Date of Birth:
Place of Birth:
Best Advice to People Who Meet
· “Excuse me, Ma’am, I’m a wizard. Need some magic in your life?”
· “Uhh, no… I can’t remember right now where I put that magical item you lent me two weeks ago…”
· “You go first.”
· 5503 “Call of the Dragon, Part I”
· 5504 “Call of the Dragon, Part II”
Despite all that the adult Barandas would like to claim, neither is Coopershire the poorest state in the Topay Coalition, nor is Shawlerham its poorest city. And his father wasn’t a small-time crook who had to steal to feed his family until one day he was caught and hung, at a time when Barandas was a mere six years of age. As much as the wizard would like people to believe, he did not take over feeding the family after his father’s death, by any means necessary.
The truth is that his father Levardas worked at a local distillery, a company of low repute – and low pay –that provided the cheap spirits for the inns in the area. And true it is that his father quickly developed a fondness for the liquor so easily available. As a result his family only saw him rarely, when the drunk man stumbled back home to demand food and attention – not rarely emphasizing said demands with beatings.
The young Barandas quickly distanced himself mentally from his father, pursuing fantasies of his “real” father – a noble thief, one who lives on the edge and does so only for the love of his family. Living in a world of dreams he hardly noticed that it was his mother Fairsight who provided for them, working long hours making or mending dresses at a miserable income. When his father died in an accident at work, his absence hardly touched eleven-year old Barandas. His “real” father was still out there, after all, providing for them in a mysterious way.
And he was willing to follow in his footsteps, starting a life of crime (at roughly the level of apples and loose change) – that was very quickly curtailed when a passing wizard noticed Barandas’ budding talent in magic. The wizard – by the name of Shearward – must have been very perceptive for Barandas had not shown any sign of spellcasting (nor would he succeed for a long time after) – but he was intrigued enough to offer the boy’s mother a deal. He would arrange for her a position at a tailorshop in a better part of town, and in exchange Barandas would go with the wizard to college.
Fairsight agreed after long pondering. On the one hand, the wizard seemed to be an honest fellow – on the other, the prospect of earning real money, to be able to raise her daughter well, that prospect was too good to let go.
Barandas saw very little of Shearward in the coming years – and precious little of the auditoriums of the college at Mercurham. As often as he could, he sneaked out to take a look at the town, and also to hone the craft of thievery. After a year at college he considered himself rather good. Which was exactly when he was finally caught trying to lift a ring from a jeweler’s. In jail was the first time he saw Shearward again.
“You’re wasting your life,” the wizard admonished the boy angrily. Barandas shook his head. “I don’t care about your stupid college! It’s not going to do me any good!” – “And stealing will?! Boy, do you have any idea what magic can do? All the riches in the world cannot compare to magic! It is supreme!” The wizard’s words seemed to have no impact on the youth who cockily matched his stare. Finally Shearward sighed, “I will take you back to the college. City jail is no place for a boy your age. Instead, you will clean the laboratories in the college basement for the next month. Perhaps work will cure you of your ideas.”
Shearward was right. The work in the basement did cure Barandas of his ideas of a life as a thief – yet in a way that the wizard probably would not have approved. Cleaning the laboratories the boy caught glimpses of the higher level wizards at work, not to mention that he saw – and touched – the remains of their experiments. Only now did he realize what magic could truly wreak, what power was contained in the elder wizard’s minds and the appliances they used or created.
And Barandas found to his surprise that he very much wanted to be a wizard. He desired that power, as quickly as he could get it. He still had no patience for the dry-as-fall-leaves lectures, no patience to slowly build magical power. There was another way, after all: magical appliances could grant anyone – especially a wizard – the magical strength of the more experienced.
In the following years he still spent time in the city, but more and more his midnight expeditions led into the basement, to unlock some of the secrets hidden there. He found some of the appliances, some of the diaries of the wizards – information that he tried to piece together over the years. The locks to the laboratories took him a while to learn, but fortunately none of the wizards had thought to cast a protective spell over them. Still, it would have been impossible to do so undetected, he knew, if he hadn’t pursued the fantasy of thievery for so long.
During the lectures he was too tired to pay attention, and as a result forever graced the bottom of his class. Shearward, on the rare occasion that he saw Barandas, reminded him of the possibilities that magic offered, yet he never reprimanded him for his poor showing.
There was another interest that Barandas pursued, with the same dedication and stubborness he reserved for the other two: women! During his stints through town, as the years brought him closer to adulthood, he began to appreciate the allure of beautiful women. Giving in to said allure had never been a problem, particularly since holding back never occurred to him.
One has to say that these pursuits were blessed with more success than his forays into magic or thievery: Barandas’ ready smile and cocky attitude allowed him to conquer more than one woman’s heart (and often enough break it quickly afterwards). Of course he was far from invincible, and not every woman he pursued fell for him. (In fact his success rate grew continuously worse, as his reputation began to spread.)
The eighteen year-old Barandas was rather satisfied with himself in this regard until one of his flings was uncovered by a rather upset father. Dangerously upset – since said father was the dean of the college of the wizardry! His daughter, a sweet girl of seventeen years, had been entertained by the idea of having one of her father’s students as a boyfriend, as much as Barandas had enjoyed playing with the danger. Life on the razor’s edge found a sudden end, and if it hadn’t been for the fervent pleas of the girl, Barandas’ life in total would have been at an end – the receiving end of a fireball, to be exact.
The dean had Barandas confined to quarters, his daughter carted out of town, and then a trial was called, with the dean as president and judge. The outcome seemed completely set, until Shearward miraculously returned from a journey and asked what was going on. “He ensorceled my poor, innocent girl!” the dean cried.
Shearward raised a quizzical eyebrow. “Barandas? Ensorceled?”
“I wasn’t talking about wizardry! Don’t you see how evil that boy is?! I demand satisfaction for what happened to my girl!”
“Ahh,” Shearward nodded, cast a calm look to the contrite Barandas (who was wondering how exactly he could have been caught, despite his precautions), then he smiled. “Dear dean, I am appalled by your words! How dare you call Barandas evil? Your future son-in-law?”
Shearward’s smile spread to the dean’s lips. “Yes,” he said slowly, “how dare I?”
“What?!” Barandas interjected, utterly shocked by the proceedings.
“Agree to it,” Shearward whispered quickly, “or you will never have the chance to agree to anything else.”
And so Barandas agreed to marry Solania, the dean’s daughter – which the elder wizards agreed was apt punishment for the student’s misdeeds. They knew well that Solania wasn’t the sweet, innocent girl her father proclaimed her to be. Soon Barandas also would learn the truth of this, as his wife turned out to be a harsh mistress. The couple’s fights soon became legendary, and to the dean’s own surprise, Barandas gained his respect since he managed to hold his ground against Solania.
Perhaps the “steady home” caused Barandas to attend classes more willingly – his sojourns to the city had been automatically cancelled by his wife, and so were his midnight excursions to the college basement. Perhaps Barandas started concentrating on the lectures – or perhaps his teachers were sympathetic with his fate – but his grades began to improve. There was actually hope he might finish college!
To preclude any further speculation, the marriage did not last very long. On the day of his graduation, there was another fight – one that was heard throughout the college and is still recounted today. Each gave as good as he or she took, and in the end both asked for a divorce. (Screamed, rather.) The dean agreed, and Barandas was free to leave Mercurham, free to cut a life of his own and confirm to himself that he would never be the marrying kind.
But one more tale of his college days remains, his graduation.
Although his grades in theoretical magic had risen to acceptable levels, there was still the matter of the presentation. Each wizard-to-be was required to showcase at least one spell, preferably a powerful one – or a sequence of smaller spells that convey an artistic meaning.
Yet Barandas had only managed a measley lightspell to that day, of the kind that other students produce in their second year at the college. If his other grades had been excellent, he would have grudgingly passed the presentation – but that was nothing Barandas could hope for.
And rather than spend another year at the college (not to mention being married), he devised a plan that should impress his teachers. For that he needed to make one more trip to the laboratories in the basement, an extensive one during which he broke into every one of the rooms and collected a small assortment of appliances. He made sure that they were unimportant artefacts, those that would hardly be missed if everything else was perfectly re-arranged as it had been before.
Unimportant the artefacts were, but not powerless. At his presentation, Barandas performed a series of spells that wove together into a furious spectacle. “Magnificent,” the dean grumbled at the sight, wondering where his son-in-law had hidden those abilities. (To Barandas’ luck, it is nearly impossible to tell whether a wizard is casting a spell, or whether he is using an appliance. More than luck, he had also made sure that the artefacts produced spells that were similar to those simpler spells that he was supposed to know. None of the wizards in attendance suspected deception.)
The following night – after the disagreement with his soon-to-be ex-wife – he returned the appliances, sure that he had ascertained freedom for himself. Planning to pack his bags for travel and leave the very next morning, he returned to his quarters. In front of his room, Shearward was waiting. “I suppose I should congratulate you,” the old wizard said.
“Probably,” Barandas agreed carefully, wondering whether Shearward knew where he had just come from.
Shearward nodded. “The question is, what should I congratulate you for? Young fellow, you don’t know yourself yet. If one day you should find out, think of me.” With that the wizard patted the youth’s shoulders and left. To this day, Barandas has not seen him again.