There was a light tapping at my door. Without opening my eyes, the sounds of the docks and seagulls assaulted my ears. The heavy curtains no doubt blocked out the heat of the mid-day sun. I’d slept well past noon again. Rubbing the sleep out of my eyes, I smiled inwardly. No bad for a washed up lapidary, living the life of luxury. Plenty of gold in the bank…
Oh! Is that who’s at my door? Did I forget to pay rent again?
“Just a minute…I’ll be right there,” I said as I slipped on my silkbloom robe and smoothing my beard.
Opening the door, I was expecting to see the Qualithari landlord. Instead, to was a fellow gnome merchant, a good friend of mine, Tori Grubeh. A look of worry and panic was on her face, dried tears stained her checks. Seeing my friend in obvious distress, I ushered her in and offered her a seat.
“My dear friend, please sit. This trouble it, mars your beautiful face, you wear it so plainly on your face. Tell me, why do you come to your old friend. What may I do to ease this distress?” I said gently as I poured a fresh glass of wine for my friend and myself, while she slowly eased her way to my couch.
“The refugees showed up this morning. The Dwarves…. The Deep Dwarves,” Tori began to explain as the tears began to sell in her eyes again. “They attacked Mekalia, the city has been abandoned.” Tori continued on as, I blinked several times in astonishment. “About your nieces, Omerel was the last to see them,” Tori continued, “but… I’m sorry Jharl, the war golems have sealed the city. I asked many of the refugees on your behalf. They haven’t been seen outside the city. We… we don’t expect that they made it out of Mekalia.”
I quickly finished the glass of wine I’d poured, and realizing I was still holding the glass I poured for my friend, I finished that one as well. I sat down on the couch beside her, “This is distressing news. The dwarves, curses upon them, but grief is such horrible blight upon the face of a Gnome,” I said, gently stroking away the tears from her cheeks and chin. “My nieces are capable and agile thinkers, even with but a moment’s notice, I’ve no doubt they know how to escape an army of obtuse Dwarves.”
Slapping my hand upon her knee, “Come! Let me give the order to ready for sail to Mekalia, and you should give me a full recount of what you’ve heard over breakfast.” Worry was not something I was comfortable expressing. “Or, perhaps lunch.” I added with a smile as I recalled the time.
And so as the invasion of Mekalia was explained, and the blockade gone over with some detail, the dockhands readied my small vessel for sail. I sailed from the harbor of Khal, and departed the Qa River towards the docks outside Mekalia.
(ABOVE: The Qa River, just south of Khal, facing East towards Mekalia. )
(ABOVE: The Qa River, with the gates to Mekalia seen at the end of the valley centered the picture.)
(Above - The Gates of Mekalia, Gnome city of Wonder.)
(Above – Gnome War Golem in defensive position outside the gates of Mekalia.)
I arrived at the Refugee camp and general headquarters for the Occupation army several days later. The report there was the same that the refugees to Khal had said, the Gnomes had been pushed entirely to the surface and the war golems had formed a defensive position at the gate to keep the minions of the Deep Dwarves from pouring out to the surface world. I did try my best to be allowed a rescue mission inside the city, but my meager political sway did little.
An off comment from one of the quartermasters, provided me with the next course of action. With the store houses blocked off, new supply lines had to be established. While news of the Deep Dwarf assault had reached Khal, a direct envoy to the Sultan needed to be sent. I immediately offered the services of my vessel.
(To be continued as Jharl sails to Ahgram, Palace of the Sultan, to seek aid for the Gnomes of Mekalia.)