With the sun burning through the last of the clouds, the party decides to head back to camp to try and accomplish some improvements to their base. Along the way, they debate the various spire combinations and what they might mean. Maro theorizes the colors indicate destination climates, Raúguey thinks they're all just positional. Both note the lack of signs of civilization at the various destinations tried. Maro says, "Too bad we haven't found a city full of merchants near one of these things."
Ohwatoo answers, "Perhaps there is some threat that comes from the spires that we haven't seen yet. Something that keeps civilization at bay. The only place we have seen hands at work, the spire was walled up in a stone chamber with no exits. That's... discouraging."
"Well I wonder if there are more of the vaults connected to these things, like the one we found to the west. There was plenty of loot to be had there," says Raúguey.
"Loot and death," mutters Rawon.
Back at camp, it's a muddy mess. The constant rain has turned the cellar into a swamp, and the wooded slopes are not much better. It's too wet to accomplish much, and hiking / exploring seems pointless, given the afternoon hour, so the group fiddles about at camp, gathers firewood, and tends their gear. Afternoon gives way to evening, and evening to night.
The next morning dawns cool and bright, with a few scattered clouds on the horizon. A light breeze shakes water off the trees. Rather than spend a pleasant day cooped up in the spire trying combinations, they elect to explore some of the surrounding territory to the north, first heading straight north [hex 27,49]. A few miles into the hike, Maro spots something beside faint game trail the party has been following. "Careful!" he calls out, then points. There is an old snare set on the trail, too small and light to do anyone real harm.
"Someone's been trapping here, but this is old," says Dagmarten, stooping beside the snare. "Months at least, this cord is rotted."
"Well someone set it, keep your eyes open," growls Raúguey, loosening his sword in its sheath.
The thick woods continue for miles and the party is about to give up, but Mordikarr says, "Keep this way for little while more. Find old path of men," so the party presses on [hex 27,48], eventually striking an old roadway much like one they've followed for so long.
"How far does this go?" asks Durego, looking north, then southeast along the overgrown road. The others are still eating lunch.
"Mordikarr only has gone a short walk along this path. Many trees, little water."
"Well we're ten miles from camp at least," says Rawon. "We should think about heading back. Perhaps we swing west on the return, the woods were thinner over there." The others agree with Rawon's plan and in short order they're marching southwest. The return trip proves unexciting, thick stands of oak and ash [hex 26,49] give way to lighter growth and rockier ground [hex 26,50], but there are no further signs of inhabitants. Or water, aside from one tiny spring near the road. By the time the party completes the long loop, it's dusk, and they're tired. The guards have little to report. They spotted a deer in the woods earlier, but couldn't get close enough for a shot. The ground is drier, and the weather remains clear.
The sun sets and the first watch stands to. The rest of the party turns in...
Base camp. There's an old stone foundation / cellar here. The floor is rotted away, and you've cleared most of that, but the cellar now has about three inches of water in it. Obviously not a good camp site. There are a couple other partial walls / stone piles that were once outbuildings, and the whole complex is on a low hill surrounded by trees. Small spring to the north.
Give me some idea what you're trying to accomplish here, bearing in mind you have limited tools: 1 hand axe, 1 shovel, 1 crowbar, a couple hammers / mallets, and a block and tackle.
Also, don't forget you're completely out of ink, so all maps and notes are being written in charcoal.