"Why would I tell you? You never asked." - Barbara, on her imprisonment and release.
In which there are mysterious comings and goings; the presence of evil weighs heavily upon the Forest; the hags are confronted and our heroes must flee for their lives.
Standing in the midst of carnage after the fight with the dinosaurs, our heroes (and Latro) take a moment to recuperate and notice that Randall has seemingly disappeared, with nothing but a faint "whumph" to announce his departure. This doesn't strike anybody as that odd, however, and the march towards the heart of the Forest continues under the assumption that he can handle himself. As our heroes delve further into the Forest the environment becomes yet more hostile, as trees and brambles begin to crowd the paths and roots and stones attempt to trip any unwary walker. Several times strange shapes and motions are seen in the periphery of vision, resolving themselves into normal foliage if looked at directly. The ground begins to grow boggy and a mist descends.
From out of the mist, two humanoid shapes are seen: Barbara and a new-comer, a mysterious human Warlock named Ron. Barbara had been released from her cell early when a goblin raid came upon Caer in the middle of the night; in the aftermath of the battle it became apparent that Jenny, one of the girls who had been rescued, was in fact a hag in disguise. She had bewitched her "father" to open the gates of the town during the raid, but he was fortunately overcome before he was able to do so. She slipped out of the town unnoticed during the night. Ron had travelled to the town on a mission of his own and, seeing a common cause with Barbara, travelled with her to track down the rest of the party.
Emboldened by the newest additions to the group, our heroes set out once more through the mist and bog. Travelling was slow, and before too long they were ambushed once more: this time tiny streaking shapes struck at them from out of the mist, running in, attacking, and running out in the blink of an eye. With unnatural speed and grace, hitting these creatures with anything was a challenge, although clever use of spells and reactions allowed our heroes to slay three of them before the fourth fled.
Bloodied but undeterred, the party marched on towards the hags, coming to a rise of dry ground in the swamp. Upon the rise sits a large tree and around the base of that tree sprawls a ramshackle cottage. One of the hags was awaiting the arrival of the party and invited them up to "chat". A brief but unpleasant conversation ensued; the hag implied that she had been spying on the party for quite some time. She also revealed how she had been disguised as Jenny from the start and thanked the party for the "fun" involved in her rescue and subsequent antics. The real business, however, was to be conducted with "Auntie Grim", a disfigured and ancient crone. She emerged accompanied by a pack of Yeth hounds, and quickly set down to business: she rebuked any attempts to coerce her to reveal her plans, but instead offered the party a child to bring back to Caer as a "reward" for taking the trouble to see her.
Unfortunately the presence of such evil arrogance pushed Song of the Holy Choir past his limits. Denouncing the heretics, he brought forth a burst of holy light, searing the hags and their hounds, and all hell broke loose. The hounds, expecting such treachery, sent up a dread baying causing all but Aliah and Barbara to flee in mindless terror. Putting up a fight against them proved useless as they overcame both Aliah and Salazar within seconds. Latro attempted to transform into an elephant to stave off the worst of their attack while fleeing with the unconscious on his back. Enraged by the the show of audacity, Grim ripped the heart out of one of the children and threw it at Song, cursing the party as "Ungrateful brats." The hounds broke off the chase once it became apparent that their "guests" were retreating, leaving our heroes to dwell on their misfortune and revive their companions.
It is now apparent that the hags control far more power than anticipated. They also appear to be cultivating a Gulthias Tree, an eldritch creation imbued with the blood of a master vampire. Through the Gulthias Tree they could raise an army of corrupted plants known as Blights. With Caoinín the Hare presumably captured and the new moon just days away, Latro has left to gather the Council of the Wood while entrusting the party to warn the town and pick up Sam for his expertise in dealing with vampires. Things are looking Grim…