One perfectly warm summer afternoon a group of 6 gnomes were tasked to go mushroom picking in the forest that surrounded their small village. They were having so much fun that they lost track of time and the task they were given. They were very deep within the forest by this time. The lead gnome gasps and shouts to his friends “ Stop and look! We are lost!”. The group of gnomes all stop and start looking around them. Gasps could be heard from them all as it dawned upon, why yes indeed they were lost. They had never traveled this deep into the forest before.
The gnome elders spoke often of legends and tales about the deep forest and the many different types of creatures that called the forest their home. Humans, elves, pixies, dwarves, giants, goblins, orcs, trolls, vampires, and even dragons all dwell within. One legend always stood out from the rest. The legend of “Lakes Of Fire”. A magical oasis in the middle of the forest where all are welcome and where the sparkling gates only open once a year.
As the group of friends traveled they came to a clearing, they could see that there was a shiny gate and a long line of all sorts of creatures. As they approached the gate, the gatekeeper grabbed each of their wrists and a colorful band appeared. The gatekeeper spoke, “Do not take off the band or the keepers of the Lake will eject you. The band signals that you are friend and not foe.”. As they passed through the gate they then followed a trail that led them to a group of cheerful excited nymphs welcoming everyone home. The gnomes were in awe of everything they were seeing and hearing. A large glittering lake stood in the middle of the oasis with statues rising up out of the water, from the top of the statues fire shot up in great fireballs. Rows and rows of food, drinks, games, sounds of laughter, and music with many many creatures of all shapes and sizes and colors mingling together. As they walked down through the rows and trails, they could see something off in the distance. They strained their eyes to try to get a better look but they couldn’t quite see what it was, but it was HUGE. The lead gnome asked a very colorful glowing unicorn that was passing by what the humongous thing was on the other side of the lake. The unicorn said, “It is our effigy. Make sure to check it out before our last night”.
After what seemed like minutes, but was really many hours walking down one trail to another when the lead gnome looked up and there it was… The humongous, gigantic thing the unicorn had called “The Effigy”. There in front of them sitting on the sandy beach of the lake stood the biggest mushroom any of them had ever seen! The lead gnome is awestruck, as mushrooms are the favorite snack of gnomes, the gnomes looked up and saw something sitting on top of the mushroom..but what was it? The lead gnome strained his neck, squinting his eyes, and saw….. “is that.. It can’t be.. But it’s the only thing it could be by the shape.” Just as he was almost falling backwards to see, it turned its long neck and looked at them. One of the other gnomes yells out “IT’S A SNAIL!! A GIANT SNAIL!!” A nymph encourages the gnomes to go inside it and see what magic awaits them.