Warcraft Fan Fiction ❯ Turning Red ❯ Black ( Chapter 10 )
After ascending the ladder, the group congregate on the beach. The waves gently lap onto the shore and the night sky overhead creates a calm, serene view.
Trixie stays behind in the shack a little while longer, flicking a gold coin to the elven tramp sitting beside the secret switch in the corner. He nods and smiles at the goblin in appreciation, his long, greasy black hair flowing to his shoulders. He looks dishevelled, with an unkempt beard.
Trixie steps out of the hut and onto the beach. Phoenix asks her: “Is he one of the crew? Is he really homeless?”
Trixie pauses, thinking about her answer. She replies: “Yes and no. Emile is someone I met during my travels in Silvermoon years ago, someone I can trust to hide this place until our captain returns. We value those with nothing, those who truly understand value. And they are my eyes and ears here. People like that deserve a second chance.”
She turns to Phoenix and asks: “Why do you think I helped you?”
Phoenix gazes with warmth to the horizon, at the sea flowing into the distance. She eventually turns back to Trixie and manages to whisper: “Thank you.”
Trixie removes the golden inverted triangle brooch from her boiled leather breastplate and passes it to Phoenix, who studies it.
“The triangle from the hideout,” Phoenix says.
“We trade and we take to get by,” Trixie says. “But this, helping those in need, is a large part of what’s important to me. My kind knows all too well about being at the bottom, and rising up.”
Trixie smiles as she turns the brooch around, so that it looks like a normal upright triangle to Phoenix in the palm of her hand.
“The triangle represents the way the world is. The poor, the homeless, the slaves are here, and there are many of them,” Trixie says, running her green forefinger along the bottom of the triangle.
She slowly traces her finger to the top of the triangle.
“As we go up, we get the aristocracy, the kings of the world, those who set the rules and take all the spoils,” Trixie adds.
Trixie turns the triangle upside down.
“Why can’t it be like this instead?” she says.
Phoenix stares at the inverted triangle in her hand, allowing her mind to absorb Trixie’s message.
Trixie smiles again, taking the brooch out of Phoenix’s hand and attaching it to her boiled leather clothing again.
“The captain took me in when I had nowhere left to turn,” Trixie continues, as she finishes fixing the brooch to her top. “He allowed me to do the same for others.”
The goblin turns back to Phoenix, her face taking a more serious look.
“Others like you. Others that, in time, can prove to be an asset to the crew,” Trixie says. “We’re glad to have you on board, redhead.”
Phoenix looks at the goblin for a moment, then down at the floor.
“Keep close by Thirteen. And keep your hood up tonight,” Trixie adds, stepping forward, lifting Phoenix’s chin back up to face her. “ You’re a wanted woman. You will have to get used to leaving the hideout only at night, I’m afraid - at least for a while. It’s for your safety.”
Phoenix nods and Trixie turns towards the rest of her crew, who are standing around waiting for her instructions. Trixie looks at Seven and back at Phoenix. She strokes her chin in thought.
“Okay, in your groups,” Trixie says. “Spread out a little.”
Phoenix, looking eager to please Trixie, taps her on the shoulder.
“There is one other thing you should know,” Phoenix says.
“What’s that?” Trixie asks.
“I looked, and this time I saw,” Phoenix smiles. “The button, under the shelf.”
Trixie smiles and taps her nose.
“Like I said, kid,” Trixie says. “Potential.”
Phoenix twitches nervously. She says to Trixie: “It’s later than it was yesterday. Alexandra said to come alone and at the same time.”
Trixie grimaces and replies: “Sod the Steelfeathers. They can wait. They’re a bunch of amateurs anyway.”
Trixie joins up with Django, and leaves Phoenix alone for a few moments, who remains unconvinced by Trixie’s stance, causing the pit of her stomach to cascade with worry. She looks to her new compatriots and feels safe, but still uneasy. The group begins walking out of the town towards Fairbreeze Village and Thirteen soon saunters up behind Phoenix.
She looks over her shoulder at him and he stares back, a cold, expressionless face of disdain, of indifference. He looks not much older than her. For an elf, who can live to thousands of years, he is still very young.
Phoenix stops and moves aside for him to walk alongside her, but he keeps his distance, a couple of feet away, behind her.
“Trixie said for me to look out for you,” he drones. “Doesn’t mean we need to talk.”
Phoenix sighs and continues walking. She feels his contrariness is forced, and it disturbs her more than it frustrates her.
“And don’t think that because we’re both elves, we’ll be friends,” Thirteen says harshly, from behind her, their boots crunching on gravel as the sand of the beach gives way to a dusty road.
Phoenix says nothing, walking in silence, ignoring the awkwardness.
“I just want to get out of this shithole,” he continues. “Once I have enough coin, I’m gone. So no real point getting to know me.”
Phoenix wants to challenge his view, but decides against it. They walk the rest of the way in silence.
Unknown to them, Trixie keeps a close eye on Phoenix and Thirteen and the rest of the group, watching closely at the psychology at play and the potential for natural camaraderie and chemistry.
After 20 minutes, Trixie blurts out: “Changed my mind. Phoenix, as you’re wanted and are only to leave the hideout at night, you share something with Seven. Your kind would have a heart attack if they saw Seven for what he is in the day. Masked at night he passes off as an unusually sized human. So, that makes you equal. Consider yourself partners. Thirteen, you stay as the lone grumpy wolf.”
“But - ” Seven growls.
“I’ve decided,” Trixie cuts him off, holding up her hand towards him and turning her face the other way as she walks.
A feeling of dread waves over Phoenix as she looks at the monster ahead a few metres away from her. She makes a pathetic smile at him. He grunts and looks away.
After an hour or so of walking, Phoenix spots the small bridge where she was attacked up ahead.
“There it is,” she says, pointing towards it. It looks empty, but fear nestles in Phoenix’s stomach at the thought of what happened there yesterday.
At about 20 metres away from the bridge, Trixie holds her hand up for the group to halt.
She moves forward by herself towards the edge of the small curved bridge over the stream. Silence almost blankets the area, save for the sound of gently trickling water and the hoot of a solitary owl. Darkness has fallen; there are no street lamps here.
Phoenix looks around and sees no one. She panics at the thought of being too late, the bandits in black finding her when she leasts expects it and beating her up again.
Trixie squints and takes two steps onto the white bridge, her crew looking on behind her. She leans over the edge of the bridge, looking down. A shadow flickers in the reflection of the water. She stamps her boot twice on the wood, loudly.
There’s some movement below.
“Steelfeathers, it’s me, Trixie,” the goblin booms, stepping back towards the edge of the bridge. “Show yourself, I have business.”
For a few seconds, there is no movement.
Then, Alexandra slowly walks up the bank of the stream towards the path, her long white hair flowing behind her. She is flanked by two others dressed in black with bandit masks covering their faces.
Phoenix, who pulls her hood down further over her face, swallows and feels nausea sweeping over her.
“What do you want?” Alexandra says cooly and bluntly.
Trixie says: “I’m here to pay off the girl’s debt.”
She throws a pouch of gold towards Alexandra, who catches it and pauses, looking around the group of misfits dressed in brown and grey.
Though Alexandra can’t see Phoenix’s face for the hood covering it, Phoenix feels like she can. This instinct keeps her frozen in fear.
“I told you to come alone,” Alexandra spits towards Phoenix. “Coward. And you’re late. The fee has doubled.”
Trixie speaks calmly: “The fee is 10 gold and you’re lucky to get that, making foolish demands from innocent passers by.”
Alexandra takes a step towards Trixie. Django mirrors this, keeping a close eye on the group in black.
“You should watch your tongue, little creature,” Alexandra barks. “Wouldn’t want it being cut out like wonder boy over there, would we?” she states venomously, eyeing Falkor.
“You should watch where you’re working,” Trixie retorts, ignoring the threat. “You are encroaching on our turf. This is not Silvermoon.”
Alexandra hums a soft laugh, keeping her mouth closed. “Our turf is wherever we want it to be,” she adds, walking beside Trixie and closer towards the rest of the group while eyeing them, showing no fear.
“We decide what we’re owed and when we’re paid. Besides, you came onto our turf in your little ship,” Alexandra adds, looking at her nails, the fingerless gloves black as night like the rest of her outfit.
Trixie starts: “Your father struck a deal with - ”
“My father will not be pleased with you meddling in our affairs,” Alexandra interrupts. “He gave you this area as a gift. You were to leave us to our business, the bloodthistle trade, and in exchange we give you this area. Taking our targets or changing our demands was not part of the deal.”
The two bandits by the bridge watch Alexandra carefully, their eyes following her as she paces slowly.
“You still have your turf,” Trixie reminds the pale white-haired elf. “And I’ve paid you what you demanded of this girl. There is also another matter…”
Phoenix shifts nervously, heat rising in her chest and the itch of sweat irritating her armpits.
“The working girl you have from Silvermoon Inn,” Trixie states, carefully, as if it’s nothing of importance. “I have a client interested in someone of her experience.”
“How do you know about that?” Alexandra asks.
Trixie shrugs. “Word gets around.”
“She’s not for sale, not to you,” Alexandra states bluntly, with smarminess. “An absurd proposition and far too risky for us. Plus, she’s my practice tool at the moment when she’s not in use. She’s been… helping me perfect my punches and throwing knife technique lately. It’s more fun when the target’s alive.”
“You bitch!” Phoenix screams, taking two steps forward, the rage inside her bubbling fast like a quiet river turning to rapids.
“No,” Trixie yells, holding up a hand to prevent Phoenix revealing more. But it’s too late.
Alexandra walks slowly towards the root of the noise, the insult thrown at her by the skinny girl she beat up an evening earlier. Her accomplices follow her a few metres behind. She tugs at the back of the hood suddenly, revealing Phoenix’s face and auburn hair in the dark of the night.
She gently grabs Phoenix’s cheeks with her thumb and forefinger, scanning her face. Phoenix jolts her head away in defiance. Seven and Trixie instinctively move towards Alexandra, defending Phoenix. Thirteen stands, insignificantly, nearby.
“Well, well, look at that,” Alexandra says with smooth sarcasm. “Little liar girl has lost her mother. And we have her.”
She smiles blankly at Phoenix, baring her teeth.
Phoenix breathes heavily, overcome with emotion.
“Give her back,” she says, her voice unthreatening, almost like the squeak of a mouse.
Alexandra bursts into laughter and turns away, the pair of bodyguards joining her with a few muffled laughs beneath their masks.
“Oh thank you for this entertainment!” Alexandra beams at Trixie. She turns to Phoenix. “Oh yes mam! Or what? What are you gonna do? Nose bleed on my gloves again?”
“That’s enough!” Trixie says, stepping in between them both. “This girl is under my care and you’re not gonna harm her.”
Alexandra’s face takes a more maniacal look, her eyes wide with crazed determination. Phoenix, who wears an angry frown, is shaking a little with adrenaline.
Seven lifts Falkor from his shoulders.
“Passing you to Henry, little one” he growls, low, and Henry takes the young disfigured elf onto his shoulders. Seven senses the situation escalating and takes a step towards Alexandra, who looks at him and back at Trixie. Thirteen takes two throwing knives from an inner pocket, without anyone seeing.
“You think you can show up in numbers and intimidate us?” Alexandra says to Trixie, circling her. “That girl belongs to us. We own her mother, we own her.”
Alexandra moves her head forward towards Trixie all of a sudden, pretending to attack her, but moves it back again. Trixie flinches.
Django draws his daggers and moves forwards.
Alexandra laughs at him. “Oh, what are you gonna do? Cast some voodoo curse on me?”
“Enough, I said,” Trixie says. “One more threat from you and the deal is off.”
Alexandra backs away from Django, moving towards Phoenix, who shifts but stares straight back at the other elf in anger. She gets up in her personal space and moves her head close to Phoenix’s, the smell of smoke and bloodthistle on her lips.
Phoenix stares dead ahead, not into Alexandra’s eyes, but through her, as if she’s not even there. Her heartbeat is thudding in her chest; the stream, the trees and the night sky starting to blur - but Phoenix doesn’t care anymore. She allows the rage to grow, leaving it ready to burst through the surface.
Alexandra tilts her head and moves her mouth close to Phoenix’s left ear, lingering for a moment.
She whispers: “I hear your mummy is a bad fuck.”
Phoenix turns and instinctively spits in Alexandra’s face, the red mist glazing over her eyes. Alexandra swings her fist towards Phoenix’s nose, but she avoids it at the last moment like a boxer’s dodge.
Seven and Django leap to split the two up but Phoenix has already gone for the jugular - literally. She pounces towards Alexandra and grapples her, sinking her teeth into her collarbone like a feral dog as the pair fall to the floor.
Alexandra’s lower neck is clearly wounded but she makes no noise or scream. She violently pushes Phoenix’s head to one side and headbutts Phoenix, who growls with rage and pushes her head further into Alexandra’s face, clawing at her viciously and attempting to bite her again. Alexandra leans her head back to avoid the attacks, but Phoenix manages to get hold of it between her hands and rams her head into the floor.
Django dives again between the two as Seven uses all his strength to interlock his arms under Phoenix’s armpits, prizing her out and lifting her away from Alexandra as she kicks her legs in the air. The two other Steelfeathers jump in to join the fray but Alexandra knows they’re outnumbered. She mumbles: “Stop, stop.”
Alexandra gets to her feet and snarls at Django as she rises. The tattoo of the feather on her neck is bleeding from where Phoenix has drawn blood.
“You will pay for this, you little shit,” Alexandra says to Trixie, pushing Django and her accomplices away from her. She turns and walks off in a huff, holding her neck, her compatriots following close behind. “That girl belongs to us - we will take what is ours,” she calls back.
Phoenix is still struggling in Seven’s arms, growling and wriggling with such force to break free, like a wild animal caught in a trap. Seven’s muscular arms tighten around Phoenix who continues to struggle.
“Phoenix!” Trixie shouts.
Phoenix, on the brink of losing consciousness, can barely hear her. She is grunting and crying out wildly, raging with wildfire inside her. Phoenix wriggles violently and Seven loses his footing slightly. A glob of stringy saliva falls from Phoenix’s mouth as she continues to struggle and strain. Django and the rest of the group move to support Phoenix, who goes still before suffering a seizure.
Phoenix wakes to see a large boar-like tooth inches away from her face. She feels immense tiredness, blinks and realises she’s in Seven’s arms, the rest of the group walking beside them.
The thought of being carried by some kind of savage monster scares Phoenix, but she accepts the moment and quickly finds herself feeling safe and relaxed. She hasn’t been carried since she was a little girl, and even then it wasn’t often her mother would pick her up and hold her close.
Seven takes large strides and his barrel of a stomach breathes deeply, lifting Phoenix’s head up and down, the gentle rocking making her feel further at ease. Phoenix looks at the side of the monster’s face and into his red eye nearest to her, which is looking straight ahead. She sees no savagery in his soul, just determination and slight weariness. She guesses he is probably not much older than her, perhaps late teens or early twenties, but the orc has some weathered lines on his forehead and she wonders if he’s in fact much older.
Seven and the rest of the group haven’t noticed she’s awoken, and she takes the opportunity to close her eyes and pretend she’s still passed out. At this moment, she doesn’t want conversation or explanation, she just wants to feel safe.
Phoenix wonders what happened after she lost control. Alexandra’s twisted face enters her mind. There was blood, that much she knows.
Trixie explains Phoenix’s true situation to the group, her murder of Chrim and the manner of her escape from Silvermoon.
An awkward silence falls across the crew as they walk for a few more minutes, making Phoenix feel awful. ‘They must think I’m a freak, a psychopath,’ Phoenix imagines.
Eventually, Django breaks the silence, addressing Trixie. “I dunno mon,” he says. “Da girl is dangerous, she needs to learn to control her emotions.”
Phoenix keeps her eyes closed, listening in to the group’s conversation about her.
Trixie replies, softly: “Blue, did you not see the way she fought? It was wild, raw. She has ferocity inside her, like him. And her reactions in our slapsies game were some of the fastest I’ve seen. You cannot train that.”
“No, Trix, but we can train her with da blade,” Django says. “What happens if she loses her mind like that again with someone who has a weapon drawn? She be a dead elf.”
“Yes, I will start her training tomorrow,” Trixie states. “But we should not stifle her anger, it’s a strength that should be encouraged.”
Django, looking serious, says: “No. Without self-control she is a liability, to the group, to our mission. Let da captain decide what to do with that side of her once we hear back from him.”
“If we hear back,” Django adds.
“Don’t start this again, blue,” Trixie commands. “You know what he’s like, he will contact us when he’s ready. Until then, we sell these crystals and train the girl up - as I see fit - so she’s good enough to impress him when the time comes.”
Phoenix’s mind whirs. What is the captain like? What will he expect of her?
“Well, I be helping,” Django adds. “Teach her about da world, about its mysteries and da little things that sparring won’t.”
“Fine,” Trixie says. “Just don’t make this a competition. And Thirteen, I saw you earlier, try not to be a shit to her.”
Harris sings: “He’s a shit, he’s a shit, he’s a shit and can’t help it!”
Django laughs a deep troll laugh and Falkor lets out an unusual noise. Phoenix can’t help but laugh quietly in her throat, her eyes and mouth still closed, but smiling.
“Fuck you, you fat retard,” Thirteen says aggressively.
“When are you gonna learn some manners, boy?” Henry interjects. “You might be good at what you do but by Ironforge, I swear you are rude and impossible. Trixie, why did you think it was a good idea taking this sod on? These little elves are harder to manage than a tavern full of drunk dwarves, full of problems.”
Henry speaks quietly to Falkor above him: “Except you of course, laddie.”
Falkor hums in response; Thirteen walks in silence, sulking.
“Anyway, I’m starving,” Henry adds. “Let’s get home.”
Trixie says: “We got the fish you boys caught this morning which we can cook tonight, there’s plenty to go around.”
Henry rubs his hands at the thought of a hot meal and some booze.
Phoenix finds herself feeling drowsy again. She drops the facade and lets sleep take her.