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Thomas Jarington
Thomas Jarington
Posts: 210
Joined: April 8th, 2014, 10:55 am
Location: Vancouver, BC Canada
Thomas Jarington

Moonshine Over Redridge - A "For Keeshan" Tale

Postby Thomas Jarington » October 10th, 2016, 3:22 am

Autumn made its presence known across the rocky hills of Redridge, arriving with gusting breezes laced with tastes of distant winter bite. Red, orange and yellow leaves fluttered from thick-limbed oak trees, coating the ground with a carpet of color. These leaves fell thick in the Lake Everstill cemetery, especially on the stoop of an unobtrusive, wood-clad shed tucked behind the tombstones.

It wasn’t empty. Gray-black smoke curled from the top of a black, iron pipe. Attached to the backside of the shed, it remained mostly hidden from view, even to the occasional fisherman who stalked catfish on Lakeshire’s opposite shore. Had someone been fishing on this particular morning, they might have heard laughter, singing and the banging of copper kettles from within the nondescript shed.

Brother Jeb was brewing.

Named after his grandfather, Jebediah was the latest in a long line of moonshiners who’d been brewing illegal alcohol in the hills of Redridge for time eternal. In fact, they’d been brewing for so long, the list read like a heraldic tree of Bradferd brewmaster lineage. Bradferd Shine was famous, and most in Redridge knew the family, or had at least heard the name.

Every so often, the King’s revenue agents would ride into town in an attempt to shut them down. However, the beverages always seemed to reappear in taverns, tables and cabinets around the district. When the King’s men asked questions, they were always met with blank stares and shoulder shrugs. If they asked more, they might mysteriously disappear while on patrol.

Redridge liked their shine, and the Bradferds kept their neighbors happy.

It was an October morning. A morning filled with bird song and acorns drumming on the shed’s tin roof. The cool mists settling across Lake Everstill provided the perfect water temperature for this seasons dram, and Brother Jeb was using it to his advantage. Metal vats of cold water, pulled straight from the heart of the lake, was now mixed with mashed cherries, tart apples and pure cane sugar. Local yeast had fermented the mixture into wine, yet the true magic was happening in the large copper still over which Jeb was leaning.

Making shine was a labor of love. Exact temperatures required for the perfect liquor took his constant attention, and singing brewing songs helped him keep time with the boil. Too hot and the liquor would flow fast – not good for quality shine. You wanted slow and steady, which he never failed to produce.

Autumn Bite. That was this season’s brew. The sweetness of the deep, red cherries from Elwynn combined with the tart, green apples of Westfall would make for a memorable drink to usher in Hallows End. So far, from what he’d tasted, it was one of a kind and better than any his pa ever made. This drink would be legendary.

Yet, as hard as he tried to do otherwise, his mind drifted elsewhere.

Just the week before, he’d run into Charlie while fishing for catfish in a refuse pile beneath the dock. He’d just pulled a small, wooden box from the floating debris when she called his name, taking his attention from the potential treasure chest. After some small talk and discussion of happenings around the district, they’d slipped into the tavern for a few drinks, and to catch up on local gossip.

He now wished he hadn’t. Not because of her, of course. She was a looker and friendlier than all get out. Always had been, so far as he recalled.

Nah, it’s what she’d said to him about a Colonel hanging out in city hall, looking for volunteers, that’d ruined his mind. The man wanted help with the Orc problem, and like a catfish gobbling up stink bait, Charlie’d taken the hook.

Come to find out, she’d been learnin’ bout bein a paladin. Even had a set of armor, so she said. Even had a book to help her learn, for fel’s sake. Borrowed from the cathedral in Stormwind. What was worse, she’d introduced him to the Colonel and now his mind was spinnin.

He twisted a copper knob on the still, lowering the flame to a yellow flicker. “Dang that woman,” he said, stepping to the top of a 3 rung stool to stir the thickening wine. He used a long, wooden paddle like found in wood-fired ovens to remove bread. He swirled the liquid, filling the air with the pungent sweet-tart scent of his future brew.

“Gettin’ me all fired up ta help that man.” He lifted the paddle, tapped it on the edge of the vat then hung it from a hook on the side of the shed. “I knowed she says he’s from round here, but I bet he ain’t. All a ruse ta get us kilt er somthin.”

He climbed down the stool and twisted the knob, running his fingers along a curling, twisted copper tube that wound its way into a large, glass jug. Soon, the good stuff would pour forth. He’d already skimmed the foreshots and saved the heads for the next batch in small glass jars he’d placed atop a wooden shelf.

Who wanted to fight wars, anyway? Sure, they’d all sat around a campfire talking bout how great the army was an all. But that was just beer talk. This man wanted fighters, recruits to convince some pit fighter to save em all from the Orcs. Or the Gnolls. He weren’t sure.

But Charlie? She wanted to be a hero. Swing swords, chop heads and save the world. Or at least Redridge, anyway. Fel, he’d tolt her all he could do was wack thangs with a stick. Orcs had swords and shields an such. What good would a stick do against that?

His eyes widened as the first drop of the good stuff fell into the greenish glass jug. A left over from a Goblin beverage incursion several years back, it provided the perfect container for the drink. He licked his lips as one drop became two, then ten and before long, the entire jug was filled with the first batch of the good stuff, Autumn’s Bite.

It would be legendary, and all thought of Orcs, Colonels and wacking sticks disappeared into the intoxicating red liquid that defined his life, that of his family and that of his heritage.

Autumn’s Bite, a name that would soon mean much more than he could have ever imagined.
Thomas Jarington & Co.

Thomas Jarington
Thomas Jarington
Posts: 210
Joined: April 8th, 2014, 10:55 am
Location: Vancouver, BC Canada
Thomas Jarington

Re: Moonshine Over Redridge - A "For Keeshan" Tale

Postby Thomas Jarington » October 16th, 2016, 2:08 am

Tree limbs snapped like cane poles, cracking and thudding to the ground with every swing of the giant’s wooden club. Its bare, mud-caked feet rumbled the ground with each lumbering step, drawing the monster ever closer to Jeb as he ran down the wooded trail toward his still. An Ettin, the magistrate had called it. A giant, Jeb said.

“Me smash puny human!” it bellowed as its club smashed into the ground behind Jeb, scattering broken bits of rock that stung his back. If he could just make it to the still, he thought, gasping for breath. He’d be safe. Nothing could get him there.

“Me Smash!” A crack and a whoosh sent the top of a tree flying over his head, leaving Jeb’s mouth hanging open as it flew toward the shed he called home. Slow motion, he watched it float. A bird peered out from within a nest, staring at Jeb in wonder as its home took flight.

Gnolls cheered from atop a cliff to his right. Previously unseen, they lined the ridge and waved banners tied to wooden spears. Their hoots and howls seemed soft compared to the Ettin’s roars. How could they root against him, he thought as the treetop drifted overhead. It had grown larger, and now blotted the sun with its size.

An idea struck: he’d roll! Like he’d done in the mill to dodge the axe swing of an Orc. But how? He almost stopped running to consider the technique. Lower the shoulder and fall? Stop and go head first? He shook his head. Maybe…

“ME SMASH HUMAN!” the Ettin hollered, drowning out the Gnolls. The stench of outhouse filth washed over him, gagging all thoughts from his mind. The world was shadow, the hazy-gray morning light darkened by a massive, muck-stained paw reaching down - threatening to squish him into goo. He couldn’t escape. More cracks, snapping sounds and flickers of fire. The still was crushed by the tree top, he’d lost the race and forgotten how to roll.

“ME SMASH…”

-------------------------

“Jeb,” a soft voice said, forcing its way through the horror and stench. Was he goo? No, something else shook him and broke the spell of the deep, slumbering dream.

“Wake up,” Brianna said, leaning over him and shaking his shoulders. The innkeeper. Right. That meant he was, he was…

“Bri,” he said, blinking sleep from his eyes. He took a deep breath. “I musta dozed off.” She chuckled and stood, straightening her apron as she did so.

“Your friends left a few hours ago,” she said. “Can I get you something? Juice, perhaps? I just finished a few loaves of bread for the morning crowd.”

“What time is it?” Jeb said, noting he was the only patron. Daniels was setting up the bar, and by the sounds of things, Sherman was butchering something in the kitchen. Thwacks of steel against wood, and the occasional curse echoed from within.

“Round about 4 am,” Brianna said. “You’ve been out a while.”

“Fel,” he said, drawing out the word as if not wanting to release the L. “Yesterdee was sump’em else, I tell ya, Bri.”
“Yea,” she said, making her way toward the bar. “You did. Told the entire room at least twice.”

He didn’t remember that part. Perhaps the ringing in his ears had something to do with it. And Autumn’s Bite. Legendary!

“Ya know –“

A key flew toward him. He grabbed it from the air just before it bounced off his nose.

“Go have a bath, Jeb,” she said. “You stink.” She crossed her arms and scowled. “And change yer clothes, too.” She shook her head. “Did you fight Orcs in those?”

“I reckon,” he said, wobbling to his feet. She just shook her head and pointed toward the stairs.
--------------------------------
Two hours later found Brother Jeb washed, clean and sporting a fresh pair of clothes. While they looked exactly like the blood-caked ones he’d stuffed in a bag to wash, it still felt nice to be in trousers not so stiff with grime.

He marched down the stairs into the common room, now filled with locals sharing breakfast and stories before the day’s work. His eyes searched the room for strangers, naturally looking for the one thing that didn’t fit. One could never be too careful, these days. Especially with the number of outsiders looking to make a quick copper.
He sighed and smiled. It was all clear.

The main table by the fire was filled with family of a local trade merchant. Hearty folk with big hearts, the Taylors were one of his main customers, though Karen’s husband was already at the forge, preparing his wares for sale to the local blacksmiths. They shared a nod and smile with Jeb before returning to their food.

At the table nearest the door, Foreman Oslow and Verner Osgood were laughing like they’d heard the funniest joke around, and wanted to make sure everyone in the room knew it. Osgood banged the table with his thick fist, clattering his plate and pewter mug with a bounce.

Foreman Oslow was a hard bastard and friendly with the Guards – especially Marshall Marris. Some rumors named him a snitch, and his behavior around the guards did nothing to change the rumor. Some felt he wanted to be a guard himself, if only to lord over all the people of Lakeshire.

Osgood wasn’t much better. It was a well-known fact he had bad feelings toward Stormwind. He’d been hauled in for questioning once upon a time by a pistol-packing investigator, and never got over the incident. A ruffian and out of work blacksmith, he carried a hammer at his waist, often fingering the hilt as if itching to use it.

Jeb didn’t care a lick for either of em, but they liked his shine and welcomed Jeb to the room with a hoisted mug and call of, “Here’s to tha good stuff, Brothuh Jeb!”

“Mornin, fellahs,” he said, then turned toward the table nearest the bar. Vernon Hale and Matt Hooper, the resident experts on all things fishing, noticed Jeb’s glance and waved him over toward an empty chair at their table.

“Brother Jeb,” Vernon said, his mouth half-full with blood sausage. “Heard you was out fightin’ Orcs yesterdee.”

“Vern,” Jeb said, sliding into the empty chair. He leaned toward the bar where Wental was arranging a platter of breads. “I’ll have what he’s havin’.”

“Comin right up,” Wental said, then lifted his hand to catch the attention of the waitress.

“Mornin, Jeb,” Matt said. “Sleep well?

“Hooper,” Jeb said, lifting a mug of coffee to his lips. One thing Brianna made certain of, was never-ending pots of coffee for the morning crowd. Free, if they bought food. He sipped, then sighed with a nod. “Now that’s a cup a coffee.” He glanced toward Matt.

“Yea, I slept purty well,” he said. “Cept nightmares bout Ettins.”

“Ettins!?” Vernon said. “Like them thangs lurkin up the mountains a’hind us?”

“Ayup,” Jeb said. “Them very ones. There’s Orcs up yonder ways, too.” He sipped his coffee. “Fel knows I saw my fair share of em yersterdee.”

“Mhmm,” Matt said. “Vern was tellin me bout y’alls little journey for the Colonel.” He shook his head. “I n’er thought you’d be one fer adventuring, Jeb.”

“Me neither,” Jeb said, smiling at Gretchen as she delivered his breakfast. “Thank-ya, miss.” He took a bite of the sausage link, nodding at the taste as grease dribbled into his beard.

“T’was Charlie convinced me,” he said as he chewed, slurring the words from having a full mouth. “I tell ya, Hooper, she’s a down-rat hero type.”


“Ya don’t say,” Matt said, glancing at Vernon with a concerned look in his eye.
“Uh huh,” Jeb said. He reached for his coffee, chewing the final bite of his sausage link as he did so. “She ran through them Orcs like turkey trot through a tin horn.” He shook his head. “Man alive, she’s a sight ta see!”

“Dang, Jeb,” Vernon said, returning the look to Matt. “Sounds like you were the right folks fer the job.”

“Maybe,” Jeb said, placing his coffee mug on the table. “I’m just glad it’s done with.”

A shout came from near the door, drawing everyone’s attention. Vernon shook his head once he realized it was just Osgood spouting off a new conspiracy he’d cooked up. Something about demons working for the king.
“You thank he’s rat?” Vernon asked, twisting back around to face his table mates. “That the king’s behind all that?” Jeb shrugged and Matt smirked.

“Who knows,” Jeb said, pouring Redridge hot sauce over his roasted potatoes. “I wouldn’t doubt it, though. So long as they leave us alone, I really don’t care none.”

“You got that rat,” Matt said. “I’m still hoping them guards get the fel outta Redridge. Don’t need em, if ya ask me.” Vernon nodded and leaned back in his chair, using a small, wooden pick to clean between his teeth.

“You thank them Orc’s gone invade like the Colonel’s been tellin’ folks?” Vernon said. He ran his tongue over his teeth, checking his pick-work for missed spots. Finding one, he sucked it out and swallowed. “I don’t know bout you, but I’m kinda worried.”

“Uh huh,” Matt said. He reached across the table for the coffee pot and refilled his mug. “I know what ya mean. The missus tolt me she wants ta move to Goldshire.” He met each mans’ incredulous look with a nod.

I know, rat?” He sipped his coffee then grimaced. “Gone cold.” He lifted the mug, as well as his eyebrows in an attempt to catch the waitress’s attention. When she met his eyes, he pointed to his mug and she nodded in reply.

“Ain’t like it’s safer in Elwynn,” Matt said. “Especially the way that taverns run.” He looked at Jeb. “You ever been in that place? That Lion’s Pride Inn, they call it?”

“Nah,” Jeb said, wiping his mouth with his sleeve. “But I heard thangs bout it, same as you.” He looked both ways, then leaned toward the middle of the table. “UN natural thangs, if ya know what I mean.”

Matt pointed at Jeb. “Yep!” he exclaimed. “That’s what I heard, too.” He shook his head. “Fellahs? This worlds gone to fel in a hand basket, and I be danged if I’m gonna let some two-bit colonel scare ME inta runnin away.”

“Nah sir,” Jeb said. “I’m with ya on that.” He slugged back the last dregs of his coffee just as the waitress delivered a fresh pot. “But I’m gone see this thang through with Charlie. Ya ne’er know, rat? Maybe this Keeshan’ll come round and see sense.”

Jeb poured himself another mug. “The Colonel seems ta thank so, as do his pals we rescued. Theys the real deal, and that ain’t no lie.” He pointed his re-filled mug at his friends. “I knowed one thang: they sure as fel don’t need us gettin’ in the way while they run them Orcs outta Redridge.”

“Nope,” Jeb said, sipping and leaning back in his chair. His friends nodded at his logical conclusion. “I reckon once we convince ole Keeshan he’s needed, I’ll be back ta brewin and all this’ll be a distant mem’ry.”

“They’ll kill Orcs, and we’ll drank to their health!”

“Preach it, Brother Jeb,” Vernon said, hoisting his coffee mug in a toast. Matt and Jeb returned the toast, drank their coffee and fell into the local gossip Lakeshire – just like they always done.
Thomas Jarington & Co.

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