Gnome Business Underground
T & F Leibratchett
Gorhn and Gravel had traversed many a treacherous tunnel in their time, but this one was particularly winding and dark. As they stumbled through the twists and turns, their eyes slowly adjusted to the dim light.
"By the beard of a troll," exclaimed Gorhn, "this tunnel seems to go on forever."
"Aye," agreed Gravel, "but I have a feeling it'll be worth it in the end."
Their search for treasure had led them deep beneath the earth, and they had no idea what to expect. Suddenly, they emerged into a large cavern, and their jaws dropped in amazement.
The cavern was filled with a bustling city, but not one that they had ever seen before. The buildings were intricately carved out of stone, and the streets were lit with glowing mushrooms. Strange, small creatures scurried about, going about their business.
"What in the name of all that's holy is this place?" whispered Gorhn.
Gravel shrugged. "I have no idea, but let's find out."
The two adventurers strode forward into the city, eager to explore this strange new world.
Gorhn and Gravel were surprised to find themselves in the midst of a bustling underground city. The gnomes darted around them, going about their business, but they didn't seem to be bothered by the sudden appearance of strangers. In fact, they seemed positively delighted.
"Welcome, welcome!" said a cheery gnome with a twinkle in his eye. "We haven't had visitors in ages. It's wonderful to have you here!"
Gorhn and Gravel exchanged a look. They had expected some hostility, or at least suspicion, but the gnomes seemed genuinely happy to see them. Gorhn turned to the gnome who had greeted them.
"Thank you for the warm welcome," he said. "We didn't mean to intrude. We were just exploring the tunnels and stumbled upon your city."
The gnome smiled. "No need to apologize, my friend. We gnomes are a friendly bunch. My name is Pimpernel. What brings you two to our humble abode?"
Gorhn and Gravel glanced at each other again. They had been searching for treasure, but now they were unsure if they should reveal their true intentions.
"We're just passing through," Gravel said finally. "But we are curious about your city. It's quite impressive."
Pimpernel beamed. "We're quite proud of it, if I do say so myself. Would you like a tour? I'd be happy to show you around."
Gorhn and Gravel looked at each other again, but this time there was a glint of excitement in their eyes. Perhaps there was treasure to be found after all. They nodded, and Pimpernel led them deeper into the city.
As they walked, Gorhn and Gravel couldn't help but be charmed by the gnomes. They were a quirky and eccentric bunch, with a love for invention and tinkering. The walls of the city were adorned with elaborate clockwork machines and bizarre contraptions, and the gnomes eagerly showed off their creations to their guests.
Gorhn and Gravel were impressed, but they couldn't help feeling a sense of unease. There was something odd about the gnomes, something that they couldn't quite put their finger on. They resolved to keep their guard up, even as they marveled at the wonders of the underground city.
Gorhn and Gravel were enjoying the hospitality of the gnomes, drinking ale and feasting on roasted rat when they heard the tale of the trolls.
The gnomes spoke in hushed tones, fear etched on their faces. They explained that the trolls had been raiding their city for weeks, stealing their food and supplies, and wreaking havoc on their homes. The gnomes were a peaceful people and had no experience in fighting trolls.
Gorhn and Gravel listened to the story with interest, their hands never leaving their swords. They had fought trolls before and knew how dangerous they could be.
Without hesitation, Gorhn stood up and slammed his tankard on the table.
"We will help you," he declared, his voice booming in the small space. "We'll drive those trolls back to their stinking caves and make sure they never bother you again."
"Unlikely," an old gnome said. "I doubt you could fight your way out of a silk nightgown let alone an army of trolls." The others cheered in agreement.
Gorhn and Gravel looked at each other, eyebrows raised in surprise. They had battled their way through many foes, from ogres to dragons, and had emerged victorious every time. They couldn't believe that these diminutive creatures didn't think they could handle a few trolls.
"Excuse us, but we've faced tougher opponents than trolls," Gorhn said, trying to hide his irritation.
The gnomes looked at each other, then at the two adventurers. One of them, an older gnome with a long white beard, spoke up.
"We're not doubting your fighting prowess, but trolls are not like the creatures you've faced before. They're large, strong, and incredibly stupid, but they make up for it with their sheer tenacity. They won't stop until they've torn down our city and devoured every last gnome."
Gravel nodded. "We understand the threat, but we didn't come here to cower in fear. We'll do whatever it takes to defend your city and your people."
The gnomes looked at each other again, and after a moment of silence, they nodded in agreement.
"Very well," the old gnome said. "We'll take you up on your offer. But first, you'll need to learn the layout of our city and get to know our defenses. Follow me."
And with that, the old gnome turned and led the way down a winding path deeper into the underground city. Gorhn and Gravel exchanged a determined look and followed closely behind, ready to do whatever it takes to protect their new friends.
Gorhn and Gravel could see that the gnomes were a hardy bunch, but they were outnumbered and outmatched by the trolls. They needed all the help they could get.
As they made their plans, Gorhn and Gravel couldn't help but feel a twinge of excitement. This was the sort of adventure they lived for. The chance to face a dangerous enemy, defend the helpless, and maybe, just maybe, come away with a bit of treasure.
They knew the battle ahead would be tough, but they were ready for it. With the gnomes by their side, they would fight to the bitter end.
The two adventurers worked tirelessly alongside the gnomes, digging trenches and building barricades to fortify the city's defenses. They taught the gnomes how to use makeshift weapons, such as sharpened rocks and small axes, and trained them in basic combat techniques.
As they worked, Gorhn and Gravel couldn't help but notice the eccentricities of their new friends. Gnomes darted around the city, their movements quick and nimble. Some were tinkering with machines, while others were brewing potions or creating elaborate traps. Gorhn and Gravel marveled at their ingenuity and resourcefulness.
Despite their enthusiasm, the gnomes were still worried. They knew that the trolls were fierce fighters and vastly outnumbered them. Gorhn and Gravel tried to reassure them, promising that they would stand with them in battle.
As the sun began to set, the city was quiet, except for the occasional clanking of metal and the murmur of nervous whispers. Gorhn and Gravel took turns keeping watch, their eyes scanning the darkness beyond the city walls.
The gnomes huddled together in small groups, whispering amongst themselves. Gorhn and Gravel could feel the tension in the air, as if a single spark could ignite a raging inferno.
And then, in the distance, they heard it - the deep rumble of heavy footsteps, accompanied by the low growling of trolls. The battle had begun.
The trolls launched their attack, their howls echoing throughout the underground city. Gorhn and Gravel took their places on the front lines, flanked by a group of stout-hearted gnomes armed with spears and shields. The trolls were massive, towering over the defenders and wielding crude weapons fashioned from stone and bone.
Gorhn and Gravel fought with fierce determination, their swords glinting in the dim light of the cavern. They quickly realized that the trolls were more powerful than they had anticipated, and the battle began to take a turn for the worse.
Just when it seemed like all hope was lost, the gnomes revealed a secret weapon they had been saving for just such an occasion: a giant, steam-powered golem. The golem was a towering metal colossus, bristling with weaponry and armor. With Gorhn and Gravel at its controls, the golem began to lay waste to the troll invaders.
The trolls were caught off guard by the golem's sudden appearance, and they soon found themselves outmatched by the combined might of the gnomes and their two human allies. One by one, they fell to the ground, until the final troll lay defeated at the feet of the golem.
Gorhn and Gravel looked out at the destruction that surrounded them, their chests heaving with exhaustion. They had saved the gnomes from certain doom, but at what cost? The city was in ruins, and the gnomes had suffered many losses.
Gorhn and Gravel stood in the midst of the cheering gnomes, who were hailing them as heroes. The trolls had been driven back, and the city was safe once again. The two adventurers were breathing heavily, sweat pouring down their faces, but they couldn't help but feel a sense of pride and accomplishment.
The gnomes gathered around them, offering them a share of the city's treasure. But Gorhn and Gravel shook their heads. "We didn't do this for the treasure," Gorhn said. "We did it because it was the right thing to do."
The gnomes were surprised, but also impressed. They had never met anyone who wasn't motivated by greed before. They began to see Gorhn and Gravel in a new light.
Gravel spoke up. "We've seen a lot of things in our travels, but we've never seen anything quite like your city. You gnomes are an odd bunch, but there's something special about you."
The gnomes beamed with pride. They knew they were a bit quirky, but they took it as a compliment. "You are always welcome here," said the gnome leader. "We owe you a debt of gratitude that can never be repaid."
Gorhn and Gravel smiled. They were glad they could help, and they were happy to have made new friends. They turned to leave, but not before the gnomes showered them with gifts and tokens of appreciation.
As they walked away from the city, their minds still buzzing with the excitement of battle and the strange wonders they had witnessed in the gnome city. Gorhn had a small, intricate device in his hands, an invention gifted to him by one of the gnomes.
"What is this?" Gorhn asked, turning the device over in his hands.
"It's a timekeeping device," Gravel replied, peering at it with interest. "The gnomes have a thing for precision."
"Well, it's certainly precise," Gorhn said, holding it up to his ear to listen to the ticking.
Suddenly, the device began to spin and beep erratically. Gorhn looked at it in confusion as Gravel burst into laughter.
"I think you broke it," Gravel said, still laughing.
Gorhn looked up at him with a mix of amusement and annoyance.
"I didn't break it! It was already broken," he retorted, trying to fix the device with no success.
Gravel continued to chuckle as they walked, and Gorhn couldn't help but laugh along with him.
"Well, I guess it's good we declined the treasure," Gorhn said, looking down at the device in his hands. "We'd probably break it anyway."
Gravel nodded in agreement, and the two continued on their journey, eager for whatever adventures awaited them next.