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Rise and Fall of the Halfling Republic: Part I of VI

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[!] A fresh pamphlet is pinned to the Bramblebury notice board!
The Rise and Fall of the Halfling Republic


A History of the Halflings from 1786-1818



Chapter I: The Birth of a Revolution

It should go without saying that the world of 1786 was a very different place. The continent of Almaris was all but untouched and the lands of Arcas were crawling with every civilized being imaginable. The biggun nations of the world were all in an uproar as vile inferi ravaged the islands of Korvassa and threatened to pave their path of death and destruction to every corner of the continent. Though all the chaos and strife of these years may seem foreign to those living in a more peaceful present, perhaps in some ways 1786 was no different than any other year in history: it was the best of times for some and the worst for others. For the halflings of Brandybrook, however, 1786 was simply a sleepy year.

Though only water stood between Elvenesse’s capital city of Aegrothond and the demon-ravaged deserts of Korvassa, and only a small forest between Brandybrook and Aegrothond, the fear and despair that gripped the biggun nations was all but absent in Brandybrook.  Perhaps we simply trusted in the ability of Elvenesse to protect us, but I think it far more likely that we were simply ignoring it; a natural halfling response to biggun drama of any kind - drink and party and leave worrying about the end of the world to the bigguns.


~Brandybrook’s Riverside; mid 18th century~

As idyllic as this image of late Brandybrook is, the village was not without its problems. The resignation and disappearance of Malfoy Proudfoot in the years prior had left the village without a Sheriff, something that proved to be a serious problem following the murder of the young Polo Gardner, son of Thain Isalie Gardner; the appointed leader of our village, and her then-husband Taurin. Only the informal crime-investigating organization known as BOOSE, run by noted improper halfling Sean Puddlefoot, who died as well soon after, was available to hunt down and bring the culprit, Kat Comb Applefoot, to justice. Even following Kat Comb’s death, however, a feeling of dysfunction lingered in the air around Brandybrook. Halflings were seldom seen walking about the village, gathering only during tavern nights run by local librarian and journalist Filibert Applefoot. Many newcomers went without burrows as Elders Falco Goldworthy and Kit-Kat Gardner, both appointed by Isalie as was the system at the time, devoted themselves to other matters. Isalie herself was rarely seen, likely still recovering from the loss of one of her children. 


~The Funeral of Polo Gardner; 1783~


Even during the times the entire village seemed to be empty, however, there was almost always one lone halfling lady sitting in the Toady Traveller Inn, intently scratching her quill across a long roll of parchment. Though she had dwelt in the village for not even a year, I personally knew her quite well; her name was Greta Goodbarrel.


Though the story of how I ended up in Brandybrook is best saved for a book of its own, I do think a brief summary of it would lend itself well to this tale. I was born in 1739 in the secluded village of Norbury. Being on the doorstep of the Holy Orenian Empire, it was a village heavily influenced in speech and custom by humans. It was, by Brandybrook standards, quite improper, and the worst aspect of this was, without a doubt, the bizarre religion of Knoxo-Canonism; which merged the halfling deity of Knox with the teachings of Canonist Church. Though Norbury elected its Elders, only male halflings were allowed to serve, and the Greenfoot family, into which my mother was born, had nearly uncontested control of every election there. My father was not from Norbury, but for the most part he integrated himself into its culture. I was raised a Knoxo-Canonist, expected by my mother to marry into a wealthy family and have no relationships outside of that; especially not with any women. It was only because of my father’s love of books and willingness to teach that I learned to read and write.


When I turned forty-three, I left Norbury and soon found myself in Lareh’thilln, the Silver City, the capital of Haelun’or in Arcas. There I brushed shoulders with several high elven scholars, including Maenor Aildhuin, Aiera Sullas, Valorin Celia’thilln and Khaeryr Leverys. Though I stayed there for less than three years, it was in Haelun’or that I would study the ideas of democratic government and natural rights, which I would carry with me to Brandybrook in 1785.


~A Night in the Toady Traveller; 1785~


I did not arrive in Brandybrook with any political intentions, however. The old life I had in Haelun’or had been thrown away rather hastily, and I came to Brandybrook in search of something, anything to do with myself. It was only after hearing the complaints of halflings such Filibert Applefoot and Minto Townsend with regards to Brandybrook’s leadership that I took it upon myself to change the village for the better. Admittedly, I knew even then that the petty problems mentioned by Filibert and Minto could be solved without the radical changes to village society I had in mind. Most of what I would say and do in the following years was necessary only in my mind. Even I can’t say what exactly I was trying to prove by conducting this great experiment, but I put every ounce of my being into it, and did truly believe that it would all be of benefit to the village.

But what exactly did I believe? As many I am sure have noticed, my views on what a halfling government should look like seem to change every decade. Indeed, the proposed constitution I penned in 1786 was far more complex and bureaucratic than any that was actually put into effect. It was, in essence, a copy of Haelun’or’s constitution at the time, but without any of the nonsense about purity. It provided for an unelected Thain and an elected Council of Elders led by a Mayor. I recall being warned at the time that these were “biggun ideas”, and would be rejected by the village, but I ignored such notions. I have never personally considered an idea to be “biggun” or “halfling”, there are simply good ones and bad ones. 


Though the precise details of what I considered to be a good form of government for the halflings would change many times in the following years, I have always held to heart the same three fundamental and self-evident truths; that all halflings are born free and equal, that all halflings are born with the natural rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; and that the right to rule comes only from the people, not from Knox or any other elite figure or group. Though a number of manifestos and speeches of mine have over-complicated it, that is ultimately what Goodbarrelian Democracy means, and it's those things which I held to be essential to any sort of halfling constitution.


~A Supper Party at Greenholm Burrow; 1786~


Putting ideas on paper is one thing, however; putting them into action is something entirely different. I decided early on that my goal was not to remove Isalie from power. Despite the harshness with which Minto and Filibert described her, it was my firm belief that anybody could be made to compromise, and I knew that a compromise would be essential to maintaining stability. Besides, the village had been led by an appointed Thain since the time of Rollo Applefoot. That was not a tradition I intended on breaking. All the same, it seemed unrealistic and undemocratic to just send my plan to Isalie and expect her to approve it. I needed the people of the village to be on my side.


Unfortunately, getting the village on my side was something I was never truly able to do at any point in my career. I interviewed many people in the village, but most seemed uninterested in revolution. The only person who really took my ideas seriously at the time was Minto, who co-founded the Halfling Liberty Association with me on the evening of the 1st of the Grand Harvest, 1786. Though we were able to persuade Andon Cloudberry, Theodore Mowood, and Filibert Applefoot to join the HLA, each had their own shortcomings. Andon joined only out of peer pressure, and worried often that our actions would harm offend his girlfriend, Kit-Kat, who was also the adopted daughter of Isalie. Theo joined mostly out of self-interest, hoping his involvement would provide him an opportunity to become Sheriff. As for Filibert, he likely joined only to get closer to me; judging by the fact that he ended up asking me to become his girlfriend the very same night.


Considering I had no intentions to overthrow the Thain, one might wonder why the HLA existed. Its purpose was ultimately quite simple; it was a group of halflings who had agreed to sign the letter of petition and proposed constitution that I was planning to send to Isalie. In the event Isalie rejected these proposals, we would then stage protests, the nature of which I never really thought out, mostly because I never had to. In the closing days of the Deep Cold, 1786, I mentioned to Filibert that I needed an event that would draw a large crowd in order to give a speech. Having planned to do so anyway, he proposed we get married, and that I would give the speech at our wedding. As stupid as this plan was, I agreed to it; I needed to get my voice out there, and could think of no easier way to do so.


~The Goodbarrel-Applefoot Wedding; 1787~


Unfortunately, it just so happened that this proposal coincided with a declaration by Isalie that Andon and Filibert had been appointed Elder and Sheriff respectively. Minto, who did not think very highly of Isalie, was quick to jump to conclusions and posited that Isalie had somehow found out about the supposedly secret HLA and was trying to placate us or diminish the size of the organization. Indeed, Andon left the HLA soon after being appointed, and the notion that Isalie had found out about our organization did not seem too far fetched considering the Warden, a local elf who protected the village and had eyes for Isalie, had been privy to some of our meetings. Not knowing Isalie at all, I took Minto’s theory as fact and rewrote the speech I would give at my wedding to be far more scathing of Isalie and her Elders.


I must say, when I woke up on the morning of the 20th of Snow's Maiden, 1787, I did not expect to be nearly killed at my own wedding. I did, admittedly, intend to inspire some anger, but certainly not to the point of people drawing swords on me. Were it not for the brave actions of Minto, Anne Gardner, and my then-husband Filibert, I may not have lived to tell this tale, let alone accomplish anything I did in the years following. In hindsight, the occurrences of that day were rather amusing in their absurdity. I was almost stabbed by Edward Oceantoe, the very halfling who officiated that marriage, and I made my introduction to Isalie, someone who would become a very dear friend of mine in the future, by calling her a tyrant. The entire thing was viewed by the village as a political stunt, and given how quickly Filibert and I had hooked up, many were willing to bet that the marriage would end within the next five years. That was not the only reason this wedding was prophetic, however, as it also gave quite a bit of insight as to what can happen when halflings get too political. Unfortunately, that is a lesson I did not take to heart.


~The Goodbarrel Wedding Speech; 1787~


Considering that we had never spoken prior to that wedding, Isalie was rather shocked by what I said about her. Fearing a conspiracy against her, she dismissed Filibert from the position of Sheriff and marched almost immediately to Applefoot Burrow to settle the score with me. Thankfully, we were able to explain ourselves to each other, and she agreed to at least have a look at the letter of petition and constitution I had written. I published these documents to the Brandybrook notice board as well, along with a letter apologizing for the incidents of my wedding. Though I was forgiven for the riot, nobody was persuaded to support my bid for democracy, in fact the drama was enough to convince Theo to leave the HLA, which I promptly dissolved as more and more people made public their complaints about me trying to impose “biggun ideas” on a halfling village.

Nevertheless, for a time after 1787, the revolution was in Isalie’s hands, not mine, and I did not make any major publications during those years aside from the odd news article, focusing instead on starting a family with Filibert. Though my early attempts at political mobilization may have accomplished little in the short term, they certainly set the stage for the series of halfling revolutions that would follow. I don’t think anybody at the time could possibly have predicted how all of this would turn out, especially considering that some of the most important figures in this story had yet to arrive. All the same, the warnings that this “experiment” of mine could go horribly wrong were present from the very beginning. I may have been the first to ignore them, but I was certainly not the only one. It would take far more than just one rambling little lady to change the course of halfling history...

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