Warcraft Fan Fiction ❯ Turning Red ❯ Of myths and monsters ( Chapter 11 )
Seven eases Phoenix gently onto the tramp’s sleeping bag. The elf is still in a deep sleep. The night is not that cold, but he places a blanket over her anyway.
He begins to make a campfire outside the hut, turning to look at Phoenix every now and then. He wonders about her story and whether they will make a good team, and feels annoyed about what she must think of him.
After making the fire, Emile the tramp returns up the ladder with some fish, and passes it to Seven, his large hands struggling to handle the smooth creature.
Seven hangs the fish by the fire to cook and returns to sit beside Phoenix. The orc takes off his face mask, showing off his full beast-like features, wide cheekbones, large teeth and thick, messy brown hair with a short beard of stubble.
He stares into the fire for a few minutes and thinks back to how he got here, how he left his clan and what will become of him in this strange new world.
Seven looks down at Phoenix, and finds himself admiring her courage, her inner fire for standing up to someone while unarmed, an elf ten times deadlier than her. She may be troubled, but she has spirit, he thinks to himself, recalling her actions over the past day, her bravery and acceptance into the group in such a short space of time. Phoenix is a better person than him, he concludes, and feels hatred for himself and frustration over his past life rising mildly.
Phoenix stirs and opens her eyes; Seven suddenly turns his face away from her and back towards the fire, afraid of what she might think had she seen him looking at her.
Phoenix yawns and looks up at the monster. She holds her hands out to soak in the warmth of the campfire. She blinks and lays in silence for a few moments. She doesn’t feel scared of him.
“Thank you,” Phoenix eventually says.
“What for?” he asks.
“For carrying me home, for looking after me,” she says, laying there for a while as she stretches again and regains her composure. “You’re nothing like the stories say you are, that’s for sure.”
“What?” Seven booms, turning towards Phoenix, wondering how she’s heard of his previous life.
“Your kind,” she explains. “I used to work at an inn. There was all this talk of beings like you tearing down human settlements in the villages around Stormwind. I see now that can’t be true.”
He throws a nearby stone into the fire, and looks shamefully towards the flames.
“It is true,” Seven says.
Phoenix swallows and sits up. He can sense her unease.
Seven doesn’t want to go down this road again, explaining the actions of his kind. But he is a simple orc, and if he’s to be working with this elf, decides she should know about his past and what makes him tick. He frowns.
“Why?” Phoenix eventually asks.
“Because we were fools,” Seven says, slowly and painfully, continuing to stare at the flames as he thinks about all the other fires and burnt down villages he’s witnessed.
“I am not of your world, elf,” Seven continues, his deep gravelly voice cutting through the air, joining the crackling of the nearby fire. “I come from another. A place my fellow orcs and I once called home.”
Seven curls one of his hands into a fist as he recounts his story.
“My kind are a proud people, we live for strength and honour,” he explains. “We are stubborn. For years, our clans had kept themselves largely to themselves, focusing on our own traditions and ways of life.
“Then came the demons, and everything changed,” his gruff voice rumbling beside Phoenix. “We were blinded with the promise of great power - and didn’t think of the repercussions. They tricked us into believing the Draenei - a wise old race whom we’d lived with in relative peace - were plotting against us.
“We struck the Draenei first, catching them off guard. We slaughtered them and took the remaining survivors as prisoners.”
Seven stares into the flames of the fires, drifting back into the painful memories from his mind.
“Most of our clans united to take a new power together. We were tricked into drinking the blood of demons, our supposed reward. It turned our natural dark skin this disgusting colour!”
Seven raises his voice slightly and points at his sickly green cheeks.
“It burned our eyes!” he adds, feeling ashamed. “How pathetic, how ironic that our clans unite for the first time only to be enslaved moments after!”
The orc is angry, breathing heavily and frowning with frustration. He smashes his fist into the ground. Phoenix flinches a little and sits in silence.
“What do you mean?” she asks.
“The blood… it might have given us strength. Made us bigger. More powerful. But it blinded us. Gave us a bloodlust, much like you had when you attacked that other elf earlier. But a constant urge. This insatiable hunger to kill, to destroy, ended up destroying part of ourselves. Our lust for power changed us. We attacked blindly, taking land but ruining it along the way. The power we had been granted by the demons - this fel as it’s known - had corrupted us, corrupted the land. In the end there was nothing left.”
Seven gets up and walks towards the fire; Phoenix looks at him in thought, the flickers from the flames making her face aglow with heat. She wonders how his race ended up here in Azeroth.
He takes the two large cooked fish from the skewers and hands one to Phoenix. Starving, she bites into hers. Phoenix fans her hand at the edge of her mouth, the piping hot fish burning her tongue and gums.
Seven removes his gloves and, using his teeth, rips savagely into the fish, the anger from his story still curdling within him.
After a few moments of eating in silence, Phoenix asks: “So how did you end up here, split up from your... clans?”
“After we ruined our home world, we had to find somewhere new to live. We created an enormous portal, using the demons’ magic and the souls of the Draenei we had enslaved to power it. This disgusting magic - if that’s what you’d call it - created a link to your world. We entered and began taking territory.”
Phoenix sits still, in thought. Seven isn’t sure if she’s feeling terrified, or just trying to understand what he’s saying. Perhaps she is comparing fel magic to arcane and the magic of her own world, of the Sunwell. Maybe she is wondering about orcs attacking Silvermoon. Perhaps she is thinking nothing at all.
She asks: “Whereabouts did you arrive through the portal, on the other side?”
“Some kind of swampland,” Seven replies. “We began skirmishing with small pockets of humans and heading north-west towards more open land, where we came across more of their settlements. That’s when I’d had enough.”
Seven chews his food vigorously, anger still whirling within him. He spits a fish bone onto the floor.
“Marching into war against foes who are strong, who fight back, like the ogres and Draenei of my world, that is one thing. But being ordered to slaughter innocent life, again and again? Many of these humans were defenceless. No… where is the honour in that?”
Seven continues: “My kind says ‘victory or death’. But for me there is no victory in the death of innocents. I was one of the lucky ones, I had never felt the same kind of bloodlust as most of my brothers, my fellow clan, had. I was also mainly used as a scout, a spy to infiltrate enemy lines or weigh up locations before attacking them. Because of these two things, I felt I had more control over my actions.”
Phoenix is sitting beside Seven, listening intently. Her curious expression is infused with warmth and humility.
“One day, when I scouted ahead into a human farmland,” Seven recounts, “I saw children playing with each other, families working in the fields, humans smiling at one another, working together. The same bonds my kind had enjoyed many years ago. But they had no weapons, they were unprepared for war. I’d killed before - and look where that got us. I had a realisation. Instead of returning back to my clan, I ran into the field, into the farm. I told the humans to run, that an attack was imminent.”
Seven lowers his food for a moment and looks solemn, his voice quietening.
“Their faces, as I told them. The sheer horror on them. Like I was a monster. They ran, not from my words, but from me. From, this…”
Seven looks down at his hands and turns them over.
Phoenix moves her hand and places it gently onto Seven’s, her fingers engulfed by the sheer size of his palms. He flinches, moving his hand away from hers and looking away, feeling suddenly shy and shameful.
“You are not a monster,” Phoenix speaks, quietly. “You did the right thing trying to warn the humans. Your kind were tricked into this. That is not your fault.”
He turns towards her slowly.
“You do not understand. I helped them kill,” he says. “I have spilt much innocent blood, not just on your planet but on mine. I do not deserve to live. I am a coward.”
Phoenix looks at his eyes. She asks: “How are you a coward?”
“Attacking the outnumbered Draenei… defecting, refusing orders, refusing war is sacrilege,” Seven says. “After the humans fled, I… didn’t know what to do. I wandered their farm lands, inspected their things, I walked into a deserted home. The fire was still warm, there were photos of their loved ones on the walls and food left half-prepared. They did not deserve what we did to them. When two other scouts eventually came to see if I was okay, they thought I was mad. I told them what we were doing was wrong and forced them to look at our surroundings, the homes we were burning to ashes. They tried to take me back to our leader for punishment, but I refused. I knocked one out and left the other mortally wounded in self defense.”
“In my panic I fled,” he continues. “My kind were advancing to the north-west at that point, so I tried to get away as far as I could to the south. I decided I would learn about this new world on my own, to find a new way. But what I did to my kind, my clan, that is why I do not deserve to live. I should have turned back, accepted my death. But I wanted to do something, not die a meaningless death.”
Seven turns to Phoenix, looking sombre.
“How did you end up here with Trixie?” Phoenix asks.
Seven takes another deep sigh. “As I journeyed south, I came to a jungle. I climbed high into a mountain there, to get a scope of my surroundings, and waited until nightfall. I decided to follow the coast further south to look for a way off the island, to get away from my clan, ashamed and without honour. I came across an arena of some kind, where all kinds of different races would fight one another for money. They had an open fistfighting tournament and I decided to throw my hat into the ring, to get to know the inhabitants better,” Seven chuckles. “There were all manner of creatures alien to me there, but it was the trolls that fascinated me most. Beings with skin a similar shade to mine, less strong but with a calm intelligence. And their shamanic powers reminded me of my kind before the demons warped us with their foul magic. I decided that should I have fallen in the arena, at least in that moment I would’ve fought with some kind of honour, with purpose.”
He pauses, the fire flickering in his eyes.
“I fought a few matches and raised a few eyebrows. It was there that I met Trixie and your… kind, for the first time,” Seven stutters. “They promised me a space on their ship and an escape route, in exchange for my services. I suppose I was a novelty to them, at first anyway. I took their offer and here I am now, sitting beside a strange young creature with pointy ears, asking endless questions.”
Seven glances at Phoenix and smiles as he eats more of the fish, his mood lifting as his hunger dissipates.
“I’m sorry,” she says, sheepishly. “But you have to understand from my perspective, I have never seen anything like you before.”
Seven replies: “Imagine how I feel being here! And the goblins, what bizarre little creatures. How can things so small be so shrewd, so impressive at getting by without strength and size? Where I’m from, combat is everything... And she has helped me with self-control. No, I owe Trixie my life; I am happy to be here - for now.”
Phoenix considers this.
“I do have one more question…” Phoenix asks, between mouthfuls of fish.
“You elves are just on a relentless pursuit of knowledge and nosiness, aren’t you?” Seven smiles. “I’m sure one more won’t hurt.”
Phoenix states: “I’ve heard him mentioned a few times, but no one really goes into detail. This captain: what’s he like?”
Seven freezes and stops chewing his food. He looks ahead, considers what to say and continues eating again, slowly, before swallowing his mouthful of fish, and sitting in silence for a few seconds.
“He is one of the main reasons why I am here,” Seven replies. “Why we’re all here. He gave people like me, like Django, outcasts… a new chance. A new home. He is an elf of honour, of talent with the blade, a fair and funny guy. A leader. Maybe you will meet him one day. We have been here a few weeks now and are still awaiting his word.”
“Where is he and the rest of his crew right now?” Phoenix asks, curious.
Seven turns to Phoenix again and shakes his head in mock disgust, avoiding the question. “You are completely relentless aren’t you… you said one last question. Plus, I am getting tired, and you will no doubt need your rest too for your training tomorrow.”
Phoenix nods, seeming a little disappointed.
“But before I turn in,” Seven asks, loudly licking his green fingers after finishing up his meal. “I have a question for you.”
Phoenix seems to panic a little. She curls her mouth up and bites her cheek.
“What is it?” she prompts him.
“Trixie gave us all the full rundown on you and your situation while I was carrying you, while you were passed out,” he says. “But what I’d like to know is: when you reunite with your mother, what will you do, where will you go?”
Seven catches Phoenix off guard. She looks bewildered.
“Er,” she starts, with uncertainty. She struggles to find any words.
Seven notices the confusion and trouble in Phoenix’s eyes as she stares into the fire, which is starting to die down.
“Do not trouble yourself with things that haven’t happened yet,” Seven says. “When we find her, I’m sure things will work themselves out.”
Phoenix turns and smiles at him.
“Thank you,” she says.
“Those words again,” he replies. “Why? I have done nothing.”
“I have met monsters in my life, and you are not one of them,” Phoenix replies, standing and pressing the switch in the corner with her boot, the grate opening.
She moves towards the ladder, and strokes her hand across Seven’s left shoulder as she brushes past him. Phoenix takes a few steps down the ladder, her head poking above the grate, her eyes focused on Seven’s.
“Because you didn’t say if we find my mother, you said when,” she smiles, and continues down the ladder, not waiting for a response. He nods, stony-eyed and serious, but as she leaves from his view, he smiles. Seven stamps on the dying embers and puts out the small, flickering flames that remain.
Most of the group are laying in their beds and hammocks asleep when Phoenix reaches the bottom of the hideout, as she realises she’s been talking to Seven for quite some time, though there is a lone candle still lit, flickering at the table. Django is sitting beside it, playing a card game by himself. Some traces of white powder are on the table near him. Phoenix smiles at him nervously as she moves to her bed, but he doesn’t return the smile. He looks at her in thought, and simply nods his head upwards, partly in acknowledgement and partly ushering her to sleep.
As Phoenix lies in bed and closes her eyes, she hears the loud steps of Seven coming down the ladder. For the first time in her life, she feels like she is making friends. Solari, the old bouncer back at the inn, got on well with her, but he felt more like a friendly colleague than someone she would want to be around. She feels warm and in good spirits.
Just as Phoenix is drifting off to sleep, Chrim’s smashed-in face appears in her mind. She opens her eyes wide, and turns to the wall, trying to shake the image away. She forces her eyes shut and tries to think positively, of the safety of this group and a potential new life: perhaps not the life that she dreamed of but one of relative freedom nonetheless.
She shifts again, this time to her right, to face the rest of the room. Through her half-closed eyes she sees Django calmly playing cards by himself. Patience, probably. Beyond him, in the bed at the other end of the room, she spots Seven, on his back with his eyes closed. The bed is slightly too small for his large frame, his legs dangling off the edge of the bed, his left arm resting on the floor.
Phoenix thinks back on the events of the past two days. In less than 48 hours she has murdered, stolen, lost control of her conscious mind three times, joined a group of misfits, and angered a dangerous gang. What is she becoming? She looks across at Seven’s bunk one last time before she falls asleep, and tells herself she’s the real monster in the room, not him.