Session 1: To Gnomengarde

Gnomengarde entrance (courtesy of Morvold Press)
In the Sword Coast—a vast realm of free settlements surrounded by lawless, untamed wilderness—the druid Reidoth called the two companions to his abode in Neverwinter Wood.

While one of the companions, a druid named Róven Sarn, would undergo training with the Emerald Enclave elder, Reidoth asked the other, an elven wizard named Haltalas Faeruary, to investigate Gnomengarde, a small network of caves in the Sword Mountains. Reidoth explained that he had received a message from his friend Wixim expressing concern for a clan of reclusive rock gnomes. Urging the wizard to seek the enclave of caves hidden behind the waterfall’s mists.

Haltalas Faeruary It was still early that morning when Haltalas headed south to Gnomengarde, equipped with ten goodberries, courtesy of the druid benefactor.

While Haltalas was walking through the woods, he stumbled over what he assumed was a tree root. Continuing, with a skip in his step to appear intentional, he glanced around to confirm his blunder was unseen, when from behind he heard a screeching voice, “Who are you with? Who sent you? Was it Xander? I’m not going back!”

Arial Sorel Turning, he saw a filthy child waving a rapier at him.

Haltalas then realized the crazed, sinewy creature yelling at him was a halfling, covered in more filth than could be incidentally accumulated.

“Who sent you?” The halfling growled, as Haltalas was caught dumbstruck, “I’ll ask you again!”

"I swear, I’m not who you’re—I was sent by Reidoth,” Haltalas insisted, trying to keep his distance with his staff, while his other hand shielded his nose, “he sent me on a journey. It’s days away. I’m not here to mess with you.”

Lifting an arm, Arial sniffed around, wincing at the armpit stench. “Is this Reidoth friends with Xander?”

“That name is not familiar to me,” Haltalas maintained. “Please tell me who that is.”

“He’s the leader of the brigands that are robbing all the travelers through this forest and along the roads,” Arial claimed. “I used to run with him, but he tried to take me and…I don’t want to talk about it anymore. Not right now. You got any food?”

“Here friend, have a goodberry,” Haltalas offered, “I have plenty of them. Brigands you say? Tell me more. How can I help?”

After eyeing it suspiciously, Arial gulped down the goodberry and replied, “That was delicious! Thank you! That filled me right up. Strange for a very small small berry. All I’ve been eating is squirrels, but you’re welcome to have one of these.” He held out something scrawny and covered in filth. “Where you headed to?”

“I’m on my way to Gnomengarde,” Haltalas shared, “near the Sword Mountains.

“That’s pretty far away,” Arial acknowledged. “Maybe I should tag along just to make sure the brigands don’t get you. I’ll show you the secret ways through the forest.”

“Are there going to be any roots,” Haltalas inquired, “because I just tripped on one, but I did recover—”

“That was me, you dolt!” Arial squealed.

“Okay, sure. You can tag along,” Haltalas chuckled. “I could use the accompaniment. Do you play any instruments? It would be nice to have some entertainment along the way.”

“I can play this grass leaf here,” Arial began to blow on a blade of grass, making it squeak.

Arial gathered a quarterstaff and longbow from under some leaves and the two agreed to journey together, talking occasionally as they journeyed through the woods.

It was evening when the two companions were approaching the edge of the woods, when they felt a subtle rumbling under their feet and then saw a wild boar rushing toward them.

“Look out!” Arial screamed, pushing the elf back, dropping the staff and bow, and aiming the rapier at the charging boar.

Noting that the boar was larger than Arial, Haltalas said, “I’ll get it,” and cast sleep.

The boar stumbled over its hoofs and slid toward Arial, coming to a stop just inches from the halfling. Its tusks rose and fell as it began to snore.

“Hey, good job!” Arial commended the wizard.

Brushing his shoulders, the elf appeared pleased with himself.

It didn’t take much for Haltalas to convince Arial to cut up the boar for rations. Arial pierced its skull with the rapier blade and deftly harvested enough boar meat to last the two a few days. Arial even removed the tusks and gave them to Haltalas as a souvenir.

After leaving the wood, they made camp on the south side of the Triboar Trail. Haltalas summoned his weasel familiar to watch over them through the night.

The night was uneventful, and the next day they avoided any civilizations as they continued south. Eventually, the steep, craggy, snow-capped mountain range grew in the horizon.

They reached the foothills at dusk, and followed a stream uphill to the base of the mountain, where waterfall erosion had carved out a natural concavity.
Gnomengarde valley
As they approached the waterfall, the roar grew so loud that they had to shout to be heard, and it created a cloud of mist as it plunged into a shallow pool of water, within which rose two small islands covered with two-foot-tall red, green, and purple mushrooms.

Several cave openings overlooked the pool from rocky ledges twenty to thirty feet above. The mountain blocked any sunlight from reaching this place.

Of the five cave entrances, all were perched atop ledges with sheer, rocky slopes, except for the northeast one, which could be reached by ascending a sloping, narrow footpath.

“These must be the caves that Reidoth told me about,” Haltalas indicated, panting a bit from the long day’s march. “So perhaps we should rest here for a moment, and then investigate.”

“Do they know we’re coming?” Arial inquired.

“Well, they might be able to smell your stench,” Haltalas hinted, “but other than that, from what I gather from what Reidoth told me, no, they are unaware that we are coming.”

Frowning, Arial walked over to the stream, dipped a small cloth into the water, and began scraping off the thick coat of grime that covered the entirety of the halfling’s skin.

“Thank goodness,” Haltalas mumbled under his breath, relieved that Arial had finally bathed.

“Give me a hand across this,” Arial grumbled, indicating a narrow section of the stream, and noting that the stream was only about three feet deep.

“Hop on my back,” Haltalas offered, and the hafling climbed up.

Haltalas’ knees buckled under the weight of the heavily loaded halfling, as the frail wizard wading across the shallow stream.

Prompting Arial to lead the way up the slope, Haltalas worked hard to keep up with the spry, but slower halfling.

At the top, they peered into the cave entrance, which was lit by oil lanterns hung near the smooth, seven-foot high ceilings. Haltalas noted that the lanterns were all attached to rope and pulley mechanisms.

Fifteen feet in, they passed a corridor that branched north and led to what appeared to be an uninhabited dining room.

Continuing east for another fifteen feet, the corridor split north and south. To the north, the corridor quickly curved east, out of sight. To the south, the corridor soon opened into a chamber with a large platform atop which were four heavy crossbows, each pointing in a different direction.

“I think we should turn around and go the other way,” Haltalas suggested. “Not that I’m scared, but I think I heard something the other way.”

“Let’s hug the wall,” Arial suggested, shimmying along the wall to see if the crossbows appeared to adjust and target them.

Facktoré on the Autoloading Crossbow Platform in Gnomengarde (courtesy of Morvold Press)
Haltalas noted that the platform was bolted to the floor and constructed so that the entire platform could rotate. Attached to each of the crossbows was a sheath of bolts with what appeared to be a reloading mechanism. High up in the center of the platform was a chair equipped with pedals and levers that must control the rotation of the entire contraption as well as discharge and reload the crossbows.

Bent over in the chair was a gnome, their head buried in the contraption and apparently oblivious to their presence.

“Weren’t you here to talk to the gnomes,” Arial whispered to Haltalas.

“Yoo-hoo,” Haltalas waved hesitantly at the gnome, mumbling about Reidoth not mentioning whether the gnomes would be friendly.

“Hello there,” Arial called out, “my friend here was asked to pay you a visit.”

Clearly startled, the gnome used the handles to pull himself up, at which point the entire contraption began to spin counterclockwise, clanking and clattering.

“Whoa! Whoa! Easy!” Arial cried, hands raised. “Like I said, my friend was asked to check in with you. Maybe he could explain before you pull any triggers…”

“Reidoth sent me—” Haltalas began as a crossbow bolt was shot his way. Fearing that his mage armor would be insufficient to protect him from the heavy bolt, the wizard cast shield, and as the bolt bounced off the transparent barrier, he began to glow.

“Oops, sorry!” The spinning gnome cried, “I can’t stop this thing.”

As all four of the crossbows continued to reload and discharge their bolts, Arial pulled Haltalas back around the corridor to the west. “Turn it off!” the halfling shouted.

“I can’t stop this thing,” the spinning gnome desperately repeated.

They headed back toward the dining room, which contained several small-sized dining tables and chairs. A stout wooden cabinet against the east wall held tin dishware and utensils.

Passing through the dining room, they continued through a passage to the north until they reached what appeared to be a kitchen.

Haltalas noted that everything was either close to the floor or readily reachable by tugging on an overly complicated rope-and-pulley mechanism.
Gnomengarde Kitchen (courtesy of Morvold Press)
Five gnomes appeared to be working very busily within, barely noticing them. One used a poker to stoke the fire of a hot iron stove standing against the east wall. A second used a complicated press-like contraption to squeeze oil out of a big red mushroom and filter the liquid into four oil flasks. A third stood atop a low table, using a mechanical rolling pin contraption to knead green bread dough, the severed caps of several big green mushrooms set around her. A fourth formed the dough into loaves of green bread, his tongue sticking out as he carefully shaped each loaf like a master sculptor. The fifth teetered on a stool as she stuffed a big purple mushroom into a barrel.

“Hello,” Arial called out, “can anyone help us?”

“Who are you?” asked the gnome on the table.

“My friend and I were asked to visit,” Arial explained, “but there was a gnome who can’t work out the crossbow machine and it started shooting at us. Are you able to help him turn it off?”

“He’ll get it figured out,” the gnome waved, dismissively. “Why don’t you go speak to Fibblestib or Dabbledob. They’ll be able to help you. We’re kind of busy here.”

“Where can we find them,” Arial asked, patiently.

“They’re on the west side,” the gnome replied, “across the bridge.”

“We haven’t seen a bridge,” Haltalas inquired. “Which way is that?”

“Past Facktoré and his contraption,” the gnome pointed, before turning back to her mechanical rolling pin contraption.

Shrugging, the companions left the kitchen, but decided to explore further east.

Ascending two flights of stairs east, they entered a pantry piled high with small wooden crates.

Curious, Arial used a crowbar to crack open one of the unlabeled crates. Inside they found loaves of green bread. Cracking open a barrel they found other green foodstuffs, which Haltalas noted had the same mushroom smell and texture.

Closing up the containers, they went back toward the room with the crossbow contraption, passing a chamber with two large, spiked contraptions.

As they reached the corridor leading to the crossbow contraption, they noticed bolts stuck in the north wall and strewn around the floor.

Arial picked up some bolts and entered the chamber, calling out, “Are you finally out of ammo?”

Looking up from the innards of the contraption where his head had been buried, the gnome replied, “Huh? Oh, yeah. I finally ran out of ammunition. Somebody could have really been hurt. I don’t know why you snuck up on me like that. Don’t you know that’s dangerous?”

“You seemed to be concentrating on something a little different than who was wandering your halls,” Arial replied, “so sneaking up on you didn’t seem to be too hard. We weren’t trying to.”

“Plus, we did shout yoo-hoo,’” Haltalas added.

“My name’s Facktoré, not yoo-hoo,” the gnome replied.

“Maybe that’s why you didn’t understand us,” Arial sarcastically suggested.

“Well, what can I do for you?” Facktoré asked. “Are you here to try to help me fix this thing?”

“Not if it’s going to shoot at us,” Arial warned.

“I’m out of ammunition now,” Facktoré repeated.

“I’ll give you these five back,” Arial offered, “but my friend here was sent to investigate—”

“Yeah, Reidoth sent me,” Haltalas shared. “Do you know the name?”

“Uh, Reidoth?” Facktoré asked, still distracted. “I don’t know from any Reidoth. Why don’t you go talk to Fibblestib or Dabbledob.” the preoccupied gnome pointed to a passage to the south.

Continuing to the south, the roaring from the waterfall grew louder.

One corridor led west to a ledge overlooking the pool twenty feet below.

Another corridor led east to a large room containing a dozen large barrels set into wide alcoves, each secured by a wooden brace.

“This must be the party room,” Arial joked.

Haltalas sauntered up to one of the barrels in the south alcove, which were already tapped with wooden spigots, to sample its contents, tipping the nearly empty barrel to fill the cup from his mess kit.

Sniffing it, the elf detected the now familiar mushroom scent. Quaffing the wine, it tasted as good as it sounded.

“I’m glad it wasn’t poison,” Arial noted.

“Me too,” Haltalas replied, “but wasn’t it brave of me to try it?”

Returning to the corridor, they followed the passage south, where the crashing of the waterfall grew louder, and opened into an empty cave. The waterfall’s mist dampened the cave from a corridor to the west. Another corridor led to the east.

From across the cave to the south, two gnomes shouted at them from atop a ten-foot-high ledge overlooking the cave. A female name shouted in Gnomish, followed by the male, who repeated in Common, "Who goes there?"

“We’re looking for Dabbledob or Fibblestib,” Arial shouted over the constant roar. “Do you know where we can find them? My companion and I were sent to investigate.”

“Who are you?” The second gnome reiterated in Common.

“I’m Haltalas,” the elf explained. “We’ve been sent by my dear friend Wixim to check out what’s happening here…if you need some help with something.”

The gnomes’ eyes widened as they looked at each other in surprise or nervousness. “Wixim sent you?” one asked.

“Yes, he’s a dear friend,” Haltalas fibbed, “and he was quite concerned about your clan here in Gnomengarde, and we came to investigate.”

“Stay right there,” the gnome replied, and the two of them whispered to each other before asking, “How do we know you are who you say you are?”

“How do we know you are who you say you are?” Arial countered.

Looking confused, the two gnomes began whispering to each other frantically.

“Are you Dabbledob and Fibblestib?” Arial asked.

“No, we’re Ulla and Pog,” the gnomes introduced themselves, “but you cannot pass.”

“Why not?” Arial pleaded. “We’re looking for Dabbledob and Fibblestib.”

“We’ve been ordered to not let anybody pass,” Ulla explained. “You might not be who you say you are. You might not be what you appear.”

“Well, let us talk to Fibblestib and Dabbledob,” Arial suggested, “and they’ll tell you, but don’t let anyone else through.”

“Hmmm,” Ulla considered, apprehensively. “Well, your friend did say Wixim sent him, and you are a small one. Alright, but don’t be causing any trouble. They’re over that way, across the bridge.”

“Thank you very much,” Arial replied. “You guard the pathway while we go. Don’t worry, we won’t cause any trouble.”

“Keep up the good work,” Haltalas added as they exited to the west.

The cave opened onto a twenty-foot-high ledge. Less than ten feet to the south, the waterfall plunged down into the pool below from at least twice as high above. The entire area was lightly obscured by mist. A thirty-five-foot-long rope bridge stretched from their ledge to another across the pool.
Gnomengarde Waterfall and Rope Bridge (courtesy of Morvold Press)
Even though the sagging rope bridge appeared to be anchored securely, Arial noticed that the mist had made it slippery and suggested they use a rope to cross.

They tied their hemp rope around their waists, and using the posts that secured the bridge as anchors, Arial crossed first, with Haltalas nervously crossing after.

Having packed up their rope, they entered the cave leading west, which was also lightly obscured by mist from the waterfall.

The cave soon opened into a room dominated by two rapidly spinning devices that look like turnstiles fitted with stacks of long, sharp blades spaced one foot apart.

Noting that the northern turnstile spun counterclockwise, while the southern one spun clockwise, Haltalas declared, “Stand back! Arial, I will send my weasel ahead to try and stop the spinning blades.” He summoned his weasel familiar and sent it across the room.

“These gnomes really don’t seem welcoming to strangers, do they?” Arial noted, rhetorically.

Looking through his familiar’s eyes, Haltalas found a brass lever in the down position across the room.
Gnomengarde turnstiles (courtesy of Morvold Press)
“Arial, on the other side, there’s a brass lever in the down position,” Haltalas shared. “Do you think we should switch it to the up position?”

“Well, I want to find a way in in one piece,” Arial grumbled, “so if turning it will work, then try it. You can always put it back.”

When the weasel was unable to switch the lever by jumping, Haltalas cast mage hand, and used it to pull the lever up.

The turnstiles immediately began to stop spinning.

Arial crossed first, and with a cracking voice gave Haltalas the “all clear” and they both passed safely through the chamber.

On the west side of the turnstiles, with Haltalas’ weasel on his shoulder, they followed a corridor north.

The passage soon curved west and up a ten-foot flight of stairs. As they approached, they overheard an argument or commotion in Gnomish from beyond the stairs.

Holding up a hand for Haltalas to slow down, Arial said, “It sounds like there might be arguing. Do you hear anything?”

Between the gnomes’ occasional slip into Common, and Haltalas translating Gnomish, they made out that two gnomes were arguing.

“That’s a dumb idea! That’s not going to fix anything! How’s that going to work?”

“A ray? Sanity? That sounds crazy!”

“What are you talking about? You think a jacket is going to work better? What’s a jacket going to do? He’s not cold!”

“No, it’s a straight jacket! That will work!”

“A straight jacket? That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard of! That’s the lamest idea you’ve ever had, Dabbledob! The sanity ray is the way to go.”

“It sounds like these might be the two we’re looking for,” Arial whispered.

It was soon apparent that these two gnomes were a male named Fibblestib and a female named Dabbledob, and they revealed themselves to the gnomes.
Fibblestib and Dabbledob in their Inventors' Workshop in Gnomengarde (courtesy of Morvold Press)
They entered what was clearly a workshop, cluttered with what appeared to be half-completed inventions and worktables strewn with tinker's tools. A ten-foot-high ledge overlooked the northwest corner of the room, set with a wooden pedestal on which sat a leather-bound book.

“Who are you?” the gnomes asked in unison.

“Greetings,” Arial announced in a crackly voice. “I’m Arial and this is my companion Haltalas.”

“What are you doing here,” Fibblestib asked.

“Wixim sent us,” Arial claimed. “We came here looking for Dabbledob and Fibblestib.”

“Well you found ‘em,” Dabbledob replied. “Wixim sent you, huh? Oh, he must have heard about Korboz and Gnerkli.”

“Yes,” Haltalas fibbed, “those were in fact the things he did send us for, but there was some confusion in the letter. He didn’t fill in all the details. So could you let us know exactly what you’re referring to?”

“I wish Wixim was here himself,” Fibblestib sighed, and Haltalas nodded in agreement. “The kings have gone crazy! King Korboz has lost his mind and he’s taken King Gnerkli prisoner!”

“I don’t recognize the names,” Haltalas admitted. “Who are these kings?”

“King Gnerkli and Korboz,” Dabbledob replied. “They’re our kings!”

“You have two kings?” Haltalas returned. “What a novel idea.”

“Sure,” Fibblestib replied, “what’s so crazy about that?

“Where I’m from,” Haltalas explained, “once king is normal. Two kings result in bloodshed.”

“Oh, not these kings,” Dabbledob insisted. “They love each other. That’s silly.”

“Excellent,” Haltalas conceded.

“Well, they did love each other,” Fibblestib corrected, “and everything was going swimmingly, until Korboz seemed to have lost his mind. Now he won’t let Gnerkli out. He’s holding him prisoner.”

“Why does he say he’s holding him prisoner,” Arial asked.

“He thinks there’s some mad monster on the loose,” Dabbledob explained.

“So he’s trying to protect Gnerkli,” Arial asked, “and he’s holding him prisoner.”

“That’s what he says,” Fibblestib confirmed, “but he doesn’t say it’s a monster. He said he was attacked by a carpet.”

“He’s afraid the furniture is going to attack him,” Dabbledob continued. “It sounds like he’s gone insane! That’s why I think he needs a straight jacket.”

“Not a straight jacket!” Fibblestib argued. “A sanity ray will do the trick.”

The two gnomes quickly devolved back into their argument.

“Have you ever considered that perhaps he’s not crazy,” Arial suggested in a squeaky voice.

“Do you want to go talk to him?” Dabbledob offered. “You could talk to him yourself.”

“Maybe we better go have a look,” Arial suggested. “Where did this happen?”

“Yeah, let’s go have a look,” Haltalas agreed. “Can you direct us to where the kings are?”

“Well, if there’s anything you could do,” Fibblestib replied, pointing to a corridor leading west, “we would be grateful.”

Arial inquired about the book on the pedestal, and they explained that it contained their recipes. When Arial asked if they could inspect it, the gnomes did not object, but pointed out that there was more pressing business.

As they inspected the inventions on the table, which Haltalas concluded were all in various stages of incompleteness, Fibblestib asked, “Which do you think is better, straight jacket or sanity ray?”

“Well, they both presume that he’s crazy,” Arial opined, “and I’m not sure that he is, yet. But, if we don’t want to hurt him, a straight jacket will always work, as long as he doesn’t break out of it, and then you can still use the sanity ray after that.”

“Tell us more about this sanity ray,” Haltalas inquired. “I’ve never heard of such a thing.”

“Does it hurt him,” Arial asked.

“Well, we haven’t finished one yet,” Dabbledob admitted, “so we don’t really know, but, hopefully, our testing will show that it doesn’t.”

“What are you testing on?” Arial asked.

“I was just going to ask,” Fibblestib replied, “are you volunteering?”

“Uh, no,” Arial stated. “Maybe my friend Haltalas will…”

“Oh, no, I, uh, I’m,” Haltalas stuttered. “I’m allergic to most ray guns, unfortunately. I’ve been tested on many a time in the past, but, no, it doesn’t go well, usually.”

“And as a rule,” Arial added, “I’m allergic to all unfinished inventions, so maybe later.”

“We’ll finish this up,” Dabbledob suggested, “while you go see if you can talk some sense into King Korboz.”

“Alright,” Arial cackled, “we’ll be back. Thanks for your help.”

Exiting to the west, they quickly ascended another ten-foot flight of stairs, wary of any furniture as they went.

They continued west, passing a corridor to the north, which appeared to lead to the ledge with the book.

The corridor branched to the south, ending abruptly in a thick wooden door fitted with iron handles and hinges. Arial knocked on the door and there was no answer. He tried the handle, but it appeared to be locked.

“I guess we’re not going this way,” Arial stated.

They continued west and the corridor turned north into a short ten-foot-wide corridor leading to a set of double doors, a bit of carpet protruding diagonally from their center.

Arial lit a torch and ran it close to the carpet, checking to see if there was any unusual reaction, but there was none.

While Arial futilely poked the carpet with the rapier blade, Haltalas cast mage hand and used it to knock on the door.

Arial cautiously stepped onto the carpet, and carefully ran the torch along the door.

Once Arial was satisfied, Haltalas used mage hand to open the doors, which swung open easily.

Gnomengarde Throne Room (courtesy of Morvold Press)
Entering what was clearly a throne room, situated atop a stone dais were two squat thrones made of scrap metal and sized for gnomes. Rows of benches and pillars decorated the center of the chamber. Multiple carpets were spread across the floor between the doors and the thrones. The chamber appeared otherwise uninhabited.

Arial ran his torch along all the carpets, benches, dais, thrones, and any other furniture.

Squeezing into the small throne seat, Haltalas teased, “Look, they make thrones in your size.”

“I may be small,” Arial replied, “but I could still take you in a fight, so just watch it.”

“All in jest,” Haltalas assured the halfling.

Exhausting their options in the throne room, they returned to the corridor leading to the ledge with the book, where they found the door was locked, but the corridor continued north.

Continuing north, the corridor ended in another sturdy wooden door, which Arial tested with the torch before discovering that it was locked.

Rapping on the door, Arial called, “My lords, we’re here to help.”

“Who goes there?” they heard from within.

“Wixim sent us to help,” Arial shared. “We’re here to investigate your monster—”

“Wixim?” the voice replied optimistically, “Is he here?”

“Unfortunately, he couldn’t make it,” Arial replied, “but he sent my friend, Haltalas. He’s a powerful mage.”

Haltalas agreed.

“How do I know you’re who you say you are?” the voice replied.

“How do I know you’re who you say you are?” Arial countered.

“Just let him in, Korboz,” another voice replied.

“I can’t risk it,” King Korboz replied. “There’s a monster out there on the loose.”

“We just had a pleasant conversation with your colleagues, Fibblestib and Dabbledob,” Haltalas explained. “We had a lovely conversation about half-made construction and monster carpets and all this lovely stuff, and they wanted us to—”

“Monster carpet!” King Korboz interjected. “Did you find the monster carpet?”

“I want to believe you,” Arial insisted. “I just want to know where you found it and where it was last.”

“It was in the throne room!” King Korboz explained. “It attacked me!”

“Well we just came from the throne room,” Arial explained, “and it didn’t look like the carpets attacked us. What were you doing when it attacked you? Maybe we can duplicate that.”

“I was just going to my throne,” King Korboz clarified.

“Maybe you could accompany us to the throne room and we could—” Haltalas suggested.

“I’m not opening this door until that creature is destroyed!” King Korboz maintained.

“How do we find it?” Arial asked. “We went to the throne room and we didn't see it there.”

“I don’t know,” King Korboz admitted. “If I knew how to find it… It already killed two of my subjects.”

“Really?” Arial responded. “We never heard that!”

“Two of them disappeared already,” King Korboz explained. “And I’m not taking any chances with my dear Gnerkli!”

“I assure you,” Haltalas promised, “you’ll be quite safe in our protection.”

“He’s gone mad,” King Gnerkly shouted from farther away. “He’s gone mad! I can’t get out!”

“It’s for your own good, my dear!” King Korboz insisted. “Just stay there, Stay put until these heroes save the day. Wizim sent them.”

“Do you have any attachment to this carpet?” Arial asked.

“No,” King Korboz replied. “If you find this carpet and it attacks you, you can destroy it, by all means!”

“Okay, thanks,” Arial agreed.

They returned to the throne room, and using their torch and indiscriminately thrown fire bolts, proceeded to burn all the carpets.

The throne room quickly filled with smoke, forcing them to close the door and retreat down the corridor.

Returning to Fibblestib and Dabbledob, they explained that they had spoken with the kings, who refused to open the door, and then burned all the carpets.

In the meantime, they convinced the gnomes to show them the book on the ledge, as they were inspecting all the furniture.

The gnomes led them upstairs and around to the locked door, which they unlocked, and allowed them to examine the book.

Arial had one of the gnomes hold the book, while inspecting the pedestal with a torch and poking it with the rapier blade. Once they were satisfied, they convinced the gnomes to show them the treasury.

After locking the door to the pedestal, the gnomes accompanied the two down the hall, and opened the door, revealing what appeared to be jumbles of nonfunctional gnomish gizmos, including loose gears, twisted bits of metal, and other scraps that the gnomes explained were used to cobble together new inventions.

They examined the contents of the room, poking everything and running their torch along much of it.

An hour after casting shield, Haltalas stopped glowing.

Once they were done, they thanked Fibblestib and Dabbledob and returned to the throne room, where the smoke had mostly cleared.

They returned to the kings’ chambers, where Haltalas explained, “Hello, king, it’s Haltalas, your friendly neighborhood wizard, and I’m just here to let you know that my colleague Arial has gone throughout the entire area and he’s burned and poked all the carpets and all of them, I can assure you, are not filled with monsters. We believe it is quite safe out here, and if only you would open the door, we could come in and show you ourselves.”

“I’m not opening that door until you find that monster and kill it,” King Korboz insisted. “If that thing were to kill my beloved Gnerkli, I don’t know what I would do! It’s got to be out there somewhere!”

At a loss, Haltalas asked Fibblestib and Dabbledob what was beyond their workshop, to the northeast.

“That’s the domiciles,” Fibblestib explained. “People are sleeping there.”

Arial convinced the inventors to build a small fan they could use to blow away the smoke their fires would create.

Meanwhile, they went northeast to explore the domiciles, where they found the floor of the cave strewn with the remnants of old campfires. Four smaller side caves served as sleeping areas, with five small wooden cots crammed into each one. Eight gnomes appeared to sleep soundly as they quietly approached.

“I know they said this monster can disguise itself as furniture,” Arial sighed, “but there’s spaces in here that might be tricky to check.”

They proceeded to poke all the furniture in the domiciles, avoiding the sleeping gnomes. A corridor exited to the east, leading to a ledge over the pool.

They returned to the workshop, where the inventors were intent on the fan they were constructing.

They proceeded to poke all the furniture in and around the workshop, haltalas using his knife.

Haltalas sent his weasel familiar through the caves, looking through its eyes, but saw nothing suspicious.

Returning to the throne room, they investigated the thrones and statues, but found nothing unusual.

They proceeded to poke all the furniture in and around the room with the spinning turnistyles.

They went back west across the rope bridge, using the rope to secure each other. While crossing, Arial slipped off the bridge. Luckily, the rope snagged on a piece of the bridge, and Arial only fell a short distance and, with some difficulty, was able to climb back onto the slippery bridge and make it across. Haltalas crossed with no difficulty.

“Halt!” Ulla shouted, as they entered the guard post. “Who goes there?”

“Yeah, it’s us again,” Arial shouted back over the roar of the waterfall. “We’re off looking for monsters. The kings have told us that there’s a monster and it’s either disguised as a carpet or furniture. You haven’t seen anything passing by that looked like carpet or furniture, did you?”

“The only strangers we saw are you,” Pog replied.

“No, we didn’t see anything like that,” Ulla added.

“Okay, so we’re not carpet, and we’re not furniture,” Arial shouted, “so we should be okay. So we’re going to keep looking, if that’s okay with you. Thank you!”

“The king told us to look out for any shapechangers,” Pog explained.

“Attack them on sight,” Ulla added.

“And the king told us to go look for the monster,” Arial reiterated, “so we’re looking for furniture and carpet. So you keep an eye out. If you see any carpets or furniture, shoot it. But we’re going to go look for it, okay? Thank you. Bye!”

“We have a table and two chairs up here,” Pog shared.

“Really?” Arial asked. “Have you poked it recently? Make sure it’s not a monster.”

Ulla and Pog appeared to poke the table and chairs on the ledge.

Exploring the corridors, they found themselves at the top of the guard ledge with Ulla and Pog, so they poked the furniture for good measure.

Returning to the wine barrel room, Arial examined the carpets with a torch and rapier blade, but nothing seemed unusual. Haltalas noticed a barrel in the corner, out of place with the others, which were all set into wide alcoves, secured by wooden braces. Arial poked all the tables and chairs. They began stabbing the barrels, trying their best not to poke a hole through them. Arial began along the south wall, and Haltalas began along the north.
Barrel Mimic in Gnomengarde

The last barrel along the north wall screeched as Haltalas poked it, lashing out wildly with an iron band, just missing Haltalas.

“Get back!” Arial warned Haltalas, dropping a staff and drawing a longbow. Arial shot the mimic, an arrow thudding into the warping wood of what looked like a barrel.

As the mimic lashed out at Haltalas again, the wizard used shield to deflect the lashing limbs, withdrew across the room, and blasted it with a fire bolt.

Arial’s arrow bounced harmlessly off the wall, so the halfling dropped the bow and retrieved the rapier.

The mimic squealed as Haltalas blasted it with another fire bolt, and rolled out of the alcove and quickly across the floor, engaging the retreating wizard.

Arial stabbed the mimic, viciously, but the rapier blade stuck in the mimic. The halfling drew a scimitar.

Mushroom Wine Barrel Room in Gnomengarde (courtesy of Morvold Press)
Haltalas tried to retreat, but was struck by the mimic, and could not break away from its adhesive grasp. Squirming, the wizard tried in vain to hit the mimic with a fire bolt. IN the distance, he heard sounds of movement coming from the corridor.

Struck by the mimic, Arial slashed into it, but the scimitar was also now stuck to it. Withdrawing, the halfling was struck again, but managed to pick up the bow.

The mimic opened its mouth, revealing rows of sharp teeth, and was about to bite Haltalas, when the squirming wizard blasted it with a fire bolt.

Gaining a second wind, Arial plunged an arrow deep into the mimic.

“Oh, look, they found it!” Ulla and Pog cried, appearing from around the corner, and blasting the mimic with magic missiles.

The mimic looked like it was falling apart as it bit into Haltalas. The wizard was bleeding badly and fell unconscious.

Arial shot at the mimic, barely managing to catch it with an arrow, and the proverbial wheels of the barrel fell off as the monstrosity collapsed, dropping the wizard from its grasp and reverting into a purplish blob.

Calling for a healer, Arial stabilized Haltalas.

Explaining that they don’t have any healers, they applied some mushroom paste to the wound to help stop the bleeding.

Once Haltalas had recovered enough to walk, Ulla accompanied them back across the bridge, and along with Dabbledob and Fibblestib, they all went to the kings’ chambers.

“Who is it?” King Korboz asked.

“We got it!” Arial revealed. “We killed the minster. It was a mimic!”

“A mimic?” King Korboz asked. “What’s that?”

“They did. They killed it,” Ulla repeated. “Pog’s standing guard over it as we speak. It was in the wine room. It was one of the barrels.”

The door opened and King Korboz waved them inside. King Gnerkli was sitting firmly in a chair, as if unable to move.

“You did it?” King Korboz asked again. “Are you sure? You saw it?”

“Yeah, it’s dead,” Ulla swore. “We hit it with missiles, and Arial killed it with an arrow. Haltalas almost dried trying to fight it off!”

“Thanks,” Haltalas replied. “I’m very faint, but I did assist in killing it. I was very brave.”

“Are you happy now, my love?” King Gnerkli asked. “Will you let me go?”

“Okay, okay,” King Korboz reached into his pocket and withdrew a small vial. Rubbing the liquid where King Gnerkli was stuck to the chair until King Gnerkli was free.

The two kings embraced and their love was apparent to all around.

The kings were brought to see the monstrosity, and King Korboz swore he could recognize it by his teeth.

The kings, along with the entire enclave of gnomes, were extremely grateful to Arial and Haltalas for their heroics, and invited them to stay at the enclave and join them for a feast the next day.

The gnomes provided a comfortable space for Haltalas and Arial to rest for the night, and in the morning the two were fully recovered from their battle.
Gnomengarde (courtesy of Morvold Press)
The next day, Dabbledob and Fibblestib invited the heroes to access to their book, from which Haltalas was able to access numerous wizard spells: burning hands, detect magic, identify, mage armor, magic missile, shield, and sleep. They provided Haltalas with the ink and other ingredients required, and he copied the spells he did not know into his spellbook.

That evening, all twenty of the gnomes gathered together to honor the heroes with a feast, which consisted almost entirely of various foods made from mushrooms, along with plenty of mushroom wine.

During the feast, stories were told of heroes passed, and the kings gave speeches to recognize their appreciation of the two heroes before them.

Dabbledob awarded Haltalas with a wand of pyrotechnics and Fibblestib awarded Arial with an extending pole.

Then King Korboz awarded Arial with a copper amulet containing tiny interlocking gears, explaining that it was powered by magic from Mechanus, a plane of clockwork predictability. Arial could hear faint ticking and whirring noises coming from within it. King Gnerkli awarded Haltalas with an antiquated, cone-shaped hat adorned with gold crescent moons and stars..

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