Chapters:

Intro

At a young age, Azaelia Teagloom had discovered that she had a rare gift that was unlike many others of her kind – in fact it was almost forbidden. Halflings of the realm were not that different from other species in the area but they did share a common disbelief in magic. Most of the realms had forgotten about the magic times but there were still echoes in the deep, rumblings of the old ways and of a time when it was practiced openly. Even still – when it had been more prominent in the world, magic among Halflings was quite rare and often the younglings were encouraged to avoid it; to forget that it was even present in their minds.

Despite her parents’ best efforts, the spark inside of her could not be squashed. This put them in a precarious position. It was not that they did not want her to remain at home, but it was the fact that she could not. Magic was unheard of, and to have a child that possessed such strange abilities could not be ignored. Her parents knew that if they were to shirk the beliefs of their people by not removing any affiliation with Azaelia, it would be putting themselves at risk. There was no telling what the collective would do with Azaelia still roaming around the foothills of their township. It was unacceptable. She needed to find a world where she fit in and could grow, but how was someone like herself to find her way.

In common years she would have been twelve when she left her home. The pull of the magic was too strong for her to stay and she did not wish to dishonor her family - so she left. Unsure of where to go, she travelled and honed her craft as she stumbled along. Luckily for Azaelia, Halflings are quite small and quick on their feet, so the obstacles that would affect many on a journey were unknown to her. She was fast to hide and easily mistaken for the underbrush. There were instances where she was unsure if she could continue on, but she had decided long ago that this was the only option available.

Being short of stature, it was inevitable that stops would be plentiful. Her legs would often give out on her or she should be short of breath, so it was necessary that she stop for more breaks than the average creature. Her skill of blending in ensured that she was not overly concerned with being spotted, provided that she continued her pace and made sure to walk as much as possible in one day. Often times her overnight breaks would go a little longer, but this too was necessary so that her body as well as her legs were given enough time to recuperate.

Having never left her home hole before this trip, her knowledge of the above was limited to what she had read in books. Luckily studying and knowledge were two things that she found came to her quite easily – that and magic. Of course being a Halfling meant that there were little resources for her to learn about the arcane, but there was always the trial and error method. As a young sprite she had caused many ruckuses in her section of what had been her home. Things tinged, objects broken; Azaelia tried not to focus too much on her learning days because she knew that it would only lead her to the memory of the day she realized the need to leave.

She had never felt a strong bond with her parents, but she had also never hated them. Azaelia would never have wanted any harm or discontent to come to them, so she knew that leaving would be better for not only her but also for them. It wasn’t just a kindness – it was the only answer.

During her travels she often found herself in local towns. Although she was not quite old enough in appearance to pass entry into a tavern, she was quick to find the local bakeries and to purchase handfuls of day old goods. These morsels kept her stomach full and her measly earnings intact. She had not left with much, but she had taken a little more than most when she had gone. She had only added to what little she had, from her parents’ pocket stash. Although it was stealing, in her eyes it was mutual payment for the fact that she had to leave. Both parties would benefit from her departure and so both parties should have to chip into what she expected to be a journey.

Although there were many variations of things that could be acquired at a bakery, Azaelia’s favorite find was always the sweet rolls. The first time she had discovered a small inhabitance; a small family had noticed her state and taken her in. The parents allowed her to sleep in a small nook for the night, and their child (whom Azaelia expected to be around her age) had helped to show her the bathing supplies that were available for her to use. She had not expected this type of outpouring from strangers, especially after the way her family had treated her, but these residents had no knowledge of her magic and therefore only showed her pity and kindness instead of fear. It had been a wonderful night and when she had attempted to sneak out in the morning the father had ran after her to give her some fresh baked items for the journey.

There was not a lot that the small family could spare, but his wife had just finished some sweet rolls the night before as a surprise for the morning. Despite her short interaction with the family, the parents seemed to understand that she would not be staying long. Although they did not want her to go, they also did not want her to leave without a little something to help continue on the journey: the sweet rolls. They had been the finest thing that Azaelia had ever eaten - the embodiment of the warmth and love she had received from this family of strangers. It was the most comfort she had ever felt, and here it was in edible form. As she travelled, a few more kind families also shared their homes with her, but none that made her feel as at home as they had.