Start Date: March 28, dawn
Start Status: No damn good in the mud
Start Location: The Wilds, south of the Maze
The clouds on the horizon were a sign. Overnight the weather turns miserable. Gusty wind brings rain, thunder and lightning, turning dawn into a gray and dismal affair. Ava managed to do a quick survey of the surrounding woods before the weather got too bad and tells Mordikarr she did not see anything threatening nearby. The party spends the morning moving camp to their chosen site, the small hill with a spring in a shallow cave near the base. Once there, the thoroughly soaked scouts survey the immediate area while the others attempt to create a reasonably dry and safe campsite. The worst of the wet drains away from the site, so the mud is only a few inches deep atop the hill.
The scouts cover the area within a mile or so of the camp pretty thoroughly and find nothing amiss. There are no strange statues and no signs of recent visitors, aside from a few game trails. Of course, the rain would have washed away recent tracks.
The party discusses their plans for the following day and fills in the guards as to their expected return. They also provide a contingency plan, in case the party is overdue, or the guards have to retreat from an imminent threat. As night falls, the winds diminish, but the rain continues, minus lightning and thunder.
The next morning is calm and chilly, with light rain and dense mist obscuring vision beyond fifty feet or so. The party reviews their preparations then heads out into the fog. They set a northernly course that takes them out of the hills and into the light woods beyond. They move cautiously, with scouts well ahead of the main party. The calm, foggy air muffles noise and limits sight, so it's difficult to stay on course, but by midmorning the party has found a bit of the old roadway. After a brief break they continue, bending their course northeast into the swampier ground around the Maze. As they move closer to the ruin, party members notice several freshly cut tree stumps along their route. "Someone's been cutting firewood," mutters Grendor.
"Firewood or construction material," adds Maro.
The area around the Maze is a mess. The spring rains have soaked the ground and the thick swamp mud clings to boots and cloaks. As morning turns to noon, the fog thins enough to see more distant landmarks. Just after the midday meal the scouts rejoin the main party and say they can see the ruins of the maze ahead, less than a quarter-mile away. Rawon also reports signs of passage. "We saw some really big footprints, two feet long, probably human-like, but they were rain-washed, so it's tough to be sure."
"Little tracks too. Many," adds Mordikarr.
"Where were they going?" asks Durego.
Rawon shrugs. "Some toward, some away, some around. It's clear there are still things living in the ruin. The little tracks... maybe kobolds. The others, I don't know. They were big. Stev big."
"You think our friend has made the trip down here?" asks Raúguey.
Rawon shrugs again, taking a sip from his ever-present flask. "No idea. They're more or less the right size, but there are plenty of big creatures in the world."
Uneasily, the party plans their advance. The cloudy skies and hazy, rain-filled air obscure vision, but they also hide the sun, so Ava is willing to make a short flight around the ruin to see what she can see. While she's gone, the others move up to about 200 yards, and the scouts move closer still and start moving around the perimeter of the site.
To the outside observers, the ruins appear about the same. The rushes and weeds around the outer walls do appear trampled, and muddy streaks show where someone or something has come and gone with some frequency. As before, it's hard to see into the middle of the ruin because the outer walls block line of sight, but eventually Ava and the scouts return with news.
"Ava say there are wooden buildings in there, like huts or something. Some big, some small," says Mordikarr.
"I caught a glimpse of them. They look like rough-cut timber. I guess those trees were construction materials," adds Rawon.
"How big are they?" asks Ingvild.
"Hard to say. Can't get a good look unless we get much closer, at the walls. We can do that, but I want to be sure we have a plan in case we're spotted."
OOC: The party is about 200 yards from the outer walls of the ruin, hidden by dead reeds and a few scraggly bushes. Note that the ground around the site is completely soaked. You're effectively wading in foot-deep mud and muck. All movement will be slowed.
The wooden structures Rawon saw are in the open area south of the stairs near the center of the ruin. There's also a crude pavilion-like structure, about 25x25 feet and 15 feet high, in the northwest corner of the ruin, north of the northwest stairs and next to the water's edge.
Aside from the many tracks in the swampy ground, there are no visible signs of life. Of course, the walls obscure line of sight, so that may not mean much.
End Date: March 29, afternoon
End Status: Wipe your feet!
End Location: Blackpool Maze