"Come down with me, Keen! We’re going to have so much fun!"
—a redcap, played by Todd Kenreck
Watch Heroes of the Vale – Ch 2 Ep 2 Blood Relatives
Our heroes are 8th-level characters known as:
- Todd Kenreck as the Dungeon Master
- Keen, Eladrin Eldritch Knight Fighter played by TJ Storm
- Briv, Half-Orc Cavalier Fighter played by Adam Bradford
- 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
- Orkira, Dragonborn Light Domain Cleric played by Lauren Urban
As four massive meteors hurtle through the sky, Orkira calls out to her god for help in the hopes that the Phoenix grant her aid. The Phoenix offers what limited support it can, and Orkira turns to announce they all need to run. Just outside the door Keen has appeared, fresh from the Feywild and happy to see his friends, but that joy quickly turns to confusion as he can see the carnage from before and joins everyone in running for their lives.
The tall spires of Verdeneth take the brunt of the strike; the castle is turned to rubble, the armory is completely destroyed, the main gate takes a direct strike, and the final one lands in the harbor destroying the Imperium ships. Hot steam and a wall of water surge through the streets, bludgeoning everyone with flying debris and sending Orkira tumbling down an alley. Keen uses misty step to reach her before she is completely swept away. Thick fog rolls in off the harbor as the fires begin to consume the city.
Up in the air, Briv guides Spiral away from the meteors with practiced skill, bringing the hobgoblin Commander Gedras to the same windmill he used before. Briv secures Gedras to prevent his escape, once again asking Flo the flumph to watch the new prisoner, and then heads back into the city. Ash and soot start to fall across the city as he finds his friends recovering from the attack.
As Keen and Orkira rush to help the wounded and the innocent. As they do so, Alyndra notices nearby the wizard who cast the fireball that started the recent dire events. She casts detect thoughts to probe his mind. The wizard’s psyche is fractured and broken, showing Alyndra a vision of being submerged in the ocean with massive tentacles unfurling out of the darkness. Alongside the looming kraken in his mind, Alyndra can see a memory being played over and over of King Theron ordering him to kill the Goblin King. She begins to suspect this is an implanted memory as it becomes clear this man’s mind has been heavily tampered with. Alyndra tells Briv that she believes the wizard is not fully responsible for his actions, and that he deserves help and healing. Briv agrees to help get the wizard to safety, cutting the man's hair and covers his face in mud so as to disguise his features.
Orkira notices down an alley a lanky, bald figure in a tailored black cloak standing in front of several bodies. As blood falls from his hand the bodies begin to stand back up. Fearing that undead have been created, Orkira rushes down the alleyway yelling after the man who is disappearing into the mists, with Penelope close behind. Fortunately the situation is much better then they feared, the stranger has actually brought a family back to life! Orkira encourages the confused family to find shelter before showing Penelope the remains of the diamonds that were used to cast the spell. The cleric feels terrible for raising her voice at a fellow healer, and Penelope uses a gust of wind to disperse the mist to find the stranger. As the fog blows away the mist, the footprints of the stranger also vanish.
Back in the streets, King Theron recognizes the Heroes of the Vale, and requests an escort back to the remains of the castle. Briv offers to take him back on Spiral, and the rest of the party vouch for the half-orc’s abilities as a griffon rider. Before they leave, Alyndra probes the King’s mind and senses a mixture of anger, confusion and retribution. She tries to probe deeper, but finds that the king's mental fortitude is quite powerful—too powerful for her magic to breach. Instead of heading to the castle, Briv breaks his promise and takes the King to the windmill where Gedras is also prisoner. Everyone notices the griffon going in the wrong direction, including King Theron’s guards, so Orkira casts [spell]sending[spell] to inquire where her friend is going and what he is doing. Briv responds that he has taken both kings to the same location for them to work out an end to the hostilities, that he would welcome their help as long as they are covert about it “to not reveal my twirling location.” Orkira is confused by his vague reference, but Alyndra realizes this is a reference to the whirling windmill not far away.
While Keen heads to the windmill to help Briv, the other three heroes take the broken man to a nearby house of healing. Despite being overwhelmed with injured from the attack, Alyndra is able to talk with someone in charge, giving instructions to be careful with the wizard's mind, and advising that it might be best to keep him asleep. The healers will try to find someone who specializes in illness of the mind and to be cautious of the wizard’s spellcasting, and promises no harm will come to him.
In the windmill, Briv has forced both kings to face each other, insisting that the two leaders work out their issues to prevent an entire realm from going to war. Negotiations are tense, and neither leader is willing to give an inch, especially now that both sides have suffered losses. Briv insists that the only thing preventing peace is their own stubborn pride, and fumes, “We can have that peace because the two of thee can decide to have peace! Thou art the leaders, thine people will listen to thee!” He argues that the two needs to learn to forgive, or at least forget, to save the lives of their subjects who would be killed in a war.
As the negotiations continue, Keen arrives at windmill, noticing a dead soldier at the base of the stairs. The body has an arrow to the neck, but a closer examination reveals that it was vicious slashes to the chest that caused the man’s death and the large pool of blood on the ground. A voice calls out to Keen, “Wrong way!” He turns to see who called to him, and spies a small man with a red cap and a white beard smiling up from the blood pool. Keen is horrified as the creature reaches up out of the red liquid to grab hold and yank him down into the pool just as the rest of his friends arrive! Alyndra manages to misty step and take hold of Keen, preventing him from sinking too deep, as Penelope dives into the blood to see both the redcap and her friend. She casts water breathing on everyone to prevent drowning in the blood, and Keen is able to twist out of the grasp of the creature. The redcap claws at the Eladrin’s wrists as Alyndra pulls him free of the blood pool.
Keen warns everyone to stay away, knowing the dangerous powers a redcap can command—plus something more. He feels a scant trace of divinity in the ichor. Alyndra uses prestidigitation to clean them of the tainted blood while Orkira heals Keen’s wounds. Bubbles of blood pop on the surface of the pool, releasing the mocking laughter of the Redcap with each one. It taunts Keen, “I wish you’d stayed with me!” before disappearing as the pool of blood vanishes.
Something heavy lands on the roof of the windmill with tremendous force, startling Briv and sending him scrambling to warn his friends. Orkira takes to the air, and Penelope casts spider climb to join her. They find a strange, pale, dark haired, wiry man regarding the roof with curiosity. He introduces himself as Jorman, saying he saw the kings being taken to the windmill. He was told to offer aid in preventing the war from taking place and knows that the attack was orchestrated by an outside force, but will not reveal who gave him the information. Orkira and Penelope are wary of this stranger, not sure if they want more outside help of a mysterious nature, but when Briv hears the offer he calls out to invite Jorman to join them. With tremendous strength, Jorman pulls off a chunk of the roof and breaks into the windmill.
Jorman offers to meddle with the minds of the kings to convince them that the last few hours did not happen. “It is just in my interest that the world of men and elves and goblins do not go to war with themselves right now.” Keen and Alyndra can feel a magical force exuding off him, but cannot recognize what kind of creature he really is. Realizing that this offer would remove the option of choice from the kings minds, Briv refuses Jorman's offer.
Turning back to the kings, Alynrda asks if Theron ordered the fireball attack. Theron insists he did not, that all he desired was peace and trade with the goblins. Alyndra relays that the wizard was under some kind of mind control. Likewise, the hobgoblin commander Gedras agrees to cease his attack if the wizard is turned over to him, but Briv is unwilling to hand over someone who might not have been responsible for his own actions. The half-orc attempts to lie, claiming he was the one who hired the wizard in an attempt to be used as a scapegoat and avert a war. However Orkira and Alyndra do not believe him and call him out on his lies, insisting the only one who should be held responsible is the one who played with the wizard's mind in the first place.
The two kings are swayed by Briv’s willingness to sacrifice himself the name of peace, and agree on a truce. Gedras and Theron will work together to heal those injured by the attack and repair the damaged city as long as the Heroes of the Vale agree to work towards finding the one ultimately responsible. They are given a deadline of thirty days. A garrison of both armies arrives to escort the kings back to their respective people.
Jorman agrees this is a good plan, and will search for answers on his own to provide what assistance he can. He hands Orkira a sending stone so they can remain in contact, which causes Orkira to remember this is the second sending stone she has received that day. Jorman flies into the air, heading straight up into the clouds and out of sight.
As everyone is leaving, Keen keeps his eyes open for the redcap, and patrols the perimeter of the windmill. He finds a single empty red cap on the ground and points it out to his friends to help them identify the signs of the evil creature. Orkira and Alyndra are struck with a strange sense of dread as Penelope realizes that there is a storm gathering around them despite the lack of wind or noise nearby. It's as if they are in the eye of the storm. The redcap suddenly appears, announcing he left behind his hat, and when Briv tries to attack the creature snaps his fingers. The wind from the storm immediately rushes into the quiet space, causing the windmill to splinter and shatter ! A blade from the windmill flies off and slices into Keen, sending him tumbling through the dirt with grievous wounds. Rushing to his side Orkira casts cure wounds at the highest level so she can to stabilize her friend.
Leaves swirl around Keen as green light silhouettes his form. Saying he will eventually return to find them again Keen is sucked into the Feywild against his will.
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.