The Calling
Written by Community Member Amphar in honor of Okosar the Raconteur

In the beginning, before my home of Ak’Anon was threatened by the shadow of the Bloodmoon, I was a simple clockwork engineer, fresh out of the Academy. It was only a decade after Ak’Anon was opened up to the world, and all I knew was my peaceful life of gears, machinations, and books. The books were what my father objected to.

It is not the norm for a Gnome to dream about faraway adventures. Conventional wisdom is that the Creator, Brell Serilis, frowned on that kind of a life for us. Tinkering is a noble profession, and it should fulfill any reckless desires that might creep into one’s consciousness.

It was a time when a steady stream of great tales started to flood in. There were tales of Steamfont and the Dragonscale Hills, of course. But there were even more faraway places, places that sparked my imagination. I couldn’t get enough of these books.

Everything changed for me one night when I had the most disturbing of dreams. I dreamt the clockworks I spent all day servicing started to crawl on me, to cover me, to dig into my skin, creating an exoskeleton that was slowly choking the life from me. Unlike our beloved King Ak’Anon, however, these machines started to take over my being, and I started to fade away. With a desperate cry, I exploded to cast away the machines, waking up in a cold sweat. The dream troubled me for days before I decided to seek out help from a most wise counselor, an Academy instructor of mine named Julene Urncaller.

She opened a new world to my eyes. “These are premonitions,” she said. “Visions of things that might be. Things that may forever alter our peaceful way of life.” She waved her hand in front of me, and in a flash, the vastness of the world outside of Ak’Anon, outside of Faydwer, outside of Norrath itself made itself known to me. It was almost overwhelming!

My father’s counsel was less enthusiastic. “Part of being a Gnome is knowing your place in the world. A truly heroic being is one who is hard working, contributing to our industrial society, improving our way of life. Gnomes who journey off to pursue self-aggrandization will most certainly awaken what is best left sleeping and stumble into their untimely end!”

I thought to myself as I listened, I have no ambition to stir up Kerafyrm, and then go loping off aimlessly into one ill-conceived adventure after another. Still, I had to learn more about the world that had just opened up to me. I had to see it for myself.

I began my new life just outside of our fine city, in the Steamfont Mountains. Even with friendly outposts and garrisons, it was a dangerous place. Meldrath the Malignant’s shadow cast black over parts of the land. But it was essential to my training and my higher duty to keep my kin safe to pursue the purpose they were created beneath Norrath to fulfill.

I was quite successful in the arts of illusion and creating enchanted objects. It was the adventuring that came slow to me. I struggled to smite all shapes and clans of Kobolds, Gnolls, and Orcs across the vast lands of Norrath, in the old days before so many portals opened up. I made friends along the way, companions who shared goals with me, and I even earned a reputation as a highly competent Enchanter, but it was hard to fight my innate reclusive nature. I would periodically go back to my research, my tinkering, and my enchanting of objects.

Still, slowly but steadily my power grew and I was battling Orcs in the Crystal Caverns. It was there I got news of a frightening development. The Prismatic Dragon, Kerafyrm had been awakened from his imprisonment. I thought back at the warnings that my father had voiced. I gave a shudder. The other news I gleaned from the rumblings of the Orcs during my frozen underground quest was that a new tribe of Orcs had been founded, an offshoot of the Crushbone Orcs I battled long ago. The new faction sent excitement and a little apprehension through the ranks of the Ry’Gorr Orcs. I only once heard them utter the name of their rumored leader, Ralkor Bloodmoon.

Events were combining to nag at my subconscious; I needed to find out whatever other secrets I could, so I left the tunnels beneath Velious. I needed guidance once again, so I returned home only to be met in Steamfont by an army of undead creatures! I fought my way back through, keeping the army at bay and my hometown safe. Perhaps I was beginning to grow learn a few tricks on the battlefield. Once inside my familiar home, the counsel I sought was not of my mentor Julene Urncaller as you might expect, but that of my father.

“Son, I have believed all my life that there was valor in quietly serving your community, in inventing, in maintaining our way of life from the workshops of Ak’Anon.” As he spoke those words, I looked around his workshop, finding artifact after artifact of a lifetime’s work in service of Gnomekind. Then eyed my father, whose eyes had fallen upon my humble sacks of equipment and adventurer’s gear; my artifacts of a lifetime’s work in service of Gnomekind. As our eyes once again met, he simply said, “There are many ways to help our people. You have taught me what valor really means.”

They say you can never go home again, and I realized that while I once fit easily into this comforting place, the place itself can’t hold all the things I’ve learned. Many things happened in quick succession after I returned home. Today, I scuff my feet on the curious xenomorphic rock that serves at the base for Meldrath’s Fortress Mechanotus. I hear a “yelp” from the direction of our scouting party. For a glimmer of a moment, I see myself sitting cozily inside my home, fishing on Lake Tildunk with my father.Then, a million visions of my life whirr by and the words my father spoke of valor catch in my ear. I understand why I must be brave and meet those who threaten my people head on.

So as my companions and I organize ourselves on our foothold in Gyrospire Zeka. The humming is soft, but deafening as we all sense that we are the only heartbeats left in this deathtrap. I can almost feel the machines closing in on me, tighter and tighter. Like my dream….