History of Waterdeep - Age II, The Lords' Rule Begins
In his 112th winter, Ahghairon had a sharp disagreement with Raurlor, who was then Warlord of Waterdeep. Raurlor wanted to use Waterdeep's acquired wealth and strength-of-arms to create a Northern empire, with Waterdeep its capital (and Raurlor its ruler), and gathered armies for the purpose. Ahghairon defied him before all the people, and Raurlor ordered the mage be chained. Ahghairon magically struck aside all who sought to lay hands on him. In a fury Raurlor struck at the mage with his own blade.
Ahghairon rose into the air, just out of reach, and, as the infuriated Warlord slashed repeatedly at his rising feet, gestured. Raurlor's blade transmuted in his hand, from steel into a hissing serpent, which promptly bit him. The Warlord died of the venom before the shocked people assembled there. Ahghairon then gathered all the captains of Waterdeep's army, and all the seniors of the 'families of Waterdeep. While runners sought to bring them to the Castle, flames roared and crackled in the Warlord's empty chair-of-state at Ahghairon's bidding, so that no one sat there.
Then at a gesture from the mage, the flames were gone as though they had never been, leaving the chair unmarked. Ahghairon seated himself, then, and proclaimed himself the first Lord of Waterdeep, saying that henceforth wisdom and not armed might would rule in the city. He would gather some few - in secret - to rule as Lords with him, masked and disguised when they appeared to the people, but equal to him in authority and free of coercion by any, himself included. These Lords were to be drawn from all walks of life in the city, and could serve as long as they wished.
The people heard, and agreed, and for the next two hundred years, Ahghairon ruled Waterdeep with his unknown fellow Lords, Over the years, the masked Lords were a group of sometimes five, six, or seven, who appeared seldom and said little. Some whispered that they were Ahghairon's servants, or even magical automatons controlled by the Old Mage. Still, Ahghairon's justice was swift and fair, his laws good, his guardsmen polite and just as ready to help as apprehend, and the people approved. The years passed in peace and prosperity. The North was opened to humans. Roads built under Ahghairon's direction linked it together, from the ruins of "the Fallen Kingdom," which had been shattered by goblin races' attacks before men were numerous in the North, to the cities that would later become Amn.
Waterdeep grew fivefold in size and wealth. From all over the Realms, folk began to come to the "Crown of the North," drawn by money - and among them came those who rob, cheat, and steal. When word of doings extending beyond simple theft to deception-in-workmanship and the appearance of many fly-by-night impostor craftsmen reached Ahghairon's ears, he called together the senior merchants, "the Noble Ones," and suggested that they form guilds as was done in the far South to police the unscrupulous of their own professions. Some resisted, or were furious, but most saw the advantages of such an arrangement, particularly if they were free to set matters up themselves, and not have less favorable arrangements forced upon them.
The Guilds were created forthwith, Waterdeep continued to grow in size and prosperity, Twice more the city walls were expanded, and its merchants traveled the world over, bringing back exotic goods from afar, and spreading word of the city's wealth to remote lands. In the South, some listened with an eye to conquest or at least plunder, but swords were already out in those southern lands in a time of widespread strife, and no invaders came.
Ahghairon's health eventually failed and he died. He was buried with ceremony in his tower, which was secured against thieves and fools. Those who learned the arts arcane from the Old Mage cast the most potent protective magics known upon his home and resting-place (which, many believe, remains inviolated today).