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Three hundred years ago, the village of Huntingcreek Hills had a problem. Their annual radish harvest had been stolen for the third year in a row by marauding gnolls. And this time, not only had four homesteads been burned out, but Willie Wobblenock, the town's champion at blowing smoke rings, had been killed by the vicious jackalmen, as the halflings called them.
Huntingcreek Hills is located in northeast Ferrell, an isolated village close to the mountains that form the hobbit nation's northern border. The halflings had no way of knowing that a tiny tribe of gnolls had escaped lizardman enslavement in Drotid, and their hunger sometimes emboldened them enough that they would strike out south into the hobbit country from the mountains, where they have been hiding out, and make raids. All the wee folk knew was that they had no radishes, and one of them had been murdered. But what could they do? They had no weapons, and even if they did, none of them were warriors. And they were so far from the other villages.
It was about a month later that a lone elf came to Huntingcreek Hills. This was quite an event, for the villagers had not seen an elf before. They were prepared, in a way. The traveling knife sharpener who came every year had brought drawings of elves, humans, and dwarves, and even gnomes. But the elf was so tall. And thin. And his ears were quite pointy, quite pointy indeed. And he differed much from the drawings of the knife sharpener. He had no long, curved bow, and no graceful sword, nor the famous chain armor that was supposed to make no sound. He carried nothing at all, save for a small pouch of food hung from a cloth belt that kept his loose robes from flapping about.
The villagers were frightened at first, but though the elf's thin lips never curled up into a smile, there was a compassion about his bearing, the way he walked. And though all expected the elf to pass through and never be seen again, he stayed. He picked a hill a ways off from the village, and sat there. Sometimes he sat for days without moving. The halflings, being a curious and friendly sort, went to the hill and made all sorts of greetings, and asked all sorts of questions, but the elf never spoke. They wondered if all elves were this strange.
Eleven months passed. The elf was not altogether forgotten. The children would still sneak off after school to watch him from behind bushes, and the womenfolk still gossiped about him while hanging out clothes, and the menfolk still gossiped about him while puffing on their pipes. But something else was also on their minds. Would the gnolls come again?
They did, more ferocious then before. It looked as if the whole lot of the halflings would be eaten along with their radishes.
But something wholly unexpected happened. The elf came. And he fought the gnolls. The jackalmen swung at him with their big double-bladed axes, and he fought them with his hands. And feet. CRACK! was the sound as the biggest gnoll's neck snapped after a swift kick to the head from the elf. With the death of their leader, the gnolls retreated.
The halflings looked on in shock. When that feeling finally subsided, they mobbed the elf and heaped praise and thanks upon him. "You have saved us" they shouted, "you have done it!"
For the first time, the wee villagers heard words pour forth from the elf's lips. "I have done nothing, yet. But now, I am about to."
The traveling knife sharpener came again, the next year. He almost knocked his cart over when he arrived in Huntingcreek Hills.
The villagers, having finished tending to their radish fields for the day, were on a hill, doing some strange exercises. And among them was an elf! He seemed to be training them.
Indeed, the halflings of Huntingcreek Hills had changed. They were the same old amiable halflings as before, but now? Well, they didn't do the normal things halflings did during leisure time, which in Ferrell was usually half the day. Now they did all sorts of odd exercises. Stretching exercises, breathing exercises, tumbling exercises, even punching and kicking!
And they all asked to have their little sickles sharpened, the ones they used to cut grass around their houses and slice weeds. But they didn't call them little sickles anymore. No, now they called them kamas.
That's what Teacher called them, they said. That's what they called the elf; Teacher. Though they asked many times, he never gave his name, and one day the mayor came up with the idea of calling him Teacher, seeing as how he had taught the village so many things. Indeed, they knew very little of the elf, for he spoke little, and rarely about himself. They had gathered that he was a wanderer, seeking some sort of enlightenment through a centuries-long journey of Avlis. And they had gathered that he had belonged to some sort of "school", you could say, where he had learned the martial skills and philosophy of life that he was imparting to them now.
That next year, the gnolls came again, and the year after, and the year after that. Every year they left Huntingcreek Hills with no radishes, but with a lot of bruises, broken bones, and concussions. For Teacher, along with every halfling in the village, raised their fists and hairy feet against them.
On the tenth autumn of Teacher's stay in the village, the gnolls didn't come. That winter, the elf got up one day and left, never to return. But by that time, the halflings of Huntingcreek Hills understood, and they were not sad.
Decades passed. Every now and then some goblins, or kobolds, or something or other would drift down from the mountains and try to attack the isolated village known as Huntingcreek Hills, for it seemed a prime raiding spot. What could a bunch of unarmed halflings do to them?
Those raiders never got their hands on a single radish.
Centuries passed, three since the time of Teacher. A young villager by the name of Gram Jamjeans reached his eighteenth summer. He had shown great promise. Among those of his generation, he was had been the quickest to master CFAS. And last autumn, when those kobolds came, he had knocked out their leader with a masterful punch.
Gram Jamjeans also knew all of the stories about Teacher by heart. He knew of how when Teacher first started teaching the halflings of his village, they didn't take to the training very well. They didn't understand the names of the techniques, for they were all in Elvish and had very esoteric meanings, such as "Falling Lantern Scarf Throw". So Teacher, and later the halflings themselves, after the elf had left and they began to teach themselves, slowly adapted the martial art to better suit them. They named most of the techniques after the various critters that lived in and around the village, for most of the moves resembled the movements of the animals. And so "Falling Lantern Scarf Throw" became "Titmouse Toss", and other techniques became "Jackrabbit Back Kick", "Possum Paw Parry", and so on. And hence, the halflings named their art CFAS - "Cute Furry Animals Style".
Not only did Gram Jamjeans know all of the stories about Teacher by heart, but the wanderlust bug had also bit him but good, as it sometimes does with those of his race. Gram got into his head the idea of going out and trying to find Teacher. He was an elf, after all; he might still be alive, even after three hundred years. And Gram wanted to thank him for what he had done so long ago. He had saved his village, not as many heroes would do by just killing the raiders and moving on, but by showing the village how to save itself.
So the plucky yet innocent young red-headed halfling, known as Gram Jamjeans, bid farewell to his Uncle Apricot and Grampa Raspberry and his ma and pa, and headed south, on a near impossible journey to find an elf he admired, but had never met nor even seen. His first destination: T'Nanshi. Perhaps, after all these centuries, Teacher's wandering has come to an end and he has returned to the elven lands, thought the boy.
And so much like a lone elf entered a village of halflings three hundred years ago, a lone halfling, carrying nothing but a small pouch of food and the clothes on his back, steps off a boat and enters the city of Elysia.
Early Adventuring Career
Gram arrived in T’Nanshi in 2085. He began his search for Teacher in earnest, and during that search he met an elf monk named Jade. Gram at first assumed him to be Teacher, but Jade later refuted Gram’s theory. Jade, however, does become Gram’s mentor, and recruits him into the Order of the Dragon. The Order had fairly clearly defined roles during combat, and since Gram was too small to be a good front-liner and not sneaky enough to be a flanker, Jade introduced him to shuriken, a weapon Gram calls the “wheelystar.”
Gram disappeared around 2181, before the end of the M’Chek/T’Nanshi war, the building of the Order of the Dragon’s monastery in Deglos, and Jade’s death at the hands of the Order of the Shadow’s grandmaster, the dracolich Nise. It is unclear where he went. Many assume that he returned to Huntingcreek Hills and a life of radish farming. Based on recent draft pages of Gram’s memoirs, which he inexplicably leaves scattered around in public, some have theorized that he may have returned to his hometown to live with his uncle’s daughter Apricot (named after her father). However, Gram’s return to Huntingcreek Hills has not been verified.
What is known is that Gram Jamjeans returned to southern Negaria a more powerful martial artist than when he left, which have led some to believe that he wandered the northern lands learning from any monasteries that would agree to teach him.
Return and Recent Exploits
Gram returned to southern Negaria in 2341. Though it had been many decades – Gram missed the entirety of the wars with Drotid – he seems to have barely aged, perhaps due to his primarily radish-based diet. This, coupled with his manner of speaking and naivety, lead many to believe that he is still in his early twenties.
Gram seems to have abandoned his search for Teacher. Instead, he has set himself on a quest to become a “Wheelystar Master.” This seems to be defined as someone who has mastered both making shuriken as well as employing them in combat. In addition to martial training, Gram has endeavored to learn various tradeskills to aid him on his quest. He began with blacksmithing, to make shuriken, but has branched out to other disciplines in order to make components needed for some of the quasi-magical shuriken that can be manufactured. This has led him to become “officially the unofficial Prentiss of Master Grimly Axefingerer,” and also to join the crafting guild ACE.
Gram has recently been known to wear costumes and describe himself as a “masked adventurer” a la bard tales he had heard recited by minstrels that often came to Coventry Fair in his youth. This seems to have been inspired by a plumed helmet he took from a fallen foe. Gram dyed the helmet as well as his cape and clothing and assumed the guise of “The Dire Cock, a hin with the strength of 97 roosters.” This persona lasted until Gram found out that the word “cock” is used in M’Chek as slang for a man’s genitals, and therefore he had been running around telling people he was a large penis. Lately, after noticing that some humanoids keep dire wolves and worgs as pets or attack animals, he purchased a wolf’s head helm from a merchant and has created a new masked adventurer persona known as “The Dire Worg, what happens when a dire wolf and a worg touch special places.”