Warcraft Fan Fiction ❯ Turning Red ❯ Going home ( Chapter 15 )
“I was angry with my friend
I told my wrath, my wrath did end
I was angry with my foe
I told it not, my wrath did grow”
“Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.”
William Ernest Henley
Trixie offers Phoenix and Seven a seat around the table, pours them each a mug of wine and offers them some bread. A large map of Silvermoon City and Eversong Forest is sprawled out across the table.
“There’s someone who’s attempting to prevent our trade of imported mana crystals in Silvermoon,” Trixie says with a mouthful of bread, while flexing her wrists. “Or at least take it from us.”
She makes eye contact with Phoenix and Seven, speaking coldly: “That does not happen on my watch.
“The guy’s part of the nobility, has connections with magisters, the whole shebang. Bought a box of powerful mana crystals from us, paid half of the fee up front, some 100 gold, but we haven’t received the full amount. And now he’s giving us the silent treatment. I’m starting to think he’s either turning us in, taking our trade, or just refusing to pay.
“It’s been a few weeks now and he’s ignoring the trader we’re using to sell in the city. I want you both to give him a… reminder… that manners are important. Take the crystals back and recoup whatever part of the payment you can. Find out what ya can about his motives.”
Trixie slides a large sack for the mana crystals along the table towards Seven.
“Wait,” Phoenix starts. “You want me to go back to Silvermoon? The place I risked my life escaping? I’m not doing that again.”
Trixie raises her eyebrows in mock shock at her authority being challenged.
“It’s no big deal, redhead!” she responds. “This time you’ll be moving in and out of the city while the elfgate is open. Plus, ya now have some muscle by your side.”
Trixie smirks proudly and flicks her eyes towards Seven, who sits silently. He wears an expression that seems to indicate his eagerness towards the mission. Phoenix wonders if he sees this as a challenge, keeping the crew’s new firecracker in check. She likes the orc, but sees no reason to go easy on him.
Phoenix leans back, sighs and turns to face Seven, as if reading his mind. If it wasn’t for him, she would probably flat out refuse Trixie’s orders and go her own way. Oblivious, Seven returns the look and simply shrugs in response.
“But I’m wanted by the Royal Guard,” Phoenix protests anyway. “What if I’m caught?”
“Then we get ya out,” Trixie promises. “Like I said, it’s no big deal.”
Phoenix bites the inside of her mouth before downing a few large gulps of wine.
“You’ll meet our trader contact, Hace, outside Fairbreeze Village inn tonight,” Trixie says, tapping part of the map with her finger before marking it up in black ink.
“He’ll take ya into Silvermoon in his cart before the gate closes this evening, along with the last of the other traders who will be setting their stalls up early tomorrow morning. He’ll also need paying.”
Trixie flicks a pouch of gold onto the table and begins tracing her finger along the map, through central Eversong Forest, past the entrance to Silvermoon, and into a courtyard by the Royal Exchange nestled within the city. She marks up the apartment’s location and writes the address on the map.
“The guy’s name is Thomassan,” Trixie continues. “He should be out tonight at a function. Lives in an apartment by the Royal Exchange. You should be able to get onto his balcony which overlooks a side street around the back.”
Phoenix interjects: “How do you know all this?”
“The day you met us, Henry and Harris had gathered the intel which led us to the sale,” Trixie responds, looking across at Seven - and back to Phoenix.
“You’ll also want to lay low until morning. Hace will arrange a meeting spot for the morning and you’ll leave shortly after sunrise, back the way you came, in the cart. In one piece. With the items.”
“Anything else we should know?” Seven asks in his gruff voice.
“Oh yeah, the guy is a magic user. Probably quite powerful. Oh! He has a golden sceptre too - ceremonial I think. Might as well bring that back with you.”
Seven seems mildly shocked.
“Good thing I asked,” he adds.
“Course, I was waiting for ya to ask,” Trixie responds, throwing him a wink and handing him a piece of magic-resistant dark iron. She passes another to Phoenix. The goblin looks at the young elf expectantly. “Questions left unasked can become problems left unsolved.”
Phoenix just looks back at Trixie, tilts her head back as she finishes her wine and firmly places the mug on the table. She buries the question she was going to ask, but another takes its place anyway.
“I’m assuming we get paid extra for jobs like this?” Phoenix asks, a little colder than she intended.
Trixie nods: “Depends on how well ya finish them.”
Seven adds to Phoenix: “She always pays well. We can trust her-”
As she hears the word ‘trust’, Phoenix pushes her chair back from the table and gets ready to leave. She starts by gathering her gear and sword.
Trixie watches as Phoenix prepares by herself, shoving some food, lockpicks, flask of water, rope, some lanterns and a grappling hook into her bag. If she feels fear at the thought of returning to Silvermoon, she does not show it.
Her body language towards the goblin is cold, after their argument, but Trixie does not take it personally. She’s sure Phoenix will succeed, come back in better spirits and forget all about their little ordeal.
Phoenix takes the map from the table and places it into her bag, along with a small vial of ink and a feather. She checks her pocket for something, and Trixie assumes it is one of the charms Django gave her, perhaps that old coin. Her face, while still young and naive, has a determination that was not there when they met. She’s still just a little elf, Trixie thinks, and yet she has shown the courage of someone twice her age.
Trixie smiles to herself, a smile that is ever so slight and fleeting it would be missed by anyone looking at her at that moment. She is proud of what Phoenix has done so far; she has only known the group for about a month yet she progresses well with her training. Tonight will be her biggest test, and yet Phoenix has barely batted an eyelid at the mission. Good, Trixie thinks. Phoenix will grow to be fiercely independent, she is sure of that. She has the potential to be an asset to the organisation, a trustworthy plunderer and swordfighter, perhaps even a future boss like her. Either that, or she will burn out like a bright, fleeting star, one rash decision or action made towards the wrong person, in the wrong place, at the wrong time, resulting in an early death. There is no middle ground for her, she fears, it’s all or nothing. Phoenix’s biggest enemy is undoubtedly herself, Trixie decides, and that makes her future especially uncertain and difficult to predict.
‘Do not let me down,’ Trixie thinks to herself as the pair prepare to leave the safety of the hideout for the dusk of the overground.
“You coming, or what?” Phoenix asks Seven, her voice slightly muffled from the bandit mask covering her lower face.
“I’m looking after you, of course I’m coming,” Seven tuts.
“Uh-uh,” she shakes her head. “I’m YOUR bodyguard, stupid,” Phoenix retorts. “I don’t need looking after.”
Seven and Trixie exchange looks; the goblin rolls her eyes.
“Not unless you see red…” Seven replies.
“I won’t,” Phoenix says assuringly.
“Let’s hope not,” Seven says, but his words seem to betray his feelings.
Harris suddenly chants loudly from a bunk bed towards the ladder: “She saw red, lost her ‘ead, that’s why we’ll all end up dead!”
Thirteen laughs out loud at this from a top bunk nearby, while Henry booms at his brother: “Oh, shut it ya rude little shit!”
Phoenix smiles at this, and turns to leave. She locks eyes with Trixie for a second, then moves towards the ladder without saying any goodbyes. Is it a false confidence that cloaks her again, or the real deal? She’s not sure herself, but feels certain she’ll return, so doesn’t see the need for goodbyes.
Seven follows her, nodding his head down at the goblin. Before leaving, he says goodbye to Falkor, who is sitting with the dwarves. He rests his large green hand on the boy’s shoulder and pats it, while the other hand pulls up the midnight grey-black fabric around Seven’s neck to cover his face. Falkor smiles.
As Phoenix reaches the top of the ladder, she walks out onto the beach, a little briskly than necessary.
Seven says: “Hold up, elf.”
She turns to face him, a little disappointed by his interruption.
“Come on, we need to meet this contact,” she says.
“Just hold up,” he repeats. “This is not a mission to go rushing in blind. I have experience scouting, do not let that experience go to waste.”
Seven pulls out one of his twin daggers from within his tunic and hands it to her.
“You know I’m not sure about using daggers,” she says.
“I don’t care,” he cuts her off, speaking gruffly. “This operation should be a simple one, but it requires tact. We shouldn’t even need to use this. Think of it as a last resort. These things are quicker and quieter than swords, and they cover your tracks better, as I’ve told you. You’ll never know when you might need to use it.”
She plucks the dagger from his hand and folds her arms, the weapon pointing towards Seven unwillingly.
“Okay, but I’m still bringing my Heart with me,” Phoenix says, tapping the side of her narrow sword scabbard.
The orc preempts her protests and says: “Fine. But we shouldn’t need to use it anyway. Look at us for Azeroth’s sake. We don’t want to create a scene.”
He throws his arms up at the ridiculousness of their partnership.
“A beauty and a beast,” Seven adds, a silly undertone belying the serious message beneath.
Seven poses like a model, implying he’s the real beauty and Phoenix the beast.
She lets out a natural laugh - and Seven does too. She places the dagger inside her tunic and walks, more slowly now, beside the orc. She couldn’t have been more wrong about these ‘monsters’ if she’d tried, Phoenix thinks to herself, and believes the friendship blossoming between the two could become the most genuine she’s had, if she doesn’t ruin it of course.
Phoenix glances up at Seven as they walk, and smiles at him before looking back at the sand. She stops walking.
Seven looks at her for a moment. He says: “Come on beast, we must meet this contact, like you said.”
“Yes, beauty, we must,” she replies. “That’s why I’m going to race you there.”
Seven watches as Phoenix begins cutting across the sand, giving herself a headstart. He feels he has no choice but to accept her challenge.
Seven’s humourous demeanor turns to indignation.
“Phoenix!” he says with a higher volume than usual, but restrains his voice so as not to draw unwanted attention. “Come back!” he adds, struggling to carry his large legs across the uneven sand at pace.
He grunts in aggravation, but as he looks up to see the dark red figure ahead moving swiftly through the night, with grace and naive daring, he cannot help but smile, his boar-like teeth pressing up against his face mask at either end of his mouth. But through his smile and his growing fondness for Phoenix, another feeling rises within him. A tension. Danger follows her, and while it is an exciting danger, it is uneasy. Perhaps he is just falling for her, he admits to himself. But if that’s true, why does he get the feeling this girl will be the death of him?
After Seven jogs to the edge of the beach, he decides to take on Phoenix’s challenge in earnest - and begins picking up the pace to close the gap between them. Despite the orc’s size and stature he is surprisingly swift and manages to keep up with the lithe elf ahead of him. The real challenge is following her in the patchy dimness of the early evening, amongst the trees and foliage of Eversong Forest. But luckily for Seven, her ginger hair is bright enough for him to follow. Every now and then she turns her head around to check he’s still there - her eyes and smirk full of mischief - and he sees a flash of red in the dark of the night.
The pair soon run the length of the small town and Phoenix continues on the central path which curves to the right, leading towards the small bridge where they met Alexandra. But she is still a relative newcomer to the area - unlike Seven, who not only knows it reasonably well but is especially familiar with it at nightfall. Plus, his experience as a scout means he’s well-suited to other terrains. This gives him an advantage over the lighter, faster elf.
Seven darts off the pathway to the right and into the deeper woodlands of Eversong Forest. He skirts around fallen branches, runs up and over a small leaf-covered hill and leaps across a stream running through the forest. After a minute his shortcut has put him ahead of Phoenix. Seven leans up against a large tree overlooking the main path, catches his breath and turns to look for the elf, but he cannot see her. Perfect, he thinks to himself.
“Seven?” Phoenix shouts, the trees blanketing her cries. “Where are you?”
Just as she begins to wonder if he’s lost, she turns a corner and sees the huge orc up ahead, in the centre of a cobbled path blanketed by the forest. He is lying on the floor, on his side, and lazily resting his head in his right palm. She lets out a noise of shock and fascination and holds out her arms in the air, mystified.
“What is this sorcery?” she asks playfully. “You’ve cheated! I didn’t see you...”
Phoenix realises what she’s about to say and stops herself, instead making her look around at the woods and think about how else the orc could have overtaken her.
“What slanderous accusations,” Seven responds. “No cheating or magic here - just raw talent,” he adds, flexing the muscles in his arm.
Phoenix slaps his fat head as she passes him and Seven retaliates by swinging around and sweeping out his leg to trip her up. Phoenix gets caught in his frame and pushes her arms to the floor as she falls, leaving the pair entangled.
“Get lost you big oaf!” she laughs, breaking free.
“It’s not possible for me to get lost in such a tiny little forest,” Seven says. “You, on the other hand…”
Phoenix holds up her hand to Seven’s face in a bid to shut him up, while catching her breath. She sits up and takes a swig of water from her hip flask. It is a peculiar sight, a slim elf in red and a large monstrous orc in grey-black leather, each sporting a bandit mask, one wielding a sword, the other daggers. They may appear dangerous to some, but right now they seem more like a pair of children playing out way past their bedtime.
After engaging in more idle chit-chat and silly banter, the pair soon arrive at Fairbreeze Village and head to the side of the inn. A hench-looking elf with long, dark green hair and a straw hat, is already waiting for them. He is chewing tobacco and leaning beside a large wagon with reins and a hawkstrider at the front. The cart is covered by a long canvas sheet, concealing its goods. As they approach him, he eyes them calmly and asks with a twangy country accent: “You Trixie’s lot?”
Seven and Phoenix nod in response and the man motions towards the cart.
“Hace, I presume,” Seven asays.
The elf nods. Seven hands a few gold to the trader, whose stare lingers toward the orc’s red eyes. Seven ignores him and proceeds to climb up onto the back of the long cart. It dips from the bulk of Seven’s weight, and barely shifts as Phoenix swings up to sit next to the orc.
“Shit, never said I’d be escortin’ some kinda demon into the city…” Hace says before spitting onto the ground and stepping into the driver’s carriage.
Seven frowns and looks down at the ground, saying nothing.
Phoenix feels a stab of anxiety. The realisation finally hits home: she’s really going back to Silvermoon.
“There’s a sheet in the back,” Hace adds, lifting the reins and getting ready to ride out. “When I say, get under it. And move some of the goods on top of you. Not sure I have anything to conceal someone the size of a tauren, though.”
Seven sighs: “Just get us into the city.”
“Yes - and you can keep your mouth shut while you’re at it,” Phoenix adds, not as quietly as she intended.
Hace stops what he’s doing, groans and saunters off the carriage onto the ground. He pauses for a moment and spits onto the floor again.
Seven turns to Phoenix and says quietly: “For our sake Phoenix don’t say or do anything that will get us into trouble. We need to keep a low profile.”
Phoenix responds: “But-”
“Look kid,” Hace says, cutting them both off. “This is my wagon, and I’ll do as I fuckin’ please. I don’t need to be doin’ this shit of an evening, I’d much rather be in that tavern right now, drinkin’ and gamblin’ and whorin’. So sit back, shut the fuck up and we’ll all be on our merry way. Do anything else and you can find your own way inside. Understand?”
Phoenix contorts her mouth and stares back at the elf in anger, her eyes cutting into him. But at the request of the orc she pushes her feelings to the pit of her stomach, bottling up any resistance - for now.
“Alright then,” Hace says, returning to his seat at the front of the wagon.
The bumpy ride is uncomfortable mainly due to the lack of space for Seven, who looks like a shark stuck in a puddle, but the three of them ride on in silence. It seems to take an age for Phoenix, who feels the occasional pang of worry but tries to calm herself with thoughts of her combat training, piece of dark iron and, of course, the protection of Seven. She attempts to speak to him a few times, but the cart and hawkstrider are noisy and it is hard to talk properly with the possibility of Hace getting annoyed and calling everything off.
Eventually, Hace says: “Alright, under the cover.”
Phoenix and Seven do as he says, pulling the heavy duty canvas over themselves and scattering a few tools on top of them, including some spanners, rods and other junk and gizmos. Seven makes them look light as a feather, but Phoenix feels awkward and uncomfortable as the tools dig into her light frame.
The cart soon slows to a gentle canter and as it rises up a slight embankment, Phoenix realises it’s the hill at the base of the inner elfgate. The same hill she raced down a month ago. Her heart throbs loudly in her ears as she digs her nails into her fingers.
She tries to stay calm, but after a few moments, a low, very slight noise escapes from her throat in mild panic. Seven turns his hand towards her and pats her on the arm for reassurance. But as he moves his hand away, Phoenix takes it in hers and grips it tight. The orc’s huge fingers envelop hers.
After a few moments, Phoenix’s harsh grip loosens and the pair remain silently holding hands for the next few minutes as the wagon passes through the open elfgate. They lie in silence, Phoenix’s eyes shut tight. The contentment Seven brings to Phoenix is slightly overshadowed by anxiety, but she finds comfort in the fact she is part of a crew, a family. Even if something went wrong, Trixie and the others would come after them. Right?
What seems like an age to Phoenix is actually just a few minutes; soon it’s over and the wagon is within the walls of Silvermoon City. Phoenix wonders where they’re headed and hopes it’s not outside the inn. After a few more minutes of the wagon bumping around corners and squeaking along the streets of the city, it comes to a gentle stop.
There’s a brief pause before Phoenix hears Hace step down from the driver’s seat and walk around the cart. He lifts the tools to one side and tugs at the sheet, revealing the eyes and bandit masks on the faces of Phoenix and Seven. The pair lean up and step off the end of the wagon onto the streets of Silvermoon.
Phoenix looks around. They are in a small garden area boxed in by walls. Shadows cover the grass and the bushes around them, the deep black of the night sky concealing the elf and the orc well. In one corner, a pathway leads back to the well-lit main streets of the built-up, beautiful city. Phoenix finds herself feeling surprisingly confident about setting foot at home once again and remains largely unaffected by the possibility of her being caught.
Seven looks at Phoenix as if he’s trying to read her thoughts.
“You okay, beast?” he says.
The silly name, which already feels like a term of endearment, catches Phoenix off-guard and makes her feel even more at ease. She lets out a short laugh and nods.
Hace covers the tools with the canvas. He turns to the pair and says: “Meet me back here at first light. We leave as soon as the elfgate opens.”
“Where are we?” Phoenix asks.
“In between the Walk of Elders and the Royal Exchange,” Hace answers.
Phoenix says: “No problem. Thanks for the route in and you best be on your merry way drinking and whoring. Oh, by the way, if you see a prostitute by the name of Amelia, can you let me know? We’re looking for her.”
Hace ignores Phoenix and steps back into the wagon. He sends the hawkstrider into a gentle trot and heads onto the main path.
“Jerk,” Phoenix mutters under her breath.
“He’s not a friend, Phoenix, just our ride in,” Seven reminds her. “Forget him.”
“You’re right,” she sighs, pulling out the map.
“Do you even need that?” Seven asks.
“Just getting my bearings, beauty,” she smiles at him, taking a quick glance at the mark before folding the map back down and placing it in her inner pocket. “What’s the plan?”
“I say we keep it simple,” he responds. “Climb up using the rope, pick the locks, break in, take the items we need and get out.”
Phoenix says: “You make it sound so easy.”
Seven grunts: “That’s because it is. Just keep the dark iron close to your chest. We don’t know if there are any magical barriers or traps keeping the place secure.”
Phoenix slides a hand into her upper shirt pocket and feels the crystal to be sure it’s there. She also remembers what Trixie said about it not being ideal for elves to have nearby for long periods of time, as it can block out magic from the Sunwell. She holds this thought and uses her other hand to grip Django’s old coin within a side pocket. She then takes a deep breath and pulls out some bread from her bag.
“You want to eat anything before we get started?” Phoenix asks.
Seven shakes his head. “Let’s just get this over with,” he answers.
“And then what?” Phoenix says, before taking a bite of the bread. “We’ll have time to kill.”
“Cross that bridge when we come to it,” he responds. “We lay low, like Trixie said. Why don’t you lead the way? It’s your place after all.”
“Sure,” she responds.
“Oh and Phoenix,” Seven adds.
“Mmm?” she mumbles while eating.
“Welcome home. You might not like being here, but at least you have a home.”
Phoenix thinks carefully about the orc’s words and says nothing as she pulls her red bandit mask up to cover her mouth and nose. Seven does the same.
When the pair reach the well-lit blue and silver streets near the Royal Exchange, they keep their bandit masks up, heads down and walk at a slow, casual pace, blending into the background as best they can while keeping a small distance between themselves. Not that it’s entirely necessary - while the city is relatively busy at this time of night, with bars, restaurants and street entertainers keeping the locals occupied - Phoenix avoids the main streets and instead takes the darker back alleys and longer routes to get to their destination. Their route is largely quiet and simple.
After a few minutes they reach the apartments. They’re of a pinkish cream hue, luxurious and grand, towering over a large, well-kept rectangular courtyard with flower beds, trimmed hedges and clean pathways. Unfortunately for them, the area is well-lit from street lamps and there are two private guards by the facade of the main building, which appears to be a reception.
After taking point in a darkened side alley leading into the apartment complex, Phoenix and Seven take some time to scout the area and work on their plan of action.
“Guess the front way in is a no-go,” Seven growls. “Not that it matters. Come on, beast.”
The pair skirt along the alley and follow the road around to another alley behind the eastern wall of the apartment complex, with Phoenix leading the way, her earlier anxiousness replaced by a little cockiness and swagger.