Bandur Etrevion was a dark mage who founded the theocracy called The Dark Path, and was widely regarded as one of the most profound scholars of his time. Though a human born of lowly origins in the mid-6400s Second Era of the Shadow World timeline, he was able to learn the black arts and forbidden knowledge from the Empress Kadaena to whom he swore fealty. The Empress was killed thousands of years earlier, forming one of the deep temporal paradoxes inherent in the story. It would seem her telepathic powers were able transcend space and time, and she was able to possess people and influence events in later ages. He could have been interacting through intermediaries as well, most likely her daughter (who was his contemporary), or even an avatar of her surviving as an ascended goddess.
In effect his homage in this case would have been to the dark goddess Orgiana, thus ruling a fiefdom of her own theocracy. This is because she was the master of Kadaena's own daughter, and his crypt is partly based on her temple, though he much more likely only had nightmare visions of it. The symbolic relevance of these sites and the poem he quoted would not exist until centuries after his own death. (Worse still, Orgiana had an intense hatred of men, with her cults often murdering them.) He would most likely have had some interaction with Lorgalis, or "inside knowledge" due to his brother, which he exploited to deceive the Loremasters. Bandur pretended to be a humble scholar dedicated to fighting the forces of evil in order to gain access to very rare repositories of ancient knowledge. He was the world expert on the so-called "servants of the Shadow", the former followers of Kadaena, who were wielding demonic armies in the Wars of Dominion. He was recognized for this work at the College of Karilon.
While The Legend of the Necropolis of Etrevion explains much of his backstory, many details are left implicit in the various locations associated with him, most notably The Graveyard. His brother Kestrel Etrevion was awarded the Coastal Cliffs area as a fiefdom, which Bandur usurped to pay homage to his own warped theology. Lorgalis conquered the whole region in 6521 Second Era. The Dark Path would not have survived independently beyond this time period, as it was a usurpation of Lorgalis' own fiefdom under Kestrel. Kestrel's sons are implied to have perished in a failed rebellion against Bandur. These events originally took place six thousand years ago, but have no official timing in post-ICE Age history. However, Bandur is frequently referenced by players, often treated as a role model for sorcerers.
Behind the Scenes
The shrine of Bandur Etrevion, where he immolated himself in ice and blasts cold outward, is implicitly Ordainer symbolism. It is most likely an allusion to the Ninth Circle of Hell, along with purgatory and the dark woods leading to the gate, from the end of Dante's Inferno. In the scene where Dante climbs the "stairs" of Satan's imprisoned body (betrayers are frozen in ice), who gnaws on the bodies of the damned and becomes bound in his own icy winds, night suddenly becomes dawn as he passes through the center of the earth. In his confusion he asks to be freed from "error's thralldom" as gravity inverts, with the ice vanishing, and they ascend through the hidden way to a high vaulted dungeon that is no "palace hall" to emerge under unfamiliar stars at purgatory where the sun will allow sins to be cleansed. (The whole of The Graveyard is oriented on a northeast axis "toward fate", facing away from the rising sun of summer solstice, with the lost being those who abandoned "the straight way.")
This descent into the underworld can be thought of in terms of the harrowing of hell and similar myths, with the extended metaphor seemingly possessing multiple layers of allegory. The fundamental story is clearly based on the underworld mythology of Osiris and Set, except with the ultimate fates of Set and Osiris reversed, which like Dante's Inferno is premised on the sun rising as a result of encountering the lord of the underworld. The principal difference is that this rebirth is symbolically denied in The Graveyard. There are also a number of unambiguous allusions to Old One stories by H.P. Lovecraft.
Of special interest for the Ice Shrine is the Other God Nyarlathotep who links the pharaoh and "fallen archangel" points with Purgatory, the Dark Shrine in The Broken Lands, and the exit of Shadow Valley. Bandur represents Nyarlathotep in this context, the avatar of the Outer Gods who tends to the dark cults of the pantheon outside of space and time, who actually has mocking contempt for his masters. The way he acts in the story is the same as the main character in "The Shadow out of Time", where a telepathic race in the past swaps its consciousness with future people, living in the new bodies and the others dying in the past. The way he imprisoned himself in a "sarcophagus of his own devising" would by implication be freezing Kadaena in the ice block when she was decapitated in the past.
The path around the burial mound and crypt forms an infinity symbol over this room, probably an oblique reference to being "lost to the demonic" in Oblivion, with the center of the path permanently Unpresenced as an area effect. There is a corresponding scene on Plane 1 of The Rift which was written years later, not coincidentally a temporal rift, with a man in grey robes walking forever away on a path as tarnished as the infinity symbol over his head. Similar effects have historically existed in various parts of The Graveyard. They were typically discovered from gold rings failing to work.(***) These infinity symbols are subtle references to "The Magician", a major arcana card from tarot decks. The fog beetles in the Broken Lands having lobster claws might similarly be influenced by "The Moon" card which has a corresponding room under a red moon. There are at least several dozen rooms in the Rift, designed eight years later, that are adaptations of tarot cards from the Rider-Waite and Legends decks.
[Under Crypt, Ice Room] This room is dominated by a giant slab of ice. There is a chill here that transcends the cold you felt elsewhere. Piled in front of the ice slab are the remains of many a grisly sacrifice. Bones and skulls lie piled at the base of the slab as though in homage to something. Your curiosity piqued, you draw close to the slab. Dimly within you can make out a richly robed figure. On one side of the room are some roughly carved stairs. You also see a smaller slab of ice. Obvious exits: none. >look slab Peering into the monolithic block of ice, you make out a human figure trapped deep within, like a fly in amber. It is the body of an ancient sorcerer, richly garbed. You notice that his eyes, rather than being dried out and shrunken, glitter with an evil vitality that raises the hair on your neck and causes you to recall old prayers forgotten since youth. [The Rift] In the distance walks a tall man. His robe is grey and tattered, but the frame beneath it remains strong. Above his head floats the symbol of infinity, black and tarnished as the path he walks. No matter how rapidly you proceed towards him, you cannot seem to catch him, although he moves no faster than a saunter. Obvious paths: northeast, southeast, west
There is a society task involving this room where the sun god is brought to the underworld, which causes the appearance of the ice slab to change. Bandur is revealed to be hollowed out with darkness, implicitly a reference to the archaic story of Nyrdru who was utterly consumed by The Unlife. The sacrifices relate instead to Egyptian mortuary symbolism, such as the false door and offering table, which also explains the northeast orientation. The small slab of ice can be considered a sacrificial offering table, and it is very subtle dark humor. Medieval larders or pantries, such as the cabinet room (a play on words) serving as the entrance to this area, used slabs to keep food cool. These slabs were called "thrawls." Thus, playing off the title of his book, "Power through Thralldom."
His body seems to throw off a sphere of emanation suppressing the surrounding flora, analogous to the powerful dark aura from the sarcophagus of Kadaena (which guarded the southern Eye of Utha and was controlled by Lorgalis with the aid of Klysus.) The Empress Kadaena had a false sarcophagus as well in southwest Jaiman guarding a portal, and Andraax had a false one in his mausoleum on a hidden isle south of Ormian he used in the Interregnum. It was a tradition of later Zor royalty to use sarcophagi in their crypts in the Grey Mountains of eastern Jaiman, who were obsessed with ancient technology and borrowed their architecture under the guidance of Andraax. It was a Lord of Essaence technique for suspended animation, tremendously slowing aging for mortal races. This was regarded as the Lords of Essaence "sleeping" through the eons to awaken again in later ages. These jointly explain the false sarcophagus of Bandur, which is paired with an empty one in the same mausoleum style on the Coastal Cliffs. It implies the Etrevion family was of Zori descent, imposing common men of the Talath/Myri race, which was a dispossessed population due to servants of the Unlife.
(*** - Note: These subtleties in The Graveyard have been obscured by various changes to teleportation, scrying, thought net, and creature roaming mechanics over the years.)