He was born in Bristol, England, on September 2, 1726, the son of Ellis Kaille, an officer in His Majesty's navy, and Sarah Jerill Kaille, ,the youngest daughter of a British Baron. The eldest of three children, Ethan was blessed with his mother's wit, and also with her conjuring ability. From his father, he got his square chin, his dark blue eyes, and his love of the sea.
As soon as Ethan and his sisters were old enough, his mother began to teach them how to master and control the sorcery that flowed in their blood. Ethan took to it with ease, as did Susannah, the younger of his sisters. Bett, the middle child, struggled with conjuring, and soon gave up on it entirely.
Ellis Kaille tolerated sorcery in his wife and daughters, but he saw spellmaking as an inappropriate pursuit for a young man. War was the province of men, and it was fought under different rules. Conjuring had no place in his world. He wanted Ethan to follow his path, and for a time Ethan was happy to do so. He worked the Bristol wharves as a boy and idolized his father, who had seen his first combat in 1718, as a sailor in the English war with Philip of Spain, and had been promoted to lieutenant by the time Ethan was born. When Ethan joined the British Navy in 1742, Ellis was captain of his own ship, and had already been decorated for his valor in the War of the Austrian Succession (known in North America as King George's War).
Ethan joined the navy in the middle of the conflict and received a commission to serve aboard the Stirling Castle, a third rate ship of the line bearing 70 guns. On February 11, 1744, under the command of Captain Thomas Cooper, in the van of the British fleet commanded by Admiral Thomas Matthews, the Stirling Castle engaged the French at the Battle of Toulon. Though Ethan acquitted himself well, the battle went poorly for His Majesty's navy and the Castle was forced to withdraw with the rest of the fleet, ending a British blockade. Matthews and Cooper were court-martialed, and though they were soon reinstated to their ranks and postings, the experience left Ethan embittered. Matthews wanted Ethan back on his ship, but Ethan had seen enough of the British Navy. With help from his disapproving father, he managed to get out of his commission. In September 1744, he sailed for America.
Upon his arrival in Boston, in the Province of Massachusetts Bay, Ethan found work in the South End, working the wharves [see map]. But he was already looking for positions aboard merchant ships. While working at the waterfront, he befriended a young boy by the name of Devren Jervis, who helped Ethan find his was around the strange city. He also met a woman named Marielle Taylor -- Elli -- the daughter of Van Taylor, a wealthy Boston shipbuilder. Beautiful, brilliant, spirited, Ethan fell in love with her, and she with him. Before long they began to speak of marriage, but Ethan was determined to make his fortune first.
In June of 1745, Ethan joined the crew of the privateering ship Ruby Blade as her second mate. She left port shortly after, and at first enjoyed some success sailing the waters of the Atlantic, intercepting Spanish and French ships, and plundering their holds. But their takings were meager, and their early successes gave way to leaner times. When the ship's first mate began to speak of mutiny, he found willing allies among the crew. He convinced Ethan to throw in his lot with the mutineers, and even to cast spells against the captain. They managed to win control of the Blade for a time, but the captain and men loyal to him ultimately prevailed.
Ethan and the others were returned to London for their trial. The first mate was hanged; most of the rest were thrown in prison. Ethan was sentenced to fourteen years' labor and transported to a sugar plantation in Barbados, where he was held, along with cutthroats, thieves, escaped slaves, and deserters in horrific conditions. During his captivity, a fellow laborer accidently struck his foot with a cane knife. Having foresworn conjuring after his conviction, he would not use his power to heal himself, and even if he had been willing to conjure, living in such close proximity with his guards and fellow prisoners, he wouldn’t have dared make the attempt. Within two days, the wound was infected. Soon, Ethan’s entire leg from the knee down was bloated and hot to the touch. The overseers managed to save the leg, but they had to cut off three of his toes to do it.
Ethan was finally released in 1760. He returned to Boston, and searched for Elli. But she wanted nothing to do with him. Before learning of the Ruby Blade incident, she hadn't known he was a conjurer, and even if she had, she wanted nothing to do with a mutineer and convict. While Ethan was a prisoner, she married another man, a wealthy merchant, with whom she had two children. Bett, Ethan's middle sister, was now living in Boston as well. She had married a British customs official, and was a respected member of Boston society. She, too, shunned her brother.
Devren "Diver" Jervis on the other hand, was pleased to see his old friend. And not long after Ethan's return to the city, he met Kannice Lester, a young widow and the owner of the Dowsing Rod, a tavern on Sudbury Street.
Once settled in Boston, Ethan needed work. As a convict, he found it hard to find a decent job. But he had other talents -- skill with a blade, some knowledge of firearms, and, of course, his abilities as a conjurer. In a city with no real constabulary, a city that saw more than its share of thieving and unrest, these were talents that many men would pay money to have at their beck and call. Ethan turned to thieftaking, and soon established himself as one of Boston's leading thieftakers, nearly a rival to Sephira Pryce herself...