Lore-Win: Valindra, Bane of Neverwinter
Recently, it seems as though I’ve written a number of entries on either liches or dragons.
This week will be no exception.
So, to keep with the themes I have decided to delve into a topic that touches liches, dragons, and draco-liches. But not only that, our topic today also has a deep connection to the Host Tower of the Arcane.
She is a powerful spellcaster, an agent of Thay, and a grand villain to the city of Neverwinter.
Welcome to Lore-Win, the Dungeons and Dragons lore series. I, as always, am your humble Loremaster, Sokar. Today we’ll be delving into a villain who acts now in the service of Thay. One who once led a grand assault on the city of Neverwinter. And who soon will be enacting a scheme in the Sword Mountains. One that involves the Cult of the Dragon, and an artifact from the Netherese Empire.
This is the story behind Valindra Shadowmantle.
Valindra in life
Like any lich, Valindra’s story begins with her life and death. Or, rather, her ascension to unlife.
Valindra was born in the year 1225 DR, in a region known as High Forest. This region, as the name may imply, is a green region of old growth forests bordered by the Netherese mountains and Anauroch Desert. It is remnant of the old days, when Faerun was covered in forests.
So of course it had quite the population of elves.
Valindra was born among her Moon Elf people there, and trained among them as a wizard. But unlike many elven mages, who take to their studies patiently and learn over decades and centuries, Valindra grew impatient. She found her education was moving slowly and yearned for more knowledge.
Valindra Shadowmantle, in the flesh.
Source: Tomb of Annihilation
She grew frustrated enough that in the year 1322 DR, at less than a century old, she left. Valindra’s path took her out of the High Forest, and to the Sword Coast. There, in the mining city of Mirabar, she found an old wizard trusting enough to take her in as his apprentice.
He lasted a year.
For welcoming her in, Valindra murdered the wizard and took both his spellbooks and magical items.
Spells and magical items in two, Valindra left Mirabar and headed where all wizards on the evil-side of the alignment scale go: Luskan. And in Luskan, Valindra made contact with the usual suspects. Namely, the Arcane Brotherhood.
By 1362 DR, Valindra had ingratiated herself with the Arcane Brotherhood enough to become one of their agents, and went about making a good impression for herself. Indeed, she earned such a good reputation to earn the (favourable!) notice of Archmage Arcane, Arklem Greeth.
Valindra, through Arklem’s favour, was granted the position of Overwizard of the North Tower in the Host Tower. An appointment that she repaid by siding with Maugrim Korothir, who briefly usurped Arklem.
Though, given that her appointment came after a purge of the Arcane Brotherhood in 1371-1372… Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised.
However, as Maugrim also sided with Morag, queen of the Old Ones, his tenure was short lived. After unleashing the Wailing Death upon Neverwinter and retreating to the Host Tower, Maugrim was hunted down and vanquished. Specifically, he was banished to the Eighth Hell of Baator, Cania. An icy realm of seemingly-living cold.
With her betrayal forgotten (or perhaps expected and accepted), Valindra was given another position of importance. She was tasked with running the Arcane Brotherhood’s operations in the Silver Marches. To this end, she hired spies, worked to destabilize the region’s economy, and imported Thayan memory-loss drugs. Her goal was to reduce the ability of the locals to react as she tried to seize control.
But when Valindra needed to take a more hands-on approach to her espionage, she took on a disguise herself. Using her intimate knowledge with the High Forest, Valindra was known to assume the role of a Moon Elf noble. She also used this disguise to build her spy network, hiring merchants to hire spies. That was, there was always a separation between her and her agents, making it difficult to track her.
And her plan may have worked, if it weren’t for one unforeseen issue.
The Host Tower’s destruction.
Unlife and Undeath
In 1376, Luskan was invaded by a group of lords from Waterdeep. In the process of this invasion, Arklem Greeth broke his staff of the magi.
The resulting explosion of arcane powers not only destroyed the Host Tower, but killed many wizards of the Arcane Brotherhood. In the aftermath of the invasion, the Arcane Brotherhood was absent from the city. Their traditional seat of power was left in ruins, and their Archmage Arcane fled from Luskan.
Or, at least faded into the shadows.
Arklem still had plans for Valindra, though. Seeking to rule over Luskan from the shadows with Valindra, he turned her into a lich. However, her ascension to undeath did terrible things to her mind, though.
Valindra appearing as her former elf self.
Source: Neverwinter (MMO)
Valindra was driven mad, and it took the drow mercenary Jarlaxle and a psionic officer of his organization to bring her anywhere close to sanity. But the Spellplague soon undid any progress he’d made and more.
Driven to a state of near-complete madness, Valindra stopped caring for her allies in any manner. If they were caught in the crossfire of one of her spells, so be it. She grew more aggressive as well, a far cry from the wizard who preferred to talk her way into what she wanted. At the same time, she seemed to enjoy any reminders of her former beauty in life.
She traveled for a time with fanatics of Asmodeus who worked for the mageocratic nation of Thay. Valindra in particular sought to work for the powerful lich, and one of the rulers of Thay, Szass Tam. Her bid proved successful, and under the Thayan lich Valindra built up alliances with the secretive Asmodeus cult, the Ashmadai, and the psionic Aboleth Sovereignty.
In 1451 DR, Valindra traveled underneath the city of Neverwinter along with Jarlaxle Baenre and other adventurers. There, they rediscovered the ancient dwarven city of Gauntlgrym and reached its forges. Valindra and the Thayans betrayed the other adventurers, Jarlaxle among them, and reactivated the forges. However, this in turn awoke an ancient primordial who erupted a dormant volcano.
The city of Neverwinter above was largely destroyed, and thousands were killed.
In Tam’s service, Valindra came also into conflict with Drizzt Do’Urden and his allies. She was indirectly responsible for the death of Bruenor Battlehammer, by summoning the pit fiend who killed the dwarf. But during this conflict, Valindra was also trapped by Jarlaxle, who cast her underground while she was in a wraith-form.
Valindra's appearance as a lich.
Source: Neverwinter (MMO)
But trapping a lich does little to end the threat they pose.
Cult of the Dragon
Despite this, Valindra was able to return to Thay and resume her services for Tam.
In 1479, she was once again commanded to expand the influence of her employer in a region. This time, the region was the city of Neverwinter. Her objectives in the region were twofold.
First, she was to restore a Dread Ring in the region around Neverwinter. A Dread Ring being an enchanted area made to steal away the souls of the living. Secondly, in addition to furthering Tam’s agenda, she was to thwart the Shadovar in the region. The Shadovar being the inhabitants of a Netherese enclave that traveled to the Plane of Shadow.
Taking advantage of chaos within Neverwinter, Valindra launched an all-out attack on the rebuilding city. She had brought with her some Red Wizards of Thay, undead hordes, and even a dracolich likely given to her by the Cult of the Dragon.
Valindra's undead forces assault Neverwinter.
Source: Neverwinter (MMO)
Thanks to the efforts of local adventurers and the city guards, however, Valindra’s forces faced defeat. Her undead hordes were slain, her dracolich’s soul was bound, and she and her Red Wizards were forced to flee to the graveyard district of Neverdeath.
In the long term, Valindra was unable to seize control of Neverwinter. By 1486 DR, she was sent to Chult in order to either seize control of or destroy the artifact known as the Soulmonger. Something that she may have sent a hapless band of adventurers to do in her stead.
Now, however, Valindra seems to have made an alliance with the Cult of the Dragon. She has last been seen in the Sword Mountains, south of Neverwinter, consorting with a dracolich and possibly in possession of a powerful Netherese artifact known as a mythallar.
A mythallar and the battle surrounding it.
Source: Icewind Dale: Rime of the Frostmaiden
But as I understand it, that is a story that you’ll have to experience in Neverwinter.
Or… Develop on your own.
After all, a lich teaming up with a cult devoted to making dracoliches sounds like a pretty fun adventure idea for a high-leveled adventuring party. And as far as antagonists go, an elven wizard who has gone mad in undeath sounds like a good obstacle for a late-game part in your tabletop adventures.
Especially if any are from Neverwinter, and may have a bone to pick.
Just a suggestion.
I hope this article has given you a view of one of the other liches wandering the Sword Coast. Maybe you can even think of a campaign where she’d make the perfect antagonist. But whoever may be your next big villain, one thing is always true…
If you’re looking for supplies for your D&D game, you can find them at the Tower!
Until next time, may all your rolls be crits!