halfling tribes gradually recovered from the ravages of the Undead
War, both in terms of population as well as pessimism. Tales of
Truefolk becoming silent and withdrawn, and finally riding off never
to be seen again, finally ended. This irrecoverable depression was
seen by some to be a scourge born of their Gods' disapproval with
the Truefolk, a punishment for having been associated with the demon
summoning. They called the malady the Maelaish, and likewise used
the term to refer to those claimed by its darkness.
For many years the halflings vehemently avoided contact or interaction
with outlanders, or 'Others.' If any, especially elves, approached
their encampment, they acted as if the intruders did not exist.
They carried on with their normal activities, simply walking around
any outsider as though he or she did not exist. However, at dawn
of the next day, the visitors awoke and found the whole community
At a historically significant Trine some fifty years after Maelshyve,
the Truefolk arrived at a monumental decision guided by a Trine
Father named Finryst Carlsonne. Carlsonne was a visionary leader
in terms of historical far-sightedness, and urged his people to
embrace magic and develop it, for purposes of not only advancing
their population's success in making a living, but in their ability
to protect themselves from others' magical workings.
His proposal met with great resistance at first, fueled by the
memory of magic gone awry at Maelshyve and its punishments on the
halfling tribes. However, Finryst, an admirable orator with great
charisma, was finally able to convert his opposition to his opinions
and gain the unanimous ruling necessary for passing the Trine. Magic
was embraced and a search was initiated to find those Truefolk youth
who exhibit a talent for the art. Guiding this endeavor was an expatriate
Illistim elf by the name of Memailly Rachidesic.
The Horse War
Rachidesic, the Avatar
Having been expelled from her home in the city
of Ta'Illistim in her early adulthood, purportedly for breaking
certain rules regarding the casting of dark magic, Memailly
traveled north and eventually happened upon a settlement of
Mhoragian halflings. Although weak from the hardships of her
journey, she was fascinated by the small, hardy folk and smitten
by the ritual-rich existence she observed in them. As they
worked at their normal activities all around her without apparently
noticing her, she carefully watched all that they did. At
the end of the day, she knew that she had found what she set
out to discover months before. She had found the Malghava
tribe. She was home.
That night, although near physical exhaustion,
Memailly sat before the main campfire of the settlement and
pondered the problem of convincing the tribe to accept her,
to recognize her and communicate. The problem and its possible
solutions denied her the comfort of sleep. She was heartily
grateful for this when, in the last couple hours of darkness,
the camp silently came alive. Gers were struck with amazing
speed and nary a sound was heard other than a slight rustle
of canvas bags and tack.
As the whole settlement set off into the darkness,
Memailly followed them, leaving most of the small amount of
provisions and gear she still retained. She was simply too
exhausted to carry much more than herself.
The halflings walked all the coming day. In
mid-afternoon, the group stopped for a rest. Thankful for
the chance to sit, Memailly drew her water bag to her lips
for a much needed drink. It was empty. The seemingly endless
expanse of the steppes stretched into the distance, with no
sign of water in any direction. None-the-less, she said nothing
to the halflings sitting in groups around her, sharing water
and tough, brown strips of jerky.
Hearing a small rustle, Memailly realized
her eyes had fallen shut. She blinked in confusion for a moment,
and saw the group was already on the move. Leaping up, she
stepped forward to follow, and almost tripped over her water
bag. It was now full. She drew a blessed mouthful of cold,
sweet water, and set off once again, following the tough little
people she hoped so desperately to join.
For three days and nights, the halflings marched.
Memailly only allowed herself to doze fitfully during their
rare rest stops, constantly afraid they would slip away if
she truly slept. At the end of the third day, as the halflings
stopped for their evening meal, Memailly sat down heavily
and tried to focus her eyes. She knew she could not get up
again once the halflings returned to the march. In resigned
despair, she slumped over on her side and fell instantly into
a deep sleep.
The following morning, Memailly awoke to find
a bustling settlement of gers erected all around her. As she
blearily glanced about her, an ancient little halfling grandmother
knelt beside her and offered her a cup of warm tea. In surprise
and gratitude, Memailly accepted the cup. As she drank, the
woman chuckled and said something to her Memailly didn't understand.
The thing she did understand however was that the ordeal was
over, and, against all odds, she had passed the test. She
lived the remainder of her life with the Mhoragian halflings
and became the subject of many legends told among the Truefolk.
The Coming of Magic Memailly Traithmok had been with the halflings
for many years, and though she was still young in terms of
being an elf, she'd slowly gained the trust of the halfling
tribe. Finryst Carlsonne had come to depend upon her as an
advisor. Finryst had long since discovered that Memailly was
a wizard trained in the venerable halls of Ta'Illistim's finest
academies. She had given up any allegiance she might have
once felt for her Elven ancestry with the commencement of
her marriage to a halfling warrior named Einaz Traithmok,
a union that lasted over 70 years. The marriage ended when
Einaz was killed in a conflict with an Ardenai hunting party,
leaving Memailly a widow. When Finryst told her of his plans
for bringing magic to the tribes, she agreed and willingly
took on the organization of the endeavor. Time proved that
Memailly's enviable talent in magic was equaled by her skills
Young halflings with magical promise were
located during the coming years, and brought to Fraelshire.
Here a structure was erected, a large building where the tenets
of magic began to be taught, and it was called Grinstoff Roth.
The children who studied there turned out
to be surprisingly adept, and Memailly was amazed, then delighted,
with their promise. Who could have known that such a vast
well of talent was lying undetected in the small, hardy people?
During her teaching, Memailly was at first
puzzled why spells she cast at the halfings would be resisted
as though they had not worked. With experimentation, she discovered
they had an innate ability to withstand elemental magic to
a degree she had never encountered before. While she was never
able to fully explain this, she eventually deduced it derived
from a combination of the halflings' close relationship with
the land and their natural inclination to disdain hostility.
Memailly gave it a name, calling it the 'reshchleiv' or as
translated in halfling, 'Land's bounty.'
As Finryst passed from Trine Father, his successors
continued to support the work, trusting Memailly's administration
with unquestioning approval. With her Elven longevity, she
schooled year after year of new initiatives, and watched their
children, and their grandchildren follow in the magical arts.
And as time passed, the initiatiates grew into their power
as though they were growing in height. The other races, meanwhile,
had no suspicion that the halflings possessed any knowledge
of the arcane arts.
For many years, the halflings had lived on the steppes and along
the borders of the Houses Ardenai and Illistims' lands. For the
most part, the elves, as they did with most other races, completely
ignored the halflings, beyond asking their help in the final push
against Despana's minions. The elves had no use for others.
In about the year -14823, during the dark times after the defeat
of Despana and the exile of House Faendryl, a ravaging blight began
to reduce the crops surrounding the city of Ta'Ardenai. For five
years running, the blight persisted, to the point that the city
was on the verge of starvation. Given the schism that had developed
between the Houses since the exile of the Faendryl, none of the
other Houses had offered assistance to the Ardenai.
The Ardenai hunters ranged further and further north in an attempt
to feed the city's populace, which eventually brought them into
direct conflict with the Brughan halflings living in the forests
surrounding the lake Khesta 'Dahl. Isolated incidences of conflict
became a growing threat among the Brughan tribes.
As racial bigotry prohibited cooperation in feeding the starving
populace of Ta'Ardenai, skirmishes between Elven hunting parties
and halfling settlements became increasingly more common. The halflings
began to conceal their settlements. The elves often underestimated
their small adversaries. The small elven hunting parties, formed
less of soldiers than true game hunters, found themselves at the
mercy of lightning-fast strikes by halflings mounted on the agile
Brughan shire ponies. The halflings were not only consummate riders,
but also exceptional archers, a fact that took the Ardenai marksmen
The ruling king of House Ardenai began to take notice of the difficulties
the hunting parties were reporting in their attempts to gather game
for the city's consumption. With typical elven arrogance, the king
decided to send a small legion of soldiers northward to deal with
the diminutive harassers.
As Brughan settlements were found and burned, Ardenai hunting parties
attacked and Truefolk killed in retaliation, the conflict escalated
in the eyes of the Ardenai from a minor annoyance to a major issue.
The proud Elves of Ta'Ardenai would not countenance such aggression
and insult from a people they viewed as itinerate poachers, in fact
little better than vermin.
The populace of Ta'Ardenai grew more and more unruly as famine
and disease claimed their victims. The Ardenai ruling family saw
the halfling insurgence as an expedient culprit on which to blame
all the woes of the city. The blight, while a devastating punishment
to the population of Ta'Ardenai, was a natural one. However, it
was easy to spread rumors that halflings had infiltrated the Ta'Ardenai
countryside, bringing the scourge with them and leaving it in the
fields to multiply, spreading death and suffering in its wake. It
was an insidious blight, leaving the crops rotting in the fields,
and herd animals -- dependent on the fields' bounty - dying a painful
death of mouth and brain disease. Gradually, the city's ire was
redirected from the ruling family to the 'halfling menace.'
Seeing an advantage, the Ardenai king discussed attacking the halflings
and claiming all the lands of the northern forests as Ardenai provinces.
This encompassed the entirety of the Brughan homelands, a region
rich in timber, water and game, to which the king intended to promote
migration and settlement by the populace they were unable to feed.
Thus, the Ardenai claimed it as their eminent domain and sent several
legions of seasoned warriors northward to safeguard the area for
Elven migration. Meanwhile, distant Elven settlers, acquainted with
the Brughan tribes and -- after years of trade -- friendly to them,
warned the halflings of the threat. The halflings found it difficult
to believe that the Ardenai would initiate something so radical,
and expected to meet only an enhanced version of the raiding parties
they had previously experienced.
While the Ardenai military leaders are adept strategists, they
believed the halfling population would be easily subdued, and expected
the initiative to last only a few weeks. With this in mind, they
formed a small preliminary strike force to move into the Brughan
lands, wipe out any resistance, and then occupy the land until a
larger group of warriors could arrive and relieve them. The first
strike force was only a few hundred troops; however they had the
added advantage of having been on numerous campaigns before that
and were fairly seasoned fighters.
In the meantime, the halflings contacted the other families. A
large number of seasoned Malghavan warriors, as well as a good number
of fearsome Mhoragian horse warriors joined the Brughan army and
prepared to meet the approaching Ardenai strike force.
The Ardenai legions reached the Brughan territories and set up
camp in a beautiful valley bordered by tall, wooded hills on three
sides. Although ringed by thick forest, the valley, called Saens
Valaire, was wide enough that the Elven commanders considered it
safe, plus it had the advantage of a running river to the north.
The troops made camp while reconnaissance parties began to explore
and map the surrounding countryside.
Despite the survey sorties, the Elves did not discover the main
Brughan outpost. Instead, they found another town, inhabited for
the most part by old men, women and children. The Elven scouts,
viewing the settlement from a distance, saw a large number of the
curious, round halfling tents, as well as a bustling population
and a large herd of Shire ponies. It was this settlement, known
as Ragalatan, which the Ardenai strike force chose as its first
As the Ardenai army surged across the river bordering the town
of Ragalatan and swept down upon the settlement's population, halflings
ran desperately for shelter. Screams echoed across the valley as
they died, and Truefolk fled while clouds of Ardenai arrows rained
death upon them. At the conclusion of the Ragalatan massacre, few
halflings who had dwelt there were left alive.
The halfling army, massing at another settlement on the other side
of the hills, heard of the attack on Ragalatan and the general reaction
was one of stunned dismay followed by rage. All doubt that the Ardenai
Elves were bent on all-out war in order to push the halfings from
the surrounding land was gone. The halfings prepared for attack.
As the small group of Ardenai troops returned to their camp, they
brought the few survivors of Ragalatan with them, a group that included
a few women and children. While the command staff of the Ardenai
troops knew that the initiative was just beginning, the general
mood of the troops was one of victory, despite the questionable
fact that the victims of the Ragalatan Massacre had been essentially
Three days later, the halfling army attacked an hour before dawn,
taking the advantage of surprise. Arrows rained out of the sky and
sorties of armed horsemen rode into the disorganized mass of half-awake
Elves, cutting some of them down as they crawled from their tents.
The small force of Elves was effectually routed, and surviving hostages
were recovered. By noon of that day, only the commanders of the
Elven troops were left alive. They were sent home carrying a message
that the Brughan homelands are not open to transgression.
The Ardenai king, incensed at the defeat of his legion, lost no
time in sending several more legions of troops northward. These
well-trained troops were familiar with battle tactics and ready
for a fight, having heard of the loss of the first legion. Still,
in the coming years spent in the wild Brughan lands, there were
no large-scale confrontations. Instead, the Elves and halflings
engaged in covert attacks on each others' scouting parties.
For the first time, the Ardenai Elves began to find themselves
the targets of magical attacks from unseen halflings hidden in the
trees and vales. This was an immense surprise, since the halflings
had previously been considered a race unskilled in magic, hence
primitive and unworthy of notice. Over time, the troops were lowered
in number and eventually recalled, their numbers so reduced that
they were no longer considered to have any tactical advantage. It
was at this point that the Ardenai King, already suspect among his
Councilors in terms of reliable judgment, began to consider another
option. Despite the fact that the blight had finally ended, and
prosperity returned to the Elven city of Ta'Ardenai, the Ardenai
King could not accept defeat at the hands of a people he respected
In secrecy, at the bequest of the Ardenai King, sorcerers were
consulted, and after much conjecture, a plan was put forward. It
was considered harsh, but the general consensus among the King's
advisors was that victory must be achieved. The King, still angered
over the abuses visited on his legions, agreed. They would repay
the halflings' magical attacks with sorcery. Under a strict vow
of secrecy, the sorcerers began their convocations.
The spells took ten years to perfect. During that time, the conflict
between the Elves and the halflings decreased and finally stopped,
as the legions had been recalled and few Ardenai remained near the
halfling lands. The halflings returned to living, and the city of
Ta'Ardenai returned to prosperity. At length, the Ardenai Sorcery
Master arranged a meeting with the King and his advisors and there,
declared the magic ready to use. The result was immediate conflict
within the small group of advisors. Some individuals voiced their
opinion that the situation was now healthy and saw no reason to
proceed. However, when it was pointed out that the dreaded pacifist
element had infiltrated even the highest court, the King pushed
his advisors to agree with the plan. The Ardenai Sorcerers, vastly
powerful and eminently knowledgeable in the dark arts, initiated
Within weeks, the halflings discovered their prized herds of ponies
were ill. Despite anything they knew to do, the animals began to
die. In two months time, every pony across the Empire of the Truefolk
was dead. In the first weeks, the halflings tried to bury them,
but soon the sheer numbers of the herds necessitated that the halflings
burn the carcasses. In time, the great Northern Steppes were strewn
with the bones of the wild herds, numbering in the thousands, which
had once roamed the land.
Unfortunately, the Ardenai failed to take into account the breadth
of their sorcery; their buffering spells, cast to protect their
own herds, proved ineffective. Soon, the Ardenai horses began to
die as well. Within six months, all the halfling ponies and the
Ardenai herds were dead. The advisors were aghast at the ineffectuality
of the buffering spells, and quickly insured that the shroud of
death silenced every sorcerer associated with the project. While
the horse owners and Ardenai horse breeders were in an uproar at
the demise of their prized equines, the Ta'Ardenai King's advisors
prayed that the truth would never be discovered.
Among the halfling tribes, the Mhoragians were the hardest hit
by the annihilation. They burned the carcasses of their valuable
herds, and then tried to follow the antelope by foot. Many died
of starvation. And some died of despair at the death of their ancestral
While all ponies were gone from the halfling way of life after
the sorcery, the hardy people managed to evolve and in time, proliferate.
The Ardenai Elves, preoccupied with their own troubles and concerns,
paid the small people little attention afterward. The Ardenai herds
were rebuilt with bloodlines purchased from the other Houses. It
was likely the Ardenai were grateful that no further scrutiny was
cast upon the ill-fated venture. And in a few years, with the death
of the Ardenai King (who was considered most certainly mad in his
later years), the Elves had forgotten the whole incident.
The halflings would always mourn the passing of the great herds.
They would always continue the rituals they practiced while the
ponies were living, in hopes that someday, the horse tribes would