“In the beginning was the Singer and the Song. The Song and the Singer wound around one another, inseparable. Our world, and every speck in the night sky, was Sung into existence. Pure notes coalesced into mist that sighed over the land and the jeweled dew drops that followed after.
“With time creatures came to roam the land as well. Some of these found their ways of being compatible. Some of them did not. This struggle went on for years uncounted, until the days of the Halflings, who came to make peace. Nimble of finger and quick of wit, the first Halflings brokered –“
“It weren’t the halflings that broker’d anythin’,” a human interrupted. He had paused in the marketplace to listen to the storyteller. Seated halfling children craned their necks to look back at the tall visitor as he continued to speak, oblivious to the glares from all around. “It’s the dwarves that sued fer peace, in’it. On account of they were dwindlin’ and afeared a’ dying out.”
“It’s certainly true that no one can outbreed you humans,” the irritated storyteller snapped, before she thought better of it. More babies than brains. She clicked her teeth shut before that thought had a chance to escape out of her mouth.
“I’m jus’ sayin’ you should tell the chil’en right,” the human countered, before moving prudently off into the crowd. The crowd being mostly halflings, it didn’t hide him. It did, however, provide a convenient reason for he and the storyteller to let their argument drop.
“Why did he say it was dwarves, Mama Valda? Didn’t he have a Storyteller to tell him right?” one of the older children asked, watching the visitor disappear among the stalls of the marketplace.
“There are no surviving written records from that time, Riton. So much was lost when the first peace broke and the world burned. Even recorded oral traditions from that time are centuries distant from the time they report.” Storyteller Valda replied, trying to regain her composure and rhythm. “And humans live such short lives. Their oral traditions had to pass through the most heads before it was recorded, so it is the most distorted.”
The children stared up at Valda, uncomprehending. At such a young age, it was difficult to conceive of the practical difference between 60 and 100 years. Both seemed equally distant. Thinking for a moment, the Storyteller remembered a game from her childhood that might be useful now.
“Here, I’ll show you. Everyone sit in a circle. Riton, you sit here next to me. Now think of two words. Got them? Good. You are going to whisper them to Ziri sitting next to you. She’ll whisper it to Rosula and so on until it gets all the way to me. Does everyone understand?” Each child nodded when she made brief eye contact. She nodded at Riton to begin.