Qwannyth, Grand Dame of the Underplace, rules the gnomes with a gentle touch. She gives each their work assignments. Some move rocks in the streams so the salmon can come home. Others plant mushrooms spores so that fungal networks can flourish (internet of the Earth) and all living things can communicate with each other. Yet others dig holes to make room for new things to grow. Some gnomes are miners. They dig for the special metals needed to make computers, satellites, and run the world wide web. Without them, humans would not have their internet either.
Not long ago, there was a small earthquake near Mt. Rainier, too small for humans to feel, but it sent a ripple through the underground Underplace where all the gnomes live. Frightened that the Earth might collapse, they rang the bells and dropped their axes, shovels, and high-speed fiber-optic cables. They fled in all directions. When the Earth stopped rumbling, Qwannyth blew a horn for them to return home and go back to work (work is what gnomes like best).
All the little gnomes heard the horn, sighed with relief and came home. All, but twenty. They ran too far, became tangled in the roundabouts of Gig Harbor, in the land called Washington. Then they disappeared and could not find their way back. The twenty gnomes who got lost were all Internet Gnomes. Without them, humans will lose their digital connections with each other. No longer will selfies be shared. No longer will funny cat videos change our lives. The world will be shrouded in eternal night…
Qwannyth, Grand Dame of the Underplace is not wise in the ways of the humans. She does not know how to reach out to them to get her gnomes back. Therefore, she enlisted the services of the Gnomebassador, a human diplomat who understands both the gnome and human worlds. Through the Gnombassador, Qwannyth is seeking your help. She offers rewards for locating her twenty missing gnomes.
Finding them may not be easy. Obor the Obscurator, a trickster knows the location of the gnomes but has chosen to only reveal them through somewhat oddly phrased riddles…because this amuses him. …And he is rather immature.
Qwannyth the Grand Dame of the Underplace, Mistress of the Impossible, Keeper of the Realm has shared this message which the Gnombassador has translated:
Go forth and seek my Little Gnomies. Bring them thither, and thy reward shall be great indeed. For each gnome located, you shall receive 100,000 CS (Crumples Sterling) or the equivalent in another form of payment that shall enrich your life. Find my Internet Gnomes to me and enjoy the Fruits of the Web forever…but if they cannot be found…I fear a terrible period of sickness, strife and far worse—boredom—may be upon us all. Therefore seeker, tarry no longer, but sally forth on your quest to return my—
--Gnomes Away From Home.”