All for the King

Chapter 0 - Paladia (Part 1)
A Town in Peril

After their encounter with the road bandits, the group decides to continue on to Paladia, after all, they do have a mission. They arrive from the south through the farms and fields, occasionally seeing serfs laboring in the mid-day sun. Upon entering Paladia, they explore a bit and find that aside from the towns many personal lodgings, there is a library attached to a small temple, several shops, and a large gated mansion. That must be the baron’s estate. Our troupe decides to examine the situation stealthily, so they check into the local inn, check out the temple, and later that night, scout the grounds. Their visit to the inn is rather uneventful: there are a few peasants drinking their bland existence into the bowels of their memories, and the barkeep standing near the kitchen, stirring something that smells like it has gone foul. Some of the party decide to go investigate in town.
As they walk through the quiet streets, they notice that there aren’t many people around, and of those they do see, there are only mid-range adults. The town is quieter than a place of this size should really be, even for the middle of the day, but they push on. They pass dozens of buildings in great disrepair who’s doors have been boarded over, but there is not obvious explanation. Eventually they come upon the temple. The art is a little strange, but it seems to have been converted to a temple instead of originally having been built as one. As they step inside, they see a frail man tending and kneeling at the front. He greets them with a weak but sincere smile. The priest reveals that the town hasn’t so much been ravaged by war, as it’s been hit by a sickness that has killed off most of her young and elderly. Though he is reasonably skilled at healing, there was little he could do for them. Those who survived the sickness seem to gain an immunity, but don’t seem to have recovered completely; they are unable to heal wounds as quickly as they should, and seem to suffer a loss of appetite. In addition, he tells you that the Lady of the town, her two boys, and their handmaids have been cloistered inside the gates. There hasn’t been a sighting of them in many weeks, and some townsfolk speculate that they may have taken ill.
That evening, under the cover of darkness, the group bravely sends out a few members to scout the mansion. While they cannot get through the gate, surveying the grounds from outside it shows that the gate only covers three sides. The back of the property mounts up to the river flowing behind it. They don’t see any activity except a night guard patrolling the edge of the house.
With new information, the group decides to take a direct approach and after talking to the guard at the gate in the morning, get themselves invited for an audience with the Lady later that evening. They prepare for the worst as best they can while still coming well dressed. A few of them are left at the gate when they go to greet her and are led onto the grounds.
Their caution is rewarded with an ambush. As soon as they are in the door, the first man swings. The butler and a maid who had refused them at the gate earlier are suddenly at their throats, engaged in a whirlwind of magic and metal that leaves several party members severely hurt. Without warning, three Orcs appear from the back of the house and excitedly join the revelry. Eventually they kill most of the enemy, leaving the last two orcs fleeing the scene. Brich Samsonite gave chase out the backdoor before anyone could stop him. After the battle that seems to last longer than necessary, the group retreats to a side room to lick their wounds and re-establish their game plan. Worried about their companion, K’rl Zaan sent his dragonette out to track him down, but soon he is unable to communicate either. Later, they find the tiny flying wonder near the body of a fallen orc, and all he can recall is seeing Brich fighting the last two assailants when he was knocked out.

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