Madeline stumbled upon the Land of Espers for reasons unknown. She was badly wounded, and an esper named Maduin nursed her back to health. The other espers did not approve of her, so she tried to leave, but was stopped by Maduin, who had fallen in love with her. They had a baby, whom Maduin named Terra. Two years later, an army led by a man named Gestahl stumbled upon the Esper World, and captured many espers. Madeline tried to flee from the army with Terra, and Maduin followed. The Elder of the Esper World cast a seal on the entrance to prevent humans from ever entering again. Madeline made it out, but she was dying. In her last breath, she gave Terra to Gestahl and asked him to raise her. Gestahl knew she was half human and half esper and decided to take advantage of this. Madeline immediately demanded Terra back, but she did not succeed and died soon afterward. Terra was taken by Gestahl.
In the Japanese version of Final Fantasy VI Madeline spends the last moments of her life trying to keep Gestahl from taking Terra. This plot thread was restored for the Advance version.