With the crypts cleared, there is little left to do in Pillar Vale. The collapsed entrances hold some interest, but the party has few tools for excavation, and the wiser party members have finally realized the dire state of their supplies. Even Raúguey's pleas to pick up the cached supplies the group left near Hill Hole fall on deaf ears. Durego says, "We need to head straight back. Odds are we're going to lose at least one mule. If we start losing mules, we can't haul the food we need or the loot we've recovered. We've scored big. Let's get it to safety."
The group packs up the mules and the loot, carefully padding the delicate jewelry with extra sackcloth and spare clothes. Once loaded, they set their course directly east, toward Tragor's Hold. Morning turns to afternoon, then evening. By dark the party has made nine or ten miles eastward progress, into thicker forest. As best they can judge they're somewhere east of the Death Camp. Silence descends as the party beds down for the night and the guards take their posts. Ohwatoo sits near the small fire, newly discovered magic items spread before him. The night passes very quietly. Nothing moves in the nearby woods and those on watch wonder at the complete silence.
[November 27] - The morning sun quickly warms the party as they set out. The walking wounded grumble and groan a bit, but everyone knows they need to keep moving. Luckily the weather holds. It's warm for November, though a gusty breeze hints at a change in the coming days. The mixed woods thin a bit, then the ground rises and thick and tall pines take over. Night finds the group camping on a rocky slope beneath a cluster of huge hemlocks.
[November 28] - Gloomy is the word of the day. Gloomy skies, gloomy trees, gloomy faces. Travel is a grind, climbing up and down hills, weaving around and through thick stands of pine, and picking paths over rocky slopes. It's early evening when Rawon calls a halt. "This doesn't look right. I don't remember the trees being this thick, and the way has leveled out. We should still be in hill country." He scowls at the needle-covered branches overhead and the thick clouds beyond. "It's nearly impossible to keep our bearings."
"What are you saying?" asks Grendor. "Are we lost?"
The elf shrugs. "We're off course. I'm not sure exactly how far." He takes a sip from his ever-present flask. "I prefer to think of it as exploring."
"Wonderful," mutters Durego. "At least we have water." They had crossed a small stream earlier in the day. "Which way should we go?