Reinforcements . . . or Refreshments?
Excerpts from the journal of Colonel Glurb, Bottle Gnome Extraordinaire
My regiment has served the new Master for only a week, and never so poorly have we been treated. From day one, we’ve been rounded up onto giant silver discs and carried around on the shoulders of giants, only to be handed out to passers-by and our contents devoured. It’s left us all feeling quite drained. You see, they’ve only been supplying bitter Wrath Wine, vintage ’92. Before, the plane was so wealthy we would be filled to the brim with a sweet ’67 or a savory ’49. The quality of our spirits was such that planeswalkers of all the ‘verse would come here just to imbibe. That was when being a simple clockwork automaton was a noble calling. Now, Master has wasted all our wealth finding a way to ‘overlay’ our plane upon another, and the entire beverage industry has taken a hit as a result. It’s an economic tempest. Now, a Bottle Gnome has to earn his keep in one of two ways – as a goblet, or as a grenade.
Today marks the 2 month anniversary of our service to the Master. But instead of celebrating, my troop is in shambles. It all started when a flying boat showed up. Our master has all but abandoned us since. We sit on a shelf in the kitchen, our spirits dwindling in potency. Except for a time last month when half my force was drafted into the armory, I’ve not seen hide nor hair from him. He’s holed up in that stronghold over the mountain, crafting his master plan. Ruin is what he’ll bring – mark my words.
4 months later, and the whole plane is teetering on the edge. Word comes to us from the artificer’s shed that a nest of monsters means to overrun the castle. No one has seen or heard from the Master or his commander in weeks. Most of the Golems are preparing an exodus of sorts, using a portal to escape from here before the ‘slivers’ come. And really, what are they anyway? Enchanted splinters made from elven oak?
It has been five long years. It started off well enough: We departed our plane and came to a plane of artifice. It was wondrous. Everywhere the eye could see Golems and other enchanted devices walked freely. Rumor spread that this whole place was created by a legendary Golem whose name has been lost to history. But then the sword came and ruined everything. The joy was sapped from most of the mechanical beasts and became four colored suns above us. The ground rusted and acid rain etched the landscape. What was once a beautiful paradise became a shredded metal nightmare. Then the Mad Wizard came – a spidery clockwork seeking the perfection of artifice. I’ll tell you – even the Master never sought the crimes this wizard has. Twisting the world to his will and laying waste to any Bottle Gnome that stirred up arms against him. What’s left of our kind has taken refuge in a mighty tree wherein we share tales of our past glory. With us are contingents of elves and humans, who are kind enough to let their potent spirits rest in our cavities. We all know we wait for war, and the second best thing Bottle Gnomes do is battle.
We had a visitor last week - an elven woman. She traded ancient lore for rest in the tree and found herself in good company. She was on her way to the center of the plane with an old iron golem seeking a trio of ancient weapons made of some kind of darkened steel. I was indulging in the reserves of ale when she recruited me and five others to join her on their quest! Imagine me, at my vintage, questing through perils for glory and honor. And when she drinks from me – aye - we’re both invigorated.
The Elven woman, the iron golem, one other and I were the only ones who made it to the center. Wouldn’t you know? The old Mad Wizard was there waiting for us. We spent four months traipsing across the rusty landscape bringing the Shield, the Sword, and the Helm together and the spirit they bring forth is instantly enchanted and fighting for the bloody spider! He left a flaming trail of destruction and cinders as we fled through the tangle outside of the core. The elven woman then unleashed a powerful attack that destroyed our enemy and created a new sun in the skies to join the other four. I won’t say what happened to the Elven woman, but know that every night from here on out I’ll be toasting fifth dawn with a new recipe. After the Defeat, the spirit he controlled was freed. Before the spirit left to restore what remained of the plane he gave me his family’s ancient secret recipe in gratitude. It stays in me and it’s fizzy and powerful. I like to call it “Porter of Kaldra.”
Our world is healing once again and reaping the rewards of prosperity. The bottle gnomes have regrouped and the hospitality industry is taking off! We’re getting so many orders from across the multiverse for this new porter it’s been hard to fill them all! And nature is returning! Beneath the new green sun a forest grows, and, in it, life, organic life, is in full swing! Sometimes a critter or two will even come up and bite the hand of a passerby. We all laugh and laugh. It’s never a problem. When was the last time a creature of artifice was infected by poison?
It’s nice to put down arms and once again be revered for what Bottle Gnomes do best - stir and shake!