The Children of God’s Joy
The dragons, drakes, and dragon-kin of Devanand are like the dinosaurs of Terra, and they’ve dominated the world for aeons. However, dragons were not the only intelligent species to evolve. They are inarguably the most powerful race of Devanand, and even benevolent dragons think themselves superior and therefore special but, there are four other races who can claim the title “Children of God’s Joy.”
Dwarves and gnomes, elves and humans have a common ancestor, a small mammal with an inquisitive mind and clever paws. This little animal was adaptive, omnivorous, and opportunistic. It eventually evolved into two separate species: one fossorial, and one arboreal. Dwarves evolved from the fossorial branch, and gnomes evolved from dwarves a few hundred millennia later.
Part One: Dwarves and Gnomes
The dwarves and gnomes retain many traits from their burrowing ancestor. Both races prefer to build homes that are at least partially underground. Their senses of smell and hearing are superior to their vision. They have broad, flat hands with thick, strong nails, and powerful arms. They have a keen earth sense which, with the addition of magic, has evolved into the ability to sense the structure and strength of the stone and earth around them. And while they may not know in which direction North lies, they almost never get lost for they have a strong sense of place, and instinctively make mental maps of where they have been.
The social differences between dwarves and gnomes began when the gnomes first evolved from their dwarven ancestors.
Dwarves are monogamous, and have a matrilineal society and a gerontocracy. That is, they trace family lines through the mothers, and are ruled by a council of elders. In very small communities, a man is responsible for his sister’s children, rather than his own.
Gnomes, on the other hand, are polygamous, patrilineal, and aristocratic. Men will try to attract several women and form a harem. The stronger the man is, both physically and socially, the larger his harem will be. If a man loses social standing or wealth, he will also lose some of his harem, typically the younger and newer wives. The core of his harem, the first two or three wives, will remain, as will all minor children. The most powerful men rule in uneasy, local alliances.
Dwarves are steadfast and their society is rich with history and traditions. They build their communities in circular patterns. Villages grow from the matriarch’s home outward. Towns and cities are typically built around community buildings: places of worship, the marketplace, and the House of Elders. When a woman finds a place that she calls her own it becomes Her Spot, and she will want to remain there for the rest of her life. Her daughters find Spots of their own nearby, forming communities with strong familial ties.
Gnomes are more dynamic and their society is fluid, changing with the seasons, as it suits them, or from necessity. If a gnome rises in social standing he will expand his home, making room for more wives and children. If he rises far enough, he is likely to move to a more advantageous place and build a new home, or take possession of one. Gnomish communities are ever-changing clusters of families, and there is very little familial cohesion beyond immediate family. Once a son has moved out to form his own family he becomes another competitor. Men have very little control over their daughters’ choices for husbands, but fathers have been known to kill a suitor of lower standing, rather than risk his own social standing.
Dwarves are like stone: stubborn and immovable. They are slow to anger, but fierce defenders of their families and communities. They rarely wander far from their mothers.
Gnomes are like earth: always there, but changeable. They constantly squabble among themselves, vying for their places in society. They can be moody and quick to anger; scrappers whose fighting skills have been honed by constant conflict.
A dwarven friend is a friend for life. A gnomish friend is a friend for as long as it’s advantageous. And both are dangerous enemies.
This work by Jean Headley is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.