Ballum was the younger brother of Elstred.[nb 1] During his brother's tenure as king of Deltora, Ballum was very popular among the people of Deltora. Elstred trusted Ballum's advice more than anyone else's, much to the chagrin of Agra, Elstred's mysterious chief advisor. Most notably, Ballum convinced his brother to continue wearing the Belt of Deltora even after it became tight around Elstred's plump stomach, despite Agra's insistence that the king remove the belt for his comfort.
On Elstred's birthday, Ballum prepared a magic trick for the king's entertainment; a casket that released a thousand stars upon being opened. However, when the casket was opened, a tongue of fire was released instead, and Ballum was horribly burned. Though Ballum's eyes were miraculously unharmed, his face was permanently scarred, his personality was darkened, and his popularity faded. Ballum made himself an amazing mask shaped like an owl's head to wear over his ruined face.
Sometime after the accident, Agra claimed to have found poison in a cup that Ballum was passing to his brother. Agra called for the guards, telling Elstred that Ballum was trying to assassinate him out of jealousy and bitterness. Ballum, distraught upon seeing that Elstred believed her, fled from Del, living in the Os-Mine Hills for a time, surviving on roots and berries.
Founding of the Masked Ones
Ballum eventually made his way to the north of Deltora, away from the pursuing guards, and made a living by juggling and singing in the streets. Ballum was slowly joined by more travelling entertainers. When Ballum informed his new companions that he was a wanted man, they too donned masks like Ballum's to confuse any pursuing guards so that he could evade capture. Ballum's troupe came to be known as "The Masked Ones" over the years. Ballum himself married an acrobat in the troupe, Liah, and spent much of his time inventing new, even more wondrous masks. After Ballum's death, his daughter, Sarah, lead the Masked Ones, and Ballum's descendants continue to lead the troupe, though very few in Deltora remember that he was King Elstred's brother, even his descendants.
Ballum's exile was an important event in Deltora's history. Without Ballum's advice, Agra maintained a powerful hold over King Elstred, convincing him to only wear the Belt of Deltora on special occasions. Agra and all subsequent chief advisors would slowly weaken and discredit the royal family, paving the way for the Shadow Lord's second invasion of Deltora.
Many years after Ballum's death, his tale was recorded by Josef in Tales of Deltora. Josef selected Ballum's tale as an example of how history can be repeated; Ballum and Elstred shared a very similar relationship to King Endon and Jarred. Josef ponders how different Deltora would have been if Elstred had listened to Ballum, or if Endon had known of Ballum's tale.
Ballum's story was recounted by Doom, who had heard it from Steven. Doom told Lief about Ballum, noting the similarity between his situation with Endon and Ballum's.
Ballum was described as being very handsome, with twinkling eyes, before his accident. Ballum's eyes were unharmed by the accident that burned him, but his face was hideously scarred. To hide his burns, Ballum made a magnificent mask shaped like an owl’s head, and wore it over his face for the rest of his life. The mask, brown and white, was eventually passed down to Bess nearly 1,000 years later.
Ballum had a lively personality, which earned him a great deal of popularity among Deltora's people. He mingled with the commoners in Del frequently and was admired and loved by his brother and niece. Ballum possessed a great deal of common sense as well, which is why Elstred trusted his judgment. After Ballum's accident, his personality changed significantly. He grew bitter and darker, unnerving his brother and the people of Deltora. After his exile from Del, Ballum grew to hate his brother for believing Agra's lies, though he eventually regained his old, lighthearted personality when the future Masked Ones rallied around him.
Ballum was a multi-talented man. He was a skilled juggler and knew a number of complicated magic tricks. He was a phenomenal singer, supposedly capable of calling birds from trees with his songs. Ballum apparently had some skill as a mask-maker as well, spending a great deal of his time with the Masked Ones “improving” the masks for his troupe, though it is unclear if Ballum was responsible for the permanent masks the Masked Ones eventually took to wearing.