"Oh Pelor, forgive me."
—Orkira, played by Lauren Urban, Heroes of the Vale Episode 14
Watch Heroes of the Vale – Episode 14: Destroyer of Worlds
Our heroes are 7th-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
Orkira, enraged at the betrayal of someone she thought was a friend, rushes Valasar and tries to tackle him to the ground as he backs up towards the edge of Stormherald. She summons her spiritual weapon in the form of a tiny phoenix, and uses it to attack his arm holding the book, causing him to drop it. Briv grabs the book but it burns his hand when he touches it. Alyndra casts hold person on Valasar to prevent his escape, and Briv shackles him to drag him away from the edge.
Another peal of thunder rings through the sky, and Alyndra’s eyes go black, though this time she manages to maintain control over herself and still talk to her friends while in her mystic state. She can see the other world made up of only undead creatures. They are climbing on top of each other, forming a pyramid of bodies to reach the portal leading to their own world, Derheim. As Alyndra relays what she can see she senses two factions; the malevolent evil beyond the portal completely devoid of life, and the infected creatures on their side of the portal who could still be saved. The ones beyond the portal have been alerted and are swarming to escape.
Briv and Penelope believe they should summon the Phoenix to destroy the undead on the other side of the portal. Orkira starts to question Valasar on what he knows, casting zone of truth to make sure he doesn’t lie. Valasar admits to worshiping Saranthis, and that she had informed him where the Phoenix tome was located. There are multiple books, but using one to summon the Primordial destroys it in the process. He intended to use the book to kill all non-dragonborn in the Nentir Vale, ushering in a new era of draconic rule. The book implies you need to be a devout follower of the Phoenix in order to communicate with it, and when Valasar tried to control it he failed and it burned the Illdrex clan to ash. He is the only follower of Saranthis on Stormherald, and was ordered to get the book away from Orkira.
Orkira furiously snatches the book and storms off into the Spire.
Valasar tries to goad Briv into killing him, and when Briv resists his taunting, the dragonborn unleashes his fire breath upon Penelope, Briv and Alyndra. All three are fine, but a bit toasted. Briv, feeling impish, decides to terrify Valasar by tossing him over the edge of Stormherald, but then mounting Spiral to fly down and save him before he hits the ground. Catching the dragonborn just in time, Briv flies him back to a tower and orders the sentries there to secure him.
Inside the Spire, Penelope joins Orkira, who has sat down to study the book on the Phoenix in hopes of learning as much as she can. She’s happy to share with Penelope, worried that in her interest in the subject she’ll miss something destructive. The halfling is confident in her friend, “It’s okay Orkira, I know that this is what you were meant to do. I believe that you can do this.” Penelope's words sooth Orkira's spirit somewhat, and reassure her that Pelor will understand what is in her heart. When Orkira has a hard time deciphering what is in the book, Penelope is able to pinpoint the spot that details exactly what is needed to summon the Phoenix. They require some items, including a very expensive ruby, that Penelope remembers can be found in the room where Saranthis is imprisoned.
Another thunderclap rings out from the east, and a bright green light shoots out from the portal. Fear and suspicion fills the heroes' hearts, and Briv heads off on Spiral to scout out the area, only to find that the undead from their world are avoiding the portal. The winds have picked up as a storm is brewing, and Briv is barely able to hold on to his mount as he gets closer. Green-eyed undead from the other side hungrily claw their way out of the portal, while the undead on the Derheim side still hold some of their soul and recoil in fear from the oncoming horde. Briv returns and relays the news, especially of how dangerous the weather conditions have become.
Alyndra asks Briv to take command of the Shadowfell army. They hope to use it to hold back the undead around the portal and preventing more from coming through. Briv goes to the front of Stormherald to address his army as their commander, giving his orders. “Go directly towards the green light and hang 'em up!” The stampede of Shadowfell creatures follow Briv’s command, creating a bulwark against the undead. Something draws Briv into the Shadowfell creature’s excitement, and he finds himself pulled into their mantra: "Briv is a Commander, a Commander is Briv."
Orkira and Penelope head into Saranthis’ prison room to collect what they need, finding the components required among the strange collection of disturbing items. Keen takes control of Stormherald to move it as close to the portal as possible without landing. Briv finds a strong chain to attach him to Orkira to prevent her from falling off the griffon in case of an emergency. Close to the portal the winds stop as they reach the eye of the storm.
Just before they head out, Alyndra confronts Penelope. She wants to know she can trust the halfling after everything that has happened with the Pit Fiend. Penelope begs to be trusted, Briv and Orkira come to her defense, and Alyndra decides to have faith in her friend. They share a moment reaffirming their trust and faith in each other. Then, they walk onto the surface of Stormherald, whipped by wind and steadfast in their determination. The Heroes of the Vale mount Spiral and fly into the portal.
They burst through the other side in a flash of light. A rancid odor hangs in the thin air. From horizon to horizon is nothing but undead bodies, writhing and reaching up to grasp at them and get through the portal to the other side. As soon as they arrive Orkira closes her eyes in one last prayer and then starts to cast the spell to summon the Phoenix. An undead dragon attacks, slashing at the chains and sending Orkira off the griffon, but she manages to right herself with her wings and grab the book. Alyndra casts a fireball into the base of the tower of undead, sending them exploding out in all directions and buying them all a few extra moments. The undead reach out into Alyndra’s mind, “You can lead us, you can be our God!” They offer her the option to be worshiped, to control them, but Alyndra turns them down.
Orkira finishes the spell and her body erupts in fire. A blast of flames burns her almost to death, light erupts from her eyes, and the Phoenix tears out of her body to grow to the size of a mountain. It soars and dives through the Ocean of the Dead, turning it all to ash. Despite being horribly burnt and falling, Orkira is awestruck and feels at peace. Everything is set on fire, burning away all of the undeath. She asks the Phoenix what will happen next, and it responds by asking what she wants. Orkira doesn’t want it to remain trapped in this dying world, but is concerned about what could happen if it returns with them. The Phoenix replies “All things die, I can wait. If you agree to come find me I will stay here.”
Briv lands to grab Orkira and the group remounts Spiral. They barely hold on as they fly up through the portal, making it through just before it shuts. Orkira realizes she is still holding the Phoenix book, and mutters to herself, “Orkira, destroyer of worlds.” In her exhaustion she slips off the back of Spiral and falls to the ground. An image of Avren appears next to her, replying “Not quite yet.”
There's only one episode left before the whole cast appears at The Descent! Watch ep 15 on Wednesday May 8th at 2pm PT!
EPILOGUE: In a blasted desert wasteland a figure is riding on a gigantic hellhound. It’s holding a scythe almost twice as large as they are and covered in armor made of carved bones. They come to a stop, jumping off the beast, and calmly waits as it looks off into the horizon. “Don’t worry, I will protect you, for I made a promise. I am Neverember.”
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.