With the battle now commenced, I decided we needed some music. Inspiration came to me and I started playing to spur Beiro along, coming up with a new song called “I need a Beiro”. If only I could think of a way to make it more generic, maybe it’s something I could play in taverns. As I started playing, as well as seeing Beiro start focusing, one of the tin soldiers started glowing red hot. It lashed out at Beiro and made contact, leaving a clear burn on his flesh. “Sorry!” I yelled, worried that I had put us at a disadvantage. Baldwin, Beiro and the hirelings made short work of it though, as the heat seemed to be weakening the metal as well.
As the others were attacking the tin soldiers, Melech was trying to get after Old Mother Basket, but as I looked over, she put her hand on a tree and disappeared. “She’s gone invisible” yelled Melech, clearly recognising the spell and fired off a couple of spells into the remaining tin soldier. “Dammit!” I cursed, stepped up to behind Beiro and cast faerie fire where we had last seen her, but she was gone.
Melech threw open his bag and pulled out a scroll. His eyes glowed white as he read it and then pointed through the woods “She’s making a run for it!” And started giving chase. The remaining soldier had shifted in my direction, so I went to hit it, landing my blade right in the middle of its chest and thrusting up to the hilt. It went limp, the last of the magical energy dissipating. With the foe dealt with, I started following Melech and could hear Baldwin, Beiro and the hirelings giving chase. Beiro’s fully enraged form stormed past the both of us, but as he passed the tree Old Mother Basket had touched, it swung around with one of its boughs, narrowly missing Beiro’s. Melech and I saw this and dodged out the way of more incoming branches. “Avoid the tree!” I shouted to the others but breathed a sigh of relief as we’d gotten clear. I didn’t even finish my breath before the tree pulled itself out of the ground and started pursuing us, swinging wildly. Caught off guard, one of the branches slammed Melech in the side of the chest, knocked him clean off of his feet and onto the ground, unconscious. “Shit!” I started muttering, as the tables seemed to be turning against us. Yelling out to Beiro and Baldwin, “we’ve got a situation here!”, although they had now gotten quite far ahead of us.
The hirelings were still off to the sides and following my direction, fired a volley of arrows into the tree, a handful of them embedding themselves into the bank. I remembered the song from before and started to play, focusing on the metal arrow tips. Sure enough, they also started to glow red hot, like the tin soldier, and started to set the bark alight. The tree was clearly in pain and lashed out towards me, but I rolled out of the way. I now focusied on retrieving one of the potions we’d found at the Fey Friend’s house from the top of my backpack while maintaining the song. Willing it to work, I dumped the contents into Melech’s mouth. I smacked him in the side of the face as he opened his eyes. “Wha-?” “Oh thank goodn- GET UP!” I yelled, now redoubling my efforts on the song. The arrow heads flared again, sending jets of fire through the tree, now thoroughly engulfed in flame. At this point Baldwin returned to our position and swung his sword like a woodcutters axe clear into the side of the tree. The now desiccated trunk gave way to the sword and one swoop was all it took to tip the tree from its roots. All of us breathing a sigh of relief, Melech got back to his feet and looked around. “I can’t see her,” he proclaimed “although she was heading in that direction” “That’s the direction she came from before meeting me in the clearing, her house is probably that way” I reasoned. We dusted ourselves off, then hurried in that direction, keeping an eye out for any more killer trees.
Before long, we came across another clearing and, as expected, Old Mother basket’s cottage. Out in front was a garden with a handful of unclothed scarecrows. As we approached, we could see her standing in the doorway. “I’m not in the mood for visitors!” She cautioned. “Why did you feel the need to scry on us?” I shouted back, the jig clearly up at this point, but, even if she was going to respond, any response was cut short by Baldwin firing an arrow at her. It would’ve been a direct hit, but it passed straight through her form, the illusion fizzled and vanished. The door then slammed shut.
We spread out to stay clear of the scarecrows, with me, Baldwin, Neddie and Kia going right and the others going to the left. As we manoeuvered, we heard her screeching from inside the house “Is that horn growing inwards into your brain too, Melech, making you stupider by the second?”. I saw Melech wince, as though the words had actually hurt him. Beiro approached the door and tried to force it open, to no avail, but Melech’s knock spell quickly dealt with it, the sound echoing through the woods. From our viewpoint to the right, we could see Old Mother Basket by the front window, but also by the side window. As we saw her, however, she grinned and both sets of window shutters slammed shut.
I turned to Neddie and Kia, “Come with me around the back, let’s see if we can get in that way”. Before heading off, I put my hand on Baldwin’s shoulder, who was about to make a dash for the front door, said “You’ve got this” and cast Heroism on him. Around the back of the house, I deftly leapt over a crate with no trouble at all and started trying to get through the back door. I could hear the sounds of fighting on the other side, as the others had clearly now all piled in. I left the door to the hirelings and instead started trying to break through the window on the side. Unfortunately, rapiers don’t make particularly good siege weapons, so I made little progress there either.
Suddenly, Old Mother Basket bumped into me. She’d just come through the wall, using yet more trickery to try and escape from her predicament. Upon finding me there though, she looked as surprised as I did and didn’t notice when Baldwin came rushing back out of the front door and clattered his flail right into the top of her head, impacting her skull and knocking her to the floor, lifeless. The hag was dead.