Author: Pundle Tickleburr (NPC)
Source: Asemath Academy, Crossing
It was several hours before one of the town guards found him. Thankful to be released, but barely able to stem the torrent of tears, Declan was not able to voice any semblance of coherent gratitude and raced home.
Pacing outside of the small dwelling with his arms crossed was his father Paddla. On seeing his son sprint down Hodierna Lane towards him, he angrily bellowed "Declan! Where have you been?" His ire softened somewhat when he noticed the red puffy cheeks. "Aaaahh Declan, not again?"
Declan confirmed his suspicions with a slight nod of the head and immediately started crying again. Putting an arm around his son's shoulder and pulling him in close, Paddla said, "Let's go inside and then you can tell me what happened."
Once in the dimly lit living room, Declan poured out his story. "They ambushed me on the way home again. They said that all Halflings were a waste of space. Then they locked me up in the stocks until a couple of town guards found me. I hate school and I hate The Crossing!"
Paddla sighed and comforted his son. "Well perhaps it is time we moved. I have been thinking of trying my luck in Arthe Dale and your schooling would be less troublesome there. You know, despite what they say, Halflings are not as silly as those school bullies would have you think."
Relaxing in his chair and smoking a pipe, Paddla continued, "I'm going to tell you a story, the history of Arthe Dale, a brief history since it is late. It might surprise you. Have I ever told you the story about old man Daffleberry before?"
Declan sniffed and said "No."
Sensing that his son needed some familiar ground with which to identify, Paddla began his story in the time honored tradition, "Once upon a time, there was a roving merchant named Daffleberry Tanglefoot. R-"
"Tanglefoot!" exclaimed Declan, "That's our last name."
"Yes, yes," continued Paddla. "Anyway, rumor has it that Daffleberry heralded from a small farm in the lands beyond Dirge, but his birthplace has never been firmly established." Pausing to relight his pipe, Paddla continued, "Now Daffleberry sought out his fortune around The Crossing. He would frequently visit the marketplaces to see what folk were buying, dash off north and then return several months later only to find that seasonal changes or changes in fashion had prevailed and that his current consignment was, at least for the time being, useless. Daffleberry stored his purchases in the huge warehouses in the Crossing with the realization that sooner or later whatever he had bought would be needed.
"Well as luck would have it, luck for the citizens of the Crossing that is, Daffleberry had amassed a huge supply of grain one particular summer which he had been unable to sell. The details are sketchy, but the Crossing was embroiled in some dispute with a coastal town and found itself under siege. Daffleberry's huge grain supplies enabled the town's population to survive for months and so disheartened the would be attackers that they gave up their siege and returned in disgrace to their town."
"Wow," said Declan, "they wouldn't have dared put Daffleberry in the stocks."
"Not so fast," said Paddla. "The Crossing was most grateful, but not so grateful that it wanted to pay anything near the true value of the grain that it had consumed. In short, they cheated Daffleberry out of a huge sum of money. After he had argued with the town authorities for several days, he resorted to standing on a box and addressing the crowds in the Town Green seeking to redress the wrongs that had been committed against him.
"After yet another day on a grain box, he headed home to his little shack only to be waylaid by several burly Humans. I can only speculate that his daily speeches were having some effect. Anyhow, they bundled and trussed him up and took him out of the city. Some distance out of the Crossing, still tied up, he was unceremoniously dumped out of a wagon and down a hill he was rolled.
"His captors roared with laughter. "That's Daffleberry's Hollow" shouted one as the poor Halfling picked up speed down the hill. "No," laughed another, "That's a hollow Daffleberry!"
"Poor Daffleberry was dizzy, still tied up and loathe to return to the place that had betrayed him. A strong believer in fate, he freed himself, surveyed his surroundings and stated to himself, "Here I shall build a community, an economic community to rival that of the Crossing. A community for Halflings and Halflings alone." And so out of hatred, a strong but wasted emotion, grew the powerful settlement of Arthe Dale. In time the hatred was lost, as trading relationships predominated and new generations saw reason. Both Arthe Dale and the Crossing became partners.
"And so my son, I think it is time for us to return to our people. There we shall be welcome, there can you learn without fear and most of all grow up without having to experience the difficulties that poor ol' Daffleberry experienced. Once we get to Arthe Dale, I'll make sure that Rufus and Woolly tell you a few stories. It's really about about time you met some of your relatives.
And with a kiss and a hug, Paddla Tanglefoot sent his happy son off to bed.