Erasmus "Raz" Baum
Erasmus Baum’s life began with misfortune. His father Heinrich was killed at the Battle of Breitenfeld in 1631, and his mother Grede only discovered she was pregnant after the loss of her husband. She found herself in dire straits financially and gave birth to Raz the following year. The boy was thin and pale, with a lame left leg, and Grede loved him.
Grede and her son were taken in by three older women who provided for them. Agnes, Yrmengardis, and Evfemia (a distant relative of Heinrich) all helped care for Grede and young Raz, and it was slowly revealed that they were practitioners of the dark arts. They introduced their new wards to the ways of witchcraft, and how to negotiate with the denizens of the other worlds. The Baums adapted to their new lives, and never prospered, but lived comfortably and were able to leave the Aunties to set out on their own.
In 1638, a witch hunt sparked and caught fire in the region. Manfried Kircher, a Jesuit working under the commission of the Archbishop, led the trials. Many were executed. Eventually his minions caught up with Grede. She was tried and burned as a witch while young Raz looked on. Despite having been tortured for days by Kircher, Grede never gave up the names of anyone else in her coven. The Aunties spirited the boy away and kept him safe. They raised him as their own for the next ten years, teaching him myriad languages and furthering his studies.. Eventually he knew he had to leave Cologne and find a way to pay back the three witches who had raised him.
Raz spent the next several years finding work where he could, as a laborer and then a scribe. He made enough to roughly outfit himself and still provide for the Aunts. One Summer day in 1653, he received a mysterious invitation from Anton Ossa, Edler von Siegen of Ravensburg…..