"I'm here to watch you suffocate and die."
—Flo the Flumph, Heroes of the Vale
Watch Heroes of the Vale – Chapter 2, Episode 10: Forty-Two Seconds
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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
Keen and Alyndra scamper into a back alley as the fire from the execution of Avren, Boom Boom and Rarv trails into the air. Despite her sorrow, Alyndra is filled with sudden purpose and moves through the house to all the locations of secret stashes of important items. After raiding all the safes, she pauses in front of the portrait of her mother, and uses the magical properties of the painting to inform her mother of what just happened. The sunlight dims, and a low rumble shakes the city as the painting turns to complete blackness. Realizing her mother is angry, Alyndra grabs Keen tells him they need to run.
The explosion in the distance spurs Briv into action with his plan, activating his armband and casting enlarge on himself, then leaping off Spiral onto the head of the red dragon. The half-orc grabs Githrak Vos and wrestles him into the bag of holding as Orkira does whatever she can to keep the dragon’s attention. Annoyed at this turn of events, the red dragon lets loose its flame breath, but Orkira's scales resist its flames. Worried about her friends, Penelope calls lightning down on the dragon as Briv leaps back onto Spiral. He asks Flo to enter the bag of holding to deliver an ultimatum to Githrak Vos; he has ten minutes to agree to release all the slaves or else he will be suffocated.
Still intent on keeping the dragon away from her friends, Orkira taunts “That tickled!” before saying something rude at it in Draconic and turning to fly away. This sends the dragon into a rage and it gives chase after the cleric. The extra inches Orkira has grown while away have given her just enough speed to stay ahead of the dragon, but the monster snaps at her heels the entire time as she weaves and dodges through the city!
Back in front of the inn, the dragons are still gloating over their kill. Keen moves to cover Alyndra with his body as she casts mage hand and respectfully removes the dimensional shackles from her father’s body. Then she pulls out one of Avren’s coins and flips it to see which side it lands on, but the face that appears is one she has never seen before; it appears to be a close look at one of Avren’s completely black eyes. Debris in the street begins to rise into the air to float as the gith feel gravity change. Suddenly a woman with familiar flaming red hair appears, and when she screams, darkness pours from her mouth like smoke to form a pitch-black sphere. Milky white tentacles shoot from the darkness to grab a nearby red dragon, and it's dragged into the sphere with a yelp of pain and horror .
Alyndra moves in front of Keen to protect him with a satisfied smile. Her mother has arrived.
Orkira continues to lead the red dragon on a chase through the city, ducking into a tunnel under the train tracks just as it breaths on her again. Despite her natural resistance to fire, the damage is starting to add up. Both Keen and Alyndra notice their friend in trouble, so Alyndra casts message to let her know to come back towards them, then begins to cast tiny hut to provide them with a safe shelter. Hoping to distract the dragon from its target, Keen casts cloud of daggers on its back end. Briv spurs on Spiral to fly to safety as he confirms that Flo has delivered the ultimatum to their gith prisoner, then pulls the flumph back out of the bag.
Alyndra warns that anyone outside her hut will be in danger from her mother, but it becomes obvious that the darkness and tentacles are only targeting gith. No innocent people are put in danger as they run from the carnage. Orkira lands and immediately notices the burnt corpses of her friends, and despite the oncoming dragon danger moves to the bodies. She swiftly uses the last of her 3rd-level spell slots to cast revivify on Boom Boom and Rarv, bringing them back to life just barely within one minute of their deaths. They are startled and confused, so Penelope rushes to their side to usher them into the safety of the tiny hut.
Unwilling to let Avren go without trying whatever she can, Orkira moves to his corpse and starts to use her final 4th-level spell slot to attempt to revivify him as well. Seeing the red dragon diving out of the sky towards her unprotected back, her friends rush up to aid however they can while Alyndra keeps the hut up and ready. Penelope casts guidance on Orkira to try to help her, while Briv takes a defensive position nearby and assists Keen who launches himself into the air. The eladrin viciously slashes at the dragon, brutally damaging its mouth and throat just as it once again unleashes its fiery breath. Before the fire can reach them, Briv activates his shield and forms his protective barrier to keep them all safe.
Unable to control its own fire, the red dragon explodes in blood and flame. Keen is unable to dislodge his glaive and dodge in time and is scorched and burnt by the blast. But his life is spared as the death ward he received earlier in the day activates! Dropping the shield Briv rushes up to feed Keen a health potion and congratulate him on being a badass, and the two enjoy a moment of dancing and celebration as the gith flee in terror.
Inside the hut Alyndra comforts Rarv and Boom Boom, before turning to the bag containing Vos and in anger sends a mind spike into his brain. Then she dumps him out of the bag and expels him from her hut, calling for her father and mother to come and take him. The gith starts to convulse, and to his horror is transmogrified into a mind flayer. Filled with terror he tries to run, but the remaining gith immediately give chase and cut him down dead.
Orkira finishes casting revivify on Avren, but something feels strange. The ground begins to shake and a crack opens up right beneath the body just as it transforms into a vibrating, dark shape. The cleric's eyes turn completely black and she finds herself standing a massive room of dark metal. A beam of light from a portal in the ceiling shines down on a pool filled with rows of status of a gigantic variety of petrified creatures. Above the pool is a massive sphere that starts out full of darkness, but begins constantly shifting and changing color. She calls out in confusion for Avren, but her voice echoes back from the walls. The huge sphere floats next to Orkira, who can feel a sense of friendship emanating off of it, and a voice announces “You are not meant to be here.”
Suddenly Orkira returns to her own body, blinking away the darkness even as Briv is frantically shaking her to try and snap her out of whatever happened. They all turn to find Avren alive again, floating off the ground with dark eyes that appear to be filled with stars. He’s bemused, saying how he hasn’t looked this way in a long time and that no one has ever brought him back to life before. Still a little confused and noticing the destruction, Orkira gathers everyone up and pushes them into the tiny hut. The magic of the hut will only allow the real Avren inside, and when he enters and proves he is real Alyndra rushes to embrace him.
For a long moment father and daughter share a hug in grateful silence.
As the remaining gith and dragons retreat from Brimstone, Alyndra gives Avren back what she pulled from the house and asks what is different. He’s never been resurrected before and has returned to his normal form, new hand and all. Alyndra thanks her friend for bringing her father back, and Orkira states how she is simply glad that it worked. Finally safe and together, Penelope wonders what they are supposed to do next. Avren informs the group that the crystal rod is an artifact that the mind flayers are searching to find. They should go into the Shadowfell to find the device it activates, but immediately Keen is upset at the idea. The eladrin would rather go back to the Nine Hells than travel to the Shadowfell. Alyndra somberly wonders if they aren’t already in Hell, as the worst things they can all image are here with them. Penelope is too familiar with Avernus to believe that to be true, and Orkira agrees as she insists that this world is better than the last few places she has been.
Returning to the problem of the rod, Avren says it activates a device that was made ages ago by an artificer from a place called Ravenloft. It can split someone into two personalities, or merge a previously split being. The Elder Brain wants to use it to merge their minds with everyone else's, to “become everyone.” Avren believes they will be able to use the machine to somehow solve several problems, from the mind flayers to the fractured timelines caused by several wish spells.
Keen sighs, “I hate the Shadowfell.”
Are our heroes headed to another plane of existence? Or will they come up with another plan? Tune in Wednesday, September 4th at 2pm PT on twitch.tv/dndbeyond to see what happens next!
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.