Rebellion began to simmer that night, and Echesii had felt it tugging at her stomach the moment Gheron had approached her. It wasn't the brash recklessness of the pursuit that troubled her, nor the foolishness she perceived in rash action. No, it was the fact that this had all come from Gheron; Gheron, who she had always regarded as, if anything, measured in his approach to action despite his dour nature. Much of it, she suspected, was because this was family, and in these days when so little family was left that would be important. His intensity had thrown her off, made her uneasy even, and so she had stepped out. Or, at least, she had stepped out of Gheron's peripheral vision. In retrospect, she had thought it best to keep her promise and to help, and though she still felt uneasy and wobbly she had formulated the first broad strokes of a plan after the heat of the fight with Gheron had cooled.
Still, the novelty of the approach that had presented itself was a strange sensation, and it tickled the back of her mind. She was nothing if not the curious sort, a wanderer by nature, and the initial spark of anger that had followed presentation of conditions for heading up the Wolves had quickly subdued into a dull, nagging curiosity. In her mind she pictured a map, the ghosts of landmasses and truths outlined in only the most cursory ways. It was her job to fill in the blank edges of that map; to find definition. Then, she assumed, she would understand why the old vindicator had talked of a dead Draenei named Ursankov and why she should honor his pledge to help a small gnome named Klangklang.
It was all tied in, she knew. Not neatly so, life was full of jagged puzzle pieces that never quite fit, but well enough to form a coherent narrative of the last few years or so of life for all those involved.
“This is the place.”
Echesii blinked, falling back into herself. The human looked at her curiously, and she felt large and uncomfortable. Gnomes and Dwarves were easy enough to adapt to fit her model of height -- she could picture them as “small” in comparison -- but humans were just tall enough to make her feel gigantic.
Uneasily, she shifted her weight from one hoof to another as she translated his words in her head.
The human motioned to the tiny, dilapidated wagon that sat by the graveyard outside the human town of Lakeshire. It had obviously been abandoned for some months, if not years.
“He paid me not to haul this hunk of garbage off,” the man was saying. “I haven't seen him around for a good long while. Been even longer since the old gnome was around.”
“Yeah, the little fella used to live with an old gnome. I think they were related.”
Echesii didn't understand every word the man had said, but she got the gist.
“Want me to open it up?”
The man fumbled with the rusted padlock for a moment, and then with a surprising crack, it opened and tumbled into the red soil.
She felt commitment lodge in her chest. In moments such as these she pictured herself as a stone wheel rolling down hill. At first, the wheel was slow and unsteady, easily driven off track by the uneven slope, or maybe even toppling altogether. But, if it held it picked up speed and steadied itself, and once it reached a certain point it was almost impossible to stop.
“I looked through once or twice, myself,” the man said sheepishly. “Just a lot of junk that I guess only a gnome would find important.”
Echesii ignored him, hunching over as far as she could to enter the small wagon. The whole affair was rickety, and without any upkeep the wagon had sprung several leeks, bulging the wooden frame and floor planks. The smell of old, rotting wood filled her nose. Otherwise, the place was immaculate, and despite the fact that she couldn't even begin to fathom what most of the devices and contraptions strewn across the tables and counters actually did she was certain that each was in it's proper place.
Vaguely, she felt like she was disturbing a tomb, the final resting place of a group of people that had passed knowing sorrow. Quietly, she resolved to work quickly, to not disturb anything, or to greatly offend whatever rituals gnomes held to honor their homes.
It took only a moment of painful shuffling to reach the back of the wagon, and there, stuffed under a pile of what could only be schematics, she found the leather bound book. With some effort she managed to turn around and exit the wagon without tipping over or disturbing anything.
“Find it?” the man asked outside.
“Well, do me a favor and lock up when you're done.”
She nodded again and smiled.
For a long moment she watched him go, feeling large and clumsy again. Then, sitting down on the uneven wooden steps of the wagon she blew dust off of the cover of the book, glancing down curiously at the cracked leather cover. It was right where the vindicator had said Ursankov had placed it.
The Journal of Tiktok.
It began with a Gnomish ritual called The Naming Ceremony, a younger sister, and a brutish race called the Troggs.
In the back of her head, Echesii felt the wheel begin to pick up speed.