"Why would he chase you like that?" asked the village elder.
"I don't know," she lied.
Gizmo sat thoughtfully, as he was wont to do lately, and stared the table in front of him. On it was an inkwell, a feather, and several leaves of paper. At the top of the paper read, "The Further Adventures of the Bards," but the truth was that Bards had no further adventures.
"Hmmph. Perhaps Adventure herself will visit me, the Muse of the Ages, and bring me SOME sort of chapter to put into my books," he said. "...That was a good line. I've got to write it down."
Just then, there came a knock at the door. The Lady, reclining in a nearby room, glided across the floor to the door, and opened it. Outside stood Scheaun, armored for battle and sword drawn.
"'Sup, Bro... oke? River? Lady? How are ya?" he fumbled, expecting Gizmo.
"Good! Come in," she replied. Gizmo got up from his usual seat and joined his old friend in his den.
"What brings you my way?" he asked.
"I've just come from Robert's Dale. Apparently, some giant was causing chaos by chasing some old lady around."
"That's terrible... I guess?" replied the Lady. She looked to Gizmo for support, and he shrugged in agreement with her indecision.
"She could have deserved it," Gizmo pointed out.
"It doesn't appear that way. I got in touch with Badger and Scott, and they're open to helping us out."
"Seeing as it's almost sundown, it would be rude for me not to invite for the night. We can set out tomorrow."
"Absolutely," answered Scheaun. "Thanks."
The next day, the three met the two in King Carl's Square, the public area just outside the castle. It is the busiest street in all of Bamah, and was only recently named for the late sovereign.
"Hey guys! How are you?" asked Badger. "Where's Schaff and Dumon? Or Paddy or Holden?"
"I never got to them, well, I got to Holden. He said he would tell the others, and that they would arrive if they could," answered Scheaun.
"Cool," answered Scott, and off they rode. The five horses made the normally longer trip in a much shorter time frame. They approached the village and were greeted by its elder. He was a crumbly old man, dressed in a dark green and wearing an odd golden chain around his neck.
"Ahh, the Bards! Heroes of Bamah time and again! Welcome back to our humble town," he cried. "How may we help you?"
"You know exactly why we're here," growled Scheaun. The elder looked horrified. Suddenly, Scheaun broke into a hearty laugh. The other, rightly confused Bards watched as he dismounted and hugged the old man. "Enday! So good to see you!" The old man's frown was quickly replaced by a chuckling smile.
The student and his former mentor walked off as the other Bards dismounted and decided to visit their good friends, the Begharts.
"Scheaun, my boy, how are you?" asked Enday.
"Good, Doctor, good. I see you are the same. But, first, tell me about this woman."
"She was nasty-looking at first glance. She tore through the middle of town, afraid for her life, and blamelessly too. The ogre of a man nearly caught her up several times, but our finest leaders warded him off."
"Sickly grey hair... cold green eyes... tattered clothes. We have no idea where she is from, either."
By a strange stroke of luck, the woman in question was taken in by the Begharts. The other four Bards entered as she was finishing her evening meal. She sat at a table opposite the doorway and watched them enter, at first with curiosity, then dread and recognition, followed by malevolence, then sadness.
"My word, the Bards? I am not worthy of such attention," she said.
"Are you sure?" asked Gizmo. He was the first in the door, and he saw every emotion pass through her face.
"But of course! I am just an old country hermit! What could I have done?"
"You tell us," said Scott. Badger cut him a threatening but curious glance, as if to say, "Stop it. Whatever you're doing. What are you doing? Never mind, I don't care. Just stop."
"Well, I don't quite know! You should ask that treacherous giant!"
"Do you know where he is?" Asked Scott.
"No, just the direction. He ran off into the forests beyond the plains."
"Thank you," said Gizmo, and he left her alone, as one by one, each of the four followed him into the Begharts' kitchen.
"You smell it too? She reeks of lies," Gizmo told Scott, who nodded.
As the Bards began to prepare for sleep, they compared notes.
"The woman herself has something to hide," Scott told Scheaun.
"Whatever it is, she is hiding it well. She has said nothing to any of the townsfolk. They don't even know her name," he replied.
Gizmo, who had been staring off into the night sky, suddenly turned to them.
"Whatever it is, the giant obviously wants it... or her. This happened when, four days ago? I am honestly surprised he hasn't come back yet. We may be here at the most opportune moment. There is nothing we can do tonight, that is, unless the giant pays us a visit."
He didn't. The next morning came and went, as did the next. The Bards remained in the village and agreed to one more day before setting up an alarm system. However, it was not to be. Exactly one week after the incident, around noon, the giant returned. Young children playing on the outskirts of the village spotted him, and ran to the Begharts'. The Bards leapt into action. The giant shook the ground as he came within striking distance.
"Stay back, you malevolent beast! You have no further business here!" threatened Gizmo.
"ARRGH!" came the reply. Needless to say, the giant did not stay back. His eyes were green with a glowing gloss, and his veins protruded in a nasty manner. The Bards leapt into action. Badger fired an arrow into the giant's left shoulder, while Gizmo cut his right ankle. The behemoth fell, and Scott restrained him with a bit of magic. However, the brute grew in strength. The veins pulsed more rapidly, and the giant stood. The old woman hid behind the Lady, but the giant lumbered over to her. Just then, Schaff and Dumon rode in. Schaff drew his sword, dashing into the way, but the beast swung, sending him flying across the village.
"NO!" yelled Dumon, and she and the Lady took off after him. The beast, meanwhile, grabbed the woman, threw her over his back, and ran off into the forest. Badger and Scheaun tossed arrow after arrow at him, but to no avail.
"Is he okay?" asked Scott.
"Yeah, just bruised," Schaff replied.
"I really doubt that we've seen the end of him," muttered Gizmo.
"Where were you guys?"asked Badger.
"Evidently some royal visitor is coming to Bamah. I don't know who she is, but she sounds important," answered Dumon.
"Yeah, that's why Paddy and Holden aren't here," Schaff concurred. "They're in Ni Aps, making sure she gets here in one piece."
"You should get back to Bamah, then," said Scheaun. "I think the five of us can handle the investigation."
"Yeah, but, could we wait for tomorrow?" asked Scott, looking off at the distant sunset. The Bards each mumbled an assent, as the sun dipped beneath the sheets of the horizon.