“Library’s closing young Master Greysproket… take any volumes you need to the librarian please.”
Mortimer pulled at the navy blue trousers that were a little too large for him (they had halfling size, it had to do for Gnomes), and tucked the grimoire that weighed more than he did under his arm, he had to lean his entire body to the right to move toward the desk with the book.
“I’m sorry young mister, but you can’t check out this book from the library, it’s only for journeyman magi and above. It’s from the top stacks.”
“Yeah, y’er not wrong, I hadda climb 3 shelves!”
“Well I’m afraid that was rather to discourage youngsters to seek out such material…”
“Miss, I could be 65 years old and I ain’t gettin’ up der… that’s just hightest!”
“Oh NO! I mean we would never, I mean, we have many Gnome…. What I mean to say is… I need to lock up.”
Master Greysprocket nodded and made his way out before the flustered librarian. She wished him well, and was so concerned she might have come across as insensitive, she missed any sense of deception on the young boys face.
2 hours after dark; Master Greysprocket’s silent gnomish feet padded down the corridor, he’s had a mage hand the lock behind him, and now the library was at peace.
He raised a hand to the door, magically warded, of course. He was just beginning his magical studies, and couldn’t have broken the spell in a month. Which of course was the point, no man could crack the lock, no magi could travel through the wards. Thankfully, he was no Man.
Taking the tiniest of Tinker’s Tools, given to him by his Grandfather (a Gnome said to have invented a machine that could receive the mind of a living creature), Mortimer set his adeptly dexterous 3 fingered hands to work on the lock. It clicked in under a minute.
He made his way over the top stacks, climbed 5 levels, and pulled down a book nearly as large as himself. Such dexterity and awareness should have been impossible for an interloper, but a City Gnome was more than adept enough… after all, that was why 90% of those that remained were pressed into military service as guerrilla warfare specialists – a fate he knew awaited him. All the more reason to amass this knowledge now.
He opened the Grimoire.
3 fingered hands flicked through the pages till they arrived at the first page he’d discreetly marked:
The two faiths that drive forward the war machines of our survival is the Citadel and Free States belief in the power of the Queen of the Shining Citadel vs the Cult of Acererak
both sides know these two faiths to be demonstrably true, as they are the powers that protect either side from the attacks of the other. In such a way our lives are given in the service of our protector Sorcerer Lords. Our worship is vital for the war effort, and treaties to the contrary should be considered to be detrimental to the survival of the Shining City
Mortimer threw the book aside, what use was information is if wasn’t truth, just manipulation?
And so he climbed.
Two hours later he had the oldest book he had been able to find in the whole citadel before him:
“The Magi that conceived the barrier made their choice under the prehistoric moral imposition imposed on them by the now dead monotheistic religion of the time. Of this, little is known. History books carried over from the past world, such as they are, speak of a single ‘god’, a being beyond this plane, standing in judgement over all mortals at their end. Unhappy to let them do whatever they need to survive, instead imposing strict moral values on the mortals.
It is telling that this/these gods (as some scripts deal with them as two) are clearly dead and gone by the Common Era of our history books record. There is no record from their practitioners, of any trace of their influence lending boons to their practitioners (indeed there are non). Nor of their indecipherable moral code being enforced on any of the contemporary peoples.
At this time of study the recorded religions are the Worship of the Goddess Queens of the Shining City. The Old Ways still regarded by some Elves and Gnomes. The Neon Gods, as worshiped by what remains of the Dwarves in the subways, and of course, the beliefs of the Battle Mages, who put magi and demi liches above all else.
That the Gods before the barrier are dead now show they were either fictitious, or wiped out by powerful magics….”
Mortimer collapsed back on his heels and fell to his back, giggling, a thousand years hence, he finally answered the question that had haunted him as a small boy: what had killed the Gods?
He had! He and his conspirators in the East,they had wished the Gods unto death, he was the answers to all he sought as a child. He and those he fought along side had killed the gods and defined the world he would grow up in, the world that would shape him.
Well except for this one… Jack-shaped… wrinkle
“Be careful what you wish for”…