Next to humans, halflings are the most populous race in Rasenna. As is common throughout the world, they have an unspoken social “arrangement” with humanity, living side-by-side as partners, if not quite as equals. Most upper-class families favor halfling domestics in at least one or two roles, given the quiet discretion of the Yala.

And their discretion is remarkable. Halflings pride themselves in being able to keep secrets, and some become excellent lawyers specializing in sensitive cases. Their penchant for secrecy extends to their own lives: it’s rare that a halfling’s human friends or employers know so much as the halfling’s birthday. Part of this is almost certainly unconscious. “Out of sight, out of mind” seems to apply heavily to the Yala, as humans easily overlook their diminutive presence. Some compare them to dogs, though not unfavorably: halflings have a similar easy affinity for humans, display strong loyalty, are sometimes overlooked due to their ubiquitous presence, and of course they commonly possess “mongrelish” features such as heterochromia or hair that comes in multiple colors. The Yala don’t seem to mind, and for their part esteem dogs highly.

Owing to halfling discretion and apparent submissiveness, humans know little about Yala culture. Halflings seem to venerate a host of “smaller gods” with personal rites and household shrines. They are a clannish people; the worst conflicts between human and Yala have occurred when humans mistook a halfling for an easy target of abuse, and then found themselves on the receiving end of a clan’s vengeance. Rumors speak of entire families vanishing in the night at the hands of wronged halflings. The Yala don’t go in for duels or open conflicts: when they settle grudges, they do so quietly and at the worst possible time for their victims. Over the centuries, most Rasennans have settled into the quiet understanding that halflings simply aren’t worth the trouble, and they leave the Yala be.

From time to time, proposals have arisen for the halflings to be represented with a Great House of their own. The halflings themselves have never pursued this goal with a unified fervor. The main dilemma is that a Great House that did not represent all halflings would probably spark clan conflicts, while one that did would be so numerous it would dwarf any three of the existing Great Houses. At present, both races seem content that the halflings be represented by their allies among existing Houses, and by their own usual channels of subtle, discreet influence.

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Rasennan Summer Barastrondo