What's all this barmy stuff?
Want to find out what has been forgotten in the Styx?
Not enough barminess for you?
And today, on this lovely day in the middle of Retributus, we have an event like no other. An event marked by, well, not really much, but an event nonetheless. An event postponed for a year, while both parties rallied themselves for the awesome and final conflict, to determine finally which race is best: gnome (of the tall variety), or kobold.
Today's battle takes place in an enclosed arena near the spire, and is moderated by a nice circle of judges, of the stone and mushroom variety, and passing rilmani. We promise to not cut coverage for any reason, except perhaps if a demarax comes trampling through, in which case we're sodding out of here. And now, we meet our contestants.
Sitting on the stone to the left (a rock named Snubkles) is our gnomish contestant Crumblepunch, who hails from the fields of Bytopia where he is known as mean debater when it comes time to discuss the local rumors at the cider pub.
On the stone to the right (named Grof) is Bugger, a kobold who hails from the endless armies of Acheron. There he is known to daily ponder his existence in philosophical manner while being hit on the head with a pike.
And now, to the action...
The eye pans out across a lovely pastoral setting. The grass is green, and pocked by big standing stones that seem to be moving, but can't really be seen. The mushrooms are sat upon by an audience of pixies, and a single rilmani zones into space, holding a white flag. He also seems to have a small notebook sticking out of his pocket, and occasionally sods wander up to place bets at always exactly 50-50 odds. He blinks one eye vacantly, as though to indicate the start.
Bugger peers across the grass, maliciously, at the gnome sitting before him. He vaguely squeezes the pillow at his side, ready to bonk away.
The gnome, who's nose instantly draws your eye as being so round and reddish, is fortunate as it draws away from his clothing, which seems to be sturdy workman's affair that still has managed to get flowery threading at the edge, owing to the fact that his gnomish wife has nothing better to do then complain about all the stalagmites in the yard and how the never visit their aunt who lives, strangely, directly above them, but on the other layer. He's looking a bit sidewise at the kobold, one fell on his head once, and is trying to remember all the good philosophical advice he got from a traveling guardinal who didn't like the misses cabbage pie.
Bugger glares hard. His dog ears flick back behind his head, one slightly gnawed on by a mouse while sleeping under a sack of flower. His reddish skin shines with a slight sheen of sweat, from having to walk all the way out to this circle, on such a warm Outlandish day. "Give me Acheron, buggrit!" he mutters, peering at the gnome. "I suppose this weather is nothing to you, fancy-pants By-tope-Ians, with your flowery whatnots all over, and your having no real concept of up an' down! On Acheron, we know the ground under our feet, and that says allot for us!" With this outburst, the kobold goes back to quiet glaring and panting. He scratches nervous circles in the dirt with his toes, which stick out of the front of his ripped up boots.
Rubbing his spectacles, which are getting a bit dusty from the sputtering muttering kobold in the corner who's kicking up dust, the gnome tries to get a good look at the thing that's so furious about him knowing what's up. Dusting his clothing off, the gnome walks towards the center of the circle of stones, all the while peering at the ground for it's possibilities of agriculturally growing fields of infinite cabbage, and for some reason, the possibilities of burying a certain irritating kobold in it. He blinks, "Now there, Mr. Kobold, I'm sure we can all get along like peaceful gnomes and see each others point of view. How about a piece of cabbage? I've brought lots."
The kobold grimaces and leaps to his feet. He clenches his fists and leans forward, glaring in the sun and in exasperation. "I'm not a Mr.! My da' is a Mister! And, you peaceful gnomes aren't peaceful at all! What with all of that "gold gold gold" singing and whatnot, a body can't get any sleep around you!" He stops for a moment, glaring at the cabbage. "And, what kind of a race can eat food that grows in heads? 'Oh, yessum, I'll have a head of cabbage, please!' Kids like that grow up to eat heads of each other, is what! You gnomes is cannibals!" The kobold, looking somewhat confused with himself, sits back down to ponder that statement.
Crumblepunch, slightly taken aback, tries to correct the kobold, "Now, now, we don't sing about gold, that's dwarves. We sing about, er, cabbage. In fact in my day I used to sing with a little Barbershop Bi-tet. Me an old Sogs would stand around and sing to a stalagmite pole while waiting to get our hair cut, because a proper hair cut is much to be admired, unlike some people in the vicinity I could name." He pauses to rub his spectacles with his shirt, then placing them back on his nose once more, "And I'll have you know cabbage is extremely healthy and a very philosophical vegetable. Yes, er, just imagine, see, that the cabbage is you, yes, and see, it even smells a bit like you, if we peel away a bit here we come to another layer, er, bit of a little wormy critter here, eh? Anyway, I'm sure there's lots of layers to your personality and an interesting philosophy from your point of view. And smelly, too."
The kobold, highly offended, puffs out his chest. In doing so, as if on queue, a button falls quite undramatically to the floor. He deflates himself rather dejectedly, and stares balefully at the cabbage. "I don't smell like a cabbage," he mutters, "An anyway, everyone knows that beats are much more philosophical." He turns his stare up to the gnome, bends over to pick up his lost button, and puts it in his pocket. "My hair is also quite nice, and very much in fashion." He ads that last bit with quite a flare of dignity and pride. "As for you gnomish sods and your down-home little ways, and your claiming to not sing about gold, I don't believe it! You're just as tall as any dwarf, you are, in fact, I bet gnomes don't even exist!" His eyes gleam cheerfully, and he sits down again. "You're not real!" He says, sighing happily.
The flustered gnome, whose redness of nose has seem to of spread, possibly making the small fellow look even more like a cheerful beet, lets out a load guffaw, "You, you, goblin-kin!". He seems surprised he's said this, and puts his hand to his mouth in slight shock. His other hand seems to be trying to throw the cabbage at the kobold, but he's resisting. "Of course gnomes exist! We're gnomes!" He blinks, trying to summon up a philosophical argument to really prove his cabbage, er, point, and grabs onto a few loose grains he heard from the aforementioned guardinal, "We believe we exist, and so we can eat cabbages. Haha!" He kicks up a few clouds of dust with his boots and tries to make himself look like the wise guardinal, that being to pull his eyebrows up all the way and try and look at the kobold with his nose.
The kobold's grin spreads across his face like a crooked, rusty mouse trap, or some other cruel thing that snaps on people's fingers unsuspectingly. "Goblin-kin, pah, the kobolds are a strong and hearty race, and we're red! The goblins, as everyone knows, are green! That argument has enough holes in it, that, that... it's holeyer than that!" he points up at Sigil. "I believe in kobolds, too, and I believe we don't eat cabbage. Since, then, I exist and you don't, my not being able to eat cabbage - due to it's vague fish smell and funny texture - outweighs your thinking you can. Since you can't exist, you obviously, as a corr-oh-larry, can't eat cabbage." The kobold crosses his arms smugly, and looks about to say something more, before his forehead wrinkles in thought.
The gnome, trying to get his mind around this loopy thinking, which obviously comes from a race who spend their time on a spinning cubes that tends to land with snake eyes, glares over at the too smug creature, "That's rusty thinking, that is! How do I know you aren't a goblin that's painted himself red, eh? That's the kind of tricky thing a goblin would think of, hah!" He waves the cabbage at the kobold, and seeing as he should makes his point clear here, takes a bit of it, "If the cabbage exists, because you just said it did and was smelly, then gnomes exist too, as much as red-painted goblins do! And, and, your mothers a big flat hippo!"
The kobold puffs up again. "Of coarse I'm not a painted goblin, you gold-loving dwarf! When you paint a goblin red, with war paint, they smell like kobold! So I... can't..." he trails off, his pupils growing small as the realization that he might be goblinoid dawns on him. "But, I don't remember being painted," he muses to himself, and then remembers what he's doing. "And, my mam is no hippo! She was a kobold! Your mam was a dwarf, like you!" he pauses for a moment, and looks sly. "Say, I seem to have forgotten for a moment, what is it that dwarves sing about?"
The gnomes grins, causing his puffed up face, with a bit of cabbage in the corner still, look slightly maniacal, and raises a finger in the air, "Haha! I told you your thinking was rusty, can't remember indeed! They sing about gold, because it doesn't grow on trees! It's not a vegetable, you see? How could you eat something that wasn't a vegetable, I'd like to ask?" He looks around a bit, really getting into this philosophical stuff, and then decides to hoe the whole field, as it where, "I don't believe you exist, ha!" He puts his finger sin his ears and hums, coincidently enough the tenor part of 'Oh, These Big Autumn Stalagmites'.
Bugger points a dirty fingernail, and leaps up with his pillow. "Aha! I heard the singsongy way you said gold, don't think I didn't! I may be a painted goblin, and I may not be, but you are most definitely not a gnome! No one is a gnome! You've got gold on the mind! I can hear it, and I can even see it shining! The way your forehead gleams like that, you must have gold on the brain!" The kobold hops around madly, and gibbers for a moment before sitting in the dust. He raises a hand slowly. "The trick is to accept your identity, grasshopper," he says sagely. The look on his face suggests that he heard someone else say this once, and didn't quite get the meaning.
Still humming, Crumblepunch keeps his fingers in his ears until he sees the kobold madly jumping around and frothing like a jumped up little foo dog, and unplugs his ears just to find out what the mad creature is blathering about. "What? Eh?" He thinks a bit more, and then remembering the field he was supposed to be hoeing, though a few of those blasted weeds are getting in already, he continuous, "You don't exist! Hah! And I'm not going to bloody tell you again, all right?" He grins, the mad grin of a gnome who's seen an entire cabbage field try to shove itself up his abundantly large nose and kick his brain-box around.
The kobold's ears flick, as he finally recognizes the tune the gnome hums. "You're humming that one song, I heard a gnome sing it once, what was it called, hmm." He taps his chin in mock thought, though some of the onlookers are quite convinced that he's actually trying to recall the tune. After a moment, he thrusts a finger into the air, "Oh, I know, the song is Gold Gold Gold Gold! Fancy you knowing that tune, you nonexistent farmer of cannibalistic vegetables! You confused thing that can't tell if it's walking on someone else's ceiling, or if you're really on the floor! You, you, thing-that's-too-tall!" He leaps up with frustration, and whaps the gnome once with his pillow, before hopping back behind a rock for fear of retaliation.
The gnome, slightly dazed not only from the smell of his own cabbage being to close, but also from being hit was a small army reserve pillow that's managed to get both rusty and moldy, wobbles slightly and stares like a cabbage squasher-slicer doohickey at the kobold. Rambling his brain for the perfect philosophical point to let him whap the mad little grin of a critter he just said doesn't exist, he starts to steam a bit at the brain visibly as the paradox gets mingled with the smell of cabbages. He smiles, a strange calm smile, and then shoves the piece of cabbage in the kobolds mouth before slowly falling backwards himself, where he lands with the happy though that he's no longer smelling cabbage.
And there you have it! For all of the multiverse to see, it has just been decided who the better of the two races is, Gnome, or Kobold! Who is the victor? Well, if we told you that, it'd spoil everything, wouldn't it? A lovely match it was, though. Crumblepunch went home to his cabbage fields to ponder his existence, and Bugger ended up back on Acheron, with a profound new hate for the taste of cabbage, and a vague sense of brotherhood whenever he was around goblins. This concludes our coverage, good evening, slaadis.
All content copyright 1999 Jeremiah Golden or credited authors.