If anyone read the book written by the wise men of old, they would have known the phenomenon had been foretold. But, unfortunately, that was not done so the fire took the Gnomes completely by surprise.
In the far northwestern corner of Annulus, there is an old forest the Gnomes of Plythrage care for. The day it began Maral was in the forest, enjoying the magic of nature yet longing for an indescribable “something” more. An unnaturally bright spark materialized in front of her. Frightened she ran to alert the others.
A small patch of woods was ablaze by the time they arrived, equipped with every instrument to fight fires. They worked hard to extinguish it, but all their skillful efforts had no impact.
This strange fire not only refused to respond to the Gnomes’ modus operandi, but it also didn’t spread past the initial patch though there was plenty of available, flammable forest debris. The most bizarre aspect of this fire was that it did not consume the forest. Rather it appeared trees, old and young, were dancing with the flames.
The Gnomes’ reactions were greatly varied. Maral, dazzled by the fire drew close, while most studied it from afar. The ones that were adamantly against anything unnatural and unknown began digging a deep trench in an attempt to contain this dangerous, possibly evil thing.
Maral reached out to touch the fire. The sensation she later described was similar to that of your foot waking up after it has fallen asleep, but not as uncomfortable, followed by a pleasant sensation of tingly-lightness. At first, she could stand the sensation for only a moment, but after enough exposure to it, she entered the fire.
She returned with a brightness of expression never seen before. She was the same but different. She could only describe what had happened within the fire by saying it was liberating and wonderful. Many others summoned up their courage and entered the fire.
It was undeniable, there were changes from flame-dwelling. Those pro-fire felt they had a new perspective, endless joy and an increased energy level. Those that were anti-fire described the changes occurring as acting childish, even foolish, lacking gravity and common sense.
The fire-dwellers were universally considered very strange, indeed. It depended who you asked whether that was defined as something wonderful or something dreadful.
Time would tell.