As the group approaches its destination, Gaven asks, "Shall we head straight for the farmhouse, or would one of you like to scout about first?" He points to his plate armor, "I would make a less than ideal scout."
Oloc leans on his staff as he looks up the hill. "I won't stop any of you if you wish to scout ahead, but perhaps we should go up as a group. Strength in numbers and all that." Oloc stops by the first tree he encounters which bears several apples ready for plucking, and takes about a half dozen of them, adding them to his pack.
As the mage does so, Duran adjusts his gear on his back and strings his bow. He finishes and as he pulls an arrow from his quiver he says to his companions, "I agree with Oloc we should stick together but there is no reason why we shouldn't ready ourselves for whatever may lie ahead." Then notching his arrow, he readies himself to continue forward towards the farm house.
Varros unsheathes his sword and tests its keen edge with his thumb. "Let us take our time and approach the farmhouse as one. Perhaps we can see inside or find an alternate entry if we search its perimeter methodically." Pausing briefly he goes on to say "I for one have, shall we say, been the victim of an unscrupulous ambush before... Mayhaps we may find some clue as to whether our missing lass has been here as well."
Your small company advances cautiously toward the farmhouse, keeping your senses open for anything out of the ordinary, in particular observing the edge of the orchard looking for prints in the ground, or marks on the trees, or for any trees that look different from the rest.
The trees themselves are in varying states of health. Some, such as the one from which Oloc took some apples, look quite healthy. Others look old and withered, and a few are dead. But nothing you would not expect from a long unattended orchard.
However, as you begin to march further up the hill, you notice three things.
First, you spot the faintest set of hoof prints, leading just to the right of your line of march. At the base of a tree in that direction you spy a dead horse. Squinting at it across the short distance, you can see it is peppered with arrow shafts.
Second, the smell of cooking meat wafts down the hill to you, though you do not recognize what specific type of meat it is.
Third, looking up the hill, over the trees, you see a meager, barely perceptible wisp of smoke rising into the sky. From your current position, you cannot determine who or what is making the smoke. The wisp is thin and pale gray. Your best guess, without a better look, is that it comes from a small campfire, or some burning of similar size.
I didn't address the search for alternate entryways and anything out of the ordinary on the (immediate) farmhouse exterior and property, since you guys have just gotten three situation changers while still near the bottom of the hill. But you will of course get to do so, when you actually approach the house.