The Fall of the Rebel Angels, Pieter Bruegel the Elder, 1562
After their bizarre experience with the Gnomengarde guards, Dorn and Riordan make their way down the stony hallway and into the inventors’ workshop. They enter the room through an open wooden door to find two gnomes quarreling with each other. “I tell you this sanity ray is our best bet, if only I could get this part to size!” Fibblestib exclaims exasperatedly. He fiddles with the item, one eye closed steadily as the other holds tight a watchmaker’s loupe. “Oh cogs, that won’t work!” declares Dabbledob. “This straitjacket is our best defense!” She guides a mage hand to sew luminous golden thread to a floating velvety coat.
The coat blusters wide as Dorn and Riordan step into the room. The gnomes stop and look up at their visitors. Almost immediately, they rush to them asking questions upon questions about what they think they should do. “Whoa, whoa, slow down,” Dorn says as pushes his hands down towards them taking care to not touch any of the items they are holding. “What is going on here?” “The king has gone mad and taken the king hostage,” they exclaim loudly. Dorn gives a puzzled look and Fibblestib explains further. “We have two kings who are brothers. King Korboz has locked himself away in their chambers while keeping King Gnerkli bound. We are afraid he will do something rash!” “Why?” Riordan asks dully. “Why, because of the shapeshifter, of course!” Dabbledob shrieks in fear darting her eyes about. “Just tell us where the Kings are located and we will speak with him,” Dorn offers. The gnomes tell them that the kings are in their chambers past the throne room just beyond the workshop, and implore them to take care as the shapeshifter has been eating people alive. Dorn and Riordan give each other a side glance of horror but soon stow their reactions and make their way further inside.
Dorn and Riordan walk down yet another stony hallway. It soon opens in the largest chamber yet. The granite walls are draped in heavy dusty curtains and two small rusty metal thrones sit on high at the opposite end. Dorn spies a heavy wooden door to the right of the thrones and knocks loudly with a raised fist. “Identify yourself!” a robust voice bellows. Dorn speaks, “We are Dorn and Riordan. We come from Phandalin on a quest from Harbin Wester. Your inventors, Dabbledob and Fibblestib have asked us to aid you, Your Majesty. They are also concerned about your brother.” “He is fine!” states King Korboz. “I am keeping him safe and secure.” Dorn asks how they can help, and the King declares that they must bring him the corpse of the man-eating shapeshifter. Only then he will open the door and set his brother free. Dorn agrees and they set off to find the creature.
Dorn and Riordan first clear the throne room and then decide to check the only room they saw residing between the workshop and their current position. They find the room to be locked and ask the inventors for help. Dorn lets them know the King Korboz seems sane enough, although he cannot account for his brother and can only take the King’s word for it. He also tells them the King has tasked them with dispatching the shapeshifter and they need to search Gnomengarde in its entirety. The inventors are cautiously optimistic at the news and happily unlock the entrance. The door swings open to reveal Gnomengarde’s treasury. Riordan sighs and thinks to himself, “What a room to search.” The treasury is filled from floor to ceiling with odd objects, golden trinkets, and gaudy jewels. Gold coins, wheels, and gears litter the floor. The two carefully check the room taking care to watch for any signs of life – a breathing goblet, a walking spoon. Riordan locates two functional magic items in their search, a clockwork amulet and pole of collapsing, which he decides to take to use for the task at hand. Everything else seems to be only elements of something greater.
Dorn and Riordan leave the room and lock it behind them, and head down the other hallway leading off from the inventors’ workshop. At its end they find a cavern with small nooks carved out and crammed with small beds. A few gnomes are sleeping huddled with each other next to the central fire which is now smoldering. Dorn and Riordan search the room and wake the gnomes who are obviously terrified of their circumstances. Riordan presents them his sending stone, tells one to keep guard while the others rest, and to use the stone to call them if anything happens. The two leave the sleeping domicile and exit outside to the gully. They decide to start from scratch clearing Gnomengarde from where they first entered.
Although Riordan comes off as blunt, prickly, and irritable, he retains the goodness in his heart. He feels absolute horror at the knowledge of a gnome-eating monster and feels a deep sorrow at the sight of the small gnomes huddled together, tired and afraid. He follows Dorn into situations in which he can help others without question even if he does so with a sour disposition. On the note of not judging a book by its cover, Tamisha Sajnani’s article, “The Eternal Dilemma of Relationships: Actions vs Words” solicits the age-old questions nicely, “What would you rather have: a partner who nags you within an inch of your grave but always takes care of you, or a partner who is sweet as honey but hangs about waiting for you to handle everything?”
Remember that actions speak louder than words for some people. Non-talkers aren’t necessarily disengaged and they often care as much as anyone else. Understand that there are others who enjoy talking to work things out rather than take action. Unfortunately, talkers often overrun non-talkers, especially in meetings and groups. Encourage your people of action to communicate with you and then they may be more inclined to contribute their ideas verbally. Also, invite your talkers to make space for others to contribute, and to listen for understanding, rather than to answer.
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