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


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


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A History of the Halflings from 1786-1818

By 

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Chapter III: Rise of the Peregrins
 1791-1796

Given the great adversity experienced by the halflings between 1789 and 1791 and the general feeling of despair that loomed over the ironically named Fort Hope during those years, one can easily imagine that few halflings expected 1792 to be any different; I certainly did not. Apart from another apparition of “Lord Knox”, who provided some rather cryptic information about the assassins that were targeting the village leadership, the opening days of 1792 were hardly any different than any part of 1791 had been. Unbeknownst to me or Thain Isalie Gardner however, something had been set into motion that would change not only the experience of the halflings living in fort Fort Hope but the course of halfling history itself. Amid the chaos and confusion of 1791, a new halfling arrived at Fort Hope. Though few took much notice of her at first, she would prove to be one of the key figures in this history; her name was Iris Peregrin.
 

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~Iris Tends To Her Chickens; 1793~

 

The Peregrins are an ancient family. Iris was not the first of their line, which could be traced back to Andwise Peregrin, the leader of Willow Hollow, a halfling village in Vailor. Though my knowledge on Willow Hillow’s history is lacking, Iris’ account of it, which presumably was handed down to her as a family story, seemed to imply that the “glory days'' of Willow Hollow were a time when the Peregrin family held significant influence over their fellow halflings, acting as paragons of properness. At some point, however, Andwise lost his title and supposedly the village turned improper and biggun-like. Vailor was inhabited long before my parents were even twinkles in my grandparents’ eyes, but I do think that the notion that Andwise’ fall from power corrupted Willow Hollow should be taken with a grain of salt, seeing as similar terms have been used to describe the rise good leaders like Isalie. In any case, the children of Andwise were upset with the direction the village had taken. Mirabelle, whom Iris is directly descended from, fled into the wild to get away from the “impropers'' while Milly followed the rest of the group to Axios, where she helped manage a proper village known as Reedsborough before eventually joining Mirabelle in the wild. The Peregrins were not again seen in Axios or Atlas, entirely missing the events of Dunshire and Brandybrook, but for all that time their family stuck together, isolated and romanticizing the days of Willow Hollow. According to Iris herself, it was these tales of a great people that drove her to seek out the halflings of Brandybrook in hopes of reliving the glory days of the Peregrins.

 

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~The Village of Reedsborough; c. 1600~

 

It should come as no surprise then, that Iris was utterly disappointed with what had become of our people. Admittedly, even I don’t think it’s any exaggeration to say that the halflings of Fort Hope were completely unrecognizable as the descendants of the halflings of Willow Hollow. Iris had been raised on tales of a cheery, traditional race who were always smiling and never dared to use weapons or minas. She was also upset that the halflings were ruled by a single all-powerful Thain; Willow Hollow’s leaders had been numerous and elected.  While I cannot say for certain when such a thought came upon Iris, it seems that, at some point in the following years, she decided to take it upon herself to restore properness to the halflings and make her people great again. 

 

After milling about the Fort for a few months, Iris’ chance came when she was approached by Filibert Applefoot, who had returned from the self-imposed exile alluded to in the previous chapter and wanted help building burrows. Though his original plans had been denied by the fortkeepers, he and a few others had grown so tired of sleeping in the biggun barracks Isalie had arranged for us that they were willing to accept having walls around it, which they would later be allowed to turn into hedges. Believing the restoration of village life to be first step in a rebirth of properness, Iris and Filibert along with a few others set to work immediately on constructing burrows within the Fort, all right under Isalie’s nose and without her permission. I even claimed one of these burrows for myself, finding the prospect of sleeping in a normal bed and being able to grow grapes irresistible.
 

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~The Village Under Construction; 1792~

 

When Isalie did discover this illegal village she was quite upset. It was yet another instance within recent memory of people blatantly disobeying her; she had insisted time and again that Fort Hope was a temporary home, and had even negotiated accommodations for our people in Urguan, seeing as the dwarves had pledged to protect us from the assassins. Filibert reacted as he usually did, responding in an impish and rude manner, and Iris later mentioned feeling afraid of Isalie. Though neither of them ever intended it, this first clash between Iris and Isalie proved to be the beginning of a political rivalry that would turn our entire nation upside down.

 

Indeed, it can be argued that my willingness to give Iris a chance combined with the trust Isalie had placed in me as an advisor was the only reason the peace was kept in the early days of this new village, which soon became known as Bloomerville. Not wanting to add physical divisions to the social ones that were already developing among our people, I convinced Isalie not to move us all to Urguan, and Bloomerville became the home of the halflings for the next four years. 
 

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~Bloomerville at Night; 1793~

 

Unfortunately, no amount of mediating, compromise-seeking, and pamphleteering on my part could change the fact that Isalie and Iris didn’t trust each other. Isalie had always been rather conscious of her image as a leader, feeling that she was widely disliked. While Isalie certainly did not give herself enough credit for her own virtues, her tendency towards anger and bluntness were admittedly off-putting to many. Iris, on the other hand, was immensely charismatic. Whether she intended to or not, her appearance was that of the nicest person imaginable; a young little lady wanting to do nothing but good for the world. The entire community was absolutely enamored by her and orphans such as Taurin “Monkey” Rutledge and James Ashfoot practically lined up to be adopted by her. I suppose Isalie felt just as threatened by Iris’s popularity as Iris felt threatened by Isalie’s authority.

 

At first I mistrusted Iris as well. Ever since my breakup with Filibert I had been very wary of people obsessed with properness. Though I would soon find that Iris shared many of my views on the workings of a democracy, I felt very uneasy with the fact that Iris had immense support for everything she did while Isalie and I had close to none. Furthermore, Iris and I disagreed heavily on what the basic purpose of a government was; in her rather conservative view, the purpose of a halfling government was to defend tradition and keep the people happy. By comparison, my belief that governments exist only to protect the natural rights of the people must have been seen as improper and radical. Furthermore, while I was more than willing to keep the Thain involved with the government as an unelected official of limited power, Iris believed that the office should be removed entirely. 

 

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~A Storm in Bloomerville; 1794~

 

Despite these disagreements, Iris was far too good natured to cause any real trouble. That would be left to her sons and cousins. Autumn of 1792 saw the arrival of Onelia Peregrin, a direct descendant of the aforementioned Milly Peregrin; and Perry Overhill, a distant cousin of hers. Though Iris had already been working hard to breathe new life into the halfling race, it was only after Onelia and Perry arrived that the "Proper Renaissance" for which Bloomerville is known for truly began. Despite all the positive connotations of the phrase, however, a good portion of this “Renaissance” is perhaps better described as a harassment campaign. Whatever the intentions of these new Peregrins may have been, their views on properness were extreme perhaps even by Applefoot standards, and their methods were quite frankly heavy-handed. Onelia had no patience for impropers or bigguns, and her demeanor was cantankerous, stubborn, and pedantic. A Peregrin in all but name, Perry was equally as extreme, harboring an immense and senseless loathing for bigguns which he would later attempt to justify with “science.”

 

Not long at all after the arrival of Onelia and Perry, the promise of Peregrin properness already began to show a less flattering side. Elder Andon Cloudberry was harassed and called a disgrace for having a dagger to protect himself with. Rufus Knowise faced similar, repeated harassment for “general improperness” and my wine shop, which accepted minas from bigguns in exchange for wine, which was provided to halflings for free, was vandalized with pumpkins and posters complaining about improperness.

 

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~The Peregrin Family; 1792~

 

While I would like to believe that a family leader as kind-hearted as Iris did not condone any of this, it must be noted that Peregrins had a very coordinated and close-knit household, holding clandestine meetings in their burrow on a regular basis, sometimes inviting family friends. Looking back, I do wonder how much of what ended up happening in Bramblebury was planned in advance, and how much say Iris had in any of it. Given what I know of their personalities however, I find it more likely that the greatest influence on the group was actually Onelia, and that for the most part Iris’ sometimes unfortunate place in our history resulted not from any ill intentions on her part but from her loyalty to her family. The same can likely be said for others within the Peregrins’ inner circle, and perhaps to a lesser degree within the village as a whole.

 

Though loyalty and kinship certainly played a role in the Peregrins’ popularity, it must be understood that for anybody who wasn’t improper or otherwise at odds with their agenda, their arrival seemed to signal the beginning of a new golden age for the halflings. Under the informal guidance of the Peregrins, Bloomerville expanded further to include farms, bee hives, and two drinking establishments. Perry produced all manner of intoxicating and invigorating substances for the village’s enjoyment, and Iris continued to be as lovely a person as ever, hosting parties and attending festivals, which became common once Bloomerville was built. Recognizing that most halflings who carried swords did so because they did not know how to make good use of a shovel in combat, the Peregrins also provided training in shovel combat, a program that was admittedly quite successful. With just how much the Peregrins and their friends were doing for the village, it was begining to seem like Isalie had lost her relevance, becoming the ruler of the halflings only in name. This was something I was not particularly comfortable with considering my entire plan for the halfling village in Almaris had come to rest on Isalie’s shoulders.

 

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~A Sunny Day in Bloomerville; 1793~

 

It was around the same time Perry and Onelia arrived that allied bigguns won their final victory against the demons in Korvassa. The celebration of this victory was rather short-lived, however, as it was soon revealed to them that the doom of Arcas was imminent. Though we had known for a while that the halflings would soon be departing Arcas along with the rest of the world, the question of where the halflings would dwell within Almaris; the new world,  had yet to be answered. It was only after dignitaries on behalf of the Sea Prince Feanor met with me and Isalie that it was decided the halflings would renew our long-standing arrangement for protection from Elvenesse, something that was protested only in passing by Onelia. 

 

Wishing to inform the people of what had been decided at our meeting with the elves, Isalie called a village meeting for the 22nd of Snow’s Maiden, 1794. In her missive, she promised also that leadership and government would be discussed at the meeting as well. Despite having been mostly dormant in my writing and politicking for the past few years, I spent the months leading up to it hard at work revising the proposed constitution I had written back in 1786 to be more “halflling-like”, as it were. I studied the old systems of Dunshire, Willow Hollow, and other previous villages and quickly came to the conclusion that an Elder system would not do us much good. I also took note of the fact that all these previous attempts at a halfling republic had been flimsy, having no written constitution and very vague frameworks. That was not a mistake I intended on repeating, and so I created an entirely new form of government of my own design; one where the powers would be separated between three figures of government: a Thain, a Mayor, and a Sheriff; of which the latter two would be elected. 

 

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~Goodbarrel Presents the Constitution; 1794~

 

The thirty or so minutes I spent standing up at the meeting presenting this plan were and remain the proudest moments of my life. There I was, proposing my own form of government, one that I thought would last generations and immortalize me as a hero among the halflings. Though this experiment would not turn out at all like I had hoped, I can at least take pride in the effort, and if nothing else it makes for a valuable story. Though the crowd gathered at the meeting was very small by the end, their applause filled me with great confidence, as did Isalie’s praise of my work. It would be a very long time indeed before I realized that there were people in the village who were not quite so enthusiastic about the system of government I was working to establish. 
 

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~The Bloomerville Shogging Grounds; 1793~

 

That being said, I do think it was around this time that informal partisan politics began to take shape within the village. Though I had warned against forming political parties, and though nobody had any intention of doing so, from the late 1790s onward they existed in all but name. For the most part,  opinions within the village fell into four political-leanings; Bernardism, Halfling Conservatism, Goodbarrelian Democracy, and Centrism:

 

  • The Bernardists were a largely silent group during the 1790s, and were likely the smallest as well. They believed in a traditional, proper halfling village under the rule of a single all powerful Thain in the fashion of Rollo Applefoot. They rejected democracy as a source of dysfunction and an example of biggun influence, and had they been larger in number they probably would have tried to stop Isalie from allowing my system of government from being put into effect. 
  • The Halfling Conservatives were almost totally synonymous with the Peregrin family and their friends. Though they supported the concept of multiple elected leaders, they rejected the idea of a Thain and instead wished to return to the Elder system that had preceded Rollo. More than anything else, however, the Conservatives considered enforcing properness to be the most important function of halfling government and society, and some of them were willing to go quite far to do that.
  • The Goodbarrelian Democrats were, as one might imagine, people who aligned with my vision for a harmonious halfling village where propers and impropers could coexist peacefully and equally and where the government was by, for, and of the people and existed only for their protection and benefit. The concept of Thainship was largely irrelevant to this ideology, but apart from a decade of attempted compromise between 1805 and 1815, my position has generally been that having a Thain is good for the village.
  • Finally, Centrists refer to the group of halflings who either held a mixture of these views or simply did not care at all. For the most part, I would argue that Centrists have made up the largest slice of our population and likely always will, seeing as halflings tend to avoid politics whenever possible.

 

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~Fort Hope to Bloomerville; 1795~

 

The emergence of these ideologies was reflected in several books that were written in 1794. The first of these was a hateful volume known as Biggun Science by Perry Overhill, which posited that bigguns are genetically inferior to halflings due to being less intelligent. This “science”, which would become known as “Biggun Realism” would spread through the village like poison. Though most halflings maintained our reputation for good hospitality in the following years, there were a few too many incidents of bigguns being harrassed, degraded, or extorted. Also written in 1794 was a very brief history of Bloomerville by Iris Peregrin. While I would recommend the book as a good introduction to Bloomerville history for those less interested in this more analytical text, I will note that it very much glorified the Peregrins and their actions. 1794 also saw the publication of the first edition of the Goodbarrelian Manifesto, which, if you can hunt it down, I’d like to note is far closer to my actual views than the 1806 edition, which was edited to appease the political climate of the time. 

 

The closing days of Bloomerville were largely calm and somehow optimistic. Another apparition from “Lord Knox” in Grand Harvest of 1795 saw the young Jeannette Applebottom be elevated to the title of High Pumplar, the head of the Knoxist religion. I recall paying little attention to this at all, mostly because the constitution I had written separated church and state and I was not, and never really have been, a Knoxist having given up the crackpot concept of religion in general around the time I divorced Filibert. However, though Jeanette and her office were not intended to have any power in the new government whatsoever, in later years her influence would be quite significant. To her credit, Jeannette has always been wise beyond her years, even if the only qualifications she has received are a “blessing” from a strange man with a pumpkin on his head.


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~High Pumplar Jeanette Leads the Halflings; 1795~

 

Regardless, Jeanette became High Pumplar at a troubling time. Biggun cities such as Helena and Lareh’thilln were being destroyed as all manner of supernatural calamities and seemingly natural disasters brought ruin to the lands of Arcas. Hoping to raise the spirits of not only the halflings of Bloomerville but also the biggun refugees we would visit, Jeanette led the final Pumpkin Raid of Arcas, one that was quite successful as we even got a few of my old high elf friends to join us on our way back to the village. 
 

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~The Last Pumpkin Raid; 1795~

 

However, not even a week following that pumpkin raid, Bloomerville was destroyed in a terrible quake, and we were once again all evacuated to the Spicy Shrimp. Unlike last time, however, we knew where we were going and what we would be doing once we got there. I recall quite a strong sense of optimism as we sailed away from the wastes of Arcas into the unknown. With the constitution safely in my pocket and all the preparations made for the construction of a new village, I was sure that all that was needed to create the perfect village I had dreamed of for so long was for Isalie to get around to reading and signing the constitution. Though I knew Iris was widely adored and her family influential, it truly had not occurred to me just how dramatically different our nation had become after taking them in. I went to Almaris thinking that the next decades would be remembered as a “Goodbarrelian Era”, but in truth, the next 21 years would belong to the Peregrins.

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Good work as always Jane!

 

[!] As Monkey Peregrin skims over the document, he cannot help but pause upon the image of himself and discussion of his family. He then began to rub his eyes, shaking his head, "Still... blurry. Tew blurry fer moi loikin'." He said with a sigh, "Hopefully oi'll be able to fully recover t'e Bloomerville Period soon. T'en, oi suppose oi shoul' talk wit' Greta." He said before wandering off.

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As he usually does in the late afternoon, Oren was taking his daily stroll through the village when a colorful pamphlet attached to the notice board caught his attention. He paused to read through the latest installment of the recent history of the halflings. He finally turned away to continue his stroll, mumbling quietly to himself, as he is oft to do. "Interesting bit of history. At least I've met many of them this time."

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Iris reads over the passages with a warm gaze, wiping a tear away as she finishes it. 

"T'ere are maneh t'ings oi wish 'ad 'appened differen'leh, bu' t'is village truleh does mean teh world ter meh."

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[!] The spirit of Andwise watches over his proper descendants with pride.

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[!] Both Sorrel Peregrin and Hawthorn Goodbarrel read the pamphlet, the former with a sense of childhood nostalgia for events lived through, the latter with the quiet respect of a fellow writer.

 

Both hold an odd sense of disconnect, however, to events so crucial to their family history, yet to which they held no personal claim to at the time.

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