So finally I decided to make it that old fairy tale stand-by, a ghost.
Now, I had just read a bit about an Icelandic saga where they handle a ghost by suing it for trespassing, thus forcing it out. Toyed it a bit with using it. But no, it's not very fairy tale like.
Just had them tell a story on the way to -- about how a hero managed to deal with other ghosts by staying all night --, and then on the return, find the gold that has to be given away. I can always use the lawsuit in another tale. 0:)
and then on to the little question of how I can make it last long enough. In a fairy tale, no one calculates time closely enough to tell whether the hero's wife really could have given birth just as he returned. At most, it declares, "Speedily a tale is spun; with less speed a deed is done," to indicate it takes a while. sigh