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.
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.
Quintessa Olivia DuMont is a ruthless senator in the City Gates. Snobbish to a fault and downright vile to her opponents on any field of contest, she is a force to be reckoned with and truly has intentions of making the kingdom a prosperous one. Although young for a senator, she is fierce enough to fight on equal grounds with any of her ‘superiors’. The laws and regulations she concerns herself with are those which dictate the lives of the people, and unlike her fellow senators Quintessa has an eye for detail, for revisions and clarifications. She is often abroad, discovering from the people themselves what it is they suffer from and struggle with first hand. She was a bitter pill that the people assigned their dignitaries to consort with on their behalf, so that few would feel the lash of her tongue or have their secrets scrutinized. On her many circuits through the towns and villages of the kingdom she has seen to security and fairness of her people but her iron will has left an impact on the fouler forces.
The DuMont are descended from the earliest settlers of the region, noble even then among the tribal rabble by the virtue of their leadership. The most famous of examples of which were of the family organizing the people against Dragon attacks. Their guidance held the land together and kept people safe against forces they could not overcome as individuals. The DuMont are similarly famous for having a plan, a legacy which Quintessa holds dear especially after the many attempts on her life. Those nefarious creatures that would strike her down are anticipated at almost every turn, and for those that are not she has a team of mercenaries that travel up and down the country lanes scouring for any hint of violence. Their loyalty is legendary but their identities rarely publicly known and their pledge is only for the DuMont, or more appropriately only Quintessa herself as the rest of the family has been absent from their usual frivolities.
As an accomplished highborn Lady of the region Quintessa is learned in more than just her favored politics, but also in the many available styles of self-defense and it is rumored even a little magic. Her instructors came from the many corners of the Northern Realms, and their skills were not wasted on the young woman; as she matured so did her her mastery of them, and any other thing she has bothered to learn. From the peasants she has learned much of farming and though change is slow she has made progress in areas that previously struggled. All her accomplishments by themselves would not be a means to catching the King’s attention, but her fearless capability matched with her genuine will to secure the people in her charge made her irresistible. Her time spent with the King is in actuality terribly boring for the gossips of the court so the rumor mill churns out endless affair stories and saucy tales, dogging her every move as she travels through the countryside, enticing the constant barrage of the weak minded or weak willed who mistake her for some damsel and not a DuMont.
Thieves are an understood byproduct of success in any honest habitation but Murkin Tradewind has become something of a notorious one in the village of Redstaff. Known foremost for his truly terrible skill at his chosen profession, Murkin, while awful, usually manages to knick little things such as wallets and purses. It’s ill-fated luck that his ambition far outstrips his talent. Frequently he aims for the higher marks in town, the Alderman, the nobles, and even guards, and frequently he is punished or reprimanded. Yet somehow Murkin always ends up on the streets again. There is plenty to suggest that Redstaff is beset by the selfish and cruel, but Murkin’s continuous freedom in the face of ever increasing severity of charges suggests that the village is home to more than a few ruffians but perhaps a full blown thieves’ guild.
The whole of the village knows he is a part of it, but no one dares to question the young thief about the underworld boss behind it. In Redstaff the thieves aren’t supposed to target the villagers only the adventurers who pass through. Only Murkin pokes around in his own backyard and secretly does so for the ruling echelon of the village. His frequent failures allows the village to play ignorant to the thieves guild, acting as a victim as well when serious headhunters pass through looking to punish. While those headhunters stay in the village their coin fills everyone’s purse, part of a scheme that feeds the village. For this Murkin takes phenomenal abuse and temporary incarceration and the village treats him like a favored, spoiled son. Murkin was not born in Redstaff but claims to have family among the villagers, none claim him today but all continue to welcome him in their own ‘unseeing’ way.
Being the village whipping boy is a lucrative business, not just monetarily in those little unseen ways. Murkin, when not doing an impressively bad job at sleight of hand tricks, is often recovering from wounds or rough treatment following a failure or two in a tavern or pub. Most of the tavern allow him, but only because Murkin discovered that if he spent every coin he palmed in the tavern he palmed it there would be no complaints. Small and wiry but tough and charismatic Murkin also enjoys a fair bit of attention from the rebellious young farm girls who know his bad streak is definitely criminal and distasteful, but also that he will only go so far. After the incident with the noble’s daughter Murkin learned where to draw a line, and he did so without the pinky and ring-finger of his left hand. Rather than lament the loss of his digits the intrepid thief learned that his maimed hand fits into tighter places more stealthily, and now he’s had a rare taste of forbidden fruit and lived to tell the tale.
Arissa Doelene will swear to any who listens that she has a wood nymph as a great grandmother but the only relatives she has lives with her in the village. Her great aunt and great uncle Donna and Jackal Doelene lived an long uneventful life, are quiet, and have become too infirm to live without care. Arissa volunteered to escape the pestering hoard of interested suitors of the valley in favor of the salty and heroic adventurers who passed through Redstaff. Most of her day is spent caring for her great aunt and uncle and once they are secured in their bed she heads to work at a tavern. Arissa is a familiar face everywhere she goes and few look down on her or try to take advantage of her friendly nature. Not that they don’t try, nor are they all poorly received, on the contrary she is always looking for another interesting encounter and seemed to never tire of disappointing uninteresting parties. The intense messages Arissa sends can cause quite a stir but sometimes the unfamiliar patrons can assume that her adventurous nature means an inherent weakness and are then made witness to the most polite verbal and occasionally physical thrashing.
With her powerful positive attitude she endures a barrage of abuse and advances that would crumble the resolve of many as unsavory characters of all manner of ill repute pass through who come just short of openly being monsters in the village proper. Otherwise, in Redstaff, she finds that problems are often transitive, easily or soon gone because this is not a place you come to stay it’s a place that you pass through. The same is true of Arissa as she only awaits the passing of her great aunt and uncle to leave this one as far behind as many others. The love of travel and the new and exciting adventure, the opportunity to meet a special someone, and the chance to leave misunderstanding behind her are all appealing things to her unfettered nature. However as each day passes she feels more at home, more comfortable with Radstaff and if she were to put a finger on any one thing that so turned her from her wanderlust it would be the entertainers of Redstaff who were unique and mesmerizing as only a festival-centric village like this could be.
While Arissa helps many of the youngsters in the village her kind and giving nature ends with her family, them, and her conquests, otherwise the hardened criminals in the taverns she works are shown a hard line and sometimes that cold wind blowing off her shoulder is enough to chill the room entirely. Because of this, and a few jilted lovers, it’s rumored that she is actually a succubus who has taken the face of a Doelene woman to hide her demonic nature. They claim this would explain her penchant for all her travel and avoidance of commitment. But then so would a tragic life, and Arissa never answers truthfully about her family. Donna and Jackal Doelene are the only ones who might have known anything but no one has spoken to them since they became so ill. Healers have been to see them and Arissa’s many pet projects in the youngsters of the village return to her enough money to see that her family is comfortable in their all too slow passing.
Bellinda Eion’s name eventually falls from the lips of nearly every adventurer who spends a jolly coin in a tavern. She is the living embodiment of promise and lures in all manner of strangers off the street. Her plucky feigned innocence and oblivious alluring body language encourages the owner of any tavern to entice her with whatever she pleases, but what this luscious tart melts over is the passion that an entertainer can arouse. For Bellinda a powerful melody or a thrilling act would give her a rush of excitement that propel her into a dance or a frenzy of childlike innocence. Tomnin the juggler has tried many a dangerous trick to win her heart, and though she likes the dangers involved her eyes always land on the dwarven bard Gemat.
Unfortunately for Bellinda Gemat is uninterested in her basic human stock and farm fresh innocence. With his eyes firmly locked on the elven barmaid Selamina Bellinda’s unanswered beckoning nature spills over into every other interaction, which does not go unnoticed by Bellinda. The tart’s sweet temperament hides a sinister temper, and when the occasion arises she will let slip the location of Selamina’s camp or hints that the elven barmaid is actually wealthy. To her the haggard appearance of Selamina the night after evading more mercenaries is like a warm cup of coffee. Those mercenaries who are unable to find or secure a fortune on her seductive words occasionally return for restitution and the village usually pulls to defend her, knowing full well she was in the wrong but no one is willing to turn their back on Ma and Pa Eion who had lost two generations of children to accidents, sickness, pirates, war hoards, and feral entities of unseen horrors for a total of twenty children, and all six grandchildren lost. If anyone had the pity of the village it was the Eion family, so much so that the home they lived in was rebuilt by everyone.
Ma and Pa Eion do not approve of her ‘little jokes’ on the elven barmaid, who is often her only victim, or her interest in a bard or any other entertainer and work together with many other villagers work to keep their beloved Bellinda from focusing on any one man. Luck is with her poor victims as she is not so terribly smart, the village turns her attention to one or another person and keeps her from either leaving her position or from leaving town with whomever she shacks up with. Despite the village’s best efforts on Ma and Pa Eion’s behalf, she’s frequently throwing herself at soldiers, admiring their weapons, and displaying her great talent for affection anywhere that she can be noticed. Ma and Pa Eion are hoping to marry her to a wealthy traveler, especially if it’s a nobleman, so far few pass through Redstaff. As such they allow her to continue her job despite the dangers that her temper can get her into.
Gilburt Finius Sterobotum doesn’t actually like money. He likes the variety of forms that it comes in, the different denotations of nations, the unique weight and material that each is made of, all of it excites his senses like a beautiful painting or sunset might inspire in another. That’s not to say that Gilburt doesn’t appreciate the thing that each really represents: a favor that can be granted by anyone who wants a favor of the same kind. He knows where the gold is made, who has made it for the last few hundred years, and aspires to work with them. But his talent is not in minting money, but in the mastery of the numbers they represent, in keeping a vast network of numbers and their relations in check. Trained at a young age when he showed a knack, Gilburt was fortunate to study with a dwarf from under the Dark Lands named Kaz Chetulmach who had been a tutor to some of the subterranean Princes and Princesses in those cursed lands. He had retired in the Northern Realms but couldn’t turn away a precocious mind like Gilburt’s.
With Kaz’s tutoring and his own natural talent Gilburt at a young age he helped his parents, Blessibell Brandiby and Roudolfo Puck, mind their repair shop. Mastery of the numbers allowed them to plan carefully and earned them a pretty penny which elevated them all to nobility. They were able to buy a small manor and plot in the wilds on the coast of the Northern Sea, their own status was substantial but the once poor Sterobotum family ignores the local caste and instead manages the docks outside of Restaff. Their repair and docking services are scattered along the coast, which means they have a small hold on the trade to this western coast, this brings them the notice of the small noble pool of Redstaff who came to him to put pressure on the family and left as clients. With Gilburt’s help a number of nobles are still noble today in the face of oppressive raids, unexpected shortcomings and just plain bad luck. What Gilburt doesn’t enjoy, however, is that he has become a victim of his own success.
Once he began to work with people of great wealth he came to meet the Underworld Boss and his many underlings. His options are terrible, he has no desire to work with them, but due to the vast reach of the guild he couldn’t hope to turn in everyone and escape with his life, or better to escape with his family’s lives. He now cooks the books for a great number of Thieves’ Guild members and their success throughout the region can be attributed to his intervention. In return for his compliance and skill the guild gives Gilbert everything else he could want, short of letting him leave the region. Although the work is not ideal Gilbert does find himself comfortable most of the time, only his conscience weighs on him and settles on his brow like a crown of lead. With the seedy underbelly of the kingdom hiding their misdeeds behind his skill he often attends taverns, drinking heavily in the evenings.
Zarcutus Kasapor was born to the half fairy mother, called Misty Breeze, and his human father Nikorius Kasapor. Zarcutus’s father was a local member of the Fighter’s Guild who was hired to fight a demon on the loose in the Redstaff area. Though victorious, Nikorius was killed in the fight, after which Misty Breeze abandoned Zarcutus into the apprenticeship of a barkeep. The apprenticeship was rocky at first as time after time his customers would receive the incorrect drink no matter how carefully he tried to pay attention to his task. He was fired from his first and second job before the serving wench Arissa Doelene who had taken a liking to the young man spotted the unintentional magic at work and paid to send him to the Wizard’s Academy in hopes that he could learn to control it.
Zarcutus was welcomed with open arms by an excited student body and staff. Transmutation is a powerful branch of magic and produced wild results that most pupils needed to train to make manifest for years. His unconscious effort made them drool, but the scope of his ability was limited to changing one liquid to another and only after intense practice was he able to manifest the liquors of his choosing. He left in disgrace and returned to Arissa in shame. In the guise of a pity-drink she took him to a tavern and brought him a rockbottom ale, which he deftly turned into a king’s ale to better drown his sorrows. After enough drinks the lad was feeling much better about himself and at her behest began changing drink after drink. The two of them drew a crowd and with each drink changed he turned one doubter into a believer, with each conversion the cheers swelled Zarcutus’ pride.
When the barkeep discovered what was happening, notably why all his paying customers were no longer purchasing the high quality drinks, he dragged the two into the back stockroom to discuss the newfound talent. Not one to complain about cracking open a new case of each of his cheapest, the barkeep quickly made a much wiser decision. Rather than punishing the two of them for the impertinence he hired Zarcutus and built the young man up. He found his place in the bar and found a generously paying job that brought him fame, attention, and virtually everything he could want. While his affections come and go his recent love of his talent has seen him practice into the morning, changing drinks over and over again. His skill with drinks is masterful and ever desiring to be more he has been experimenting unsuccessfully with foodstuffs. His only success was in changing turkey gravy into chicken gravy but his recent experience with the wizards of the Academy and the encouragement of Arissa has seen an end to his self defeating nature.
Tomnin Alcoast is the son of the peasant woman Julie Alcoast, and open-secret bastard of the Alderman. He was a stable hand for the first few years, working with his mother on her odd jobs until his shenanigans would lead him into trouble. Every job that came to them would inevitably be ruined by his horseplay. Rather than struggle against his natural habits to force his conformance to their position she collected scraps of colorful cloth from her sewing jobs and fashioned them into a party outfit for her son to parade around in. He became apprentice to the jester Hardwick Thistlebound but found that learning some of the tricks from the halfling were impossible due to his ever increasing size.
Instead of being discouraged Tomnin sought to focus on his best skill, juggling. With the help of Hardwick the two of them put on a number of shows where Tomnin juggled glasses, chairs, and eventually Hardwick himself. The crowds at any tavern wanted more, however, and remained unimpressed until Tomnin began throwing knives. His was an elite skill and he enjoyed the attention that a little purposeful mishap only to have him recover at the last moment would garner. Now wherever he performs at a tavern he draws a crowd, not to cheer for him but rather to try to cause him to slip up which he embraces beautifully. His skill is such that he allows people to try to throw objects at him, which he ends up juggling, and once he caught the first set of daggers blindfolded the crowd began to demand it.
Although he has yet to hurt himself the patrons can become enthused and dangerous in their participation, so the barkeeps and other entertainers help out by way ofinterference whenever necessary. Julie would never forgive them if something ever happened to him, which he uses to his advantage as often as someone will allow him. In his act he often consumes the alcohol of those he entertains right in front of them, they willingly toss him the full glasses or coins or even trinkets from their travels for him to juggle and often they will end up in his pocket or in the many little hiding places in the rafters. Sure, there have been a few complaints but Tomnin is defended by the town, secreted out back doors or tunnels and sometimes even holes in the walls. It’s a dangerous line to walk but Tomnin has the skill set and the love of a good mother to prop him up until he becomes a full and proper man.
Alderman Tarcy Meenwellow is simply known as Alderman throughout the village of Redstaff. He oversees the greater community functions and acts as judge to many issues of dispute among his fellow villagers. His will is iron and the people under his purview know to call on him if there is no way of reconciling the matter otherwise. The Meenwellow family is large and one of the oldest in the region, having settled here as one of the first families, and originally owning a large portion of one of the most successful mines. The family sold it before he was born, and now the family only has history to prop up the decay of their otherwise stately farmhouse. Tarcy was taught the history of the village, of the people who live there, and is a firm hand in matters of state or business. He also corresponds with a number of nobles who will join him in his estate or visit throughout the region, coming from even as far away as the castle itself in the capital city of Orynn. Once there was a great fortune but a series of less than careful relatives left his estate in poor repair by the time he was able to inherit it. Not to be one to live in squalor, he began to make many of the repairs himself, earning back some of the respect that his family once commanded.
Because of the great cost of repairs and the gaping wound where the Meenwillow hoard once stood Tarcy became a tightfisted man, sparing no coins for beggars, granting no boons, and leaving no mercy. As such his duties are light, no one willingly turns to his judgment or seeks out his council except when necessary, so many of his days are spent sipping brandy in a local tavern. All these things he learned from his father, a drunkard who was quick to anger and self-indulgent to the point of negligence. Although Tarcy’s pride demands a certain level of decorum he does not deny himself the pleasures that killed his father and so has become a connoisseur of the finer food and drinks that pass through his village. This small amusement keeps him happy, and a happy Alderman means he’s less likely to begin making assertions about the people around him, so many people go out of their way to spoil him into placation. This has been the manner that most in the village take to handle his moods, and also the reason why he is still alone even in his old age. Rumors abound about illegitimate children, under the table bribes, back ally deals, and cold blooded murder. While he doesn’t look like a man of great strength, he is a man of great influence in this dusty, sprawling little village known as Redstaff, and that power does most of the work for him.
The Meenwillow family was never particularly likeable, but Tarcy was always the least favorite of the family and the Villagers both. His sour attitude and his haughty, hawk-like nature lends poorly to winning others’ trust. Yet despite this he was otherwise seen as a child of true grit. He would grow under the sparse attentions of his father and blatant disinterest of his mother and was more often than not spending his time with servants who filled him with stories of the family and their long hand in establishing a sense of self in the village. They had always connected the people of Redstaff , bringing in many families to work at the mines, granting them homes which their descendants today farmed or lived on. Without the Meenwillows much of the village would have been lost to the surrounding wilderness. Tarcy took this to heart, and not as if the village were his toy, but his sacred charge. As such, every aspect – even the festivals and holidays – are to be treated with a proper attitude which he has since enforced. Though hard as the ragged bones which now support him, the softest place in his heart is for his village home of Redstaff.