I have cauterized Maxwell’s arm, much to my chagrin. Upon waking, I inspected his arm over his protests and saw the slightest tint of green in his wound, accompanied by a pungent odor. I wasted no time in preparing a heated blade as Cole gave him a leather strap to bite down upon, moving quickly before he risked losing any of his arm to the Unnatural rot. Blacksmith and Cole held him down as I brought the blade to the wound, the metal burning flesh and growth out. He bore it as well as he could, but I still fear his screams were enough to rouse whatever things may be resting within the Weald.
The procedure has clearly exhausted our master of hound, but Cole is a relentless taskmaster and pushed us forward at the same pace we held the past two days. We traveled for most of the day with little happening that is worth remarking on, except that we seem to be closing in our quarry. I am not a tracker, but the other three all unanimously agree that we are only a day behind, maybe less, of whoever it is we are following. Blacksmith insists that it is important we do not get our hopes up and that there is no way to know if it is the Hag we seek, but believes that whatever we find will help us with our task. He has repeated that several times throughout the day, and I suspect that it is more for his benefit than anyone else’s. The Weald has worn hard on him, and his eyes have become bloodshot from fitful sleeping. He seems to be muttering prayers to the Goddess more often, clutching his talisman in one fist as we traverse through the trees. He has decried the creature we battled yesterday as a result of witchcraft, and it has shaken him. Witches have long been rumored to practice freely among the pagan East, and the idea that they occasionally find themselves in the West is a constant source of fear for peasants and the religious. If he is right, and I have no reason to suspect he is not, then perhaps the foul thing that the elder Clarke loosed upon the world has called out to the witches of the world to gather within this wild place. If there are necromancers practicing their foul art in the ruins of the estate, it is not a stretch of reason to believe that something similar could be occurring here.
The trail we have been following has finally led us to the outskirts of the Clarke ancestral cemetery, where we have seen headstones scattered amongst the trees. A cursory examination of one revealed that its owner had passed within the last century, and Cole broke his customary silence to inform us that the Clarkes had staked their claim on this land at least a dozen generations past, perhaps longer, and that the cemetery sprawled across the grounds. It was once hallowed ground, he said, though no one had been buried in at least 60 years there, and that whatever had made it sacred was long banished. Blacksmith asked if the young Master Clarke had plans to bury the body of his father within the cemetery, but Cole resumed his silence and left the question unanswered.
We have found another clearing to rest in, though this particular one has a queer feeling about it. It is much larger than any others we have found, but the center of it is dominated by particularly thick tree with black bark, the likes of which is unknown to me. The treeline around it fashions a circle, and Blacksmith has discovered effigies similar to the one I hold at the edge of the clearing. He smashed them under his bootheel, declaring them to be the result of dangerous pagan worship. I have kept the effigy I found to myself, having not found a reason to share it with my companions. I suspect that Blacksmith may have once been a crusader that fought in campaigns throughout the pagan East, which is yet another reason to not speak openly of it.
The black tree resisted all efforts to pry firewood from it, so we have been forced to gather from the treeline that encircles the clearing. Maxwell is recuperating slowly and the cauterization is holding, though his arm is too injured for him fight while also maintaining control of Anselm. I am pleased to see that whatever growth that had infested his wound has been burned away and that his arm will remain functional, if not entirely whole.
The weald is quiet tonight. While I have been on watch, tending to our fire, I have heard strange musical notes drift through the trees and to my ears. They are solitary notes, easy to miss, but unmistakable once they are noticed. I do not know what it portends, but the thought of something playing music among the trees chills me to my bones. I hope we can find our Hag and so we may depart this place.