This article contains plot or ending spoilers.
Aren is the only son of Tyre Cordelaine, owner of the Spitting Lion Inn in the fishing town of Briala. He worked as a steward and stablehand at the inn, alongside his mother, who worked there too. Aren also has a younger brother. When not working, Aren fished from the cliffside near Briala and dreamed of an adventurous life.
One day while fishing, Aren heard the cries of two men on the beach who were being attacked by a griffin. Seeing that one man had fallen and the other would soon be overwhelmed, Aren drew his scaling knife and ran to help. The griffin was only briefly distracted, but as it swooped to kill, Aren flung his hands up in terror and incinerated it with a magical ability he hadn't known he'd possessed. The downed victim, a joyman named Gregor, died quickly; the other, William Escobar of Panizo, thanked Aren for saving his life and insisted on escorting him home to be trained by his House's mage, Finch. Aren resisted until William explained that he'd heard the gift of magic could come on strongly and suddenly and that Aren would be a danger to himself and others without proper magical training.
As the game starts, Aren and William are near Briala, Aren's home town. They can sleep and eat for free at the Spitting Lion, and several people in town know Aren, including the girl he likes, Laura Miller, her sturdy, overbearing mother, and the mother of a young troublemaker in town who tells Aren to stay away from her "innocent darling." A farmer named Lonzo might ask him to fetch Doc Myers from Aspreza to see about some sick cows, and Eugene, the Guildmaster's son, might try to rope him into a financial scheme involving chickens. On the way out of Briala, the two meet Kaelyn Usher and defeat some thugs harassing her. She insists on accompanying them to even the score, and travels alongside them for most of the game. In Aspreza, joyman Scott Graziosi, who had told Aren many an adventurous story over his ale, shows Aren the details of some mage-work he once saw, successfully teaching him some control though Scott himself is not a mage. Few other people in the game know him personally.
Over time, William and Aren arrive in Panizo and discover that Mage Finch is not there. On the journey, Aren discovers that he can no longer be happy with the life of a small-town innkeeper, and if he revisits Laura, he breaks off their relationship. Determined to solve the mystery of Gregor's last words, William must first convey Aren to Midova, where they find Mage Finch in no mood to take on an apprentice. Satisfying his whims, they shake some magic out of him and then head toward Ticoro to warn the Imperial Consort of Gregor's last words.
Fortunately, Joyman Scott is at the Half-Moon Inn in Ticoro, and on the strength of his and Aren's friendship he is able to get rooms for the party despite the Festival season causing almost every available spot to be taken. Eventually, the party discovers the Consort's location, but are turned away by his guards and then arrested in the dead of night for allegedly kidnapping him.
On the road to Antara to be questioned by the Emperor's Shadows, the party is rescued by Kaelyn's friend Raal, whom they'd seen in Ticoro. Kaelyn departs with Raal to attend to the news he brought, and Aren and William search for clues to the Consort's kidnappers. Suspecting the Shepherds' involvement, they track down a man who knows the location of their headquarters, and go there in search of clues.
In the secret caverns of the Shepherds' hideout, they learn that while the Shepherds did indeed kidnap the Consort, he'd been kidnapped from them by a mage. The mage attacks and they have no choice but to kill her and fight their way out of the caves, with a Ghanish name, Khaleth, their only clue. After taking on a mission to Imazi for Khaleth's mercenaries, they are finally led to the hut where the Consort is being kept. Aren frightens the mercenaries with a magical fire and wakes the Consort from his magically-induced sleep. Sending a message to Kaelyn, they flee west toward Antara.
As Kaelyn follows them, she learns that they battled with mercenaries whose careless firebrands set the woods alight near Durst, and that Aren destroyed the bridge west of Durst to prevent their attackers from following. Kaelyn and Raal catch up with Aren, William, and the Consort north of [[|Korus Landing|Ciaga Pass]], and create a diversion to let them escape to Antara. The five meet again near Antara. Raal leaves to return to his pack, and the reunited party sees the Consort safely to the Capital. Aren is questioned, along with William and Kaelyn, about his part in the Consort's journey, but is released to attend the presentation of the Consort to the Emperor. All goes well until the Consort enters the hall, whereupon an attacking Wraith steals both his soul and that of the Emperor's Daughter-Heir, who flung herself before her father as the creature dove for him.
After a long, thorough mind-probing by the Emperor's Shadows, the three companions are presented to the distraught Emperor, who tasks them with hunting down the wraith that stole his daughter's spirit. Their only clue takes them to Januli, where a surfeit of other clues leads them to Mage Calvert Bryce in the Waste. After his death, Aren must figure out how to summon a Wraith from Etherea and convince it to release the stolen souls, saving the lives of the Daughter-Heir and the Consort.
In the Epilogue, one month later, Aren reunites with Kaelyn and William in Antara for the Imperial wedding. Aren is now apprenticed to Finch, whom he finds harsh, and wears finely-made clothes, which he finds itchy. While watching the ceremony, Aren suddenly realizes who was the mastermind behind the plot, using the kidnappers and the Wraith in an attempt to assassinate the Emperor. The true villain is influential and currently untouchable, and knows that the party has figured it out... but knows, too, that they'll be watching from now on.
During his journey, Aren has opportunities to learn magic from many different sources. Being hit by a spell in battle with a human or Montari mage allows him to begin learning that spell; using a Staff charged with Fire, Cold, or Electric energy can teach some mastery over those elements. Books such as Ramar Weather Patterns and Muscles and Glands can also boost magic.
Besides learning some magical phrases and gestures from Scott in Chapter One, Aren can increase his magical skills in many other encounters:
- In Chapter Two, Mage Finch can finally be persuaded to teach Aren some magic, but not to take him on as an apprentice yet.
- In Chapter Three, the party might find Camille Farray, a mage who knows Finch and can teach Aren some magic.
- In Chapter Four, Naomi the plant mage at the Varnesse Conservatory gives Aren an errand, after which she agrees to teach him some magic. In Isten, the mage Darvostan boasts truthfully that he can teach Aren how to influence minds, and will do so for 400 burlas.
- In Chapter Six, Aren may encounter the Cold Mage, who can give him a Winterstaff and teach him about Cold magic in exchange for some Grounding Wire to deter Lightning Bugs. Aren may also learn the making of some elementary poisons from Mage Gerry Barcudi in Keth for 75 burlas.