Falko Glitterndrum is a Bantami hailing from a small village in the coastal region of the South Western Realm.
Falko was adopted as a baby by Duke and Dutchess Bierstadt, wealthy landowners who were, for many years, unable to produce an offspring of their own. They doted over him, and raised him “as a human” — although he was taunted as a child, he was certainly protected and insulated by his parents title and status.
Ten years after adopting Falko (from nebulous and unknown sources), Ayn Bierstadt — at age 40 — became pregnant, against mighty odds. She died during childbirth, but successfully gave birth to a healthy baby boy: Albrecht.
- EDITOR’s NOTE: It is obvious by this telling, that Frau Bierstadt was not reborn by way of the Maker’s Gift. Doubtful was this loss her fifth gift, therefore one may conclude, and rightly so, that death in childbirth is one of the many “natural death” circumstances that precludes a person from revival by the Ceremony of Life.
Duke Ivo Bierstadt was devastated by the loss of his wife, and initially refused to care for both children. They were placed in a local orphanage, but kept together by the clergy (the orphanage was run much like a nunnery). It was here that Falko began to understand just how much of an outsider he was — he was no longer protected and sheltered. While it’s inappropriate to say that he was tortured, adolescence definitely shaped him in a severe way, leaving him with a strong distaste for institutionalized religion. He sheltered himself with knowledge, particularly alchemical science, for which he developed a passion.
His teenage years also left him with a burning desire to fit in. He quickly realized that his alchemical studies weren’t going to get him what he wanted — he would never be able to study with the locally available best minds in the field. Instead, he kept his hobby secret, but explored other outlets of expression. He found his place when visiting a traveling circus, and marveled at the performances.
It was at this point that he began to study art, literature, and music. The latter two resonated strongly with him. He had always loved reading, but he found that his nimble fingers provided him with a gift for playing stringed instruments. He was fortunate enough to find a mentor, Alyssa Bowman, an aged widower who was from the Midrealm. She tutored him in music, also giving him a rich cultural background on a variety of topics. Although he kept most of his background as a closely guarded secret, he became fascinated with Bowman, and longed to be well traveled, as she was.
After roughly two years into his studies, Bowman became ill. On her deathbed, she imparted to him a glittern of remarkable craftsmanship. With it, she revealed to him that she had once been a member of the Explorer’s Guild, and had at one time been a well-respected adventurer and world traveler.
The glittern, she explained, was an artifact that was recovered from a Northman skald. It had widely been believed that its previous owner used it to persuade the King of Cymbria to bestow his youngest of three daughters unto him. The night before their wedding, the skald’s village was ransacked by “terrible monsters” as the only surviving young boy described them. They had whisked off everything of value, including the glittern. It was during Bowman’s first foray into the Northlands that she had recovered the item which had made its way into the possession of a Blue Dragon. It was with this instrument that she developed a love of music. The moment that she touched its strings, she was enraptured by its tone.
Falko accepted the instrument, and with it, made an oath to himself that he would one day become a successful adventurer. Being a practical sort, Falko — now 18 — knew that he needed money to begin his venture. As fortune would have it, his father, long estranged at this point, was murdered under some suspicious circumstances. The rumor in the realm — he had left the coastal village for the inland hills — was that he owed extensive debts to a gambling partner who had simply had enough. Through the process of the Will, Falko was left with a moderate sum of money. His first instinct was to flee the realm immediately, but he instead decided that he should grow his wealth, and he saw an opportunity to build a name for himself in the process.
He took the money left him, and leased a building in which he established a tavern. The tavern, known as Horse and Claw, became regionally famous for its “singing dwarf bartender.” Although his singing was widely regarded as a bit of a novelty, he had managed to develop an ale that was widely regarded as the best in the Western Realms — both North and South.
Occasionally, adventurers would stop in, and regale Falko with stories of their travel, and he would eagerly soak up the information. He often spun these into his lyrical works, and although amateurish, became known as a source of pseudo-epic regional knowledge.
Falko’s wealth had grown significantly, and he began to feel comfortable. By his 25th year, he began to forget his desire to become an adventurer. Instead, he pursued knowledge like a sponge — continuing to dabble with alchemy as a hobby, but never attempting to do much with the knowledge other than make potions and salves for his own personal use.
One particularly stormy evening, a young teenage visitor showed up at The Horse and Claw. He was horribly scarred, the flesh across his face was deeply split. Falko hardly recognized his brother, until he began to speak in his loud and boisterous tongue. He had clearly already been heavily indulging in drink elsewhere, but decided to catch up with the only flesh and blood relative that he felt “gave a damn” about him. He informed Falko that he was a wanted man — he had, just a fortnight previous, had incestuous affairs with a nearby noble’s wife. Additionally, he had squandered every bit of the inheritance he had received, and was now in need of shelter.
Falko, dismayed with his brother’s reckless lifestyle, hesitantly agreed to put him up. However, by the week’s end, he would regret that decision, as the inevitable fate of Albrecht upended Falko’s life. Albrecht’s pursuers easily learned of his whereabouts, and set The Horse and Claw ablaze. Through the act of arson, Falko’s lost both his brother and his livelihood. Had Falko himself not been performing at a nearby festival, he too would’ve been consumed by flame.
Dismayed and deeply in debt, Falko decided to make good on his old desires to become an adventurer. For a week, he picked up the glittern and busked in the streets, telling anyone who would listen of his plan. This week of hard work provided him with the means to pay off his debts, and gave him a meager traveling budget.
On the next morning, he set off for Archemaine, a city that Bowman had spoken of as being “a city where anything and everything is possible.”