Koltain is the second son of Theon and Arianne Greyjoy. He was raised in the village of Freehold in the Frostback mountains. The Freehold is unusual due to a relatively high level of integration between the Fereldan settlers and Avvars. The name reflects a level of independence from Fereldan Politics as well as ties to the Avvarian clans. In fact, Arianne’s mother Cersei was an Avvari. Naming conventions among the Freehold followed the Avvar tradition, so as a child he was known as Koltain Ar’Theon O Freehold, but were he to give his true name in Fereldan it would be Koltain Greyjoy.
When Koltain was a young child (4 yrs old) his older brother Verys began to exhibit magical ability. Arianne wanted to send Verys to Cersei, who would in turn foster him to a hedge doctor (Apostate medicine woman/man), Theon felt they had an obligation to send him to the Circle of Magi. In the end, Theon won out and Verys was turned over to the Templar, who assured the Greyjoys that Verys would be cared for and protected from himself in the Tower.
Just 2 years later, Koltain himself began to exhibit similar magical ability, but Arianne feared loosing their second son, so she hid Koltain’s outbursts from Theon. When Theon left the Freehold during a hunt, Arianne took Koltain to Cersei, who had returned to the Avvar after her husband’s death. By the time Theon had returned, Koltain had been fostered to the Hedge witch Marseilla, and Arianne kept his location hidden from Theon long enough that Theon agreed to let the apprenticeship continue.
Maresilla is an Apostate Orlesian exile, who had found sanctuary from the Templar as a healer among the Avvar of Frosthold. At the outset of his apprenticeship, Maresilla taught Koltain healing both magical and mundane. In addition, she impressed upon Koltain the risks of using magic, and how to avoid unwanted attention both from the Chantry and beings of the Fade. Seeing the utility and benign nature of her teaching, the Greyjoys were happy to allow the apprenticeship to continue.
As Koltain entered puberty, Maresilla began to teach him not only how to avoid detection, but also how to defend himself in the event of discovery by the Templar. This is how he learned the spells Mindblast and Walking bomb.
Had events continued as expected, Koltain would have been released from his apprenticeship by his 18th birthday. Unfortunately, when he was 16 his uncle Howland GreyJoy visited the Freehold, and discovered the apprenticeship to an Apostate. Upon his return to the lowlands, he contacted the Templar, and so Maresilla was discovered. When the Templar came to her hut outside of the Frosthold, Koltain tried to defend Maresilla, and killed one of the Templar himself. With the Templar defeated, Maresilla fled, and Koltain returned to the Freehold.
When his father discovered that Koltain had ‘Murdered’ a Templar, he disowned him. With Maresilla gone and his family unwelcoming, Koltain fled to the lowlands. He enlisted as a medic with the Blackstone Irregulars. Using his skill with mundane healing as a cover, Koltain was able to practice magical healing without discovery.
This continued for nearly 3 years, until Koltain found himself in the thick of a battle. The Irregulars were being pushed back, and Koltain was in combat against 3 enemy soldiers. Without options, he used Mindblast to escape. Unbeknownst to Koltain, his superior officer observed the event, and planned to deliver Koltain to the Chantry in the next village stationed with Templar. Luckily for Koltain, his friend among the Irregulars, the elvish scout Luthien, overheard the officer meeting with one of the Templar. Koltain and Luthien deserted and escaped into the wilderness.
Koltain dresses as an Avvari clansman, so as to avoid detection as an apostate. While living with Maresilla, he had no contact with his brother. Until this point he has often wondered what became of Verys, but has been unwilling to visit the Circle Tower due to his understandable fear of the Templar and the Circle.