198 Chapter 195 Gnorma Zaaka from Wabafetnation
"God?" she squeaked, scrambling to her feet.
"I was just intending to come get the map, and then leave, because I have an entire world to save, but your god asked me specifically to save your city, and to raise it to the surface. I won't do that though, if I don't get my map. Your god might be a little ticked with you, as well," said Joseph, sticking his hands into his pockets with a shrug.
She licked her lips and glanced around him at the map room, obviously thinking hard. "Follow me, she said, beckoning them with one hand as she moved further into the library.
Stella raised an eyebrow as they moved to follow her. Joseph kept an eye out for any types of traps, but didn't see anything. He couldn't put his finger on what was giving him a feeling of unease, but he wanted to make sure whatever it was, he wasn't caught off guard.
The door she opened was small for a gnome, and thus almost impossible for them, but they managed, getting down on their knees and crawling through it. The hall on the other side was short, and then the following room opened up again, allowing them an opportunity to stand unimpeded.
Joseph looked around as the gnome started lighting the oil lamps around the room.
As the room filled with light, far better than the lamps ever had a prayer of providing, the gnome stopped and went to turn off the ones she had lit. Joseph ignored her, though, as he slowly turned, taking in the immense map that this room offered. The walls and ceiling had been carved to form the inside of a sphere. This map didn't just show one area, it showed the entire world, at least, the world as it was known several hundred years ago. Joseph was able to match this map up almost perfectly with what he had seen from space.
"This room was built for me, when I was tiny, by my father, to keep me from messing with things," said the gnome. "No one was ever allowed to go in here, except for me."
"So nice of you to share it," sneered Stella, before stepping back when Joseph glanced at her. He knew that she was just voicing his own thoughts, but he wanted her to be a bit more diplomatic.
"Hey, I don't have to be nice to you. You're not the savior," sneered the gnome right back, putting her hands on her hips. "You're just a lackey puppet that follows him around like a needy golem."
Joseph grabbed Stella's arm as she went still. He was suppressing her killing aura from actually harming the little gnome, and gave her a warning look. She took a breath and the aura went away, then she stepped into his shadow and disappeared.
The gnome gasped in surprise.
"Please don't antagonize my fiancé," he warned in a low voice. "She doesn't have a problem stepping on bugs."
"Where did she go?" asked the gnome in a whisper.
"She's venting her anger at your idiotic words. I don't think you want her around here, for a while."
"You can do magic. The prophecy never mentioned that."
"And I don't imagine you have had any form of diplomacy training, as a royal child should. Who are you really?"
She paused in shock, then hung her head. Reaching up, she pulled a comb from her hair, and her entire form changed.
"My name is really Zaaka, but I've been pretending to be the late princess Gnorma, so if you would please use that name, so that no one finds out…"
"Where did you come from? You're not even a gnome," Joseph said, looking over her dark brown skin.
"I'm not a gnome, I'm a brownie. I come from a tribe that was known as the Wabafetnation. I got trapped down here when the city was sunk. I can't leave the royal grounds without getting attacked by the main barrier around the city."
"How long has the royal family been dead?" he asked.
"It's been almost a hundred years. I pretend to be some of them, moving around where the normal gnomes can see me, so they don't know, but only because they would stop sending food through the barrier. I can't do any of the tinkering that they can do, it just doesn't make any sense to me."
"Did they know about you?" asked Joseph.
She nodded. "I was given this comb by the king, so I could pretend to be one of the royal family when they started getting sick, so no one would panic. Gnorma was the last to die, making me promise to keep pretending to be her. We were best friends before she…"
The brownie looked miserable, but Joseph didn't care. She was playing her part, for sympathy. Turning to leave, he used magic to enlarge the door and hall, so he didn't have to squirm back through. He had been hesitant before, not knowing what he might be damaging. She was quick to follow him, when she realized he didn't care about her theatrics.
"Where are you going?" she asked, panting as she ran to keep up. Her legs were still just as short as a gnome, despite her appearance changing to that of a brownie.
"I'm going to raise the city to the surface. I want the reward the god of the gnomes promised me."
She paused only long enough to replace the comb and make herself look like a gnome again, before rushing to catch up to him.
"Do you know what reward you're going to get?"
"Nope, but it better be good, for the crap I had to put up with from you," he said, without looking back. He half expected her to say something nasty in return, but she seemed content with his harsh words, and managed to keep pace with him as he arrived at the center of the city.
Rubbing his hands together, Joseph looked at the barrier over their head and prepared to move a lot of rock and dirt.