"Go on, get the shiny!" — Aliah, on the light of the sun
In which our heroes reunite with Latro and his army of good fey, charm some snakes, borrow a PIECE OF THE FUCKING SUN, and plan the battle ahead.
Salazar rejoins the party as they take a well deserved breakfast in the aftermath of the night, having woken up in a field to the North of the town surrounded by strange ruins scorched into the ground. There is little time to recover, however, as the townsfolk begin evacuating in earnest and the raven sent by Latro to guide them becomes anxious to get underway. Latro's cottage is a few hours away from the town and the journey is uneventful, save for when the raven comes across a homunculus watching them in a tree and the party is ambushed by shrubbery shortly afterwards.
Unfortunately, in their haste to depart the party forgot they were supposed to bring Sam with them for his expertise in destroying vampires, leaving Latro's council to decide the best course of action. The hags had indeed acquired a Ghulthias tree, and the ritual sacrifices served to speed its growth and allow them to exert control over the Blights produced. Furthermore, they have been amassing an army of evil creatures to defend their tree. They plan to sacrifice Caoinín, the spirit of the forest, to the tree during the New Moon, using his power to corrupt the forest and bind it to their will (the forest covers a couple of thousand square miles, so that's bad).
Our heroes strained their wits in a brainstorming session, trying to imagine ways of getting close enough to the tree to be able to destroy it, and methods of destroying it in the first place. Rapsil the Faerie Dragon mentions a nearby barrow which is said to contain the Bealtaine Fire - a sacred flame, given by the Old Gods of the Sun to the people who lived there millennia ago. The flame was said to burn with the light of the sun, and was likely their best chance at destroying the tree for good. However the barrow is guarded by an ancient spirit, and has lain undisturbed for many centuries. The guardian of the barrow is Bessrana, a minor angel Songs recognised from the Bible of Helios.
After a brief discussion our heroes decided to set out for the barrow, guided by Rapsil. The barrow itself has long since been reclaimed by the forest, and all that is left is a concealed opening in the side of a mound, infested with snakes. The snakes do not act aggressive to the newcomers (who aren't afraid of a few highly venomous serpents, right?) and the passage into the mound curled away as it descended. Our heroes passed a series of trials, testing their intentions and valour to prove themselves worthy of the Fire. They succeeded with ease, showing unusual restraint and selflessness, and were granted the Bealtaine Fire and Bessrana's blessing.
Just as they were about to leave, goblins began to invade the barrow from the entrance, although their progress was slowed by the snakes and traps Bessrana had set. Our heroes rushed to a secret exit in the second chamber, bearing the Fire between them, narrowly escaping by charming the first goblins to reach the chamber. The Fire has some drawbacks: it will ferociously devour any evil it comes into contact with, but it will not survive long out of its bowl. In the dark it shines like the sun, but in sunlight it seems to not give off any light at all, simply blending in with the daylight.
On their way back to Latro's cottage the party finally caught up with Sam, who had tracked them out from Caer but failed to discover the hidden entrance to the cottage. Although he was initially enamoured by the Fire, he soon became suspicious of its origin, citing a distrust of heretics and his unwillingness to work with the Old Faith. After a brief discussion on strategy, our heroes finally took a well deserved rest, with the prospect of discussing battle plans in the morning.