S1 E2 – 10/20/2016
“Welcome to Bravo Company, Soldier!”
Late morning dawned on the sleepy, mountain town of Lakeshire, finding Charlie, Jeb and Kainin chomping merrily away on helpings of Redridge Goulash - a delicacy their friend Charlie had perfected. Now working in the kitchen to pay for her room, she’d become quite the chef - going so far as ordering chunks of mammoth from the far north in which to test her cooking prowess.
Kainin, too, had been cooking away. He’d worked with Sherman for close to a week in order to master his spider leg surprise. While there were no takers on this particular morning, he was determined to make it a legend. Onions were the key, he told them. Those, as well as some rare spices found at the swamp end of the lake. Jeb doubted anything could make spider legs palatable. Not even his best shine, made under a full moon on the equinox. Nope.
Itching to get their business with the Colonel over with, they waited as long as they could for their missing comrade, Ellie Webb. Having determined she was not going to appear, they gathered Keeshan’s items, took one last swig of the good stuff and made their way into the cellar.
“You again?” was all the man could say to the trio. Even his fellow Bravo Company pals, armed to the teeth and looking fierce, couldn’t convince Keeshan. Not until the rednecks offered him the canvas bag of gathered gear, that is. Then, thangs changed for the dramatic!
“My bow... “ Keeshan said, hefting the dusty weapon in his hands. “And my knife!” He looked at the trio with stunned admiration. “Where did you…” Then he lifted the final piece from the amazingly deep bag.
“Jade's amulet... My darling Jade.” He grimaced, his face becoming hard and tight. He picked up his red bandana, wrapped it around his head and said:
“We got Orcs ta kill!”
The four members of Bravo Company grinned at the group, nodding their approval at reconnecting their leader with his task. Redridge pride swelled through the trio, and the spirit of service filled their souls when Keeshan said, “Those Blackrock orcs are gonna need an army to handle you and the Bravo Company.”
Honored and inspired to be included within the legendary group of Orc slayers, they responded with a “Damn straight they are!”
“Excellent,” Keeshan said. “When you're ready to go, meet us at the dock facing Lake Everstill and we'll set off on my riverboat for Camp Everstill.”
The rednecks gathered their gear, hoisted their weapons and marched like a band of heroes heading off to war. Which they were, though not without a few reservations – especially for Jeb. When they arrived at the boat, he listened to the seasoned warriors cheer one another on, and began to worry.
“Looks like we got a war to win,” Keeshan said, as he loaded his gear into the bow of the longboat.
“PAIN TRAIN INCOMING!” Dansforth exclaimed, followed by Krakauer’s cry of, “JOHNNY'S BACK, BABY! YEA!”
“Y’all sure we wanna do this?” Jeb said, pulling his two comrades away from the boat. “We’s headin into a war, and once we board that boat, theys no comin back.” Charlie snorted and climbed into the boat.
“This is our land, Jeb,” she said. “We gotta defend her.” Kainin nodded. “Ain’t nothing else ta do round here. Sides, maybe they’ll pay us.” Jeb nodded.
“Aight,” he said. “If y’all goin, I’ll go too.”
“You three ready?” Keeshan asked, waiting for the three to get settled. When they nodded, Keeshan pointed at the man who sat at the rear of the long, wooden boat. “Take us out, Messner.”
The rest of the day became a blur, filled with Orcs, captives and fox poop. After scouting the area, Bravo Company sent them out to gather supplies, as well as meet up with a SI-7 operative named Brubaker. The Orc scouts they encountered proved easy to dispatch, building their confidence as members of the Bravo Company.
However, the reality of real war hit them in the face like a sack of freshly-dug potatoes. Brubaker was dead, found strung up and spread eagle like a fox about to be skinned for leather. Jeb gagged, doing everything he could to keep the Redridge goulash inside his stomach.
“This is wrong,” Kainin said, shaking his in anger. Charlie nodded, but said nothing. “What’s that in his pocket?” Jeb said, grimacing from his weak stomach.
“It’s a note of some sort,” Charlie said. Pulling it free, she opened and read the note out loud.
Keeshan, if you're reading this note, I'm dead. Likely that my position was compromised.
Orcs are committing unspeakable atrocities against their prisoners. Yes, prisoners, Keeshan. They've got cages full of P.O.W's. If you're gonna blow up this valley, you'll need to free the prisoners first.
Tell my wife I love her and to take out the damned trash.
PS - They've got black dragons.
“So that’s what them bat-wing sounds were, I heard flutterin in the hills,” Kainin said, glancing in the direction of the Orc encampment they stumbled upon earlier. Filled with Blackrock regulars, they were nothing like the lightly armed scouts they fought earlier. Even Charlie, the group’s champion, held back from attacking the camp.
“I reckon so,” Jeb said, following Kainin’s gaze.
“We need to get this to Keeshan,” Charlie said, stuffing the letter into her armor and trotting off toward Camp Everstill. “This can’t wait!”
“Damned hero,” Jeb said, shaking his head as the armored woman put more distance between the two.
“She gone get us all kilt,” Kainin said.
Back in the camp, Keeshan read the letter, assembled the field kits and sent the group to rescue the POWS – sending Jorgenson with them for good measure. Warned to be careful, the four slathered themselves in fox poop and leaves, thus creating a camouflage that even Orcs would ignore.
But things went bad real quick-like. Finding the cages locked, Charlie rushed off toward a cave she thought held the key – trusting the camouflage beyond its capabilities. In moments, several of the Blackrock soldiers caught her scent, swarming her beneath a whirlwind of axes, swords and hammers.
That would have been the end of her, had not Jeb, Kainin and Jorgenson arrived and slayed her attackers. Stunned, she used the Light to heal her wounds – leaving her armor dented and stained with blood. This happened again before she finally saw sense, recognizing the fact wearing steel didn’t make her an impervious tank. Bravo Company was about team work, and leaving her teammates behind was not the brightest of ideas.
They found the key, rescued the POWS and set the explosives Keeshan had instructed them to place. Charlie, still alive and still a hero, led the four into Shalewind Canyon, where the rest of Bravo Company and the recently rescued Redridge prisoners eagerly awaited their return.
Keeshan shook their hands, then looked at the trio. “Those explosives you planted were high yield,” he said. “When I push this button on the Bravo Company field kit, that whole valley is gonna be consumed by a massive fireball of death.”
“You know,” he said, offering the kit to the trio. "I think you should do the honors. You did all the hard work, after all. Ready?”
Grinning with excitement, all three placed their finger on the button and pushed.
Small pops rose from the valley, followed quickly by larger and louder explosions. Then, a bright, white flash filled the sky, forcing everyone to cover their eyes with the back of their hands. An explosive BOOM, rocked the canyon - tumbling bits of stone from the hilltops and scattering them at the feet of the company. A black-gray mushroom of smoke rose from the valley, hovering atop the district and blotting out the sun.
“Did you see those orcs explode?” Keeshan exclaimed. “THAT'S HOW WE DO IT IN BRAVO COMPANY!”
Cheers arose from the group, now feeling fully integrated into the Bravo Company. The task was complete, the Orcs were dead and the Redridge trio had been at the heart of the excitement.
But the victory was short-lived.
“Time to clean up the rest of these jackasses,” Keeshan said, turning toward the group. He grinned. “Now that every Blackrock orc south of Lake Everstill is nothing more than ash and cinder, we can turn our attention to the Shadowhide gnoll army of Galardell Valley, directly north of here.”
He pointed. “I want you to head out there and kill 'em all!” Keeshan said, earning cheers from the other Bravo members, who were clearly impressed with how well the rookies had performed.
“Initiate Operation: Extinction, soldiers. For Bravo Company and for the Alliance!”
Finding horses waiting in a nearby stable, they rode like the wind into Galardell Valley, cutting the unwary Gnolls to ribbons – leaving the remaining few howling in fear, and scrambling for safety of the mountains. Once again pleased with their warrior-like prowess, the group was not surprised when Keeshan’s voice crackled over the gnomecorder attached to their belts.
“We're closing in on the Blackrock high command,” he said, his voice clearly excited. “There's nowhere left for those dogs to run.” He then informed them of some intel about the leader of the Gnolls, where to find them and how to open his tower.
Charging forward, Charlie launched into the Gnoll General, discovering rather quick he was tougher than the howlers they’d faced earlier. Needing the combined might of the three, the general fell – allowing them to retrieve the magical key.
When the gnomecorder crackled to life once more, Keeshan had even more information for them to chew on.
“Good work, team,” he said, his voice crackling over the airwaves. “I've got some vital intel for you. The magus in the tower is a human named Doane. Damned traitor is working for the Blackrock orcs. I want him dead.”
“A Human?” Charlie said, earning a shrug from Jeb and a headshake from Kainin. “World’s gone mad,” Jeb replied. “Ta fel in a hand basket, if ya ask me.”
“Use the key of Ilgalar and get inside that tower,” Keeshan continued. “Work your way to the top and show Doane what Bravo Company does with traitors.” They nodded, yet said nothing.
“Rendezvous back at Shalewind Canyon when the deed is done.”
“Keeshan, over and out.”
The three looked at one another, then gazed toward the tower rising above the trees in the distance. “Reckon that’s the one he’s talking about?” Jeb asked, nodding toward the tower.
“Only one I’ve seen,” Kainin said. “Ain’t nothing else cept tents.” Before they could ask Charlie what she thought, the paladin had already run off toward the tower. Kainin looked around, noticing the Gnolls were slipping back down from the hills.
“We best follow,” he said. “Lest we be them Gnolls next meal.”
By the time the pair arrived, Charlies had killed three Gnolls and was trying the key. “You do realize we’re a team, rat?’ Jeb said to the paladin. “One a these days, you gone run off and we’ll find ya string up like that Stormwind spy we found down in the valley!”
Charlie waved a dismissive hand, then turned the key. The magic barrier went down and in she raced. It took only minutes before the defending Gnolls were dead, and the trio stood at the top of the tower facing Grand Magus Doane.
“So, the Bravo Company, all present and accounted for,” the Magus said as Charlie lifted her sword. “The pathway to damnation awaits!”
The battle was fierce, with fireballs flying, swords spinning and staffs whirling. When it was clear that Doane was getting the worst of the fight, he cried out above the din, “MINION, to ME!”
Suddenly, out of nowhere, a creature of horror appeared, ambling toward the three and waving a meat-stained chain. Doane laughed as Charlie’s sword glanced harmlessly off an invisible field.
“You realize not the error of your ways,” Doane said. “But soon you will cower before Darkblaze.”
With that, he disappeared into a glowing, hazy nether. The Abomination fell quickly, being weaker than he appeared, and soon, the trio were standing on the steps of the now empty tower.
“Where the fel’d he go?” Jeb asked, holding himself up with the aid of his staff. “Doane just vanished.”
“Beats me,” Kainin said. “But we done what we came to do. Let’s get back to camp.” Charlie nodded, showing her weariness as well. Their shadows were long, showing the time of day to be near dusk. A cool, crisp breeze rose from the lake and raced toward the mountains.
“Our horses are just over the rise,” she said, pointing. “Over yonder ways. We’ll ride back an let Keeshan knowed what we heard.”
After a harrowing ride, our heroes arrived in Shalewind Canyon, breathless and near exhaustion. A full day’s adventure had seen them scouring more of Redridge then any of them had seen in their lifetime. And now, as the sun set over the red dirt mountains, they made their final report to Keeshan.
“What do you mean he teleported away?” Keeshan said when Charlie explained the encounter. “He mentioned Darkblaze? What the hell is going on here.” All of Bravo Company had gathered around to hear the tale, and now they’d heard, discussion broke out as to what would come next.
Keeshan raised his hand. “Looks like it's time to strap in and finish this nonsense,” he said, just as the sounds of a large gyrocopter echoed from atop the mountains. They turned just in time to see Colonel Troteman himself, descending on a rope as a large, mechanical war machine was lowered to the hilltop.
“I’m here to help you end this mess!” he said, crossing his arms and scowling.
Will our heroic trio of exhausted rednecks have enough energy to end the mess? Will they indeed cower before Darkblaze, whoever the fel that is? Will Ellie Webb ride in from Lakeshire to save the day? Or will Redridge fall to the Blackrock invasion?
Stay tuned! As these questions and more may be answered on the next episode of,
Thomas Jarington & Co.