Gerbo Dargle lived with the forest gnomes, but was a bit of an oddity due to the rock gnome leaves on his family tree. He was once a traveling tinker before settling down in the burrow as their resident artificer.
Gnerx’s mother was a goblin, his father a gnome. Gnelda the she-goblin had become separated from her tribe wandered the forests alone, trying to survive. She passed by a gnome burrow and stirred the compassion and pity of the kindly gnomish tinker who lived there. Gerbo showed himself, and she was too weak to run away. She consented to be his guest in exchange for food, and the gnome, gladly believing the best of everyone, eventually fell in love with her.
Other gnomes in the community were not so taken with her and considered Gerbo’s trusting nature naïve and simple, even for a gnome. Nevertheless, his affection for her was sincere. To the community’s shock, Gnelda consented to marry him. Their time together was short and bittersweet, at least for him. He was not blind or foolish; he knew that goodness was not natural to his wife. Instead, his love compelled him to charity and pity, choosing to love her however she chose to respond. She was verbally and then physically abusive, but he continued his campaign of attrition – seeking to wear her down with kindness.
She squandered his money and constantly took advantage, to the exasperation of his friends, all of whom encouraged him to be rid of her for his own good. In the end, when she had emptied his coffers and he had nothing left to offer her but his love, she left him ruined and broken-hearted.
Gnelda’s exploitive abuse earned Gerbo the nickname “Oneshoe”; it seemed that Gnelda was incapable of allowing Gerbo to keep any of his possessions. The burrow gave Gnelda the nickname “Doublelock” as a warning to keep their valuables under lock and key.
Gnelda even took their newborn son Gnerx (a scandalous half-breed sparking all kinds of speculation and gossip, the likes of which the burrow had never seen), which was the greatest injury of all. She found the Cragmaw and traded some of Gerbo’s trinkets in exchange for them to take her in. Unbeknownst to her abandoned husband, his kindness was not altogether wasted. Although she lived out the rest of her days in scheming malice, joining and serving the Cragmaw, she never told anyone about Gnerx’s father, not even Gnerx, for she knew that they would kill him. Instead, she raised the strange child as a goblin, unable to abandon him. She showed him all the kindness of a goblin mother (which isn’t saying much), but it is more than might have been expected. Eventually, she died, murdered in a meaningless quarrel — dying in the manner that she had lived. Gnerx was left behind to live out his days as the strangest member of the Cragmaw tribe.
Gerbo “Oneshoe” lived on in the faint hope that one day his son would find him again and that his sacrificial love for Gnelda would not have been in vain. After Gnelda’s departure, Gerbo resumed his life of wandering, gone in search of his long-lost family.
Gerbo’s heart was set, but he was never much of an adventurer. His ill-fated journey ran him afoul of the Cragmaw Goblins, the tribe to which his late wife had fled. He was cast in the dungeon, kept for the amusement of his cruel hosts, and his prospects were more dire than ever. If not for his compassion toward his fellow captive, a doomed and tormented dwarf named Gundren Rockseeker, he would have had nothing to distract him from his grief and hopelessness.
One day, a great ruckus echoed down the spiral stair to the gloomy dungeon; King Grol’s goblins had captured an entire adventuring party. The strange group was caged across the room, and their acquaintance was bittersweet. They, too, he thought, were not long for the world. They asked him why he was there, and he told them the truth — insomuch as they were likely to believe, that is. He was searching for his son, who had been captured by the goblins.
They suffered together under the tortures and taunts of the hobgoblin jailers — but not for long. These adventurers did not concede so easily to iron bars. The strange elf (his skin was blue!) retained a glass dagger which his captors neglected to remove, and which he passed to his dwarven fellow when they came to begin his torture on the rack. His attack with the weapon did little but to raise a commotion, but it was enough.
The elf, who Gerbo came to learn was a sorcerer, suddenly multiplied — four identical blue elves appeared, some inside the cell, some out. In the ensuing pandemonium, the jailers’ keys were lifted and the jailers themselves subdued. With their help, both Gerbo and Gundren, who the party had intended to rescue, were released from their cages.
Suddenly, hope beyond hope, Gerbo saw his son descend the spiral stair! Gnerx was as surprised as the rest that his father was a rock gnome — but it was not yet time for a heartfelt reunion. Together, the lot made their escape from the castle led by their heroes.
Once they reached a safe distance from the goblins, they made camp in Neverwinter Wood. By the light of the fire, Gerbo happily recounted his strange tale, and Gnerx listened intently to his own family history. The group was dumbfounded (and somewhat disturbed) at Gerbo’s liberal compassion for goblinkind, but Gerbo didn’t care. Here was his son — Gnerx — the product of a short and painful marriage to an irredeemable she-goblin. He had been scorned and mocked for believing that any good could come from loving a goblin, but here before him stood proof that it could.
Gerbo went looking for his son in order to bring him home, but Gnerx had already found one. To think — a tinker’s son, an adventurer! Like he had done for Gnelda, they saw beyond Gnerx’s monstrous exterior and uncouth manner to the good within.
Gerbo offered to bring Gnerx back to the burrow, of course, but though he remained deprived of his son, the party’s desire to keep him on was more consolation than he could have hoped for.
It was not the first time Gerbo had departed a place alone and heavy hearted — but it was many years since his heart was last filled not with grief, but with hope.