With some time to spare back in Granseal City, the members of the Shining Force set about investigating various matters. Sir Astral and Oss Divinos spent almost the entirety of every day in the magical laboratory, their actions appearing as the fantastical gibberish of two masters practicing their craft. What they were up to wasn’t entirely clear but it seemed to have something to do with Oss’ origin and the ruins found near the Seal Tower.
Outside the city, Gantry went to the village of Beckendour to investigate the buildings that were being destroyed then urinated on. She found several buildings had been burned by the townsfolk to destroy the remnants of what they considered to be now unusable wood. An old friend of hers lived in the village who informed her that this has been happening for several weeks now and is presumed to be the work of a giant, though if that’s the case, it’s a giant with a peg leg based on its tracks. Gantry confirmed as much herself when she found the recent tracks and followed them into the nearby hills. Though the tracks faded as the fields and hills gave way to more rocky ground towards the mountains, Gantry was still able to follow the logical path of the trail towards a partially covered but still noticeable cave mouth leading under the hills. Concurring with the opinion of the townsfolk that, if it is a giant, it’s best to have some company when you face it, she returned back to the city to recruit some of her fellows to investigate the menace.
Feeling the call of the hunt and wanting to let his bird stretch its legs, Tharivol rode out into the fields at the behest of a local lord who wanted a fabled golden peacock caught, alive if possible but dead would be good so long as it was intact. There was little information to go off of other than the occasional sighting from a shepherd or tale from a rural innkeep, but the hunt itself was as much the allure as the nobleman’s rewards. That, and Tharivol’s hair looked fantastic when he didn’t need his helmet while riding.
Wil felt a certain sense of nostalgia after hearing of the missing teens, not the missing part but of being a teen in the park at night, and looked into the matter. Unfortunately, all he could find from the younger members of his company were far-fetched rumors one would expect from young actors, simple reasons such as the teens running off and eloping to more interesting ones such as a vampire coven abducting young lovers so they may be so forever. How romantic. A stakeout was the next logical course of action, but given that the disappearances haven’t been happening every night and the city has multiple parks, Wil found his efforts fruitless. Well, at least he got to relive part of his youth, maybe he’d hear something more later.
A sailor at heart, Brick asked around the docks about the dragon stealing the catches from whaling ships. Always ones to tell tall tales, the fishermen’s stories were surprisingly consistent. Once or twice a month for half a year, a young dragon has been following whaling ships out of the harbor. It comes from somewhere overland, always avoiding the city, and circles the ships until they have harpooned a whale. It then dives down, snatches it, and flies back to shore. The only inconsistent part of the story was the color of the dragon – some say it was as blue as the sea itself, others claimed it gleamed like silver in the sky, still others say its white scaled blended in with the clouds which is why it wasn’t seen til it claimed its catch. Still, it seemed to lair somewhere inland, and how far could it really fly while carrying a whale?
Harron spent some time searching through the Force’s library for any information on his staff or the language imprinted on it. Over the last few nights, he had been trying to figure out the item, having felt a magical presence inside it, but had so far been fruitless in his endeavor. His research eventually paid off as he found an old book on warfare on knightly conduct which was useless in and of itself. The real discovery was that it was written in the same language as the staff and had notes in the margins partially translating some lines. With a starting point in hand, he set at translating more of the book and learning the archaic language.
While on the docks, Brick and Hjalmar both paid a visit to Jonas’ Fishery to see this supposed mermaid. To their surprise, it indeed looked to be everything they knew to be a mermaid – the body of a beautiful human female from the navel up and the tail of a blue-scaled fish in place of legs. She seemed defiant in her metal tank, deliberately remaining still and keeping her back to any looky loos, though the occasional glimpse of her face revealed she was sad about her situation as much as she was indignant.
Back at headquarters, the two dwarfs were set on freeing the mermaid. Though Harron required a little convincing, perhaps the mermaid was stealing the fisherman’s catch and was serving her punishment for it, he along with Aya, Ingen, and Sqawk agreed to help free her. First, they visited the shop again to case the building. Fortunately for them, it was one large room with seemingly poor, if any, security. The fisherman, Jonas himself, was unwilling to sell the mermaid, seeing the long-term income potential as a greater investment than a one-time payment from this lot.
While formulating a plan, the group spent the day in a dockside tavern. Beating the shop owner and simply taking her was considered an option, as was inciting brawls all across the docks to create a distraction, but in the end, Aya suggested that she simply cast a spell to camouflage them all and they just sneak in. Cooler heads prevailed and they went with this option, though bar brawls were pretty common on the docks and one started anyway.
Outside the fishery, Sqwak opened a window that wasn’t even fully closed anyway and snuck inside, slinking through the shadows. The shop was silent other than the gentle splashing of water inside the mermaids tank and the less gentle snoring of Jonas in his bed up in the loft’s shop. Luckily for them, Jonas had been spending a lot of his newfound fortune on rum and was passed out drunk. Brick and Hjalmar went in the shop while the rest stood guard and watch outside. The dwarfs helped the mermaid out of the tank and draped her in a cloak, passing her off as a drunk friend as they dragged her out of the shop towards the ocean. While everyone was distracted, Sqwak somehow mysteriously acquired the shop’s lockbox. Weird how that happened.
At the docks, the mermaid shed the cloak and set on the edge of a pier. She nodded a thanks to Hjalmar and handed him her earrings, two large pearls on golden hooks. With a gentle push, she hoisted herself from the pier and dove into the water, quickly going under the waves to head back home.
The day after the brouhaha at the docks, the King’s Celebration began. Anya, Hjalmar, Harron participated Peppervil’s Pie Eating Contest sponsored by Peppervil’s Pastries and Pie. The proprietor of Peppvervil’s Pastries and Pies, the Paramount Prestidigitator Peppervil, presented himself in a puff and purveyed pies through paranormal means, the pastries presenting to the participants in preposterous fashion.
The pies themselves were a variety of fruit pies and would automatically be replaced on the participants plate once one was consumed to the satisfaction of the contest’s rules. The contestants stuffed their faces until pot-bellied and covered in berries, but in the end, Hjalmar proved himself champion. His prize was a small pouch made from purple velvet that, three times per day, would produce a random fruit pie of spectacular design and perfect flavor. If not consumed by the end of the day, the pie would wither into nothingness. A kingly prize indeed.
On the outskirts of the city, a carnival had set up, simply known as The Carnival. It wasn’t a typical carnival with mummers and tomfoolery, rather it specialized in the bizarre with freaks and inhuman menageries such as a man covered completely in softly glowing tattoos, a woman wearing nothing besides writhing snakes, and a man having wooden stakes driven into his head much to his apparent delight. Despite these attractions, the carnival did still have all the assortments of carnival foods and games. A man named The Brute worked a strength testing game, presumably earning his name from his massive stature and almost disfigured-appearing musculature. Ingen and Harron took him up on his game, the former winning a prize, an owlbear ragdoll stuffed with goose down, while the latter received what sounded like derisive laughs and insults but came across as little more than grunts. All in all, good fun for the whole family.
The week was capped off with a noble masquerade gala at the palace with the entire Force invited, even Oss attending in disguise and Wil generously providing his teammates with costumes “loaned” from his troops wardrobe. The following morning, the king made his grand presentation, a rousing speech about the difficulties of the last 50 years and the peace and prosperity Granseal has enjoyed since the war. During the speech, a strange sound was heard, quiet at first but growing in volume, a sound like a large sword being swung through the air by giant duelist. Slowly rising from the palace courtyard was a ship, not unlike one you would find moored in the bay were it not for the spinning blades pulling it upwards into the air.
The king spoke with patriotic fervor, ensuring that his nation’s future would be bright and glorious, that it would reach beyond the borders of their island and find their ancestral home and even more lands beyond, that their future would be unstoppable and that it would be Invincible.