"If we can’t be Heroes of the Vale anymore then we can be heroes to each other.”
—Penelope Half-Pint, Heroes of the Vale, Episode 11 "Ancient Sacrifices"
Watch Heroes of the Vale – Episode 11: Ancient Sacrifices
Our heroes are 6th-level characters known as:
- Keen, Eladrin Eldritch Knight Fighter played by TJ Storm
- Briv, Half-Orc Cavalier Fighter played by Adam Bradford
- Orkira, Dragonborn Light Domain Cleric played by Lauren Urban
- Penelope, Halfling Circle of Land Druid played by Hope LaVelle
- Alyndra Alexandria Garanahil Sarrbarand, Lorekeeper of Rime Spiro, Kinscribe of Clan Monkeymouse, High ElfCleric / Wizard played by Jen Kretchmer
- Todd Kenreck as the Dungeon Master
Alyndra awakens and recites her morning prayers, thankful to still be sensing the distant presence of her god, Oghma. Orkira awakens to the dull ache of her own god's loss, and spends the morning in a daze. She finds Penelope and asks how she's feeling. Penelope is downcast herself, and the two companions talk about how hard it is to lose a friend—both Keen and Pelor—and try to stay positive and hopeful that the time machine can be fixed and everything made right again.
Their conversation concluded, Orkira heads over to wake up Briv, but is horrified to find his body cold and lifeless. She frantically examines his corpse, and her gaze falls upon his eyes. Jet-black, like onyx marbles. His veins are inky as well, as if they were filled with tar instead of blood. Just like Pelor. She calls over her companions, and they ultimately learn that the corruption that claimed Briv's life originated from where Saranthis touched him, just the other day. Alyndra morosely performs Briv's last rites, then dives back into her studies with renewed ferocity. Meanwhile, Penelope begins to mourn, but her sorrowful thoughts ignite into anger. “I feel hate," she seethes. "And I want revenge.”
Orkira tries to console her and convince her that going back in time is still the plan, but Penelope suddenly stops. She feels a strange breeze. She glances about, seeking the source of the breeze, and sees the plants in the room about her grow new leaves and blossom into new flowers. A cold wind blows through them, and suddenly the new blooms wither to husks. The candlelight dims, and the ghostly form of Keen Dayapreth appears before them.
Penelope calls out to Keen, and the ghostly swordsman responds that he can see and hear them. He mourned their passing for 20 years while fighting Saranthis, but the cruel god grew more and more powerful and eventually overwhelmed him. He ruefully admits that he was unable to retrieve the weapon in the library that could defeat her, and explains that he and many other lost spirits have been blocked from moving on because of Saranthis. The power-hungry goddess is consuming everything, and only the weapon held within the Library of the Norn can stop her. He knows the wizards once stopped Saranthis, locking her away, but she somehow broke free of her bonds.
The group turn to Rend, and the automaton confirms that the wizards that died working on the time machine once fought Saranthis. Keen's spirit swooped into Rend's body and possessed the machine, allowing the former Hero of the Vale to once more fight for this world. As Keen's consciousness entered Rend's body, a spectral, fiery orange form was pushed out of Rend's mechanical form and dissipated. Keen steps towards Briv and picks up the dead dwarf, and sets his body onto a table where it can rest in in honor until he can be buried. Keen takes back his glaive, and explains to his friends that he used his connection to it to find them.
Five years pass. For five years, the Heroes of the Vale work under Alyndra's guidance to repair the time machine. Every night, Alyndra pours over the tomes that the wizards left behind, learning more and more—yet also growing every more frustrated. Something is missing. One day, in her studies, Alynda discovers a place in one of the bookshelves where a book was missing. She takes her journal and places it into the empty spot, and with flash of cerulean light, her journal disappears and a new book, “The Book Of The Primordials” appears in its place. Alyndra opens the book and reads voraciously, learning that the Primordials were the ancient elemental beings who existed before the gods, and their language is what is used for teleportation. Alyndra shares her findings with the rest of her friends, and together they learn that the book contains information about several different Primordials, including a section that interests Orkira about a being of primordial fire known as the Phoenix. It includes a picture showing a firebird the size of the world, and explains that while the Phoenix is a dangerous and powerful creature, it is neither good nor evil. Alyndra copies and translates the book for her friends to read, though Orkira asks to borrow the original book so she can admire the picture of the Phoenix.
Many more years pass. Eventually, the Heroes lose track of how much time has slipped through their grasp. The plants that were growing in the room become vines that stretch up to the ceiling. Keen’s new construct body begins to look more and more like his original eladrin form, and without the need to sleep or eat, he spends every hour of every day working on the time machine. Penelope and Orkira begin to grow grey hair or matte scales, and their bones begin to ache with the onset of old age. The isolation and aging begin to take its toll on everyone, and Alyndra decides it’s time to revisit the plan for those who don’t live long to go into the bag world.
Keen is confused, as he has heard the stories of the bag world but cannot see the object. He can feel it when he touches it, but it is invisible to him. He can tell it’s been enchanted so the only one who can see it are ones who have been or are being attacked by it.
Penelope doesn’t want to leave, afraid that she’s leaving all her friends and letting them down. Alyndra gives to Penelope her Home Stone, “You have my home with you now. I will come find you.” Orkira promises they’ll go flying, like they're on a vacation, and check out the Enchanted Forest. Keen hugs Penelope, promising he will come find her. Orkira asks to borrow the Book of the Primordials with the Phoenix picture, saying Alyndra will just have to come and get it, and wrapping her wings around in a hug.
The Heroes of the Vale give tearful goodbyes, swearing each pair will watch out for each other. Finally Orkira and Penelope fly into the bag and enter the world inside.
Centuries pass. There was a miscalculation in how much time would be needed to work on the Time Machine, and almost 800 years of work go by before it is finished. Alyndra has grown ancient but powerful. Inside the bag Penelope and Orkira realize after only a few days that something has gone wrong, and spend several months going on adventures and thwarting Vordird’s schemes, becoming heroes to the small town inside the bag. When Penelope gets depressed over not hearing from her friends, Orkira takes her flying over the Enchanted Forest to marvel at the flowers, trees, and herds of unicorns that run through its boughs.
Then, it is complete. Alyndra uses her magnificent powers to open a gate and retrieve her friends from the bag, and they embrace, crying tears of joy and relief. Then the reality of the situation sets in. Where should they go? When should they go? What should happen if they travel backwards in time and see themselves, or worse, interact with themselves? As they discuss, Keen reveals that he has preserved and wrapped Briv’s body and will carry it with him. Alyndra casts foresight on herself to try and avoid any calamitous mistakes with the time machine, and decides that they will return to Stormherald, near the Dryad tree. The time will be the morning before they got the message about the gnome city.
They enter the time machine.
Orkira experiences the same vision she did previously of the Phoenix, and Avren calling her the destroyer of worlds. The world seems to stretch and fade. Then, just as suddenly as it began, the Heroes of the Vale appear in the courtyard of Stormherald in the early morning, the twin suns just rising over the horizon. The floating city looks safe and secure, and Orkira grins as she feels the presence of Pelor. Divine magic suffuses her being once more after so many years without, and she joyously urges her friends onward.
“Let’s go be heroes!” Penelope exclaims.
But before they could heroically venture forth, they double over in nausea. Their minds are on fire, and their vision skews double, as if reality itself were being crushed and stretched all at once. Through bleary vision, Penelope sees the earlier version of herself sleeping in the tree. She tries to wake herself up, but that causes more blinding pain. Orkira prays to Pelor and tries and warn him about Saranthis, while Keen notices the younger version of himself vomiting in the bushes. In a moment of clarity, Alyndra realizes they have gone to the wrong part of time and casts wish, “I wish that time return to normal!”
The group are suddenly teleported into the hallway where their rooms were, feeling like there was a shift in reality and time. Their past selves are sleeping soundly in their rooms but there is no sign of the bag of devouring from the past. Orkira pulls out her bag, dropping it onto the ground in the hallway and telling everyone to get out of sight. The bag immediately slinks under Briv’s door and they can hear it starting to devour him. Penelope transforms into a fox to go unseen, Orkira hides in a corner in darkness, Alyndra runs to the Tower to start making Stormherald head to the Library of the Norn.
As the timeline begins to heal, Keen realizes that his old self will now live, and he is no longer needed in this timeline. He leaves his glaive in the spot where he practices daily in the morning. He walks to the edge of Stormhearld, thinking about his friends and how much he will miss them as he watches the sun rise.
“I wish my friends good travels," Keen says, voice brimming with pride and faint sorrow. "And I step into the sky.”
Our heroes are back where they want to be, when the want to be. What has their sacrifices gained them? Find out next episode, on April 17th, 2019!
Somewhere in the universe on an ancient dais in a world made of lava and obsidian, the book that was there disappears and the journal of Alyndra appears. Old adventurers reach the end of their long quest, finding the dais with the book. “At long last! We can do it now!” But instead of the tome of knowledge on Primordials they find Alyndra’s pudding recipe.
Lauren "OboeCrazy" Urban is the Community Manager for D&D Beyond, as well as a professional classical musician on oboe and English Horn. When she's not playing a Bard in real life she's a prolific Dungeon Master and player on a variety of livestreams and podcasts. She lives in Seattle, Washington with her husband Luke where they spend their free time playing video games and drinking tea. The best way to keep up with Lauren's busy schedule is to follow her on Twitter at @OboeCrazy.