"I give him the butt of doom!”
—Keen, Heroes of the Vale Ch 2 Ep 8
Watch Heroes of the Vale – Chapter 2, Episode 8: Dragonflayer
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Our heroes are 8th-level characters:
- Todd Kenreck as the Dungeon Master
- Keen, Eladrin Eldritch Knight Fighter played by TJ Storm
- Briv, Half-Orc Cavalier Fighter/Barbarian 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 Heroes of the Vale and their allies are all gearing up to leave the city and strike back against their illithid enemies. Gith saddle up fearsome red dragons and pile into flying skiffs, while our heroes try to decide their next course of action. Penelope approaches Githrack Vos asking about how to join in the battle, and the gith informs her that dragons will be provided for them to ride. She gleefully relays that information to her friends, but Orkira and Alyndra are less enthusiastic about that idea. After much consideration, Briv prepares his griffon Spiral, deciding to ride his faithful mount into this battle. Keen takes time to study the dragon he and Penelope are preparing to ride, hoping to learn about its anatomy in case he ever needs to battle one in the future. Alyndra and Orkira discuss how they can best transport themselves but are unable to come up with a solid plan without knowing exactly how long the trip will take.
The half-orc picks up on Orkira’s discomfort and wary demeanor and demands to know what is wrong. Alyndra casts Leomund's tiny hut to give them a moment of privacy, and Orkira repeats what Avren told her just a few hours ago: she is slowly transforming into a full dragon. This revelation pleases Briv, who believes dragons to be some of the most majestic and powerful creatures in the entire universe, and does not understand why this would upset his ally. Orkira admits that there are several reasons the transformation bothers her: the lack of permission or control over the change, her belief that all dragons are assholes, and the difficulty she will have interacting in regular society. But in this moment her main concern is how the red dragon steeds of the gith appear to sense what she is and that it will create problems, afraid the animosity between chromatic dragons and their metallic kin will tear a rift between them and their allies.
Despite these fears, Briv assures Orkira that everything will be fine. Encouraged by his confidence, Orkira leaves the hut and approaches the dragon her friends are preparing to mount—just to see what happens. The red dragon sniffs and grunts at her, but otherwise does nothing. Following behind is Boom Boom. He is distraught everyone is leaving, but he and Rarv are quickly convinced to join in on the adventure. The prospect of more friends helping fills Penelope with hope and excitement, and while Keen is grateful at her optimism, he also worries that his young friend might not yet know the bitter feeling of losing an ally. She has never seen total war, and he sadly informs her that many will perish in the battle. The heroic stories she loves are told by those who survive, but the ones who die have their stories lost to the darkness.
Avren gives his daughter a quick hug, asking her to stay safe while simultaneously granting her the power of a mind blank spell. He wishes the whole group good luck and asking them not to die before offering Orkira a final parting gift; a bag of holding. He claims she might need it if she gets sick, and everyone is suddenly concerned about airsickness. The heroes banter a bit, enjoying some nervous jokes and reassurances. Finally the army begins to take off on the several hour flight back to Verdeneth and the mind flayer armada. The trip is the calm before the storm and offers the chance for Alyndra to relax for a moment, remembering her second family who are comfortable in flight, and using her helm of telepathy to make sure their dragon mounts will not betray them. Keen continues his intense study of the gith, their dragons, and the military precision on display in order.
On the approach to Verdeneth, the gith squadron flies into storm clouds, braving the winds and lightning to mask their approach. One of the bright flashes glows an ominous red, revealing to Penelope the horrifying form of the red cap taunting her with a smile. In anger and frustration Penelope calls down a moonbeam on the fey creature just as the assault on Verdeneth commences. Orkira uses her most powerful spells at the onset of the fight to place a death ward on Keen and Penelope, finishing just before the druid leaps off the dragon to wild shape into a giant eagle. Distracted from the battle, Penelope flies off to engage with the red cap, with Briv and Alyndra following to offer her backup.
The heroes split up. Keen and Orkira remain on dragonback to engage mind flayer ships as they cannot see the others engaging with their recurring fey enemy. The first illithid craft is laid low by a combination of faerie fire, volleys of arrows, and dragonfire. Heading to a second ship, Orkira blasts it with a fireball as Keen leaps onto the ship to slice the pilots to ribbons, before jumping back into the red dragons claws as it finishes the job with its fire breath.
The trio focused on the red cap do their best to destroy the creature, and though it is being worn down by repeated injury, it continues to taunt and giggle at them as if it were unaware of their attacks. A mind spike and toll the dead blast into the red cap's form, letting Alyndra keep track of its precise location even as it tries to disappear and warp around the battlefield. As it tries to retaliate, Penelope dives out of the sky to attack with beak and claw, and Briv joins in with a devastating series of slashes from a sword sheathed in ice. When the red cap grapples the giant eagle to haul it away, Briv leaps onto her back to keep in combat and the three dive through the sky exchanging blows. The red cap is laid low, falling into the clouds with a creepy laugh, but Alyndra polymorphs it into a snail and Grif snatches it up in his claws.
Suddenly, a terrible sound erupts from the hillside as the former kraken, now a floating mind flayer ship, rises into the air. The psychic scream annihilates the bulk of the gith squadron, stunning Orkira as well as almost all the red dragons who begin to plummet from the sky. Keen is able to cast feather fall to stop a fatal crash, but now close to the ground he can see thousands of tiny brains on claws. The intellect devourers swarm anything and everything, teleporting into their foes' skulls to destroy and consume their soft gray matter.
In a desperate move to save his stunned friend, Keen uses his Fey Step to attempt to teleport Orkira to a safer spot on top of a downed ship just as an intellect devourer enters her head. Stunned and unable to resist, Orkira can feel it begin to consume her mind. But in that moment a green light streaks down from the sky, burning the symbol of the ouroboros into the ground, before the light and the cleric vanish. Fortunately it leaves behind the intellect devourer that was previously in her head.
Hoping and assuming his friend is safe, Keen dashes up into the remains of the ship. Inside are countless dead mind flayers, and as Keen snatches a crystal rod off one of the corpses he comes face to face with the huge blinking eye of a mindwitness—the horrific result of a mind flayer tadpole transforming a beholder. Meanwhile, blind with battle-fury, Penelope launches herself towards the mutated kraken despite Briv’s attempts to get her to retreat. Calling to Spiral, the half-orc loops a rope around the giant eagles neck and begins to try and pull her away to safety.
“This is a mess and we have to retreat.”
Can everyone flee before they are overwhelmed? And where has Orkira been taken? Episode 9 airs Wednesday August 21st at 2pm PT on twitch.tv/dndbeyond and we will just have to wait until then!
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.