I did find out about the potions. Eafra had spent the entire night making them. Two potions to help will, six to restore arcane energy, one for transformation (into a wolf. Tikanni was very interested in that one) and one that was lavender. The Lavender one had been moved back from the rest. Tristain asked about it, and she told us it was a potion of Love. Everyone else seemed to loose interest at that point, I'm not entirely sure why... I could think of a half dozen excellent uses for such a potion without trying very hard.
Wigolas was doing surprisingly well this morning, and while I was making breakfast Tristain spent some time getting his spirits up. Thorwulf seemed to really enjoy breakfast, and Wigolas was very complementary as well. He said it would be considered high cousine back in Gareth. I'm not sure why Tristain started choking then. He Tikanni and Elenwe must have still been full from last night. They barely touched breakfast.
Eafra told us to be sure to follow her cat, Grimalkin, as he knew the way through the woods without getting lost. I let the others go out first, and then glanced first at Eafra, then at the lavender potion and the receding forms of Tikanni and Thorwald. There is such potential there if they--well, if Tikanni--would just get past her prejudice. Eafra understood exactly, and quietly passed me the potion. I whispered thanks, then followed the rest of my group out of the cave. I'm pretty sure no one noticed. Good. It does occur to me that I possibly should have asked what a Love Potion does exactly or, perhaps, how strong this particular one is. Oh, well. I'm sure it will be fine.
Once we arrived at the witches tree, Wigolas got excited and wanted to cast a blessing on me that would make an oath sworn much harder to break. I was not at ALL interested in something that would force me to do anything so I quickly let him know "thanks, but no thanks."
He looked very hurt, "I just wanted to make sure you didn't come back down those stairs and stab us!" As if I would do that. I haven't been journeying with them through all this mud and blood and cold rain to fight witches and orcs and body odor just to stab them in the end. "You mean you don't want to promise not to hurt us???" Wigolas wheedled.
"Yes! Wigolas! I promise not to stab any of you, but you don't need to--"
"Then I bless that oath!" Wigolas announced, raising his hand. He'd tricked me. Well, fine then. Alright. Fine. I suppose I will change my plans and not stab them all today.
Tristain also refused the oath, but Tikanni and Elenwe humored Wigolas much to his satisfaction as he oath-blessing-bound both of them also. Maybe he wasn't feeling so great when Tikanni pointed out, "you know there are so many ways I could kill someone that don't involve stabbing, don't you?"
On that note, we started up the stairs, Tristian, myself and Elenwe first, the others following. Thorwulf was furiously rubbing all of his swashner tattoos. At the top was an old hut, and in the old hut was a very old woman. Her gray hair was bound back by a leather thong, and around her neck were a dozen leather cords each with a small vial of luminescence essence. Introductions weren't necessary, as she already knew all our names. Her story agreed with her daughters, minus the sympathetic part. She said she gave the baby away to a trader because he was just a boy, and boys only cause trouble.
Tristain was eager to get to it, but waited until Wigolas was satisfied. As soon as Wigolas nodded, Tristain cast paralysis and a tree dragon, summoned by the witch, pounced on Wigolas. I tried to cut the potions off her neck, and sent five of them scattering. She looked at me with intense fury. Thorwulf and Tikaani both struck deeply at the witch. I glanced over, and Tristan was now fencing with--with a broom. The witches broom. The witch spit at Tikaani and the skin on her face started peeling. Wigolas shouted encouragement from his seat on the dragon (which he had named Elliot???) that all the great ladies in Gareth had witch spittle applied on occasion. Tristan objected. Wigolas told me the same thing when the Raven pecked at my face a couple more times. Tristain objected then also. Gareth sounds like a very odd city, and I'm not sure Wigolas was spending time in the best parts of the city.
The witch muttered a spell as the fight continued, and suddenly branches sprouted from the floor between us growing to the ceiling and sprouting long thorns dripping blood red sap. I tried to jump through, but could not get close. I did hear the jingling of coins and that gave me the courage to try again, but those thorns--I just couldn't do it. Tristain, however, with a determined look on his face, went sprinting toward the thorns and--to our horror--impaled himself upon them. Tikaani ran to him and pulled his still shuddering body off, but he was really dead. We continued battling the creatures--the raven and dragon. Though.... Wigolas seemed less than determined in his fight. He mostly sat on the dragon and tried to wrap him in a blanket.
I felt a warm breath against the back of my neck and more tinkling coins as a familiar voice spoke, "It's an illusion, Delilah. Just see through it. The witch is on the other side." And... suddenly... I could. The branches melted away and I moved in. Tristan had done a good amount of damage against the witch, but the witch had knocked him back and he looked like he was hurting. I sprinted toward the table the witch was walking toward and knocked all the the potions away from her, scattering them around the room. Tikanni made it across as Tristain cast Flemenictus, and the witch fell to the floor dead.
It did not take long for Eafra to arrive. The first thing she asked for was her mother's spell book--which Tristan was already looking for. Her hair was streaked with gray, and as we watched we saw dark spots forming on her hands. She cried out as she suddenly realized what was happening--she was the new witch of the woods.