Newminor showed great offence. “Just because it is not a sovereign nation, does not mean it is without a name,” he scolded. “My homeland is called Letheria. It lies deep in the heart of the Endless Mountain Range. Hidden behind all the rock and snow is a magnificent high alpine meadow. In its center lies Leaking Lake; a shallow pond which is free of ice only a few months of the year. There my people have lived a hard life inthe intemperate climate. The summer is too short and the soil too poor to grow crops. Every spring, wild herds of all types gather to graze and mate while the water is unfrozen. My people would have a great annual hunt for bucks. Their meat would sustain us through the long winter. The short-lived season would end with a great festival to celebrate the success of the hunt. Great barrels of Racik would be aged from the previous year and brought to the festival. When the barrels were dry, the grasses and roots from the meadow would be gathered to brew the spirits for the next year’s festivities.”
“Being so exposed to the elements, how do your people manage to survive the winter?” Linvin asked.
“The problem with a place like Letheria,” Newminor noted, “is that no amount of seclusion can keep you hidden from your neighbors forever. With the Goblin Nations on one side of the mountains and the Mandrean Empire on the other, it was not uncommon for raiding parties from either side to descend upon the meadow. Though we are a proud people, our numbers and resources have never been great. Combine with that the fact that there was little wood to be found, and we chose to build our society completely underground. Goblins and men would stumble across the land, never knowing that beneath their feet lay our city. There, the bite of winter’s chill had no teeth. My people were safe and could surface when the invaders had left.”
“How is it that no one ever found the entrances to the city?” Rander asked.
“Only a gnome can see the doorways,” Newminor explained. “Living underground for so many generations, we developed much more refined sight than surface-dwellers. We can see what you cannot. We even see in total darkness. Since the first tunnel was dug, only gnomes have entered Letheria.
“Yet you have left Letheria, come through the Mandrean Empire and into the Unclaimed Territory,” Linvin commented. “What drove you to do so?”
Newminor finished his drink and poured another. “When you grow from a child in total darkness, save for a few months here and there, it becomes a strain. I want more from life than living in a hole and hiding like a rabbit. There is a whole world of opportunities and I want my share. In fact, I want many people’s share. When old age has robbed me of my strength, I want to remember that I lived my life on my terms. No person will tell me what to do or where to go. My destiny is in my own two hands,and I would rather die than relinquish that truth.”