A land is reigned by a circle of powerful men who control every aspect of the citizen's life. This cabal changes members often. In reality, the spectres of a small necromantic covent possess and control the people in power. Since they simply possess the bodies, they can leave when old age overcomes their shells and possess a new up-and-coming noble.
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.