Harald took them to the gibberlings' path, a wide ravaged section of woods as if a river of knives had flowed past stripping the bark from the trees and leaving the brush shredded to no more than bare sticks like a fleshless skeleton behind.
Ghibelline laid his hand upon the bole of tree left bare, "These are slain; there will be nothing but the corpses of trees all along these monsters trail."
"Do they eat everything?" asked Harold shocked at the devastation.
"No, they only eat flesh, but they slash and gnaw at everything in their path," the ranger explained. "I have only seen them twice before, never in such numbers as this. Those times were not this bad. Yes, these trees are dead, but the brush will grow twice as thick without their roots sucking the nourishment from the ground, or the leaves hiding the sun."
"The death of one is the life of another," said Ghibelline.
"The Oerth Mother's plan," nodded the ranger in agreement.
"Just as long as those monsters are eating trees and not me then I'm happy," Harold said.
"Well since you are so happy you and your shadow can come with me," Harald told the thief, "Ghibelline, can you make sure that there are no tracks left behind?"
"I'll do my best," said Ghibelline, "I never thought I'd find myself hiding the tracks of orcs."
"Are we ready?" Telenstil asked walking over to where the ranger stood.
Talberth followed close behind, his bruises were just a light brown and yellow pattern on his face, around his eyes and nose.
"Whenever you say," Harald told him, "but we'd best make it soon." He reached out and put his hand on Telenstil's arm. "We could go north as we planned, or let Ghibelline scout the trail and I will head east to see where these monsters are."
"North might be safer, but I have not changed my mind," said Telenstil. "There is a risk no matter where we go, the north may lead to more trouble, yet we know that the way that the gibberlings have come is clear."
"What about trailing them?" asked Harald.
"I feel we need you with us more than knowing where they have gone."
"Well then, if that is how it is then I'm off, I'll take these two with me, and I've asked Ghibelline to make sure we leave no trail," Harald said, first pointing to the thief and Little Rat then toward Ghibelline.
"Send Harold back to us every so often, that way we will know that all is well," Telenstil instructed.
"Right," the ranger nodded agreement then waved for the halfling and the orc to follow him as he set off down the trail of devastation left by the gibberlings. It was like traveling a field of grain with the harvest left atop the stubble to rot. Harald showed the pair how he wanted them to walk, following the trail where the gibberlings had made the deepest marks.
"Step where the ground is firmest, try not to leave your own steps showing," Harald told them.
"I know how to not leave a trail, even in the woods, and I've spent the last two months keeping out of the giants' way, we'll be fine." the thief assured him.
"Then I'm going to go on ahead. You two sit and wait for the others every so often, I'll do the same or double back and check on you," said Harald. "If I'm gone for more than a hand's worth of the sun," he put his broad palm up toward the sky, "three of your hands, then go back to Telenstil and say to him that there is trouble ahead and he'd better go north."
"What about you?"
"Anything that catches me and keeps me from coming back will get you as well," Harald told him plainly. "You make sure that Telenstil goes north."