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HalflingPrincess

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About HalflingPrincess

  • Birthday April 1

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    HalflingPrincess#4799
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    HalflingPrincess

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  • Gender
    Female
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    United States
  • Interests
    Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, History, Classical Music, Writing

Character Profile

  • Character Name
    Julie Riverhopper | Argentium
  • Character Race
    Halfling | Sorvian

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  1. An angry halfling lass shakes her head. "Fookin 'ell... when s'reets are police', t'ough's'll soon follow, er somefin'... maybe ef more folks 'ad real weapons we'd nae need to be "protec'ed" by a senile madman an' his friens."
  2. Silence filled the halls of Goodbarrel Burrow. The afternoon sun shone through the window, casting light on the thousands of pages of writings sitting on Greta Goodbarrel’s desk. As it had often been over the past few years, the burrow was empty save for Greta and a couple of Sorvians. Once home to five halflings, the burrow was now home to only two. Not since her early days in Brandybrook had Greta lived in such an empty burrow. As she entered her dining room, her eyes fell upon the various paintings on the walls. There was a portrait of her daughter Eliza when she was a baby. It was rare now that Eliza, all grown up and off on her own, would visit the burrow. Everyone has left, Greta thought, haven’t they? As her eyes moved across the other portraits, that same thought crossed her mind. There was a portrait of Inkers, and of herself and Isalie Gardner speaking before a crowd of halflings. She had grown accustomed to seeing these faces every day, but had not spoken to them in decades. At ninety-two years, Greta was not really an elderly halfling, but she had certainly begun to feel like one. Greta was entirely alone when she took a seat at her dining room table. Her wife Kerra had left on a shopping errand and her Sorvian Tolerance was still in the study reading. An opened bottle of Greta’s favorite fortified red wine was already resting on the table, and she hardly gave a second thought before picking up the bottle and taking a long swig from it, as was her custom. Not even a minute passed before the woman felt a sharp pain in her chest. She recognized it instantly. She knew what moment had arrived; a moment she had been imagining nearly all her life, a moment she had been long prepared for, though she had rarely imagined it would look like this. Greta did not call for help, she didn’t even stand up. What was coming was inevitable, there was no choice now but to let it be. She began to imagine what people would be saying about her next week, or next year, or a hundred years from now; though it was not a question unique to this moment. All her life, Greta had been fixated on building herself a legacy, on writing things worthy of being read and achieving things worthy of being written about. She had resolved long ago not to become the simple housewife her mother had intended her to be and, to that end at least, she had succeeded. For as much as she resented her failures, reporting on them had left her finally satisfied. For nearly a decade now, Greta had felt her life was more or less complete. But now the notion that Greta’s life was over was not just a feeling. As she began to lose consciousness, she started to imagine what she may soon see. Greta did not believe in any particular god, but she had never ruled out the possibility of an afterlife. In fact, as she collapsed on the table before her she could almost swear she had caught a glimpse of it. She could see her father, looking up from his book to offer her a warm smile. She could see Jol, waving to her with a mug of coffee in her other hand. She could see people she had hardly known like Kit-Kat and Fred Puddlefoot, and great halflings who had died long before her such as Rollo and her cousin Micah. Yet, as Greta got ever closer to the other side, her mind wandered back to the living world, to Kerra, to her daughters Elsie and Eliza, and to her friend Winter. She wondered if she would ever see them again. But Greta did not have long to ponder that question. Soon the pain gave way to nothing; no more senses, no more thoughts, and no more feelings. Nearly an hour passed before Tolerance went into the dining room to check on their maker, realized what had happened, and rushed off to find Kerra, to tell her and anyone else that should know that Greta Goodbarrel was dead. As was her fashion in life, Greta had left behind quite a hefty pamphlet, which; after a brief introduction, was helpfully divided into sections addressed to various people she had known: The Last Will and Letters of Greta Goodbarrel To any it may concern, If this pamphlet has been published, I have died. Whether by the hand of another, by unexpected tragedy, or fault of my own, my life has ended. As chance very likely has it, however, my departure from this world was abrupt, and I was not given what time I needed to give each of my loved ones a personal send off, nor to sort out my wishes for burial or my bequests. It is for this purpose that I write these final letters: To my dear daughter, Eliza; To my dear wife, Kerraline; To my dear daughter, Elsie; To my dearest friend, Winter; To the Warden and Isalie; To Anne; To Valorin, Inkers, Maenor, and Aiera; To all others who have crossed my path in Bramblebury, Haelun’or, and Norland; If you feel that I have neglected to send you a letter, my apologies. If you believe you were at all important to me, then you likely were, for I do not show affection lightly. As of writing this, I have no idea how long I will have lived, but I am confident that it will have been far too short a time to live among such wonderful people. If I have ever offended you, I can offer only my general apologies. I, as much as any other person, was far from infallible, and throughout my life have committed many errors. Nevertheless, it is my hope that history will be kind to me, for I have devoted a great deal of my life to changing its course for the better. Though I will spare you all a political sermon, seeing as most of you are likely tired of such things, I will close by offering a final wish to any in the world who may listen: that a day soon comes when all peoples of the world live in peace, freedom, and equality. With Regards to my Body and Belongings I leave everything; including my books, my jewelry, my sword, my Sorvians, and my burrow; to my wife Kerra with the expectation that she will pass them on to Eliza when the time is right. Though my wife is under no obligation to continue caring for our vineyard or brewing wine in my place, I do hope that each and every bottle of Goodbarrel Wine soon finds its way to a thirsty person. As for my body, I ask that, if possible, it be put out to sea in the fashion of Polo Gardner and other halflings of old. After all, my life was nothing if not a series of adventures. It is only fitting that it should end with one. I bid all who are reading this one last farewell, may you all live long and happy lives.
  3. Greta sighs, shaking her head as she reads the flyer "Another one. Yet again we stray further from the possibility of being seen as anything other than a backward people that worship pumpkins and mushrooms."
  4. A certain red-haired halfling lass lets out an incredulous chuckle upon reading the flyer. "Can't help but wonder how long this one will last."
  5. After reading the letter, Greta trotted back to her burrow to open a bottle of sparkling white wine. Though nobody else was home, she raised her glass in toast to the good health of Monkey. Though democracy had not returned to Bramblebury; personal liberty, equality, and wise leadership had; and, after everything she and the village had gone through in the past decades, that would be enough. Bramblebury was not a republic, but it was a free village once more.
  6. Upon discovering a copy of the agreement, Greta shakes her head in disapproval. "Conspiracy against Isalie, abuse of power as Elder, and now separatism? My, my she's getting ambitious isn't she..." Greta would chuckle a bit. "She had all of Bramblebury under her thumb before disappearing. I suppose she couldn't accept as I did that leaving opened the door for someone Rolladango to come walking along." As Greta walks home, she wonders what problem a proper halfling could possibly have with Rolladango... apart from him not thinking exactly the same as her, that is.
  7. [!] 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 By Chapter V: How Liberty Dies 1814-1818 To the biggun observer, the decline of the Halfling Republic was not plainly obvious in 1814. Even most halflings were not fully aware of the drama that had been going on between our outgoing Elders, nor of the incidents with Elvenesse. As is our nature, most of us preferred to keep busy with more cheerful things such as birthday parties, tavern-going, and bakery days. While my wife Kerraline and other friends of mine had made me aware of some of the village’s problems, these were all things I thought could be easily remedied, especially once I became a village Elder. It could be argued that one advantage of the three Elder system in the 1806 constitution was that the village was always guaranteed to have three different opinions on every matter. However, as was exemplified by the events of Peregrin-Goodbarrel-Hassenfort years, this was often as much a curse as a blessing, but it did mean that, unlike with the Mayoral elections, a Peregrin running did not automatically exclude everybody else from winning. I knew I at least had a chance in the Election of 1814. ~A Poster Promoting Winter Gardner; 1814~ In the years preceding the 1814 Elder Election, my friend Winter Gardner and I had discussed running for Elder rather frequently Though it was not an official or public partnership, we intended to serve as Elders together, and ran on fairly similar platforms that implied slight support for conservatism when in reality our beliefs were more in line with Goodbarrelian Democracy. After the young Jordan “Jorts” Applebottom, grandson of Sheriff Meemaw Applebotom, and Filibert Applefoot announced their candidacies, both myself and Winter saw it as an absolute imperative that at least one of us made it on to the Council of Elders. Though our rhetoric at the debates, which were moderated by High Pumplar Jeanette Applebottom, was far less dramatic than our thoughts; we did believe that this election was a battle for the village’s very soul. Filibert was a known Bernadist and had never been terribly interested in politics to begin with, James Peregrin tended to speak and act more like his cousin Onelia than his adoptive mother Iris, and Jorts was, in my opinion at least, simply too young and inexperienced to be involved in the government. I didn’t think too much harm could come from one or two of them sitting on the council, but a council composed of the three of them would surely mean the end of the republic. ~A Poster Promoting Jordan Applebottom; 1814~ Despite the unpleasant political climate of the time, the debates were not particularly heated. There was some argument over how the village should move forward in its relationship with Elevenesse, as well as a rather crackpot proposal by Filibert to tear down entire sections of the village in order to make it more compact. In the interest of keeping it all civil, however, little to no discussion was had regarding the issues faced by our predecessors; our solution to the village’s more serious problems was decidedly to avoid them. Though it was not openly discussed, it seems much of the village was aware that the Election of 1814 would be a consequential one, as evident by the fact that it had the largest turnout of any election in Bramblebury’s history. It also proved to be a very close election, which, much like the Sheriff race in 1797, ended up with a tie that had to be broken. Even before I learned anything about what had occurred behind the scenes of this election, I had noticed the somewhat flawed nature of the system. Unlike in the 1797 constitution, where the votes were counted by the Thain who was only allowed to vote in the event of a tie, in Elder elections the votes were counted and ties broken by the outgoing Elders. Aside from the obvious issue that would arise from an Elder running for reelection, the fact that the Elder candidates were closely related to the outgoing Elders meant that, in the event of a tie, nepotism was guaranteed. If a tie had occurred involving me, Kerra would most certainly have tried to break it in my favor. If a tie occurred involving James, Onelia would likely have done the same for him. ~The Bramblebury Elder Debates; 1814~ Of course, what actually happened at the end of the Election of 1814 was far more complicated than that. For reasons I am not entirely sure of, the election was extended nearly half a day, and in the end James and I won while a tie was reached between Filibert and Jordan. I do not know who voted for who, but it seems that Onelia and Kerra did not agree on which of those two candidates should become Elder seeing as they felt the need to bring in High Pumplar Jeanette Applebottom to help break the tie on account of former Elder Isalie Gardner having resigned her office at the beginning of the election. As would be expected, Jeanette broke the tie in favor of her brother, and so the Bramblebury Elder Council was once again composed of a democratic Goodbarrel, a conservative Peregrin, and a halfling not really affiliated with either. Legally speaking, neither the involvement of Jeanette in the vote counting nor the extension of the election was constitutional; but as the “Revolution” of 1806 indicated, laws in Bramblebury were practically meaningless. Wanting to stop any growing discontent in its tracks, our first act upon assuming office was to publish a “clarification” of election rules which would probably be better described as an unconstitutional rewriting of them. It declared that the anomalies of the election that got us into power were “perfectly legal” and also made it so that people were forced to distribute their votes to at least two different candidates, something almost in direct contradiction to the constitution. ~The 1814 Bramblebury Elder Election~ Despite the shaky start of our term, however, the first year of the Goodbarrel-Peregrin-Applebottom Council was a very productive one. After hearing about the way his cousin had treated the office of Elder, I did not particularly trust James at first and was very pleasantly surprised at his ability to cooperate with the rest of the Council. Together we were able to formalize a process for distributing burrows, gain the halflings of Bramblebury free access to Elvenesse’ capital city Amathea, update the job census as well as the laws and traditions, and convince Elvenesse not to levy a coal tax upon our people. If you had asked me what I thought of James and Jordan in those days, I would have spoken quite highly of them. Regardless of what they went on to say and do, under normal circumstances Jordan and James were good Elders. Despite the improved state of our leadership, the problems that hampered the village during the Peregrin-Goodbarrel-Hassenfort years had not gone away. Many improper halflings felt quite unwelcome in Bramblebury, and for many of them the best possible getaway was to join the crew of the Spicy Shrimp, which had been refurbished by Captain Anne Cottonwood Gardner, daughter of former Thain Isalie Gardner and the previous owner of the Shrimp, Taurin Gardner. The bizarre murders that had occured in the early 1810s had yet to be solved; which, combined with Meemaw being generally absent from public life in the village, led to Anne challenging Meemaw for the title of Sheriff. Rather than run against her much younger opponent, Meemaw chose to resign her position and look after her own health. Seeing as nobody came forth to challenge Anne apart from the long-missing and thus ineligible former Sheriff Malfoy Proudfoot, she ran unopposed. Anne needed only be confirmed as Sheriff by a yea/nay vote from the village to become Sheriff. ~The 1815 Bramblebury Sheriff Election~ Though the 1815 Bramblebury Sheriff Election was meant to be a mostly ceremonial one, a whole third of the votes cast were against Anne’s ascension to the office of Sheriff. I was absolutely baffled by the fact that five out of the fifteen halflings who voted would rather have no Sheriff than let Anne take office. Considering the demographic of the people who voted against Anne, I can only assume that it was because she was improper, which, thinking back to when I knew her as a child, would not surprise me. That being said, I still find it plainly ridiculous that properness was so valued by the village conservatives that, in the midst of a literal murder case, they would elect no Sheriff over a very qualified one who happens to be a little improper. If it was so important for a Sheriff to be proper why didn’t they put forth their own candidate? It was asinine, and only added to my growing disdain for the conservatives. ~A Halfling Windmill; early 19th century~ The final straw that pushed me over the edge, however, was the 1816 Bramblebury Fire Department Affair. Upon our ascension to the Council of Elders in 1814; James, Jorts, and I had put resolving the ongoing elections for Chief of the Fire Department Onelia had created during her term on our to-do list. Later, James explained to me that the Bramblebury Fire Department, despite having been created by Onelia during her term as Elder, was under her personal jurisdiction and not that of the Council of Elders, which I assumed was because it was supposedly a private organization. Despite the fact that I believe services such as a fire department should be publicly owned, Kerra and Burt had not signed off on the creation of such an organization, so I agreed with James when he said that we should leave management of it to Onelia, who oversaw the election of Perry Overhill to the title of Fire Chief. Considering it had been established that the Fire Department was a private organization, one can understand my confusion when, on the 1st of Snow’s Maiden 1816, Perry Overhill published Fire Safety Ordinances, which included a series of ridiculous laws (the violation of which have never caused fires before) as well as an absurd system for punishing infractions that included going so far as to tear people’s fireplaces down and force them to write a letter of apology. The Ordinances bore neither the signatures of the 1806 Elder Council nor the 1814 one that I sat on, and were thus illegal. I recall coming home to write a nullification of these illegitimate laws and finding that someone had already put out my fireplace, something that was rather annoying considering it was the middle of the winter and I had no matchbox on hand. ~Bramblebury in the Winter; early 19th century~ Before even going home to write the nullification, however, I looked for James and to get his approval to post it, and found him conversing with Onelia, both of whom acted as if Perry was doing nothing wrong. Apparently I had been incorrect to assume that the Fire Department was a private organization; James and Onelia now insisted that, having been created by an Elder during her term, the Department had full authority to make and enforce laws. Onelia questioned if I was disrespecting her decision regarding the Fire Department, though frankly this was not a matter of respect but legality. Onelia insisted that; since she did not see her co-Elder, my wife Kerra; on the day she was designing the Fire Department, she had full authority to create it without her co-Elder’s approval. As I mentioned last chapter, no such provision was in the constitution. After some useless bickering I eventually got James to agree that we should not condone tearing down rooms and burrows, and I went ahead and posted the missive I had written. I must admit that it was an abuse of power on my part to take James’ words as an approval of an official statement he hadn’t ever read, but my patience with him and his fellow conservative halflings had reached the end of the line. As I should have expected him to, James immediately tore my missive down, and all I could do at that point was go home and brood about it. Though Onelia had been out of office for nearly two years by then, the fact that she and James thought it was perfectly acceptable for an Elder to go behind another’s back and create an entire department of law was horrifying to me. It may seem silly that I got so worked up about a rogue fire brigade, but the implication that an Elder could use the “absence” of their co-Elders to assume the powers of a Thain made me finally realize that Bramblebury was no longer a democracy. Indeed, I suspect the only reason I emerged from the Election of 1814 with more votes than any other candidate is because I had the support of both the Peregrins and the improper halflings, while every other candidate appealed only to a more specific group. Though, as I have alluded to several times throughout this text, the decline of halfling democracy was not the work of one halfling or group alone; when I sent a letter to the village resigning from the title of Elder, I placed the blame for the republic’s backslide partly on the Peregrins and their fellow conservatives and partly on myself. Within hours of this letter going up, my family and I had disappeared from the village, and were not seen again in Bramblebury for nearly two years. ~Inside the Cookie Crumb Bakery; 1815~ I cannot say for certain what happened in my absence. My family’s flight to Norland left us homeless for many months, and it was not long before I began yearning to return to my warm burrow. Being away from the village had given me enough time to reflect and begin forgiving myself, and I eventually began to hear rumors from my fellow halflings that the Peregrins were backing down. Sure enough, when I returned to Bramblebury in Sun’s Smile 1817 I found that Perry had departed the village, and that Onelia had not been seen in public for some time. Though my self-imposed exile was brief, the damage it did was lasting. I had long presented myself as a woman who would always stand against tyranny in any form, and yet, when I discovered that I had been complicit in establishing mob rule in Bramblebury, I fled. With my career more or less in shambles, I decided to publish another letter admitting that I had made a number of errors in my two terms as Elder and my long-time career as a political activist. Being finally weary of politics and too unsure of myself to try and solve the issues of government, I more or less declared that I would not stand in the way of someone trying to take down the current government, something that I am sure caught the attention of a certain Applefoot. ~A New Day in Bramblebury; early 19th century~ I was not the only Elder who became fed up with the position. Just two months after my return to Bramblebury, James published his own letter of resignation, claiming that his family’s presence and influence in the village was unwanted, and that the halflings had gone astray, coming to prefer the company of bigguns to their fellow weefolk. It was hyperbolic to be sure, but James was not wrong in assuming that I, at least, would rather live among bigguns than in a village where properness was enforced by a ruling mob. In many ways, his resignation from Elder and departure from the village marked the end of an era. Though the Peregrins were not all gone, not from the village and certainly not from the world, their influence had diminished drastically. Much like a royal dynasty, their once great line faltered as each successor failed to live up to the greatness of the first. Iris had done everything in her power to prove that properness could be fun and healthy for her fellow halflings, but the heavy-handed methods used by a small number of her friends and supporters to spread this message tarnished her family’s legacy. The conservatives who yearned to go back to the glory days of Willow Hollow seemed to have forgotten that the Elder-system had failed before, and those who forget the mistakes of the past are doomed to repeat them. But what of the present? Ever since the “Revolution” of 1806, the Peregrins were the republic. With their influence gone and mine severely diminished, the government looked like a sickly beast that needed to be put out of its misery. Though James attempted to appoint Filibert Elder in his place, this was unconstitutional and it was not upheld by Jorts, the last remaining Elder of Bramblebury. I cannot imagine what it must have been like to be in that young lad’s position, trying to hold a village together as its government came collapsing down around him. What I can say, however, is that he took the course of action that would be expected of any sane person; which was to hand off this immense responsibility to someone else at the first opportunity. ~Rolladango’s Return; 1818~ I cannot say I know exactly what happened during the opening days of the Grand Harvest, 1818, seeing as, for the first time in decades, I was not in the room when a major decision about the future of Bramblebury was made. It seems, at some point following the resignation of James, Rolladango Applefoot turned up in Bramblebury babbling about having been selected by Knox to save the village from its destruction by becoming Thain. It was rather quickly decided by Jorts and Jeanette that Rolladango should assume this “Knox-sanctioned” position. Despite the illegality of doing so, the constitution was totally nullified, and all power over the village was returned directly to a single, unelected Thain. Just like that, without any ceremony, celebration, or resistance; everything I had worked for in the past thirty years, everything the Peregrins had pursued in the past twenty-six; all of it was undone. As had happened in Dunshire of old, a bloodless coup brought an end to the Elder system. After 21 years, the Halfling Revolution was over. Though I did not and do not ever have any intention of protesting Rolladango’s Thainship, I was nevertheless sorely disappointed by what was put into the new constitution, which was called a “leadership charter” because apparently “constitution” is a dirty word now. The separation of church and state I had established in both the 1797 Constitution and the 1806 one was destroyed; with the Thain now being required to be a worshipper of Knox. The High Pumplar now had official authorities within the government, and only position that was kept elected was the ultimately unimportant one of Sheriff. Elders remained, but like before they were now appointed by the Thain and could be removed for being improper. This new government was based on the ramblings of a madman and the desires of an invisible pumpkin lord, not the will of the people nor the wisdom of worldly leaders. Yet, it was met with nearly universal praise. It was believed that, with Rolladango’s ascension to the Thainship, the divisions within Bramblebury could begin to mend, though I would argue that our society’s wounds have been hidden rather than healed. Should someone once again come along thinking it would be a good idea to return the glory of the ancient villages and do away with the Thainship, I’d imagine that we’d simply see everything I have described happen all over again. ~A Gathering of Weefolk; 1818~ That is why, after everything that has happened, I do not feel that my “experiment” was for nothing. In these volumes I have written a full account of it, including all of my thoughts and, to the best of my ability, those of the other people involved. The point of an experiment is not necessarily to succeed but to learn, and as long as our descendants have this text to look back to, I will have succeeded in uncovering a number of very important lessons about the nature of halflings and democracy. Truthfully, I do not believe what occurred in Bramblebury is proof that democracy cannot work in any society. I have never once claimed that democracy is perfect; in fact, I’d be willing to concede that it is the worst form of government; apart from all the other ones that have been tried. The story of the Halfling Republic is not a story of failure caused by democracy but rather the story of a democracy failing. So many of the ills that were blamed on our democracy would perhaps have been better blamed on things such as mob rule, polarization, extreme traditionalism, and political apathy; some of these are things that could have been prevented entirely, while others are natural things that all democracies have to overcome but we mishandled. ~Knoxmas; 1798~ It is very easy to conflate democracy with mob rule; both center around the government being heavily influenced by the people. The difference is that the former is held in balance by laws and compromise while the latter is dictated only by the will of the majority. When I created our constitutions, I did not understand the dangers of mob rule nor did I have as much as a respect for laws as I do now. I understand as well as any halfling that laws are pesky things; some laws, such as those in Haelun’or and Oren are unjust and oppressive and many seem just too stupid or inconvenient to follow, but a free government cannot function without just laws. Too often did I ignore my own laws in order to placate the people. I did not have the strength or will to say no to the mob and risk further strife; that is why it was able to take over. Polarization is a plague that affects nearly every democracy at some point or another. People feel far more comfortable and secure when associating with people they agree with. Halflings especially like to avoid conflict or debate, something that ironically contributed to the informal party system which I described in Chapter III. Each side felt more comfortable around their own, and began to mistrust the others. This brought us to a point in the 1810s where it seemed the propers and the impropers didn’t even live in the same universe, let alone the same village. I am as guilty of this tribal, intransigent behavior as everyone else is, even if I tried to seek compromise in earlier years. Though polarization may not be avoidable, it is far less dangerous in a society governed by laws rather than the masses. In that sort of society, compromise is required; one cannot get their way simply by crying loud enough. ~The Mayoral Debate; 1805~ Traditionalism is not something exclusive to the Peregrins or the villages they lived in. Halflings are, by nature, traditional creatures; something that I was never willing to accept until now. I will always disagree with the notion that properness and law should be one in the same but I no longer think myself capable of changing minds on the matter. Perhaps, in the far future, halfling society may reach that point, but for now I would say attempting to create another Halfling Republic is inadvisable. A democracy requires the people to be respectful of the law, forward thinking, and educated; those are unfortunately not terms that describe halflings particularly well. While I was living in Haelun’or I was told more than once that I was too smart to be a halfling. Though I wouldn't deign to consider myself above the rest of my people, I do think it is worth acknowledging that my way of thinking about things is quite different than the average halfling. I tried my best to change minds for the better and improve our society, but it was a task too tall for one lady. Looking back, I sometimes question if even I cared about this revolution or just wanted to prove something about myself. Even if I did, the number of halflings truly interested in democracy has never been great. For the Peregrins, it was but a small aspect of a larger agenda that involved restoring halfling tradition, and ultimately that goal took precedence over it for some of them. For Isalie, democracy was something I had sold to her, and it came about only because she trusted me, and died for the same reason. Ultimately, however, the vast majority of the village simply did not care about democracy. This was something I had known all along, and never once did I consider that a government of, by, and for the people cannot function if the people are apathetic towards it. Nobody in the village asked me to start a revolution, create a republic, or bring democracy to them. By the end, democracy was little more than an inconvenience, so the people did not care when it was taken from them, nor did they care the countless times I and others trod upon it with our unconstitutional acts. I now recall something I said many years ago: “you cannot free a people who will not free themselves.” ~Consulting the Thain; 1794~ In writing this account of the Rise and Fall of the Halfling Republic, I have also told the story of over thirty years of my life. With all the blood, sweat, and tears I put into my political work, I suppose the time has come to question what it was all for. When I started, it wasn’t all about creating a perfect society. It was about finding something to do with my life, about proving that I was worth more than the housewife I was raised to be. I suppose, to that end, I have succeeded, but it is a selfish goal, the completion of which does not provide me with satisfaction; that is why I wrote this series. My efforts to create a more perfect village may have failed, but as has been so often said by the wise, failure is a fantastic way of learning. I may be too old to apply the wisdom I gained from my experiences, but I can at least preserve it for others to gain from. It is my hope that, even if my name is forgotten by future generations, this story is not. Though values and beliefs will always grow old and be replaced with better ones, the lessons of the past are timeless.
  8. [!] 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 By Chapter V: Great Again? 1805-1814 The closing days of Iris Peregrin’s term as Mayor of Bramblebury marked the midpoint of a unique period in halfling history; it was a time when the Peregrins were approaching the height of their influence on the village, which for some meant an era of festivities and good feelings, and for others an age of austerity and nonacceptance. Though the constitution had guaranteed all the same rights to improper halflings as proper halflings, the social stigma associated with breaking tradition was enough to keep most impropers “in the closet.” Nobody was ever arrested for being improper, but almost nobody was willing to admit that they were either. I still owned a sword and continued to carry it with me whenever I left the village, it was kept hidden in the burrow at any other time, and if asked I would have said I had gotten rid of it. In the few cases in which some halflings were unfortunate enough to do something improper out in the open, the punishments they faced were not too harsh; nothing much worse than harassment and social discrimination. However, though this manner of repression was quite tame compared to the sort of violence that happens to nonconformists in Oren or Haelun’or, it was still a far cry from the free society I had envisioned. The Peregrins would not soon give up the cultural crusade they had started in Bloomerville. Besides, considering how much good Iris had done for the village, most halflings, myself included, were willing to go along with all this, even if only to keep the peace. Hiding one’s improperness has always been fashionable, so for the majority of halflings, those who had not been openly improper prior to the Peregrins’ arrival anyway, nothing had changed at all. ~A Bonfire in Bramblebury; 1804~ Before going any deeper into this chapter, however, it is important to remember that the Peregrins truly believed that enforcing properness like this was good for the village. Halfling conservatism as the Peregrins practiced it was very much focused on maintaining a uniquely halfling cultural identity. Anything improper or biggun-like was considered a threat; a slippery slope that could lead to the halflings losing sight of who we are. Considering what Iris found upon her arrival in Fort Hope in 1792, to some degree I can understand why the conservatives thought maintaining properness was so important, however she and her family had not been present back in Brandybrook, where the idea that proper and openly improper halflings can coexist peacefully was taken for granted; at least after Sheriff Alfie Greenholm resigned. Sean Puddlefoot, Benedict Hassenfort, and Anne Applebrook were all famously relaxed in their adherence to halfling tradition, but from what I’ve heard they were all well respected people in Brandybrook. Their presence did not make Brandybrook’s proper halflings any less proper, nor did it cause any doubt in anyone’s mind that we were all still halflings. As much as I disagreed with the Peregrin stance on properness, however, the main aspect of their political agenda that worried me was the notion that a Peregrin needed to be in power at all times. The Mayorship was not a royal title to be handed from one member of a family to the another, but given Iris’ endorsement of her cousin Onelia that seemed to be exactly what was meant to happen. The fact that another Peregrin would be running combined with the strict degree to which properness had been enforced and lingering memory of the vitriolic response to the constitution dissuaded me from running in the Mayoral Election of 1805. I was rather surprised when my wife Kerraline, who had never been involved in politics before, announced that she would be running for Mayor; but I gave her all the encouragement she needed. Kerra did not have very strong or detailed political beliefs, but that didn’t matter; she was kind, capable, and most importantly trustworthy. ~A Poster Promoting Kerraline Goodbarrel; 1805~ That being said, I did not have a lot of confidence that Kerra would beat Onelia. She was not particularly active in village life, in fact for most part the only thing known about Kerra was that she was my wife, which, considering my reputation at the time, was not something that particularly helped her campaign. In fact, the only thing Kerra really did have to her name prior to the debates was the fact that she was not Onelia Peregrin. Though they may have been a minority, there were at least some people in the village who either thought the Peregrins were too strict about properness or simply didn’t get along with Onelia the way they got along with Iris. Unfortunately, the so-called “anti-Peregrin” vote I had predicted was immediately split by the entries of Rolladango Applefoot, a grandson of the old Thain Rollo Applefoot; and Burt Hassenfort, son of Benedict, into the race. ~A Poster Promoting Onelia Peregrin; 1805~ Though I knew these new candidates would probably take votes away from Kerra, it was also quite probable that they would take votes away from Onelia as well. Ignoring the Peregrins’ belief that the concept of Thainship was out of keeping with halfling tradition, Rollo was a famously proper halfling who purportedly “saved the race”, and thus a good name for Rolladango to tie to himself to if he were to seek the propers’ vote. Though Burt had his name tied to Benedict, he was, as far as I know, a proper halfling who had gone along with the Peregrins’ cultural crusade. It seemed that the Election of 1805 was going to be quite close, and it was something that, despite my informal retirement from politics, I wanted to be as involved in as possible, so I volunteered to monitor the debates. ~A Poster Promoting Rolladango Applefoot; 1805~ I wasn't terribly disappointed when Rolladango very suddenly announced that he would be dropping out of the election on account of not being able to make it to our scheduled debate on the 1st of the First Seed, 1805. If anything, I was relieved. As silent as they had been over the past few years I knew there was still a sizeable population of Bernardists in Bramblebury who would eagerly support an Applefoot. The confiscation of the so-called “Thain’s shovel” from Isalie by “Lord Knox” back in 1798 was still fresh in my mind, and I worried that should Rolladango win he might attempt to overthrow her. For all the safety-nets I had written into the constitution I knew that ultimately so few of the people cared about it that an untrustworthy candidate such as Rolladango could get away with practically anything. Besides, the only interaction I ever had with the man occurred when he was still a tween, prone to rage and violence; it was not the image of someone who should be trusted with the reigns of government. ~A Poster Promoting Burt Hassenfort; 1805~ The debate itself did not reveal much, except perhaps the fact that the Peregrins’ influence on the village had become so great that to even suggest that one may be alright with improperness was tantamount to political suicide. In fact, the window of what was considered “acceptable politics” in the Peregrin Era had become so small that there was hardly any debate between Burt, Onelia, and Kerra at all! My wife even admitted to me later on that she had modified her answers to the questions based on what the other two had said. Whether planned in advance or not, what happened as a result of all three candidates giving very similar answers was quite astonishing. Throughout the debate, the audience had been very chatty, throwing in a comment at every pause and treating the whole thing like much more of a spectacle than it actually was. As the debate began to wind down, however, the ill-timed humor turned into serious discussion about how all three of the candidates were wonderful. Then, quite suddenly, Monkey Peregrin and Perry Overhill suggested that we elect all three candidates as Elders. The audience immediately burst into discussion over the idea, much to the fright and confusion of Thain Isalie Gardner. Even as I tried to explain to the crowd that it was unconstitutional to just go ahead and create an Elder Council, and that we had no framework for how such a thing would work, they seemed dead set on it getting approved right then and right there. ~The Debate; 1805~ I recall feeling absolutely awful for Isalie as she moved on to the stage to address this crowd, which was perhaps better described as a mob; certainly not a violent mob, mind you, but an unruly gathering nonetheless. Once again, the accusations of Isalie trying to enforce her will, and by extension mine, on the village were thrown at her. Once again, the notion that our constitution was a sacred document which needed to be preserved and followed was labeled “biggun-talk”. And once again, Isalie only had me to turn to for advice. Though I did a better job of hiding it, I was just as worried and confused as Isalie was that day. It seemed the entire village wanted this Elder system to be put into effect, who were I and Isalie to try and stop it? Pulling her aside and speaking in whispers, I told her as much, and said also that it would be advisable for her to follow the mob’s wishes and postpone the election until after the constitution had been amended. Having written the constitution, I knew full well that this was illegal, but I feared what might happen if Isalie and I angered the mob further. A change in government seemed inevitable; if it was what the people wanted then I thought the only way to ensure that this transition of power occurred in an orderly manner was to work with the mob. Isalie, unfortunately, took my unwise words for wisdom, and announced that the election would be postponed until after a meeting was held to determine the future of village government. Though I recall walking away from that debate feeling as if the situation was under my control, looking back I would say the 1st of the First Seed, 1805, was the day democracy in Bramblebury began to make way for mob rule; I was simply too naive to know the difference. ~The Thain Watches the Debate; 1805~ I must admit that my main motivation for working with the proponents of the Elder system was to keep the future of our republic under my control. It was not because I wanted power within this new government but rather that I feared, should the conservatives be allowed to design a new constitution however they like, it would either be immensely flawed or entirely nonexistent. This was a chance to write a constitution that the village actually agreed with; a chance to redeem myself in the eyes of the public, and to create a more perfect system that I thought could serve our people for generations. I had come to the rather flawed conclusion that, in a democracy, the majority is always right . I suppose I did not understand at the time that a mob is no less of a mob for being on your side. The most hated aspect of the 1797 constitution was the inclusion of a system of checks and balances that ensured that neither the Thain nor the Mayor nor the Sheriff had too much power. This had been functioning just fine, but it was much too “biggun-like” for the conservatives. Having three Elders instead of just one Mayor would only complicate things further. It did not take long for me to realize that a three Elder system and a Thainship were mutually exclusive. Though she never said anything about quitting, ever since the days of Bloomerville, Isalie had occasionally expressed to me how tiring her job was. She always felt that people hated her, and sometimes questioned if perhaps someone else would do better in her position. I thought she had served us wonderfully, and she was my closest friend besides Kerra, but the proverbial wind was not blowing in her direction. When given the choice between Isalie and a peaceful and orderly village, I felt compelled to choose the latter, and in the next issue of the Bramblebury Gazette I published a plan for a simpler constitution that provided for a government with three Elders of equal power and a Sheriff with only law enforcement authorities; this was met with much praise from the conservatives. ~A Busy Day in Bramblebury; 1806~ When I walked into the village meeting Isalie had called in order to discuss revising the constitution on the 21st of the Deep Cold, 1805, I believed that everyone, Isalie included, had read the latest edition of the Bramblebury Gazette and were prepared to discuss the proposal I had included in it. That was not a wise assumption to make, however. I was somewhat confused as Isalie addressed the audience about bringing back Elders and creating a sort of militia called the Bounders to assist the Sheriff in their duties. After a bit of back and forth about Bounders, I recall beginning to wonder if anyone there was going to address the elephant in the room. But nobody brought it up; I had to do it myself. The fact Isalie had apparently not read my government proposal meant that she was totally unprepared to hear that the village was thinking about having her step down. I knew this, and I knew also that she would probably take it personally, and she did. I recall seeing this awful look of betrayal on her face as she asked me if I really thought her leadership was that horrible. Apart from a little bit of chatter from Filibert Applefoot and some kind words from my wife Kerra, the crowd gathered was mostly silent as I tried to explain to Isalie in the kindest terms possible that it was time for her to step down. Isalie simply burst into tears, saying something along the lines of it all being my hands now. As I looked back into the crowd, which was devoid of any emotion, I had a very strange and uneasy feeling, as if the eyes of history itself were staring down at me. It had been the desire of the Peregrins and the other conservatives to restore the Elder system and end the Thainship for quite some time, but when it actually happened they had hardly lifted a finger or said a word. That was left to me. And I did it not because I wanted to get rid of Isalie but because I was afraid of letting a mob rewrite the constitution. And yet, that is exactly what I let them do. The new constitution wasn’t inspired by my own wisdom but by the passions of the people, and I walked home thinking I had done the right thing; any shame I had was because my best friend felt I had betrayed her, not because I had betrayed my own revolution. It would take a long time for me to realize just how damaging the so-called “Revolution” of 1806 really was. ~The Old Thain Reflects; 1807~ Though the 1797 Constitution required a 2/3rds majority of the voters to approve amendments to the constitution, no such vote was held. As was evident by my ill-conceived advice to Isalie, I had totally given up on preserving the sanctity of our constitution, and I didn't want to bother Isalie any further. All that legitimized the new constitution I wrote in 1806 were signatures from Isalie, Iris, Meemaw, and a few other halflings in the village. Technically speaking, that means every election and decree that was issued under the Elder system was illegitimate, but nobody cared. Law can be a tricky thing to understand at times, and my fellow halflings had no patience for it. Though I did not seek my wife’s position as a candidate in the 1806 Elder Election, seeing as it was illegal for people married to each other to serve on the Council of Elders at the same time; I was quick to notice that I was, for the first time in my entire career, becoming popular, and decided to cement it further by revising the Goodbarrelian Manifesto to make it look like I had wholehearted support for the Elder-system and properness. Even though I would not run for Elder for another 8 years, I finally had the Peregrins’ confidence, and in an election that was all that mattered. Being a large family with many friends, the abolishing of the office of Thain meant that the Peregrins had practically uncontested control of the republic. Nobody could be elected Elder without their support. “King” Cyris Collingwood tried to run for Elder at the last minute too, but he received not a single vote, even though each voter was allowed to cast three. The results were exactly as projected; Onelia, Kerra, and Burt became the first Elders of Bramblebury. ~The 1806 Bramblebury Elder Election~ With how dramatically and negatively I have described the transition to an Elder system, one might question why exactly returning to that old form of government was so bad. Peregrin control over elections aside, the problems of an Elder system were not immediately obvious. Few outside the Gardner family were upset by Isalie’s fall from power. Her popularity had been damaged not only by past events during Brandybrook, Bloomerville, and the Knoxist Crisis but also by more recent things such as her marriage to a biggun (the Warden), and her proposals for the construction of biggun living quarters in the village. ~The Wedding of the Thain and the Warden; 1805~ Following the “Revolution” of 1806, the village seemed to go back to how it was when Iris was Mayor, if not better; with all manner of festivals, weddings, cooking contests, bakery openings, and birthday parties. Tavern nights continued to be held, the library received a great number of donations, Filibert started up a new newspaper, and a whole new district was constructed in the village known as Bloomerville Square, which harkened back to what the Peregrins considered one the best time in our recent history. For anyone who was proper or at least pretending to be, it was a fine time to live in Bramblebury. For those who were not included in that “proper” halfling majority, however, the Bramblebury of the Peregrin-Goodbarrel-Hassenfort years was not quite so pleasant. In one instance, a late biggun friend of mine and her Sorvian were essentially robbed by a couple of “proper” halflings for no reason other than the fact that she was a biggun. In another instance, one that I am, admittedly, guilty of being involved in, a biggun was told he could only stay in the village if he cast off his shoes and worked the fields for us. Perry even wrote an open letter criticizing an organization promoting racial justice. “Biggun Realism”, as he called it, was in full force, and seeing as the constitution protected only the rights of halflings, there was nothing that could be done about it. Even though improper halflings were legally protected under the constitution, that did not protect them from being disowned by their families or otherwise turned into outcasts. Known improper halflings only continued to have it worse as the village started to become a somewhat unpleasant place for anyone who didn’t seem to be a proper halfling to live; one improper halfling even finding herself fighting a duel against a Peregrin! The wholesome presence of Iris was often missing as she began to spend more time pursuing her studies with the Druidic Order rather than lounging about the village. As for Isalie, she became far less reserved in her words and actions after retiring, often getting into fights with Onelia, Filibert, and other people she had not gotten along with. Sheriff Meemaw Applebottom, her health not being the best at her age, was hardly ever seen, and was certainly not patrolling often enough to keep things calm. In the early 1810s there would even be a series of horrific “murders.” Though all the presumed victims later turned up alive, these unsolved cases certainly cast a poor light on Meemaw’s tenure as Sheriff, and helped encourage her eventual resignation due to health reasons. ~Aftermath of a Murder; 1811~ The rancidity of this “perfect society” we had created was not limited only to the experience of “improper” halflings and bigguns; in fact, I’d argue much of it stemmed from the immense flaws within the new Elder-system. As it turned out, the absence of the separation of powers and checks and balances that had made the old constitution so reviled were the very thing that made the new constitution so ineffective. In my quest to “simplify” it for the public, I had removed any semblance of instruction on how Elders were supposed to interact with each other, with the only specifications being that they were all supposed to be of equal power and that only some decisions required unanimous approval. I cannot blame Onelia for misinterpreting the constitution considering there was practically nothing there to interpret, but that does not really excuse the fact that she often acted as if she were the sole leader of the village, though I don’t recall writing that not speaking with your fellow Elders on a daily basis allows you to assume the powers of a Thain anywhere in the constitution. At first, Onelia’s approach to the office of Elder was not a terribly large problem; though it did allow her to create the Bramblebury Fire Department; which would cause a fiasco and half several years later. No, Onelia’s approach to Eldership became a problem when she began conducting “diplomacy” on behalf of her other Elders; which is to say that she went behind their backs to trod upon our alliance with Elvenesse to the point of its near destruction. The Halfling-Elvensse Crisis began when a diplomat from Haelun’or arrived in the village to arrange an audience between the high elven Silver Council and the halfling Council of Elders. Though the purpose of this meeting was not explicitly stated in my presence, it did not take a lot of sleuth work to figure out that the high elves were seeking to establish good relations with the halflings as they prepared for war against our protectors in Elvenesse. I recall feeling very frustrated at my inability to get involved; but thankfully this initial meeting was handled by Kerra quite well. She made it clear that Bramblebury had no intention of betraying Elvenesse or otherwise getting involved in an unnecessary biggun war. ~Halfling Negotiations; 1810~ Unfortunately, that was not how Elvenesse perceived that meeting as rumors spread among their leadership that the halflings of Bramblbeury may be seeking independence from Elvenesse, or worse, that we were conspiring to aid the Silver State against them. It was not only these rumors of conspiracy that worried Elvenesse, however. Allegedly, Onelia marched down to Elvenesse' capital Amathea one day, badmouthed their council, and slapped their High Princess in the face. What followed was a diplomatic scandal; though I would not have known of it had my wife not told me. Within months Bramblebury was flooded with all manner of dignitaries from Haense and the like practically begging for us to join them. Apparently a rumor was spreading like wildfire among the biggun leaders of the world that the halflings were seeking separation from Elvenesse, when in reality only one of our three elected Elders had done anything to indicate that. ~Breakfast at the Bakery; 1812~ The situation was only made worse by the fact that Burt had fallen ill in Malin’s Welcome 1811, forcing him to resign from the office of Elder. It was during some of the most crucial moments of this crisis that the only check on Onelia’s power was Kerra, who Onelia, for some odd reason, thought had disappeared and never even bothered to send a bird to. Though the constitution required that an emergency election be held in the event of a vacancy in the Council of Elders, Isalie was given the position without a vote on account of being the only person who signed up; though she viewed it more as a favor for the village than coming out of retirement. All the same, with Isalie and Kerra on the council together an opportunity arose to oust Onelia, but between the likelihood that the people would not vote in favor of her removal of office, Iris’ unwillingness to take Onelia’s position due in part to her devotion to the Druids, and the fact that the Election of 1814 was just around the corner; nothing came of the plan. It was only at this point in 1813 that Kerra actually told me everything that was going on, positing that perhaps I could write a special edition of the Bramblebury Gazette critiquing Onelia’s conduct and perhaps dissuading the people from voting for her in the next election. That, however, was quickly rendered unnecessary when Onelia announced that she would not be seeking reelection and instead would be endorsing her cousin James Peregrin, one of the adopted sons of Iris. Isalie was quite sick of what the village had turned into and, despite the fact that our friendship had been repaired, was likely still upset about the “Revolution” of 1806, so she resigned her office and left the village with the Warden before her term as temporary Elder was even finished. In her place, her adopted daughter Winter, also a good friend of mine, ran for Elder. After a brief discussion my wife also decided not to seek reelection, and so, in 1814, I finally came out of my “retirement” to officially lead the village once again. ~A Poster Promoting Greta Goodbarrel; 1814~ Though Kerra had told me quite a bit about Onelia’s misconduct as Elder, and though I had heard some unpleasant stories about the village from other friends of mine, I still believed at the time that our republic was functioning just fine, and had just happened to elect the wrong person. I had become so accustomed to being on the Peregrins’ good side that I had forgotten how unpleasant it was to go against them. I thought the problems of the village were things that I could solve just by becoming an Elder. I had yet to uncover the unfortunate truth that the “perfect” Elder system I had created did not, as Onelia promised, “make the halflings great again.” It had only made the already existing divisions among our people much worse. It would take being right in the fray of this dysfunctional government for me to realize that our republic, if not already in ruins, was on its deathbed.
  9. [!] 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 By Chapter IV: Of Politics, Propers, and Pumpkin Lords 1796-1805 As was the case with most other nations, the halflings’ voyage to Almaris and our early months there were largely uneventful. The new village, named Bramblebury by a public poll, was constructed in a location that shared both both striking similarities and drastic differences with Brandybrook. Like Brandybrook, Bramblebury was built on a wooded peninsula in the south of the continent, not far at all from the gates of Elvenesse’s capital city. Unlike Brandybrook, however, the area Bramblebury occupied was vast and expansive, and despite the landscape sounding similar, the towering trees of Almaris were indeed very alien to any who were used to the relatively modest forests of Arcas. Burrows were built larger and much farther apart, and there was ample room for sugar farms, wheat fields, orchards, and vineyards. Despite all the troubles that would occur within, Bramblebury can at least attest to being the prettiest-looking village I’ve lived in. ~Morning in Bramblebury; late 18th century~ I recall being mildly annoyed with Thain Isalie Gardner as she seemed to keep putting off reading and signing the constitution. It was only after we arrived in Bramblebury and she worked to quickly hand out burrows in an organized fashion that I understood why she had waited; it was a job that needed to be done before anybody could start worrying about elections; something I hadn’t even thought of. As would often happen during these years, my efforts to create a more perfect village blinded me to the more mundane things that needed doing. I could talk all I want about the government existing only to protect the natural rights of halflings, but someone needs to hand out burrows too, I suppose. Regardless, as soon as the housing in Bramblebury was taken care of, Isalie wasted little more time reading over the constitution and signing it. I remember practically squealing with joy as I skipped back to my burrow to make a copy to publish. While I nailed the constitution to the noticeboard in the village square, I had my wife Kerraline set off a few fireworks in celebration. I thought for sure the 16th of the Amber Cold, 1796 would become a day celebrated for generations to come. The “battle” I had spent the past decade was won; after nearly a century of Bernardist dictatorship under a single all-powerful Thain, democracy had been restored to the halflings. I had no idea just how complicated and messy revolution actually is. ~Bramblebury; late 18th century~ Establishing a republic was one thing, maintaining it was something entirely different. Even then, at its creation, I had concerns about what could happen to this new government should I step away from it. However, I thought such an event would only occur in the very far future. I had long intended to run for Mayor, believing that I could set a good example for how future Mayors should behave and I also thought that my pursuit of this office would be entirely unopposed; who could possibly be more qualified to run a government than the lady who created it? In all my idealism I had forgotten about one of democracy’s greatest flaws: the power of popularity. Though it would be an exaggeration to call any of the Peregrins demagogues as I have in some of my more scathing writings, they appealed to the common halfling far better than I or Isalie ever did. I knew that Iris Peregrin might try to pursue a government office at some point in future, but I was nevertheless quite shocked when Iris announced her candidacy for the Mayoral Election of 1797. From what I’ve gathered, several people asked her to run, and all the while she had been hesitant because she did not want to get in my way. However, as had happened before and would happen again, Iris put her family above her own good judgement, and right under my nose had begun campaigning for Mayor even before the constitution was approved. Between the shock of this development, and the fact that people who previously implied that they would be voting for me suddenly pledged support for Iris, I was rather angry. It was not that Iris’ mayorship would be unjust; the people had the right to choose whichever leaders wanted; no, I was upset because it seemed the people were ungrateful for what I had done. I thought I had earned the office of Mayor, but it seemed most of the village disagreed. ~The Founding Mother; 1796~ Though I found it doubtful that I’d be able to beat Iris in an election, I did not drop out at first. I wasn’t afraid of losing, that was a part of the system after all. If I was going to go out, I thought I should at least go out with my head held high. Most of the people who had changed their vote did so apologetically, and I could at least count on votes from my wife and Isalie. Even “Lord Knox” was willing to give me some credit, calling me the “Founding Mother” on a poster advertising the debate I was to have with Iris on the 21st of The Deep Cold, 1796. In the days leading up to that debate, however, it quickly became apparent to me that the village was not only ungrateful for or apathetic about the new constitution; some halflings hated it. The language I had used and the concepts I had introduced were all considered very biggun-like and thus improper; apparently it is a fundamental offense against the halfling race to suggest that a government should have separation of powers. People were also angry that I had been allowed to do all this without any vote being taken on the matter, despite the fact that I had been accepting feedback on the constitution for years between the meeting in 1794 and the constitution's signing by Isalie in 1796. I should note that most of this criticism came from Iris’ family and supporters, many of whom had not even attended the meeting or bothered to talk to me about what they did and didn’t like about the constitution I was writing. For all I knew the village had been in full agreement. And yet, here I was, faced with the fact that my constitution had been something that was legitimized of only by the approval Isalie and my co-Elder Andon Cloudberry, the latter of whom departed the village a few weeks before the elections. Even Malfoy Proudfoot, the former Sheriff long thought missing, turned up and tried to organize a protest against my “biggun politics.” ~Breakfast in the Peregrin Burrow; 1798~ As my debate with Iris drew nearer and nearer, I began to feel the need to make a major decision. The writing on the wall had been clear since Iris entered the race: I was not going to become Mayor; Iris was too popular and my campaigning methods simply did not appeal to my fellow halflings. I made promises of "Liberty, Equality, and Happiness" for the halflings, while Iris promised them "Food, Fun, and Family", and unlike my promises these were things that could actually be delivered to them. The thought of losing an election had not been enough to dissuade me from running, though I did briefly consider running for Sheriff instead; it was not something I ever seriously pursued, however, seeing as it was a position I was uninterested in, unqualified for, and quite frankly one I thought was beneath me. It was only after I realized just how unwelcome my influence on the village was that I decided to preemptively concede the election to Iris. The reasoning I gave in my letter to the village when I conceded was quite straightforward: if the people were so displeased with what I had done and so dead set on electing a new leader to fix it all, who was I to try and stand in the way of that? As would be the case in many future disputes between myself and the conservatives, I had neither the heart nor the mind to try and argue with them, and instead chose to allow the village to decide for themselves what was best for it. What I did not understand then that I do now is that good democracies are built not on majority rule but on compromise. Though I had always been an advocate of compromise, the village’s rejection of what I saw as a great compromise between Bernardism and democracy must have communicated to me that I did something terribly wrong. I had never once considered that those who disagreed with me might simply have been unwilling to change their mind. ~Halflings on a Swing; 1797~ One person who was never intransigent, however, was Iris. After giving a speech to Bramblebury laying out her plans for her term as Mayor, Iris pulled me aside and asked me if I could provide her counsel during her term whenever she needed it. She acknowledged that at least some of my ideas were good ones, and that many of her supporters expected her to simply “sweep it all under the rug”, something that she also promised to me that day she wouldn’t do. Despite the good relationship we established then, Iris and I never become close confidants in the manner that Isalie and I were. Though I was consulted once or twice on a few laws and documents, Iris never came to me during the real crises of her Mayorship. She also mentioned that I would be a good middlewoman between herself and Isalie ,but I was never given any opportunity to mediate between them either, though I do believe that would have made some of the situations that were thrown at Iris and Isalie much less stressful. Unfortunately, the awkward caution they approached each other with on the day of Iris’ speech never went away; something that no doubt made this new government appear more dysfunctional than it actually was; the Mayor and Thain were meant to work closely together, but Iris and Isalie never really did. I had designed the position of Mayor with myself in mind, and that was proving to be something of a mistake. ~The 1797 Bramblebury Mayoral Election~ With my effective retirement, Iris ran unopposed for Mayor, and as such that election proved to be quite uneventful. The same cannot be said for the Sheriff race, in which former Halfling Liberty Association member Theodore Mowood ran against former Sheriff of Brandybrook Alfie Greenholm, who, much like Malfoy, had reappeared in Bloomerville after being missing for years; and Meemaw Applebottom, the grandmother of High Pumplar Jeannette Applebottom. In many ways, it was the Sheriff Election of 1797 that set the precedent for what elections in Bramblebury would look like; a debate was held in which all three candidates lined up on a stage and were asked questions about their beliefs and plans for the village. Once that was over with, Isalie opened up the polls and all the adults in the village were provided the opportunity to cast their votes. The polls would be open for two months, after which Isalie would fulfill her duty as Thain by counting the votes and breaking a tie if necessary; it was a process I had designed myself with some inspiration from Haelun’or’s voting system, and I was very happy to see it in action. ~The Sheriff Debates; 1797~ None of the three candidates for Sheriff in 1797 were particularly political. Their aims were, as they should be, to protect the village. The only thing there really was to debate on was whether or not it was the duty of the Sheriff to enforce properness. Though Alfie had been infamous for going to extreme lengths to do so during his term as Sheriff of Brandybrook in the 1770s, in this election he presented himself as much more of a moderate. Theodore Mowood was a known improper halfling, which combined with his lack of experience and tendency towards anger, likely cost him the election. As for Meemaw, she was able to secure a good number of votes simply by being both proper and eccentric at the same time; halflings love a good character, I suppose. ~The 1797 Bramblebury Sheriff Election~ When the results of the Sheriff Election came to Isalie, it turned out that all three candidates had tied. Isalie, having lived in the village during Alfie’s controversial term as Sheriff in the 1770s and been badgered by Theo constantly for the position of Sheriff, decided to break the tie in favor of Meemaw, something that greatly upset Alfie, who insisted more than once that a second election should have been held once Theo was voted out of the race. That was not something prescribed by the constitution, however, so his demands went ignored. That is not to say the election was totally constitutional, however. One of the constitution’s qualifications for running for office was having lived in the village for four consecutive years prior to the election. Though, of course, Bloomerville also counted as “the village,” Meemaw had arrived there only a little more than two years prior. Considering this was the first election, Isalie waived this requirement, despite the fact that the constitution had given her no authority to do so. I did not protest; though I had always envisioned the constitution as a sacred immutable document, the people held such a loathing for it that whenever it was slightly challenged or contradicted, it felt wrong to defend it. I suppose I did not understand at the time that republics are made of laws, not people. The line between democracy and rule by a mob is very thin, and my commitment to letting the people rule themselves often blinded me to the fact that sometimes the people don’t have to wisdom or education to make the right decisions. ~Halflings at School; 1797~ Despite all its problems however, I would still say that the first few years in which Iris was at the head of the republic were its best. Iris took the notion that she was a servant of the people rather than their ruler to heart; always willing to listen to feedback and suggestions on how to make the village better. One of her first acts as Mayor was to revise the village Laws and Traditions, something I gladly assisted her with. Iris also helped organize a number of festivals, including a party celebrating the halfling winter holiday, Knoxmas. With Demeter Pebblebrook opening up a school to teach halflings young and old, Mondy Applefoot opening up a bakery, and my continued production of wine and occasional publication of a new newspaper called the Bramblebury Gazette; village life flourished during the Iris Peregrin years. Her kind leadership and warm demeanor had calmed the storm of anger that had followed the adoption of the constitution; Iris was holding the village together. ~King Cyris Collingwood; 1798~ Though most of the time it takes more than one person to ruin a time of happiness and prosperity, that was not the case with “King” Cyris Collingwood, a strange halfling who arrived in the village around the time of the first elections. Though he unironically presented himself using the title of a monarch, Cyris is perhaps better described as a self-proclaimed crusader. He arrived in Bramblebury claiming to have been sent to Almaris by Lord Knox himself, and preached the “word of the Pumpkin Lord” constantly. As annoying as it was, Cyris’ practice was perfectly within the boundaries of religious freedom set by the constitution, and since most halflings are Knoxists, the village agreed. That was until a missive was put out by High Pumplar Jeanette, the head of the Knoxist Church, declaring Cyris to be a false prophet according to the true “Lord Knox”, the one that had been making periodic appearances to the halflings back in Arcas. At first, I paid little attention to Cyris and Jeannette’s dispute; it had nothing to do with me or the government I created and I had no idea that it was about to develop into a serious crisis. The Knoxist Crisis began on the 19th of the Grand Harvest, 1798, at, of all places, a Knoxmas party. The whole village had come together to share a few drinks and decorate a great Knoxmas tree which had been grown in the party field. Despite the frigid weather it was a merry celebration, attended even by Queen Ancelie of Norland. “Lord Knox” too, made an appearance, purportedly to aid in the festivities. Unfortunately, Theodore Mowood, who by then had developed a bad habit of rushing to the side of people with authority, decided it would be a good idea to point out Cyris, who had been decrying this “Lord Knox” as a false god, to the Pumpkin Lord. What resulted was a brutal duel between Cyris and “Knox” that resulted in the halfling being beaten to a near pulp. It was at this unfortunate moment that Isalie arrived at the party, and she immediately denounced this “Knox”, going so far as to give away the golden shovel and cap which had become symbols of the Thainship. “Knox” took these items and disappeared into the woods, but in the eyes of Cyris, who survived this encounter, the crusade had only just begun. ~The King Faces the Pumpkin Lord; 1798~ The interactions between this “Lord Knox” and Isalie deeply troubled me, mostly because I found it aboslutely ridiculous that any old fool could claim to be a god and order our leaders around. I had worked so hard to ensure that the new village government would maintain a separation of church and state, and feared that “Knox’s” confiscation of the Thain’s cap and shovel would be used as grounds to unjustly remove her. After all, Isalie was nearly as unpopular as I was, and despite her shaky yet calm relationship with Iris she was still heavily at odds with other village conservatives such as Alfie, Filibert Applefoot, and Onelia Peregrin. My report on the Knoxmas incident in the Bramblebury Gazette stirred up much anger, as did a missive put out by Monkey Peregrin, Iris’ adopted son, which claimed that the “Knox” who beat up Cyris was actually a demon. After getting in trouble with the other Peregrins, who were all devout Knoxists, Monkey tore the message down, but the damage had been done. Cyris continued to preach against “Knox”, something that somehow managed to land him in jail despite the fact that religious freedom was one of the key features of our constitution. Though they had been opponents during the Sheriff Elections, Alfie and Theo went practically insane together, harassing and assaulting Cyris and Isalie. His reputation destroyed, Theo soon disappeared from the village and the children that were in his care; Lilabeth, Sorrel, and Bear; were adopted by the Peregrins. With Theo and Andon going off on their own and Minto Townsend marrying into the ruling family of Talon's Grotto, Filibert and I were the only members of the old Halfling Liberty Organization left, and we had found ourselves on quite opposite ends of the political spectrum; times had certainly changed. Just as it began to seem that tensions could not possibly get any worse, “Lord Knox” put out his own missive, which, in addition to laying out a doctrine for Knoxists to follow, decried Isalie as an “unfit Thain” led astray by “temptresses and deranged people” and “democratic and political pigs.” It does not take any great amount of insight to know that these terms were used in reference to me, despite the fact that “Knox” apparently did not have the stones to call me out by name. The missive also implied that the only legitimate leaders of the halflings were the High Pumplar and Thain, a notion in direct contradiction to the constitution. The fact that “Knox” and his supporters were so hell bent on tearing down the republic and that "Knox" threatened to send the “trumpets of ruin blasting into the Gardner Burrow” was enough for me to believe that this “god” had destroyed our republic just like that. Fearing for the safety of both myself and my family, I packed up and lived in Haelun’or for a year or two, leaving the village to its own fate. ~The Departure of Greta; 1798~ As all of this happened, Iris remained mostly silent, something I cannot blame her for. She knew that to choose a side in this religious dispute was not her place as the Mayor. Though I think she privately believed that neither side was right, she did not make any public statements on the matter, and instead chose to keep the village focused on more cheerful things, such as a village-wide shogging tournament. While it’s not the approach I would have taken, I do think it may have been the right one. Despite all the bark “Knox” put into his rabble-rousing letter, nothing actually happened to Isalie or any of the improper halflings in the village. After Monkey Peregrin sent out a message to every corner of the world promising that the village was safe, I decided to make my way back. I was rather surprised to find that nothing had changed, I thought for sure my absence would mean the end of the republic, but Iris and Isalie simply continued carrying out their duties as best they could despite the trying times. Both were under a great deal of stress, however, with Iris even falling into a sort of depression. Though the village was still functioning, the problem of "Lord Knox" continued to loom over it. Something had to be done. ~The Grand Shogging Tournament; 1799~ Though Isalie and I briefly discussed the possibility of bringing in soldiers from Elvenesse to get rid of “Knox”, we both knew that doing that would kill both of our careers as village leaders, and likely cause us to be hated by the village forever. Thankfully, we never did have to take the matter into our own hands, seeing as a treant called Vorrijard decided to do it himself. I was not present in the village when it happened, but apparently the treant challenged “Knox’ to duel, which the Pumpkin Lord accepted. Despite our culture’s emphasis on nonviolence and our distaste for combat, the duel quickly became a village sensation as a fighting pit was constructed on the eastern side of Bramblebury and preparations were made for a public duel between “Knox” and any who wished to challenge him. I must say that, even though I doubted that this “Knox” was a god, I did not expect him to die at the hands of treant, nor was I there on the 24th of the First Seed, 1802 to witness it. I abhor violence, especially over something as trivial as religion, so I avoided the event and simply stayed home. It was only after the duel had occurred that I was informed that “Lord Knox” was dead. Some celebrated, others mourned, but I was simply glad it was all over. Believing the “enemy” to have been vanquished, Cyris calmed down and slowly faded into irrelevance while Jeanette became the sole authority on Knoxism in Bramblebury. ~The Duel; 1802~ With the Knoxist Crisis over, Bramblebury more or less returned to what it had been during the early months of Iris’ Mayorship. The fighting pit was torn down and a theatre constructed in its place, parties and festivals resumed, Filibert began holding drinking nights like in Brandybrook, and young Lilabeth even attempted to go to the moon. With the end of her term approaching, Iris set to work on creating a system of tunnels beneath the village which we could flee to in case of danger; they were much too small for bigguns to fit into; something that might prove very important in the future, though as of my writing this the village has yet to be attacked. In any case, the fact that the village and its government survived the Knoxist Crisis gave me great hope that the system I had built would last for generations. Iris’ great contributions to our village combined with her fine leadership seemed to prove the worth of having an elected Mayor alongside the Thain and Sheriff. It was not a perfect system, but it was working. As fantastic a job as Iris did, however, being in the position she had been in during the Knoxist Crisis took quite a toll on her. As the Mayoral Election of 1805 approached, Iris announced that she would not be pursuing a second term as Mayor of Bramblebury, and instead provided an endorsement for her cousin Onelia. ~Onelia the Orator; 1799~ Though it was never openly admitted, the Peregrins seemed to have intended to establish a dynasty wherein each member of the family would serve a term or two as Mayor, ensuring that they always had control of the village. With just how popular and successful Iris had been in both Bloomerville and Bramblebury, they certainly had the votes to do it. Recalling how she had behaved in Bloomerville, I was opposed to Onelia’s ascension to office from the very beginning, and eagerly supported both Burt Hassenfort and my wife Kerraline in their campaigns for Mayor. Ultimately, however, I thought it didn’t matter who would win that election. If someone believed to be a literal god couldn’t bring down the system, then who possibly could? I had not considered that, though our republic had passed nearly every test thrown at it during the Iris Peregrin years, it had yet to be tested in one of the most important aspects of a democracy; the ability to have an orderly transfer of power. Unfortunately, that was a test it would not pass.
  10. [!] 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 By 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. ~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. ~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. ~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. ~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. ~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. ~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. ~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. ~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. ~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. ~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. ~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. ~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.
  11. Greta was sitting at her desk, hard at work on a history of Bramblebury when she heard a knock ring out from the door. Having been visited a few times by different people, Greta had learned to recognize knocks on the door. She had never heard someone knock on the door of Goodbarrel Burrow only once, however, that is, not until today. She gently set down her quill stood up, going over to open the door for this newcomer, being quite surprised to see that it was only a short little Sorvian bearing a letter. Politely as possible, Greta took the letter and sent the Sorvian off, going back into her study to open it, pushing her reading glasses back up her nose as she did so. She was not all prepared for what she would find. Greta read the letter from Jol several times, her face falling with each scan, though only a short Sorvian of hers (which she had yet to give a name) was there to see her. Light tears escaped the halfling's eyes as she lowered herself into her chair. She had not truly realized how much she had meant Jol, nor could she have possibly expected to lose her so suddenly. Greta thought back to the last time they had spoken, regretful that she had never taken the chance to thank Jol for what she had given her. Greta would look up from the letter to her Sorvian, which tilted their head as if to say "What is it?" The halfling did not respond at first, going deep into thought. Jol had taught Greta something very important; and it wasn't Sorvian crafting. In fact, the husk of the Sorvian before her had been built by Jol, though what little of a soul they had was Greta's. But no, the most important thing Jol gave Greta was a lesson. An ideal, even. In giving the name of that ideal to that Sorvian, Greta could, in a way, immortalize her friend; preserve her legacy. But what was the word? Eventually Greta figured it out, giving another nod before saying aloud "Tolerance." The Sorvian tilted their head again, so Greta repeated "Your name is Tolerance."
  12. [!] 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 By Chapter II: Turbulent Tmes 1787-1791 The Brandybrook of the late 1780s was a busier place than it had been in the previous half of the decade. Despite my informal retirement from politics, the idea of making changes to the halfling government never really went away. Though not a good one, the speech I had given at my wedding had been earned me something of a reputation, and though the rest of the Halfling Liberty Association dissolved, Minto Townsend remained determined to carry on my “struggle”; which, in his mind, meant putting out a missive claiming responsibility for radicalizing the HLA, rudely disobeying Isalie at every turn, and harassing her family. If nothing else, the village seemed to come more alive following the events of my wedding, due in no small part to the organization of more parties and harvest events by my then-husband Filibert Applefoot and his tavern co-worker, Dandelion Greenholm. Anyone interested in the day-to-day goings on of late Brandybrook should seek out old copies of the Beetroot News, which was published yearly by Filibert. Though it was largely a tabloid at first, putting out embarrassing stories and infringing on the privacy of village leaders such as Elder Kit-Kat and Thain Isalie Gardner, in its later years it was a quaint little newspaper of sorts, documenting mostly mundane events in the village. ~Cheesemaking with the Greenholms; 1788~ Two events detailed in Beetroot News that were not so mundane, however, were the Battles at Last Light Camp in Korvassa. At a meeting in Snow’s Maiden 1786, Isalie had pledged the halflings’ support to Prince Feanor of Elvenesse in the war against the inferi. Though I cannot know for a fact why Isalie felt we should be involved in the battles, I can at least note that many in Brandybrook felt that resisting the inferi was everyone’s duty; not just that of the bigguns; besides, the Sea Prince had asked politely. ~Isalie’s Pledge; 1786~ Halflings served as medics during the inferi raid on Siramenor in First Seed 1786 but it was only in the First Seed and Grand Harvest of 1788 that we were actually sent to fight in two battles in Korvassa. At these battles, the halflings were essentially an auxiliary force to the army of Elevenesse. Though some of us, most notably the Oceantoe brothers and Minto, chose to fight, most of us, myself included, were there to provide medical assistance to anyone who needed it. Anybody looking for an accurate account of the battles should seek out a volume written by Armilas Draconis, a high elf who fought on the front lines of the battle and even witnessed some its more consequential events firsthand. From my rather vague recollection, the goal of these operations was to defend the allied bigguns’ camp at Last Light. Considering that much more stood between the inferi and Brandybrook than just that camp, it may be easy for one with hindsight to question why halflings had any business being there. I can only speak for myself, but I do recall feeling a sense of duty to the village as well as a desire to contribute to the defense of Arcas as a whole. While I can’t say I or anyone was excited to go to war, I don’t think most of us were prepared for what we would find. ~Halfling Medics at Korvassa; 1787~ I recall the sights and sounds of those two terrible days far better than I have any desire to. Everyone in the village was given armor forged by the elves, we gathered medical supplies and weapons, some of which would definitely have been considered improper by Peregrin standards. We were then put on boats and sailed to what would be best described as a colony of hell. While I do not wish to write what exactly I saw on Korvassa, I will say that it has never left me, not even after thirty years. Having discovered I was pregnant later that month, I had to be persuaded to go to the next battle, and it was even more horrific and deadly than the first. I was nowhere near the site where it happened, but it was at that second battle that Elder Kit-Kat Gardner, the adopted daughter of Isalie, was slain by a horde of inferi. Though the aging Fred Puddlefoot had also given his life at the previous battle, it was the death of Kit-Kat that truly shocked the village. She died at an immensely young age, having only turned thirty-three a few short years prior. Her boyfriend Elder Andon Cloudberry had been robbed of his chance to propose to her, and her mother had lost a second child within the span of a decade. I had hardly known Kit-Kat, but I shared in the grief that engulfed the village in the following days. ~Kit-Kat Faces the Horde; 1787~ If nothing else, the Battles at Last Light Camp served as harrowing reminders that most halflings don't belong on the battlefield. Following Kit-Kat’s death, Isalie decreed that no resident of Brandybrook was to fight demons outside the village, a decision protested only by Minto. Even though we did not go again to the demons, however, they eventually came to us - or at least to Aegrothond. On the 22nd of the Grand Harvest, 1788, the village was enjoying a peaceful bonfire when suddenly the air was filled with terrifying sights and sounds of a demon invasion. The Thain called for the immediate evacuation of the village to the emergency tunnels, an order disobeyed only by Minto. Despite the terror of our community and its protectors being under siege, we were still able to enjoy a few laughs and a fine party in the tunnels beneath the village. That was until Filibert managed to get into a fight with Isalie after demanding to be restored to the title of Sheriff. Though I was unable to calm him down, I do think Isalie took note of my efforts, and was likely impressed with my lack of hostility towards her as she pledged to make changes to the village government following the end of the demon crisis. Though I did not know it at the time, Isalie was about to give me an unprecedented amount of influence over the village’s future. ~A Family Takes Shelter; 1788~ The first hint of this new partnership between myself and Isalie came on the 6th of the Amber Cold, 1788, when Isalie appointed me Elder. This decision raised a few eyebrows, considering that I had spoken against Isalie less than two years prior, and had only been living in the village for a little over three. Nevertheless, the resignation of Falco Goldworthy and the death of Kit-Kat had left the village one Elder short, and I was, in Isalie’s mind, undoubtedly the most qualified person to assume the office. She praised my dedication to the village and my good ideas, asking only that I trust her, and I have ever since. Aside from my appointment to Elder, the months following the Siege of Aegrothond were mostly gloomy. The air was thick with the disgusting smell of blood, and many spoke of the impending doom of Arcas and the likelihood that we would soon have to leave our beloved village. Isalie’s husband Taurin and the ghost of Sean Puddlefoot went so far as to rig the village with bombkins, pumpkins filled with gunpowder, so that in the event of an attack we could destroy our village before the demons could, and kill a few of them in the process. This was the last major contribution made by Taurin to Brandybrook before he left the village, leaving behind his wife and daughter as well. ~The Ghost of Sean Puddlefoot; 1787~ Despite the growing darkness of the times, the years between 1787 and 1789 actually saw quite a few new and important halflings arrive in the village such as Bassett Mudfoot; Meadow Proudfoot; Rufus Knowise; future High Pumplar Jeneatte Applebottom; future Head Librarian Callum Fiddleberry; my future wife and future Elder Kerraline Erawick; and Winter, sister of the late Kit-Kat, then in disguise and known as “Summer". Even though the impending doom of Arcas was felt within the village long beforehand, the actual fall of Brandybrook itself was still quite shocking, mainly because nobody expected it would happen in the middle of a party. On the 20th of the Grand Harvest, 1789, a great Knox o’ Ween feast was hosted by Burt Hassenfort, son of the late and great halfling hero Benedict Hassenfort. It was a fun celebration, including all manner of games and festivities. Aside from some minor disturbances caused by Minto wearing a mask that resembled my face, the party went splendidly until the pumpkin carving. ~The Knox o’ Ween Costume Contest; 1789~ For reasons I am still wholly unsure of, one of the uncarved pumpkins began to inflate and float in the air as if possessed by some unseen force. It expanded to the size of a small burrow and began spewing acidic pumpkin guts at the party-goers. Despite our calls for aid from Elevenesse and attempts by some bigguns to fight the monster, we were eventually left with no choice but to detonate the bombkins, destroying that demonic pumpkin and our village along with it. The only explanation we received of any of this came from the cryptic words of a pumpkin-wearing apparition claiming to be Lord Knox. ~Attack of the Giant Pumpkin; 1789~ With the evacuation of the entire village onto the Spicy Shrimp, the halfling crises of late Arcas truly began. Our people had very suddenly been rendered homeless and crammed on to an old pirate ship. The months we spent at sea drove many of us to slight insanity, and the question of where to go was divisive. The rulers of Elvenesse and other biggun nations had been discussing the possibility of sailing to a new continent for quite some time, but nobody was quite sure when such a migration would occur. Many, myself and Isalie included, believed that it would occur soon enough that we only needed to seek temporary accommodations somewhere. Others, such as Filibert, were convinced that a world migration would not be occurring for quite some time, and that we needed to resettle Brandybrook or at least build a new village elsewhere. ~The Ruin of Brandybrook; 1789~ Unfortunately, that debate proved to be the first of many times where Isalie’s trust in my wisdom was misplaced. Filibert was right; Arcas would not be evacuated for another seven years, but Isalie nevertheless decided to arrange a temporary home for the halflings at Fort Hope, a dreary castle resting on an island north of Sutica. Though it was good to walk on solid land once more, in some ways, the move to Fort Hope in Snow’s Maiden 1790 only made life for the halflings worse. Since Fort Hope was meant to be a temporary establishment, Isalie had no plans of building burrows, and instead arranged for us all to be housed in the barracks. Filibert almost immediately protested this and found himself annoyed with the Fortkeepers’ unwillingness to let him tear down the walls and build burrows, to the point where he simply walked out of Fort Hope to have his project elsewhere, leaving me and our daughter behind. As both myself and Isalie dealt with our own familial issues and Andon continued to mourn Kit-Kat, the halfling community at Fort Hope fell into further disrepair. There was no feasting or partying between 1790 and 1792, and drinking and smoking were more often used as escape methods than pleasurable pastimes. All this was made even worse in Snow’s Maiden 1791, when an attack on Andon revealed the existence of a conspiracy to assassinate the halfling leadership. Andon, myself, Isalie and her family had all been marked for death, and these assassins claimed the credit for killing Kit-Kat and Polo too, even though both of their deaths had occurred long before I was ever close enough to the Gardners to be put on a hit list with them. ~Halflings Drown Their Sorrows; 1791~ The added uneasiness of being under threat from assassins was made only worse for some by the fact that both myself and Andon felt it necessary to carry bladed weapons to protect ourselves. Some more traditional halflings began to say that our people were losing our cultural identity by cheerlessly cowering behind stone walls and bearing biggun weapons. Though I stand firm in my belief that the manner in which myself and Andon were acting was reasonable given the circumstances, it was nevertheless a terrible time to be a halfling. Many longed for the brighter days of the past, and it was this longing that would form the basis of a new movement, one that overshadowed mine in every imaginable way. It was the perfect opportunity for a long-forgotten family to return and leave an irreversible mark on our nation's history; the age of the Peregrins was at hand...
  13. [!] 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 By Chapter I: The Birth of a Revolution 1786-1787 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...
  14. [!] A pamphlet is pinned to the Bramblebury notice board! The Rise and Fall of the Halfling Republic A History of the Halflings from 1786-1818 By Introduction On the fourteenth of the Grand Harvest, 1818, Elder Jordan Applebottom of Bramblebury defied the duties he accepted as Elder of Bramblebury and proclaimed Rolladango Applefoot the Thain of Bramblebury. In doing so, he brought to a swift end an entire era of halfling history. The toils and squabbles of the thirty-two years that preceded that moment were rendered pointless. Though the drama and chaos of the three-Elder system was eliminated, the recognition of our natural rights and the separation of Knoxism from the halfling government died with it. It would be wholly unfair, however, to blame Jordan Applebottom for the destruction of our republic. It must be understood that, just as Jordan insisted in his final declaration, the republic had already killed itself from within. The manner in which this occurred is complicated and the reasons for it numerous, but it is imperative that all of it is understood so that future generations may avoid repeating our mistakes. It is also a fascinating story, one that will hopefully resonate not only with the halflings of the present and future but with all learned peoples of the world. ~Night in the Village; early 19th century~ History often suffers from the fact that it is taught by those who did not personally witness it. Facts get muddled with myths, and the recounting of events suffer from the fact that those who tell these stories where not in the room where they happened. That is not to be the fate of this tale. As many, I am sure, are aware; this whole affair started as little more than an idea in my head. I knew it was an experiment, I knew it could fail; but nevertheless I hoped it would not. It has, and the only way to justify it now is to analyze it, and draw what conclusions we can to rid ourselves of confusion and to create a narrative for our posterity to understand and learn from. This thirty-two-year-long tale is, of course, a cumbersome story that cannot be done justice in a short volume. For that reason, it shall be published as a six-part series spanning from the creation of the Halfling Liberty Organization in 1786 to the final hours of the Elder government in 1818. Events and conversations never before heard of shall be revealed, a fuller picture of the past thirty-two years shall be painted here than has ever been painted before; and perhaps most importantly, the thoughts and intentions of the lady behind it all shall be plain to see. This is our story.
  15. Greta lets out a long sigh. "And so it comes full circle. Not even the Elders are elected." She turns around begins walking back to her burrow "Perhaps it is all for the best of the village... but what of me? Is my legacy to be those twenty-one years of chaos and squabbling?" She eventually arrives at her burrow, sitting down at her desk with a bottle of wine and her quill pen. "All that's left to do is tell the story, I suppose... and hope it's all forgiven."
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