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While few and far between these days, gnomes are still very much alive. Alive and kicking. These humanoid beings are short and rotund, usually less than a foot tall although I have heard of a long-gone gnome who apparently reached twenty-five inches (NOTE: some sources have claimed this was due to a wish he acquired from a lamp somewhere in north-east Africa and others have stated that he ate an unusually high amount of cabbage). Most specimens possess white hair, which for males, is commonly left to grow out into a full beard (from what I understand, a lack of facial hair on a man is something of a social taboo within the gnome community). They have perpetually rosy cheeks, the colour of which doesn’t seem to be a reaction to temperature or emotions, and are always, regardless of nutrition, what my mother would call ‘podgy’.

The majority of my information has come from Mr London’s gnome friend (who wishes to remain anonymous for obvious reasons), who I’ll give an alias. Perhaps Podgy, Redcheeks, Mister Gnome? No— Mister G. I met Mister G a few months ago, when Mr London invited him to tea. To say I was sceptical about Mister G being real is… an understatement, but he turned up after all and once I’d finished hyperventilating, we got on alright, I suppose.

It’s worth mentioning that since the Department of Thaumaturgy Control was created, many magical beings have become more violent, paranoid and desperate. Mister G was absolutely appalled when he saw me for the first time and dare I say, furious. My employer tried explaining to the guest that I wasn’t ‘one of those humans’ and after a long, whispered row (you don’t want the whole street knowing you willingly invite gnomes over on a regular basis), Mister G finally agreed to allow me to stay alive (how thoughtful!). It was an excruciatingly awkward gathering with a lot of silence and more chewing than chatting, but we got through it and by the end, Mister G even said ‘good day’ to me with only mildly ominous undertones. Why he's so friendly towards Mr London, who's as human as I, is yet another mystery tallied against my employer's name; J. has responded to my questions only with 'We had a mutual friend.' Who? Where? When? Why? Sometimes, I think my boss is deliberately trying to drive me up the wall, but he pays me enough to put up with it I suppose.

I conducted an interview with Mister G to learn more about the magical abilities possessed by gnomes. He reluctantly agreed to the interview but was either smirking mischievously or scowling contemptuously throughout, so take his replies with a pinch of salt. I can't put my finger on it, but that little gnome always seems to be one step ahead.

INTERVIEW ONE with Mister G.
Me: Can we get started on this interview? I have a lot of questions.
G: I would but frankly, I hate you, Miss Wolff.
Me: I thought we were past this.
G: I don’t know about you, but I find mass genocide rather difficult to get past.
Me: For the last time, I’ve done nothing against your kind or any other kind for that matter. I’ve done nothing wrong.
G: Exactly.
Me: What? That makes no-
G: You’ve done nothing.
Me: Oh, don’t start trying to make me feel guilty. How am I supposed to do anything? The DTC has been around for centuries! Do you want me travel back in time and-
G: Mr London managed it.
Me: What? Time travel?
G: No. Helping us, doing something- and he isn’t the only one. The choice was always there Miss Wolff. You simply preferred the nice, warm blanket of propaganda you humans wrap yourselves in.
Me: No, I…

I’m not writing the rest of that conversation. Firstly, because most of it is irrelevant to this entry; secondly, because a lot of 'gnomish' words were thrown around and thirdly, because I don't want to transcribe the resulting brawl. I had better results a few weeks later after having discovered that Mister G is more docile after a few cherry bakewells (I don't know whether this is a gnome trait but for now, I'll assume he's just a sweet-toothed glutton).

INTERVIEW TWO with Mister G.
G: If you’ll leave me alone, I’ll answer your damn questions. Come on, I don’t have all day.
Me: Thank you Mister G! Finally… It’s much appreciated! So first, I’d like to ask about your strength and agility. I’ve heard that gnomes are a hundred times stronger than a human and ten times as fast. Is there any truth to that?
G: chuckles We’re physically superior but we aren’t titans, Miss Wolff. I’m strong enough to snap your neck without any effort and fast enough to run away from the crime scene without getting caught but I won’t specify further than that.
Me: …oh. Right. Goo- good to know. H-how fascinating? Well then, um, lets move on to the next question. Um, is it true that you are protective of animals, even friends with them? I’ve heard stories of severely injured animals being healed almost overnight- there’s talk that gnomes are behind these miracles.
G: Miracles? I don’t know about that, but animals are indeed my friends and by extension I am protective of them. I find it interesting that you ask this, as though caring for other life is unusual. You humans never cease to amaze me and that is in no way a compliment.
Me: Of course I- we care about animals! I had a pet dog when I was growing up, called Scruffy. I loved him dearly.
G: So dearly as to keep him penned in? As to force him to perform in exchange for scraps? And don’t get me started on your eating habits. It’s absolutely foul.
Me: I’ll have you know, Scruffy was very happy with us and what’s wrong with our eating habits? I mean, because that’s- it’s different, you know? Humans are omnivorous so, so it’s necessary. Many animals eat meat as well— it’s perfectly natural.
G: Oh, I doubt cages and firearms are natural. I doubt breeding animals for the sole purpose of preparing them for your plate is natural.
Me: Is everything that comes out of your mouth going to be condescending?
G: I don’t know. It depends how many of my gears you decide to grind.
Me: Right…okay. Let’s move on. clears throat And, what of your magic? I understand your species are nifty tinkerers and craftsmen but also dabble in illusions, potions and alchemy. Do you possess any of these abilities?
G: snorts Dabble? My dear, stupid human, the DTC doesn’t kill dabblers. At least not the ones that mind their own business.
Me: What do you mean?
G: You know perfectly well what I mean.
Me: Your acting as if the DTC has a hit list. I know they're controversial but they aren't evil! My mother supported them wholly.
G: Is that so? Well, I'm so sorry! If I'd've known your mother supported them I never would have said anything! Clearly your mother is very knowledgeable and if she supports the DTC so should everyone else! You know, I must've dreamed of all my dead brothers and sisters. All along I was wrong!
Me: If all I'm going to get is snark and sarcasm, I declare this interview concluded.
G: [He said something in his native language, whatever it may be, and from his tone, it's probably a good thing I didn't understand it.]

Since then, Mister G has refused to partake in further interviews or even look at me. Mr London has had a few 'words' with him but this gnome is insufferably stubborn and I've decided to stay home whenever London announces his irritable friend is coming over. I'm not exactly fond of him either but recently, my mind has been occupied by the things he said. Not what he said about me (and trust me, he's said plenty) but rather what he's said about humanity, in particular, the Department of Thaumaturgy Control. I grew up believing they were there to protect us from magic— thaumaturgy. It was a word that was built up to instil fear in us all— a dark, dreadful word associated with dark, dreadful things. But now I know that at the very least, that claim is wrong. Sure, Mister G is paranoid, self-righteous and potty-mouthed but he isn't dark and dreadful. He didn't turn my hair into snakes or set me on fire with a click of his little fingers or jump up and start gnawing at me like a rabid dog. There were moments where I thought he wanted to and I have a feeling that he could, but I highly doubt that he ever would.

I was fixing Mr London's kitchen table again (he keeps conducting experiments on it and I think it's taking a toll on the joints), when I heard a tap at the window. I ignored it at first, assuming it was just a branch or a squirrel but the tapping wouldn't stop. Tap. Tap! Tap!! I slammed down my hammer, ready to give that branch or squirrel a piece of mind, strolled over and saw a small, rosy cheeked face peering through the panes. I screamed. Don't laugh! It was instinctive! I wasn't actually scared. It was like a reflex, you know? Trouble was that when I screamed, they screamed and then someone next door shouted over the fence asking if anything was wrong and the poor gnome looked like they were going to have a heart attack. I tugged the window open, practically flung the unwanted visitor inside and then called back to the neighbour with a quick fib about seeing a spider.
I wasn't pleased about this uninvited guest, but I wasn't about to get us both thrown in prison.

"I take it Mr London isn't here?" remarked the gnome, looking around the kitchen. It was a woman, dressed in a plain, grey skirt and blouse, wearing a floppy, green cap on her hastily braided white hair. She was maybe half an inch taller than Mister G, with shallow wrinkles around her eyes.

"No. He's busy. And he mentioned nothing about you popping round." I returned.

Surprisingly, she looked relieved.
"Good. He doesn't like me around these parts what with my arthritis and all, but I needed to talk to you." she said, and from the look on her face, I could tell she considered it important.

"Gnomes get arthritis?" It was genuine question— I'd always thought gnomes remained well-oiled and nimble no matter their age.

"Yes, it's rare, but yes. But I'm not here to talk about my creaky joints. My little cousin comes here every now and again for tea with Mr London and he's told me all about you."

Uh oh. I didn't like the sound of that.
"Whatever he's said, it's not true. Honest, I-" I started vouching for myself but she cut me off.

"Be quiet and let me talk, child." she sputtered (and I cringed inside and out when she called me 'child'), " I don't believe anything Stuart says. He's going through puberty and makes a fat lot of sense half the time anyway. Every other word that comes out of that boy's mouth is hormones."

At this point, it's safe to say, my jaw was on the floor.
"A boy?! He's got a huge, white beard! He's been around since before the DTC; he's got be centuries old! And Stuart?!" I exclaimed, utterly flabbergasted.

"I said be quiet!" snapped the gnome, "Gnomes age slower and mature faster, I know that makes no sense but that's the truth. Yes, we have puberty. Yes, it turns us Boggart-mad and yes, my cousin is nicknamed Stuart around humans because it is easier for humans to say. You can call me Agnes if you want, because my real name would require a gnome's vocal chords to pronounce. Happy?"

I nodded; that was more information about gnomes I'd gotten in five seconds than all of my time with Mister G (or Stuart, as he seemed to now go by).
"Good. I'm here because I need to warn you about what you're getting yourself into with Mr London." the gnome— Agnes— explained.

"Ew. He's at least twice my age!" I retorted, absolutely disgusted and absolutely getting the wrong idea.

"No, you thick-skulled primate, I mean the work he's involved in!" Agnes corrected, "He doesn't just have a hobby or mild interest in thaumaturgy. For a human, that would be bad enough as it is, but he's also actively involved in our affairs and our way of life. You shouldn't take this lightly— you'll get yourself killed and it'll be the DTC that delivers the death blow."

At first, I thought she was winding me up and I told her so. I knew that Mr London interacting with gnomes and magic was illegal and I knew that by associating with thaumatological beings, the police would have a reason to imprison us both. Do you think I would've taken the job if I didn't know the risks? But I saw the genuine, heartfelt concern in her eyes and it was enough to make me pause.

"The DTC. They aren't that bad. The- the death penalty- you can't be- not for thaumaturgy. They wouldn't… they wouldn't." I mumbled, trying my best to ignore the pieces that were beginning to fit together.

"The DTC isn't about the protection of human lives, Katherine. It isn't that simple."

The thing that hurt the most was that I'd always known it wasn't that simple. The Department of Thaumaturgy Control was something that I'd grown up with— that we'd all grown up with— and after a certain point, it's hard to turn back on your beliefs and perspectives. I knew that there were people that disagreed with the laws surrounding magic and I knew there were people like Mr London who more than disagreed and outright disregarded them. What I'd also known but had never had the guts to admit, was that these laws had never been fully explained or justified. I didn't mind working for a criminal and illegally interacting with magic because I didn't care about the consequences but that day, I came to realise that it didn't make sense that there were consequences. If magic was dangerous and disruptive, I'd be maimed or killed by now, but I'm not. I'm alive and well and no, better than I've ever felt before. It was like seeing colour for the first time or being slapped across the face. It was another slap to think that the DTC had more permanent ways of dealing with 'criminals' than imprisonment or banishment but it was a slap that I needed and received not long after the first. It still hurts.

"Katherine, please let me show you something." urged Agnes softly, "I want you to believe me and I know it's hard but you have to trust me for your own sake. You have to know of the things your race has done in the name of normalcy."

The gnome hobbled past the jar of sugar on the work surface and back towards the window. She gestured for me to follow and pointed out into overgrown garden outside.

"My family were part of a large village in the woods beyond this area of London. We had built a generations old community with houses, beautiful communal gardens and a large network of mines that we shared with the people of the forest. This was long ago, before the DTC and we even had human visitors." she narrated, her dark, blue eyes glossing over with tears, "It was these humans that gave us names and in exchange for our services, they'd give us food or stories. Stuart was very young back then and I doubt he remembers much but I remember it vividly. Humanity was considered docile and tame back then, albeit naïve and hot-headed. There were less of you and your populations were more sparse so we hardly considered you a threat."

"You talk as though we were children." I complained and Agnes scoffed, almost laughed.

"You see, that was our mistake. We underestimated you and you overestimated yourselves. You started become more organised, creating primitive hierarchies. You learnt how to use the soil and seeds to your advantage, building farms, breeding animals. You built boats and cities, began to manipulate rock and metal. The infantile creatures that could barely cast a simple spell had figured out crude ways of using the world and other beings to advance themselves faster than ever should have. You are insatiable, never stopping to increase your own personal gain, never stopping to think about the damage your creations make upon the world." she lectured, "It's never enough for you to just live and enjoy the world that sustains you; you've turned a world that was meant to be shared and embraced into your own playground. When you refused to heed our warnings and listen to our negotiations, we had no choice but take action, for your own sake as much as our own."

"The First Rage." I whispered in quiet realisation. My heart was in my throat now and I dreaded what she was going to tell me next. Nodding, Agnes took a seat against the window pane, sighing as her joints crackled.

"As humans call it, yes. My people call it— well, it translates roughly to the Dawn of the Divide. It was that war that is considered the beginning of hatred between those of normality and those of thaumaturgy. Your history books have portrayed those years as very black and white. The humans play the role of the victims and victors, while the gnomes play the role of the savage and defeated. It was far more grey than that, full of spontaneous battles and impulsive tactics on both sides. The gnomes were one of the first to declare war against humans, that much is true, but revolutions were happening all over the world, headed by many creatures who shared our concerns; the Sphinx in Egypt, the Kitsune in Japan, the Domovoi in Russia and the Yohualtepoztli in Mexico. There was no real global coordination and the war was actually a cumulation of separate battles that occurred in different lands over the period of several decades. What is undeniable however, is that after the Dawn of the Divide, there were few creatures left that would trust humanity again."

"Did- did you fight? In the First Ra- the Dawn of the Divide?" I asked.

"My entire village did, Katherine. We had no choice. You were destroying our territory, killing the creatures of the forest for sport and enslaving those that could not fight or advocate for themselves. It was a hard choice to make, an awful choice, and many of us still had fond memories of human friends that only made the decision harder. You have to understand, child, that we only did what we thought was necessary and the sad thing was that too much turned out to be necessary. At first, we tried barricading our territory against human interference but you tore down our walls, then we enchanted our homes so you could not see us but you never gave up hunting. Eventually, we knew that taking defensive action was useless and began offensive strategies. We captured your leaders, we poisoned your crops, we let loose your livestock. You answered with crossbows and trebuchets and rudimentary dark magic and soon enough you began attacking the creatures that had never once lain a finger upon you. Is it a wonder that our resistance spread to other beings? I did many things during those dark days that I am not proud of. I was younger then; angry and bitter and afraid. I remember the elders worried that if we went too far, none of us— humans and magical beings alike— would be able to go back. They were right I suppose." Agnes sighed and pulled down her green cap. She rubbed its frayed edges restlessly, her tiny knuckles swollen and bony. I wanted to ask what exactly she'd had to do but thought better of it. She was hurt enough.

"Our war, in Europe at least, ended when the Black Death came. It was a curse for you but a blessing for us. I don't think we could have survived that Dawn without the plague. Maybe it was fate— who knows?" she paused, waiting for me to say something, expecting me to say something.

"Didn't the gnomes and witches cause the Pestilence? I was told you banded together to win the war."

Slowly, Agnes shook her head. She seemed so vulnerable and sad, looking out of the window as though searching for those good days that were so far behind her.

"That's what they tell you. It was nothing to do with us but rather your own arrogance. You packed yourselves tightly into dense cities, muddied your water sources, left waste piled in the streets. You thought yourselves untouchable by nature because you could destroy it and mould it, but forgot that nature could do just the same. We didn't relish in your suffering but I know that we were… relieved… in a way." she paused to wipe a stray tear from her rosy cheek, "Not that you gave up the fight entirely. While some of you remained friendly or pitied us, the majority linked their griefs and misfortunes to us and sought revenge that was in most cases unwarranted. Despite the war being over, peace was long, long gone. This quiet, deadly feud continued for generations and became more regularly violent after the formation of anti-thaumaturgy groups, which grew and strengthened in countless kingdoms and empires. In England, several of the more prominent groups came together to form what is now known as the Department of Thaumaturgy Control. They were less subtle about their actions in those days but no less ruthless. My people were dying, Katherine, at the hands of your rulers' armies and your throngs of misguided vigilantes."

"And then the DTC did something worse." I speculated, goose bumps beginning to tingle along my spine, "Stuart mentioned m-mass… he mentioned genocide."

Grimacing, Agnes nodded, fidgeting fervently with her cap.
"You ambushed our villages, our hiding places, put bounties upon the heads of anything gnomish and made sure that whether we liked it or not, the gnomes would never start another war. We've been near extinction for a long time but we've learnt your tricks and tells and I believe we'll persevere. We've survived this long anyway and we aren't about to give up, even if most of us are rotting into the ground." she suddenly turned to me, eyes aflame with purpose and pain, "I'll show you, Katherine. I'll show you my village— its remnants. I'll show you proof."

I was sweating, clammy, my mouth dry as sand. I'd listened to her story; she sounded truthful, but I didn't want to see proof. God, she just looked so adamant, so fierce despite her small, aged body. Trembling, I backed into the half-fixed table, knocking one of legs inwards and toppling the entire piece of furniture to the tiles. Agnes didn't even flinch as the heavy wood collapsed with a cacophonous, cracking thud.

"It's your choice, Katherine. If you leave Mr London, go home and forget about all of this, that choice won't be necessary. You can go back to living in blissful ignorance but so long as you are working for that man, associating yourself with my people, you must know of the lengths the DTC will go to. What happened to my people happened nearly four hundred years ago. Just think of how capable they are now." she warned.

I didn't say anything. My throat was too tight for anything more than a frightened grunt to escape.
"We need your help. We need your trust and you need ours. But you must be willing to accept the risks and to accept them, you must know them."
"I do know them! You- you told me!" I squeaked desperately.

"You know of them. It's up to you. I can't force you." she admitted, "But I can advise you, and with thousands of years of experience, you can rely on my advice. Mr London will back soon, I presume, so I'd get to work on that table if I were you. Stuart can take you if you ever change your mind- he listens to me."

Flustered, I bent down and picked up my hammer, watching as Agnes waved disappointedly and heaved open the window. I felt like I was letting her down by standing there and gawking but all the same, I could manage nothing more than an awkward wave back as she hopped down from the window sill to the garden below. I still haven't finished fixing the table.

When I started writing this entry, I expected to delve no deeper than the traits and habits of the elusive gnomes. In fact, I was preparing myself for the possibility that I might find nothing at all— nothing new anyway. And then along came Mister G and then along came Agnes and then along came the ruins of gnome civilisation. It was several months before I mustered up the courage to ask Stuart (who looked hilariously flustered when I called him by his nickname) to give me directions to the site of the village Agnes mentioned. While no less irritable, he mellowed towards me almost immediately, his hostility melting away. I think, all along, he just wanted me to understand— to be willing to understand. It was in that moment that I saw the youthfulness Agnes had claimed he had; the eyes of a child who didn't know how to express their own pain. It dawned on me that Agnes was likely the only family he had left and the only family he'd had for a long, long time. More likely than not, Mr London wasn't simply a casual friend for Stuart but a father figure and possibly the only human he'd ever been able trust since the Dawn of the Divide. I, in turn, found myself mellowing towards him.

We decided to make the journey the next day when I had some leave, and he suggested we go with Agnes who better knew the safer pathways to the ruins. Ordinarily, he and and his older cousin would traverse the abandoned mines and tunnels built by their ancestors to avoid being seen by humans, but my being at least five times too big for those tunnels, we had to make our way on the surface. When I met them in Mr London's garden, a little while before the crack of dawn, I could tell they were both— even Agnes— nervous about the journey. Most likely, when you've spent the better part of your life in hiding, it can't be easy to venture out. I did try to convince the gnomes that I would protect them but from Stuart's loud and exaggerated scoff, it was obvious that I needed to work on my lying skills.

About an hour into the trek, I'll admit, I had second thoughts. Agnes had led us far from the city, deep into the bowels of the woods beyond the streets and there a nagging voice in my mind telling me that this was a bad idea. For all I knew, they'd enchanted me and were leading the way to my death where they and their magical friends would devour me alive. There was an image that kept popping into my head— one from my childhood. I was around nine at the time, so as impressionable as you can get, and my mother had come home from shopping with a copy of the local newspaper. I'd seen my father reading the paper before but my mother hardly read anything other than the dog-eared magazines she 'borrowed' from her friends. I remember her face as she read the front page article, her heavily lipstick-ed mouth quivering, her eyes narrowing in disgust. She hid away the paper in her usual hiding spot (sometimes I think she wanted me to find contraband) in her bedside drawer (second from the top) and drank herself to sleep in the living room, giving me a chance to see what all the fuss was about. Morbid curiosity is a powerful force (I wonder if I'd've made half the choices I have without it) and it drew me like a moth to flame. You know when you see something so awful that you want to erase every inch of it from your mind, but you just can't peel away your eyes? God, it was horrific. 'MISSING GIRL FOUND DEAD: KILLED BY THAUMATURGES'. I didn't get further than a few words into the article— my attention was grabbed wholly by the black and white picture beneath the header, and held there against my will. She couldn't have been older than I was at the time and perhaps that was why it stuck with me so badly. Her hair was plastered to her face in blood and mud, her eyes wide open and dull like the eyes of a rotting fish. Entrails spilled in a mass of glossy, fermenting horror from her torso, which was barely intact, the flesh and muscle strained as though she'd been pulled apart. A small, damp teddy bear leant lopsided against a nearby trunk, staring at its owner's mutilated corpse. Somehow, I felt sorry for that teddy bear, unable to shut its own eyes against the poor girl's sickening demise. According to authorities, the suspects hadn't been found and due to the unusual circumstances of her death, the murderers were decided to be thaumaturges, most likely elves, who had been known to lure people into their forest territory for slaughter.

As we made our way further from human population and deeper into the thick trees, that image buzzed continuously in the back of mind, telling me I was being lured, that I was going to end up butchered. If I'd reminded myself that the case of the little girl and many others like it had never actually found any decent evidence to support the theorised culprits' guilt, maybe I would've been able to ignore it. The idea that the girl may have been killed by her own people was something that at the time, was unfathomable to me; the DTC should be proud of their brain-washing campaigns.

I'm glad I was able to continue the journey and push aside my fears and bigotry because had I turned back, I would've been pulling the wool tighter over my own eyes. Agnes, I'm sure, knew about how conflicted I was feeling and made an effort to start a neutral conversation, although I doubt I was being very talkative. Despite her arthritis and short legs, she managed well, keeping ahead of me all the time though not nearly as fast as Stuart who seemed determined to run, jump and climb the whole way there, only stopping to look back and get affirmation from his cousin that he was going the right way. Honestly, I can't believe I ever thought they could be dangerous; they were as vulnerable and close as any human family, empathetic and kind-hearted, if a little abrasive.

I got to see the true extent of that vulnerability when we arrived. The two gnomes halted a few feet from a dense wall of thorns and stinging nettles and waited for me (I was puffing and sweating by then, half of my hair stuck to my face in greasy, red strands— I'm lucky my mother wasn't there to see me!). They looked solemn and serious as Agnes asked if I was absolutely certain I wanted to go through with this. I nodded.

Wordlessly, she raised her small, knobbly hands towards the hedge of thorny nettles and after a long exhale, began to pull it down, back into the leafy soil, the thorns and stems twisting and curling as they shrank and collapsed into the ground. She was, I think, reversing their growth, turning the mature leaves and tall stems into tiny, budding seeds. I was astounded, hypnotised by the level of control she had over the plants. It was beautiful really and in no way dangerous or threatening; in fact, it looked so natural and even familiar that I couldn't understand why it was illegal. Out of the corner of my eye, I could've sworn I saw Stuart smiling at my awe.

"You're one of the only humans I've allowed here in nearly a century. Please, be respectful." Agnes cautioned me softly, gesturing me to follow her through the opening in the thorny barricade.

My fears dissolved but only to be replaced by shame and grief. The tiny, thatched roof cottages were being swallowed by ivy and fungi, many of them crumpled inwards with decay, but for at least the past few hundred years, I could tell that time had been its only uninvited guest, leaving behind the valuable story Agnes had wanted me to understand. Sitting down on a fat toadstool, she watched me step into the deserted village, Stuart silently walking at my heel. The stone pathways were hobbled and overgrown with grass and moss, but I could still make out the faint outlines of their streets and cul-de-sacs. Thousands of flowers; dandelions, daisies, sunflowers, poppies, foxgloves, forget-me-nots; blanketed the ground, their brightly coloured petals popping up over the long grass and adding so much beauty and calm to the small, dull white skeletons sinking into the earth. They were everywhere— propped against the walls of their dying homes, splayed out on the cobbled paths, face down in the dirt— but all surrounded by those perfumed flowers. I ventured further, speechless, going wherever my legs decided to take me. A skeleton beneath an old tree was clutching another, smaller frame in its bony arms and I could almost feel the love and fear in those now empty eye sockets. I felt sick.

Remnants of battle were littered around the ruins; rusted daggers and splintered wands, pitted arrowheads and empty vials, broken spears and worn runes. Despite the degradation of these weapons, it was obvious which had been sharpened and crafted in preparation and which had been hastily gathered in retaliation. It was an ambush undoubtedly, and in no way a fair fight, human bones accounting for less than a handful of the victims. There was one skeleton, tall and lanky, that still had a shred of clothing draped over its left collarbone. Something was embroidered onto it, slightly faded and frayed but somehow intact after all this time and startlingly familiar. It was a patch in the shape of a shield, the image of a wand in flames sewn into the centre. The famous symbol of the resistance against thaumaturgy.

"I preserved it with the help of a local witch some time ago." explained Agnes, making me jump out of my skin. I'd had no clue she was there.
"We decided it was an important reminder of what happened that day and a valuable item of proof if ever humanity showed that they wanted it." she continued, "That man was one of the few we were able to down in the battle. We believe they'd been planning this attack for months, possibly even years. Every move had been calculated, every outcome considered. Our fight was futile."

Stuart sat cross-legged at my feet, the tip of his beard touching my shoe. His head was bent away from me and I could hear his quiet sniffles as he stroked the petal of a budding pansy. Agnes squeezed his shoulder fondly and sighed.
"He was a toddler when it happened- he doesn't remember much but he has longed for his family ever since. We only got out alive because he wandered off into the woods, leaving me to search for him before his parents found out. To think it saved our lives is- well, I still wonder to this day."

I couldn't take my eyes off of the patch, not even when my vision began to blur with tears. I didn't expect to feel so connected to and moved by that place, nor so appalled at the emblem of the Department of Thaumaturgy Control.
"That was one of the first uses of the flaming wand as a symbol of human superiority and righteousness." said Agnes, noticing, "The wreath of wormwood and chains wasn't added until some time after the Culmination of the Divide. The Second Rage, as you'd know it."

I didn't say anything for a while. I couldn't. My heart felt bogged down with emotions, my mind swamped by a million thoughts. Horribly, I realised that as hard as I tried, I couldn't muster up an ounce of surprise at this reveal. The truth had been under my nose my entire life, but I'd chosen to avoid looking at it. The strange inconsistencies in the history books, the bold posters glued to lampposts warning of demons and voodoo but the lack of people ever having encountered either, the two endangered gnomes that had shown me nothing but their desire for safety and acceptance. I had a lot to think about on the trek home, and a lot of beliefs to assess. Finally, I understood why Mr London was so fiercely passionate about his cause, willing to risk his freedom and his life for something the government deemed the greatest threat to humanity. This was more than having fun with potions or riding unicorns or the novelty of inviting a gnome for tea; this was a resistance being fought not just for magical life but all life. It was striving for unity after hundreds of years of division and hatred. It was work, that until then, I'd never stopped to fathom the significance of.

Should a gnome ever come across this entry, I promise, whole-heartedly, to aid your kind in receiving the justice you so sorely deserve.

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