Buttercup is a male Dire Elk, and has served as Tananda's special mount for some time now. Once, he gave his life jumping into the Pool of Radiance at Myth Drannor to help counteract the massive infusion of evil caused by the avatar of Kiaransalee's jumping into it. He came back just over a year later - stronger and more intelligent than ever, and able to command creatures of his type. Tananda felt bad about his death and missed him sorely while he was gone. Buttercup holds no grudge about the incident and understands that it was necessary.
Tananda has equipped him with a military-style saddle and saddlebags, and also with magical barding and horseshoes. (since he's a cloven-hooved beast, they're actually called "cues" and come in sets of eight.)
You're probably wondering: how did our troll Paladin wind up with such a creature, and why does he have such a name? Luckily for us, Tananda is a meticulous records keeper. Let's take a little peek into her journal...
From the Journal of Tananda of Uniondale (translated from Sylvan)
Well, today's the day - I've finally learned enough that, Tyr willing, I'll be able to summon my own mount! I hope I still remember how to ride; I outgrew the biggest horse my adopted parents had when I was 12. Here goes...
Holy... actually, I didn't quite know what exactly answered my call, but it definately was holy, all right - you could tell by the glow it was giving off. He, I should say. He was a huge winged humanoid, beautiful and terrible at the same time. He looked down at me with a look of mixed surprise and anger and said something in a stern tone. His voice was incredibly deep.
I tried replying in Common, Elven, and Sylvan, but I could tell he didn't understand. He just stood there, eyes seeming to look right through me, but slowly becoming less angry and more puzzled.
Suddenly, he reached down with his massive hand and grasped my head. I felt as if I had become transparent, or naked. More naked than naked, if that makes any sense. Also kind of dizzy. The rest of the anger left his face, leaving only the surprise.
After what seemed like years, he released my head and said in halting Elven, "Bide... one... moment". He then disappeared. I decided it prudent to do just what the nice man said.
I'd barely had time to catch my breath when the being returned. But this time he was not alone; he had brought with him an enormous elk. I looked into its eyes, and it looked into mine. Then I looked into my eyes looking into... oh! I was linked to the elk, it was my mount! I shook my head to clear my thoughts and the elk shook its head in perfect sync with me. (His, definately his. Very odd sensations from the link.)
Turning my attention back to the being, I smiled at him and said "Thank you," in Elven. He gave me a quirky little smile back, and put his hand on my head again. I didn't try to resist. The dizzy sensation returned, but I didn't feel naked this time.
"There - that was a small present for you", he said, "and I may have a larger one for you later, if you remain valiant. The road you have chosen is a hard one, especially for one of your race."
I noticed that his words came much more smoothly than before, and suddenly realized that he wasn't speaking Elven, but Celestial. And I understood him!
Gesturing to the elk, he continued, "This, as you have likely already surmised, is your mount. His name is 'Antlered Bane of Evil and Chaos'."
"Bane of...?", I gasped as my eyes grew wide, "Does that mean..."
But he made a shushing gesture and said "No, little one, his natural attacks are not as bane weapons. His size makes him formidable enough. It is just that he hates evil and chaos as much as you do." His smile was less quirky now.
"I... I thank you, bright one, for your gift" I said, the new language feeling strange upon my tongue. "And I hope that I will..."
"I go now," interrupted the being, beginning to fade. "The energies of this plane distress me. We will speak later." Did he raise his hand in benidiction just before he was gone?
OK, this shows how Tananda got her mount, but how did a male elk come to be nicknamed "Buttercup"? To find out, we must skip forward a few days in her journal (now being recorded in Celestial, for the practice)...
This should prove to be a good day - I believe that I've finally figured out where that necromancer and his hench-things hide when they aren't causing mischief, and now I can go take them out with the help of my new steed.
Speaking of whom, I've got to come up with a decent nickname for the big fellow. "Antlered Bane of Evil and Chaos" is really tough to pronounce in the original Celestial, and is just plain too long when translated into any other language. He's managed to communicate to me that he wouldn't mind a nickname, but he doesn't like any of the ones I've come up with so far...
... But enough wool-gathering. There's a cave entrance up ahead, at the far end of a very large clearing full of wildflowers in bloom. The evil ones are probably within, shunning the light and beauty outside in favor of the dank and darkness. Typical. Well, here's one paladin who has no problem with darkness, heh.
Good, the entrance looks like it's big enough for me (barely). I'll let my steed stand guard outside. May Tyr smile upon us this day!
So far, so good. I've managed to destroy/kill over a dozen of the necromancer's minor minions and even a lesser wizard - probably the necromancer's lieutenant. He may have beat a cowardly retreat, but at least I'd decimated his forces. My wounds have already healed, of course.
Returning to the cave entrance, I found a surprise - all the yellow was missing from the clearing! I gave my steed an inquiring glance; he responded with a belch. While I was off having my own kind of fun, my mount had eaten every single buttercup bloom in the clearing, leaving the the other plants more or less alone.
"And you didn't leave even one for me?" I said half-teasingly. (The impressions I got over our link actually made those flowers seem pretty tasty...) I saw that he felt kind of sheepish about that, so I gave him a reassuring pat.
I then asked my mount if he had noticed a black-robed humanoid anywhere in the area. He managed to convey to me that he did see a female human, with no robe but smelling of fear, come out of another nearby cave. When he started off towards her, she drank something and flew off to the South.
"Well done, o Bane of Evil, Chaos, and Buttercups!" I said. My steed thought that quip hysterical, and we galloped off to the South in high spirits.
And that's where the nickname originated. Over the next few months, "Bane of Evil, Chaos, and Buttercups" would be shortened to "Bane of Buttercups" and finally to just "Buttercup". Tananda never thought of the name as being feminine until it was pointed out to her several times. ( In fact, she had been sure that it was masculine, since there was a male elf at her adopted mother's druidic retreat who called himself that. And before you ask - yes, he was, and no, she never had a clue. )