Warcraft Fan Fiction ❯ Turning Red ❯ Fate ( Chapter 19 )
Later that evening, Phoenix and Trixie sit next to one another on the golden sands of Tranquil Shore. The calm waves stroke the surface of the shore, a cool breeze occasionally floating by. The moonlight glints off the large bottle of rum in Trixie’s hands and twinkles in her eyes. She passes the drink to Phoenix, who takes another gulp before handing it back to the goblin.
Phoenix laughs as the pair share a joke, the fire of the rum trickling down the elf’s belly, temporarily patching over the cracks in her relationship with Trixie and removing her inhibitions.
Trixie leans her head on Phoenix’s shoulder. “Oh, redhead, you did very well last night. Were you okay with Seven?”
“I like him,” she says. “He told me about his past, how he came into contact with you all. He’s a good… person.”
“That he is,” Trixie adds, “And I’m glad I put you with him. I didn’t think you’d get along from your first meeting - you both seemed terrified of each other.”
“What?” Phoenix asks, shocked. “I was scared of him! Why would he be scared of me?”
Trixie doesn’t answer. Instead, she looks out to sea, as if her mind is on something else.
“You are special, Phoenix,” Trixie adds. “We must keep you safe, you have great potential I feel. And I’m not just saying that, ya know.”
She turns to Phoenix, a more serious look on her face that quickly transforms into a wide smile. She whispers: “Don’t tell the others, but I think you’re becoming my favourite.”
Phoenix doesn’t believe her. It kills the jovial mood. She half-smiles anyway and now it’s her turn to look out to sea. There is a small sailboat out late, slowly making its way back to shore. Phoenix decides now is the right time.
“Listen, Trixie,” she tarts. “I’m not sure I can stay here with you all.”
Trixie leans back, frowning and stuttering slightly from her tipsiness, or from shock. “You don’t mean that.”
“I don’t want to leave,” Phoenix continues, “But I feel I must. My mother - ”
“Will be reunited with you,” Trixie cuts her off. “I gave you my word, little red, didn’t I?”
“Yes, I know, but I don’t want to delay any longer,” Phoenix responds, holding her hand out for the bottle once more, prompting the goblin to pass it to her. She takes a large gulp for extra courage, passing it back to Trixie. The taste is deep and she doesn’t find it nice as such, but it is warming. Almost comforting. It is growing on her.
“My mother could be in serious danger. Every day that passes is another day we won’t get back. Another day I could spend searching for her, taking me closer to her. I’m afraid I will never see her again.”
She turns to Trixie: “I can’t thank you enough for the opportunity you’ve given me, but if we do not focus more on finding my mum, I must leave.”
The goblin leans back and sighs. “I get it kid, I promise ya I do,” she says, the bottle of rum cutting off the sentence sharply as she takes another swig of alcohol. “And I’ve been working on tracking your mother down. Thing is, no one knows where the Steelfeathers are hiding out. Just as they don’t know where we stay. But...”
Phoenix listens intently. Trixie pauses and hiccups.
“I have a lead on some of their bloodthistle farms. While my crew’s safety is a top priority, we could torch them. Send a message. Threaten to burn more if they don’t hand your mother over.”
Phoenix nods slowly - she likes the idea.
“Some of their other places were flushed out a while back and they’ve taken off elsewhere,” Trixie carries on. “I’m guessing their base is to the east or south of Eversong Forest, but I can’t be sure. The only way would be to follow one of them back. Even then, those guys have been known for having several hideouts - with only a few senior members knowing where the family resides. It’s incredibly dangerous for us to attempt, so I’d suggest disrupting their farms - and their trade for now. When the boss - my boss - returns with the proper force of the full crew, we could stage a proper rescue mission -”
“No,” Phoenix interjects. “I want some signs of progress before then, I’m not waiting around. Let’s torch the farms. If that doesn’t work, I go alone. Once I have my mum back I promise I will return to you and work. Heck I’ll even pay my way out if I have to.”
Trixie sighs again, the rum on her breath reaching Phoenix’s nostrils.
“Kid, I couldn’t let ya go. I mean, I can’t stop ya, but while you’re doing well with what I’ve set you so far, you don’t stand a chance against them by yourself. I hate to say it but you’ll end up dead. We must stick together. Farms first. One step at a time.”
Phoenix thinks back to the encounters she’s had with the Steelfeathers so far and recounts what happened at Silvermoon with Seven. It’s clear the Steelfeathers have taken a different direction since Phoenix bit - and embarrassed - Alexandra.
“Listen,” Trixie says, her eyes flickering with a new idea. “You have more than proven yourself, Phoenix… even if you are a little rough around the edges. Very rough, actually. Some say I’m mad to keep you.”
Phoenix fakes a gasp towards Trixie and pretends to slap her hand; the goblin giggles lightly.
“Why don’t we head down to the ship tomorrow, you can meet her? Get to know her. Make a new friend, as a fully fledged member of my ship’s crew.”
Phoenix raises her eyebrows, tempted. Trixie continues further: “And while we’re there, we’ll look for some information, maybe some more muscle to help us find your mother.”
It’s enough to sway her. The elf leans in and squeezes Trixie tightly with respect and affection.
“Aw, stop that,” the goblin says, coy. “I do mean the best for ya, kid,” Trixie says. “Don’t forget that.”
Phoenix smiles. “I know,” she says. But deep down she is still not certain of that. “There is… something else.”
Phoenix feels a little nervous hearing the words aloud, but the alcohol gives her the courage to press on.
“Now why does that not surprise me?” Trixie jokes.
Phoenix studies the goblin’s face, as her own takes a more serious edge, telling her boss this isn’t a time for jokes.
“I know you are keeping something from me.”
The words hang in the air.
“Well, ya can’t have all the booze at once!” Trixie says awkwardly, avoiding the statement.
When she notices Phoenix is not laughing, she coughs and looks down at the sand, then back up at the elf, the evening breeze flicking her red hair. Phoenix forces herself not to react to Trixie’s joke, to wait for a proper response.
“Listen, kid, it’s nothing personal,” Trixie starts. “Of course there are things I will withhold from you, from the group, from people we do business with. Like I said to ya the other night, some information is withheld until trust is earnt. So come, build that trust!”
Trixie grins widely and holds out the bottle of rum to Phoenix again. She takes it reluctantly, and knowing she will get nothing more out of the goblin, drinks several large mouthfuls of the alcohol. Trixie’s grin seems to widen with each gulp. Phoenix suddenly withdraws the bottle, before coughing and spluttering.
“That’s the spirit!” Trixie laughs. She leans in and kisses the fiery hair atop Phoenix’s head. “Go on, get some sleep ya silly redhead, we’ve got a big day ahead.”
Phoenix smiles, nods and gets up too quickly. She stumbles and crashes back down into the sand again, her wobbly, drunken legs unable to prevent herself from falling. The pair erupt into laughter again as Trixie rolls onto her back, spilling some of the rum onto the sand in the process.
Phoenix might be laughing now, but come the morning, the anxiety and uncertainty will return. Phoenix needs to find answers, somehow.
The next morning, most of the crew leave the hideout at Tranquil Shore early and make their way to Sunsail Anchorage, a harbour and bustling market area built for trade. Thirteen and Seven are left behind to guard the base.
The morning is crisp, so Phoenix wears some of her old clothes on top of her red garb, including her old brown hood, for added warmth. Her head aches from last night’s booze.
Trixie, Django, Phoenix, Henry, Harris and Falkor - who is sitting on Henry’s shoulders again - head south along the seafront before crossing a short but narrow rope bridge to reach the western edge of Sunsail Anchorage.
Just after climbing the ladder, Trixie pulls out a small, crude-looking piece of goblin engineering - some sort of handheld radio device. She flicks a switch and speaks into it: “Guys, do you read?”
“No we told you we can’t read, boss,” a crackly voice responds. It sounds like Trixie’s, but deeper.
She responds in deadpan sarcasm: “Ha. Ha. Quite the humour. We’re on our way, I hope it’s looking spick and span, unlike you lot.”
There is some muttering that can be heard through the tiny speaker, then the line goes dead. Trixie chuckles to herself.
As they walk, the crew discuss Seven and Phoenix’s antics from the other evening, the Steelfeathers and their possible motives and the ship.
Harris occasionally sings some odd ditty, repeating the lines ‘We’re off to see a ship, we’re off to sea in a ship,’ over and over again, much to Henry’s ire.
Django walks alongside Phoenix at one point and smiles warmly, the tusks on his pale blue face looking stronger than ever.
“ Seven tells me you held your own in Silvermoon…” Django says. “Dat coin proving to be lucky, uh?” he laughs.
Phoenix nods, gripping the coin within her pocket tightly and pulling it out for her and Django to take another look.
“Thank you for letting me borrow it,” Phoenix says, passing it back to Django. On the surface her action seems natural, willing even, but deep down she feels reluctance and hopes she can hold onto it. She’s grown quite attached to the faded thing.
“Nah mon, you keep it,” he says, squinting slightly and holding his hand up. “I have a feeling you will need it more than me. Besides, I have enough charms and trinkets back at the hideout for an entire tribe!”
Phoenix feels shy for some reason and thanks the troll again. She looks down at the coin as they walk, looking at the bird on one side and the spiral on the other.
“What are these symbols supposed to be?”
“Ahh,” Django replies. “I thought you’d neva ask. Dat coin is supposed to be ancient, tousands a years old. From de Zandalari tribe. Da bird you see there is apparently de loa known as Aviana, da mother of flight.”
Phoenix looks closely at the coin and realises why she thought the bird looked odd before. It appears to be half-bird half-woman. Seeing it in this light also makes it look like a phoenix, which only heightens the young elf’s love of the coin.
“And the spiral?” Phoenix asks, turning the coin over.
Phoenix looks at him, intrigued.
“Ey mon, I don’t have all de answers ya know!” he grins.
Phoenix smiles and places the coin back in her pocket.
The six members of the crew reach Sunsail Anchorage by mid-morning. After crossing the narrow rope bridge carefully one by one, with Falkor holding Trixie’s hand to cross, they walk up a curving hilltop path towards the harbour.
Phoenix, Trixie, Django, the two dwarves and Falkor stroll casually towards Sunsail Anchorage, and as they reach the peak of the small grassy hill, the harbour comes into view below them in all its splendour.
Four or five enormous ships lay docked in the harbour, which curves outwards into the open sea. The cobbled paths around the water’s edge are teeming with the bustle of merchants and ship-goers busily going about their business like ants in a colony. Seagulls caw overhead as sunlight glimmers off the salt water. The fact that the harbour is so close to the forest’s edge adds to its magnificence, making it seem like some kind of secret wonder or mirage, hidden away by the trees themselves.
On the opposite side, a faint sea mist envelops a ship a few hours out from port.
Phoenix, stunned by the sight of the anchorage, stops to soak in the view. She doesn’t know where to look. The elf feels excitement from not only the thought of exploring the harbour at her will, but for the anticipation of discovery, the boats and activity below challenging her to set sail on a maiden voyage. She also feels a twinge of disappointment that she has never set foot here until now. At this moment, the world of Azeroth is at her feet - she could go anywhere she likes with the crew - and the freedom is almost overwhelming.
Trixie, noticing the wonder in Phoenix’s eyes, turns to smile at Django and the dwarves, then leans in to Phoenix and places her palm on Phoenix’s back, guiding her forward.
“Go on, knock yourself out kid,” Trixie says, and Phoenix smirks with delight at the goblin. She ties her hair back and pulls her hood over the top of her head, leaving her bandit mask lowered around her neck, before half jogging, half skipping down the hill towards the traders market to explore the area.
As the ground levels out and she approaches the harbour, the bustle and noise of the market grows in volume, the smell of freshly caught fish and ale filling the air.
There are food stalls, merchants offering fish and other sea creatures, fishing shacks, an outdoor bar and traders bartering with one another over crew, trips across the water and for ships themselves. A small, solitary tavern is situated right by the shoreline edge atop a short, sharp cliff.
Phoenix doesn’t know where to start. She begins walking towards the inn by the water’s edge.
“Delicious, cooked fish!” a bearded merchant exclaims, attempting to make eye contact with Phoenix, distracting her. “Care to try some? You won’t find better in all of Silvermoon!”
“Don’t listen to him, miss, why do that when you can catch your own?” another voice cries from the stall next to the first merchant, and Phoenix spots a smiling elf holding two fishing rods aloft, poking them towards Phoenix.
She pulls her hood down further over her face and ignores the merchants clamouring for the attention of buyers. She, rather contrarily, looks left instead.
Through the din of the market, past the traders’ tables and back towards the tip of the forest’s edge, there is one stall that does not try to grab her attention, but does so anyway.
The dark grey tent is out of the way of the others, raised above them on a short hill. It’s to one side, like an outsider that knows it does not belong. There are no signs outside it either, just a small, single marquee with a solitary flag on top in matching grey. It shouldn’t, but it immediately grabs Phoenix’s attention. She finds herself staring at it, looking around, then back at the tent again. A shiver runs down her spine. She must have stared at the tent for a good minute or so, feeling uneasy but curious at the same time.
“Come on redhead,” a squeaking voice says beside her. “Let’s see what we came here for!”
Phoenix feels Trixie’s hand take hers and guides her back the way they came. Phoenix’s eyes are still glued to the tent - it’s not until she’s fully facing the other way does she snap out of her vacant gaze. Trixie directs Phoenix towards the docks, where she sees the others standing beside a ship, smaller than most of the other large vessels anchored in the quay.
“You know, it was Fate that brought us here,” Trixie says to Phoenix. She looks up at the ship. “And it’s Fate that will take us back to Stranglethorn.”
In front of them resides a beautiful-looking mahogany sloop, or sailing ship. It has a single mast and sails set along the line of the keel - the blade sticking into the water on the underside of the ship. On the side there’s the word ‘Fate’ painted in a deep black fancy font that looks like a form of calligraphy.
This type of sailing vessel, a fore-and-aft rigged boat, is smaller and not as sturdy as some of the other larger ships and trading vessels docked at Sunsail Anchorage, but it’s a shape favoured by pirates and smugglers for its maneuverability. The wood has been varnished extensively, a deep reddish-brown with a shiny sparkle that makes it look brand new.
The sight of Fate gives Trixie a spring in her step and she smiles proudly at the ship, to Phoenix, and back again.
There are four cannons aboard - two on each side - with everything else a ship should have: a crow’s nest, helm, anchor, upper deck and lower deck. Because of its size, Fate does not require a large crew, perhaps six to ten or so: a few deckhands and cannoneers, a navigator, chef, the captain plus any others that might be required.
Phoenix wonders what each member of Trixie’s crew does at sea. As she imagines this, a couple of greasy-looking male goblins emerge from the deck and one shouts down to Trixie: “You coming aboard or what?”
“No, I’m going to sit here and play cards… of course we’re coming aboard! We want to see if your repair work is still up to scratch, for one.”
The goblins look at each other with an expression that says ‘no rest for the wicked’.
Trixie winks at Phoenix and begins walking up the wooden gangplank that connects the ship with the dock, the other members of the crew following her close behind. Standing on a ship for the first time further intensifies Phoenix’s hunger for adventure, her curiosity for travel and the discovery of secrets that Azeroth may be hiding.
The two goblins show their handiwork to Trixie, having repaired some parts of the rigging, hull and deck, and she nods in approval. The outside of the ship is impeccably clean and in good shape, but the same cannot be said for the interior.
The crew proceed to the lower deck and Trixie shows Phoenix the sleeping quarters (where a couple of other goblins are dozing), the mess room (aptly named on this occasion due to the various tools scattered around), humble kitchen and another small room with a desk and a few chairs. In the latter there are several pictures of various boats on the walls - everything looks very professional here, more so than usual. All except for a crudely-constructed radio device of some sort. There’s a porthole in here too; Phoenix can see a crowd of people and one of the market stalls through the glass. It is surprisingly quiet below deck - the noise from above is all but drowned out.
“This is where we conduct our ‘business’,” Trixie says to Phoenix, looking into the room from the corridor outside. “You know, the whole reason we’re here,” she says with a mysterious undertone.
Phoenix’s face paints an unsure expression.
“Repairing other ships of course!” Trixie adds. “We are a company of expert repairers and tinkerers, specialising in quality construction and goblin engineering.”
Phoenix raises an eyebrow, unconvinced.
“Yes, quite,” she responds.
Trixie closes the door and tries the handle on another nearby one, which does nothing. She taps a few other locked doors and leans up to loudly whisper in Phoenix’s ear (but doesn’t reach): “A little bit of extra dealing in the business of storage and couriering never hurt anyone, of course! Though we keep most of our goods in the hideout until we need to sail away again.”
Phoenix nods and smiles, placating Trixie. She imagines the goblins here look after the ship, while Trixie and the rest of the crew remain hidden with their smuggled goods in the cave at Tranquil Shore. Phoenix thinks she sees a barely visible inverted triangle in lighter varnish above the handle on one of the locked doors, but doesn’t have time to inspect further as the rest of the crew move past her, ushering her back upstairs.
Above deck, Phoenix leans on the railings and looks out over the docks, lowering her hood behind her head and letting her hair down to gently billow in the wind. Her eyes search for the grey tent again and struggle to find it.
“How are ya getting on, wee lass?” a thick Dwarven voice asks beside her.
“Hello Henry,” Phoenix smiles. “I’m fine, thank you.”
For some reason she feels inclined to turn up her level of politeness around him, as he seems to be the most well-mannered of the group.
“It’s strange,” she adds. “I have lived in Silvermoon my whole life but today is the first day I’ve ever set foot here at the anchorage. It’s beautiful.”
“Aye, that it is, miss,” Henry replies. “It makes him think of my home, in a way. The city of Ironforge, and the great snow-capped mountains and sweeping valleys of Dun Morogh. My people might be impossible at times, but the scenery and the architecture at Ironforge, that is something to be truly cherished… it’s not the same as here, mind. But home is home.”
“I have been travelling for most of my life,” Henry continues. “And I enjoy it. But I would be lying if I said I didn’t miss Ironforge. Perhaps someday you will see it, and if we’re there together, I can give you a tour. I’d probably be the least grumpiest tour guide you’ll find there, that’s for sure.”
“Unless Harris is there with us,” Phoenix giggles.
“Oh I’ll make sure that won’t happen - he can stay outside and make conversation with the bloody wild boars, they’re more his level!” Henry smiles.
Phoenix hears Harris making some annoying noises in the distance and turns around to see him pestering some of the goblins.
“Trix, get this idiot out of my hair!” one shouts down at Trixie, who is still downstairs.
“For the sake of the Gods, leave them be, brother!” Henry cries.
“Green skin everywhere, the smell of B.O. in the air, enough to make you vomit n’ swear -” Harris starts.
Henry trundles towards him and swings an arm his way, muttering: “Shut up, just shut up would ye! I’m trying to have a nice conversation with Miss Dreamfoil.”
Harris fires a retort back and the pair begin squabbling with one another.
Phoenix turns back towards the docks and looks for the grey tent again. She takes a deep breath and attempts to ignore the noise of the dwarves, of the market traders on the land in front of her and seagulls cawing overhead. A strong, sudden gust of wind catches Phoenix’s face, forcing her to blink. When she readjusts herself, she sees the tent for a moment, its small flag flapping in the breeze.
Phoenix snaps out of her gaze and sees Falkor standing beside Django, who is bartering with a nearby trader. The man looks scared to see a troll in the area, but as harbours like this draw races from all over Azeroth, past rivalries are often overlooked for coin. She turns around and spots Trixie in deep conversation with one of the goblins.
“I’d like to take a look around some more, Trixie,” Phoenix says, above their chatter.
Trixie, looking a little flustered with the other goblin, stops her sentence short and turns to Phoenix for a second. “Sure kid, go enjoy yourself.”
Phoenix pulls up her hood again. She finds herself walking off the gangplank, past the traders and through most of the dock, drawn to the tent like a moth to the flame.