As the street bustled by, the gnomes traversing the cobblestone gave an onlooker a feel that it was in a liquefied state, seeming that when a flow abruptly ended by one gnome leaving the premises, another soon took his place.
Some wore hats, others masks, but most every gnome sported a beard of some astounding display, as intricacy is a mark of status. The length was also different from gnome to gnome, and can be used by others to judge age at a glance. Of course, this method was no more accurate that guessing the age of a human by graying hair, but it was a common method and no one took offense to it.
Apart from the beards, every gnome dressed in similar garb, save for the opposite sexes. Men sported trousers with a suitable shirt tucked in, and some had jackets around their shoulders or slung over them. Every gnome has a belt buckle on their person, even if they are not wearing a belt. This exists to mark the distinguished families from one another. Much like the dwarves, gnomes are proud of their clans, and proud enough that there have been word of full scale battles erupting from a feud between members.
Women were more fickle about their attire. The local Gnomish Lord’s wife had been expressing interest in full-length dresses, so many of the women in lower classes dressed similarly. Though you do get the odd gnome out who is wearing what the men usually wear, often because their social status or occupation calls for a more rough and tumble outfit.
Lining the street where stalls of various shapes and sizes, colors and smell. Each marked a merchant of some sort, a man or woman who sold acquired goods. There were stalls for baked goods, where you could find fried frog fillets, to stalls where a man in an apiarist’s outfit sold amulets that warded off giant bees. Angel, a renowned herbalist, set his shop near the hospital at the far end of the street so he could treat specials cases with his mushrooms.
At the opposite end, closest to the living quarters of many citizens in Glumpty LogHaven (a giant log, surprise!) there was a shop which sold furniture carved by the clan who was renowned for their unique carpentry, known at it’s best to rival pieces of Elvish make.
The talk of the gnomes was not any of these shops, however strange they might be. Gnomish women are prone to gossip, and the hottest subject was the new shop. Dead center on the eastern side of the street, it was a desirable plot of land, and many a merchant bid on it to extend their own business. But a gnome by the name of Godrick Gnomish outbid all participants in the auction and announced that he would move in as of the next week.
Well, ever since that day every gnomish man, woman, and child tried to divine what occupation this gnome would fill, as all thinkable and logical jobs were already stolen away and monopolized on by clans.
Clans tend to take an occupation to it’s limits, and most every member of the clan fulfills their duty in this cycle. If your dad was a baker, then you had better learn how to make bread, and if your dad was a prophet, you had better learn how to break it.
But no gnome at the auction even recognized this youngling’s belt buckle; and many elders pondered on it. Now that the day was to finally come for Godrick to reveal the nature of his shop, a small crowd of interested people forced themselves into every nook, crack, and crevice around the shop.
They waited there for what could have been minutes, but felt like hours. A small child then came scrambling towards them, brimming with sweat and excitement.
“I’ve seen him! He’s just past the Bee shop, and he’s got a ginormous backpack with him!” the gnome exclaimed, jittering all the while.
“A backpack of those proportions? Maybe the man is an archaeologist,” said a gnome with an excessively blue beard.
A gnomish woman returned that it would be stupid of him to try, as the occupation was already within her clan.
“No gnome would ever try to usurp the practice of the Marrow clan,” she stated, proudly brandishing her belt buckle.
A woman in the back muttered something along the lines of that this new character would probably do a better job at it. Then the two promptly started bickering until their noisy rabble was ceased by an exclamation: “He’s here! And with the backpack, to boot.”
The crowd turned and saw a young gnome parting the people with his pack of excessive volume. Shovels hung off of it, along with clips and ropes tying other chunky objects to the leather straps.
Godrick himself was scarcely a giant; he stood about a gnomish foot over the women of the street, which was normal for a man. But surprisingly, he had no beard, nor visible fat on him.
Gnomes pride themselves in their facial hair, but more than that their round bellies. When gnomes become a respectable age to marry, the men choose a woman who they think could fulfill a home and occupational life, and a large stomach hints that she can keep herself well fed. The same goes for men, as both their bellies and beards are marks of experience, wisdom, and ability to keep food on the table.
The fact that this gnome had neither was more than a little shocking to the gnomes, as none had gotten a good look at him when the auction had ended. He was dressed in traditional gnomish garb, with a few exceptions. His trousers had many more pockets than was the norm, and his shirt was not tucked in, but rather hung loosely about his person. His belt buckle, still un-identified, he wore on his top hat, balancing on the brim. But the hat brought a respectably sized shadow over the young gnome’s face, so it was little wonder to the crowd how the gnomes present at the auction saw the buckle and not his face. As Godrick drew closer, he tilted his head back and nodded a hello to the people standing before him as they drew away from the shop in order to let him in. People then saw his face for the first time, but it was rather unremarkable compared to the oddness of the rest of his appearance. A short, pointed nose coupled with a normal sized head, finished off by… pointed ears? The men and women closest to him drew back, as if struck by an unseen hand. This was not a gnome, but rather, a half gnome. And there is a substantial difference.
Half gnomes come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. Gnome/Dwarves, or Munchkins, often resemble a rugged dwarf with an eating problem. Gnome/Elves, or Pixies, flit around the forest with an elf’s charm and a gnome’s wit. Their magically enhanced bodies grant them ability to fly, along with other unique magical properties. Gnome/Goblins, or RedCaps, look identical to gnomes except they have a goblin’s pointed teeth. They’re known for their viciousness during wartime, and one would not do well to get on their bad side.
His ears pointed towards being a Pixie, the breed between elves and gnomes, but Godrick clearly had no wings.
He noticed their confusion, and with some pause, realized they all were staring at his head. Self-consciously, he pulled his top hat over his ears, accidently giving them a glimpse of his mottled silver hair.
A gnomish woman spoke up, voicing what every other gnome was thinking.
“What are you, one they call Godrick? Be you elf, fairy, goblin, or another breed? Speak or be spoken about.”
The phrase she ended with was common amongst gnomish people, as a bid for information. If you did not concede what information they wished, they would spread rumors. Normally, this threat was not carried out, but no gnome wanted to take that chance. Reputation was everything.
Godrick sighed and opened the door to his shop, briefly disappeared inside, and emerged without his backpack. He carried a sign with him, and hammered it into the top of the doorframe with materials he probably got from his pack. In blue print, and unmistakable letters, the shop was hence branded with “Job-Runner” above the frame.
The crowd was confused, for most had never heard of a job-runner before. Some thought it was a type of personal trainer, which would most assuredly go out of business with the gnome’s life styles. Amidst the confusion, and elder rose from the toadstool bench on the other side of the street, and mosied across using his cane to bat aside youngsters that almost ran into him.
Reaching the end of the cobblestone path, he said in a cracked voice, “You’re one of the Progils, then.”
Godrick looked up and nodded, glad to see someone knew his legacy. The Progils were a clan dedicated to the idea of a professionalized Jack-of-all-Trades. In other words, they would do most anything for money. When the clan flourished, it was an immensely popular idea, but it was dragged down by the exceedingly difficult and dangerous tasks. Most Progils either gave up and were thrown out of the clan in disgrace, or disappeared and died doing their jobs. But every Progil member was a half-breed, half gnome and half-
“So that means you’re part pixie, then,” ended the old gnome.
Godrick nodded, this time more hesitantly than the last, and the crowd jumped to life scrambling and running away from his shop, shrieking and shouting all the while. Godrick sighed, and walked back into his stall, sitting behind the only table in the barren room, waiting for a task.