The Branding Flame

Nilethrop was a gnomish mage--never a very good one, but a mage nonetheless! This gnomish man may not have been renowned for his talent in shaping the Al'Noth, but he was well known for one thing: a particular interest--truly, more a fascination or obsession--with the wild bears of Mistone.

Nilethrop was determined to discover all there was to know about the populations of bears that roamed the continent. To this end, he devised an interesting plan: he decided to mark all of the bears on Mistone with a unique mark, allowing him to identify any given bear. Nilethrop reasoned that once he was able to distinguish any given bear from his fellows, he would be able to track their movements, learn their habits, and better discover their secrets.

Some plans always seem simpler on paper than when actually put into practice. After several close encounters branding grizzly bears, Nilethrop came to the conclusion that he would require a more long range approach. Spurred by his need to mark the bears from a safe distance, he set about creating the Branding Flame. This magically enchanted wand would not actually cause any serious damage to the animals, but could be configured to burn different marks into the bears' hides.

After several disastrous first attempts, the gnomish mage finally perfected his invention and set out into the world to satisfy his obsessive curiosity. He was last seen wandering into the White Horn Forest, pursuing a group of black bears. It was a trip from which he never returned. Some tales have him murdered by a rogue druid, while others also have him being as ambushed by a family of bears.

Needless to say, the Branding Flame has never been found, and in all likelihood has been destroyed. However, many a curious collector of magical items has speculated on its whereabouts nonetheless. The other uses that could be found for such an obscure object make the mind boggle.

As for Nilethrop, the legend of the Branding Flame was not his only legacy, in the end. His identifying marks can occasionally be seen on the hides of bears even to this day, each mark indicating one of the oldest bears to walk Mistone.