“The thing that I do not like is being lied to. I can overcome any other fault.”
—Briv, Heroes of the Vale Chapter 2, Episode 5: Rebellion
Watch Heroes of the Vale – Chapter 2, Episode 5: Rebellion
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
The scene picks up where it last left off, with everyone standing around Avren’s desk in confusion looking for answers. Frustrated and annoyed with Avren’s flippant attitude, Briv flashes a rude gesture before leaving the office to sit at the bar. Alyndra tries to explain the complicated nature of her family including Tazi, the gnomish sized mind flayer who has arrived, who she describes as “my mother’s pet”. The painting of the redheaded elf in the bar is of her mother, Sofieus. Avren informs his guests that Sofieus is off collecting rare spell components.
The mind flayer attack caught everyone off guard, and the destruction was widespread. The illithids struck dozens of disparate locations at once, including "Gnomish City 7,271,938," which causes Orkira to move away in a panic and cast sending. She reaches out to a friend named Noavell in that gnomish city, and quickly apologizes for it being a long time since they last spoke. Orkira asks about Noavell's situation, and she responds that the city is under attack and they’re trying to fight off the mind flayers as best they can. Unfortunately, those brief twenty-five words of information are all that Orkira learns. Noavell's voice sputters out as the spell fades. Orkira lacks the power to cast the spell again until she completes a long rest, and is left with pangs of worry over the fate of her friend. She is desperate to leave for the besieged gnomish city as soon as possible. Avren offers to arrange transport for the Heroes of the Vale on one of the local airships, but everyone is exhausted and decide it’s best to rest and leave in the morning.
Orkira slides through the bar in search of Briv, but is stopped when Avren calls out to her and asks about her wings, tail and extra height. For some reason, he apparently doesn’t remember her transformation; while this doesn't bother Orkira, Avren's question nags at Alyndra, who begins to suspect something is wrong with her father. She takes some time to wander around her old house, inspecting some of the hidden places she knows about, looking for clues as to what might have changed about Avren. The place is filled with components, weapons, and books on prophecy as if he was prepping for some event. She also takes the time to send Briv a message to warn him that someone might be impersonating her father. He’s happy to wait for her signal to act—and kill him, if necessary.
Back at the bar, Orkira joins Briv for a drink while Penelope slips outside to look up into the night’s sky before heading back to join her friends. They spend a quiet moment together, remembering how the morning began with just the promise of catching up with friends, before the disasters began. When asked how she’s feeling, Penelope relays how overwhelmed and confused she is, how much she misses Keen and the forest, and admits she doesn’t know what to do next. She is confident the treants can protect the forest that she helped rebuild, but still worried about them.
Still covered in the remnants of all the fighting from the day, Briv starts to wander the halls of the house searching for fresh clothing. The house is a confusing mess; there's a dining room with the floor and ceiling reversed and blasted desert wasteland behind another door, but finally he finds a closet filled with clothing. He takes a new shirt, throwing his old stained shirt into the desert, before returning to the bar.
Alyndra finishes her search and joins her friends to overhear Penelope talking about her forest. She remarks how searching for treants is what initially sent her through the portal that lead her to meet everyone. Penelope happily offers to introduce Alyndra to her forest family when they have the opportunity. Briv remarks how he prefers the halfling to the trees and how they hate carvings, then remarks how carving is a hobby of his. Cluing in to the fact that Briv is being sly, Alyndra realizes that the half orc has carved his initials into the frame of the portrait of her mother. As Penelope casts mending to fix the damage Alyndra begins to scold her friend for defacing the painting. Suddenly Briv’s form shrinks and squishes as he is polymorphed into a rabbit! Avren appears, announcing that he does not appreciate his clothing being stolen or his wife’s painting being defaced. The grim-faced mage threatens to send Briv to the Nine Hells as punishment. After a long moment, Avren relents and returns Briv to normal with a gesture. The half-orc fumes and rips the shirt he stole from his body and storms, bare-chested, out of the inn. Penelope and Orkira follow their friend in concern, leaving Alyndra alone with her father.
Pressing Avren for details, he reveals that he had a fight with a powerful demigod and lost some of his powers. He reassures her that he’s going to be fine, that her mother is fine, and implores her not to worry. Alyndra sadly talks about how many people have died, and requests him to pass along any information he might have about what is going on or what they can do to fix things, and he agrees. When she asks about his books of prophecy he says it’s just an attempt to stay one step ahead, that all of these prophetic tomes told of a war between goblins and humans—one that never happened thanks to the actions of the Heroes of the Vale.
Briv eventually finds a quiet alley and is content to claim the space as a place to rest. Orkira and Penelope join him to find out why he’s bedding down in the street, and Briv angrily exclaims how untrustworthy Avren is and how he is tired of being treated as a plaything. He assures his friends that he trusts them, as they have stood side by side in battle together, but is worried about Alyndra keeping the secrets about her family. Orkira and Penelope don’t want to leave him alone, so they decide to join him sleeping in the alley. When no one returns, Alyndra messages Orkira to ask where everyone has gone, and the dragonborn relays what has happened. Exasperated but unwilling to leave everyone alone, Alyndra collects some blankets and pillows and joins them in the alley, casting tiny hut for comfort.
Before falling asleep Penelope asks Orkira if the world is going to end again, and is reassured that she hopes that they can prevent that from happening. However the question bothers Orkira, who takes a moment to pray to the Phoenix. She thanks her God for their support earlier in the day, and asks the same question about the end of the world. The Phoenix replies only with a feeling of hope.
The Heroes of the Vale finally find a long rest.
The next morning the city has come to life, busy streets filled with vendors and a huge variety of beings of all races. One spider-like creature nearby is knitting using its own silk, and sells Penelope a bag for Walton and a new shirt for Briv. As they wait for the items Orkira produces the two sending stones they received the day before; one from Keth, the green dragonborn adjudicator searching for missing dragonborn, and the other from Jorman, the strange creature that interrupted the negotiations with the Kings. She asks if these problems they were investigating were caused by the Mind Flayers, and Alyndra suggests asking her father for more information.
Within the inn, Avren and Tazi are cooking breakfast, including a massive amount of bacon to satisfy the appetites of both Walton and Briv. While eating, they notice bubbling noises coming out of a nearby open door. Alyndra sends Grif to investigate, and finds Avren’s laboratory. Most of the spellbooks are sitting gathering dust while various alchemical and mechanical pieces are in the middle of being used to create magical items. While Grif continues to poke around, Orkira asks about Jorman. Avren relays that Jorman is a powerful, dangerous entity who is actually a red dragon, and that this heralds the arrival of the Githyanki. Long ago, Tiamat made a deal with the gith to help them fight the illithids that enslaved them in their ancient star empire. Tiamat aided them by granting them red dragons to serve as their allies and steeds. Though these dragons are obsessed with hunting down and destroying mind flayers, they remain cunning and exceptionally evil.
Avren's shadow falls upon Alyndra from the doorframe, and his voice booms out, confronting her about what he is building in the back room. She responds in turn, forcing him to admit that his battle with a demigod took more from him than he was willing to divulge. Avren was more than simply wounded in that battle; he was stripped of his magical powers. To aid his recovery he has turned to mechanical means, crafting magic items to supplement what he has lost. He knows about the redcap that has been stalking the group. It is a fey of terrible origin, born from the blood of the slain Saranthis, and warns them that it probably wants to terrify and torture them.
Since there is nothing they can do to help Avren or deal with the redcap, the group return to discussions about the gith and the mind flayers. They all agree that getting help from the gith may be their only chance, and Orkira asks who wants to use the sending stone to send the message. Briv takes the stone and uses it to contact Jorman, requesting a meeting at the inn to discuss working together. Jorman agrees to arrive shortly.
While they wait, Avren takes Orkira aside and speaks with her in private. Avren mentions how strange it was to see all the dragonborn suddenly had wings and tails, and questions Orkira on what she might know happened. At first she’s cagey and nervous, but when he requests a sample of her blood she starts to ramble about how suddenly all these other dragonborn grew wings and tails, that at first she was happy to help them adjust to their new appendages, but then felt bad as none of them wanted to be changed. Growing increasingly nervous, Orkira relays how she was initially infected by the ooze that the sibriex demon had created, and how they encountered that same creature at a later time, and despite insisting she wasn't responsible it's obvious she still feels guilty. Avren tries to reassure her that she's not responsible, but wants to study her blood to find out more information about what exactly the sibriex changed.
Orkira is wary about anyone taking her blood, but Avren tries to pacify her, and suggests that she ask Alyndra for emotional support. When the situation is explained to the high elf, she immediately rejects the idea of offering blood. Alyndra growls that, in his current state, she doesn't trust her father not to us Orkira's blood to further his own goals. Avren insists he’s just trying to help understand what was done to Orkira, but Orkira sides with her friend. The two begin to leave Avren, but are halted in their tracks when he speaks aloud, "You are not a dragonborn anymore.” Orkira turns and asks what he means. Avren replies that, while he doesn’t know how long the transformation will take, he believes that the sibriex has begun a transformation that will turn her into an actual dragon. Orkira flees the room in a panic, and Alyndra turns on her father in fury. She bombards him with a fusillade of questions, climaxing in a demand for him to divulge any last secrets he's been keeping from her. Avren shamefacedly apologizes for not being forthright in the past, and says everything he’s done was in an attempt to protect his family, especially his daughter. He offers a parting gift, a helm of telepathy, and Alyndra accepts hesitantly, with a promise they will see each other again. Tazi offers Alyndra a hug, saying that she will pass along her love to their mother.
The group head outside just as an immense shadow passes over the city. A fearsome red dragon soars above, then swoops around to land on the cobblestones before the group. It sniffs at Orkira as the figure atop its back dismounts. The figure that strides forth from the dragon is a gith in full knightly regalia. The sallow-faced being introduces himself as Yaz, but his introductions are cut short when Briv bluntly requests his aid, calling it a matter of survival. Yaz replies that the gith are dedicated to destroying illithids throughout the Multiverse, and agrees to help as long as bases of operation for the gith army can be made available at strategic locations. As part of their deal Briv requests to learn how to ride a dragon—though hopefully not a red one—and while Yaz insults Briv under his breath in his native tongue he agrees to allow the half-orc the opportunity.
As the deal is struck there is a chorus of roars as hundreds of red dragons appear to fly towards the city of Brimstone. Briv invites the Gith to use the city as their headquarters, insisting that Avren will not mind. At the mention of Avren’s name, Yaz mutters, “Here we go again.”
Is this a deal our heroes will come to regret, or the only way to stop the illithid invasion? Episode 6 airs on Wednesday July 10th, so tune in then to find out!
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.