Camping in a swamp, in the pouring rain. What could be finer?
[March 26] As morning approaches, the wind and rain finally move off to the east, leaving the morning sun mired in black clouds. The swollen stream, now well out of its banks threatens to surround the little mound the party used as a campsite, so the party beats a hasty retreat after a quick breakfast of fresh frog legs.
The way forward is blocked by the stream, so the party takes Durego's advice, backtracking a bit south of west in hopes of finding drier ground and more choices for a semi-permanent campsite. Mordikarr reminds everyone that they did see gnolls coming from the west last time they were at Blackpool; he urges caution.
It takes most of a muck-filled morning to escape the gooey black mud of the bog. By the time the party reaches drier grasslands, they are all filthy, hungry and tired. After a break to scrape off the worst of the grime and to eat a quick bite of food, the group continues across the flat, rolling ground of the open plain. Rawon gestures as the group crosses their own path, a trampled path that's clearly visible to everyone. "We're not going to be hard to follow if something stumbles across that," says the wood elf.
"I'm not sure how we can eliminate that problem. We have to explore to find a site," says Ohwatoo.
Rawon nods his agreement and continues, but Durego mutters, "I hope whatever it was we heard the other night was just animals, and not something smart enough to track us."
As morning turns into afternoon, the clear off a bit, but it is still hazy and humid. The party eventually finds the old roadway markers as follows them to the southwest. Mordikarr and Rawon halt the party several times on this leg of the journey. Finally, they fall back and everyone gathers around the scouts. "We are not first ones to travel here," says Mordikarr.
"The rain destroyed the details, but this track has been used before. There are old tracks here and there, and broken grass and plants too. Fresh growth, so it's less than a week old," adds Rawon.
"Road turn here," Mordikarr gestures to the northwest. "It goes that way, so does track sign. We should go south." [The group is more or less in the center of 11,53, so this corresponds to the plan provided.]
The others nod and start off. Mordikarr and Rawon trail behind for a few hundred yards and attempt to cover the worst of the hoof marks and tracks, but it's a mostly futile effort. "Best pray for rain," mutters Dagmarten as the pair trot past on their way to the front again.
The group presses on for several more miles, the grassy plains giving way to light woods and less boggy ground. There's no sign of the east road the group followed for a while, so they either missed it or it dead ends. As the sun sinks into scattered clouds, the party makes camp beneath the drooping birches and pale-barked sycamores that surround a small spring-fed pool of sweet water.
[March 27] During the night a cold front comes through. It pushes out the last of the clouds, but leaves the party dew-covered and chilled the next morning. Saurabh uses the levitation belt to take a look at the surrounding area. He reports more woods to the southwest and some hills to the southeast, with more open terrain straight south. The party turns southeast, hoping the hills there will provide better camping and cover. "It'll also put some distance between us and whatever made those tracks," says Grendor.
"This does look more promising," says Rawon. He points to a nearby stream. "There's water too. The only disadvantage I can see is that we're 10 or 12 miles from the Maze and Spire, so we're not getting in and out quickly. Do we want to spend more time here, or look elsewhere?"
As best as they can tell, the group is in 12, 55, the northwest portion.
End Date: March 27, Late Morning
End Status: High and Dry. Well, Drier.
End Location: The Wilds