It is my hope that this missive will find its way back to Eladris. The gnomish machinist to whom I entrusted this letter assured me that she had an efficient, progressive way to ensure that this account reaches Queen Veralise and her advisors to describe our arrive at the Gnomish homeland.
I begin with a caution. The Gnomish lands are not for the faint of stomach. The inky cloak which surrounds the inhabited portions of the island are noxious to the constitutions of those who are unaccustomed to them, as Del and I discovered to our chagrin. We spent our first 24 hours on the island violently ill. The gnomes themselves have grown accustomed to the acrid smoke and the foulsome odors and were befuddled by our reactions.
The natives are friendly, but seem to be afflicted by what can only be described as a “peculiar lunacy”. They are obsessed with the idea of progress and efficiency, more than the reality of either, and approach both with single-minded zeal. They are compelled to tinker, it is true, but more than that, they are compelled to create forms, protocols and procedures, and are loathe to deviant from them in the slightest manner, as we quickly discovered to our detriment.
We identified ourselves as diplomats upon our arrival, and were advised of the direction of the Gnomish capital. However, we were told that we would not be permitted to visit the capital until we had obtained the necessary permit to do so, a task anticipated to take at least two months, and require a detour by a regional town before arriving at the capital.
Notwithstanding our entreaties (Svin), reasoned arguments (myself) or bribes (no comment), the bureaucracy remained impenetrable. With hindsight, we should have perhaps insinuated bodily harm to the clerk; while probably fruitless, it would have at least been therapeutic. We signed on as caravan guards to travel to the regional capital, in the hopes of finding some manner to pass to the capital directly.
Along the way, we were assaulted by a pair of oozes, but there were no match for our superior intellect (Svin’s warhammer may have helped as well, though it perished in the attempt).
I end this letter with an odd observation. Notwithstanding their ostensible love of progress and efficiency, the gnomes smile all the time. We brought it up with a few gnomes, but their responses were unsatisfactory. This strange behaviour bears further investigation.