On the Halflings


 

A refreshing blend of madness and mirth, the Halflings of Wild's End have a youthful exuberance that never dims and a resolute spirit that makes them undefeatable. With the effortless stealth of a wolf and the devious charm of a child, there are few circumstances in which a Halfling cannot work for the upper hand, especially in the trees of their home. Therefore, their reduced stature is an advantage, an unassuming and agile extension of their personalities and gifts, whether in danger, discourse or dance.


Of Their Tale


It is said that if you spend one day on Terminus, spend it in the company of the Halflings and their hideaway town. An inherent mirth and musicality sit atop their combustible depth, which make friendships easy, passions flammatory and loyalty inescapable. And like many of the castaways on this globe, the Halflings were not always so composed. At one time a people of “full” stature, their lot was to roam across the vastness of their ancient homeworld Hiryth, under constant fear for their survival.

“‘On the run’, Marthus spoke, ‘We are always on the run. We've never had a home. Never a perch, from which to look over ourselves. Not a time, by which we pace our work or rest. Not a place, from which we depart and to which we return. We've barely existed, because we’ve never stayed in one place long enough to change it.

Father, you have spoken to me the tales of our flight since I was a child, and I have heard in those pages a line unspoken. For Kiren, the Ward of Flame revealed himself to me in the wood, as he has so many of our people since First Sight of his appearing. Yet I believe he means us not to run. I believe he means us to fight.’”

- Excerpt from ‘The Maiden and the Lad’

Thereby through the people known as the Kiri was the town of Kirensound born, a name taken to honor their protector, Kiren, the Ward of Flame. For there were Six Wards of Hiryth, though Kiren loved this race above them all, and they had adopted his name in thankfulness to his care. But the Ward of Flame was not charged to watch over the Kiri, rather his was to rule over a race beneath the surface of Hiryth. Yet Kirin loved the light and his people, though as punishment for his rebellion, he was sworn to never speak to the Kiri, yet could lead them in silence for a time.

But in this hour, the discernment and bravery of a young Kiri named Marthus rallied his nomadic race to claim a land for their own. For many years they had feebly escaped from one habitation to the next, fleeing a dogged adversary known as the Ferrath. Yet in the mountains of Ommel Marthus led a defense against the Ferrath. In the height of battle, the Ward Kiren added to the First Sight and granted him a First Magic: to wield fire. From this the Ferrath retreated, never to threaten the people again. And so too did Ward of Flame forever depart, never having uttered a single word to the race he so long watched over.

Kirensound prospered in short order, the young mountain town benefitting from residents proud to till, clear and build upon their own land. Before long it behaved more like a kingdom, and after Marthus, rule was passed through a line of monarchs until the coronation of King Olenspeth the III. Yet on that night the new king personified the soft luxury of Kirensound's era of fortune, imbibing the present and hazy on the past. For the Mountains of Ommel held another kingdom far below its heights: the realm of Molsth, the Laughing Wraith, King of Specters. Kiren’s gift to Marthus had caught the Laughing Wraith’s attention long ago, and on this night he sought to ensnare his descendants.

Pretending to honor King Olenspeth, a disguised Molsth presented the choice of two gifts to the regent: eternal life, or a reign of peace. When the naive king chose to never die, the Laughing Wraith howled for glee and revealed himself. Soaring above the assembly, he cursed the entire population with a birthright affliction that would diminish their physical maturity of the next ten generations. The last generation of the race would be born only as souls, which Molsth foretold with a squeal would be used to restore him to physical life, along with the might of the First Magic. King Olenspeth was granted his portion, however, fated to watch his people disappear into ethereal subjugation.

Yet in the fifth generation, a maiden of Marthus’ line named Lyone sought out the wraith in his cavernous underworld. Deceiving him with a disguise herself, she challenged Molsth, who thought her a harmless, misguided child. By this time her people had been reduced to permanent adolescence, even at the peak of their lives. And though truly a youth, Lyone was a great student of riddle and the tricks of the Laughing Wraith. Declaring herself, she wagered the remaining five generations of her people against Molsth’s wit, and the greedy King took the play without contemplation. So gleeful was he, that when Lyone proposed a further ante, Molsth again complied --

“Your laugh," the Maiden spoke into the sonorous deep. "If I outwit you, we Kiri shall gain your laugh -- and you shall fall forever silent."

Though Molsth became solid at the thought, his hubris permitted him consider but only for a moment....

"Agreed," he returned, in a voice like a thousand vapors.

- ‘The Maiden and the Lad’

Yet threaten and travail as he might, Molsth could not unwind her riddle. Trapped in his greed, the wraith surrendered his laughter and the suffocating curse upon the Kiri was broken. Molsth's laugh, for decades the haunt of every nightmare in the kingdom, was transformed to the emblem of his victim’s joy -- and the Laughing Wraith became the Silent Wraith forevermore. In that hour their new namesake as Halflings took root, for the curse could only be halted and not undone. This fifth of ten generations embraced their "halving" as a harbinger of mercy.

Upon Terminus, there are evidences of that past still alive in Halfling society. The Esqaps, many of whom still carry the blood of Kiri nobility, have a high but sincere mind about themselves and would return to Hiryth and Kirensound if they could. Maidyn Clan is an unrevealed group, even amongst the Halflings themselves. Seeking to honor the sacrifice of Lyone, they care little for the internal affairs of Wild's End, often venturing far beyond it. The Nothi are an unrepentant, wild breed. They fight, sing and adventure with -- as they believe -- justified rebellion, embracing the youthful gift of the unfulfilled curse. Their heritage as wraith hunters is dreadfully serious, however. To avenge the wrongs of Molsth, they persecute his ilk in every crevice of Terminus, chasing whispers that the Silent Wraith smolders in secret somewhere among the realms.

 

Proceed to The Elves