Call me Dave. That’s not my real name. You humans don’t have the tongue flexibility to pronounce it. Some years ago I became filled with doubt about the world. I questioned everything, even what I had been taught about our Gnome Saviour, Talpidae, the Digger of Souls. Scientific inquiry, being in its infancy in the Shade Forests of my homeland, had started to question some of the more magical claims of the Church. My turbulent restlessness prompted my religious order to take drastic action. They sent me to this city on a quest to find the key to immortality, and I wasn’t to return until it had been found.
I arrived at my lodgings and introduced myself to my new landlady. Mrs Bignall stood in the doorway of her dilapidated bungalow with her arms folded over her ample chest and a frown on her face. She wore a striped pinafore over her dress with streaks of flour over it and what looked like cake mix on her forehead. She showed me around and listed the House Rules as we went.
- The front door locks at 10pm.
- Breakfast served between 7am and 7:30am
- No visitors of the opposite sex.
- No Pets. (Mrs Bignall is allergic to pet hair. Her other allergies listed were mushrooms, pollen, witchcraft and soot. Strangely these items were not specifically prohibited.)
- No astral projection.
- Take your shoes off at the door.
Mrs Bignall introduced me to her other house guest, a rather large man called Arthur who claimed to be the distant heir to the Excalibur throne and had travelled to this city to reclaim his birth right. I didn’t believe him one bit. No one of royal lineage should smell the way he did.
My room nested in the eaves of the roof, up a fixed ladder in the hallway. I set down my bag and pulled out the map the Grand Gnome presented to me on my departure. On it were the areas of the city I should explore to discover the secret I came here to find. Map reading was never a strong point for me so I decided to ask Arthur for assistance, as I thought his quest must have surely made him adept at this rather pedestrian skill.
After explaining my quest to Arthur, we unrolled the map on the dining room table and set out to discover its secrets. Mrs Bignall provided tea and cake, together with a disapproving look whenever we dropped crumbs on the table.
“See this sign here?” Arthur pointed at the map.
“Yes! Is that where I should look for the secrets of immortality?”
“That’s a post office. You can buy stamps. Or envelopes.”
Arthur continued to teach me the ways of the map. The more I learnt, the more anxious I became. I didn’t think I would find any secrets at the Doctor’s surgery, or the supermarket, or the opticians, and although he said I could buy nearly anything I would ever need from Costco I doubted very much I’d find the secrets to immortality there. I started to think the Grand Gnome had sent me on a Snipe hunt.
“Bit of a troublemaker were you?” asked Mrs Bignall when I explained my worries.
“No, not really. I just wanted some proof for the things everyone believed to be true,” I said.
“You’re a man of the cloth! You don’t go around asking for proof in your line of business, you’re supposed to KNOW the truth in your heart. For goodness sake.” She poured us more tea and swept up errant crumbs with her hands.
“Sound like you need to find a new line of business,” She said.
Arthur and I spent the next few days wandering around the city, following the map.
“I’m not sure any of these areas marked are magical at all,” Said Arthur after we had exhausted them one by one. Do you think, maybe, you weren’t meant to find anything?”
“Are you sure? I mean, they were friendly in the potion shop weren’t they. They tried.”
“They were very understanding yes, and I’m sure 2oz of Earl Grey tea is quite refreshing, but not really what you were looking for.”
Arthur’s tact and understanding of my predicament as he watched my entire belief system crack in front of him gave me a faith in humans I had never previously felt. He put his coat around me as I reassessed my entire life and went to buy each of us an ice cream.
Over the following weeks, I put my affairs in order. I visited the post office to buy stamps, wrote to the Grand Gnome and resigned my position within the church. I spent the rest of the time helping Arthur with his quest. The more he explained the details of his claim the more I saw he was the right person for the job.
So here I am. Sitting on a bench in the park watching Arthur practicing with his plastic Excalibur for the day he finds the true blade. I may not know the secrets to immortality but my journey has helped me uncover the secret to happiness.
Ice cream. It’s ice cream.
This was my character.
ADVENTUROUS GNOME CLERIC FROM THE SHADE FORESTS WHO IS SEARCHING FOR THE KNOWLEDGE OF TRUE IMMORTALITY
picture from here Gnome