After debating the wisdom of exploration versus continuing to try combinations in hopes of getting home, the party elects to do a quick scout of the immediate area, keeping the spire in sight. Leaving the hirelings inside with the beasts, Ohwatoo, Dagmarten, and Locky do a quick survey of the immediate area around the tower, while Raúguey, Ingvild, and Durego investigate the various piles of stone they can reach. Rawon, Mordikarr, and Maro spread out a bit and scout out a few hundred yards into the woods.
The area immediately surrounding the tower is unremarkable. Swampy ground, brush, a few trees, and a pile of large worked stones that may once have been part of a wall. With their investigations complete, Dagmarten and Ohwatoo huddle over the scratched notes on the combinations tried, while Locky munches a bit of jerky and watches the others. Raúguey and Durego are circling a larger mound of stone that extends out into a small pool, but Ingvild has a different approach. It takes a moment for Locky to spot him, and when he does, he laughs. The thief is half-way up a towering oak. Ingvild pauses when he nears the top of the tree, and spends a good five minutes scanning the surrounding area. By the time he's done and climbs down, Maro and the others are back, and everyone gathers once again at the spire.
"There's no sign of inhabitants nearby, aside from a few animal trails," says Rawon. "Either we're in unexplored lands, or whatever people live nearby avoid this area, maybe because of the spire. It's pretty wet going, but passable."
"Well, not a lot, to be honest. There are trees in all directions, though it does look more open to the north. There may be a lake or lakes up there too. I thought I saw glimmering that might have been water. It was a few miles off though."
"There's a stream off to the east, a couple hundred yards," says Maro. Maybe it leads to that lake. It doesn't lead to this little pool, that's for sure."
Rawon hefts a bundle of inch-thick sticks. "At least now we have some markers for our next few stops."
"Well done!" says Ohwatoo. "We should mark each with a number, and record that on our list as we try combinations so we can verify results."
"Then let's get going. I don't like being lost," says Raúguey. Rawon is the last one in, taking a few moments to mark one of the sticks and drive it into the soft soil outside the door.
Back in then. At Saurabh's suggestion, Locky sets up the same sequence as the last one used, green, red N, brown NW, to see if it leads to the same place. It does. "So they're like a map then, each combination labeling a specific tower."
"It appears so," says Ohwatoo. "Let's test Rawon's theory and try the other green / red / brown combinations, varying only the pyramid. It seems like this might be similar to the system used by librarians to organize tomes. Sphere for which room, cube for row, pyramid for shelf. If Mordikarr is right, and we're in the right row, we just need to find the right shelf."
"OK, green, red N, brown NE, and..." Locky twists the key, then trots over to the door, reverses the key-parts, and opens it. Sunlight and trampled grass. "I think this is it!" he calls excitedly, stepping outside and looking to where your camp site should be. "It is! We're home!"
"Let's scout quickly, and be sure," says Rawon, ever the practical one.
A quick search of the surrounding area shows the party is indeed back to where they started. The remains of their small fire still retain a bit of warmth. They leave the spire and tether the beasts in fresh grass. Dagmarten look at the heaps of manure left behind, then grins, "I guess we won't have to worry about stable hands." There is laughter at this observation, tinged with relief.
"Well gents, now what?" asks Durego.
End Date: August 14, Year of the Badger, past noon (or is it?)
End Status: There's no place like it (or is there?)
End Location: The Wilds, near Needle Spire