The party comes across a nice hermit in the woods. He gives them food and lodging for the night. They awaken to his terrified screams. "East! It's east! Stop it! It'll kill us all!" The poor horror-stricken hermit dies thrashing in agony, one boney arm outstretched, his finger pointing to the east.
The heroes stop in a small town ready to restock their traveling supplies and feed for their animals. All of the villagers are starving, and there is no food to be had. If the PCs are quick witted, their noble steeds might be slaughtered for food.