When Merakor began to fall and the Drow threat was at last seen for what it was, the gnomes drew together in what they called the Xastro Project. Working there by the great lake, the gnomes fell into secrecy. All that is known after the Xastro Project is that, whatever it was, it probably failed. Five years before the Merakoran Exodus, a band of gnomes joined the refugees. They would not talk about the Xastro Project. They told Vel Pajor and the archmage Galthrest, “We are engineers. The Xastro Project is not yet ready and requires more time. We were sent to join in case the Project fails.”
When the gnomes arrived in the Isles, unlike the other races, not a single one of them was purged in the Allegiance of Blood. They understood the nature of the dragons and requested the Patriarch of Lightning, Spark, as their racial protector. Where the other races struggled with the dragons, the gnomes are said to have presented Spark with very specific requirements for where they would settle. Spark took them to the southern edges of Tsora and settled them in an extinct volcano. The mountain was vast and sat alone against the sea and plains around it. They named it Gnomsh.
For many years after they settled Gnomsh, they sent out ambassadors with status reports. “All families settled. 1,200 children born. 17 casualties in battle against acid demons. Do you have the book titled ‘Yourstom’s Guide to Gearing?” Stone, which settled closest to them would reply as did Morbatten, following Dar Tania’s creation of it. Over time, the dwarfs of Stone and the Tanians began to trade with Gnomsh. Though they never had the books requested, they sent clerical aid and fighters to help the gnomes, who proved to be terrible warriors. In the Orrery of Lord Spark, Alaura wrote: “The earliest days of Gnomsh were full of songs. To Spark’s ears, the songs sounded bright, but once he mastered their language he realized they sang of apocalypse and funeral remembrances for Xastro and those recently perished.”
The gnomes interact with the other empires through wandering merchants and will sometimes send an engineer to join the activities and wars of the others. They know they are different from the Xastro gnomes, whom they revere as saints. However, the trials of the Isles have pushed Gnomsh towards magic and away from engineering. They have ancient books, which they showed to Lord Spark. They are full of machines, materials, and other items required for the Xastro Project. They believe the Xastro Project is waiting for these to finally do what it was supposed to do. They cannot explain what that is. Rather than recreate Xastro and that society, they have instead focused on golemcraft and demi-shadow magic to create magical “engines” that can replicate what actual engines did in Merakor’s day. For example, Gnomsh has steam engines. However, the boiler is a golem made of chrome sitting in a pool of lava. The golem swallows water and when it reaches a certain pressure, it removes its thumb from a pipe and blows the steam into the pipe. They have trains, but the trains are powered by golems turning grand wheels.
The Patriarch of Lightning grows very protective over the gnomes when asked them. His conversations with the Sage Alaura provide one of the few windows into this. It is widely speculated that Spark may have a gnome rider.
Entering Gnomsh, a visitor from our world would be struck by how it resembles a great mall. Grand concourses move busy gnomes between shops and work areas mixed into living areas. Strange lights shine down on levels dedicated to strange agriculture away from the light of the sun. Looking over the edge, the center of the volcano has been hollowed out to incredible depths. Looking up on a sunny day, the sun shines down in a straight arc and reflects throughout the realm.