Part One: In Her Majesty’s Gnomish Service
As a young man, Bertram rises quickly through the ranks of the queen’s most secret service, a small cadre of gnomes dedicated to working towards the securing of gnomish lands and properties. Their eventual goal: to make real the dream of the gnome land. Bertram was a skilled operative who served with distinction; his abilities with subtle words and a subtle knife brought him the trust of the Queen herself.
Bertram completed a series of missions with distinction. These missions included:
Uncovering an anti-royalist gnomish plot and stopping a magical detonation designed to take the life of the Queen.
The investigation of interruptions in gnomish trade caravans by what seemed to be a huge metal beast. Bertram’s investigation uncovered a rogue gnome in the service of the Goblin nations by the name of Zollo whose inventions were being used to swallow whole caravans and bring them to the Goblins in exchange for confiscated magical artifacts.
Uncovering the political corruption of one his own superiors in the service—a gnome by the name of J. Claxton. Claxton was drummed out of the service.
The foiling of a Mindflayer plot to establish a foothold on Urth itself. During the course of this mission, Bertram killed a Mindlflayer in single combat, earning a medal of double ingenuity from the service.
Working in tandem with a human agent of their fallen Empire attempting to secure territory for their people. That agent, a cold-blooded and terrifying man named Darcie Bill, pursues his ends with a single minded purpose that chills Bertram.
Bertram, now a senior agent in her majesty’s service, is given a mission. He is tasked with helping a group of gnomish refugees on the moon establish a permanent colony. The gnomes, having been liberated from their Mindflayer masters by the elves, were being housed temporarily on the estates of of elvish noble family in a series of camps. The gnomes had food and basic shelter, but no opportunity to build lives of their own. The moon was elvish territory, and the elves had no desire to give actual land to these new refugees. Bertram’s mission was to lead a small population from the camps into the wilderness to establish a colony right under the noses of the elves.
Bertram’s mission goes terribly wrong. Bertram begins his mission sowing dissent in the camp, hoping to make some of the residents willing to run for the woods. He underestimates the amount of resentment in the camp, though, The gnomes, who had dreamed of freedom, felt betrayed by the elves, who kept them fenced in their small camp. False rumors had begun to spread in the camps that the elves were not even attempting to help the gnomes, and were instead planning on re-enslaving them here on the moon.
Rather than inspire and escape, Bertram’s agitating led to a full scale uprising and riot. Months, years — generations! — of bitter resentment boiled over. The gnomes ran wild, killing nearly everyone on the estate. Bertram attempted to stop the violence, and even holed himself up in the main house of the estate where he tried to protected the daughter of the Noble Family, a dark haired elf name Bree. But the house was stormed by refugees, and some of the gnomes found Bertram standing watch over Bree. They called him a traitor for refusing to give her up to their justice, and attacked Bertram. He killed seven of his own people with his blade before they brought him down, beating him mercilessly and then killing Bree before he passed out.
Bertram woke hours later, having been left for dead. He fled the camp. The gnomes were celebrating, some of them looting, others moving into the main house, planning to occupy it. Bertram watched from the tree line, knowing what was coming. It was only a matter of hours before the elvish military arrived — equipped, prepared, trained soldiers — and a few hours more before every gnome on the estate was dead.
Shattered by his failure and its effects, Bertram managed to escape the moon stowed away on an elvish ship. He spent the journey to Urth huddled in the hold, reliving the events on the estate in a series of nightmares and flashbacks. By the time he made he home, he was entirely broken. He made his report to the Queen and was given a small and easy task for his next assignment. But he could not bring himself to begin it. Every attempt at spy work was met with panic attacks and nightmares. He was quietly shuffled out of active duty as his life spiraled away from him.
After several months of this, Bertram had had enough. The memories plagued him, and he felt the only way to move on was to erase them. He could not allow himself to repeat his mistakes though. He sought out a wizard of ill repute and purchased, at great expense, a magic artifact: a single hoop earring that, when held in front of one’s eyes, would wipe away the memories of some event. The wizard told him that the one needed only to speak out loud the memory that was to be erased and that the memories would be gone.
Bertram made arrangements. He left his modest estate in the hands of his elderly guardians. He kept a portrait of them on his person, and labeled it “Mum and Pops.” He wrote himself a letter of recommendation for employment as a cook, a hobby of his and a profession he imagined he could love. He rented a room above an inn. And the he held up the ring and whispered “everything.”
Part Two: A New Kind of Service
Waking up in the inn with no memory of his previous life, Bertram searches through his belongings. He finds the portrait, and knows that he has a Mother and Father. He finds A letter, and knows that he is a cook. He finds little else.
Bertram founds his first job as a cook in the home of Claudius Bigglesby, a gnomish wizard known for the quality of his illusions. Bigglesby was a gregarious master, and he spent long hours chatting with his cook, often comparing Bertrams skilled cook’s hands to those of a wizard. Eventually, Bigglesby decided to act on that comparison, making Bertram his apprentice (a decision which had the benefit of allowing him to make his cook work for free). Bigglesby found Bertram to indeed be quite skilled. Near the end of his apprenticeship, though, Bertram caused an accident in the workshop that seemingly killed Bigglesby ands set the building afire. Bertram fled into the night, worried that the accident might be considered a crime.
After several months of travel and odd jobs, Bertram hears of a Human family looking for a Butler and Cook. Bertram’s interview with the Purplebottom family is entirely satisfactory. The details of this time are recorded extensively in Bertram’s own journals. But it is worth noting several things:
The family’s young daughter became a focal point of Bertram’s life. He found himself inexplicably protective of her. Upon discovering that the child had some magical aptitude, Bertram spent a great deal of time tutoring her in the art.
During this time, Bertram began writing letters to the Queen, updating her on the status of gnomes and his work to further gnomish culture. He did not know why he did this—in fact he assumed that all Gnomes did this, and that the Queen read about the lives of Gnomes all over the world on a daily basis.
In fact, these letters caused some consternation with the Queen and her now elderly spymaster. In light of Bertrams long service, though, they decided to allow Bertram the freedom to report in his own strange way, and considered him an intelligence asset to the crown, albeit a strange one.
Bertram’s time with the Purplebottoms ended when Bea came into her full power as a mage. The teenage Bea had spent some time dabbling in the art under the guidance of her tutor, but was unable to control a series of sudden and unexpected wild surges. It is well documented that she turned her brother into a pie (a process that has been miraculously reversed in recent days). But the surge of magical energy had another effect as well. The massive surge of power ripped through Bertram, as well as through Bea, stripping his mind of its enchantments and restoring his memory.
Bertram spent the next chaotic days in a fit of nightmares and flashbacks. The family, caught between grief and horror, were powerless to help their beloved butler — and they assumed Bertram’s mental state had something to do with the disappearance of their son. Bertram fled the estate, horrified at himself and his recovered history.
Days later, Bertram found himself once more in a room in an inn. Holding up his hoop earing, he whispered “Again.”
Part Three: A Servant Without a Master.
Stripped once more of his memories, Bertram wandered the Urth. He still had his “parents” portrait, and, having found a number of receipts, letters, and diary entries recording his time with the Purplebottoms, he knew what he had been there. But the details were lost in a fog of forgetfullness. Bertram assumed that everyone’s memories felt like this. Every now and again, especially in the presence of strong magic, he would find a name or a face: Claxton, or “Mums,” but the details were not there.
Finally, having wandered to a small human settlement called Grudgewood, he met an Elf named Ervendio. He found himself drawn to the Elf, asking him question after question about his home on the moon. Ervendio, unused to such interest and flattery from the Urth-races was happy to oblige. As the night grew longer, and the pair grew drunker, though, the conversation turned from descriptions of Ervendio’s idyllic childhood to his time in the military. Ervendio confessed to the gnome a terrible moment from his own past in which he was called to a neighboring estate to put down a refugee uprising. He and his fellow elves, he told Bertram, found that the gnomes had killed the family of the estate and their servants, and the elves slaughtered them for it.
Bertram, confused and terrified for some reason, began retching in the tavern, his body reacting to what his mind could not. Ervendio, trying to help, cast a healing spell on the gnome, but the combination of strong magic and strained memory once again broke the enchantment on Bertram’s mind. The memories rushed back and Bertram couldn’t help but speak them out loud as they did. Ervendio listened in horror to Bertram’s confessions and even drew his sword on the gnome. Bertram, sick with guilt and terror, did the only thing that he knew would work.
Bertram asked Ervendio if he would forget this event if he could. The elf agreed, but stammered that such a thing was impossible. Bertram, bits of his old self seeping through the cracks of magical memory loss, had a contract drawn up (witnessed by Bunk, the bullywug bartender) stating they would never discuss this matter again. Bemused, Ervendio signed — everyone deals with trauma in their own way, the elf surmised, and this strange little gnome must somehow have been the lone survivor of that mansion massacre.
Bertram once again unclasped the earring, pulled it from his ear, and held it between himself and the elf. “Again,” he whispered, “the Massacre on the Moon!”
The hoop earring, now tarnished and overused, strained to perform its intended service. Bertram’s memory was wiped yet again, but holes remained — pockets of memory. Mum & Pops, the Queen, the Purplebottoms (mostly). His innate goodness and curiosity. Ervendio, caught in the swirling magic of this strange artifact, lost all memory of this early mission — the mansion, the gnomes, the murder — and a lightness returned to his step.
Morning came. Bertram — cook, butler, journeyman, casual illusionist, and nothing more — awoke and embarked on a new adventure with new friends. There was some sort of trouble at a signal tower on Eddistone Point….