"They are here now. They were dead. They have returned.”
—Flo the Flumph, played by Todd Kenreck
Watch Heroes of the Vale – Ch 2 Ep 3: Better Left Dead
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 Elf Cleric/Wizard played by Jen Kretchmer
- Orkira, Dragonborn Light Domain Cleric played by Lauren Urban
Shocked by Keen’s disappearance, the rest of the group scurry away from the dangerous windmill. There's no time for mourning or even thought; they can only hope that their old friend will be healed in the Feywild. All anyone can think to do is focus on the mystery at hand: who is behind the conspiracy to cause two nations to go to war? They hurry to the house of healing, where the captured wizard is recovering. Along the way, Alyndra relays the confusing images of tentacles she pulled from his mind.
The town is beginning to quiet down after the chaos of the attack. However, on their route, the heroes stumbled upon a group of nobles laughing and hurling stones at a hunched figure in an alleyway. They investigate the disturbance, only to discover the cruel individuals are pelting Boom Boom with stones, and cackling at the giant kuo-toa's suffering. Briv interposes his body and his shield between the crowd Boom Boom. When confronted about their actions, the nobles merely laugh and try to casually stroll away, but their escape is halted when Alyndra casts command to force two of them to stop while Penelope casts mold earth to trip the other three and make them fall on their faces. They hurl insults as they run, calling Boom Boom a freak, and try to intimidate the group with imperious snobbery. The town guard are called over to take the assailants into custody while Orkira heals Boom Boom's wounds. The group escort the shaken kuo-toa back to the Blue Kraken Inn in hopes that Rarv can offer some extra comfort. Rarv is rightfully incensed anyone would hurt Boom Boom, and mutters that he will seek out vengeance of his own, and gently brings his friend to his room to rest.
Fog drifts into the city from the harbor over the next few hours, filling the streets with ominous mist. The Heroes of the Vale note with suspicion the hundreds of seagulls, all flying away from the ocean as the fog rolls in. Penelope relays that animals have a keen sense of danger, but no one can see any immediate threat. Briv mounts his griffon, promising to only scout around and not deal with what he finds by himself, and then heading over the bay. The ships are adrift in the harbor, disturbingly empty except for one apparently dead goblin in a crows nest. Returning to the inn to gather his friends, Briv relays what he saw and encourages everyone to investigate.
As Alyndra casts water breathing on everyone as they get ready to leave, Penelope feels a strange movement in one of her many pouches. From inside a chwinga jumps out! Penelope introduces Walton, a friend from her forest, who was upset to be left behind and snuck into her pack to go on her adventure. At first Walton is prepared to ride Flo the flumph like a battle mount, but Briv is unsure if he trusts this creature and won’t let Flo be used as a ride. Eventually Walton is properly introduced and agrees to return to Penelope’s pack. The halfling climbs on top of Orkira as Alyndra joins Briv on Spiral, and they all head towards the harbor.
Once over the water Briv and Alyndra head for the deck of one of the ships while Penelope and Orkira dive into the water to check under the boats. There is no signs of a struggle or blood on the ships, but the sounds of scraping below deck can be heard. Using clairvoyance, Alyndra looks on the other side of the door and sees a goblin with eyes rolled back in their head and tremors wracking their body, using a finger to carve into the wood “Some things should be left dead.” The finger is worn down to the bone, but the goblin continues to scratch at the wood. Briv heads inside to confront the creature, calling out to try and get a response or shake them out of their stupor. Eventually the goblin’s head turns towards Briv, repeating in orcish what it has carved into the walls. Convinced the goblin is beyond saving, Briv attacks with his flame sword and delivers a coup de grace to the poor creature.
Under the waves they encounter hundreds of panicked sea spawn swimming in terror towards the shore. They ignore everything and everyone in single minded fear as they flee from the ocean. A deep, rumbling noise can be heard and waves begin to rock the boats. In panic Orkira and Penelope fly back out of the water as Alyndra translates the noise into speech from the deepest of throats and the largest of creatures, “RUN!”
As the wall of water surges for the city Penelope raises her hands and casts her own tidal wave. She pushes the rising water back and reveals a gargantuan creature in the ocean. It rushes forward, toothy maw and multiple tentacles revealing itself to be an awesome kraken! Briv and Penelope insist they must face this beast and at least delay it from entering the city long enough for the innocents to flee. Briv calls out “We don’t have to kill it, we have to repel it!” and begins to rally soldiers to take up defensive positions. Originally flying away in panic, Orkira agrees and turns around. She—and Penelope, who is clinging to her back—make a beeline for the elemental titan. She casts wall of fire in front of its face in hopes of scaring it away, but the kraken continues its rampage, and bursts through the wall, all but ignoring the flames. Trying to help stop it, Penelope casts entangle on it, but is only able to grab a few of its tentacles.
Alyndra asks Briv to fly in as close as they can to the kraken and uses her portent to cast polymorph on it. For a moment, the gargantuan creature is transformed into a tiny rat, and Briv dives for the ground attempting to grab it before it can escape. Unfortunately, the rat is seared to a crisp by Orkira’s wall of fire, and instantly reverts to its original, titanic form. Nevertheless, the kraken appears shaken and severely injured. Unusually wounded. The beast leans against a nearby building, breathing heavily and covered in other burn marks that did not come from Orkira's flames. The heroes pause in their assault, bothered by this new information, and Penelope wonders if the kraken was also running from something.
Briv asks Flo to use her telepathy to speak with the kraken, asking if it means the city harm. To everyone’s astonishment, the kraken responds in Common. “Dying,” it says. It heaves a ground-shaking breath, and its eyes begin to close. Alyndra uses detect thoughts to read its mind; it is terrified and dying, its mind scattered and fractured in the same way the wizard who had tried to start the war was, and for the first time in a life lived over epochs, the kraken understands true sadness. Briv attempts to barter with the creature, hoping to become allies, but the kraken's lucidity is draining like water through a sieve. It doesn’t know where or who it is anymore. Despite the horrifying history and power of this creature, everyone is touched by the plight of the Kraken—but Orkira's feelings of sorrow are twinged with the inky color of dread; whatever power wants the city destroyed is mighty enough to drive a kraken mad.
Alyndra approaches the kraken, fully aware of the danger, and puts her hand on its rubbery skin in a show of comfort. The kraken quietly accepts her touch, and Briv calls for Orkira to do something to try and heal the beast. Immediately Orkira rushes to the kraken’s side, heeding her friends commands as well as her own innate desire to heal any creature that is injured, and casts cure wounds. Alyndra can still read the kraken’s mind as it realizes that no one has ever been kind to it, or offered it comfort.
While the group try to figure out how to repair the damage to the kraken’s mind, Flo returns to Briv. The flumph alerts Briv to a dead body in a nearby alleyway that is at once both familiar and strange, and urges him to take a look. Briv flies over on Spiral to find the body of a creature he had not seen in over five years, a gith in ornate armor and a wicked silver sword. Just as Briv lays eyes upon the gith, the ground is rocked by tremors as the kraken enters its death throes. Its entire body convulses. Its shoot out of its mouth in a torrent of blood that soaks Alyndra and Orkira—a sight that would be comical if it weren't so grisly. Its skin begins to peel uncontrollably from its flesh as its body thrashes madly. The force of the throes tear its tentacles from its mouth and pop its eyes from their sockets.
Briv hurriedly grabs the gith corpse, remounts Spiral, and flies up into the air. From the air, he shouts towards the guards and onlookers on the ground to flee. The convulsing body then does something no one could have expected. Still twitching and hissing, it seemingly flies into the air and looses an eardrum-shattering scream, sending a shockwave of psychic static that lacerates the minds of anyone and everyone nearby. The heroes almost plow into Rarv, standing in the street smoking a pipe, who casually admits that this moment was foreseen. “That’s why this town was called Kraken’s Fall. Some things that are dead should have been left dead.”
One final, awful noise rings throughout the city as the dying kraken's wails subside. With a horrific, low rumble five vessels with a disturbing, spiraling shape rise from the ocean. Like massive snail shells adorned with writhing tentacles, these ships—each the size of a galleon—array themselves against the city. None could say what these fell craft were called—save for perhaps the now-dead gith that Briv recovered. If he could speak, he would simply say two words: illithid nautiloids. For indeed, behind the arrayed vessels floated a veritable army of purple, rubbery-skinned creatures. For repulsive tentacles writhed around their mouths. The army of the mind flayers had come.
Our heroes know who is behind the attempts to start a war, but now must deal with an army of illithids! Find out how on Wednesday June 19th at 2pm PT on twitch.tv/dndbeyond!
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.