Clinging to the terraced mountain slopes, like beads on a layered lace skirt, are the houses, shops, and gardens of Big Mountain Home. This is what happens when gnomes build a city.
Like all gnomish construction, Big Mountain Home was built with soft curves and rounded edges. The roofs, steeply pitched to handle the deep winter snows, are curled up at the corners like the prow of a ship. These corners often have ornate carvings which are usually significant to the family. But they’re gnomes. Sometimes the carvings are there just because they’re pretty. Or interesting. Or weird. Or because Uncle Goro was bored. Each corner can have a different carving in an entirely different style. Furthermore, as the family grows, rooms are tacked on in a haphazard manner, creating a sprawling indecipherable complex on the outside, and a maze of halls, corridors, and rooms on the inside. Family homes are in constant flux with rooms being changed and re-purposed as the family needs. Or wants. Or because they got bored with it.
The streets and walkways are sloped and curved as well which makes for pleasant meandering walks, if you’re a gnome. For others, it’s a maddening labyrinth. The streets are paved but each street may have a different design. In truth, the same street may have several different designs. It depends on who was paving that section of street. So the Street That Leads to the Mayor’s House may be paved in a herringbone, and the Street That Leads to the Market may be paved in a fan style, and where the two streets meet is a chaos of dark rectangles and pale curves, and someone slipped in a beautiful mosaic of lotus blossoms done in blue and white. And then half a block later there is a long section of bright red basket weave.
The doorways are no more than five feet tall; the ceilings no more than six. Corridors and halls are about two feet wide. This scale applies to roads, streets, and garden gates as well.
Big Mountain Home is a very self-sufficient place. They grow their own food, tend their own goats, spin their own wool and silk, and build and sail their own ships. However, they do not mine. For metals and jewels, the gnomes of Big Mountain Home trade with their friends and allies, the Big Guys Under the Mountain: Duerfar, in their under-mountain city named Breath of the Earth.
Big Mountain Home also trades with the other west coast cities, exporting toys, games, wood and stone carvings, their peculiar take on silk and wool cloth, strong spices, and goat’s milk cheeses and soaps. They also act as a third party funneling trade between Breath of the Earth and the rest of the coast.
It would be easy to underestimate the gnomes of Big Mountain Home, and many have. But the chaotic way in which they build, and do, everything does not translate into weakness. Big Mountain Home has a standing army of several thousand well-trained men and women, and nothing on Erde is quite as fierce as a gnome defending hearth and home.
This work by Jean Headley is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.