“Sometimes, you have to do bad things to be good.”
“Sometimes, we think we’re doing the right thing, and it’s the wrong thing."
“And sometimes, we just do the thing!”
—Penelope, Orkira, and Briv, Heroes of the Vale Episode 16
Watch Heroes of the Vale – Episode #16: The Descent
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
An angry and frustrated Alyndra attacks Penelope, but Briv imposes himself between them to stop the assault. Alyndra uses detect thoughts to confirm it is actually their friend, Keen simply grabs the halfling and hugs her. Penelope apologizes and relays her story; after being struck down by Saranthis she was brought before the Pit Fiend and made her deal with it. She’s spent months in Avernus, fighting demon hordes, and hoping to find a way back to her friends as she has tracked down the contract Saranthis signed. Alyndra and Keen work together and open the puzzle box that contains the contract. The box is made of flesh and skin, and when Briv is tempted to take a piece to eat Orkira advises against it as she doesn’t have much energy left to help him if things go bad.
The contract states that Saranthis must deliver two billion souls to Baal to maintain her Godhood the next time she arrives in the Nine Hells. She’s been collecting soul coins containing the souls of innocents not meant to be in the Nine Hells, but the souls can be released. On the horizon Alyndra can see Saranthis’s war party and her previous connection to the Ocean of the Dead lets her feel the horde going with them. Saranthis has a war machine the size of a skyscraper and a horde of creatures protecting it as they head to the Convergence. Inside the tower is billions of soul coins, as well as the sibriex. It is a prisoner of Saranthis, forced to create a disease that makes the army of undead that worship her, and Penelope hopes to free it.
Among the wreckage they can find two half broken infernal motorcycles they can use as transport. Briv finds a shell to strap to Flo as makeshift armor as he mounts one, Keen and Alyndra ride the other, Penelope mounts her hell hound, and Orkira flies overhead. In the distance they see a glowing sign for “Baladu’s the Nine Hells Engines” and head there first in an attempt to get an upgraded ride that can take on Sarathis. The owner of the establishment is a huge, smiling demon that Penelope calls Uncle for being like family. Baladu is happy to help set them up with a war machine, and asks for anything valuable they might have as payment.
The group struggles to come up with something to trade with, and when Baladu tries to cast detect magic to see what they have Alyndra is quick to counterspell. They pull out the gold they received from Avren, and Baladu accepts it greedily though he recommends they don’t show the gold around Avernus. Apparently Avren has a history even in the Nine Hells.
Torvin, the warrior Orkira saved when Stormherald was destroyed, agrees to pilot their new war machine. As they check out the inside of the vehicle they find it filled with horrific leather and diabolical machines, and it appears to be powered by soul coins. Keen realizes that the coins Avren gave them are the exact same size as soul coins, and apparently these are counterfeits that still work. Using the false coins, they bring the war machine to life with a mighty roar, and Alyndra laughs with excitement as she feels the hum of this strange new vehicle.
In the sky they can see the horizon changing colors as the Convergence is less than two hours away. Saranthis and her army are charging across the hellish landscape to meet it, and the Heroes drive after them in their new war machine! Among the weapons and armor is a giant vat of demon ichor that can be spit into the engine to gain speed. Briv is quick to grab the pail and climb to the front of the engine, “I am an expert spitter!” and begins to spit the ichor into the engine. The war machine get a burst of speed, and Briv finds the ichor gives him extra strength and energy. There is also a vat filled with water from the River Styx, and Penelope explains that coming into contact with that water makes you lose all sense of yourself. Alyndra suggests it could be useful in the fight against Saranthis.
As they approach the tower they are beset by foul redcaps, but Keen uses the siren on the back of the war machine to dispatch them all. Alyndra’s eyes and veins go black again, she can connect with the undead again, and Saranthis demands that they turn back. Orkira asks if she wants to be cured but warns she can only cast the spell one more time. Alyndra asks to wait, and Orkira agrees to save it for when it's most needed.
Briv leaps across to start demolishing Saranthis’s war machine with a spike covered wheel while Orkira follows for support. Alyndra grabs a flask full of the River Styx water, then casts hypnotic pattern to stun the imps surrounding the tower. With a mighty leap Penelope rides Pip across the gap as Keen order Torvin to charge the tower and use the chompers on the front to grab onto it and hit the breaks. Keen then uses the wrecking ball to slam into the side of Saranthis's machine and creates a gigantic hole. A celestial creature, tainted and twisted by the energies of Avernus, comes charging out of the hole in anger, leaving behind it a passage leading into the tower.
Above them the Convergence begins, showing worlds upon worlds lining up. Orkira takes a moment to see if she can spot the destroyed realm with the trapped Phoenix, but can't see a portal leading there. She flies into the tower and reaches down to touch the soul coins. Everyone she touches she can feel the soul inside as they are released, and she begins to fly through the corridors releasing as many as she can! Penelope follows into the tower and finds the room with the imprisoned sibriex, offering to help free it from Saranthis.
“I want to bring the world back into balance and destroy Saranthis!” she declares. The sibriex agrees, offering a cure to the disease it has created. Penelope collects the cure in a vial, then begins trying to destroy the chains holding it prisoner. Meanwhile, Keen rides the wrecking ball into the tower for a second strike, crashing completely through into the interior. Seeing that the tower is now unstable, Briv uses his enhanced strength to pull debris down from the top of the tower and bring the war machine to a halt just moments away from entering the portals from the Convergence!
Orkira finishes releasing the soul coins in a cascade of light, then finds the room the sibriex is imprisoned in. Penelope asks for help, so Orkira casts sacred flame on the chains to finish freeing the creature. The sibriex thanks them, saying it has a gift to give, and reaches out with a long tendril to touch Orkira despite her protests. For a moment Orkira feels something inside herself change, but can’t tell what exactly has happened. Finally free the sibriex leaves out a window, while Orkira and Penelope race towards Saranthis.
Alyndra has entered the tower to search for Saranthis as her connection to the Ocean of the Dead grows, her skin is growing pale as she is becoming undead herself. Penelope tosses Orkira the potion she got from the sibriex, then heads off to find Saranthis. Launching off the wrecking ball not far behind is Keen, who uses the momentum to land on top of the God with his glaive. He deals mighty blows, but every cut heals instantly. As Saranthis laughs, claiming it is too late to stop her, she tries to cast fireball but Alyndra is able to counterspell it. Briv takes up a position in front of Alyndra and Orkira, protecting the two of them from Saranthis’ attacks.
Orkira uses her last spell slot to cast lesser restoration on Alyndra to save her from the infecting undead, but nothing happens. Desperate she hands Alyndra the bottle of cure Penelope got from the sibriex. Alyndra throws the flask of water from the River Styx at Saranthis and casts mind spike on her, using her portent to force her to fail avoiding the attack. Alyndra connects to the Ocean of the Dead one last time, “You are all yourselves. There is a piece of you that has been stolen. Find it. Return to yourselves. You are not to be commanded by anyone,” and then drinks the bottle from the sibriex. The potion works, not just curing Alyndra but also the billions of undead infected by the sibriex's disease.
Saranthis is stunned from the attack and screams from loosing her connection to her undead. Seeing her weakened Penelope pulls out her sickle and cuts Saranthis in two! A blinding light explodes out of her, releasing all the power she had absorbed from the sun, and Saranthis is defeated!
As the portals converge they can see Dalenheim in the distance. Alyndra grabs the part from the time machine that was stolen from her, everyone scrambles back onto their hell engine, and they plow through several worlds each more strange then the last. But finally they crash into Dalenheim, arriving in time to see the world being restored. There is one bright sun in the sky, the plants are starting to grow, the ground is reassembling, and billions of souls are cured and returned to life.
The world is saved, and the heroes are safe.
The Heroes of the Vale have prevailed! But what happens next? Find out as their adventures continue on May 22nd at 2pm PT!
All art provided by Luke McKay
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.