After King Wilhelm Gran XVI‘s rousing speech, the Invincible was landed in the castle courtyard and the members of the force present along with several nobles were brought aboard for a grand tour. The interior of the ship was grand, matching even the most well-appointed of the royal navy’s dreadnoughts from the war and was even about the same size. More impressive than its fine appearance and massive size was the ship’s engines, the huge devices taking the place of the bilge in the bottom of the flat-bottomed ship. The engines, powered by elemental fire, turn the propellers while the ship itself was enchanted with elemental air to help life its bulk off the ground, the king explained. Throughout the tour, the king maintained his air of nobility but was clearly excited, describing the ship almost as a child might describe his favorite toy.
Harron perked up and asked if, once the ship sets off on its expedition beyond the island, the Shining Force would be a part of it. The king wouldn’t have it any other way, extending an invitation to any and every member that wanted to be a part of it, though it would still be a couple months before the expedition was properly outfitted enough to depart.
After the tour and the following banquet to close out the week of festivities, the members of the force went back to business. First, Gantry organized a group to head back to Beckendour and investigate the business of the giant with the wandering bladder. Upon arrival, they met with her friend Amelia to find that the village had lost another building, unusual given it broke the pattern of how frequent they are by being within a week of another building. At this point, the villagers had left most of the outlying farm buildings abandoned rather than risk people anyone accidentally being crushed.
The group easily followed the trail back to the lair that Gantry had found before and sent Sqawk and Harron in to investigate. The inside of the cave was small, relatively speaking, containing only three chambers with connecting tunnels. The first one they investigated was mostly empty except for the exceptionally large, exceptionally crude crib in which slept the ugliest, biggest baby he had ever seen – a hill giant baby. The main chamber was dominated by the sound of snoring coming from the baby’s parents, one of which was indeed a peg-legged hill giant. The final room appeared to be a larder of sorts though it was mostly filled with bones and raw meat in various stages of rotting. At the back of the chamber was a very poorly hidden tunnel that led to a room containing giant barrels fermenting various types of alcohol as well as a scattering of liquor bottles presumably looted given the standard size of the bottles.
The scouts returned to the party and it was ultimately decided they should try talking to the giant as it seemed like he was likely just getting drunk and may not be doing anything malicious. Unfortunately, no one knew how to speak the Giant tongue and presumably the hill giants wouldn’t know how to speak any of their languages. Returning to Beckendour, Aya cast a spell and sent a raven to find Elda Akkaja, the force’s huntmaster and resident ranger. It would take a couple days though so, in the meantime, they stayed in the village to see if she would show up.
While waiting, as luck would have it, the giant again came to the village. The party’s suspicions were confirmed as they saw the giant sit on a building and start drinking from one of his wooden kegs. Based on the giant’s gesturing, it seemed he was deliberately leaving home to get drunk away from the wife and kid, and based on the sample of his drink he gave to any takers, he was consistently getting very drunk. That was about as far as the talks went though as the party didn’t want to just attack the giant and he eventually left. After relieving himself, of course.
The following morning, Elda arrived into Beckendour, her expression immediately incredulous at the party’s proposition. Her stance on hill giants was to kill them, not talk to them, but they were able to convince her to translate, though her enchanted bow seemed displeased by this.
At the giant’s den, through Elda, the group discovered the giant was heading to the village because humans make the best chairs, these chairs being their houses. To the giant, houses are made of stone and dirt while chairs are made of wood, the difference apparently a little too subtle for him. Tharivol came up with a compromise – if they built him a better chair, far from his wife and kid, would he stop destroying the village? He agreed, though he refused to help them since humans are the best builders and he doesn’t know how to work with wood. They spent the rest of the day cutting down trees and lashing the logs together to form a crude chair on the banks of the river. The giant, after adjusting a bit, seemed satisfied with the chair and agreed to leave the village alone. Elda seemed skeptical but allowed it for now, leaving no room for doubt that if the giant broke his word, she would see to it that he never bothered the village again.
Back in Granseal, Wil and Sorrowsong grew interested in the disappearing dolls, assuming it couldn’t possibly be simple thievery. To attempt to draw out the doll-nappers, they dressed Wil up as a noble child with Aya playing his mother, Ingen his father, and Sorrowsong as their maid. They rented a villa then paraded around town, making a big show of buying fancy dolls. Sqwak and Harron trailed the “family,” keeping an eye out for anyone suspicious who may be eyeing them, but no one stood out.
After a couple days of this and nights of staying in the villa, they finally had a taker. The scouts spotted a shadowy figure on the rooftop that climbed the side of the building like a spider, opening the window Wil was sleeping in and silently slinking inside. Wil was awoken by the window opening followed by the creature’s heavy, ragged breathing. It crept closer to him and reached out, it’s inhumanly long fingers wrapping around his shoulder as its face drew nearer to his.
Before the creature could go any further, Wil lashed out with a spell, illuminating the room and blinding the apparently light-sensitive creature. The scouts took this as a single and leaped into the room, joining the fray before the rest of the fake family arrived. The creature, identified as a shadow demon, was resistant to almost all of the party’s attacks. It was only when a combined magical onslaught, particularly from the holy radiance of Ingen’s spell, that forced the creature to flee out the window, unfurling long wings and taking to the sky. It wasn’t quite quick enough though and was brought down, crashing to the street in a heap.
Sorrowsong channeled the Raven Queen’s power into her book and ask the creature where it’s master had its lair, the demon clearly having been bound by someone since its body remained. The bloody writing appeared in her book and simply said, “below you.”
Now the real mystery was afoot.