“You know,” Widge Gearloose said, putting down his glass, “Gnomes just number years instead of naming them. It’s a much more logical system.”
“What are ye talkin’ about?” Beli Flinthammer said, forcing the twin images of Widge to resolve themselves into one. “How’d ye expect anyone to remember that?”
The noise didn’t help. Everyone was there at the party: Baelan, Cordovas, Dinhalia, Glondor, Ikeya, Jhakir, Kyroson, Mollie, Mozzbi, Nerraro, Omanoma, Phia, Pika, Piko, Ringo, Saehdrin, Shmooty, Turing, Ukatorr, Vamen, Vimes, Whiskyjack and Xaus.
“It’s very easy,” Widge said, warming to the subject. “It’s all separated with decimal points, starting with which High Tinker’s tenure it occurs during, followed by a decimal point and another digit based on their current term — High Tinkers are elected, you know.
“But I’m getting ahead of myself: Before the number, there’s a mathematical symbol, denoting whether it occurs before Gnomeregan’s founding, after its founding, after the fall of Gnomeregan, after Operation: Gnomeregan or after the expected point in the future when all of Gnomeregan will be under full gnomish control once more. So, if it’s before the founding, the year is marked with a minus sign. If it’s after the founding, it gets an equals sign. If it’s after the fall, it gets a division sign. If it’s after Operation: Gnomeregan — the current era, in other words — it gets a multiplication sign. And, if it’s a date in the future, after gnomes retake the remaining part of the city, it gets a plus sign.
“So, after those initial two digits and mathematical symbol, there’s digits for the year, month, week and date, each using the gnomish base-10 system with 10 months in a year, 10 weeks a month and 10 days a week. I mean, wow, the non-gnomish calendars make zero sense and don’t even use a consistent numerical base.
“After that, there’s a digit for the 10 gnomish hours of the day, 100 gnomish minutes and 100 gnomish seconds. There’s even smaller digits available for those who want to get really precise, but honestly, I think you can figure out the rest from there. It’s pretty intuitive, as you can see.”
Beli looked up from her mug again and furrowed her brow. Behind Widge, fireworks were bursting high over Dalaran.
“I’m sorry, could ye repeat that? This drink was a wee bit stronger than I expected.”
“Or maybe it was one of the eight or nine before that one,” Widge volunteered. “Anyway, to the end of a bad, non-intuitive, non-base-10 year!”
“Aye, may the Year of the Kraken go screw itself!” Beli raised her mug enthusiastically, splashing several patrons in the beer garden, although this was a fairly common experience and no one seemed to notice. “Bloody Burning Legion! Bloody Naaru bringin’ bloody bad news!”
Beli and Widge drank, Beli setting her mug down hard enough to make the flying city wobble, Widge suspected.
“Happy New Year!”