Oleander may not be intimidating when asked to stand tall, but she'll knock you down a few pegs with her intense gaze. Her body has seen better days, as its frame has been ravaged by hunger and hard travel. Her skin is covered in bruises and scrapes, her skin pocked by whatever poisonous plant it was that she brushed against. However, despite how bedraggled she may appear, Oleander makes a point to keep up her appearances as much as possible -- therefore, her hair is almost always the cleanest and most composed part about her. She takes pride in that, at the very least.
Traits & Characteristics
Determined (+) Oleander doesn't just stop when told to. When she has a goal in mind, she is determined to reach it. No matter how lofty it might be. It's what helps her get through the tougher moments in her current situation.
Bright (+) Despite having no formal education, nor the ability to read or complete math above an elementary level, Oleander has always shown a willingness and eagerness to learn. In fact, if you get her talking, she'll be questioning you a mile a minute on where you stand in the world, what you think of herbalism, and just where do you think we're headed in the next hundred years.
Cautious (+/-) Oleander has learned a thing or two about trusting too much and too soon. As a result, she reserves her true colors until a later time. While this does indeed protect her, it can also make her hard to trust herself, as she never really lets you know what she's up to.
Stubborn (-) The less-than-polite backside to her determination is Oleander's stubbornness.
Blunt (-) Oleander doesn't choose to say much, seeing how it's only landed her in trouble before, but she still hasn't learned that the easiest way to keep herself out of trouble is to soften her worded blows. But why bother skirting around the issue when you could just get straight to the point?
Basket Seller (1860 - 1870)
Oleander was put in charge of helping sell her family's wares as they moved around the northeast.
Beadworker (1870 - 1873)
Oleander was employed by her Uncle. Penko would've preferred she hadn't continued to work after they were married, but he wasn't mad about the extra income, either.
Whatever Needs Doing (Present)
Most often now, Oleander exchanges whatever service she can offer in exchange for shelter. She's finding there isn't much she will say no to as the months get colder.
Magdalene tried to keep Oleander occupied as a child, and put a few canes in her hand as often as she could. Magdalene found that the more Oleander's hands were kept busy, the less likely she was to cause trouble. A happy discovery for many of the caravaners.
Taught to her by her Uncle Bo, Oleander found this to be extremely meditative. If she were to get her hands on some needle, thread, and beads, she would be content to sit there for hours.
Growing up amongst a Romani caravan, Oleander was expected to at least have some basic understanding of horses, how to care for them, and how to hitch and ride them. She surprisingly had a knack for it -- many joked that her stubbornness outweighed the horses'. Her ex-husband also noticed this, as he was an aspiring breeder and found that Oleander had a better handle of training new stock than others. Oleander hopes that she will soon be able to procure her own horse to accompany her wherever her chase takes her next.
A recent skill that Oleander didn't even know she had. She's picked this up the hard way by learning from her mistakes.
Aliases / Nicknames
Aishe Barthes or Aishe Gelder (Call her these and you're asking for a knife at your throat)
In the past few months, Aishe has stayed in multiple hay lofts, attics, and root cellars. Her most recent stay was with an old man Felix Merryweather, a veteran who moved himself out to Montana for a quieter life.
Kith & Kin
Ivan Barthes (47), Father. Proud patriarch of the Barthes family.
Magdalene Barthes (43) Mother.
Tom Barthes (Deceased) Brother. Died in the Civil War
Rhoda Barthes (24) Sister. Happily married with two children. Travels with parent's caravan.
Paul Barthes (19) Brother. Aspiring poet and scholar. Travels with parent's caravan.
Bo Barthes (45) Uncle. Lives in Minneapolis and
Peter "Penko" Gelder (Deceased,) "Husband". Or at least liked to call himself that. Oleander would rather not think about that.
Felix Merryweather (55), an old veteran who let Oleander have a roof over her head as long as she cooked dinner at least five nights out of the week. He say she was getting antsy, and directed her off in the direction of Kalispell and Whitefish. She's had help writing him one letter since her departure.
More to be determined through gameplay.
NAME UNKNOWN, Hunter
More to be determined through gameplay.
October, 1843. Ivan and Magdalene, along with some other Travellers, move themselves and their newborn son Tom to America. They settle themselves in the northeast as basket weavers.
April, 1847. Aishe is born somewhere in Central New York. She is raised by the caravan her parents are a part of, and find that it is much more tolerable to be off on the outskirts alone than having to deal with anyone. Her parents are concerned and do what they can to involve her with the other little ones, but no matter what they do, as soon as they turn their backs, Aishe is in the midst of having her hair pulled by one child, screaming at another, or being bitten by a third.
June, 1862. Aishe's older brother, Tom, enlists in the army. Aishe's younger sister, Rhoda finds a sweetheart and the two are wed. Aishe is still considered a stubborn mule, seeing as how she has yet to settle down and would much rather be off alone in her own world then helping out among the caravan.
March, 1870. Aishe is sent out to live with her Uncle Bo in Minneapolis. Bo claims he knows some other Travellers further west that could set the Barthes up with good connections, should they ever feel the need to move from the coast. (Plus, the further away potential suitors are from home, the less likely they are to realize just how unmanageable Aishe is.) Aishe lives in peace for the first few years -- Uncle Bo has her get into beading to help him with his jewelry business. He's convinced that this will help her settle in enough to be courted.
August, 1872. Uncle Bo brings Aishe into North Dakota to meet her future husband, Penko. Bo says Penko's a good businessman. When Aishe asks whether or not he's a good man period, Bo refuses to answer. Aishe is reluctantly wed to Penko as her Uncle returns to Minneapolis. She quickly learns that
November, 1873. After a year of frustration, Penko is convinced that Aishe must be infertile. Turns out she just can't stand to look at him, let alone touch him. Stern words lead to closed fists. Aishe, too scared of abandonment to reach out to family and friends, took matters into her own hands. She told everyone that poor Penko died re-shoeing his horse, had his head caved right in. That accounted for the face damage, but didn't account for the trampled chest and groin. Aishe claimed to be returning home to her family in the east the morning after the "accident."
July, 1874. Aishe spends most of the year on the run, never staying in one place for too long. She eventually joins up with a caravan train heading out west, only to be dumped in Montana when she is discovered to be a murdering wench.
Present, 1875. After discovering that going by your birth name isn't helpful when on the run, Aishe Barthes Gelder adopts the name Oleander Wilkes. She has spent the last few months hopping from home to hideout in Montana, having recently come upon the region where our story is currently set.
Oleander is currently being tracked down by someone (most likely employed by the Gelder family seeking justice, or perhaps someone ratted on her the last time she was discovered), but she is unaware -- could lead to some fun plots later on down the line!
Oleander is a recent addition to Montana, and who knows how long she's going to stay. Would love to plot and post with anyone who's interested, and I'm excited to see what you and your characters may bring to the table! Key points to Ms. Wilkes below.
Oleander is on the run after killing her husband. Her husband's family has sent a private investigator after her, though Oleander doesn't know this. (Yet! Maybe you are the investigator! Or maybe you have a bounty hunter around who has heard of this wandering widow and the price on her head? Most likely an ongoing plot device, but maybe they had an interaction without either of them realizing it? Maybe the bounty hunter did? Who knows!)
She's spent many a night in barns and basements in exchange for menial work. She'll keep her head down and do what you tell her. Was it a nice night, or not-so-nice night, that's up to perspective. (Maybe that was one of your characters! Did they have a good time? What would you like!)
Eventually Oleander might leave that life behind, and who knows for what...Maybe your there's some persuading to be done!
The words seemed to come to Oleander’s ears as if through water. Warped and wading through the air. Wrapping around her eardrums and waiting there for much too long. Oleander had to close her eyes just to listen. “A ride … a ride to …” Damn, the name of the town. The name of the town had disappeared amongst the rubble. Probably slipped out when she was hoisted out from underneath the beams.
The words flew right out of what scrambled mess was her mind as something was placed into her hand. Suddenly her vision was pinpoint sharp as the woman with Oleander handed her food. Food. Now that was a friendly sight. Oleander’s fingers clamped down on the biscuit and salted meat and not a moment later was it being stuffed into her mouth. She shot the woman a thankful look. Oleander’s stomach cramped with hunger and satiation all at once, and yet it set a weight in her that kept her from floating up into the air. Or at least that’s what it felt like.
“Tell ya what, ya help me get these horses settles an’ we’ll take one’a the spare teams an’ go lookin’ for that mule’a your’n.”
Oleander nodded and looked over the woman’s shoulder, back to the horses. Oh, the horses. What a fond sight they were. Oleander slid in next to one of them with ears back and whites showing. Its nostrils flared as she approached and she met its deep gaze, placing one hand along its muzzle, the other along its withers, feeling its breath shift under the harness. “This. This I can do for you.” Her breath slowed with the horse’s. She nodded to the woman. “Good horse. Lead the way.”
More than one person had shrugged Oleander off. All they could give her was a blank stare, a shake of the head, or an agitated huff. As if whatever pesky animal she was griping about was the only thing on her mind. As if she was ignoring the collapses houses, holding bodies (both alive and dead) in their bowels. As if she wasn’t aware of just how many other animals had run off in blind terror the first moment they could.
But Oleander was very aware of all of these things. And if that old mule had run off without her, Oleander wasn’t sure how long either of them would make it. Both she and the old ride had seemed to be keeping each other going.
One person seemed to understand. Oleander found herself whirling when she heard a set of feet plod into the frozen earth behind her, and she whipped around, causing what braid was left in a shoddy plait to free itself and cling around her face. Her muscles immediately tensed, but as soon as she looked upon another woman, full of life and sincerity, Oleander let herself breathe again. “A dun,” she croaked. “It’s an old dun mule. Regular sized.”
The woman had mentioned a doctor. That’s right, the doctor was still in town. “No, no, I’m fine. I just want the mule. I’ll … the doctoring is for later. I just need the ride.” And need the ride she did. As soon as she could, she would high tail it out of here with directions to Kalispell. It seemed this woman with the stagecoach would help make that happen. Now, where did those herded steeds get placed? And had that damn old thing even been part of that rescue mission?
Whitefish hadn’t promised much. Oleander had been warned of that when it was first pointed out to her on a map of the local area. “You could try and make it out to Kalispell before the next big storm hits, but if you’re really just looking for any kind of place like you say, might as well go for Whitefish.” They had said. And that really was all she had been looking for.
Her last safe haven had been with Felix, the old veteran. In fact he had given her his old mule, Twiddles, on account of “she hardly did much anyway.” What Twiddles did do was at least march her scrawny nag body over to Whitefish and allowed Oleander to scrounge a bed from a pitying passerby. Oleander had gone to bed that night expecting some solace.
She was woken up not a few hours later by screams and a warm, threatening glow bleeding through the windowpanes. Leaping out of bed to assess the blaze, Oleander was quickly met with it as it licked along the sill. Blizzard winds had brought the embers slamming into the side of the shed, and soon enough the shed was collapsing.
That’s what she told people when they pulled her out a few days later. Somehow they had placed her in the church along with the other women and their children, but instead of huddling with them Oleander had picked herself a corner seat in a far removed pew. It gave her a good look over the rest of them, as well as a place to clear her head and allow her to shiver and chatter her teeth in peace.
The best part of her perch was it had the best window that looked out onto the main street of Whitefish … or what was left of it. She watched as the horses plowed their feet through the paths, the wagons groaning along behind them. More and more continued to emerge from the silhouettes of what once were buildings. Oleander, like many others, seemed to suddenly become possessed and rose to her feet, surging out to meet the rescue teams. The orders to have those from Whitefish disperse to let the wagons through fell on deaf ears, and suddenly Oleander found herself tugging on the sleeve of anyone who would listen.
“His mule. Twiddles. His … my mule. Has anyone seen the old nag?” She drifted from person to person, hardly waiting for an answer. Her mind was more frayed than she had realized. Apparently midnight infernos would do that to a person.
Tagging @Players and anyone who wants to jump in!
Sagas of the WIld West is a roleplaying game set in a fictionalized version of the town of Kalispell in Montana territory. Our stories begin in 1875 and are set against the backdrop of actual historical events.Sagas was inspired by the classic television and movie westerns. Our focus is on writing, storytelling and character development.
Connect With Us On
If you would like to join the Sagas' Discord server or are already a member, click the image to open the Discord web application.