Full name: Zandrix “Drix” Ralinaar
Origin: Cities of Erenar
Class: Sorcerer, Bloodline: Draconic (gold)
Alignment: Chaotic Good
Religious affinity: Avandra
Languages: Common, Gnomish, Sylvan, Terran, Dwarven, Draconic, Elven
Traits: Focused mind, Excitable
Skills of note: Craft (weaponsmith), Knowledge (arcana), Spellcraft, Perception, Bluff, Intimidate, Use Magic Device
Feats: Eschew Materials, Toughness, Arcane Strike, Improved Natural Armor
Short, dirty blonde hair with spiked in various lengths and different directions. Emerald green eye color.
Draconic symbol tattoos in a deep blue, which begin above the left eye, down the side of the face, and into the top of his shirt are visible. In actuality, these extend down to his chest, where they loop around his back and further down his torso.
A bit tall for a gnome, at a height of 3’8”. Weighs approximately 50 pounds. Thinner, but not particularly “skinny.” Wiry and scrappy. He is about 52 years of age (at the beginning of the story), which is the age of a gnomish young adult.
This story starts back when I was just a young, gnomish child in one of the fringe Cities of Erenar. The real story began long before I was born, but it is a story that was told to me by my dear grandfather who passed away just a few years ago…
Part I: My grandfather’s stories
I was always closest with my grandfather. After my mother passed away, he and I bonded. We were both crushed by her passing, but these things happen in a rough world. The city was attacked by strange, dark creatures. They were defeated by the city’s militia, but that was not an easy victory. I was only a kid at the time. I could do little to help. By the time it was all over, many losses had been suffered, and my mother was one of them. I never got along well with my father from the start. I was the youngest, and he thought I was a strange little weakling. My mother always cared for me, though. She always paid attention, and she always made time for me. When she passed away, my father grew even more distant. My grandfather though – my mother’s father – began to take me under his wing.
He always told the best stories. When he was younger – before he had my mother to care for – he was a bit of an adventurer. He never did anything too crazy, but he traveled for a while learning different smithing styles from various kingdoms. He was a good weaponsmith. Even in a city of dwarves and gnomes, his craftsmanship stood out. His weapons were not just good in combat, they were pretty and durable. As I got a little older, he began to teach me the basics of crafting weapons, and when we did that, he would tell me stories.
I recall the most interesting of his tales. This was the tale he never told others, because he told it once to his friends and they all thought he was insane. They distanced themselves from him after this story, mostly because he insisted it was not just a tall tale. Nobody believed him, though, and as he grew older he either kept the story to himself or agreed that it was just a fairy tale he liked to tell because it was fun. I knew better, though…
Part II: An old gnome’s tale
The Cities of Erenar are well known for their caste system. Good craftsmanship can take you far when you’re not of noble blood or a magic user. There are many great opportunities in the Craftsman’s Caste. You may never be quite gain the prestige of a noble title, nor do you stand a good chance of being worshipped as a hero like an accomplished member of the military. Even so, you can get both a great deal of respect as well as a very comfortable standard of living. Good crafts are well-compensated among the Erenar.
My grandfather did amazingly well for himself as a young man, and as he moved into middle age he had nearly perfected his particular style of weaponsmithing. He became well respected among the craftsmen, and he was given high standing in their caste. The highest tier of the Craftsman’s Caste are given a rare opportunity among the Erinar: they are permitted entry to the Deep Forges. Deep below the cities, the most amazing, magical forges exist. I have not seen them myself, but we are all told of their wonder.
The forges, they say, are fueled by Dragonfire. This permits the best craftsmen to work their most difficult and wondrous crafts with amazing ease. Mithril and adamantine can be bent like butter there, and magical power can be imbued rapidly and with ease compared to normal methods. The dragons only fuel the forges – the legends say – because the Erenar nobility agreed many centuries ago to guard their clutch of eggs from the children of Lolth. In exchange, several dragons remained behind to help the mortals craft their weapons, armor, and other mystical things.
My grandfather received a commendation for creating a spear for a particularly high ranking member of the Military Caste – and the second son of a noble – which this soldier used to pierce the heart of a terrible creature in the depths. He was rewarded with access to the deep forges as an assistant, and was given the promise that after ten years of service, he would be given the chance to use the Deep Forges to craft one weapon of his own. He happily accepted, and from that day he began to draw up the designs of his dream weapon.
He worked in the forges for eight years without great incident. He did his job well, helping the smiths and craftsment that worked the forges. He claims that the forges were able to produce weapons, armor, jewelry and tools of untold quality. However, the process of forging with Dragonfire is terribly dangerous, risking the life of the craftsman and – if even a tiny mistake is made – instantly ruining months or even years of work on a particularly legendary item. For these reasons, only a few objects are crafted in the Deep Forges, and a great deal of planning and meticulous effort goes into each one. He did his best to help, and witnessed only a few minor accidents during his time.
In his eighth year, he met a young gnomish woman in the forges. She caught his eye almost instantly, and they struck off a fantastic relationship. He always told me that their conversations were the most engaging. He said she was sweet and funny. He said she was beautiful and captured his gaze more than any other woman he had ever met. They spent the next couple of months together. She was permitted to stay in the forges and spend time with him while he tended to his duties. This was most unusual, but he did not question what he saw as a wonderful gift of time. One night they spent a wonderful evening together, and that night they shared a bed.
My grandfather never did marry, which I thought was strange, but he did have my mother. As it turns out, that fateful night must have been smiled on by the stars, because within a few weeks the young woman informed my grandfather she was with child. He was delighted, and asked her to marry him. He was crushed when she said that she could not. She said that she would have the child, but she needed to leave the forges until it was time. He saw little of her during the next several months, and it upset him greatly. It was not until the night of my mother’s birth that he would understand.
That night, he arrived at the midwife’s home and my mother was born. They were both overjoyed. My grandmother insisted she be allowed to leave the midwife’s hut that night. The midwife tried to argue reason with her, but she refused. She took my grandfather down to the Deep Forges and handed their child over to him. She wept, but said that she had to leave.
The dragons of the deep forges agreed that their line would remain in the forges as long as Erenar stood whole to fulfill their bargain. However, every hundred years the dragons are given one year to leave the forges and do what they pleased. As it turns out, one of the dragons was fairly young for their kind and had spent nearly all of her life beneath Erenar and in the forges. When she was given her year, she never knew where to go or what to do, so she took humanoid shape and spent time in the Cities of Erenar among the people. She most often took the form of a gnome, as she found the magical heritage of the small race enchanting.
This young dragon in a gnome’s body was who my grandfather had met so many months ago. She had deep feelings for him, but knew she would only have one year away from her duties. She would have told him sooner, but if she had she risked their child because she would have been forced to return and take dragon shape again. As dragons do not carry their children within, returning to her true shape would have killed the baby within her. She remained a gnome for all those months to give birth to my mother, and on that night she handed her over and insisted my grandfather keep their love a secret. He wept for the sorrow of their situation, but agreed.
Before his eyes, he claimed, the young gnomish woman walked away and slowly grew into a dragon of the most majestic, gleaming gold. Her scales looked more pure than the finest jewelry crafted by mortals, and even though she was not human he could not help but find her beautiful. He took my mother away that night, and he raised her by himself.
One year afterward, he had finished his ten year service in the Deep Forges, and as per his reward he was given the opportunity to craft one weapon in the forges for himself. He left his daughter in the care of his cousin, and he brought the plans he had been working on for almost a decade with him into the forges.
When he arrived in the forge, he was given a team of ten assistants. He was assigned to one of the forges, he paid for the materials he needed from the great vault, and he arrived at a forge. There he was to meet a dragon who would use her breath to fuel the forges for his weapon. He waited there all day, and when the dragon finally arrived he instantly recognized her as his lost love. He was happy to see her, but he knew that this would be the last time they would be permitted to see one another for at least a hundred years. He put his heart and soul into his work there for nearly three years, working with the woman – the dragon – he had loved.
When he emerged from the forges, he carried with him a spear. It was fit for the hands of a gnome, and glowed at all times as if the sunlight of high noon were glinting off of its head. It was imbued with magic, crafted of rare alloys, and etched with draconic symbols. It was not just a perfectly crafted weapon; it was a work of art. It was also the last weapon he ever crafted in his career. After it was done, he returned to collect my mother and to raise him as best as he could.
She grew into adulthood. She was a very intelligent woman. She caught the eye of many suitors. My grandfather always feared that her secret would come out, but he knew he could not hold her back from living the best life she could. She met a wealthy and powerful gnomish wizard. I still do not know what she saw in him, but he was one of the few whose intelligence could keep up with her. His talent with magic was undeniable, but my grandfather worried that this would mean all the more that he would find out. Just a short time before they were to be wed, the cycle of one hundred years since she had been born had just passed. Her draconic mother assumed a gnome body and returned to them. She was able to remain to see her daughter married, and apologized that she could not be present more. She claimed she did missionary work that took her away for long stretches. My mother was always skeptical, but glad to have her own mother present a while.
To address my grandfather’s concerns, my grandmother placed a magical seal upon her draconic lineage so that her heritage would not be revealed. She also told my grandfather that this was the last year she would see him, as she was to return to her brood – away from the Deep Forges and away from Erenar. They spent what time together they could, and she left.
Part III: Family life
My grandfather became a bit of a hermit after my mother married and moved into her husband’s home. They had two sons. My father hoped that his first two children would show talent with magic and make him proud, but they were surprisingly unskilled with arcane power. My eldest brother joined the military. He became a ranger of great skill and renown, as well as a seasoned veteran in battles among the monsters of the depths. My other brother entered the priesthood and became an esteemed cleric of Errathis. My father always wished one had become a wizard, but was happy with them none the less.
I was born a while after my two brothers. Even when I was young, my father always thought I was odd. He could tell I was smart, but I always seemed to have my head in the clouds – and for the citizens of the Cities of Erenar, that is NOT a good thing. My mother was always the parent with whom I connected better. What probably frustrated my father most of all was that magic made more sense to me than to either of my brothers. I did not know why at the time, but it just made sense. He refused to teach me spells, though. For many years, we just never seemed to get along.
Just before I reached adulthood (well, for a gnome), my mother passed away. She was stricken by a grave disease that hit our city. We believe it was an attack from the creatures in the depths, but nobody is really sure. Many people were hit, and the priests and paladins could not tend to them fast enough. My mother passed away, and though resurrection was attempted, she could not be brought back.
It is my conjecture that whatever seal my grandmother placed on my mother’s blood died along with her. Just a few years later I reached maturity for a gnome, and one day I got lost in a strange tunnel at night. I called for light, and it was there. This was just the first peculiarity among many in the next few weeks. My father and I got in a fight some time later in which he accused me of being useless. He asked me what I could possibly do to measure up to the rest of the family, at which point I exploded and attacked him with a spell. I did not injure him severely, but when he recovered he demanded to know where I had learned this magic. I refused to answer him, though I did not explain that part of my reasoning was that I did not yet know where I learned this magic.
I ended up leaving my family’s household to live with my grandfather. As I said earlier, he and I grew close after my mother’s passing. He told me the story, and it began to make sense that I had somehow inherited the magic of my mother’s lineage. Over time, magic came to me more and more easily. I showed talent with spells of battle, and I learned some of what my grandfather was willing to teach me about his weaponsmithing style. Before ten years had passed, however, my grandfather passed away from old age. I was not surprised, as we both knew he was getting older and his health was beginning to fail him. The only part about the ordeal was that upon his death his most treasured possession passed on to his oldest living relative, who – by marriage – was my father. My father gained possession of his spear, not knowing the story behind its origin. I knew that asking for it was futile, as it was an object of great power. Fortunately, my father knew nothing about using such a weapon – not that I really knew either, but I’m sure I’d stand a better chance of figuring it out than that old fool will.
I never said much to my father as I packed my things and left the city. I was gone in less than a week. I was a bit too bitter to stick around, and I knew that my particular brand of magic would get too many questions I was not prepared to answer to people that held my family name to a particular standard.
I set off into the overworld.
Part IV: Finding my own way
When I first began to travel in the overworld, I was not used to a great deal. I had some money, but not a great deal. My rations ran out quickly during my long travel away from the cities. The first place I stopped for refuge was a Shrine of Avandra. The young priestess there invited me in and gave me food, water, and a place to rest for the night. She helped me learn where I was, and she helped me learn information that would help me determine some good cities to visit. I had hoped to find a few places with decent trade that I might examine some of the weapon styles of different lands, as well as learning more – if possible – about arcane arts and phenomena and about dragons themselves.
Since that day, I stopped when I could at shrines to Avandra that can be found on many of the world’s long roads. I did no usually have much to give, but even a few copper made me feel better. If Avandra would watch over me on my travels, then I would keep her spirit of freedom close to my heart.
I traveled to a few other towns before making it down to Riddleport. I kept moving for a while, having found things of only mild interest in each place. Sometimes I’d find a good bit of clothing or a cheap potion. Sometimes I would find a fairly well made dagger. Still, nothing quite caught my eye as incredibly interesting and worth drawing my attention for any length of time before the cloud that lingers over Riddleport.
I can tell you this much. I think the thing is bad news. I do not know what flavor, but it is bad news. I don’t think it’s just a feature that is there. I think it is doing something, slowly, and in time it will probably be involved in something awful. Why do I think that? I don’t know. Just call it my gut. It seems magical, somehow, and magic that is not well watched or understood has a tendency to draw trouble. That’s what my grandfather always told me, which is why he urged me to control my magic, and watch what people knew about me. If anyone knew too much, I need to be prepared to defend myself from them as they might not understand where my power comes from.
The town stinks. I mean, literally, there is a smell in many parts of it. More figuratively speaking though, I have already found my belongings rummaged through in a few inns I have stayed at. I did not have much to lose, but it was enough. I finally found a room I’ve been staying in comfortable at the Golden Goblin, plus they’re having a big tournament coming up. I could use the chance to enjoy the show – and who knows, maybe someone there will have some information on that strange, lingering cloud over the city.
We shall see…