Battle of the Red Oak

It was the biggest fight I've ever seen. Old Stev gave them a good walloping, shame what happened to him after. But I'll bet most of those stuffy Heathen-lovers couldn't walk straight for a week! You should'a been there!
— local Reachman
  The Battle of the Red Oak was a short but fierce bar brawl at the small logging town of Northwood. Instigated by a religious pilgrim and his friends after assaulting a local lumberjack, Stev Forrester, the aftermath cemented the Reachmen's distrust of outsiders and helped kickstart the Giftwood Resistance.

The Conflict

Prelude

Stev Forrester was returning to his table with their drink order, a local favorite variety of Staghorn Brewery beer, weaving through the crowded tavern. As he was passing by a rather boisterous group of well-to-do religious tourists one of them backed up, knocking the mugs from Stev's hands and spilling much of their contents all over his own travel suit.   The traveler demanded Stev reimburse him for the suit, a rather expensive ensemble from Red Chapel and worth several month's salary at the local Giftwood Loggers, Stev's employer. Annoyed, Stev rose to his full height and declined, throwing in a comment about how the spilled beer was "worth more than those pompous rags to anyone who has ever worked an honest day in their lives."   Enraged, the traveler and his friends engaged.

Battlefield

The Tavern at the Inn of the Red Oak, a historical establishment now belonging to the Church of the Heathen Prophet, became the scene of the largest bar brawl in the history of the establishment. Considering the Inn was as old as the town and the Heathen Prophet's own ornery father had served as barkeep, this was quite a feat. Chairs and tables were pulled back to allow space for the brawl while the patrons watched, cheered, and placed their bets.

The Engagement

The tourists struck first, with four grabbing Stev to pin him against the wall while the remaining three, including the initial aggressor, jumping in to punch and kick him in the face, stomach, and legs. Stev's table quickly reacted to the commotion, freeing Stev from his captors before attacking the group.   The fight continued as a fierce bar brawl, three versus seven, with spectators continuing to cheer for and bet on each side. The three Reachmen had the upper hand when the Inquisitors finally arrived to break up the fight, and bets were paid out accordingly.

Outcome

Stev was arrested for fighting with the tourists and his family's property, a small home that had been in his family for seven generations, was claimed by the Heathen Church and converted into luxury housing for religious pilgrims. His two companions managed to slip away before the Inquisitors could identify them, and miraculously none of the locals could remember who they were, so Stev was the only Reachman to suffer punishment.   The tourists who instigated the fight were reimbursed for their troubles, and given free board at the Inn of the Red Oak for the duration of their stay. The group remained for a week, spending most of their time in the Tavern, but as the Reachmen did not return to patronize the Tavern they eventually left town and were never seen again.

Aftermath

Stev's family were provided new lodging at the Northwood Hospital, a courtesy extended by the Followers of the Hidden Flame although rumors claim the request originated from Cynthia Staghorn, proprietor of the Staghorn Brewery. The Forresters assist in keeping the inventory for the hospital as a thanks for the protection from the Heathen Church.   The Reachmen did not return to the Tavern at the Red Oak until an agreement was reached with the Inquisition to release Stev from custody and drop all charges. To this day the Tavern relies heavily upon tourism for the bulk of their income, as most locals now make a point to avoid businesses owned by the Heathen Church.   Many Reachmen claim the Giftwood Resistance was born that day. While it would take another year for the organization to formalize their efforts the town of Northwood no longer pretended to care for the outsiders that day, and instead began to reach out to their neighbors and develop a more insular community of mutual help and support.

Historical Significance

The fight itself should not have been a surprise. As a result of the Heathen Church's takeover efforts, slowly pressuring to push the locals from their beloved Northwood, the Reachmen maintained a general level of mistrust and even animosity towards the religious tourists visiting their logging town. The small size of their town kept it impossible to avoid tourists and locals alike mingling in popular areas, and the superiority complexes of many of the travelers did little to assuage tensions.   The surprise lay in the ferocity of the brawl once it erupted, coupled with the fact that the visitors were the instigators. Many also wonder why the whole local population did not immediately rush in to join in the fray, although given the distrust of the local populace towards the Heathen Inquisitors and the covert tactics employed in the past, many Reachmen speculate the tourists who started the fight were under orders from the Chief Speaker himself as yet another effort to undermined the Reachmen's claims to their own homes. Given the one-sided fallout from the brawl and the Church's history of similar tactics there is little to refute the claim.
Battlefield Type
Urban

Belligerents

Strength

Stev Forrester and two unnamed friends

Casualties

a broken nose, some good Staghorn Brewery beer, and Stev Forrester's freedom and family holdings

Objectives

Self-defense remains the primary reason Stev participated in the fight. His friends may have been seeking to defend him, but more likely they viewed the fight as a means to let out their frustrations at the Church of the Heathen Prophet.

Strength

seven tourists on a religious pilgrimage

Casualties

an expensive travel suit and three black eyes

Objectives

The instigator sought reparations for his beer-drenched suit, while his friends saw the opportunity for an easy bar brawl. The locals also believe the brawling travelers were actually hired by the Church of the Heathen Prophet to start the fight.
Inquisitors

Led by

Strength

Five Inquisitors

Casualties

None

Objectives

The Inquisition sought to end the brawl to avoid further damage to the Red Oak Tavern, and to punish the Reachmen involved in the brawl. They arrived late to the fight, and only after it became apparent nobody else intended to enter the brawl, leading many locals to believe the whole fight was another set-up in an attempt to drive them from their Northwood homes.


Cover image: Bar Pub Cozy by DonnaSenzaFiato

Comments

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2 Aug, 2020 16:17

The quote just makes this article really shine! I'm suddenly picturing a bar brawl while musicians in the background play music with lots of fast and furious energetic fiddle in it!

Grandmaster Serukis
Emily Vair-Turnbull
3 Aug, 2020 13:06

I love that you've listed the beer and the travel suit as casualties, lol. Poor Stev, though - that really sucks that he was the only one punished for it when he didn't even instigate the fight.

Emy x
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