The Legend of Brandinno Sandy
Shadewater had been a small port city of the Annazian Empire. After the Shattering (when Sage Battai commanded the casting of the Fog of Ages, the dissolution of the Empire, and the breaking of the Empire’s great scrying mirrors) the city fell into disuse, as there was no longer sufficient trade to make it sensible for people to live there. Most of the merchants and nobles sailed south, most of the peasants drifted to the rural parts of the Spreythornes to farm and herd. Soon the only remaining inhabitants was a small community of halflings, living in the great stone warehouses by the docks and fishing in the bay from small boats.
The remainder of the city was left empty. Without regular maintenance, not even the skilled architecture of the Annazian’s could long withstand the region’s climate. The centuries took their toll and the city slowly slumped into disrepair.
About a 1100 years ago (about 700 years after the Shattering), Nitrixlis, an ancient black dragon, took up residence in the ruins of the upper city. For about three generations, Nitrixlis spent almost all his time sleeping or scouring the old city for treasure. He ignored the halflings in the bay below, and when hungry usually flew south or east to poach sheep from farmers. The halflings would keep a lookout, and avoid the lake whenever the dragon had taken to the air, and so in this way the two groups lived in a semblance of peace.
At some point, though, Nitrixlis changed his attitude towards the little halflings. He began waiting in secret for them, until they would go out onto the lake then swoop down and pluck this or that one away for his snack. Sometimes he would simply smash their boats, then laugh while he watched them desperately try to swim to safety in the middle of the dark and frigid waters. At other times he would swoop by the entrance to the warehouses, shooting a line of his deadly acid breath down them, not caring whether it hit anything or not just reveling in the terror it caused.
Because of the geography of the region, the halflings were unable to flee without being easily spotted by the dragon. Instead they were trapped, forced to live inside the warehouses and tunnels by the ports, fishing by night from the shore with lines, catching rats or other vermin in the ancient sewers, hungry and afraid.
Brandinno Sandy, a young halfling whose parents had been killed, vowed to end this menace. Brandinno had heard old stories of a mighty silver dragon living in the mountains to the east. One night, Brandinno set out to find the dragon and beg it for help. In the dead of night, Brandinno left his friends and snuck out of the city in a tiny boat, paddling east. He was not seen again for nearly twenty five years; all assumed he had been eaten by Nitrixlis during his attempted escape.
Then one day Brandinno returned. In fact, Brandinno’s tiny boat had escaped Shadewater that night. He had paddled all the way across to the continent, crossed the coastal range and the Hurt Valley, and trecked into the mountains looking for the silver dragon his legends spoke of. Brandinno even managed to find the dragon’s lair, but alas it was long deserted.
Unsure what to do next, Brandinno kept journeying, looking for someone who could help. While crossing the mountains, Brandinno met a wizard, one of the few who had preserved the secret arts through the Fog of Ages. The wizard was on a journey across Orias to see who else still knew the secrets. The wizard saw some special spark in Brandinno, and asked him to be his apprentice.
Brandinno studied with the wizard and served him as the two made their way slowly beneath the earth, to the deep mushroom forests of the myconids and the clockwork cities of the Svirfneblin. Then onward, back to the surface and eastward still, across the Frost Sands desert. From there, to the golden savannahs of ancient Annazia, once rich with grain but now long gone to seed and butchery, seeking sages to trade spell components. Next they sailed south, visiting the faded remains of the Lavender Cities, beyond Stillforge and its everdark pallor, and then across the coral seas to the sweltering jungles of The Lahan; the drowned lands, crawling with mosquitos and fouler things still. There they studied with the RIth Eshath, the undying warriors, and the Kuno Yang, keepers of the First Language.
Each day Brandinno served the wizard, and by night he poured over wizard’s ancient tomes, learning from them their secrets. Always through his travels Brandinno kept his ear open for news of a metallic dragon who could kill Nitrixlis. At the end of ten long years, the wizard told Brandinno he had no more to teach him. Brandinno was as skilled as he, and thus it was time for him to journey out on his own and seek his dragon-savior in earnest.
For fifteen more years Brandinno journeyed, from one end of Orias to the other. While he met many dragons, none were strong enough to agree to challenge Nitrixlis. Although he heard rumors of mightier dragons, none could ever be found. All stories said they were in hiding, waiting until the passing of the Fog to preserve their power. In the process, though, almost without realizing, Brandinno grew to be the greatest wizard of all halfling history. Eventually, Brandinno decided that, just like when he’d padded off in that rowboat all those years ago, it was time to once again take matters into his own hands.
Brandinno summoned and bound a mighty baalor, Ndulu, and returned to Shadewater riding upon its back. Without hesitation Brandinno and Ndulu attacked Nitrixlis; Ndulu pouring hellfire upon the dragon, and Brandinno unleashing devastating magical energies. The battle raged but for a few minutes, but was terrifying to behold. In the end Nitrixlis was slain, and most of the upper city lay in rubble. The only parts spared were what is today known as the haunted quarter, and Marigold’s wharf, where Brandinno’s community lived.
At this time, of course, the Fog of Ages was still strongly in effect. Brandinno cast two spells. First, he imprisoned Ndulu in an orb of gold and glass. Ndulu was bound to emerge and serve Brandinno’s people whenever they were threatened with extermination. Next, he stored his tomes of knowledge and instructions for starting a school of magic in the tunnels by Marigold’s wharf, and set upon them a spell so that when the Fog lifted they would be found (these are the tomes that allowed the founding of the Brandinno Sandy School of Magical Arts). With these spells cast, Brandinno set off for the outer planes, to continue perfecting his crafts and exploring.