Thursday, March 21, 2013
The Wilds - Another Day, Another Tree
In which, the party finds their way blocked by a huge stand of thorny shrubs, and takes a detour...
Start Date: July 1, Year of the Badger, late afternoon
Start Status: Around and around and around we go...
Start Location: Approximately 8 miles SW of Stonefinger
"Ow! Darn it, another thorn!" Even with a halfling's tough feet, Locky is finding it rough going. Though the worst of the thicket is on the southwest side of the stream, the group still encounters patches as they travel northwest. It takes half an hour or more to reach the end of the obstacle and the party ends up at the source of the faint glimmer Urúvion spotted from the upper limbs of the tree, a broad pool formed by the stream itself. Tired, but anxious to press on and make the best of the daylight, you cross the stream above the pool and turn west, skirting the north edge of the thicket. This takes you mostly west for several miles, to where a band of thick pines marks the end of the thorns.
After a brief break and discussion, you push west, emerging after a few hundred yards into more open ground. The trees, thinned perhaps by fire or disease, break into clumps and stands separated by (mostly thorn-less) undergrowth and tall grass. The clearer ground allows you to set a faster pace, and you wend your way southwest once again, hiking for several hours through meadows, stands of trees and thickets of brush. By the time evening falls you estimate you've traveled another eight miles, the last two aimed straight at an isolated hill rising above the trees ahead. It's a rough, rocky thing, rising a few hundred feet above the surrounding terrain, but it makes a good landmark and provides a decent view. By the time you reach the top it's near dark, twilight and hazy skies make it hard to see much, but way north you can make out the mountains, including a glint of white from one snow-covered peak. Nearer at hand there are trees, and... trees. Here and there you spot other hills and outcroppings similar to the one you're on, but there is no sign of ruins or civilization. Looking back east the elves can just make out the dark shape of Stonefinger rising above the trees, and Rawon estimates it is almost 20 miles away. "Looks like we need to head south tomorrow if we want to end up southwest of Stonefinger. That thicket really pushed us west."
The hill makes a fair campsite, albeit a dry one, but you have plenty of water with you and there have been many streams and springs along the way. The night is relatively quiet, aside from some weird yowling beast-sounds in the distance that cause a minor ruckus on second watch. No one is quite sure what they are, and it's impossible to nail down a direction; they seem to come from all points of the compass at once. Creepy.
Sometime near dawn the sounds die away, and the rain begins. Heavy, pounding rain. It wakes up everyone except Rawon, who seems to have an infinite capacity for sleep (perhaps due to the stiff drinks he consumes before going to bed each night). Wet and miserable, you eat a cold meal and break camp, trudging south through the downpour. The terrain remains much the same, trees, meadows and occasional hills. Three hours later you are wet and kind of miserable. The terrain is getting rough, cut by ravines and rocky outcroppings, open spaces blocked by deadfalls and dense underbrush. Worse than all that are the big claw marks Maro has spotted on several trees. Deep swipes that cut through bark, exposing pale wood beneath. "Fresh," mutters Dagmarten, "and something big made them."
"Bear?" asks Durego, hoping perhaps for another skin.
"I don't think so, they're too sharp and deep for bear, and too low." Dagmarten shrugs, clearly out of his depth, "Guess we'll find out."
"I hope not!" mutters Grit.
Nissa spots the cave two hours later. Well, cave is overstating things a bit. It's really a big crack leading into the side of yet another rocky outcropping thirty yards ahead. Still it's big enough that you could squeeze inside (or not). It's impossible to say how far back it goes or if it's occupied without getting closer...
End Date: July 2, Year of the Badger, noonish
End Status: Where we stop... cave!
End Location: In the wilds, 22+ miles SW of Stonefinger