The History of the Races

The Halfings

Halfling Homeland:
Stonecliff Pass

by the, er, great Halfling storyteller, Fizzlebitzen Jockenheimer-Schmoop.

At the beginning of time, great elemental forces waged war across what was to become our world. These forces, Earth, Air, Fire, Water, Life, and Death, battled for dominion over the creations of Life, the mortals (that's us!). The battles raged across all planes, encompassing all that we know (and lots of stuff that we don't know). To mortal eyes, their battle took the shape of a giant cyclone, with great currents running through it, each elemental current thickening and thinning as its power waxed and waned. The top of the cyclone stretched out across the sky further than you could see and, it is said, the tip of the cyclone was so small, it really didn't exist at all. This cyclone tore across the land, decimating everything it its path. Plagues swept through cities, followed seconds later by huge fires, flood, hurricanes, and earthquakes. Life did its best to save its creations, but it was unable to contest the uncontrolled power of the other elements. As it turns out Life's efforts were of little consequence, for at the time, our home was still a plane of infinite size. Life, wanting to populate the plane, but lacking imagination, had created only a small number of beings and simply made lots and lots of each. So, though billions of Life's creatures were destroyed, an infinite number still existed to take their place.

The cyclone of the elements was not entirely a destructive force, though. In fact, it destroyed nothing, it simply absorbed things and hanged them. From the edges of the cyclone fell a continuous rain of matter: minerals, ice, magma, salt, ash, and everything else our world is made of. From the raw power of the cyclone, also sprang the demi-gods and creatures of our world. The dragons were the first to be created. Their huge size, along with their understanding of controlling the elements, allowed them to easily dominate the other mortals. Along with them came other terrible monsters: the great giants, true elementals and elemental-kin, and the djinn. Next sprang forth the creatures of sylvan woods: sprites, nymphs, and dryads. Lastly, the cyclone spawned the oozes and jellies. Each new creation drew power from the elements, weakening them, and that is why each progressive creation is smaller or weaker (or stupider).

In addition to all this fighting and creating and weakening, the elements had some other serious problems on their hands. Occasionally, the fighting of the elements would reach such a fevered pitch, and so much energy would be concentrated into one point, that the energy would coalesce into a sentient power, uncontrolled by the creative processes of the elements. These powers drew energy from the elements, strengthening themselves until they became even more powerful than the elements themselves. These are our Immortals; the true Grull, the Champions and the Anti-Champions, Silvermane, and the Gold Dragon. And for every Immortal, the elements were again weakened.

The final Immortal to spring forth from the cyclone (and probably the most important) was Chaos. His creation was noted by only a very few creatures (as first anyway) and here, finally, is where we get to the creation of the Halflings.

Throughout the great war of the elements, the vast majority of mortals went into hiding. One group, the precursors of the Halflings, chose not to. They roamed the land, living and dying (as one will, when a cyclone bigger than the sky runs him over). These humans were powerfully built; they stood over seven feet tall, they had the strength to pick up a normal man and use him as a club, and (unlike most biggies) they were actually pretty smart. Their battle prowess was renowned across the plane. They were cunning fighters and known for their ability to win any battle, against any odds.

It was not pride in their abilities, nor greed, nor any other of the common vices of mortals that kept these men and women above ground. The humans were simply curious. They enjoyed watching the displays put on by the elemental battles. Eventually, the humans began to wear clothes of bright colors, copying the elements they watched so often. One day, several of the humans watched the glorious birth of Silvermane. They saw him come forth from the cyclone, his hooves blazing like fire, his white coat glistening, and his mane shining like the sun. These humans reported the event to their superiors and many efforts were made to contact this impressive beast. When these efforts finally succeeded, the humans found Silvermane to be an amazing creature: physically powerful and amazingly intelligent. Many began to wear their hair in an effort to copy Silvermane's impressive mane; they did not worship him they were merely paying him homage as an impressive fighter and companion.

Many months later, several tribes were gathered, watching a most spectacular display. They witnessed the birth of another of the demi-gods, Chaos. It is said that he was born from the point of the cyclone, where all the elements were, and yet, nothing existed. In any case, Chaos came tearing out of the cyclone, a great ball of energy, changing and twisting anything it came into contact with. Unlike, the elemental cyclone, it did not kill the humans it encountered, it merely changed them. The humans it encountered that day were those destined to become the Halflings.

As I said, Chaos changed those it came into contact with. From these humans, it took everything they were. But Chaos was not evil, it gave them the means to survive, for it gave them everything they should be in return. Chaos took the huge size from the humans, he made them small and nimble. They were no longer strong and powerful, but now quick and dexterous. They retained their skill in battle, but now relied on speed and superior tactics as opposed to simply squashing their enemies into little pieces. When these changed humans returned to their tribes, they were not cast out and they were not rejected, but the quickly realized that they no longer belonged. Their companions began to refer to them as Half 'ins, jokingly making reference to their small size, and relegated them to the role of children. They were able to speak their mind, but their opinions were most often ignored. They were not invited on hunting excursions or to the glorious baffles they relished so much. Eventually, the Halflings, as they were now called began to leave. There was no mass exodus; Halflings simply drifted away as they felt like it. As such, no Halfling settlements were immediately formed; for the most part, they wandered the land, stopping here and there, seeing what was to be seen, and living where and how they cared. While the Halflings went about going on with their (mostly) carefree lives, the great saga of the elemental battle went on. Death continued to gain the upper hand (or bone, or whatever), and finally Life decided to enlist the help of the mortals and the demi-gods. With the help of Silvermane, the wolf lords began to create the packs of man-beasts which would become the mortal warriors against the power of the Elementals. Unbeknownst to the wolf lords, Silvermane also went to great warrior humans, and their cousins, the Halflings, and asked them for help. These proud, honorable humans quickly agreed, and the Halflings decided to go too. At the great battle, the human warriors stood, and died, along with their bestial companions, resisting the onslaught of the undead hordes summoned by Death.

But the Halflings saw exploring as the better part of valor. When no one was looking, a group of Halflings snuck across the bridge spanning the mana river. They began to joyfully experiment with the portal, the mana river, and everything in between. They proceeded to stick their fingers into the portal, and then their toes, finally jumping through, back and forth, over and over. When they got bored with this, they began to closely inspect the portal itself. It was made of tarnished and blackened metal, with powerful runes of magic carved all over its surface. The lines of the runes constantly exuded a thick slimy material, and one of the Halflings, curious to know what it was, wiped up a small smear of it with his finger. It appeared to be blood! The Halfling jumped back, startled and kind of disgusted. And then he realized something else, his finger was really beginning to hurt! He wiped his finger off, but it still hurt, and was red and bleeding. As one should do when any extremity is hurt, he plopped into his mouth and began sucking on it, and hopping around everywhere. The other Halflings, curious to see what had happened, had gathered and the first, distracted by the pain in his finger and the fact that he was getting dizzy from jumping, bumped into one of them sending him sprawling. This Halfling, attempting to catch himself, threw his hands out, one of which brushed against the portal. On this hand, the Halfling was wearing a ring which he had found in his pouch only a few days later. As this ring touched the corroded metal of the portal it let out a blinding flash of light and a clap like thunder. The Halflings all stumbled back, blinded and deafened, the one even forgetting to continue sucking on his finger. The point on the portal which had been touched by the ring began to turn a dusty color, the apparent erosion spreading quickly. The material of the portal began flaking apart; the portal quickly fell to a small pile of dust at the feet of the very surprised Halflings.

While all this was happening, the humans and the man- beasts, unaware of the heroic actions of the Halflings, had managed to open a clear path to the bridge. Their leaders were across, preparing to cast the powerful spells which would permanently close the portal to the Plane of Death. Neither did they see the actions of the Halflings, for they were blinded by the glow of the portal and the magical energy which sparked and crackled around them, and, some say, by their unyielding pride and belief in their superiority. In any case, they reached the middle of the bridge and prepared for the completion of their spells.

About the time they began to walk across the bridge is when the unfortunate Halfling realized his finger was beginning to hurt. As they began their spells, the other unfortunate Halfling (whose new found ring was destroyed) fell back and hit the portal. As the spells were nearing their end, so was the existence of the portal nearing its. As the last small part of the portal fell into dust, the influence of the Plane of Death was removed from the world. The undead of its creation fell to pieces, the mana river dried, and the bridge across it was likewise destroyed. The man-beasts on the bridge fell to their deaths, their very bodies pulled into the Plane of Death by the whirlwinds of its retreating energy. The remaining humans and man-beasts, still blinded by their pride, er, the bright light, assumed their leaders had been successful in their mission. The proclaimed them martyrs, and for many years spoke of their bravery and courage, sacrificing themselves for the good of the world. The Halflings saw no point in informing the others of the shortcomings, and failure, of their superiors, and so the humans went on believing their version of the battle.

At exactly the same time that the portal to the Plane of Death was destroyed, the portals to all the other planes were closed (though not destroyed). Without this link to the infinity of the Elemental Planes, our plane was instantly transformed into a finite world, created from the droppings of the Elemental cyclone. It was the closing of these portals that led to the weakening of the elemental influence in our world, not the 'amazing and fantastic magical abilities of the humans,' as the humans are fond of saying. Most people, other than the Halflings, are not even aware that these portals exist. The humans and demi-humans are content with their beliefs and have not sought out this knowledge, but several of the portals have been located and the areas around them mapped by valiant Halfling explorers. Opening them is nearly impossible, for they are controlled by the Elemental forces; not only by the rulers of the Elemental plane to which they lead, but by an uneasy alliance between all the Elemental beings. This is probably for the best, as opening any individual portal would probably destroy the world as that element, and that element alone, took control of our world.

Anyway, to finish the story. The Halfling heroes wandered away several days later (after regaining their sight and hearing). For many, many years these Halflings lived as wanderers. Some lived in human settlements, some in other towns, some lived in the wilderness, many lived in a different place every third or fourth day. The first town consisting mainly of Halflings was founded in the forests of the south, and was known simply as Half. Several years later, a town sprung up in the plains of the north. It was founded by humans, and partially in mockery of the Halfling town only a few days travel to the south, and partially in making it very clear that Halflings (and other demi-humans) were not welcome, the town was named Halfnot. The other demi-human races were content to allow the humans to maintain their prejudices; they had quite a few of their own, against each other and against the humans. The Halflings, however, liking no more to be where they aren't wanted, moved, en mass, to Halfnot. The human populace was powerless to keep so many out, short of killing them which they were unwilling to do (just remember, humans aren't all bad). They had little choice but to live with the Halflings or to leave. Being humans, they made the silly, more difficult choice: they left. So now, the Halflings had two towns. The people of Halfnot thought it silly that their town was still named Halfnot, since it wasn't, so they changed the name to North of Half, which they eventually shorten to North. The citizens of Half, jealous of their neighbor city's new name, decided to pick a new name of their own. They chose South of North, which they eventually changed to South.

Many months passed, and the Halflings began to realize something: having cities named after directions was very confusing. Family members would go off, saying 'I'm going North.' When someone tried to write or visit them in North, they were no where to be found, because they actually had just gone north. They considered changing the names back to their long forms, but realized this wouldn't make sense, as there was no longer a Half, and that South would become South of North of Half and North would become North of South of North of Half. Taking this into consideration, South would have to be renamed South of North of South of North of Half. After several days, the mayor of North realized that this probably wasn't going to work. He wrote a note to his counterpart in South (whose new name now filled over three sheets of parchment), suggesting they name the towns East and West, for, by his reasoning, no one would ever confuse going to East with going north. The mayor of South agreed, and so the first Halfling settlements got their current names: East in the north, and West in the south.

Numerous Halfling settlements exist today, and all of them have taken to heart the hard lessons taught by the towns of East and West. Some of these cities are: Down in the eastern mountains; Inland, a great sea port on the eastern shore; and Underground, another city in the south, actually built in the boughs of the huge trees of the forest.

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