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[!] A letter is nailed to Bramblebury's notice board:

From the Desk of Elder Greta Goodbarrel

Snow's Maiden, 1816


Fellow halflings;

The circumstances under which I write this letter are grave indeed. It is a letter I wished never to have to write, especially not so soon after being elected to one of the three highest offices in the land. But it is a letter that, nevertheless, must be written. I am sure that most will dismiss this letter, as they have done with every other thing I’ve written; or perhaps they will look down upon me for being a coward or a quitter or any other number of bad things. Some may say I am overreacting to a small incident, but it must be understood that this decision was a long time in the making; I regret only the fact that I did not make it before taking upon the responsibilities of  village Elder.


With this letter, I am resigning from my position as Elder of Bramblebury. I have had a long and seemingly successful career, but I find it is difficult to be proud of it when I look upon our village and see what it has become. I recognize that, to some, the source of my disillusionment may not be apparent; after all, we have rows of beautiful burrows, an abundance of food and drink, and a democracy that appears to be functional. What must be understood, however, is that all of it rests within the palm of a small group of reactionary halflings, and under the shroud of democracy they have only tightened their grip on the village. Their mindless devotion to the archaic concepts of “properness” has not, as promised, improved the quality of life in the village. In fact, it has made life absolutely miserable for many, even their own children; who have been demeaned, spat on, and disowned for things as simple as having green skin. Even as early as the days of Bloomerville, they bullied their way through the village; vandalizing wine shops and harassing people for carrying bladed weapons. They have, contrary to our reputation as a friendly and welcoming people, turned visitors away by extorting them, degrading them, and promoting the crackpot “science” of “biggun realism.”


And that is to say nothing of the relentless exploitation of our political system. From the very first election in Bramblebury to the most recent one, a certain family has used their influence to create a new ruling dynasty in place of the relatively meritocratic process by which old Thains were selected. Riding off of the benevolence and well-deserved good reputation of our first and only Mayor, these Elders committed blunder after blunder; thinking themselves Thain whenever their co-Elders didn’t happen to be walking about the village, abusing their offices to enforce their ultraconservative views on our people, and bringing the village’s relationship with Elvenesse to the brink of disaster. 


For the longest time, I had believed our salvation lay in the fact that we are served by three Elders, not one; that we could always count on someone with more noble intentions to keep the reactionaries in check, and that perhaps a happy compromise could be reached with them. Alas, that is not the case. There is no compromising with these people. They have used their influence and numbers to seize control of our democracy; no election can be won without their vote, and it is nearly impossible to earn their vote without appearing to agree with them or to serve their interests. That is only one of the countless aspects of life they have taken control of. I set out to rid the halflings of any possibility of tyrannical rule, and yet that is exactly what we have fallen under.


I cannot walk away entirely blameless for the failure of this village. I was, after all, the lady who convinced Isalie Gardner to step down from the position of Thain. For that, I am most certainly sorry. Autocratic or not, she was a far wiser and more loving halfling than most who have sat on the Council of Elders in the past decade. I had thought at the time that the compromise between myself and these reactionary halflings to bring back the Elder system would prove to be the beginning of a new, happy era for our people, but they have only grown bolder in their assault on liberty and equality. My fear of another dictator in the fashion of Rollo Applefoot blinded me to the possibility of a tyranny of the majority, but there is no better way to describe what the village has become. They have made it so that your options are either to do as they wish, disappear, or be relentlessly harassed. This is not democracy, it is not what I intended, and yet it is what I allowed to happen.


Make no mistake, I will not believe for a moment that what happened in Bramblebury is the inevitable fate of all republics. I have said many times before, knowledge is the key to freedom, but in saying that I forgot the other all-important trait: wisdom, which is what many in the village have been lacking in. Bramblebury is not a failure of democracy; it is a failure of the halfling race itself. We allowed ourselves to be taken in by these reactionary demagogues, ever desperate to return to a distant past that, more likely than not, never existed. It is a classic leaf in the tyrant’s book, and we all fell for it. My disappointment, however, is not to be directed at the village at large; you are not immune to propaganda, nobody is. The true villains of this sad history are more than obvious. They know who they are, and I’m sure they’ll take a great deal of satisfaction in knowing that I believe they’ve won. They have divided us, turned brother against brother, and ruined our village beyond repair. I can think of little more to do than leave, and go to a place where myself, my wife, and our daughter can live in peace.


And so I depart, leaving behind everything save for my family, a few small trinkets, and my wine to my cousin Hawthorn. I bid what few friends I have left in this village a very fond farewell, and hope that they too may soon find peace and safety.





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A halfling by the name of James Peregrin gazes upon the letter, thinking to himself. He let out a long sigh, and finally spoke.


“W’a a waeh ter deneh tradi’ion. Yeh wer a foine eldah, bu’ oi suppose yer toime ‘as come.”


Having said that to nobody, he continued ambling along the pathway, humming to himself.

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After reading the note, Jeannette Applebottom felt sorrowful. She took to The Drunken Pumpkin tavern, where she swiped herself a bottle of her favourite golden beverage, "Wine o' Knox". Next, she trotted along the winding stony paths of Bramblebury, down to the cove on the beach. There she sat an enjoyed a drink whilst she thought about the memories she had with Greta. With the final sip, she mourned her leaving.

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