Warcraft Fan Fiction ❯ Turning Red ❯ The sinking night ( Chapter 13 )
One afternoon, after sparring with the crew, Trixie says to Phoenix: “Enough! Well done.”
Phoenix, out of breath and flushed, paces around the room for a while, before grabbing a flask of water and sitting down on her bed. With heavy breaths and the occasional swig of her drink, she leans back to recover, sweat dripping from her brow.
“Good,” Trixie proclaims, moving towards her. “We are making progress, you are learning, but there is still much to do.”
Phoenix, in between breaths, retorts: “Just please, no more today.”
Trixie pouts and stifles a wide smile. She jumps onto Phoenix’s bunk and leans back against the wall.
“There is one more fight you must have, I’m afraid,” Trixie trails off.
hoenix tilts her head up from her pillow and raises her hands, grimacing at Trixie with mock rage, before crashing back down again.
“Probably the toughest of all,” Trixie says, tapping the side of her head. “The one up here. A battle with yourself.”
“What do you want me to do, kick myself in the face?” Phoenix says.
Trixie titters. “No,” she says, nodding her head upwards. “I want you to spend the whole night up there. Alone.”
“And do what exactly?” Phoenix stammers, catching her breath now.
Trixie shrugs. “Get comfortable in your own skin. Embrace the shadows. Survive.”
Phoenix would sigh if she wasn’t slightly out of breath. Instead, she looks down at the floor and rises from the bed, before walking towards the table.
“I’m not done yet, redhead,” Trixie speaks with a raised voice. Phoenix had earned that nickname not only for the colour of her hair, but the rage that resides within.
Phoenix mopes and stumbles backwards onto the bed.
“There is an alley in the village here, near the tavern. It winds behind some homes and spills out onto the edge of the village, further down the beach,” Trixie explains.
“What of it?” Phoenix asks.
“You are to stay within it from dusk until sunrise,” Trixie instructs.
“What, why?” Phoenix asks stubbornly. “What’s the point of that?”
Trixie repeats herself: “Like I said, I want you to get comfortable with the night. You will only be going above ground at night for the foreseeable future - until we hear back from our captain, at least. You have the potential to make a good scout, like Seven. But you need to be completely confident at moving alone, in shadow, without fear. There may be occasions in the future that will demand it.”
“No food, no drink, no weapons, no sleep up there. So I suggest you eat now and move out in a few hours,” Trixie says, leaping off of the bed and into the back room where some of the stores are located, not giving Phoenix the chance to reply.
Phoenix turns over and slumps her head onto her pillow again, facing the wall and thinking about overcoming her fears of being attacked, of the Steelfeathers, of being caught by the guards or being turned in by someone else.
Later, after eating supper with the rest of the group - some stew and sweet potatoes - Phoenix takes a long drink of water, gasping with refreshment from the day’s hard work.
She cracks her knuckles, and, feeling a wave of nervousness in the pit of her stomach, bids farewell to the group.
“You got dis mon!” Django bellows, smiling. “Fate got your back!”
As she takes the first step up the ladder, she looks back at the group. Django makes eye contact and flicks his old coin her way. She catches it easily, smiling, and turns it over in her hand. It looks very old and she cannot make out what the spirals mean on one side, or the bird on the other. But glancing at the strange winged creature makes her think of the way Django moves, like a swift and agile hawk. She slides the coin into her pocket.
“Oh,” Django says, taking out his pocket watch and throwing it her way too, under arm. His aim is off this time and Phoenix notices his eyes are bloodshot; he’s probably been taking his drugs again, she thinks.
Phoenix leans and just manages to catch the watch. She checks it and places it in her pocket. It’s 6pm.
She purses her lips and removes her blue boots, letting them fall to the floor. As she tilts her head to look up the ladder, for half a second she notices Trixie’s face looking towards her from the table, surprised.
‘Fate might look after me,’ Phoenix thinks to herself. ‘But my actions alone will get me to my destination, and the night is just beginning.’
Phoenix places the coin in her pocket and continues to climb the ladder, her tight-laden feet gripping silently onto each rung.
As she reaches the top of the ladder, she notices Emile asleep in his usual spot, guarding the hidden button. She switches it, closing the ladder’s opening.
Below, after hearing the grate shut, Trixie sighs wearily and looks across the table to Django.
“Do you think she’s ready, blue?” she asks.
“Somewhat. Competent? Not yet. Safe?” Django shakes his head. “But she needs to do it, Trix. She be silent and nimble without boots, too.”
Trixie nods reluctantly.
“She seems too confident,” the goblin adds. “Maybe it’s a mask. Without weapons she’ll be in danger. But ya right, she needs this if she’s to be independent. Aren’t ya going a bit overboard with this superstition stuff, by the way?”
Django scrunches his face up. “Do not insult de loa or my ways, Trix,” he says. “There is no overboard with any of it. It just is. She is interested in luck, in charms. If it helps give her confidence, what is de problem?” he adds, looking at Trixie’s eye patch.
Phoenix steps out into the night, with only her thoughts for company. The moon is high in the night sky; the last sight of the sun sneaks over the horizon as the waves crash gently onto the shore. There is life and vigour in the air tonight, a cold steel blanketing across the village, the choppy waters a far cry from the usual calm of the shore. Phoenix pulls her dark blue hood over her face and strides covertly towards the village, her feet barely making a sound on the sand.
Phoenix does as she’s instructed, believing fate has given her this task just as much as Trixie has. Phoenix does have a fear of being alone, of being caught. She wants to be able to run any errands with confidence, calmness and success. As she walks through the village, she tries to embed these qualities into her being, strutting casually, without consequence. Like a normal passing stranger, a nobody. There are some townsfolk around, finishing work or the last of the day’s trades, heading home for dinner. None so much as glance at Phoenix, and if they did, she wouldn’t care.
A false confidence looms over her, papering over the cracks of her blackouts, propped up by the backing of Trixie and the gang, as well as her initial training. Before Phoenix reaches the entrance to the alley, she passes the tavern she was so very nearly captured within. She glances towards the inn beneath her hood, while walking without hesitation. The door is open; the voices and lights from inside spill out onto the darker village road, but the fence beside protects the alley’s thick shadows. The dark unknown invites Phoenix into its heart, dangerously plucking at her curiosity, like a harpist using daggers to make the strings screech and snap.
The alley is about two elves’ high and wide enough for about four people to walk through beside one another. It is completely ensconced in shadow, making it difficult for Phoenix to see beyond the first few metres. Ivy has aggressively claimed the left-hand side of the alley, covering the edge of most of the buildings, and has stretched over towards the right, where it is overshadowed by trees. The leaves blanket the alley, brushing softly in a breeze. This creates some kind of natural tunnel, pooling the darkness further and making the alley more foreboding.
Phoenix takes a deep breath and saunters into the alley, starting her long shift. With the sun having disappeared over the horizon for good, a thicker black shadow blankets the alley. Trixie has impeccable timing, Phoenix thinks to herself, as her night watch - or night sitting, whatever it is - begins. As she steps into the shadow, the tights over her feet blanket her footsteps and the sounds of the tavern are mostly swallowed up by the mouth of the alley. Feeling a little nervous, she moves forward a few more metres, further into the blackness, and stops to look behind. She feels her almost-bare feet pick up some dirt and foliage from the cold stony floor at the left-hand edge of the alley and starts to think that leaving her boots behind was a bad idea.
The light from the tavern gives her vision of the village road some ten metres away, as does a street lamp on the other side of the road, off to one side. From within the alley, looking back at the road, she feels as if she’s another person. Instead of looking from a place of uncertainty to safety like she should, she feels somehow as if she’s in a place of relative comfort now, hidden from the world, looking at the danger of the inn’s light - and the potential of being spotted. The roles have been reversed somehow.
Phoenix leans back against the wall of ivy behind her, and waits.
At the other end of the alley, a dark figure climbs the building beside it. They reach the top of the building and walk along, until they have a view of almost the entire length of the alley, give or take some of its curves. The figure leans down onto their front, on top of the flat roof, and peers down into the alley, out of sight and out of mind. It’s difficult for them to see anything - or anyone - in the darkest areas, or through the alley’s winding roof of ivy but in the gaps they think they spot a slim figure leaning against the wall near the entrance by the tavern.
It’s barely been ten minutes since starting her task, and Phoenix’s mind starts to wander, her thoughts blocking out the mild sounds from the inn. What if she has a blackout? What would she do if someone approaches her? What if Alexandra walks down the alley right this instance?
Her heartbeat thuds harder for a few seconds and Phoenix darts her head towards her left, into the thick darkness of the alley, and to the right, the light of the road. She closes her eyes and tries to calm herself.
Another thought pops into her mind. She grabs the old coin from her pocket in her right hand and has to bring it closer to her face to make out the markings on it. She runs her left forefinger around the details of the coin, following the spiral on one side and, after turning it over, the bird on the other. She keeps the coin clenched in her right fist and pulls out the pocket watch with her left hand, looking down at it. 6.20pm.
‘Come on Phoe, play a game or something, keep yourself occupied,’ she thinks to herself.
She checks the pocket watch again and counts the seconds in her mind. She places it to her left ear, the quiet ticking giving her some kind of calm.
Voices echo from the depths of the alley. Phoenix retains her composure, keeping the pocket watch out, showing others that she is actually doing something, not just loitering in a pitch-black alley alone in the early evening, like some kind of weirdo.
The footsteps get louder, and under her hood, Phoenix eventually sees two couples walking into town for perhaps a meal or night out. As they pass her, Phoenix keeps her head down, focused on the watch. The lady nearest to her makes a surprised noise as she notices Phoenix, and halts for a split second, before continuing. The group stop talking, and after they pass, Phoenix hears them whispering to one another.
‘Yes, talk about me, how strange I am, how I have no life,’ she thinks to herself. ‘You have no idea. Enjoy your normal life, enjoy your friends, your family.’
Phoenix feels a surge of anger within her and walks deeper into the alley, fearlessly, buoyed by envy, by a mild, growing hatred of normal society, of people like those who just passed her, who were probably granted an easy ride in life, of aristocracy and wealth, or just plain normality. The inverted triangle appears in her mind, replacing the shadows with something to believe in. She sees the alley snaking to the left up ahead, stopping before it twists into further blackness, leaning up against the ivy-covered wall again. She is deep in shadow here.
For the next hour or so, Phoenix thinks about her early life, growing up in the inn, the fractured relationship with her mother, the absence of her father, the initial incident with the elf in black, and her head injury. The alley remains still and undisturbed, aside from the occasional rustling of some piles of leaves around the corner. Probably a squirrel.
Phoenix makes a few stretches and sits down, bending her knees and keeping her back to the wall. She glances at the watch: 7.34pm. Phoenix wonders if this is what it’s like to be homeless, like the drunk outside Silvermoon Inn who was terrified of her after what she did to Chrim. She stares into the murky shadows around her and loses herself deep in thought for a moment. Being a homeless nobody might be better than the life she’s living right now, Phoenix thinks to herself. There would be no worries of getting caught by guards, no need for training, no being robbed or beaten. If she found a nice snuggly spot, she could just forget the world.
‘And do what?’ Phoenix asks herself. Waste her life away? Her mind wanders to the group, to Trixie, to Django, to Seven. She smiles to herself. Such an odd mix of characters, people like her. Outsiders and misfits, but outsiders who have given her a chance for a fresh start, to be reborn and find a new path in life. She likes them. She bites her cheek and thinks about what they will do next, where she will go. Will she sail the high seas, become an adventurer, a sailor, a pirate?
She lays down on the hard concrete, scooping together a thick pile of leaves to prop her head up slightly. Phoenix allows her mind to wander, her right side touching the wall and her hooded face looking upwards at the tunnel of ivy above her and, in-between the leaves, the stars in the night sky. She daydreams of different worlds, of treasure, of happiness and sailing away from Silvermoon. She imagines all manner of different adventures, her and Trixie and the group becoming rich and living on an island somewhere far from here.
Several hours pass. Phoenix changes position now and then as her mind continues to think up all manner of possibilities for her future. The sounds of distant laughter from the inn beyond the alley’s entrance grow in volume, snapping Phoenix out of her half-daze. She sits up and looks at the alley’s entrance. Fog is creeping its way across the night air, clouding her vision. She is suddenly back in Silvermoon, her thoughts a million miles away.
Her mother’s face pops into her mind. In her mind’s eye, Amelia is staring at Phoenix blankly and mouthing the words ‘help me’ over and over again. Sadness washes over the shadowed elf like the patter of raindrops into a small stream.
“I will find you, mother,” Phoenix whispers to the wind. “I promise.”
An angry-looking Quel’Dorei suddenly enters another alley ahead of her, adorned in a majestic set of blue robes and wielding a large gnarled staff. He is walking briskly into the shadows of the alley and Phoenix panics slightly at the sight of him.
Phoenix turns to face the wall of the alley, still laying down, and pretends to be asleep. The elf, who she assumes is some kind of powerful mage, walks loudly into the alley, the echo of his footsteps breaking the silence Phoenix has got so used to. She keeps her head down as he picks up the pace and walks closer towards her, Phoenix’s heart beating faster all the while.
He rushes past her and drops a coin onto the floor as he does so, and the wind blows gently on Phoenix’s back from the force of his movement. He has passed. Phoenix breathes deeply and decides to remain in this position, boredom starting to creep in. She picks the coin up. One copper. How measly, she thinks to herself.
Phoenix checks her watch: 10.17pm. As the day sinks into night, Phoenix feels a little scared and doubt starts to creep in. There are still eight more hours to go. Can she do this? She ponders heading elsewhere, somewhere safer, or falling asleep right here. But Trixie would probably somehow know, she concludes, and feels a little safer with this thought.
Phoenix spends another hour flipping Django’s coin up and down, trying to run it through her fingers like the troll does. She eventually gives up practicing the latter.
Phoenix thinks of her mother again, and sees a vision in her mind that frightens her more than anything she’s imagined. Her mother is being beaten up by the gang in black, close to death.
Alexandra’s face pops into Phoenix’s mind, filling her with a deep hatred that curdles with the sadness for her mother. Phoenix clenches her right hand into a fist. She turns to face the wall and punches it, crying out in anger as she does so. The slight echo of her voice traverses the alley.
Phoenix feels the rage building inside her, the heartbeat inside her chest thudding harder. She stands and puts her hands on her head as she paces up and down the silent, blackened alley, doing her best to calm herself.
Phoenix takes a few deep, wobbly breaths and tries to think of the Sunwell to distract her mind with a different, nicer thought. She checks the pocket watch and stares at the second hand as it ticks away. It is almost midnight. She’s at the halfway point.
There are some loud shouts from the entrance of the alley, the last of the tavern-goers spilling out onto the street and talking noisily to one another. Phoenix hears the slurred voice of an elf threatening another for stealing his drink. She listens in on their nonsensical conversation and the elves start laughing hysterically at each other instead, sharing a joke that lightens the mood.
Phoenix looks towards the alley’s entrance and realises the tavern must have closed - the only dim light spilling into her vision now is from a lamp further down the road. Through the fog she sees the source of the noise, two figures shouting incoherent drunken babble at one another, laughing now and then. They dwindle towards the alley. Phoenix panics. And freezes.
If she lays still, in their drunken state they will surely stumble into her or notice her. She thinks about exiting the alley towards the beach side, but remembers the task Trixie set her to stay within the alley. Eventually, she decides she will walk further into its thick shadows, as it snakes to the left. And when the two drunks are about to turn the corner, she will move past them swiftly, and hope they don’t follow her back from where they came. But she spends too long thinking and miscalculates the time it’d take them to walk into the alley, and as she stands awkwardly, her hood gets caught in a vine of ivy, pulling it down. One of the drunks spots her.
“Who’s there hiding in the shadows?” one slurs, loudly and slowly.
Phoenix’s heartbeat races and she freezes again, looking further into the alley, her back facing the drunks. Her long ginger hair is on show, contrasting with her midnight blue outfit, making her stand out in the shadows even more.
“Ooh, a lady of the night!” the other adds, and the first repeats the “Ooh”. They laugh together.
The first elf says: “Come ‘ere, miss, we’ll play nice… how much do you charge?”
Fear stabs into Phoenix and her heartbeat races. She suddenly bolts further into the alley, and to her horror, the footsteps behind her double in speed and sound, close behind her.
“No you don’t,” one of the drunks booms.
Phoenix dashes further into the alley, following it round to the left. There is a chain-link fence on the right of the alley, separating it from what looks like a private building and garden area. In her panic she jumps onto it, abandoning her task to remain in the alley in favour of her safety.
The chain-links are awkward and too small for her to climb properly, and she makes pathetic progress. The links go blurry as adrenaline surges through her bloodstream. She thinks she hears a noise from above but disregards it. A hand grabs her right foot and Phoenix squeals with terror, though she instinctively wriggles her foot free and lifts it higher into the air before glancing down - her head now feeling groggy - and forcing her leg outwards into the face of the first elf with a sharp kick. Her tight-covered heel thwacks his temple and staggers him. He holds his head in pain.
“You bitch! She kicked me!” he complains to the other drunk, who has caught up with them.
Phoenix gives up on the fence and drops to the floor. She rises slowly, facing the two elves. Running is not an option, she decides. Plus, they are inebriated.
“That’s it, play nice now,” the second elf says, moving towards her. He has long, scraggly hair and a hard-nosed face half-covered with an unkempt beard.
“She’s already got her shoes off for us!” the first elf exclaims, still holding his temple. He is larger than his friend, and has a round, forgettable face. Phoenix worries about attempting to fight the pair of them with her bare hands and feet. She makes an overwhelming effort to stay conscious, her heart thundering in her ears.
“Leave now, this is your only warning,” she manages to say, infinitely more assertively than she actually feels.
“Shut up you whore,” the bearded elf says.
“I’m not a whore!” she lashes out at him, the thought of her mother’s profession and disappearance swelling her rage further, momentarily blocking out the fear. Phoenix makes a pre-emptive strike without consciously thinking about it, a roundhouse kick straight to the thinner, bearded elf’s frame, just like Django taught her. If she can take him down first, she may stand a chance. The kick knocks him over, winding him. Phoenix turns to the other elf, who looks surprised but pounces towards her anyway. Phoenix attempts to punch him square in the face but he’s moving too fast and his frame is impossible to avoid in the narrow alley.
Her punch connects but it’s not strong enough and he retaliates by pushing her up against the wall, headbutting her. Pain sears through Phoenix’s mind, the world crumbling away around her as the shadows and the figures in the dark mesh together like a living nightmare.
The larger elf forces her to the floor as silence surrounds her; he grips her neck tightly and shoves her head into the ground. She squeals with fright.
Feeling dazed and lost, all Phoenix can hear is her heartbeat as the elf rips off her belt with his other hand. She scrambles at him with her arms and kicks her legs as her heartbeat cracks loudly, blocking out the noise of the elf above her tearing the laces off her tunic, and his accomplice who is now pinning her arms down. But her struggle is futile and her fear overwhelming.
The bearded elf smacks her around the face with a clenched fist, attempting to stop her resisting.
In a single heartbeat, everything changes.
After climbing down the building nearby, Thirteen watches the situation unfold from the alley’s entrance. He studies Phoenix’s handling of the event and as things are worsening for her, decides to take action. He reaches into his pocket.
Two daggers whistle through the air, one piercing the back of the bearded elf and through his heart, the other tearing open a wound below his right shoulder, passing straight through an artery. He collapses forward onto Phoenix, blood splattering onto her face, which is now contorting with unrelenting fury.
Phoenix screams a loud guttural shriek, her mouth open and eyes blinded with rage, blood splashing onto her fair skin and into her fiery hair, turning her red like a demon. Her deafening shout and twisted face shocks the elf above her, who is stunned for a few seconds in disbelief, as she moves with unusual strength, pushing the dead elf away from her and flipping up onto her feet in an instant. She slams the other elf into the chain link fence and in a flash, leans up to his face. She digs her thumbs into his eyes sockets, her thumbnails pressing so deeply she feels one eye pop. The elf cries out in agony, a blood-curdling scream filling the alley as blood and the whites of his eye burst from his left eye socket. He swings wildly with his arms but Phoenix pushes further, gouging the other eye fully as the elf continues to howl with pain, helpless.
Thirteen, standing a few metres away, watches, somewhat mesmerized by the torture that is taking place in front of him.
Phoenix, grunting monstrously, continues to press through the eye sockets further into the head of the elf, who has now slumped down onto the floor, flailing his arms wildly. Blood and bits of eye have splattered onto her gloves, which move down to his belt. She whips it off and viciously pulls down his trousers and underwear as the elf struggles to the floor.
Phoenix lumbers over to the dead elf nearby and pulls a dagger from his back. She doesn’t hesitate or say anything, instead moving incredibly quickly and methodically, turning to the half-naked elf dying on the floor. She thrusts the dagger into his balls and up through the base of his penis, crimson blood soaking the knife and pooling into the floor around her. The elf is no longer screaming, the pain becoming unbearable. He spasms and dies swiftly, but Phoenix continues to withdraw the dagger and stab the elf in the groin, his balls, his penis, over and over again in a frenzy, her eyes masked with incandescent fury.
Thirteen unwittingly lets out a noise of revulsion, and Phoenix instantly turns her head towards the sound. She leaps towards him, with the knife in her hands, her clothes caked in blood, her face screwed up like some kind of possessed being, a terrifying monster from another world.
He runs towards the alley’s entrance in fright, at full sprint, with Phoenix close behind.
“Stop, Phoenix, it’s me, Thirteen!” he shouts.
He can hear her light footsteps frantically tapping so close behind him, and quickly realises he’s not fast enough to outrun her. Thirteen instinctively grabs another throwing knife from a holster on his right leg and swivels his head around as far as he can, while still running forward at full pelt. She is a couple of metres away - he will only have a split second to pull off the stunt but feels he has no other choice. He raises the dagger.
Thirteen takes a full breath before swivelling and kicking off the ground, turning to face Phoenix in mid-air. He holds the breath in his lungs, just like he has a hundred times before in training, allowing him to focus and see the world around him in greater clarity. At this moment, time seems to slow slightly, but Phoenix is moving so fast he struggles to keep his composure.
Thirteen looks at the dagger in Phoenix’s right hand as she runs, and waits a split second longer for it to rise a little higher. She is almost on top of him now, her knife an arm’s length away. He stares at the tip of her blade and, at the peak of his jump, throws his dagger with full force towards it, before falling down to the ground. He releases the knife with a slight curve from right to left, aiming the point towards the side of Phoenix’s blade.
The throwing knife leaves his fingers and ricochets into the side of Phoenix’s dagger with ferocity, knocking it flying out of her hand. Both knives go careening in opposite directions and skid across the floor. He lands on the ground and Phoenix, completely oblivious to the fact she no longer has a dagger in her hand, lets herself fall towards him, thrusting her empty knife-hand down towards his face. Her fist thuds into his left cheekbone and raises again to do the same. Thirteen blocks the attack with his left arm and forces his right arm across towards her with a wide arc, making a deafening slap across her left cheek and pushing her over. Phoenix lies on the ground, face-down, unconscious.
Thirteen slowly gets to his feet, shaking his head left and right. He looks her up and down scornfully with his eyes, not bothering to turn his head, which is facing his two throwing daggers on the floor, a few metres away. He picks them up and moves into the alley to collect his third knife implanted into the first elf’s lower shoulder, taking his time and catching his breath.
The pale, skinny elf then saunters towards Phoenix and turns her over onto her back.
“Fucking liability,” he mutters, staring at her blood-soaked face, tunic and gloves. Thirteen bends down to grip the lower part of her legs, one in either hand, and proceeds to drag her back towards the alley, a look of disgust on his face as her hood scratches along the floor, protecting her head.
Thirteen props Phoenix up sitting by the wall near the two dead bodies and leaves them there. He turns towards the beach-side entrance of the alley, splashes some water from a waterskin towards Phoenix’s face and jogs away, back up the building he climbed up earlier, taking the vantage point again.
After about a minute, Phoenix comes to.
She swallows and tastes blood in her mouth, before coughing, frowning and holding her head. The thought of being chased by the two elves comes flooding back, prompting her to open her eyes wide and she spots two unmoving bodies slumped nearby. Phoenix coughs, blinks and swallows, tasting death once again as she inspects the two men in the dark. The first is slumped painfully forwards, the blood patchy and difficult to see in the dark. Phoenix moves his right arm up to get a closer look and feels wet, sticky blood on her left glove as she holds his shoulder still to raise his arm. She spots the gouge there and another in his back, and wonders what caused them.
Then Phoenix shifts and spots the half-naked elf by the fence, her eyes widening in horror. She cannot bear looking at the elf’s mutilated lower half and, feeling sick, moves him down off the fence onto his front. Phoenix pats herself down, checking for injuries, and finds only bruised cheeks and a sore lump on the back of her head, along with her blood-soaked clothes and skin.
Phoenix drops to the ground on her knees and puts her head in her palms, leaning forward and curling up into a ball.
She does not cry, she does not vomit; she turns rigid in mild shock at her barbaric violence and allows relief to blanket her at the same time. Phoenix taps into the Sunwell and finds its soothing magic comes easier to her this time. She allows the pain and confusion to soak into her mind at the same time, and after ten or twenty minutes, it has passed. She stands, feeling stronger and confident. She finds she does not care - or fear - for the two dead elves one jot. The only thing she finds herself scared about is herself. Just like Trixie said.
Phoenix tightens the lace on her tunic and wraps her belt back around her waist. She then drags the dead bodies into the darkest section of the alley, slumping them beside the wall, in front of one another and on their sides, so they take up less space.
Phoenix sits beside them, not thinking, not feeling, just staring. Through the chain-link fence in front of her and feeling as dead as the two bodies nearby.
Over the next hour, a deep wave of tiredness envelops Phoenix, like a sleep spell has been cast on her. She suddenly feels hungry and thirsty, and thinks about breaking into the tavern around the corner for some food and drink. Phoenix closes her eyes as she leans up against the wall, with death around her. She opens them. Closes them again for a minute. Phoenix spasms with her hunger for sleep but forces her eyes back open and shakes her head, blinking rapidly to stay awake.
A silent nothingness creeps over her. The dazed elf sits still, her body tingling with… something. Perhaps with tiredness or her aching muscles. Pins and needles scatter around her body and she stands, taking a deep breath to counter them.
In her state of confusion and tiredness, Phoenix somehow hears mild footsteps and voices coming from the road nearby. She looks to the right, staring at the entrance to the alley, puzzled. The street is quite a distance away yet it feels as if she is upon it, beside the lamp some 30 metres away.
“But Norros wants them found,” one voice whispers. “We’ll probably have to scout the entire bloody Eastern Kingdoms before he’s happy.”
The other shrugs and sighs: “Whatever little daughter dearest demands.”
Phoenix tries to perk up and listen more intently, but the voices have stopped.
The glow of the Sunwell suddenly radiates Phoenix in warmth. She gasps with delight from its powerful embrace, but almost as soon as it arrives, it has dissipated, leaving her wanting more and breathing a bit more heavily than usual.
She looks right and sees the two figures walking towards her, entering the alley. In her emotionless, almost tranquil state, Phoenix does not panic. She simply stays standing, and presses her body to the wall as flatly as possible, turning the right side of her head into the wall, her arms to her side, long and trailing down towards the floor. Phoenix sinks into the shadow as far as possible and holds her breath.
She watches as the two figures, dressed in black, walk closer towards her, unflinching and unmoving. When they are a few feet apart, she closes her eyes, like she isn’t there, like nothing from nowhere, no one at all. They somehow pass without spotting her - but discover the two dead bodies inches from Phoenix’s feet.
“By the Sunwell,” one says to the other, leaning down towards them. Phoenix, still facing right, cannot see anything, she can only hear the conversation as it pans out.
The other elf says in disgust: “Who did this? What… what is this?”
He notices the dead elf naked from the waist down, face down on top of the other body, and repulses in shock, stepping away.
“Oh shit,” the first exclaims. He inspects the dead bodies with his foot, the top-most half-naked elf rolling off the other dead body onto the ground, face-up and staring blankly at the two members of the gang in black.
Phoenix opens her eyes slightly, ready for fight or flight.
‘Huh,’ she thinks to herself, unable to see her own right shoulder from her peripheral vision. ‘I must be well-encased in shadow, in the very darkest part of the alley.’
Phoenix looks down without moving her head and focuses hard on her shoulder. Or at least tries to. She still cannot see it, nor can she see her arm. Only the alley itself and its thick shadows. Phoenix feels drowsy, like some kind of floating entity. She starts to panic a little, the heartbeat in her chest rising as she blinks a few times. She sees her shoulder and her arm, like normal again. The lack of sleep must be making her delirious, she decides.
Both men shriek with fright and run out of the alley towards the beach. Phoenix, ready to fight, turns towards them only to see them pelting away, unsure whether they’re running from her - or the sight of the bodies.
Phoenix spends the next half an hour wondering what exactly happened. Was she sleeping? Was she dead? Was this some kind of purgatory reserved only for the most mentally unstable? Or was she just imagining things from sleep deprivation? She tries sinking back into the wall as she did before, pressing her slim figure tightly up against the wall and holding her breath and closing her eyes like before. But whenever she opens them, her shoulder and the rest of her body are still there.
Feeling deep hunger, her mouth dry and lips cracked with the blood of the two drunk elves, she pulls the pocket watch out and glances at it. 4:09am. Not much longer now.
Phoenix looks at the dead bodies and wonders what to do with them.
‘I can’t just leave them here,’ she thinks, and decides she’ll try to bury them in the sand.
Phoenix closes her eyes and looks up to the ivy and the early morning sky beyond it. She smiles again, anxiously this time, half-disturbed by her actions and half-satisfied by them, by her danger and effectiveness, oblivious to the fact that Thirteen had assisted her.
Phoenix checks the watch again - it’s just gone 5am. She begins dragging the bodies, one at a time, to the beach’s edge at the far end of the alley. She drags them without care or tact, letting them bump onto the hard floor and slide across it, grunting with their weight as she does so.
With the bodies at the edge of the alley, Phoenix sits beside the elf who died from a knife to the back, and looks at the sea from the light shadows of the alley, at the water gently washing onto the sand. A dim blue soon hits the horizon. She spends the next hour trying to hide the bodies in the sand. The small beach is generally quiet, so she hopes they will remain undiscovered until she tells Trixie about them when she returns to the hideout. The goblin told her to survive, she mentioned nothing about hiding bodies.
Phoenix, feeling incredibly thirsty and physically tired at this point, seems more awake than before, a second wind driving her forwards now she is past the point of tiredness.
When she gets to the shack, Emile the tramp is asleep as usual. She flips the hidden button in the corner and descends the ladder. She notices that no one else is awake just yet, the sound of four or five different snores filling the room, almost in battle with one another. The dwarves’ deep, heavy and loud snoring is at odds with the slow and steady snore of Seven and Trixie’s high-pitched rasp, which sounds like a little monster trying to scare away an attacker. Phoenix looks across the dark and thinks she sees Trixie’s mouth wide open as she lays in the hammock, a ridiculous sight that makes Phoenix - covered in blood like a mass murderer - giggle.
Phoenix grabs a nearby bottle and knocks the drink back. The wine is bitter and won’t help to properly quench her thirst, but at this point her mouth is so dry she will take any drink she can. Phoenix spots a few sweet rolls on the side and ravishes them, her munching blending with the noise of all the snoring as she leaves some messy crumbs behind on the table.
The elf wants to wash but, feeling exhausted, decides to just quickly change in the washroom. She changes from her blood-soaked blue clothes into her old brown outfit, to help mask some of the blood. There is some old water in the bath so she leaves her blue clothes to soak in it.
Phoenix does think about washing away the stinking blood from her skin and her face, but decides she wants as much sleep as possible, and hops into bed. She wonders what task will be next, or if she will ever see her mother again. Could Trixie set up a rescue mission? Feeling comfortable and at ease despite the ordeals of the night, she finds sleep fast, dreaming of shadows and the Sunwell.