Once, Penance was one of the Hands of Fate, an elite group of mortal men, dedicated to the service of Chronos, the god who decides when great events shall befall the denizens of the spheres. It is sometimes the case that certain people, frequently spherewalkers, have the power to meddle in workings in fate. When they do, it is the purpose of the Hands of Fate, (almost exclusively speherewalkers) themselves being people of the world, to put things back on their destined course.
Penance, however, committed so grievous an abuse of his granted powers, that no mere reprimand would suffice. Stripped of office and power, he was thrown before the Council of the Gods to receive their verdict. There was no trial, no question of guilt, only of what punishment could be made to fit the crime.
However, long ago when the spheres were forged deep in the heart of creation, the gods had seen that men were imperfect, and made unto them a promise. That all mortal men shall have the chance of forgiveness, whatsoever the offence. And so, Penance was given a Power, and told "Use it wisely, for upon thine death thou shall yet be judged."
Then taking his current name for the first time, Penance set out to use his Power wherever he could bestow the most good. In the beginning, he played poison tester to a king, but it was not long before he gazed out over the squalid town below and considered that he was helping only one man. In many ways the first years were the hardest, for he do could little more than ferret out spoiled food in small towns. With time, however, the Power grew, and now Penance regularly saves two or three small realms from starvation with each passing year.
Penance tends to be quiet and mysterious, though he is quite capable of enjoying himself at festivals He could in fact talk for days on end about his many adventures. Most of these, however are part of his shameful past, and he does not discuss them. He also knows a little about the hidden workings of the god's designs - which are far beyond the comprehension of most of the people he encounters, and part of his buried past to boot.
Charity has become something of a habit. It is, however, a habit begun under distress, and it could be argued that Penance would cease such acts immediately if he had the option. While his pride has been smacked down hard, it is still very much there.
He also a healthy respect for the laws he encounters, but once again because he has seen the severity of transgression. He has less respect for them in his heart. Which is not to say that he is evil. In his younger days Penance toppled many local governments that enforced unjust laws, with little concern for his personal safety. (Granted, Hands of Fate need a bit less concern for such in general.)