“I know the ways of war.”
“But do you know the ways of peace?”
“Peace is the flip side of war. I’ve sought it for the last five years.”
—Briv and Alyndra, Heroes of the Vale Ch 2 Ep 1
Watch Heroes of the Vale – Chapter 2, Episode 1: The Ways Of War
Our heroes are 8th-level characters known as:
- Todd Kenreck as the Dungeon Master
- Briv, Half-Orc Cavalier Fighter played by Adam Bradford
- Orkira, Dragonborn Light Domain Cleric played by Lauren Urban
- Keen, Eladrin Eldritch Knight Fighter played by TJ Storm
- Penelope, Halfling Circle of Land Druid played by Hope LaVelle
- Alyndra Alexandria Garanahil Sarrbarand, Lorekeeper of Rime Spiro, Kinscribe of Clan Monkeymouse, High Elf Cleric / Wizard played by Jen Kretchmer
Five years have passed since the Heroes of the Vale defeated Saranthis. After that tempestuous battle, the heroes parted, with each following their own path for their own reasons. In the intervening years, however, events have conspired to call these mighty heroes back together. A strange message summoned the heroes to Verdeneth, capital city of the Imperium. One by one, Penelope, Briv, Orkira and Alyndra arrived in town and made their several ways to the Blue Kraken Inn. This is where we we rejoin the story of the Heroes of the Vale.
Penelope is the first to set foot within the Blue Kraken, and her diminutive form is completely covered in a cloak of moss and twigs, with a chwinga mask covering her face. The halfling quickly hides in the corner and blends into the scenery. Briv, still as stocky and as battle-scarred as half-orcs come, swoops through the skies of Verdeneth on the back of Spiral, his loyal griffon steed. The half-orc passes once over the city, his warrior's instinct all but commanding him to search for threats before landing, and he sees a fleet of red-sailed ships arriving in port. Spiral alights upon the paving stones before the Blue Kraken, and Briv hops down, dusts off his rugged clothing, and takes off a mask of bone before entering the Inn. Orkira arrives next, her golden dragonscales flecked with soot and ash, and smiles to sees Spiral already there before her. She takes a moment to brush the soot from her armor before entering the tavern, and compliments Briv on the griffon’s incredible recovery, and the two enter the inn together. Alyndra arrives shortly after, and all note that the proud-eyed high elf has hardly changed a bit in the five years they've been apart. Alyndra meanders bucolically through the tavern before making her way to her erstwhile companions.
Their reunion is warm, but halting. Penelope offers some pebbles as gifts, and Briv gobbles his up, as the others pocket them with care. Penelope goes on to speak idly of what has transpired since last they met, and speaks of tremors disturbing her forest, and how the treants are upset, but is suddenly distracted by a sound outside. The halfling scurries to the window, and lays eyes upon a disturbing sight: a puddle of blood. Her eyes follow the trail of gore up to a fish being cleaning outside the window. Inside the blood is a tiny man, perhaps the size of a gnome, with a scraggly white beard and adorned with a garish red cap. He wields a wicked red scythe in one hand. As Penelope stares, the redcap looks up and makes eye contact with her, and waves. Penelope squeaks and tries to flee, but in her panic runs into the eight-foot-tall figure of Boom-Boom the kuo-toa in the doorway. As she stammers an apology, Briv gently retrieves her and returns her to the table.
While Penelope calms down, the rest of the heroes order drinks and settle in for the evening. As they do so, a shadow falls over their table. A tall green dragonborn dressed in an ornate cloak stands before them, and exclaims that surely, they are the legendary Heroes of the Vale. They acknowledge him, and the dragonborn introduces himself as Keth, an adjudicator for the newly-founded dragon empire across the ocean. He lowers his voice somewhat and states that he wishes to hire them for a specific purpose: to track down dragonborn who have gone missing under suspicious circumstances. Keth drops a bag of gold upon the table and a sending stone, and asks to be kept informed of any information that comes their way. With that, he turns and strides out of the Blue Kraken.
Penelope appears lost and confused, and her friends exchange concerned glances over her bewilderment. They request the use of a room upstairs to chat in private, and are granted a room. On the way upstairs, they pass a scruffy man huddled in dirty robes. An expression of fear lives upon his face. Orkira furrows her brow and sniffs as she walks past. The scent of bat guano, incense, and other arcane reagents hangs upon him. This man is a wizard. She takes note, but keeps this to herself. Upstairs, Briv scans their room for privacy, and gaze out the window to see the red sails of the goblin empire's fleet being stuck in the port. Alyndra casts tiny hut for extra security, and they all climb inside.
Assuming from their earlier conversation that Penelope had sent the message to summon everyone, Orkira asks the halfling for details. Penelope is surprised, stating she was not the one who sent the message, and quickly the group realize that none of them were responsible. Orkira pulls out her burnt parchment so Alyndra can cast identify, and discovers it is illusory script but there are no malign effects upon it. Their thoughts turn to Keen, one of their former companions, and they all begin to wonder if he was the one who sent the message. As they think of their Feywild-dwelling friend, Penelope says that Keen sent her back to the Material Plane after staying too long in the Feywild. “It made me kind of loopy,” she explains sheepishly, and also reveals that he gave her a ring that hides her from celestials, and told her to avoid being seen.
For a moment the four relax, and tell condensed versions of their adventures over the past five years. After returning from the Feywild, Penelope joined a clan of chwingas in a forest and has been enjoying living among nature again. Orkira talks about being up in the mountains, mostly hanging around a volcano, and remarks how nice it is to be inside the comfort of Alyndra's tiny hut. Briv has been in the wasteland, “Defending those who can’t defend themselves. People thou wilt never know. But I know them, and that’s what matters.” Alyndra has spent her time helping rebuild the library and doing research on the celestials who were hunting Penelope. They were known as Remnants, the last of an army of celestials who worshiped the Many-Eyed God. When their god died they removed their own eyes and charged themselves with hunting down mortals who have killed a God. Penelope is confused, remembering killing Saranthis as just a dream, and is pained by the name Neverember.
Suddenly there is the sound of knocking on the tiny hut, though there is no one visible outside. Alyndra sends Grif, her familiar, outside in the form of a tressym that can see invisible creatures, but her familiar disappears as soon as it leaves the hut. Briv walks out, with Orkira following behind, to find “Welcome home” written on the walls in blood and a tiny red cap on the ground. Picking up the cap Briv finds the dead form of Grif inside, turning to smile vacantly at the half-orc. In horror he drops the cap and runs back into the hut. Orkira frantically examines the hat but does not find a body. Alyndra looked through her familiar’s eyes all this time, and watched a small man in a white beard and a red cap smiling at her, who said, “Give this back to her,” before ruthlessly beheading the tressym.
Alyndra suddenly finds a familiar scythe in her hands.
As Penelope struggles to remember Avernus, Saranthis, and her deal with the pit fiend, she takes the scythe. The group can hear footsteps on the roof above them, and can hear the chanting of a spell. Orkira recognizes the sound of someone casting fireball, but is too late to warn her friends before the blast goes off. However they are not the targets, instead the explosion happens on the street where the goblin empire is disembarking from their ships. Windows shatter from the sudden change in pressure, building burst into flame, and the king of the goblins is immolated and burned to ash, along with an entire city block.
Orkira rushes for the open window, pausing only long enough to pick up Penelope when asked. They fly into the alley and see both soldiers and innocents injured, and Penelope desperately casts ice storm to try and put out the flames. The spell extinguishes the flames, but the hail only causes more injuries. Orkira drops her off and runs pell-mell towards the wounded. As Orkira administers spare the dying on whoever she can, Penelope drops to the ground in guilt over her mistake from earlier. She casts healing spirit, which appears in the form of a glowing elk.
Briv calls for Spiral and flies to the roof of the inn, where he discovers the wizard they had passed earlier. He surrenders, but calls out, “We will never make peace with the goblin empire. You will all burn!” Briv scowls and summarily knocks him out with a crack over the head. Briv turns and looks over the city, and sees ranks of goblin warriors and Imperium soldiers bristling at one another, with neither prepared to make the first move. Briv brings the unconscious wizard in front of the two groups. He lands in the street and bellows towards all nearby in an attempt to diffuse the conflict.. Despite his calls for peace, one shot is fired—from which side, none are sure—and the two amassed forces explode in rage and violence. Briv sneers and leaps onto Spiral once more. He grabs the unconscious wizard, and they fly to safety.
Alyndra looks for the de facto leader of the goblins and tries to convince them to stand down. The emissaries of the goblin empire and in full retreat, furious at this betrayal, and refuse to listen to words of reason. Quickly identifying a nearby hobgoblin as the leader of the army, Alyndra calls out “Parley!” while casting command. This causes the commander to call for his army to stand down, which inspires the Imperium to also lower their weapons. A tenuous peace settles over the battlefield, and Alyndra convinces the two sides to reconvene at the nearby Blue Kraken Inn to talk and discover the truth of this insurgent attack. Knowing that the goblinoids would not trust an elf, Alyndra requests Briv and Orkira lead the negotiations as they will be seen as the most neutral parties. Orkira is reluctant, but Briv gladly assents.
A table is set up as King Theron of the Imperium arrives with a small group of soldiers. Inside, Commander Gedras, the brother to the slain goblin king and now the new leader of the goblin empire, waits in anger with a wizened hobgoblin adviser nearby. Penelope casts charm person on Gedras to ask him to stay calm in hopes of keeping the talks peaceful. Their wizardly prisoner is stripped of weapons and spell components, and his hands are tightly bound to prevent him from casting any spells with somatic components. Then, he is brought before the two leaders. Briv gives an impassioned speech, asking the leaders to only punish the one who threw the fireball and not put two countries at war. King Theron says that they had nothing to do with the attack and gives his sympathy for the death and destruction.
Orkira casts zone of truth as Commander Gedras asks the prisoner who ordered the attack. At the last moment Alyndra notices that something is wrong with the prisoner, as if he’s fractured, and believes he’s being controlled by someone. The prisoner says that King Theron ordered the attack, and that all of Commander Gedras’ family at home are already dead! Gedras explodes in fury, “The war has already begun, your home is burning. We are leaving now!” and everyone hears a thunderous boom from outside. Briv knocks out Commander Gedras and flees with him on the back of Spiral as outside the hobgoblin wizard appears in the sky, calling down flaming meteors on the city.
Can our heroes stop the assault on the city, or fleeing all that is left? Join us for Episode 2 of Chapter 2 on Wednesday June 5th at 2pm PT!
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.