This week’s scene was a bit darker than what we’ve encountered previously in Penny Gnomes, but for some good reasons 1. Let’s unpack.
Gibbles is one gnome with serious issues. As he said, he fought two tours of duty fighting off the Copyright Horde around Boarsblemish. During his second tour he was wounded by an injunction round and, thanks to Nobody’s treatment, he survived. Unfortunately, his voice transformed into a “just inhaled helium” screech and his eyes turned grey. Grey eyes are considered a bad omen among Penny Gnomes, who believe it’s a sign of someone destined to die violently 2.
As unhinged as Gibble is, his attitude towards Jeremy is shared by many gnomes. They sent most of a generation to serve and die around Boarsblemish, and haven’t gotten all the much in return for their troubles. In fact, the Elves took all the credit. This only served to reinforce the already standoffish attitude of most Great Roll gnomes toward the outside world. They think it’s nice it exists, but it can keep to itself. They’re harboring a great deal of resentment.
I did want Gibble to appear menacing. First, because the idea someone could be menacing when sounding like they’ve inhaled the contents of a helium balloon is hysterical 3. Second, because there really is a war going on in The Realm, and I wanted to make certain Will understood this war had consequences.
It’s not all about coffee and snack chips.
The Mayor’s council
“Mayor” is actually a bit of a misnomer. The person who runs the city of Great Roll is actually the elected under-mayor from the city. The Mayor of the Penny Gnomes functions more like a governor. There’s a reason for this odd title choice, the legislative body of The Realm is call “The Board of Governors.” Yes, it’s confusing, but it’s satire, it’s supposed to be bit confusing.
I relished the scenes of Nobody being absolutely unaware of the sheer disdain which was pouring down from the Mayor’s privy council. The gnome is more socially conscious than he’s actually aware, but is completely incapable of reading other sentient lifeforms. He took silence as permission to speak, and the cold stares as eager inquiries. When he’s complaining about the council shutting down his work he literally has no idea why, and really feels the council owes him an apology. In fact, Nobody felt he was being absolutely diplomatic. He really needs to keep Sindy close by.
Of course the most serious charge Nobody faces is “illegal snack chip manufacture.” The gnome doesn’t have his chip license, and that’s a Class A felony. In the minds of the council Harboring a fugitive and immigration violations are someone else’s problem, what really matters is thirty penny annual fee Nobody has neglected to pay over the two years of his product development. They took this so seriously the council spent the enormous sum of 7000 pennies to uncover proof of Nobody’s illegal snackery 4. As the Mayor revealed, the evidence was sampled for quality over the course of several months before charges were filed. Will’s presence at the time of Nobody’s arrest was actually coincidental — the charges about Will were added on the way to Nobody’s house. Oddly enough, the agents who broke into Nobody’s lab to acquire evidence of his illegal snacking completely ignored all the devastating weapons scattered throughout his basement.
And now we know IBI is not a person, it’s an organization! The Imaginary Bureau of Investigation is responsible for Realm security and counter-intelligence concerning the war effort. It is, in fact, the IBI who has commissioned Professor Nobody as a key munitions developer in The Realm.
The IBI also is also in a rather interesting position among the different people’s of The Realm. Rather than answering to the local Mayors and other local governing authorities, the IBI answers to The Empty Throne itself. Typically, they don’t have the authority to overrule internal matters in The Realm’s different governing sectors, except where Realm security is involved. In such an instance, failure to comply with an order from The Throne brings a hefty fine and trade reductions for the upcoming fiscal year. The Mayor wouldn’t ever consider refusing such an order, as it would give the Elves an opening to push through their proposal to put The Realm on the sock standard.
Special Agent Sills Masterful is a jaded veteran of the IBI who has very little time for the small-mindedness of gnomes. She get’s along great with Bug, which is why Sindy is so furious. Bug and Nobody have been reporting to Sills for the better part of four years and Bug hasn’t mentioned getting to know an attractive female gnome who shares many of his views about gnome-kind. Yes the meetings were technically classified, but Sindy really does not care. This could prove interesting.
“Sills” is actually short for “Silliness.”
- I hope. ↩
- It’s complete bunk. Two weeks after his confrontation with Jeremy, Gibbles is going to meet a gnome who was also wounded in the siege of Boarsblemish. The deep bass of her altered voice will combine with his helium screech and the pair will break into pop music. They’ll have six children, all with lavender eyes, who will become important figures in gnomish society. Sometimes folklore really is as stupid as it sounds. Thus says the left-hander. ↩
- I’m strange, we’ve established that, right? ↩
- Bureaucracies are the same everywhere. ↩