Gnomes. What do you think of when you think of gnomes? You may think they are small silly little creatures, capable of chopping wood, and doing other minor ways. But you would be wrong, at least in some ways. You see some gnome villages are very different than others. Some gnome villages live on fish and berries, some live on bunnies and squirrels. But one thing every village of gnomes has in common. They work hard, and they work together. You see a lot of people underestimate gnomes. This story may change your viewpoint, it may not. But one thing you must gain by reading this story is do not underestimate a race you do not know a lot about. This is a story of one gnome, named Tiel, who changed the lives of many people. Some for the better, and well, let us not get into that. This story centers around Tiel while he travels on one of the numerous adventures he will have in his lifetime. It all started one day at Tiel's home.

The village of Littlewood. Oh what a site to be seen. The grass huts of Littlewood are laughable at first glance. They look poorly designed on the outside, but step inside the grass huts of Littlewood, and you will think differently. The matter of deception is simply done by covering the intricate details of the huts with grass. Wooden support beams, a thick, sturdy clay lining, and rocks are the base of the huts. All placed with the utmost care. Cover it all with grass and it looks like a simple design, but the people of Littlewood know better, and that is the art of gnome deception.

The village itself was constructed deep within a vast forest. Being hidden so deeply inside brought a certain level of comfort when living in, or visiting the gnome village.

The main hall, the Dulduan. This was a place of worship. You see, this particular gnome village, people did not worship one god, as many of the gnome villages did. The Dulduan was a place for all gods. Hundreds of gnomes would kneel at it's many alters and prey to whichever gods they wish. Some gnome villages were like Littlewood, but they had separate places of worship for separate gods. The forest surrounding Littlewood had many ponds and marshes surrounding it. Little wooden bridges were made so those who wished to cross could.

The children of Littlewood were not so different from other gnome villages. They played in the forest, made tree forts out of wood and brush. Frolicked in the grasslands where many trees were cut down to construct defenses or housing. Now do not think of the gnomes to hurt the forest by cutting down all of the trees, for they did not. The gnomes always replaced every tree they cut down. It was a humorous site to see gnomes cut down a tree. It took four to ten gnomes to cut down a tree, depending on the tree size. They would start four at a time, chopping with much energy with their tiny axes. After the first four got tired, other took their place. The unique thing about Littlewood was the way the children would choose what they weapon they would specialize in. You see in most villages, the parents of the children would choose what weapon they would wield. Most villages would think nothing of it, thinking it to be a rather minor thing in a person's life. But in Littlewood, once they were old enough, the children chose for themselves. Mastery of swords, daggers, scimitars, or maces. They would choose what they wanted to train in. For Littlewood it was a great tradition. The numerous blacksmiths' of Littlewood were always happy to forge such weapons for the children and men alike. The training center for the children was separated from the training center for grown gnomes. They were simple, yet effective. Large open spaces littered with practice dummy's and targets for the people of Littlewood to hone their chosen skill. The children and men alike of Littlewood trained feverishly, as if expecting a grand battle to come the next day.

The women of Littlewood took the food the men gathered throughout the day and prepared it for Eveningfeast. They skinned rabbits, raccoons, deer, and squirrels. They prepared berries and nuts. They cleaned the clothing of the men after a hard day's work. The town of Littlewood was a grand sight indeed. A bustling ever-growing community of gnomes, all working toward a common goal. Inside one certain home in the village, a young gnome awoke from a restful nights sleep. "Tiel! Rouse yourself boy!" a voice shouted from another room. Tiel opened his sleep-glazed eyes, and immediately leaped out of bed. Tiel was very excited, for this was the day him and his brothers picked the weapons they would wield for quite some time. This was an ancient tradition to the people of Littlewood. Everyone who was ever born in the confines of the village went through it. Tiel exited his room, fully dressed now, to see his brothers ready for their duties.

The whole family exited the house and headed towards the town center. The barrage of weapons that lay in it was amazing. Scimitars, long swords, short swords, daggers, scimitars, and maces. All lined up and ripe for the picking.

The four brothers walked eagerly down the narrow path between houses before seeing all the weapons lay out. There were many onlookers to the ceremony, including two village elders, who have watched every ceremony since their own. They motioned for the boys to come near. "Pick what you would like to wield, young men." one of the elders said loudly. The first brother immediately grabbed a long sword. (Long in gnome terms, that is.) The second grabbed a mace. The third brother hesitated for a moment, then picked up a short sword. The onlookers stared at Tiel. Now it was his turn to choose.

Tiel smiled, turned to the two elders and said, "I want to train with a bow."

Onlookers started talking quietly. Tiels father, a blacksmith who was trained in the art of swordsmanship, turned to Tiel and said "Tiel, you know bow is not an option."

You may be confused about why bows are not a weapon of choice for gnomes. It is very simple. The people of Littlewood's tradition said they were not to be used. And that is that.

"I'm not one to question tradition, father, but I will make my own bow.", Tiel said proudly.

The elders exchanged glances. Tiel's parents looked at him in horror. "Choose a weapon that is laid out for you and be happy with it son!" Tiels mother pleaded.

Tiel shook his head. All of these weapon choosing ceremonies have passed without incident since they have started, so no one knew what to say when this boy wanted to train with a weapon that gnomes do not usually train with. Tiel did not care. He did not have the desire to wield swords or scimitars. He longed for the gracefulness of a bow. Sending arrow after arrow with lightning and accuracy at the target of his choice. He wanted to be one of the few gnomes who wielded bows. This ceremony may seem unimportant to you, but this was a tradition held down for thousands of years of Littlewood culture. This was set in stone.

Tiel expected his parents to be mad and disappointed. But they would get over it, he thought. If they didn't, then they truly didn't understand or care about him. At least that's what Tiel's views were.

When they got home, Tiel's brothers did not say a word. His parents went straight into their bedroom, not speaking.

Padun, Tiel's older brother by fourteen minutes, snickered and said "You just had to be difficult, huh Tiel?"

Tiel remained silent. Tiel's brothers went into their rooms with their new weapons and their new sense of pride just as their mother stormed into the room Tiel occupied.

"Tiel, I cant believe you would embarrass us like that!", she screamed. "I know we said you could choose any weapon, but we meant of what was out there!"

Tiels face tightened.

"But I don't want to use those weapons.", Tiel said bluntly.

His mother stomped out of the room angrily.

"Your not leaving this house!", she added.

As Tiel sat in his room, he longed for night to fall. Tonight he would sneak out of his room, and gather wood to make his weapon. One of the reasons gnomes do not use bows is because of the size of their race. Tiel thought because the blacksmiths made specially sized swords for their town, he could make a specially sized bow. Tiel did not know what the all the big fuss was about. He did not break tradition, in a sense.

Everything must be done in perfect order, exactly how his parents said it had to be done, or he would suffer great consequences. So you could imagine their anger and disappointment they felt.

But Tiel was still a boy. The ceremony when the child reaches twelve summers. In the case of Tiels family's children, they all reached that point at basically the same time, because all 4 children were born 23 minutes apart from each other.

When night fell, Tiel opened his window very slowly and very silently. He did not want to face his parents if he got caught. Tiel slipped out of his window and crept away from his home. He quietly made his way through Littlewood. Lurking through the shadows.

The watchmen in their tower weren't even faced out to the village. They were jabbering on about how many deer they saw the night before. Some sentry's, to pass time during the night, counted how many deer they could spot in a night. They tried to beat the other sentry's. Tiel slipped silently passed the tower unnoticed, and made his way out of Littlewood to find the perfect pieces of wood that would be his new weapon.

When Tiel finally found all the wood he needed to make several bows and even arrows, he set back for home ever so silently. After making it back safe and sound, he started feverishly whittling his new weapons.

When the second bow and about ninety arrows were finished, Tiel began to get very tired. Whittling two bows and ninety arrows to someone Tiel's age would be a very very difficult task. But Tiel was well beyond most people in his village when it came to whittling. Tiel was startled at the fact that the sun had begun to rise. He has been working so hard to complete his task that he had completely lost track of time.

Tiel, satisfied that his work was completed, gazed out his window. The village of Littlewood was a grand site to see, especially at sunrise. The few spots of water that inhabited Littlewood turned a bright orange when the rising sun hit them. Tiel looked out his windows and sighed. He liked his village, but longed for a change of scenery. With his parents being so overprotective, he never even had the chance to go exploring, except in the woods outside his village.

He could easily sneak out during the night and explore the cities around him, but fearing his parents punishment so much, he never did. Suddenly he heard his mother's voice. "Tiel, I talked with Sagidus, you can pick another weapon tommor- she was cut off when she was what was in Tiel's room.

Tiel tried to hide the wood shavings, bows, and arrows. But could not hide it all in time. Tiel's mother's face had become an angry frown.

"Tiel, this is foolishness! You're not going to use a bow, OK!" she screamed.

She took one of the bows and snapped it in half. She reached for the other one but Tiel grabbed it and back away toward the window.

"Tiel, stop this or you'll never leave this house!" She hissed.

"No, mom, I'm using this bow, whether you like it or not. The tradition (a cocky tone in his voice.) was for the children to choose what they wanted to use, isn't it?" Tiel screamed, the rage apparent on his face.

"If you don't want me to use this here, then I'll go somewhere else."

That said, Tiel jumped out the window and started running away from the village.

His mother's face showed nothing but shock.

~ ~ ~ Chapter 2

Not looking back, Tiel ran until his legs and lungs burned like the heat of a thousand fires. He collapsed on the forest floor and let out a sigh of relief. He was finally free of his overprotective parents, his conniving brothers, and was free to do what he wanted. Tiel decided this was for the better. Tiel had no friends in Littlewood, and was never in any rush to make them. He has his own adventures. In the forest or in his village, Tiel never had a problem keeping busy. He started walking again. After a while his stomach grumbled, and he remembered he had not had breakfast. He eyed his bow. Tiel strung up his bow and pulled back an arrow. He tested his new weapon on several trees, missing all of his shots. "I guess i'll have to practice more." He grumbled to himself. He practiced shooting the trees for a little over two hours, until he was happy that his aim had gotten better. Tiel decided to take aim upon a squirrel that was running across a tree limb. The arrow flew harmlessly by and fell on the ground. The squirrel turned to Tiel and chattered loudly, running off. "Oh no you don't!" Tiel yelled. Stringing up another arrow he let go of his hold on the bow. The arrow took flight, landing in the squirrel's stomach, sending him flying to the ground. It died instantly.

Tiel grabbed his catch, overjoyed. He had been running and practicing for some time now, the sun had begun to set. In all the time Tiel had spent in the forest, he learned to build a very quick and efficient fire. He gathered the wood, and set up his campsite. When the fire was set, Tiel started roasting the squirrel over the open flame. He rested his feet by the fire while his dinner cooked, warming his fuzzy toes. It was fall, and it got noticeably cold at night. A far cry from what it would be in 2 months, but cold nonetheless.

As he ate his dinner, he thought of how his brothers would think of his absence. His thoughts drifted from his brothers to his mother and father. "Good Riddance!" he muttered to himself and fall fast asleep.

Tiel awoke to the sound of birds chirping. He felt the brisk wind against his face. Tiel was overjoyed, for it was his first day away from his brothers and his overprotective parents. He didn't know where he was going. He just wanted to explore. Tiel walked through the forest at a slow pace. He walked slow enough to enjoy his surroundings, but fast enough to keep away from anyone his parents might send after him. It did not matter though; Tiel knew these wood like the back of his fuzzy little hand. When Tiel was ten he ran away from home because he broke a table his mother had for generations. Not even the guards on horseback could find him. He stayed in the confines of the woods for two weeks, living on berries and building fires. He knew the town would be in an uproar trying to find him, thinking he may be dead. He finally went back because he knew his parents would be worried sick. Tiel's parents didn't let him out of his room for six months except to eat and go to the Dulduan.

Maybe Tiel's parents were so strict because he was constantly disobeying them, going off on all night adventures when he knew he had to be home before dinner time. Maybe it was the constant bickering with his brothers, or him always disappointing them, he thought. But when Tiel thought about it more, he cursed his parents for being so hard on him, he was still a kid.
Tiel and his brothers were always in competition. Tiel's brothers could chop more wood, pick more berries, and carry more water buckets than him. His brothers had the brawn, but he had the brains.

Tiel always knew that he was smarter than his brother, but he never pointed out. He could build better and more efficient fires, survive in the woods for weeks on end starting with nothing, but he pushed all those thoughts away. All he cared about now is exploring the world, finding adventure, and being free to do what he wanted. The morning was a cold one. Soon snow would be falling and he would have a very hard time surviving if he didn't make it to a town, even for him.

Littlewood was different than other villages. Other villages were built somewhat close to another town, or far away with easy access. But not Littlewood, Littlewood was built a hundred or more miles from any other towns in all directions.

Tiel hastened his pace a little. It could snow any day now, and if it did it would be very difficult to build a fire, hunt, or find clean water. Rabbits and squirrels were all over the place, and Tiel thought of killing a couple now for his meal tonight. He decided that would just add unnecessary weight and he would deal with food when the time came. He walked until the sun was almost all the way down, for he had a keen eye and could easily find firewood in the dark. To exhausted to look for food, Tiel gathered wood and built a fire. He was asleep in minutes.

Tiel had been walking for a little over a week now, and in the upcoming day, he would reach the city of Reldon. Tiel was very excited to get there. The neat thing about the gnome race is that, unlike elves and dwarves, they were not discriminated against by humans. The humans thought of gnomes as shy, timid little creatures that posed no threat to them. Of course they were wrong. He awoke and jumped out of bed immediately to continue his journey. He jumped over gigantic fallen trees, ran across huge puddles, and ran through vast grass fields. Finally, he reached his destination. The city of Reldon.