The war has just begun, so it has not yet gained any other name but “the war.” It is, in many ways, a clear continuation of the Shadow War fought four years ago, with many of the same participants.
When the Iliyanbruen fey returned to Faerûn, they discovered their ancient capital of Sharandar despoiled. Many demanded immediate, bloody vengeance against all the inhabitants of the region, but their leader, Merrisara Winterwhite, urged calm until they uncovered the truth of the matter. She sent Caeradwyn Laelithar to Neverwinter to investigate the matter. There, Micar’eyl Auvrymtor brought her evidence pointing to Netheril. However, it was not until Micar’eyl and Valtha Bonecarver returned with a stolen Iliyanbruen relic from Xinlenal that Merrisara was sufficiently convinced to take the Iliyanbruen to war against Netheril.
The Netherese had discovered the ruins of Xinlenal, the first flying enclave, in Neverwinter Wood. They hoped to repair its mythallar and restore it to the sky, but doing so would require enormous amounts of residuum. The Netherese began gathering all of the magical items they could. This soon spread to despoiling not only the ruins of Sharandar, but also Delzoun ruins and other locations like Morgur’s Mound.
On 24 Tarsakh in the Year of the Ageless One (447 NR, 1479 DR), Merrisara entered the Hall of Justice and revealed to Dagult Neverember not only the return of the Iliyanbruen to Faerûn but the presence of a Netherese expedition in Neverwinter Wood led by Prince Clariburnus Tanthul himself. Realizing the danger that the Netherese posed, Neverember committed his Mintarn mercenaries to the fight.
Battle of Xinlenal
It took several days for the allies to move their forces into position, but on Tarsakh 30 they made their attack on Xinlenal. The Iliyanbruen were joined by the Forsworn and a Neverwintan militia organized by the Sons of Alagondar and the volunteers on the Wall. They marched through Neverwinter Wood to make a raid on Xinlenal aimed at destroying the city’s mythallar. Meanwhile, General Sabine led the Mintarns around the forest to attack from the east. Their movements were more obvious, and served to pull away the main Netherese force. While the Iliyanbruen attacked Xinlenal, Valtha Bonecarver used a ritual so that she, Micar’eyl Auvrymtor, and the Greycloaks could slip into the Shadowfell and attack the Netherese from that side. In the process, they rescued Marcus de Tylmarande and Branwen Farlong, who had been captured by the Netherese during their previous raid, where they had secured the evidence needed to convince the Iliyanbruen of Netheril’s guilt. The Iliyanbruen succeeded in damaging the mythallar, but they did not destroy it. It was a significant setback for the Netherese, but it came at a heavy cost, as the Forsworn camp was overrun and most of Neverember’s Mintarn force was destroyed.
The War Spreads
Within days of the Battle of Xinlenal, the Iliyanbruen came under attack from their dark fey enemies in the Feywild, prompting questions of whether they were working with Netheril or simply taking advantage of the situation. The added front divided Iliyanbruen’s attention, giving Netheril an opportunity to marshal its forces.
Meanwhile, Neverember’s involvement brought Waterdeep into the war. The Masked Lords, in turn, called upon the alliances they had made with Cormyr, Comanthor, Luruar, the Dalelands, and Evereska, specifically made for their mutual defense against Netheril. This coalition calls itself “the Alliance.”
In the Dalelands, the fighting from the Shadow War never entirely ended. The current conflict has both sides calling for more help from outside, which will surely escalate the violence there. Sembia, a Netherese satellite state, is occupying most of Cormyr’s attention. Since the Shadow War, elements in Evereska have invested their efforts in a greater presence in the Shadowfell, where fighting with the Netherese has already begun.
According to long-standing rumors, Netheril and Thay had already been long-engaged in a secret war in Neverwinter Wood and the Shadowfell. While Thay is clearly not cooperating with the Alliance, if the rumors are true, they are sure to play some role in the conflict as it unfolds. What that role will be remains to be seen.