Warcraft Fan Fiction ❯ Turning Red ❯ Down the rabbit hole ( Chapter 7 )
Phoenix walks alongside the little green goblin, back through the village she came across an hour earlier.
Trixie turns to Phoenix and flashes a grin up at her. She says: “Okay, my end of the deal. I suppose I’m an adventurer first, an opportunist second, and an activist in-between. I live life on the seas.”
Phoenix’s curiosity is instantly piqued as she gazes at the goblin’s eye-patch.
“You’re a pirate!” she beams.
Trixie chuckles. “I suppose you could say we are like pirates. But smarter. Nothing like the Bloodsail Buccaneers. We’re traders and tacticians, not mindless thieves or murderers. I also head up a reputable ship repair business.
“I know what you’re thinking,” Trixie glances at Phoenix, after noticing her stare. “A smart person doesn’t lose an eye. Lost it in a swordfight - but from what I gained, it was worth it. Lucky ya don’t need both eyes to see, eh?
“My eyes were opened after my time on the ship, the crew became family,” she says proudly. “For now, I lead a small scouting party here. Hopefully we will be reunited with our captain soon.’
Phoenix replies eagerly: “Are you setting sail again soon? Do you need a deckhand?”
Trixie stops walking to turn and face Phoenix. She shakes her head.
“My ship is out of action for a while,” Trixie says. “And anyway, do not be so hasty to leave your life behind here. There’s a lot worse than Silvermoon out there.
“Besides,” she says, starting to walk again, her voice taking a sadder tone. “I’ve been tasked with other important work here for now, while the main brunt of the crew are out adventuring somewhere far from these shores.”
She frowns mildly. Phoenix simply nods in response and looks down at the ground.
Despite her situation, her aching muscles and painful jaw, Phoenix feels a little better. There’s something about Trixie she feels she can trust, even though she barely knows her. All of Phoenix’s doubts are superseded by curiosity and excitement.
“Where are we going?” Phoenix asks naively, as they reach the Tranquil Shore beyond the western edge of the village. The grass and gravel give way to a short stretch of beach. It’s not long or large enough to attract sunseekers, but is still relatively beautiful nonetheless.
Between the forest and the water’s edge lie a few inconspicuous shacks on the white sandy beach. As they enter the second from left, the old dirty floorboards creak beneath their feet. Inside the small space there is a homeless elf asleep in the corner, inside a sleeping bag. The shack is almost empty, bar a couple of shelves littered with junk and a few empty bottles in the corner. Dust lingers in the air; it smells musty.
Phoenix turns to Trixie and blinks, as if to ask: ‘Why are we here?’
Trixie leans over the snoring elf and reaches out to one of the lower shelves. It seems as if she pulls on some sort of lever out of Phoenix’s line of sight, before turning to her again.
“You’re doing it again,” Trixie sighs. “Ya look but ya do not see.”
Before Phoenix can answer, a scraping noise emanates from the left.
“Let me open your eyes,” Trixie says, as a grate in the floor slowly moves aside, revealing an opening wide enough for a person to comfortably fit.
Phoenix blinks again and raises one eyebrow. Trixie moves past as if this is nothing out of the ordinary, and dips one foot into the opening, then the other. There’s a ladder leading down.
Trixie’s head soon disappears into the darkness of the hole, and after sensing her hesitation, the goblin shouts up at Phoenix, her voice echoing mildly: “Well, what are ya waiting for? Come on!”
Phoenix follows her down, a mix of excitement and fear nestling in her stomach. The only sounds are feet tapping on the wooden ladder and the faint snoring of the elf above filling the air, drifting into the distance.
As Phoenix nears the bottom, a flickering light emerges beneath her. Faint voices can be heard. Phoenix’s bare feet soon touch the cold gravelly floor, but she retains her grip on the ladder with uncertainty. One by one, her hands let go and she pokes her head around it to inspect her surroundings. The voices stop.
“Welcome to our humble home,” Trixie’s voice echoes slightly in the dark but warm cavern, her arms raised outwards as she casually turns around, her eyes fixed on Phoenix’s, gauging her reaction. “Please don’t be shy. My crew don’t bite. Unless provoked!” she squeaks.
The room measures probably no larger than 20 metres by 15. There are barrels and boxes stacked along one edge, with a few hammocks and simple beds up against two walls. The fourth wall curves outwards slightly, with a path spilling out to another area out of sight.
An inverted triangle has been coarsely-painted in red on the old crumbling wall facing Phoenix. Bottles and candles are strewn about on shelves and crates, casting a dim glow across the rocks. Efforts have been made to turn the cavernous hobble into a home; there are rugs and pictures on the walls, with a table near the centre that has been crudely put together. One picture is of an elf wearing a large sailing hat. Their captain?
Trixie pulls a lever by the ladder and the grate above them screeches as it closes above them.
Phoenix’s wonder is suddenly replaced with self-consciousness. There are others watching her, in the darkness.
Someone shifts from the top half of a bunk bed, glancing at her. A blue troll with wild red hair and two small tusks for teeth is sitting at the far end of the table and turns to face her. Trixie’s words about not being shy finally register in Phoenix’s brain and she instantly feels shy, back to her old insular self again.
“Everyone, your attention please!” Trixie raises her voice to a commanding level. “This is Phoenix… a lost girl who is far from home, and has got herself into a bit of a pickle with the Steelfeathers! We’re going to help her,” she says, and starts to rummage through a wooden chest.
Someone groans from one of the upper bunks.
The pale blue troll is standing in front of Phoenix now, a good two feet taller than her, smiling like he already knows her. He smells like the Bloodthistle leaves her mother smokes, mingled with sweat.
He moves to hug her but Phoenix recoils, so he goes to shake her hand instead, realises it’s so small compared to his and gives up. The moment becomes awkward, so he quickly decides to just pat her on the head instead.
“I be Django, mon,” he says with a thick voice, smiling with serene warmth.
Phoenix blushes and says, quiet as a mouse: “Phoenix.”
“I know dat, Trix already said,” he smiles.
Trixie returns from the chest with a bundle of simple brown clothes, a belt, a pair of tights and boots in her hands. She struggles to carry it all in her tiny frame.
Trixie speaks as she walks to the door near the ladder: “We don’t have many spare clothes but I think I managed to find something about your size. You can change in this room.”
Before Phoenix can reply, Django speaks again, after noticing her cuts and injuries. He says: “Damn. You really look like… like… you took a beating. You okay? Falkor may be able ta help.”
The troll leans in and whispers loudly, using his palm to cover the right side of his face like he’s pretending not to let anyone else hear.
“He be powerful, dat one,” he says to Phoenix. “Though he might not look it!”
Django points to a young elf sitting quietly in the corner. It’s hard for Phoenix to see in the dark, but it seems he’s disfigured in some way. He doesn’t appear to have ears, nor eyes. But before Phoenix can properly react to this, her gaze is drawn to the figure standing next to him: a beast the size of at least two full-grown elves. While not much taller than an elf, it is wide, with thick muscles.
Phoenix stumbles backwards at the sight of the two unusual figures, instinctively reaching for the ladder again.
“Haw-haww! Dis one no like da freak show, uh,” says Django, who returns to his seat at the table, finding humour in the moment.
“Do not be afraid, elf,” Trixie says calmly, moving past Phoenix towards the pair in the corner. “You are safe here.”
Phoenix gradually looks back up, her eyes drawn to the strange boy and the creature beside him.
In the shadows she sees two dim red eyes looking out from the larger being’s face.
“Phoenix, this is Seven,” Trixie says, across the cave. Her hand rests gently on the creature’s huge arm, motioning it to step forward. “He is an orc.”
As it slowly moves away from the wall and into the dim light of the room, Phoenix momentarily makes eye contact with the being, which responds by immediately looking away.
“Come, Phoenix, it’s okay,” Trixie repeats.
Phoenix reluctantly steps towards the goblin and the odd pair beside her. She is desperately trying to adjust to the bizarre mix of people, of different sizes and races, around her.
She tip-toes quickly past the troll and towards Trixie, Falkor and Seven.
Phoenix finds herself drawn to the latter. She has never seen anything like it before. It has the basic structure of a man or an elf, except its frame is twice the size. Its face looks savage, almost like a pig’s, but with a normal nose, and two large boar-like teeth jut out at either side of its mouth. Brown, scruffy hair sweeps across its forehead.
The beast is dressed in dusted grey-black leather. As Phoenix studies it, Seven looks ashamed. He pulls a bandit mask up from around his neck to cover the lower half of his face, leaving a pair of red eyes and sickly green skin on show, similar to a goblin’s.
Could it be one of those monsters from the rumours? Surely not, she thinks to herself: what’s it doing here?
Phoenix feels scared in this creature’s presence. The pair do not speak a word to one another.
“Up there is Thirteen,” Trixie says, pointing to an upper bunk. Phoenix sees a pair of eyes looking down at her from the darkness, with two elven ears protruding from the face of the shadowed figure.
“And this is Falkor,” Trixie states, reaching out to touch the sitting boy’s hand, guiding it into hers while looking at him with the love of a parent. The boy is dressed in a smart brown robe and his head is cleanly shaven. His elven ears appear to have been violently cut off, leaving behind a pair of stumps, and there are two fleshy sockets where his eyes should be. The poor boy can’t be much older than 10 years old, Phoenix thinks to herself.
“Falkor is incredibly talented,” Trixie says, looking back at Phoenix. “He’s our light here. He can’t see, or talk, like us. But he sees the world in different ways. He is a huge help to us, and he will help you now.”
A warm smile spreads across Falkor’s face. He makes a humming noise with his open mouth in an attempt to greet Phoenix, which comes out as a garble. Phoenix raises a hand and starts to wave, before shoving it back down like someone has pulled it, realising her mistake and blushing with embarrassment. Trixie grins in amusement at her mistake.
The goblin pats the floor opposite Falkor and makes eye contact with Phoenix, prompting her to sit. She does so, cross-legged, facing him, nervous. He must be some kind of healer, or mage, Phoenix understands.
She doesn’t know where to look. Falkor moves his mouth uncomfortably and as it opens for a second, Phoenix notices he has no tongue. He holds out his hands.
She wonders what happened to him but dares not ask aloud. He looks like a small monster or ghoul; Phoenix feels sorry for him and scared of him in equal measure.
Phoenix looks to Trixie, who nods back gently, and says: “Do not be alarmed.”
Phoenix raises her hands to touch the child’s. As she does so, an intense wave of energy floods through her, taking her breath away and forcing her eyes shut. Phoenix moves to release her hands, but Falkor is gripping tight, and all eyes in the room are on the two young elves. She submits, and tries to relax.
Falkor’s head spasms as he seems to concentrate, and Phoenix tilts her head down, frowning, breaking into a sweat.
“What’s happening?” she asks, scared, with her eyes still closed, as Falkor begins to make a series of gargling noises.
Phoenix feels the pain in her jaw and nose ease, as does the aching in her bones. The cuts on her body seem to dissipate. Falkor snorts and struggles to maintain his balance, saliva dripping from his chin. Scorching pain tears through Phoenix’s mind.
“Ow, my head, my head!” she cries out, opening her eyes wide.
“Stop!” Trixie quickly interjects.
Falkor eases his grip and Trixie parts the young elves’ hands. Phoenix moves back from Falkor and takes a moment to catch her breath. He detects Trixie’s presence and turns towards her. He taps the top of his head a few times with his left hand and shakes his head.
Trixie’s face contorts into mild unease. “That’s okay,” she whispers to Falkor, before hugging the disfigured elf and giving him a sip of something from a nearby hip flask.
Phoenix takes a sharp intake of air. She feels strong and healthy. Her connection to the Sunwell seems momentarily heightened and she can feel its magic seeping into her. It feels good. She opens her mouth and starts to say something, but the moment is interrupted by a distant noise, growing in volume.
A dwarf suddenly comes sliding down the ladder, landing like a lumpy piece of mud plopping onto tarmac.
“Urgh,” he pants, out of breath.
Phoenix, startled, turns to look at the commotion, blinking. Trixie stands and turns to face the dwarf, expectantly.
“Wheee!” says another person in a deep but almost melodic, wavy voice, out of sight. A pair of legs whizz down the ladder, hammering onto the first dwarf’s shoulders. It’s a ridiculous sight: two broad-bellied little beings, one standing on top of the other, holding onto the same ladder and facing towards everyone in between the ladder rungs, too out of breath to speak. They are wider and slightly taller than Trixie but still short, especially when compared to the troll or the beast, measuring around four foot in height to Trixie’s three. Phoenix thinks they look like some sort of oversized stacking cups with bellies attached to them.
“Oh ye silly sod, I told you to stop doing that!” the lower dwarf angrily shouts up at his compatriot, straining his voice. The veins in his neck bulge as he struggles with the added weight above him. “Get off!” he wheezes.
The dwarf on top chortles and jumps down to his right. He is also panting but not as breathless as the other dwarf, who holds a frown on his weathered, slightly wrinkled face. The two look almost identical, with thick brown-grey beards and bald heads. Phoenix assumes they are twins.
“Henry! Harris! What news do ya bring?” Trixie asks.
“No good booze, move quickly we must, and elves smell of dust,” the second, jovial dwarf says like words from a song.
“Shut up ye tool,” the first dwarf, blurts out quickly with a raised voice, clipping the other round the ear. “What he meant to say is we found what we were looking for, my lady.” He bends over to catch his breath.
“Have we?” Trixie says with mild delight. “Have we indeed… Excellent work boys.”
She smiles at Django as she passes him, the troll returning a knowing look as she moves towards the ladder. Trixie pats both dwarves on the back before handing them a bottle of drink from a nearby shelf.
The second dwarf attempts to take it but his hand is swatted away by the other, who takes a large gulp from the bottle, swallowing and breathing out loudly afterwards.
Trixie turns to Phoenix.
“This is Henry,” she says, opening her arm towards the grumpier, out of breath dwarf. “And this is his brother, Harris. They look the same, but by golly, don’t get their names wrong will you.”
Harris looks at Phoenix. He raises his hand and twiddles his fingers frivolously at her with a silly wave.
“Hello,” Phoenix says, sheepishly.
“Hi lass,” Henry responds, between breaths.
“Feel free ta change, Phoenix,” Trixie says, her eyes looking towards the nearby door. “Quickly if ya can. I want to show ya something else, above ground.”
The elf nods, finding it awkward to even walk through the door next to her, while all eyes are on her. But she does as she’s asked and moves into the room, bolting the door behind her. There’s a lantern on the wall in here, lighting up her surroundings. There are some clothes hung up to dry, along with an empty bath and some towels.
She changes quickly, and to her delight finds the boots fit her snugly, though the new leather tunic - with its sleeves and hood - is a little baggy. She admires the matching belt and boots, both black with gold-coloured buckles, and feels warm and almost dashing in her new outfit with brown tights. She puts her brown satchel around her shoulder, which matches her new clothes better than her simple cloth garb she wore previously.
Phoenix takes a deep breath, and kicks her old torn outfit into the corner. She returns to the main room.
Trixie smiles at Phoenix and looks at Django, who is sitting at the table.
“Blue, Phoenix, with me,” Trixie says, before heading up the ladder.
Phoenix glances at the troll, who is sniffing some white powder from the table into his right nostril. She looks away, feeling a little scared. He takes a deep breath and stands, before heading up the ladder. Phoenix reluctantly follows.