The Apocalypse of Yesterday
“The flash precedes the thunder.”
The story of the whisper gnomes can only be understood fully if one accounts for their creator, a truly ancient blue dragon known as Midnight in the legends which still remember its dark glory. Despite being the de facto ruler of the ancient lands which would only later be known as Ahaba and having plunged them into an eternal night with its dark magic, Midnight was eventually defeated by the champions of yore. However, they never found his hoard, and this ensured that the blight of Midnight remained. For while death robbed the dragon of the edge of its once unchallenged power, it offered the great wyrm another chance. Fueled by its lust for vengeance and the dark magic it had managed to gather, Midnight was returned to the world as a vampiric being of shadow. Its spell broken and its body trapped underneath the lands blessed by the sun god, the vampiric dragon was unable to take flight. Instead, it waited. It waited until a few foolhardy but ingenious gnome archaeologists managed to locate its hoard, on which it had rested for centuries. Instead of killing these poor beings outright, it used the opportunity they presented to its advantage. Instead of consuming or converting the gnomes into its thralls, Midnight exerted the beguiling influence granted to it by undeath. It commanded the gnomes to find more of their brethren and to bring them to it. Once they did, the dragon began a studious breeding program which integrated deep gnomes, surface gnomes and Midnight’s dark magic. Eventually, it managed to achieve a perfect balance: beings which would pass for their surface-dwelling kin but be creatures of shadow at heart. Because the dragon had learnt patience over the centuries, it indoctrinated these servants to act as its eyes, its ears and its claws in the world above, and their mission was to remain unheard of, always but a momentary flash of a deadly blade at most.
Thus, the whisper gnomes came to existence. Midnight was eventually thwarted and this time, the heroes did locate and loot its hoard. Although their draconic master was now gone, its creations remained. Over the years, they built their own culture on the remains of the dragon’s lair. This city of shadows was named according to its former master, Midnight. Some of the gnomes would prophecy the return of Midnight upon the return of its treasure. Others would finally clear their throats and assume interaction with other races (despite instinctively remaining secretive).
While the beginning of the end did affect the ranks of the whisper gnomes, their numbers were never great and thus, the loss was not nearly as impactful as it was to many others. However, it did allow a coup which helped the followers of the dead dragon assume control of the city. Those who disagreed with them were forced to venture into the outside world… but the cultists of Midnight also sent many of their own into the ruined world in order to retrieve the lost treasure now that its guardians had likely been crippled by the apocalypse.
The whisper gnomes are heavily divided in their attitude towards their progenitor. Many revere the ancient dragon as a god, and not all of these followers are cultists which wish to see their master revived. Some simply express their gratitude towards their creator despite accepting that Midnight was a terrible force of evil which should never be returned to this world. Others even study the instructions Midnight gave to its slaves in the past and attempt to build a philosophy for their race using these commandments as a guideline. However, most of those who defy the dragon’s fanatical worshipers refuse to revere Midnight. Instead, many find solace in the enlightenment provided by The Dreaming Dark and even other ancient gods such as Armed. No whisper gnome worships Azael, however, because they remain creatures of shadow and despite surviving under the sun, they scorn its radiance.
The primary objective of whisper gnomes is to secure a place for themselves in the hostile world they now encounter. Some choose to accomplish this by clinging to their original purpose; others seek to carve a niche for themselves among the remaining people who have for the most part been forced to immigrate into the shadows these gnomes know so well. The cultists of Midnight attempt to bring together their deceased master’s hoard in order to revive the terrible dragon but other whisper gnomes have become the unsung champions of those hiding from the horsemen and other dangers which stalk the lands.