“When the Night Dragon first breathed unholy life, the skies across Anderland darkened. Fierce winds raced across the countryside and destructive bolts of lightning filled the air. As the monster took flight, its terrifying roar shattered the air and signaled the start of the longest night in the Duchy’s history”
In the present day, twenty years after its demise, the Night Dragon remains a powerful fixture in myth, folklore, and story in the Duchy of Anderland. In the course of a single day, the Night Dragon killed over two thousand men, women, and children. During its brief reign of terror, it destroyed six different villages and nearly destroyed the duchy’s capital city. If not for the brave resistance of a handful of defenders, as well as the sacrifice of many determined defenders, the entire duchy may have fallen.
Factual information concerning the Night Dragon – sometimes known as Nithgaurim – has proven difficult to uncover. A number of sages and diviners have attempted to unravel the mystery surrounding the creature, but with disappointing results.
Based on the best information available, Nithgaurim was a creature created by the primordials in the Dawn War against the gods. During this ancient conflict, the primordials altered their strategy. Rather than fighting to win, they fought to annihilate the mortal world and thus render the gods’ victory useless. To that end, they created a number of immensely powerful creatures to serve as living weapons. One such creature, Nithgaurim was created to destroy everything living in its sight. The creature never saw use during the actual war; it remained imprisoned deep below the earth, forgotten by the primordials and hidden to the gods.
Due to the efforts of an obscure cult of the Blighted, Nithgaurim awoke within its prison. Based on available evidence, this event occurred approximately fortyyears ago. For the next two decades, the cult struggled to free the creature they viewed as an undying god. They named this beast “the Night Dragon.” Eventually, their rituals and sacrifices bore fruit and Nithgaurim escaped its prison.
As a reward for the cult’s assistance, the Night Dragon devoured most of its worshippers. From there, it unleashed its fury on the Duchy of Anderland. Over the course of a day, it utterly destroyed six individual villages, killing hundreds of people in the process. The forces of Duke Liam d’Anderville did everything possible to slow the creature down to buy time for the capital city to prepare its defenses. Over one hundred of the duke’s best knights died while fighting the Night Dragon.
By nightfall, Nithgaurim arrived over the city of Andersgate. The duchy threw every available resource at the threat. The ducal soldiers attacked with siege weapons. Every remaining Warden in the realm – including their apprentices – fought in the battle. Bands of adventurers used every weapon and spell at their disposal. For much of the night, the battle raged in the skies over the city, and on the ground near the ducal palace.
As dawn approached, the last surviving defenders of the palace launched a desperate attack. Led by the duke’s son, Caldric, the attackers included in their number several important people, including the legendary Warden known as Jarda Stonewarden, the duke’s best friends, and a number of ducal advisers, including the wizard Kyman Andoverge and a priest of Bahamut named Edmund Crane.
Against all odds, these men and women wounded the beast several times and, in the end, Caldric fired the arrow that killed the Night Dragon. With a bellowing roar, the creature plummeted into the bay and disappeared beneath the waves.
Large portions of Andersgate had been destroyed, and many other sections heavily damaged. The palace itself had suffered damage equal to a siege. More than two-thirds of the realm’s experienced Wardens died, along with half the duke’s knights and a third of the army. (Surprisingly, the Knights of Stormhaven suffered comparatively light casualties and no deaths in the battle.) Hundreds of citizens were dead, while thousands were homeless. At a staggering cost, the Duchy of Anderland survived. The ducal heir apparent, Caldric, became a hero overnight.
It took many years to repair the damage inflicted by the Night Dragon. Many homes and buildings had to be rebuilt from the foundation up. Many people lost husbands, parents, or siblings. Through dint of hard work and determination, the Duchy of Anderland not only survived, but prospered.
Even today, the scars of the battle mar the landscape. People actively avoid the stretch of water around where Nithgaurim fell, and only the bravest individuals dare to go diving in that spot. That dreadful night left behind a dark legacy for the survivors.
Despite the death and destruction, the Night of Shadows (as that night became known) is in the distant past, gone these two decades. A new generation has grown to adulthood in the shadow of that night. Stories and songs about the battle continue to impress audiences, but it has faded to a dim (if terrible) dream for the survivors.
A handful of individuals – probably nothing more than alarmists – believe that the Night Dragon is not entirely dead; they believe it is healing its wounds and will one day return to unleash its fury on the realm. A number of cults have arisen, each dedicated to the Night Dragon and determined to bring it back to life. It seems that even with the creature dead and gone, its legacy remains potent even today.