The journey the gnomish
people of Carda took to reach Tairos was a long and dangerous one that spanned across both the stars above and the hidden infinities of the planes themselves. They were witness to cosmic events so grand that few other travelers could come close to comparing to and yet, despite all that wonder... all that possibility, their end came as ignobly as most others. Caught between the armies of the Shadow Court
and the ravenous hoards of the Sahuagin
there was little else they could do but stand their ground and buy time for their children to escape and start a new life. Now, all that remains of the gnomish race are the youth of Homestead. Or so most believe.
While the gnomes that fell into the trap of the Autumn Queen were butchered to the last something of their people did survive, something older than the Fae's atrocities in Tairos, something the gnomes regretted till their dying day. The Dwellers Below.
The gnomes of Carda were a people of science from the day they arrived in Tairos and long before. They made use of steam, electricity, and clockworks to drive their civilization to greater heights and to satisfy their need to answer the many probing mysteries of existence. Chief among those unanswered questions for many of the gnomes had always been: Who built The Gates and for what purpose?
. Centuries before the Fae would invade; when the gnomes were still new to Tairos, one of their great university-cities would find the answer to that question and consequences such knowledge brought with it.
This city, who's name is now lost along with so much of gnomish history, has been scoured away but what is known is that it was responsible for an event known as the Great Cacophony. The exact nature of the happening is the stuff of a thousand speculative works and the gnomes themselves took the truth to their graves with them. However, several hard facts do exist. First, the city that dared to delve into the unknown was located is now known as the Drown Yards. The Cacophony blasted the peninsula into a jagged passage littered with sharp rocks, powerful undertows, and chaotic weather. The city and miles upon miles of land broke off the main mass of Tairos and sunk into the Drown Yards. The existence of these creatures is only confirmed by the scattered reports and tavern yarns from those explorers bold enough to travel into the ruins of the Clockwork Empire of Carda.
And the tales told about these malefic heirs to the gnome land are anything but hopeful. It's said they've chosen the sunken city in the Drown Yards as their new home and that they infest the deep caverns that pockmark the region. They're said to move about only by the dark of night and bray to the pale moon above and swirling riptides of the the disaster zone. They prey on the goblin and kobold tribes of the jungle-claimed cities; dragging them back into the caves or water never to be seen again. Some even say that their victims are meant not for food but for sacrifice to strange, aquatic nightmares that lay on the ocean floor waiting for a time to wake and reclaim the surface once more.
Whatever the truth at the heart of the matter is; the Dwellers Below have become a sad reminder of how far the once great race of gnomes has fallen.
While similar to the gnome in many ways the Dwellers Below have evolved into lankier creatures with much larger eyes, mostly hairless bodies, and a bone structure more akin to cartilage.
It is assumed they still reproduce via sexual intercourse though no sightings of pregnant Dwellers has been mentioned by travelers
All that's known here comes from the journal of a famed Dwarven explorer and physician who was said to have studied the bodies of several of these creatures. In his notes it goes on to detail evidence of greatly enhanced rates of growth and healing. However, based on his observations it looks like these traits have come at the cost of gnomish longevity. He pointed out in his study several instances of decaying vital systems and the prominence of cancerous tumors all through the body; likely giving them a lifespan far shorter than even that of humans. All of this is of course unverified as the doctor never returned from the expedition himself and the bloodstained journal is all anyone has to go on regarding Dweller life stages.
The network of subterranean caverns that crisscross the region are where they are most likely to be found. While the caves here are extensive they are also not particularly deep and most likely do not overlap with the Bitter Depths
. They can also be found in the sunken ruins of the Drown Yards; supposedly in great abundance