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The Fall of Gnomeregan

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An Overview

Nenicirene's picture

Gnomeregan. Never forget. Never again.

This is no mere slogan; it is the uniting philosophy of those us who survived the greatest tragedy that has ever befallen gnomekind. In one night, most of my race was killed and our civilization toppled. None of us who survived were unchanged. Some of us deny it, some run from it, some rage in anger, some seal themselves up inside and refuse to come out, and some few try to deal with it and move on as best we can. We all still hurt, but I find that writing about it makes it hurt a little less.

The Objective View

Nenicirene's picture

The details are ultimately somewhat unclear, given that the majority of our population was killed in mere moments and those of us who fled didn't exactly have time to pick up all the official records.

As best as we can reconstruct, under growing pressure of the Trogg's superior numbers, we began to contemplate the possibility that this war was not winnable through conventional tactics. A faction of the Gnomeregan elders backed a plan to evacuate the city and flood the whole thing with short-burst radiation to exterminate our enemies, allowing us to move back in afterwards. However, this faction was lead by High Mekgineer Thermaplugg, who, in retrospect, was a complete raving lunatic.

Either deliberately, by accident, or through sabotage, the doomsday weapon was fired prematurely and incorrectly, instead flooding much of the city with long-term radioactive particles, making it completely uninhabitable and mutating anyone who tries to stay there more than a few hours.

In addition, many of the victims of the disaster succumbed to a leprous brain fever, possibly related to radiation and possibly contracted from Thermaplugg, who appears to have been the first case of Mad Gnome Disease. This disease leaves the victims addled, hallucinatory, and extremely violent, as well as radiation-resistant. We suspect this disease may have its origins in unauthorized bioweapons and germ-line engineering being conducted by Thermaplugg in secret.

In any case, the end result is that our home is now a gaping maw of death, and our people are scattered across the land and forced to live as refugees. Many of the problems we had could have been solved through the judicious application of magical abilities, and we are taking great steps to rectify our former lack of capability in this area, no matter what the elves may think.

My View

Nenicirene's picture

I remember that night quite clearly. I had been up late, as is my habit, working in the laboratory on the gear-drive for an automaton. After swinging by the cafeteria, I was my making my way to the dormitory stairs, a bottle of juice in one hand and a pastry in the other, when the klaxons started sounding. It was the red lights and long blearing of the fire alarms, pulsing to indicate a code 3, fairly serious, on a level below me. We'd gotten used to the yellow of the intruder alarms, what with the troggs raiding us almost nightly. I turned around and began heading up, and was no more than halfway across the nearly-empty dining hall when the green biohazard lights and their accompanying high-pitched wail started pulsing frantically—a code 1, instant death on contact. I dropped my food, and I distinctly heard the sound of the bottle shatter on the metal floor, and I had enough presence of mind to hope that no one would cut themselves on the shards while fleeing. The fire alarms jumped up to a code 2 right after, and I don't remember much of the run up. I guess my adrenaline had kicked in by then, and I was reacting rather than acting.

The next bit that I remember was after I'd gone up the external elevator, and was almost three quarters of the way up the entrance ramp. From deep below me, there came an explosion. I felt the sound of it through the soles of my bare feet, rumbling up from someplace far away. The blue earthquake alarms flashed once, then went dead. I ran even faster, but the blast wave came up the tunnel, a wall of air pushed forward, and knocked me on my face. I think I passed out, but not for long, because when I lifted my sore face from the floor and tried feeling it, the blood was still running from my nose, and I wasn't freezing to death yet. I couldn't hear a damn thing, though. It's strange. Between the bottle shattering and the blast, I don't remember other sounds. There must have been the slap of feet on metal plating and quick puffs of breath and the occasional screaming, but I don't remember it. I remember the sights better, but not the sounds.

I stumbled, bloody and disoriented, up to the mouth of the tunnel, and found a mob of refugees, huddled together for warmth in the snow. No one knew what had happened, was happening, or was going to happen. We were cold and scared and confused. The alarms weren't sounding anymore. In truth, there was no sign of life at all from the black void that had just vomited me up. After the cold had time to work its way into our bones, sharpening our senses again, a general murmur of consent went up that we needed help. Some of us trudged through the night to Brewnall Village, and rousted the local dwarves. They sent runners east to Ironforge to bring relief, and I collapsed by a fire. The next day, I was in the trauma ward in Ironforge; someone must have carried me though the cold. Whoever that was, thank you.

Looking Back

Nenicirene's picture

Nenicirene isn't the name under which I was born. That name was lost the night that Gnomeregan fell, along with everything that had mattered to me up to that point. I didn't name myself after some legendary hero capable of seeking vengeance. I have neither the hubris to think I am legend nor the humility to limit my achievements to those of the past. I just made up a name. No one else has ever had it before, and it fits me. I needed something to call my own, and if I had nothing else it would have to be my name.

There are two possibilities: my family and friends died that night, or they did not. While I do not know for certain, I have come to realize that I prefer the latter. For, had they survived and escaped, they would surely have regrouped with the other survivors at Ironforge, and I would have seen them. Thus, they did not escape, meaning that if they are still alive, they are mad lepers lurking in the bowels of the earth working fervently to destroy all they once held dear. Some fates are, in fact, worse than death.

Looking Out

Nenicirene's picture

I make a lot of jokes about the goggles, claiming that the lack of hygiene of the other races makes my eyes water. Most think it's just a humorous cover-up for my devilish sense of style. The truth of that matter is that it keeps others from seeing me cry. I still do that a lot, but not as much as I used to.

Looking Within

Nenicirene's picture

After the fall of Gnomeregan, I began having nightmares of being trapped there, unable to flee. By sheer force of will, I found that I was able to keep the nightmares away, but then I didn't dream at all. Between nightmares and oblivion, I choose the former. Once you stop dreaming, what is left?

Looking for Love

Nenicirene's picture

I think you will find that many of us are not ready to start relationships at this point in time. The Gnomeregan disaster, in which we lost nearly everyone we ever loved or knew, is still too fresh in our minds. Time must pass to heal these wounds of the spirit. Though, unlike some, I am still sociable and spend time with other people, I am not yet willing to risk my heart on a new relationship that could so quickly end in this tumultuous world. Perhaps when I meet the right gnome my mind shall change…

Very interesting....hehe been browsing through your site ever since you posted the link on my thread. The story, and your story itself is really intriguing, and I've learned a lot about gnomish culture. Again...very nice site you have here.

Looking Beyond

Nenicirene's picture

I have written before of how I survived the Fall of Gnomeregan by the barest of margins. While thinking about this matter of late, I have had an insight. I didn't survive that night. I died.

I'm not entirely sure why I never realized it before. I guess it must just be that that was my first death, and I did not yet know that it was possible to transcend mortality or what the experience felt like. I had heard of the great heroes of the distant war coming back from beyond the grave to lead on their armies, but had dismissed it as mere exaggeration and propaganda tied on to stories of near-total defeats and pyrrhic victories. I had not yet realized that presence of the Burning Legion had warped our reality and rent the shroud between the quick and the dead.

I just sat down to work out the numbers. I'd never done it before, because I must have known what I would find. It's obvious enough to anyone with even a smattering of engineering know-how. That blast wave that came up the tunnel and caught me should have crushed me like a bug, and it did. I was smashed against the plate-iron floor with enough force to turn my brain to jelly.

However, I've always been a stubborn one. I wasn't about to let some stupid explosion kill me, not with the dumb name I had then and not with that broken bottle of juice still needing to be cleaned up before someone stepped on it. (I have also realized that that bottle is one more reason why I have never returned to Gnomeregan. For all my rational intellect, a part believes that I can never truly die as long as I have a task left on this world, and that bottle is the first task that I left unfinished, and shall be the last.)

The chill that I felt wasn't just the snow and the wind—it was my spirit lost on the wrong side of the shroud. I must have instinctively clawed my way back into my body and forced it up, still bleeding, and stumbled the rest of the way out of the passage. Now that I think about it, perhaps no other gnome actually survived the tragedy. All of us who are left may simply be those too mean, too stubborn, or too stupid to stay rightly dead.

Since that night, I've died countless times. It's down to just a tickle. I have accepted death as a part of me and transcended it. All around me, the land is filled others who have done the same. What once mighty heroes alone did is now commonplace. Yet, not all people have the will to fly back and forth between the lands of blood and bone. I met on my travels those who weep for others lost, and I have not the heart to tell them they lost their loves for lack of will. I meet sad ghosts who mourn for their forgotten lives, yet do not know how to crawl back into their carcass and urge it to life once again. I meet undead who only partly completed the process, and hang halfway between life and death, rotting and walking at the same time. All of them I pity, and it fills me with sorrow, for though I may be beyond death, I am not yet beyond life.

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