Grave Robber and Accomplished Liar
Albrecht Fahl was born to Kurt and Hanna Fahl among the tumbledown dockyard slums of Ubersreik. Hanna died less than a year after the boy’s birth, so his father raised Albrecht with the help of Albrecht’s older sister Greta.
Kurt was a grave robber by trade, and would skulk among the tombs and hedges of Ubersreik’s graveyards by night, digging up the graves of the recently-interred in order to sell any possessions buried with the dead — as well as any corpses fresh enough to be valuable to the city’s many physicians.
Despite his occupation, the children’s father was a pious and dutiful man. Albrecht and Greta were raised to respect and honor all of the gods in the Imperial pantheon, even — and perhaps especially — Morr, the god of the dead, whose wrath they risked with every disturbed grave.
As soon as the children were old enough, they began accompanying their father on his midnight excursions. Albrecht would help his father with the digging, while Greta served as a lookout. Once a body had been exhumed, it would be loaded into a false-bottomed cart, the top portion of which had been piled high with horse dung, in order to discourage close examination. Greta would then wheel the cart off into the night to make the rounds of likely buyers while Albrecht and his father replaced the disturbed soil. In this way, the trio generally managed to stay sheltered and fed.
Though they occupied a low position in life, Kurt nevetheless had high hopes for his son. In order to try and help Albrecht make a better life for himself, he entered into an arrangement with Doctor Johannas Rudloff, a professor associated with the Ubersreik College of Surgery. In exchange for a steady stream of fresh bodies for anatomical dissection, Doctor Rudloff would teach young Albrecht to read and write, and then, when the boy had reached a suitable age, would take him on as an apprentice. Soon, Albrecht was haltingly reading gravestone inscriptions in the moonlight, to the great delight of his proud father.
It was not to last, however. Soon enough, one of Doctor Rudloff’s students recognized one of the anatomical specimens as his own brother, who had last been seen alive and well at a wharfside tavern the night before. The resulting hue and cry ended with the hanging of Doctor Rudloff and of Kurt Fahl. Greta fled to Auerswald, and Albrecht was left alone in the city.
Whether due to a sense of longing for the mother he never knew, his exposure to Doctor Rudloff’s occupation, or a simple, pragmatic horror of disease and death, it was around this time that Albrecht began to develop a particular affinity for Shallya, the goddess of health and healing. He returned to grave-robbing, and also recruited an accomplice; a penniless young tough by the name of Wolfgang Jäger.
Albrecht always had some grandiose scheme or another in mind, and Wolfgang was never particularly bright, a combination which often tended to dissipate the pair’s efforts to little effect.
As an example, Albrecht and Wolfgang once spent weeks tunneling under the Morrsgarten, one of Ubersreik’s better-guarded graveyards, from an adjacent unoccupied townhouse. Albrecht’s plan had been to break into the elaborate mausoleum of the ruling von Jungfreud family from underneath, thus eliminating the risk of discovery by watchmen patrolling the graveyard.
Unfortunately, a miscalculation on Albrecht’s part caused the pair to tunnel too far, overshooting their target and instead breaking into one of Ubersreik’s chronically overtaxed sewer pipes. Albrecht and Wolfgang nearly drowned in their tunnel as it rapidly flooded with foul sewage. The tunnel was unusable, and the townhouse from which they’d performed their excavations was rendered entirely unsuitable for human habitation.
Despite the near-constant setbacks occasioned by Albrecht’s overly optimistic schemes, they paid off often enough to have allowed the two young men to live reasonably well, but their profligate and intemperate natures kept them from ever holding on to money for much longer than it took to spend it. Much of their time was spent at a decrepit waterfront dive known as the Red Moon Inn, where they soon developed something of a reputation for standing rounds for the house one night, and begging for a bowl of stew the next.
It was during this time that Albrecht and Wolfgang became acquainted with a young woman named Gertrud Scharf, a barmaid and occasional prostitute. She showed romantic interest in both of the young men, and over time drifted into and out of relationships with both, which, predictably, led to escalating tension between the pair. The partnership ended with a fistfight, which Albrecht lost.
Since then, Albrecht has worked alone, mostly uneventfully. The last three months, however, have been marked by a series of misfortunes. The false-bottomed cart, along with his spade and other tools, were lost in a fire ignited during the Cobble Tax Riots, and the priests of Morr on the night watches have begun exhibiting what Albrecht considers to be excessive vigilance, in response to the emergence of an unsubstantiated rumor about ghouls in the sewers.
And so he enters play, reduced to nothing but the clothes on his back, a dagger, a few pennies, and a crude brass token — worthless to most, but precious to Albrecht Fahl — inscribed with a symbol of Shallya.