"How far? Ye’ll know ye’ve found Malver’s Way when ye sees the Arch."
Gnomes, fascinated with magic, tried to find a way to safely access it, and instead wound up addicted in the deadliest way.
Thaumatechnology - in a world where straight magic has an unnerving tendency to get the user killed, either by magical catastrophe or by being lynched by an upset mob, this is a much safer form of magical use… Even if it does occasionally explode.
Could come across a band of refugees. Could have been thrown out of their town by a tyrant taking of their land, bought out by somebody unexpectedly, fleeing a battle they know is coming their way. Could be proof of what they are searching for, hints and tips of what is to come, or just to broaden the reality of the world.