Hardnan is much like his name, a hard man. His face is tough as leather and much the same color from all the time he has spent in the sun. Though a mage, he is loath to spend time milling over musty tomes of lore, or mixing strange brews in an arcane laboratory. He favors well made, if rustic and utilitarian style clothing. He also is never without his wide-brimmed straw hat.
Despite his harsh appearance and deep voice, he is not an uncaring or distant man. His is concerned with the here and now, with the things of the earth and the land. His hads can be soft enough to hold a hatchling griffin or a baby duck. His eyes hold a sparkle of mirth that comes from the very earth itself, and he usually smells of hay, fresh tilled soil, and the dry smell of horses.
Hardnan isnt quite human. His mother was a human sorceress who gained a valuable nugget of information from a potent Seasonal Spirit. In exchange for 'services' the Elemental Lord of Harvests and Autumn granted the woman access to several tomes of Terrestrial lore. The information proved to be less than was needed and after a laborious fourteen months, Hardnan was born.
His mother disowned the bastard-blooded child to the care of a local monastary, claiming it had been left in her poor care as a sorceress may know of summong elementals and demons, the feeding of babes was not within her skill. Reluctantly the monks took the child and raised it as their own, knowing that somehow it was not entirely human. Compassion prevented them from killing what might have been a monsterous Laham, or half-demon. Instead they raised it as a child and in the path to join the monks of the monastary.
Young Hardnan immediatly took to the work of the plow, guiding it with the competence of a seniour farmer. He knew the instinctive business of husbandry as well as the planting of the seeds without consulting the alamanacs or the stars. By the time he reached adulthood, Hardnan was already dark skinned, and the monastary was well known for the quality of its produce and its superb horses. Even the king considered it an honor to dine of the vegetable stock of the monastary.
Pride was a downfall, as several members of the monastary decided to have Hardnan sent away, but to continue working the fields as he had. In short time, without almanacs, or Hardnan's guiding presence, the fields began to fail in productivity. The gourds were smaller, and the beans were dry and bitter. Everything except the weeds suffered, and the weeds grew at an astonishing rate. The King was offended by the monastary, and there were many consequences and repercussions for the few monks who had sent the boy away.
Cast out of the monastary, Hardnan found work as a sharecropper, working for various landholders and lords. His work was exemplary, and the fields grew well. Animals he tended were rarely ill or lame, and there were very few younglings lost on the farms where he worked.
But he moved on. He had no desire to become a follower for another master. Though the desire to till the earth, and bring the green shoots forth was strong, his desire to be a free man was stronger. It took nearly a decade, but Hardnan found a niche. The land was unclaimed, laying in a shallow valley between two dukedoms. Both lords claimed the land, but neither occupied it.
Hardnan raised a small barn, and used his last scatterings of seed to make his first farm. Within a few years, he was known on both sides of the valley. His produce was the best and many paid well for it, though Hardnan refused to make a huge profit from it. He had no desire for gold or fame. People with sick or injured animals sought his assistance, and he was often consulted on terms of animal husbandry, or in the tending of the fields.
Some locals sent their sons, those who did not join the military or the clergy, to study with the Grange Mage. Though he didn't seem to work spells, or magic, there was something special about the works that he did. But a magician he was, it was in his blood. Enchanting and illusion were nearly impossible, and necromancy was anathema to his blood. Yet he did create things, and he saw to it that his land was well protected, and fenced in by wardings. this to, was in his blood.
And thus the Grange Mage, now well into his later years continues to cause the green shoots to burst forth from the soil.
Though handmade, and metal all but non-existant, all of Hardnan's farming implements are of masterwork quality. The wooden plow turns the earth as well as a steel or iron plow and the spades, hoes, and pitchforks are of equal strength and durability.
Hardnan is terse, seldom speaking. His eyes squint and he usually has a twig of straw or a shaft of green rye between his teeth. People, he thinks, are foolish and greedy. They desire the wrong things. They are also impatient and lacking in determination and discipline. He might mutter from time to time as he plows, or whisper in the ear of his horse. He can speak with the animals, though he keeps his conversations completely private. To be honest, not many people are interested in the observations of a plow horse.
Aside from a major green thumb, the ability to talk to animals, Hardnan also has a degree is magic immunity. This should make it difficult for mages to simply 'brainwash' him into doing their bidding. Being such an earthy person, he also heals quickly. Few injuries are severe enough to leave him laid up for more than a few hours.
Being a hard working man, Hardnan does have three weaknesses. The first is that he loves beer, and there is nothing better than a foamy mug of ale to win him over. Secondly he loves good knee slapping folk music that is lively enough to dance to. And last but not least, he is easily taken in by a sweet faced girl. One of the first travelers to enter the Green ended up staying as his wife, and ended up mothering no fewer than 7 children, all strapping boys and winsome girls.
The Green - The PCs accidentally stumble across the Green, Hardnan's farm. There is no shortage of vegetables, as well as obviously well fed hogs, goats, and cattle in the valley. There are no fences, the livestock are well advised to stay out of the rows. On a long trek, the food can become monotonous, dry rations and jerky day after day and the opportunity for fresh food can be a powerful one. If they are well mannered, Hardnan's family set a large table and set the PCs up for the night. Not all encounters have to be with powerful or semi-villianous characters, or a test of PC morals.
A Schrubbery! - In dire need of herb X, the PCs voyage to the green to see if Hardnan has some of the difficult to grow herb. The PCs need it to cure sick person, or to complete an important spell.
Have You Seen My Woodcock? - The PCs are on the trail of a fleeing villian, or on some sort of creature hunt. The last place X was seen was near the valley of the Green. The PCs have to gain Hardnan's trust before he will help them navigate the land he knows better than the back of his hand.
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? Responses (7)-7
Beautiful. Superbly done.
As you mention, not all encounters need to be of great repercussion to the characters, and things like this can make the magic of a world come alive, not the realm of dusty tomes and wizened old men.
Sometimes the farmers can be as interesting as the warriors/nobles/assassins.
So she 'gained a valuable nugget of information from a potent Seasonal Spirit', eh? Hirr-Hirr.
Your writing flows rather well and is pleasant for the eyes. I won't whine about you + editors anymore, but sure hope you soon find the correct editor to propel you to your proper place of glory. Until that happens, we are lucky enough to read your stuff ;)
And there are several kinds of editors y'know ;)
*Ring, Ring* 'Is this the editor of New York Times? It is? Oh, good. You see, I know this young, promising Texan...'
Ok, ok! I'll stop already!
Interesting - a novel concept and a good, solid background character - like a lot - 4.5 / 5
Refreshing. Useful. Definitely different, and as usual, Scras, well-written. Thanks.
This one greatly appeals to me.
Written 8 years before I actually started gardening