Day 34, evening: This is as far from the ship as I want to go. Legends say this is the land of the Guul-Hai. Nobody from Virten has ever seen one. Stories say they move without a sound and can melt into the dark. They are supposed to be Orcs, but some tales say that they were changed by the mages long before the Sundering, and they’re now something else. We have lost good men already, and now people are nervous. So this will be our last search. Even the Kartur-Hhakrall are restless. We’ll try to make contact. Then, we’ll head home.
Day 35, morning: Have worked out a search pattern, and today we will start criss-crossing the area looking for tracks or settlements.
Day 35, evening: Nothing. No sign of habitation at all. The scouts noted an unusual number of wolf tracks, so we secured our camp perimeter carefully.
Day 36, evening: Another fruitless day. Men exhausted from searching, and all scouting parties returned to camp having found no sign of Orcs. Plenty of animal tracks, though, and we ate well on a deer that we felled. Disturbed by the disappearance of a bearer, sent to fetch water from the spring at dusk.
Day 37, morning: Scouts searched the spring. Snow fell yesterday, and ground around the spring is muddy, so tracking should have been easy. Our man’s tracks just stopped a few paces from the water. Lots of other tracks in the area, all wolves, but no sign of a struggle, no sign of him being chased, felled or dragged. Someone suggested the Gull-Hai might be riding wolves, but from the paw size and short gait these wolves are too small to ride.
Day 37, evening: Another useless day. Long discussion around the campfire, working out a new plan. Someone asked why there are so many wolf tracks, when we haven’t seen wolves. This suggested a new direction. Can’t solve the mystery of where the Guul-Hai are. So we’ll look into mystery of the wolves. Maybe there’s a link.
Day 38, morning: Awoken by screaming. Found our missing bearer. His body was hanging from a tree in the middle of camp. He had been stripped, and guts, heart and brain removed. No sign of clothes or innards. Our surgeon says he had been dead for a day. Much shouting at the guards who had been on watch. No idea how someone got past them with a corpse. No tracks on the ground. Guessed someone had climbed the tree to string him up, but no tracks by the tree. Someone suggested that his killers must fly. I dismissed the idea. No rumours of flying creatures here, and Orcs certainly can’t fly. But I have no theory of my own.
Day 38, evening: Better day. Two scouting parties found big groups of wolves. The groups were much bigger than normal wolf packs, and they wandered aimlessly. Someone suggested they were more like a flock of sheep than a pack of predators.
Day 39, morning. Bad morning. One of our human scouts has vanished, from the middle of the camp. Nobody saw him leave, no tracks, no sign of a struggle. Then I had my first argument with the Kartur-Hhakrall. They’ve been absolutely loyal until now. But they think it’s stupid to keep searching. They look nervous. It isn’t like them to be scared of anything. I asked them if they didn’t want to find fellow Orcs. The Gull-Hai have been separate from our Orc retainers for five centuries. I assumed they’d be curious. They said no. They said the Gull-Hai are unnatural, tainted. They said that a good leader would turn back. I understand what that means. I told them we’d search for one more day, and then I’d decide what to do.
Day 39, evening: Spent the day looking for and watching wolf packs, or herds. This may be a good line of enquiry. One scout reports seeing an Orc moving amongst a group of wolves, though later investigation showed only wolf tracks there, no Orc tracks. Another scout found a cooking pit, buried to conceal it. I asked him how he found it and he said he just searched in an area where there were no tracks, in the middle of an area with lots of wolf tracks. He estimated that half a dozen people might have eaten from the food cooked there, and suggested that we search for similar trackless areas amidst areas with lots of wolf activity. It is a good suggestion, but I am starting to agree with the Kartur-Hhakrall, that we should not be here.
Day 40, morning: Our missing scout was found by the camp fire, where he had been sleeping. As before, clothes, heart, guts and brain were missing, and our surgeon says he has been dead for a day. I have given the order to strike camp and head back.
Day 40, evening: Two hundred paces from camp a Kartur-Hhakrall scout smelled something, so went to look. He came back with gnawed animal bones. He said the tooth marks showed that Orcs had been eating them, last night. There were other bones, from previous nights. The place where they were had a clear view down into our camp site. We had spent five days failing to find the the Gull-Hai, and they had been watching us all along. We marched more swiftly after that, and covered a good distance, glad to be leaving these lands.