"Alright, you’re all going to die now. You’re super going to die now. Like, extra hard.”
—Gith Commander, Heroes of the Vale
Watch Heroes of the Vale – Ch 2 Ep 11: Tiny Soldiers
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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 storm of darkness and annihilation created by Alyndra’s mother continues to move through the city, leaving the innocents alone while destroying the gith, as warforged resume their peacekeeping. Inside the safety of the tiny hut our heroes finally give into their exhaustion and injuries from the last few battles, and settle in to take a long rest. Sleep comes easier to some, while others take the opportunity to catch up on the events that have taken place. Rarv spends time carving a bear and a t-rex out of wood, giving them to Penelope and Alyndra as thank you gifts.
Alyndra asks Orkira for details of the six years spent in another bag world. The cleric relays how the people in that world didn’t like her because of how she looked so she stayed hidden a lot of the time. With her was a bard named Harold who she met during her brief visit to Waterdeep. He’d been accidentally pulled into the bag when trying to keep their mimic pet Biblio was put inside, prompting Orkira to rush in to rescue both as she feels guilty about their predicament. When pressed about how she learned about the Elder Brain’s location she relays that it came in bits and pieces, flashes and nightmares as she was recovering from being attacked by the Intellect Devourer. She thinks it was just information she picked up while her own brain was being consumed, and only remembers because she was rescued just in time. Alyndra is wary about this information, believing it could be a trick of some sort, and prompting Briv to relay how he’s seen hunters use food to catch prey. They all agree this could be some sort of elaborate trap, though Orkira hopes that they can use that knowledge to their advantage.
When Alyndra is asked how she is feeling after the recent events, the elf sadly dwells on the death and destruction they have all witnessed, still unsure if they have done any good or if they are the cause of the world’s issues. Orkira points out the wins they have had; the people of Brimstone are no longer enslaved, the group of them together and safe in the hut, and how Avren, Rarv and Boom Boom are alive. She talks about the importance of hope, and having that hope to hold onto when there is nothing else. With great patience Alyndra describes how she sees the world as a stack of possibilities, where every possible timeline is available, and while this moment they are all alive she fears for the timelines where everyone has died. Orkira can relate to this, having spent six years trapped in another world thinking about the moment she would return and how that would turn out. Only her hope that the outcome would be a positive one kept her going, and she expresses sympathy that her friend is experiencing that all the time.
As Briv relays how the trials they experience make them stronger, Penelope joins the conversation to commiserate. The halfling is familiar with being trapped in a world she hates, having spent a year in Avernus struggling to survive. She was alone, and lonely, but had a promise to keep and thinks she’s better for her experiences. Orkira apologizes to Penelope, believing it was her wish that caused the druid to be trapped in hell. With a wry smile Alyndra says that all their wishes have gone astray.
Nearby Keen wakes up with a tremendous thirst as his burns are healing, and as Penelope creates some water Briv prepares to spit on the Eladrin. The conversation turns playful as they remember Briv using spit to open that first portal, and then Rarv tries to convince Briv into believing everywhere he spits creates a new version of Rarv. The whole group are quick to join in the prank, using everything from outright lies to minor illusions to convince the half-orc in the power of his spit. Rarv and Boom Boom take their leave, leaving the Heroes of the Vale to their shenanigans.
As the laughter finally subside the group resume discussions on their next course of action. They can go after the Elder Brain, which could completely end the threat of the Mind Flayers if they are successful but could also be a trap. Or they can head to the Shadowfell and seek out the device the Illithids are searching for, which could potentially solve many problems but then they would need to risk traveling through a dangerous plane of existence. Keen is very worried about how everyone will fare in a world of depression and darkness. But they all agree that a device that could fracture timelines and souls is something the Elder Brain should not possess.
The discussion is interrupted by an approaching squad of githyanki. Alyndra asks Avren to come inside the safety of the hut, but her father refuses as he is unconcerned. He feels confident the group can dispatch the gith with ease. Orkira and Briv head outside to join him, while Keen changes his form into a gith commander and Penelope turns invisible. The leader of the squad announces they are here to slaughter the Heroes of the Vale, and Briv laughs at their claims. He taunts them, attempting to intimidate the group into leaving and causing a large enough distraction that the invisible Penelope is able to sneak up and pull the pants down of the gith commander. Through the humiliation and confusion the commander orders his squad to attack!
The fight is short and one sided. Penelope casts entangle, grabbing and restraining most of the gith, as Avren casts a mass reduction on all twenty of the squad. With his pants around his ankles the commander trips and falls to the ground, and without remorse Alyndra casts toll the dead to kill him. Fey stepping to the other side of the battle is Keen, still appearing as a gith, and charms two of the soldiers to follow him. Keen orders them to call for a retreat, and most start to run. Walton charges forward to spear one straight through, while Briv snatches another and drops them into his bag of holding as he sends Flo into battle. The flumph floats over the running gith and releases her stink cloud to encourage the retreat.
Orkira asks Briv to release the gith prisoner from his bag of holding, upset at the idea of soldier dying in that manner as well as personally nervous about people going into magic bags. Briv admits his intention was to simply scare the gith into talking, not leave him there to die, and agrees to pull the soldier back out. In an attempt to reason with him, Orkira commiserates with the gith about how bad of a day he is having and suggests he spread the word that what remains of the gith forces should leave Brimstone. There is a brief argument as Briv and Alyndra are worried their mercy will only result in the gith returning to try and kill them again, and that none deserve to be spared after their deception and attempted enslavement of the city. But Orkira stands her ground, claiming this is one of those moments that could go many different ways, and what is important is what the Heroes of the Vale do when someone is at their mercy. “I just don’t want us to go down a road we’ll regret.”
Briv agrees with his friend, thanking her for reminding him that killing may be a tool but one that should be tempered, and tosses the gith onto a nearby roof to safety. When Orkira asks Alyndra for her opinion the elf is quick to say she is fine, but secretly sends Grif over to kill the fleeing gith soldier without anyone’s knowledge.
Knowing how much the githyanki prize their swords, Keen retrieves the fallen commander’s weapon to give to a nearby townsfolk whose home has been destroyed. He instructs them to take it to a nearby town to sell it, both to get rid of the sword and to collect enough money to help rebuild. Then the Eladrin returns to start making preparations for the trip to the Shadowfell. He is concerned that the Phoenix that Orkira worships will not be able to hear her in a dark place with no suns or fire, so the cleric takes a moment to reach out and ask her God if a trip there will cause any issues. She hears the Phoenix reply in her mind that it will not be a problem, though the response makes every bone in her body vibrate. Keen is satisfied, though still wants to gather a weeks worth of food and water as backup.
Alyndra asks her father if there is anything more they should know about their journey. It’s a place of darkness, undead, repetition, and the things they fear, but he’s confident in their abilities. He believes the group will be just fine, recognizing that they have all been through so much that proves they can handle whatever the Shadowfell has in store. They don’t know exactly where the apparatus is, but Keen believes attuning to the rod will allow it to be used as a divining rod to find the rest of the machine. Searching for a way to get to the Shadowfell, Orkira asks Avren if he has a bag that will take them there, and then offers him back the bag that she spent six years inside. He’s happy to get his bag back, and thinks once Keen is attuned to the rod that the Eladrin can use it to transport them all to the Shadowfell.
With a plan in place the group spends some time gathering supplies, silvering any weapons they have, upgrading their armor, and creating some vials of holy water. Alyndra asks Avren to pass along her thanks and love to her mother, and the two share a hug and farewells. Keen finishes attuning to the rod and can feel a darkness come over him as he turns to his winter season. A blast of dark energy moves through the group, knocking Briv unconscious for a moment, and suddenly it’s a different time of day. The world has grown darker, colder, a fog has rolled in, and suspicious eyes peer through the windows at them. Keen notices how muted the world has become, and recognizes they have all been transported to the Shadowfell.
Observing someone watching them from a nearby house, Briv marches over and knocks on the door. A gruff voice from inside snaps at him to leave, claiming this is still Brimstone, and he’s going to call the police if they don’t depart. As the half-orc walks back to the group Keen discovers this city is not floating in the air but on the ground surrounded by mountains. Somewhere in the fog Orkira can hear the sound of a large creature with claws moving towards them, and quickly ushers her friends into a nearby alley to hide. The scraping of claws on cobblestone comes close but then continues past them.
Suddenly from above them in the alley something snatches Keen by his arms and begins to drag him up the wall! Using her abilities to see invisible creatures Alyndra can tell a giant werewolf has attacked her friend, and calling out what is happening she uses mind spike on it. Briv climbs up a chimney to get to the roof and above the creature grappling Keen, while Orkira notices the growling of a second werewolf nearby. She launches herself at it, tackling it and causing the snarling, drooling, red eyed creature to become visible. Keen fights back against the werewolf holding him, pulling loose and dropping back to the ground, as Penelope casts dispel magic to get rid of the invisibility. Enraged that it's no longer hidden the monster leaps at Penelope, sinking its teeth into her neck just as more werewolves emerge from the mist to surround the party.
Only a few minutes in the Shadowfell and our heroes are already in peril! Can they fight off the werewolves, and will Penelope suffer any ill effects from being bitten? Find out Wednesday September 11th 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.