Looking at the prints Duran turns to the others and say, "I think we should follow to prints due north towards the woods near Timm's farm. If I had to guess I would say the other set was continuing to scout down the road while this set might take us near the goblin host."
"I agree with you Duran," says Gaven. "Let us make haste."
Gaven and Oloc both examine the ground more closely to see if anything was dropped by the "goblins" or whoever else may have left the tracks.There is nothing apart from what the party spotted already.
The mage nods his head. "Agreed. Let's move out. And let's enter the woods at the first opportunity - we are easily spotted here in the open."
Varros concurs with the rest of the party, with the idea that if nothing is found on the search to the north they should subsequently make for the other local farm once the party is to the east of it or talking to those that live there as they seem to be closer to the source of the goblin menace.
You set off due north in the direction of that set of footprints. The prints are not clear at all once you are into the short grass, but you can still pick them up from time to time at irregular intervals. Like most of the ground in the area, the land consists of mostly flat, open field, with the occasional low rise, or tiny, isolated grove of trees.
The sporadic prints, when you spot them, do not move in a straight line either, but rather deviate slightly as if the individual who made them shifted right or left of due north in order to move from one small clump of trees to another. Once you realize this, following the tracks becomes easier, and you also get to benefit as much as possible from what little cover there is, as Oloc had suggested.
Gaven continues to watch the ground for dropped items as the party follows the prints. You find no dropped objects, but you do spot snapped branches sometimes in the small areas of foliage, that seem to confirm what the sporadic foot prints tell you.
After about two hours, you find yourself in sight of the large wooded area Harlon had mapped for you. Here, even from a distance, there are several details that catch your attention.
The first thing you notice is a very large swath of earth running to the woods from the east which has been thoroughly and clearly trampled by many, many small, booted feet. The path of trampling leads directly into the woods.
Secondly, even from this distance, you can see, at the edge of the woods, an obvious path of broken branches and smashed undergrowth.
Third, while you are still far enough from the woods to see the sky above and beyond them, Karnak caws down to you from his vantage point. When you look in his direction you can discern, rising high into the air from somewhere on the far, northwest side of the woods, a fairly large amount of smoke, as from some great fire.
Lastly, as you get closer to the woods and the trampled path, you note on the ground sparsely scattered bits of broken gear – ends of leather straps, useless arrows, scraps of cloth, bones of small animals – all of which look consistent with the passage of goblins.
Time Update: It is now about 3:30 pm.
The party is just inside hex 52, at the south edge of the woods, right near the line between hexes 52 and 53.