|The Village of Gnomenel|
Designed by Kostia
Lifespan: 20 minutes
Soloing : 16-19
Medium Group: 13-15
Large Group: 10-13
One recent evening, Chilon Gallen, the stonemason, was walking along Harkenel Street on his way to the Garden Shop when he ran into his neighbor, the retired sailor Trero Owadd. Trero was carrying a wooden gnome, freshly painted.
"Evening, Trero. New gnome for the lawn?"
"Aye," said the older man, gnawing on his unlit pipe. "Edenna thought the one we had sitting there looked lonely somehow."
Gallen nodded. He had two wooden gnomes on his own lawn, too. Everyone in the village did. It was all the rage that year. A few families even had three gnomes on their lawns, and most of the homeowners had their gnomes painted and posed to match their houses' unique yards.
Gnomenel was a friendly place, but competition over the village lawns had risen to a fever pitch. Neighbors still smiled when they met on the street, but gazes wandered over the fences and hedges, and everyone kept an eye on everyone else's garden, to see what they would come up with next. Trips and special occasions were forgotten if there was weeding or planting to be done, and every homeowner's free time was taken up with trips to the expansive Garden Shop that had just opened up on the east side of the village.
Suspicion and finger-pointing were on the rise, too. Every morning, one homeowner or another, and sometimes several, would wake up to find rude words painted on their fences, their flowers uprooted, weeds introduced into their gardens, or the freshly placed flagstones on their front walks pried up and stolen. Families that had been friends for years were not on speaking terms. Some people had even planted high hedges to divide their own houses from their neighbors and competitors.
Bidding farewell to Owadd, Gallen continued his walk, past lawns of water and fire, past a sparse, weed-free lawn guarded by a nine-foot hedge and gnomes carrying tiny swords, and arrived at the Garden Shop on Main Street, where new gnomes were positioned outside amidst stone fountains, benches, and planters. Inside, rakes, spades, shears, and clippers hung on racks.
At his desk inside the Garden Shop, the owner, Gorech, was gleefully counting the day's receipts. When he saw his customer enter, he tucked the coins into his pockets and attempted to sell Gallen a new gnome. The mason resisted the temptation, and left with a bag of fertilizer and an idea for painting the planters on his front walk.
It was getting dark, so Gorech closed up the shop. He took a key out of the pocket of his vest and hung it on a rack near his desk, then went home to the suburbs of the City of Medievia for the night. On his way out the gate at the western end of Main Street, he risked a look back over his shoulder, and shuddered slightly, as though he knew some dark secret.
The village homeowners and their children went to bed for the night, too, feeling safe as could be. Most left their front doors unlocked or ajar, letting in the fine weather. A few men stayed up late working or reading, and the Girans, on Ceranel Street, were hosting a themed party.
Unbenownst to them, though, the night was just beginning ... and many of the village's smaller residents were just waking up.
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