- Andrew M. Trauger
Cora O'Banion, the Elder
Updated: Sep 17, 2020
Gramma Cora, as she is known by family, was born in the tiny nation of Carolan to a sharecropping potato farmer. Her childhood was spent climbing grand oaks and running the grassy Pinkerton Hills. But there was little time for play. As the eldest child of a family with no sons, much of the work was hers to do, and so Cora learned at an early age how to plant, cultivate, and harvest potatoes.
Her heart yearned for more, however. The nation of Carolan had earned its freedom from Lothania only a generation ago, and many were the grizzled old men who could remember the struggle for independence. Those tales inspired the young Cora.
One sunny afternoon while hoeing rows for yet another crop, Cora decided to leave home. She asked for the blessing of her father but did not receive it, and so she announced she was leaving anyway. The next morning she hitched a ride on wagon with all her belongings--the clothes on her back and a small knapsack of trinkets.
In a tavern in the coastal city of Lochwynne, Cora found her calling besting young men in both tests of strength and of wit, and she quickly gained a reputation as a feisty lass who could hold her own. Many of the young men began trying to woo her, but Cora simply laughed. She had much larger dreams than settling down with a Carolene son. Her eyes were on the ocean, the Cobalt Expanse, and her mind was on the Sword of the Coast.
Years of wandering followed, during which time she gained the company of a nervous arcanist and a confident swordsman. Encounters with a crusty sailor named Bruce McNeal provided all the dangerous adventure she could manage, and Cora soon found that she had barely survived seafaring gales, waterborne monsters, and disease. But she had, with the timely aid of these men, also slain a mighty red dragon, recovered a prized fire diamond, and purchased the Sword of the Coast from its owner.
Cora also discovered she was pregnant, and the scalawag McNeal was the father. Ruin was chasing her and certain to destroy her reputation and standing. Her family, which had gradually accepted her chosen path, would disown her. To escape everlasting torment, she hid in the protective shelter of Loren McBailey, a tavern owner and confidant. When the child was born, she shared the event with only her married sister, Samantha, who then raised the young Bain as an orphan.
The Elder Cora tried to continue her adventuring after that, but her heart was turned toward her son. She put away the sword and took up the lute, learning the ways of a songsage under the tutelage of Devin Rhynn, always staying close to home so she could watch Bain grow. Many years later, with nothing but fame and fortune to her name, Cora moved far away to the fishing village of Hampton on the southwest coast of The Deepening. There she founded a school for training in the various performing arts, and through her investments turned the sleepy village into a bustling town. For her patronage, the mayor granted her the rights to rename the community, and she chose Lorenvale to honor the one faithful and honest man in her life.
It would be another two decades later before Bain O'Banion would relocate to Lorenvale to see the place his mother had "founded." When he did, he stayed, married a local fisherman's daughter, and raised a fiery redhead of his own, Cora O'Banion the Younger.