Frandreselle Oakenbridge is a milk maiden on her family ranch, located on a generous portion of gently rolling hillsides and sparse copses of trees near the Ironcrest Hills. Her family’s land supports a healthy number of shaggy cattle who shower her with a great amount of affection. While other farms have cattle, few have the number necessary to supply more than themselves; the Oakenbridge ranch, however, has more than enough and it is also responsible for some of the finest cheeses in the region. Her mother Mary-Luelin brought the recipe with her from her home in the far north-western mountains where snow and shaggy goats were the most common sight. With a little alteration to her ancient recipe to accommodate the cow flavor, she churns out an impressive amount of cheese with a great portion of the milking barn dedicated to storage and aging of their cheeses. Frandreselle, or Fran to her friends, passes out free samples to those walking in the streets and in the establishments she serves with a genuine generosity of spirit.
While not rich they are not poor and the Oakenbridge family works tirelessly, hiring a great many of the villagers for a variety of tasks including apple picking and wrangling the great beasts out to and back from the fields. But it is Fran who oversees everything to do with the milk; from collection and storage to distribution it is Fran and her word is law. Those few who are still new enough to not know are quickly exposed to the raw power that handling cattle her whole life granted her. Fran has been known to lift a churlish man who was a head taller than herself like he was a child. When the cows become ornery it is Fran who wrestles their heads down into submission, and when someone takes advantage of her kind nature it’s often Fran who bends them in half in ways they were not designed to go. The great fortune of Redstaff is that Fran doesn’t throw her strength around, allowing fragile egos from across the realms to wander through never guessing her coy smile could break them as bad as any monster.
The modesty and strength are traits natural to the Oakenbridge family who hail from other lands a few generations before, now forgotten. Her father Engleton is gentle and strong like her mother, the two work tirelessly and shower their family with praise and those in their employ with the same generosity as Fran, with a single exception. The thieves, thugs, and rogues who wander through thinking they’ll take more than they’ve earned or been gifted, those who think the family or cattle are easy marks quickly learn that generosity hides a fierce response to such roguish intentions. For those Engleton has a disastrous temper, on one occasion even burning down a shed with thieves in it having welcomed them into his home for a sob story only to overhear their blunt disgust for his kindness as they were robbing him. Drink calms his temper, so many times he and his daughter can be found in the village proper, or more appropriately in any village tavern, and such visits are now becoming more frequent in the face of a rising tide of crime.
To be an Archmage is to have spent the equivalent of a life time studying the magical arts and their intricate designs. The Wonder of the Archmage to be able to not only understand, but to be able to execute effortlessly the tricks of the trade that require the full power of a younger man, to bend the laws of reality and surpass them entirely. The power that an Archmage exudes is palpable and every word said can be as sacred as from a prophecy. And so it is the same with U’han Por, Archmage. He is a household name on the road to the Wizard’s Academy, many a village knows his passing as surely as the students who earnestly study for decades the material he had written when he was no older than they. U’han Por is no Wizard, not born to the skill like so many others, but he had a knack for it, for all things magical. And a wise grandmother saw that he got the training he needed from an early age.
With the aid of a great many individuals, now many of whom are dead, U’han was able to crack the mystery of the Giant’s Throne, to unlock the centuries old Targa Box, and to journey across the Realms of Destiny, of the Dead, the Elemental planes of Five Guardians, the Sunlit Grove, and the Zak’Ral Mirror World. It is no wonder then, that so famous a mortal man would choose to avoid the throngs, travelling only the more secret routes and less observed lengths of forest. The village of Redstaff was even smaller when he first passed through, his patronage brought tiny empires into being among them and the village prospered as a throng of magic users would invariably follow shortly after, close on his heels for the chance to observe some secret or trick, or maybe even to test themselves. Although Archmage Por has been gone for more than ten years now the people of Redstaff know what he likes, and make way to accommodate him and his followers, his return is the start of another boom for the area.
His love of the simple people and seclusion make this a regular stop for him, but the thing sets a tavern apart by his estimation is comfortable seating and elven wine. U’han Por acquired a great fondness for the exquisite wine during a long stay among the elven high courts. Although he had gone to learn of the nature of the faeries who were more involved with the elves than most of the other species available, the discovery of elven wine and the bold move to adjust the nature temple complex within was enough to kick him out. Since the adjustments caused the Faeries to leave the court for a term of fifty years the Archmage is no longer welcome to return the high court, so any place where he can find a taste of that fond memory secures his return, which in turn secures the return of others eager for a word with him. It is fortunate that U’han Por has time for the common mortal magic user on a rare occasion, and the barkeep fortunate enough to secure him can count on his intervention. “For what is power if you do not occasionally wield it.”
Celemony Agranor is the adopted daughter of the orc Urtz Malgma and human Burgru Agranor the infertile couple of the Malgma clan who had been instrumental in the growth of the Redstaff mines in days long gone. The Malgma family has since moved on, leaving Urtz and Burgru in frustration until Celemony was discovered in the wild grass fields where their animals normally graze. The couple, desperate to nurture, welcomed her into their life. Celemony took the name Agranor after her father and the two of them were quick to notice the unusual strength of magic their daughter possessed. Celemony grew fast and wild in the woods around her home, feeling some kinship out in those parts. No one returned for her in fourteen years and in that time her parents encouraged her growth by practical application. Her talents were varied and her skill was wild but when she meant it, when scared or hurt, when determined the magic within her manifested in precise and powerful fashion.
It was the night she tried to save their oxen by setting raiders on fire from the inside out, in which she was a rousing success, only to begin to uncontrollably burn everything she laid her eyes on including Burgru, that Urtz and Burgru sent their daughter to the Academy for her apprenticeship. After three long years Celemony has at last mastered herself and now travels abroad, following in the footsteps of Archmages as she is passed from scholar to scholar in an attempt to find her limits. Thus far she has none beyond her own initiate skills, the teachers watching her grew concerned during some of her endurance tests, when asked to create water as long as possible she needed to be contained by expert mages and wizards lest the whole of the island become flooded. The experience has been rough and the lessons hard on Celemony’s carefree and ever increasingly rebellious spirit and she has since run off to Redstaff for a vacation.
Here at home for a brief period her magical gifts are restoring her ranch and protecting her family. Heartfelt confessions of fear for her life and their own were laid out in great detail when pressed as to why her parents would inflict such a punishment as to send her away, as well as the honest conviction that she would be able to do amazing things thanks to these hard times. Although angry, Celemony silently agrees. To ease the contradicting emotional turmoil that her ever changing life was forcing on her, in her own words, she sought out the taverns which she had been denied all the many years of her youth. Being an apprentice was not particularly well paying but she had performed extraordinary tasks that had earned her both coin and time off and she spends most of both drinking the mead she had come to love while training alongside a warrior mage and watching entertainers in taverns. Lars had insisted and Celemony agreed that there is no point drinking if nothing entertaining is happening.