“Ten generations ago, in eastern Kyuro, there was a thriving city-state. The people there called themselves the Gnomish Gnation, since they were all Gnomes! Gnomes of every shape and size; some like you and me; some bigger; some even smaller than you! They were very friendly, and everybody liked them. Men and Lizardfolk and Halflings came from far and wide to visit the Gnomish Gnation, to trade for their fine crafts and eat their delicious food.
“Your father’s father’s father’s father’s father’s father’s father’s father’s father’s father--do you remember what his name was?--he was named Wink, and he lived in the Gnomish Gnation, all those years ago, with his wife Elpa. They were hunters just like us, and they were pretty famous for all the rare and tasty beasts and fish they caught, and visitors rarely left without making sure to eat at least one meal with them.
“Then one day, Wink saw a lot of smoke, far in the distance when he was out hunting. He went to investigate it, and found a whole army of soot-covered Elves marching out of a burning Halfling village and headed for the Gnomish Gnation! Wink ran all the way home to tell everyone what he had seen, but many people refused to believe that the Elves would do such a terrible thing, no matter how Wink tried to persuade them.
“Wink took Elpa (who was pregnant with your great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandfather at the time), as well as a few other families, and went into hiding in a secret place they knew about at the edge of the forest close to the city. They watched as the Elves came to the town and a tiny little Forest Gnome named Glup went out to greet them and ask them about these awful rumors.
“Well, Wink and Elpa couldn’t hear what the Elves said, but they saw the leader draw a long sword and cut Glup’s head right off! Then the Elves took their torches and started burning all the houses, one by one, and when they finally left, they took with them all the Gnomes they hadn’t killed, locked up in a big cage.
“Wink and Elpa and the rest of the Gnomes came out of hiding and went to the city, and when they saw the devastation they cried for three days. Then they made up their minds to go rescue their friends from the evil Elves, and for the next ten years they lived in secret, running from place to place to avoid getting caught, looking for the others in the midst of a terrible war, and taking care of their new baby at the same time.”
“Did they ever find their friends, mama?”
“Yes, but when they finally did learn where they were and broke into the Elf fortress to rescue them, Wink and the other free Gnomes learned that many of the ones who had been taken had died in slavery, and the rest were so hungry and weak they could hardly walk. Only seven of them managed to escape with the other free Gnomes.
“They spent the next year fleeing to the coast, nursing the former slaves back to health along the way. They were followed, of course; the Elves wanted to stamp them out more than ever. In fact, they started just destroying any village they thought Wink, Elba, and the rest could possibly be hiding in, so the Gnomes had to stop going to any towns or seeing any other people.
“Eventually, they made it to the coast, and in the night they snuck onto a Halfling ship that was just leaving for Tressyl. The Halflings were mad at first when they found the stowed-away Gnomes, but Elpa told them all they had been through, and then they understood why they had to sneak on board. They had many great adventures on their journey across the sea--but that’s a story for another night.”
It’s been nearly two thousand years since my ancestors were driven from their homeland, fleeing with the rest of the innocent before a nation of soulless murderers. I find it amazing how little has changed. We like to consider ourselves civilized in this age, or at least I do.
Everyone’s heard the rumors of whole towns being put to the torch recently for “rebel activity.” I’m certain that sheltering the rebels’ leader is offense enough to “justify” such an act. My essential belongings are already packed, my bow and grandfather’s armor by the door. I only wonder if the people of Kyrius will respond better than the citizens of the Gnome Gnation did, all those years ago. I know I will.