Note to reader:
Don’t be surprised if you find many of these tales starting with Grum waking up. Waking is an important part of a gnome’s life, as it’s a frequent occurrence. Should you be interested, I could go into detail about a gnome’s sleep, but I think Grum’s dreams may be a bit too abstract to capture your attention at this stage.
Nevertheless, Grum has been insisting on telling me his entire life story, and no details are too small apparently. He says he has nothing better to do than to keep me entertained, but I suspect he’s trying to teach me a lesson or two. And unlike other gnomes, I reckon he is getting quite discontent sitting around in a frozen state all day. He says a gnome can only be petrified once in his lifetime, and he’s actually looking forward to being able to stay awake for as long as he likes when he de-petrifies. Until then, I suppose he will have to be content conversing with me.
Now, on with the story.
Grum opened his eyes. Normally, waking in the darkness wasn’t much to get excited about. It simply indicated that Father Sun had not yet crested the horizon, which meant going straight back to sleep was not only the most socially acceptable option, but also the most advisable. Yet something was off. His stomach always grumbled at noon, and it was growling like a leprechaun who had lost a bet.
Grum tried to sit up, but his nose was smashed against something smooth, hard, and round. He hadn’t even noticed the weight before that moment. Waking in this condition might make any other fae cringe in fear, but gnomes aren’t the fearful type.
Grum worked his hands around the surface of the object and huffed when he realized what it was . . . a beetle napping on his face. Whether or not this was the same beetle Neevya had been looking for he did not know, but he thought it highly likely.
“I’m not a faerie,” Grum said, “and you’ll find that out soon enough when I give you a good wallop. Now get off my head you great ugly thing. I can’t see past the end of my nose, and in my experience that’s where all the interesting stuff happens.”
It was unclear if the insect understood the threat or not, but it crawled away nonetheless. The beetle was an ordinary looking insect with a shiny black shell and a tiny head with mandibles that chattered back and forth.
“If you’re who I think you are, I’ll have you know your mistress is looking for you,” Grum said. “You’d better be on your way. There’s important faerie business to be done. Not to mention all the important gnome business that you woke me from. Now scram.”
The beetle swiveled a beady black eye in the gnome’s direction and, in the only way possible for a creature with no face (to speak of), gave Grum a pitiful look.
“Don’t play coy with me. I’m not going to help you,” Grum said, already plotting where he was going to lie down next. The wind was picking up, so he thought somewhere sheltered might be nice. “I told your mistress I’d send you back if I saw you. Last I saw she was over by the king’s palace. Go over there and I’m sure you’ll find her, or she’ll find you, one or the other.”
As Grum removed his hat from his head, he could feel the mournful stare the beetle bore into his back. Grum reached inside his hat, pulled out a nice chewy piece of bread, and poured himself an acorn full of ambrosia. After dipping his bread into his drink, he took a bite and turned back to the beetle.
Click click click
“I’m going to regret this,” Grum mumbled as he tossed a piece of bread to the ground.
The beetle gobbled it down.
Grum took a large bite and tossed the remaining bread to the beetle. Then he slung his gnomestool over his shoulder. Again he felt the beetle’s stare. Grum shifted the gnomestool so he could carry it without much effort, adjusted his hat, and started walking, mumbling all the while. He didn’t have to look over his shoulder to know that the beetle was waiting for an invitation.
Grum stopped, turned around, and asked, “Well, what are you waiting for?”
Before that moment, Grum never knew beetles could smile. Even more astonishing, Grum didn’t know he could smile.
Short but sweet! Next Wednesday brings an adventure!