Nikolai was born in the capital city of New Stetvan to a branch of House Surtova newly arrived to that city from their home in Port Ice. A distant nephew of the current king of Brevoy, Nikolai is 97th in line for the crown, and proud of it. Nikolai led a fairly sheltered life, his only interactions with others being the nobility and their servants. As such, he has a distrust of foreigners born of ignorance and lack of experience rather than a deep seated hatred.
The 4th child of 6, Nikolai always sought the attention of his parents, his other siblings and anyone who would listen. Brash, arrogant and quick to leap into action against better judgment, Nikolai has embarrassed not only himself but also his family on several occasions with a careless insult to a rival family or an unsubtle flirtation with a young heiress. Flirtations that invariably led him nowhere except to a stern talking to in his father’s office and a forced apology to the offended parties.
As Nikolai’s parents began searching for a way for him to vent his passion in a more constructive manner, an opportunity presented itself. While attending court he overheard another noble insult his father. Leaping up to defend the honor of his family, he was handily defeated in the ensuing honor duel and forced to yield. Fortunately for Nikolai, he caught the eye of a visiting swordlord who saw his potential, as well as a chance to gain the favor of the Surtova family, and took him under his wing to train in the art of swordsmanship. Nikolai was thrilled at the opportunity to train with the best. His parents were thrilled to have him out of the house.
Nikolai made the journey to Restov to train at one of the many dueling academies there. Beaming at the chance to prove his martial prowess, Nikolai found himself placed in a beginners’ class with the children of nobles who had a long tradition of becoming swordlords. Looking at these children, all 10 years younger or more, and seeing their master crafted Aldori dueling blades (no doubt handed down to them) Nikolai looked at his own weighted, wooden training blade and decided to take action. Seeking out one of the best swordsmiths in the city, Nikolai used his family name to pressure the smith into forging him a blade of his own. Nikolai felt a little guilty about bullying the smith in such a way, but a few weeks later he had a blade to rival that of the children he trained with.
Over the next 4 years, Nikolai excelled at his martial training, while daydreaming through his history and philosophy courses. Upon his graduation from the academy he received a package marked with the seal of his family. In it he found a suit of armor and a two sheets of paper. The first was a letter from his father. Apparently the call had gone out to enterprising individuals to venture into the River Kingdoms to rid the area of monsters and bandits and to create their own kingdoms, bringing civilization to that wild land. Along with this letter was the official letter of marque, authorizing Nikolai to go into the River Kingdoms, take the fight to those who might oppose him, and forge his own destiny.