang. However, that chance never came, because in 912, before she could complete her training under Sanguine, he was killed. When she learned of his death, Helly was devastated, and while her parents tried to display sympathy, she could tell they were actually relieved that he'd no longer be a part of her life. This drove a wedge between them, and Helly ran away from home. Not long after that, the Chaos War began, in which Weston led one of the two companies commanded by Major Shirona Monogwrangle. Weston died in the war, and Helena returned home to attend the funeral. However, she once again got into a fight with her mother, and ultimately declared she was glad her father was dead. This cemented the rift between mother and daughter, and Helly left home for good.
In honor of her former master, Helly changed her surname to 'Blood.' Sometime later that year, she contacted Sanguine's friend René Deadzone, hoping he could continue her training. He said his present situation was too dangerous, so instead he took her to Woodstockade, where she was apprenticed to Ferris Demontalk. Helly completed her training in 916, graduating to adept status. (She considered herself a Sorreter, even though the bulk of her training had come from a sorcerer, and as far as anyone knows, she's never even been to Sorret.) In spite of the fact that Demontalk is the chief sorcerer of the Woodstockade branch of InterGang, it is not believed that Helly herself ever joined the gang.