The Dragon Slayers
The Kurellim are named for their patron deity, Kurell the Bitter Hand. Based in the capital city of Susa, they use their members’ position as an “untouchable” underclass without even the rights of slaves to steal, assassinate and extort humans. The Kurellim’s mission is to take everything from the humans, as the humans (and elves) once did to their ancestors.
The original Kurellim were related by blood to Kurell the Vengeful Knave, and being able to trace your lineage back that far is a great point of pride. Over time, through the practice of arranged marriage and adoption of promising rogues, the organisation now includes many halflings whose genealogy is unknown or who claim only the faintest trace of the Green-Eyed God’s blood.
The Kurellim are far from the only organised crime syndicate or thieves’ guild in Susa, much less the Kingdom. And, indeed, there are many halflings who live in the service of human masters and mistresses that may never even have heard of the Kurellim. Those who have, however, know better than to speak of what they know to outsiders.
The Kurellim practice a code of silence, refusing to co-operate with the lawful authorities of the city even if it would be to their advantage to do so; it is considered deeply demeaning and shameful to betray even one’s deadliest enemy to the authorities. A real halfling would never seek the aid of human authorities to settle a personal grievance – and every grievance is personal.
“Whoever appeals to the law against one who wronged them is either a fool or a coward. Whoever cannot take care of themselves without human protection is both. It is as cowardly to betray an offender to “justice,” even though their offences be against yourself, as it is not to avenge an injury by violence. It is dastardly and contemptible in a wounded person to betray the name of their assailant, because if they recover, they must naturally expect to take vengeance themselves."
“If I live, I’ll kill you. If I die, I forgive you.”
In the teachings of Kurell, each wronged individual has the obligation of looking out for their own interests by either avenging themselves, or finding a patron who will see to it that the job is done. Kurellim assassins are often hired by other halflings – and sometimes those of other races, whose money the family is happy to take – to take vengeance on behalf of a wronged party.
Within the family and the halfling community, “snitches” and informers are punished harshly – this even goes for the children of Kurellim members, as this is a family affair. A child who blabs on a friend to a teacher at school can expect to be ostracised or beaten up by their peers. The penalties for adults are even harsher.
The Golden Rules
Kurellim are expected to assist and aid one another, keep each other’s confidence, and defend one another from human (or elven, or dwarven) aggression. The only time when it is acceptable for one of the Kurellim to do harm to another halfling is in the pursuit of a vendetta – a formally-declared blood feud that can transcend the generations. It is said that the Avenger Himself finds vendettas to be particularly pleasing.
Births, Deaths and Marriages
Any child born to a member of the Kurellim is themselves considered a member of the organisation, right from birth. They will be brought up to avoid honest work for humans, instead panhandling, stealing and mugging law-abiding citizens to pay their way.
Marriage is a very important matter for the Kurellim; Kurell the Scorned Heart is the god of jealousy, after all. The elders of the family arrange marriages for younger members; it is considered acceptable to refuse two offers of marriage that have come through the proper channels, and after an offer from a person is refused they are expected to drop it immediately. There is a very strong expectation that a third offer will be accepted, especially as the elders should have had ample time to consider the reluctant bride or groom’s preferences. A refusal of a third offer can be the start of a vendetta.
Given Kurell’s history with the Old Gods of the halflings, however, extra-marital affairs are common and expected. However, those involved are expected to work hard to keep it a secret, and such notions as divorce are considered grounds for vendetta.
When one of the Kurellim dies, a cleric of Kurell will generally say prayers over their body, speeding their progress to the House of Locks where Kurell makes his home. Some very traditional Kurellim clerics might also say a few words invoking lost Urogalan, but this is a formality more honoured in the breach than the observance.
Kurellim stories about halfling religion
In the old days, we had a lot of gods. Arvoreen the Wary Sword, who protected us; Brandobaris the Friendly Rapscallion, who fed our sense of adventure; Charmalaine the Lucky Ghost who always found us a lucky escape; Cyrrollalee the Hand of Fellowship who taught us how to trust; Sheela Peryroyl the Green Sister who helped us tend our fields; Urogalan the Black Hound, who took us to our rest after death; and Yondalla the Blessed One, our great mother.
They are all gone now. The humans and the elves destroyed our homes, burnt our cities, salted our fields and scattered those of us that remained. The hero Kurell, who had come to the gods’ attention when he was caught in a love triangle with Cyrollalee and Sheela Peryroyl, swore bitter and bloody vengeance against those who had laid us so very low. All of the old gods, even Urogalan who hated Kurell so, joined together to raise him among their ranks. They used the last of their power to do so, ensuring that we stayed alive to perhaps sing their songs and bring them back when we take back our lands.