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I am quite sleek and tall for a gnome.
Likes & Dislikes
I am really a crafter but I don't cook. I will never, ever cook. Anything. But I like to eat as long as it's a dessert. Don't leave any pie around because I just can not help myself. That being said, refer to the above physical characteristic. I'm NOT fat. Just because the skilts make me LOOK fat, that's an illusion!
If there's anything I don't like it might just be hatchlings. Why? Because they steal my food, they crash into my roof when trying to fly. They are just annoying, annoying, annoying. Yeah, there is a story in circulation about how I once saved a hatchling. Since it makes me look good, I don't fight it. However, although I won't say it's the truth, you're welcome to it.
Now, some people would say I have a bias against goats. Specifically, one goat. How can they say such a thing? I've made her what she is today. I made all her weapons, most of her gear. I hunted trophies for her. I even made her a nice, juicy pile of hay. And what does she do to repay me? She keeps eating my GONE FISHING sign. What would you do if you were me?
Strengths & Weaknesses
I seem to make people laugh. Not sure why. If I have any weakness, it's my ability to stay alive in a battle or to heal anyone else in time to keep them alive. Such a slight thing.
Here's one story: The one I referred to before.
The crisp winter sky exploded with clouds of steamy, obsidian soot. Shouting Gnomes poured from the workshop, leaving only a bearded Master Inventor and his diminutive apprentice.
“Now see what you’ve done, Cixi Tinsprocket! I regret the day I consented to take you as an apprentice.”
“But it’s just a small setback, Master Pulleyup,” said Cixi, plucking some fragments of wood from her pigtails. “I promise I will have it working in time for Winterfest! Just give me one more chance, please?”
“The Big Night performance is just too important to leave to chance. I’m sorry but I think you should go make yourself useful in the stables.”
“But we don’t have any stables, Master Pulleyup.”
“Just so, Tinsprocket, just so. Well, I expect you can find something less incendiary to occupy yourself with in the future. And make sure you don’t leave anything behind when you leave. My new apprentice will need the storage.”
And just like that, Cixi Tinsprocket found herself masterless and lessened again in the eyes of her own kind. This was just the latest of her failed apprenticeships, which had begun after her tenth summer and now stretched into her 15th winter. None of the trades had suited her temperament or her interest one iota. But in the way of gnomes, she was supposed to learn mechanics and the forming of all too clever things.
Gnome competition reached its highest frenzy around Winterfest, when new inventions were exhibited in the Gnome Tent leading up to Big Night, when the cleverest technologies were showcased in a stage show, an event which drew big crowds from all the races of Istaria.
Cixi had been helping Master Pulleyup with what he termed his most brilliant invention to date. At least that is what the Master said. Cixi had had her doubts.
Indeed, if she had her way, she would have been far away from the Rachival Workshop and attached to some big house on Copperton, with a fine kitchen to manage, and perhaps a weaving loom for recreation. But such was not to be, for her parents were set upon her following in their footsteps in Tinker trades. And so, she lived with the fear of bringing shame upon the entire House of Tinsprocket by her failure to reach journeyman.
She could hear the other apprentices laughing at her as they made their way back inside the shop. Blinking back tears, she ran to the storeroom, shoved supplies into her cargo disk, and slipped out the back.
“Wait, at least clean the cinders from your face before you leave!” A quiet voice made her step around the portal to find her old friend Zygax Wingnut waiting there. He gave her a clean cloth dampened from the well.
“Cixi, you’ve made a muddle of things again… well, maybe it will turn out for the best this time, and your family will finally see it your way. Where are you going? Not home, I assume.” Zygax looked at her with concern.
“No, I shall travel around a bit. I still have my last month’s wages.”
“You will be back for Winterfest, won’t you? You promised me the first dance, and the last one, too.” He smiled.
“Yes, of course, Zygax, if you still want to dance with me when I am so disgraced.”
“Widgets, don’t even think a thought like that. This will all blow over soon enough. Sorry, I didn’t mean to use such a poor choice of words!” Zygax rolled his eyes, poorly hiding a smile.
In spite of herself, Cixi had to laugh. “I shall be there, don’t worry. Now, I best be on my way before word reaches my father!”
Cixi entered the portal and vanished.
On the hills near Spire’s Shadow, the sun was approaching high noon. Not far away, the ground rises to the fearsome height of the Cleric’s tower. And it was beneath those towering heights that Cixi aimlessly strolled the craggy hillsides, one hand on her tool belt and one hand gesturing as if she was speaking to an invisible companion at her side.
“Dearest father, Why can’t you just let me be? I told you I wasn’t cut out for these infernal careers of Tinkering-Machine-Gadget-Tool-Forming-Pattern stuff. What is so wrong with Confectioner? Nothing, dear father, nothing! I’m sorry to shame our family, but if you would stop insisting that I study things I haven’t got a wit of talent for, no one would even pay heed! As it is, they focus only on my lack of achievement each Big Night.”
A loud scuffling interrupted her arguments. She ran for cover behind the nearest boulder. Just as she peeked out for another look, what appeared to be a small arbotus galloped forth from a crevice right where she had left her cargo disk. Its jaws were full of bounty.
Disaster! If she lost supplies, she would not be able to continue her much needed “vacation” and worse, she had a huge batch of jam tarts in there!
Reaching into her tool belt, she charged after the arbutus, but to her horror, as her fingers grasped her tinkering spanner, her belt buckle snapped open and tools flung out in all directions. Another step caught her foot on a hammer and down she flew.
Over the cliff she tumbled, sliding ever downward. And when she felt she couldn’t hold on to her senses for another second, the whirling, twirling and bouncing stopped as abruptly as it had begun. Amazingly unhurt, Cixi cranked open an eye, only to see her view blocked by what appeared to be a thin tree trunk.
“Are you going to lie there looking up my skilt or shall you introduce yourself?”
Cixi found that she was wrapped around a pair of green- stockinged legs. More amazing, not ten feet away, she could see the scraped side of her cargo disk.
She scrambled to her feet and stammered, “I am Cixi and I seem to have lost my balance.”
The elf tossed his long hair and bowed. “Apology accepted.” Then, without a a move into either pack or pocket, his hands suddenly held a loaf sized, gleaming stone.
He smiled and said, “Is this what you were chasing, then? Yes, I am sure this is exactly what you seek.” And without another word, he set the object down and filled the air with spell casting. Before Cixi could reply, the elf disappeared in a veil of light, leaving only a faint perfume behind.
Still dizzy from her fall, she rubbed her eyes and questioned whether she had just imagined that scene. In any event, she was safe, somehow in one piece and most unbelievably, she had recovered her cargo disk. Unsteadily she walked to it and sifted through the jumbled contents. Nothing was missing. Surely, that couldn’t be.
Feeling need of sustenance, she took out bread and cheese, and sat down to dine.
As she swallowed the last of her meal and wiped her knife clean, a gleam of light glanced off the blade, drawing her eyes to the stone which the elf had left behind. It glowed strangely.
Upon close examination, the egg shaped stone was smooth and glimmered as if lit from within. She picked it up and turned it in her hands. It was a pretty thing, mottled with veins of rainbow color. She held it up to the light.
“By the gods!” she cried in a shock of recognition.
This was an egg, and from its size, could only be a dragon egg! And worse, where there was an egg, there need be a mother dragon and that was never, ever good, especially if one was a gnome. She should leave the egg right where it was and flee the area. But what had the elf said? He’d told her that this was exactly what she was looking for. And he had perhaps saved her life. Was this her lucky charm? She let out a sigh of exasperation that would have made Master Pulleyup proud.
At that moment, the egg vibrated with a low buzz, rather like a Saris’s purr. Shaken, she set it down and thought about her options. Best find a secure place to watch and see if the mother returned.
She fashioned a cloth to hold and warm the egg, set it on a flat rock and climbed to an overlook, where, exhausted from her ordeals, she fell into a deep sleep.
And so the night passed, and the next, and the next, until, convinced that the egg was abandoned, Cixi pulled up her makeshift camp and headed toward the Vandus March, where she planned to deposit the egg near a region of dragon lairs.
At times she fought wolves or treants, but kept safe the egg. Whenever she saw a winged creature overhead she trembled that she would be taken for a kidnapper. And as she walked alone, she sang and spoke to the egg, for it seemed willing to share her troubled heart.
Finally, she neared a distant cliff face with lair openings. Cixi crept forward cradling the wrapped bundle, but stopped short when, to her great horror, what appeared to be a small claw poked out from the cloth wrappings.
“Oh Rust,” she cried, trying to stuff the hatchling back into its shell. But the hatchling’s time had come.
“Mmmmph, errrreeeckk,” came a tiny voice from within the cloth.
With deep misgivings she gazed upon a tiny, green/gold hatchling. Two ruby eyes were gazing up at her with unqualified love. It was more than she could bear. Without thinking, Cixi burst into tears.
And so she didn’t see the shadows and failed to hear the flapping of wings around her. What she finally did notice was a hissing in her right ear.
“And what do we have here? A hot lunch?” Hot breath scorched her eyebrows.
“Mmmmph, errrreeeckkkkkkmmmaaaaaaaa maaaaa,” came the tiny voice from Cixi’s arms.
“Well, I’ll be a Gruok Handbag, a Gnome has hatched an egg! I knew they were strange, but this is a first,” said a red drake, peering down over Cixi’s bent head.
“Kepesk Dawnfire, you idiot, that’s not a Gnome baby. Come away from there and let someone with a brain take a look,” said a testy blue Dragoness.
“Yes, dear,” said the red dragon, much chagrinned.
“My goodness, get Goldenorb out here! Doesn’t this look like one of hers?”
And so, Goldenorb was duly sent for, and arrived in a flutter of matronly excitement to claim her lost daugther. And Cixi became the guest of honor at lunch instead of the main course.
Winterfest began with the first snows that year. Excited crowds surged around the outdoor stage for the Gnomish Big Night Technologies Show. One magnificent device after the next was demonstrated. But, as the last presentation was announced, the crowd was rent by an ungodly presence.
Kwellin and Blights erupted into the gathering, but before even one arrow was nocked, a score of immense drakes descended upon the WA and in moments, tore the WA all to bits.
Before the Gifted could catch their breath, a large green/gold Dragon marched to the stage and deposited a small rider upon it.
Every eye was on Cixi as she stepped to the podium with a tiny hatchling in tow.
“Dear audience,” she stammered, I am pleased to produce my newest invention, the Dragon Egg Cozy.”
With that, she shook out a quilted cloth and held it up for the crowd to see. In the hush that followed a large green/gold Dragon announced that henceforth the Drakes of the Vandus would be available to escort all crafters.
Cixi was the Heroine of Winterfest and henceforth given the title “Tailor to the Drakes”. She set up her own shop on Copperton, where it can be secretly reported she did almost no tailoring and very much cooking, and lived happily ever after.