I didn’t want to wait; I wanted to take care of the hags and restore the Tree and its occupant. So after licking our wounds, I snuck into the basement. I found an old hag, standing behind the huge cauldron I saw earlier. Alloralla’s heart was suspended in macabre fashion on a pedestal above the cauldron, being observed by a floating eye. Yes, an eyeball. Floating in the air like a hummingbird. Except more disgusting and evil and nothing at all like a hummingbird. There was a hummingbird that used to…never mind.
But before I could do anything, the hag saw me, and began casting spells of great power into the upper levels. I made my way back up to find Rebrus prone on the stairs, a thornwolf (and Lightbeard) growling at him from above. My presence seemed to diffuse the situation; I learned that they had killed the first hag, and that Bodhi was taking care of Alloralla’s body—returning to the Dryad’s home, I think. I approached the thornwolf who had apparently been helpful in the battle, although no one had yet communicated with it. I spoke in Elvish, and the wolf immediately spoke to me—I told him/her? that she reminded me of someone, and an understanding passed between us. The wolf also seemed to approve of Lightbeard…anyone on the good side of a wolf must be a decent sort of fellow. The wolf told us that ‘the pack’ had killed one of the hags—perhaps the elf’s heart was to be used in bringing her back?
We decided to press our advantage and rushed to the basement once more, this time with the powerful wolf in tow. This time I noticed that the hound archon was also in the room, and the hag was accompanied by a hellcat with half its face burned off. Gabriel, unsurprisingly, rashly charged for the cauldron. Now, I must say, his rashness did get him killed once. But this time…his actions were nothing less than heroic. He sprinted across the room, stepping onto the cauldron and leaping over it. He grabbed the still bloody heart off the pedestal and made to dive away safely. Something happened to him, though—he cried out and looked as if he had been poisoned.
Not wanting to leave him alone, I charged the hag, stabbing her twice while taking some sort of shock from the eye. She responded by trying to put a hold spell on us—it worked on Gabriel (still poisoned, I think) and at least one of my other companions. One of the spellcasters finished off the hellcat, and I was left to defend the held Gabriel from the evil hag. Attacking again, I moved between her and him, as she was obviously trying to get the heart back. She was now aware of my rapier—I let her block it before my real attack, a vicious dagger strike. I then turned and ran. But as I passed the cauldron I too became poisoned (was it alive?). I snatched the heart from Gabriel and ran, healing myself in the process.
Lightbeard had by this point called forth a spiritual hammer, which, with a satisfying smack, put an end to the floating eye. (The hammer had, I think, also hit the hag a few times). This enraged the hag, (maybe it was her eye?) who hit me with a magic missile; combined with the shock and the poison, as well as a painful hit I received from the hag’s claws, I was beginning to feel my system telling me I was in real danger. Just as I was heading for the stairs and putting my sword and dagger away, the mysterious archon laughed; fearing a back attack, I stayed, and was rewarded with…the hag appearing in front of me. Faster than the f***er could react, my sword again deflected her attention while me dagger sliced another hole in the horrendously bleeding (and magically scorched, and thorn-filled) hag. I think it was my rapier that finally did her in. She screamed, and her face became a twisted caricature of an old elven woman, screwed up in hatred and pain. She turned to dust.
Apparently during this time the other sister had appeared, ghostlike, in the cauldron. I think Gabriel took care of her somehow. The arrogant imp reappeared (we had skirmished with it above) and demanded the hag’s ashes, and the archon seemed to want to intervene. Not wanting to fight the archon, I put an arrow through the imp’s midsection—it gave up the ashes (“for my master!” it cried). I decided to let it live, but did make the stupid creature pay me for the arrow still embedded in its ribs. (That was enjoyable!)
The archon seemed satisfied to leave us then. Now, we need to reunite Alloralla with her heart, and this tree may finally be restored.