Maria Barisova was born in Omsk, Russia as Maria Petrova. Growing up in Omsk with three sisters and two brothers, Maria was the youngest child and often felt quite claustrophobic in the small family home with her five siblings and parents. By the time she was thirteen, two of her sisters had children and moved out whilst her other sister was pregnant but had broken up with her boyfriend.
Maria took to ice-skating as a distraction. It was quite popular amongst the girls in Omsk during winter and she was a natural on the ice as she had been skating all her life. As she grew older, she continued her skating until she received a scholarship to go to Moscow for an ice skating camp when she was sixteen for two years. During the camp, Maria took a bad fall and broke her ankle; breaking her dreams of becoming a professional skater. Returning to Omsk at eighteen was frustrating for Maria, as her family was still growing and the house was not. Deciding to take a leaf from her eldest brother's book, she made the decision to travel the world a bit.
Travelling most of Europe and Asia, she returned to Omsk at twenty with the decision to settle down in Bulgaria. She had met a man there who worked as photographer in Tran and was planning to learn from him for a bit. Despite Maria having travelled the world already for two years, her family didn't respect the decision to move to a whole new country and they parted on bad terms.
A year later, Maria Petrova married Ivan Petkov Barisov and became Maria Barisova. Ivan was a nature photographer, often venturing around Bulgaria's mountains during winter and leaving Maria alone in Tran for weeks at a time. Maria, despite her love for Ivan, grew lonely. She was leaving the coffee shop one night, the coldest day in years as a matter of fact, when she crashed into a tall man; spilling her coffee on him.
She apologised but he simply shook it off, offering to buy her another coffee and talk a bit. They hit it off inside that little coffee shop; Maria, feeling a spark, she hadn't felt for a single man except Ivan. One thing led to another and a few hours later; Maria awoke to an empty bed. Feeling ashamed and disgusted with herself, Maria scrubbed herself raw and cried in the shower.
When Ivan returned two days later, she admitted her one night affair to him immediately. Though this led to short-term arguments, anger and lack of trust; they worked through the issues. Maria found out she was pregnant and after hours of brooding and sulking, Ivan agreed to act as a father for the child.
Nine months later, a healthy baby girl was born at dawn. She was named 'Zora', meaning 'dawn', for she was born as the sun rose. Zora Ivanova Barisova. Her most prominent feature was her piercing, blue eyes that remained as she grew older.
As a child, it became obvious that Zora was a curious child. Ivan, true to his promise, raised her as his own daughter; teaching her photography, showing her the mountains, ice-skating, dancing and everything a little girl could want. Maria had become a writer and co-owner of a popular fashion magazine in Bulgaria and as Zora became more beautiful as she grew, she earned some extra money as a part-time model for small Bulgarian childrens fashion brands.
At twelve, Maria and Ivan decided to give up their home in Tran and roadtrip around Europe with Zora. Ivan was filming the whole trip along with using his photography skills to admire the nature of the places they went. Maria worked from her laptop with the magazine and Zora had to give up her ice-skating and modelling, though her father did get her into nature photography. The family never spent more than one night in the same places, travelling miles each day, crossing country borders and lakes and rivers to islands.
When Zora was sixteen, they stopped travelling and moved back to Tran. This was when her first monster attack occurred. It was the second day back in Tran, Bulgaria. It was winter and the snow was thick when she was walking home. Out of nowhere came a large silver bird (stymphalian birds). It was flying out of nowehere and Zora panicked, running from beside the road, deeper into the snow away from the road. The bird swooped, screeching but Zora's instincts told her to dodge and she did, barely escaping the attack.
The monster flew around before swooping again and backed against a tree, Zora put her hands out in front and closed her eyes; expecting death. When nothing happened, she opened her eyes, suddenly feeling extremely exhausted. The monster in front of her was frozen, she ran all the way home. That night, someone visited her house. It was a young adult male, who walked with a limp. He talked with her parents awhile and then her mother told her to pack her bags. Confused, she asked the guy what was going on.
In the privacy of her room, he explained that he was a satyr and he knew about the monster attack; that he had been trying to track her for a while now and that she had to go to Camp Half Blood, where she would be safe and trained to fight the monsters. He said that he had told her parents she was going to a modelling camp in America on a scholarship. Due to all the fake papers, Maria and Ivan believed it.
By that time next week, Zora was in a whole new country with a whole new world to deal with.