The gnome did not wear the traditional pointed beard of his people. He was clean-shaven and gave the impression of putting great stock in his appearance. Though certainly not inferring wealth, his clothes were, nonetheless, well-tailored. Colored entirely in blue and gray, he wore what had been a crisp shirt and trousers. Over the shirt were a vest and cloak.
Bander helped the gnome to his feet. “I can manage,” he was told as the gnome slapped his hands away. Stumbling, he managed to stand. He brushed the dirt off his vest and turned his attention to Linvin. “You had no right getting involved in that disagreement!”
“Disagreement?” laughed Rander. “It looked like the only thing they hadn’t agreed on was how they were going to dispose of you.”
“Hey, Buttercup!” the gnome called to Rander. “Do you mind? I was talking to Elf-Man over here. Just keep your mouth shut while the grown-ups talk.”
Rander was incensed “You have some nerve, talking to us like that after we saved your life.”
The gnome calmly walked over and kicked Rander in the shin with his boot. Rander bent down to grab the leg in reaction. Once his head had lowered, the gnome put his mouth by Rander’s ear and screamed. “I didn’t ask for your help! I don’t want your help! When I have something to say to you, I will say it to you! Now sit down and shut up.” The gnome chopped with his open hand at the back of Rander’s knee and the elf fell to the ground.
As Rander rolled around in pain, the gnome walked over to Linvin. “Bit of an annoying one you got there, aye, Elf-Man?”
Linvin was surprisingly amused. “He has his moments, my good gnome, but by and by, he is still my kin. He did not deserve your treatment any more than I believe you deserved the treatment by those men. I do not find your gratitude for our efforts to be in keeping with custom. Perhaps you wish we had not come along when we did?”
The gnome looked each party member in the eyes for a few moments at a time. Bander looked away from the gnome’s brazen stare. Rander was angered but also looked away, turning his attention to his pain. Anvar looked straight back like some curious flower had been brought to his attention. Linvin watched the gnome the entire time and did not blink when their eyes met. As if they had rehearsed, a wicked smile appeared on both their faces at the same time. They looked like they were the only ones in the group knowing the answer to a riddle.