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Halflings

Thought to be descendants of gnomes who stubbornly remained in their lands rather than migrate to the east, the halflings of the Lautar Mire are reclusive, and more than willing to defend their isolation with violence. Gnome legend describes halflings as profligate descendants of Estal, who shrank due to malnourishment in the Mire, thus forever marking themselves as different from other gnomes. This explanation is commonly accepted, as rarely do halflings ever venture out from the Mire, and even rarer do they bother to make long-term interactions with other races. Regardless, the halflings maintain a unique culture and way of life shaped by the Lautar Mire. Organised around tightly-knit family units, halflings live in crannog villages deep in the bogs, with each village claiming a specific territory of the Mire, which they jealously guard from outsiders, including other halflings. At the head of each family are its elder members, who are highly venerated and respected for their ability to interpret the inherited knowledge of the ancestors who came before them. Descent is traced matrilineally, with women forming the core of any family unit; however, property is passed down via gender - a daughter will inherit the property and family name of her mother, while a son will inherit the property of his father and the family name of his mother.   Halflings practice a form of ancestor worship which venerates a composite spirit of all a halfling’s ancestors in one, known as the Eternal Ancestor. The Eternal Ancestor plays an important role in the everyday life of a halfling family, with family elders calling upon the Ancestor to consult when making important decisions, or if help is needed in predicting the future. As a result of this, once a halfling has had a child, death is no longer considered something to be afraid of, as they will live on forevermore as a part of the Eternal Ancestor. So integral is the Ancestor that all halflings carry with them the teeth of their ancestors, known as sampy, in order to ward off evil spirits and attract good fortune. These bone fragments are collected during the burial process, in which teeth are extracted from the corpse before it is weighted and dropped into the acidic bog waters, where it remains preserved. For this reason halflings are highly protective of their teeth, to the point where it is considered the height of disrespect to knock out another halfling’s teeth. Blood feuds which have lasted for centuries have been started over such instances.   Halflings speak Halfling, a Sylvan language.

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