Sunset, 14 Imogen, 973 IR
Outer Bailey, Grimilon Keep
Enough haze still clings to the earth so that it lends an otherworldly beauty to the countryside as you look out from the ridge towards Zeno and the bulk of Grimilon Keep next to the river, but it's still clear enough by now that you can enjoy something even better: the sight of a straight, smooth road cutting through lands that offer no good places for anything to hide and ambush you. Despite all you've gone through and the comrades you've lost on this trip, it's hard not to feel a little better about the immediate future now that there is demonstrably lower probability that you'll be devoured by ravening monsters.
An hour or so later, it's nearly dark but you're passing through the main gate at the keep, back where you started twelve days ago. Somewhat to your surprise, Maeric Dorn is standing next to the gate into the inner bailey, and when you arrive he immediately walks closer, signaling for your attention. Once you're close enough to hear without his needing to raise his voice, the grizzled half-orc says, "Be silent, and speak to no one until I give you leave. Take your gear and anything you seized while you were away, and follow me. A groom will take care of the mule."
Once you've got your belongings collected and have the sacks and containers that you used to stash the plunder you looted from the bleak banyan orchard, the half-orc leads you to what looks very much like a ballroom, although it currently is only dimly lit and is entirely devoid of furnishings except for a long, bare table of rough wooden planks. A short, willowy, arrogant-looking woman with golden blonde hair waits there, garbed in an elaborate gown of rose silk. With her is a portly gnome in the austere robes of a scholar.
Dorn makes a deep bow, and announces, "The mercenaries, Lady Zeno. They've spoken to no one. I was there when they walked into the outer bailey, and the sentry watched them come up the street."
"Excellent, Dorn. You may begin, Magus Dilmer," the woman replies in musical tones.
The gnome nods curtly, and approaches your party as he mutters a spell under his breath. His eyes flare with a blue light, and for a time he inspects you, before he announces, "They appear ordinary. Several articles of magical provenance in the various sacks they carry. I see no reason for alarm. No signs of intrusion via scrying sensor. I believe that we have privacy for the time being."
Inclining her head, the woman answers, "Provide oversight for the debriefing. Master of Horse."
"Congratulations on your success," rumbles the half-orc. "We'll settle accounts for your daily pay and survivors' benefits momentarily. Please set all of the confiscated goods on that table. Go ahead and take them out of their containers in order to make life a little easier for Dilmer, here. He'll be appraising them, so the quicker he gets it done, the quicker you get paid. While you're at it, you can tell us about the details of your expedition. Are the necromancers dead?"