The Small Folk, a piece from the writings of Ayla Caerin, scribe to King Celen II. u.203 Translated from High Elven.
Our records on the so-called Small Folk of the land are sparse. I spent many a year hunting through the royal libraries and histories only to find vague mentions here and there. My predecessors cared little for filling in the gaps in our supposed wisdom, and thus I have taken it upon myself to remedy this.
With little second-hand knowledge, I decided that there was but one way to educate myself. Thus, I took a temporary leave of service to my King and Me’enai itself to travel east. King Celen ordered a contingent of soldiers to go as my protectors, but they would have done me no good and only gotten in the way. I simply slipped out in the night on my own, and this writing can be my apology as well as my report.
A week after I crossed through the city of An’Adeth and into the scattered kingdoms of Men that occupy the eastern half of our land, I finally found some of these Small Folk. It was here that my education began, and I must say there was far more to learn than I had imagined.
First, and truly most important, is that there is not simply one group of these so-called Small Folk. There are as many of them as there are Elf and Man. Primarily, however, there seem to be two main divisions that I will detail here.
I shall speak of the Halflings first only because they were the first I encountered. Physically, they are very similar to Men, though half the height. They are not nearly as stocky as the Dwarves of the mountains, but they have a similar insular nature on the whole. It was difficult to learn much from them simply because they would not speak, and I wonder if those that did speak only did so because I was the first Elf woman they had ever seen.
Of their culture and history, I learned as much as I could. They claim to have lived in the fields and hills for as long as they could remember, which is a bit of a nonesense statement but something oft repeated. I am certain that they were here before Men first arrived, though it would seem that they were content to hide amongst the hills from any peoples of that time.
Primarily, the Halflings are farmers. Since the arrival of Men, trade has grown as an important piece of their culture, and they surely are great negotiators when they wish to speak. I must recommend opening some trade with them soon, as I already miss some of the wonderful foods.
Now, the other group of peoples I found called themselves Gnomes. I am unsure if I like that terminology, but nearly all of them insisted on it. They claim a connection to the realm of Fey, and perhaps this is true in some distant way.
The Gnomes are somehow smaller than even Halflings, though only by a small amount. If Halflings are shorter humans, then perhaps Gnomes are small Elves. They tend to be quite thin and wiry, with sharp features that do suggest perhaps a common origin.
The history of these Gnomes is perhaps even more hard to decipher than what brief words I could learn from the Halflings. Some of the Gnomes claim to be directly connected to the Fey themselves, others shrug and simply claim that they are simply here now, and some tell wild stories of rising up from the ground itself.
I believe the truth may lie in a story told to me by one elder Gnome. She claimed that her people had come from the forested islands even further east. When I asked her how they had reached our land, she shrugged and said simply, “By boat, I’d expect.”
The Gnomes are a scattered people. Where Halflings dwell in tight-knit communities, the Gnomes are wanderers by nature. Family seems to be quite important to them, but their desire to explore and curiosity about all things seems to dominate the entirety of their lives.