Neverwinter: Tyranny of Dragons
In the Year of Wild Magic (340 NR, 1372 DR), the Wailing Death beset the city of Neverwinter. Lord Nasher Alagondar petitioned Khelben “Blackstaff” Arunsun to come up with a cure. Meanwhile, he placed his right hand, Lady Aribeth de Tylmarande, in charge of the efforts inside the city: setting up and maintaining a quarantine, tending to the sick, and establishing an ad hoc academy for volunteers, among them a half-elf named Ander Brightwood, a free-wheeling con-man and inveterate womanizer. He was on hand when mysterious forces attacked the academy, releasing the four creatures sent by Blackstaff to cure the disease.
Many in the city blamed Fenthick Moss, Aribeth’s lieutenant and fiancé, for losing the cure due to his incompetence. Aribeth was forced to focus on maintaining order in the city, while Lord Nasher himself began to succumb to the disease, leaving it in Ander’s hands to find the lost creatures so that the cure could be enacted. In the course of doing so, however, Ander discovered that the plague was magical in nature, spread by the “blessings” of the Helmite priests led by Aribeth’s other lieutenant, Desther Indelayne. They struck again to stop the ritual that would create the cure, but this time Aribeth and her forces were ready, and managed to stave them off and cure the disease.
Desther escaped, but the city demanded that someone pay for the horrible crimes committed against the city and its people. Lord Nasher answered the mob by having Fenthick Moss executed. Fenthick’s desperate attempts to save Desther came to be seen as treason, and the city demanded his blood.
Nasher gave Ander the title “Hero of Neverwinter,” and sent him north to Port Llast with Aribeth and his spymaster Aarin Gend to track down the cult responsible for the plague. Far from the city and the many women he normally flirted with continuously, Ander found himself really listening to someone else for perhaps the first time in his life. Aribeth was deeply grieved by the loss of Fenthick. The tragedy shook her faith in the very concept of justice. The two became close, and Ander realized he had genuinely fallen in love with the paladin. She gave him a ring as a token of her affection.
Ander discovered that the cult was led by someone called Maugrim in Luskan. Ander found Aarin Gend, but Aribeth had disappeared, so Ander and Aarin snuck into Luskan, where they found the city in a state of civil war. Maugrim’s cult had taken over the Host Tower of the Arcane, leaving the High Captains to fight out who would control the City of Sails. In the Host Tower, they found an army gathering to invade Neverwinter — and at the tower’s summit, Aribeth swearing herself to the service of a Sarrukh queen named Morag.
Eons ago, the Sarrukh were one of the five Creator Races, but the dawn of the current age made the world too cold for them. Deep beneath the earth where Neverwinter now sits, though, Morag and her people constructed a magical device called the Source Stone, which would keep them warm as the earth grew cold. The magic of this device also kept Neverwinter unnaturally warm, providing for its unique climate. Eons later, Maugrim followed rumors of the magical stone and eventually found it. When he touched it, it unleashed the Wailing Death upon him. Morag cured him, and shared with him her plans to break free of the Source Stone, retake the surface, and turn Faerûn once more into a jungle ruled by her people. Maugrim spread the Wailing Death through Neverwinter to empower Morag. While they hunted the cult from Port Llast, Morag haunted Aribeth’s dreams, promising her a chance for revenge against the bloodthirsty people of Neverwinter who demanded Fenthick’s blood if she would command her army against them.
As Aribeth’s army marched on Neverwinter, Ander sought the Words of Power. He gathered all but one of them, but combined with the power she had gathered from the victims of the Wailing Death, Morag was able to break free of the Source Stone. Ander faced Aribeth in combat as the battle raged in the streets of Neverwinter. He convinced her to come away with him, convinced that he could make Nasher understand Aribeth’s plight and pardon her. Someone needed to enter the Source Stone to battle Morag there to keep her from destroying Neverwinter. Ander agreed to do it, but demanded in return that Nasher pardon Aribeth. Nasher replied that as lord of the city he would not take orders from anyone, not even the Hero of Neverwinter, but that if he succeeded he would certainly take his word into account and see that justice was done. Trusting in Nasher’s devotion to Tyr and justice, Ander entered the Source Stone and defeated Morag, and even escaped back to Neverwinter. The Luskan invasion was defeated, and the city was saved.
Ander was shocked, though, when Nasher found Aribeth guilty of treason and had her executed before cheering crowds. Consumed with bitterness and rage, Ander tried to kill Nasher for his betrayal. The Neverwinter Nine stopped him. Nasher ordered Ander executed for his attempt at assassination, but the Neverwinter Nine saw a cycle that had already gone too far, and quietly let Ander out of the city, warning him to never return. Ander’s name was stricken from most of the official histories, which refer to a “Hero of Neverwinter” where his role cannot be avoided, but rarely mentioning him by name.