Tales of Haelis
Halfling Bard from the village of Springfoot, his talents were lauded in his town for bringing the light back into their prized mead, Honey Jum-Jum
Nesteled in the rolling hills a few hundred leagues outside of Caeldrea, beyond the reach of politics and tall society lays the city of Springfoot. City is a term used loosely to describe the home of some few thousand halflings, but it is one of the larger communities of the diminutive folk. The halflings of Springfoot rarely receive vistors other than a few traders coming to trade goods from the large cities for what the halflings call the best beverage in all of Haelis, Honey Jumjum. To understand the halflings of of Springfoot, one must understand what Honey Jumjum is… or to put it another way, you will never understand what Honey Jumjum is and you will never understand the proud citizens of Springfoot. It is a closeheld secret, with no real recipe ever written… In fact, it is only passed down through lore and song within the Springfoot community. Only the most trusted, usually the oldest, from a founding family will ever have the privelege of learning the ballad of Honey Jumjum… and that is where we meet our wonderous hero.
Born to the Briarbelly family, one of the founding families of Springfoot, Brusco was the younger brother of the latest generation. Knowing he was not to be the Honey Jumjum chant keeper, Brusco was given more freedom than his older brother, Brano. Brusco was allowed to pursue the more fun loving lifestyle that other races know halflings for. Quite frequently as he was growing up, he got his hand slapped for trying to taste the honey from the Honey Jumjum process, but always kept sneaking in for more of the liquid amber.
Brusco spent quite a bit of time by the various merchants and peddlers when they came around. He would listen to their stories about the cities well beyond the horizon. Brusco was never interested in any of the politics of Haelis, but the guards with the peddlers had a few grandiouse tales about their various encounters with beasts beyond Brusco’s imagination. This left Brusco wanting to one day venture out into the world, but he could never gather the bravery to pack a bag and head out. He was far too comfortable in Springfoot, and the stories were enough for this little halfling.
On the day of his fathers retirement from Honey Jumjum production, Brusco was awokened early by a panicing brother Brano. It’s not that Brano had forgotten the Honey Jumjum chant, but just that he had a little performance anxiety. As Brano knew that Brusco knew the chant as well as he from their hours of helping him practice, he was requesting that Brusco join him in the Passing of the Jumjum. This came like quite the surprise for Brusco, as he had never heard of someone assisting in the Passing of the Jumjum. But, what was the harm? Of course he would help his brother!
Deep down into the Briarbelly Jumjum distillery they went, after a full breakfast of course. Into the sacred Jumjum room, dark with just a few lanterns lit, where sat one large vat of still Jumjum juice, not yet turned into full Honey Jumjum. Both Benlo and Baniff Briarfoot were present, the brothers’ father and grandfather.“Ah, ya needing some help there, eh Brano?” came the voice of old Baniff.
“I’ll only be using Brusco for the tempo. I know the chant well ’nuff” replied Brano.
“Alright, alright, lets get it going then! I have a retirement to get to, and I am well anxious to be celebrating that within the hour” came their father, Benlo.
The two boys stepped up to the vat of juice and after nodding at eachother, began the chant.
CHANT REDACTED DUE TO BRIARBELLY SECRECY
If the vat was supposed to glow, Brusco did not know… but the juice began to foam and froth as light began to spill out with the foam.
“By my mother…” gasped Benlo. “What are you boys doing?!? Playing some kind of trick on us with these lights and bubbles are ya? This is no way to treat the Passing of the Jumjum! I’ll have your bottom for this, lads!”
Interrupted by their father, the boys stopped their chanting, and with the cesation of their words, the vat of Jumjum calmed down to being still again. Name could have sworn he saw it faintly glowing still, but that could have been a reflection from the light.
“We didn’t do nothing!” stammered Brano. “I swear it! Tell them Brusco!”
“Nothing was done, of that I can assure you!” agreed Brusco, wishing to spare his bottom from a lashing. He did not want to let the other halflings in town know that a 29 year old halfling was beaten well by his father.
A peculiar thing happened when Brusco spoke though. As if with each word, a few bubbles came to the top of the vat of Jumjum. Each bubble loosing a bit of amber light as it reached the top. Only the old grandfather Baniff noticed.
The boys were chased out of the chamber by their miffed father, who was already taking off his belt to add a few welts to their bottoms.
Baniff walked over to the Jumjum, a little curious as to what he had witnessed, but pretty sure he had just seen something fantastic happen. He took a small tasting glass from his pouch and dipped it in the Jumjum. Raising up to the his eyes, he noticed that it did have a glow, although it seemed to be fading. It smelled lovely. The spices mixing with the honey wonderfully. By all accounts, it was just an average vat of the juice, nothing special about it, but this… this was something special. Taking a sip, old Baniff’s eyes widened. He could live for two hundred more years and would never taste Jumjum as good as this. Everything was better than perfect, as the proud Baniff believed that Briarbelly Jumjum was the best in Springfoot. Somehow, this particular glowing Jumjum exceeded his already high standards for the drink. He had his suspicions as to what happened, and hobbled back up to the Briarbelly burrow only after having a second and third glass of the drink.
“I’m tellin’ ya, theres no games happening, papa!” yelped Brano between the heavy handed swings of his fathers belt.
“I’m supposed to retire today, boy! And now I gotta spend my morning whipping some responsibility into you!” came his fathers voice.
Old Baniff came up the stairs, and heard the spanking, chuckling to himself.
“Oh stop that, son” said Baniff. “I don’t believe the boys did anything out of the ordinary on purpose. But I do think I have a feeling of what could have happened. Tales of it have been passed down for generations, but never has it happened.”
The three younger halflings looked up at the elder. “Has what happened?” came all three at once.
“Why, that vat of Jumjum down there be enchanted!” exclaimed Baniff.
“Say what now?” said Benlo still holding Brano with his arm cocked for another swing at his son’s bottom.
“I said, that Jumjum is the best darn this halfling has ever had!” said Baniff. “We got ourselves someone here who has a golden tongue. And I think I know who…”
Baniff’s eyes settled on Brusco. “I’ve never been so proud, we have the gift of Jumjum in Brusco!”
“The what?” asked Brusco.
“Yeah, the what?” echoed Brano.
Old Baniff sat everyone down and passed on the myth, or truth now, of the legendary bard Jumjum. The drink itself was named after one of the first halflings to settle Springfoot. He did not create the drink, and the recipe was no secret back in the forgotten days. All halflings made regular honey mead, and perfected the recipe together. One evening after a long brew day, the town bard Jumjum came up with a song about the drink and how it was created. At the only tavern in the young Springfoot, everyone started dancing to Jumjum’s jingle. The tale has it that the glasses full of mead began to glow, and the mead tasted even sweeter, and to the halflings delight became a bit stronger too. From that day forth, the drink became known as Jumjum, and Jumjum the bard himself sang to each barrel of Springfoot Jumjum to enchant it. That is how Jumjum became so popular, and what brought traders to Springfoot. Sadly, halflings do not have the longest of lives, and Jumjum himself passed away to much mourning in Springfoot. They still created Jumjum the same way, and it was still delicious, but never as good as when Jumjum himself sang to it.
“I cannot believe it, you’ve got magic in your voice, Brusco” said Baniff that evening. “You could stay here and help the Briarbelly family make the best darn Jumjum in Springfoot! But I know that is not what you’d be wanting. You’ve got real talent, and I see you talking with the merchants and the folk that follow them in to Springfoot. Far be it from your grandfather to tell you to stay in this city. We can still make Jumjum, even if it isn’t enchanted, and it will still sell. Word will get out about our magical brew, and you wont have a moments rest from all the other families asking you to enchant their casks. This might seem sudden, but I tell you what, that half-elf peddler in town, oh what’s his name… Elewyn? Yes, Elewyn… That half-elf peddler Elewyn is heading back to Taure Arnad, and I think you should go with him. I hear he is leaving at dawn. I’ll be up to wake you then. I’d say your farewells to your friends, but your adventure begins! Oh how exciting!”
Baniff hobbled off, leaving Brusco alone in his room with his jaw agape.
“What the… what?” Brusco said to himself not fully grasping what his grandfather had said.
Brusco spent the rest of the evening gathering his belongings. He was going to go. He had to. There was no reason not to, and plenty of places to see. Deep down, Brusco knew that while he might always call Springfoot home, he had to leave. Not just to discover new places, but discover what was happening with himself and this magical voice of his.
Sleep did not come easily to Brusco that night. In his mind he was envisioning hopping aboard Elewyn’s caravan and fighting kobolds and trolls. Perhaps even an orc war party!
Dawn came, and there was a knock at Brusco’s door. Baniff was there, along with Benlo and Brano.
“I spoke with the other elders of the founding families, and we all have come to the decision to give you this.” Said Brusco’s grandfather, holding out a simply decorated wooden box.
“What is this?” asked Brusco.
“Next to the Jumjum recipe, this is what the Springfoot halflings hold near and dear. It’s a relic from Jumjum himself, his lute!” explained Baniff. “Now it’s seen better days, it’s older than any of the trees in the city, so you’ll need to be taking it to someone well versed in repairing such an instrument, but from my eyes, it looks like a few new strings and a couple coats of varnish and she’ll be singing a pretty tune!”
“As long as he knows how to play it!” said Benlo.
“Brusco’s got no interest in music, I don’t see why he’s got to be going,” said Brano.
“Ah, yeah, Brusco might not have an interest in music yet, but music has an interest in him. And I think Brusco might just succumb to the rhythm.” Said Baniff.
And with that and a hearty breakfast later, Brusco was on the caravan, looking out back to Springfoot, it’s vision getting smaller and smaller as the time went by.
Where would Brusco’s adventure take him? That is a tale for another time.