Warcraft Fan Fiction ❯ Turning Red ❯ Visions ( Chapter 20 )
Phoenix leaves Fate behind and strides towards the grey tent, away from the clamour of the market and towards the border of the thick forest.
The tent is eerily alone, still in the breeze and calls out to her somehow, without words or lights or sounds that are usually used to draw someone’s attention. Something clicks in Phoenix’s mind. She knows what this is. Her mother had told her the story just a few years back.
Phoenix lingers by the entrance to the marquee, which is folded shut. A small ‘open’ sign hangs at the front.
Her fingers brush the edge of the tent’s old thin fabric, and she gently parts the two layers to create a small opening. It is dark inside; there is a flicker of candlelight. Phoenix peers at the inside of the marquee while keeping her distance; she tilts her head for a better view without making a noise.
“Do not dither child, come in, come in,” a deep, whispery voice beckons.
The story was true, it seems.
Phoenix parts the tent entrance further and steps inside with confidence, pulling her hood back. The hubbub from outside seems to dissipate as if she’s in a place far away.
An incredibly old elf is sitting alone by a small but thick rectangular glass table, inlaid with runes. There is a large tome open in front of him and a candle either side of it. He looks at Phoenix without expression, his long white hair falling to his waist and a beard that flows to his chest. Thousands of years of wisdom echo across his narrow, wrinkled, proud face. One eye is milky white, the other a pale blue. He glides one hand through the air, beckoning Phoenix to sit at the empty chair opposite him, and closes the book with the other.
She takes the seat, curious and engaged. Is this really a former magister of Silvermoon? A sage, apparently cast out by the others because they deemed him a madman in his old age, for having increasingly bizarre visions and too many wild, unreliable predictions.
“And what is it, you seek?” the old seer asks calmly, his voice clear, peeling back the years as he pronounces the consonants with crisp clarity.
Phoenix gazes into his eyes, thinking about all the wisdom he has gained, the memories made, secrets kept and fortunes told to hundreds, possibly thousands of travellers from across Azeroth.
Her life suddenly feels somewhat insignificant, trivial even, in his presence. She continues anyway, speaking before thinking: “My life is not what I thought it would be -”
A noise escapes his throat in humour as he raises one eyebrow.
“I mean,” Phoenix carries on. “It has changed so much in the last few months. And I…”
Phoenix struggles to find the right words. Should she ask about Trixie’s withheld information, or the whereabouts of her mother? She finds the correct decision quickly, pushing her selfish thought aside and shaking her head.
“I just want to know if my mother is safe.”
After he asks for more information, Phoenix explains the situation, leaving out details of her own crimes and passes a locket to the man which has a photo of her mother inside.
He folds his arms outwards and rests them on the table, his palms facing upwards, rings of various shapes and metals adorning his withered fingers. He moves them towards Phoenix, prompting her to hold his hands. The locket remains in his left palm.
Phoenix hesitates, and reaches her hands out to his. She places her fingers onto his palms and looks surprised when he doesn’t close them.
He shuts his eyes and Phoenix does the same. After a few seconds, he says: “She is… alive. But her health is not good. I cannot say she is safe, I’m afraid.”
He tightens his eyebrows in concentration, long furrows forming in his brow.
“Her life expectancy will fall, drastically, if she remains in this state.”
Phoenix hastily interjects: “Where is she?”
The man opens his eyes and pulls his hands away from Phoenix.
“Please do not interrupt me like that. And I only answer three questions, I’m afraid.”
Phoenix pauses in acknowledgment.
“Is that your second question?” he reiterates. “Or do you want to try again with the first and actually allow me to give you a more meaningful answer? Though it will count as your second.”
Phoenix replies: “I would like to ask where she is as my second question.”
He nods and returns his hands to the table. Phoenix touches them again and he closes his eyes in concentration once more.
For about a minute, they sit in silence and complete stillness. Phoenix feels her heart rate rise a notch, she shifts awkwardly and peeks one eye open. He has the same pained expression on his face in concentration. Phoenix wonders about the state of his own health.
“Here,” he says, almost making Phoenix jump. She closes her eye again.
“She is here, in Eversong Forest. I’m afraid I can do no more, I cannot pinpoint an exact location.” He pulls his hands away, opens his eyes and leaves the locket on the table, before sliding it towards Phoenix.
Phoenix takes a deep breath as a mix of relief and disappointment wash over her. Her mother is alive at least, but she is no closer to finding where she or the gang in black are located. The forest is huge - she could be anywhere.
“Is that all?” the old elf asks.
Phoenix’s eyes flicker at him, the candlelight twinkling in her eyes, bringing forth her third and final question.
“Can you tell my fortune? What will become of me?” she asks, worriedly.
“They always ask at least one difficult question and always leave it til the end,” the former magister creaks to himself with a sneer.
“I know,” he laughs, again to himself, before suddenly frowning and turning his head ninety degrees, staring at the side of the tent as if Phoenix is no longer in his vicinity.
Phoenix’s eyes bulge at the elf’s unusual behaviour. She begins to understand why the other magisters decided to cast him out.
He slides his chair back and stands, turning towards a closed-off section behind the table. As he lifts the drape, Phoenix identifies part of a bed and a bedside cabinet in the back room.
She hears a drawer being opened and shut. The aged elf returns with a large deep blue pack of tarot cards, cracked with water stains and an image of a sword on the cover.
He sits and opens the pack, shuffling the cards with speed and force, as if he’s done it a thousand times before. There are some other larger cards in the pack he takes out and proceeds to shuffle too. The fortune teller holds these out and asks Phoenix to pick one of these first. She taps one, at complete random.
He places the card gently onto the table, face up towards Phoenix. It’s a picture of a skeleton in black armour on horseback - the mare a frail, pale skeleton of a horse.
Phoenix’s eyebrows narrow in concentration and she immediately looks back at the old elf. She asks: “What does that mean?”
“Do not be alarmed by death, child,” he assures her. “It doesn’t mean you’re going to die tomorrow, or next month, or next year, no, you need not concern yourself with that. Not until you’re my age,” he smiles, his warm but gruff voice slowly coasting through the air like a ship across an ocean.
“The death card can signal new life, new beginnings, a change, rebirth…”
Phoenix nestles her chin with her hand, in thought. “But what does that mean to me, exactly?” she asks.
“It means… you lack patience,” he smiles again, speaking slowly. “I am not finished. There are three more cards yet. Those will determine what this card means, and what it means to them, to your potential destiny. I ask you not to react to each one, and for us to hold hands again once they are drawn. Then I can give you a full reading, rather than try to guess what each card means, when in fact it’s how they all attune together that counts.”
She nods, eager and curious.
He shuffles the smaller pack of tarot cards one more time, and spreads them out in his gaunt, wrinkled hands in front of Phoenix.
This time she thinks. She’s not sure what she thinks, exactly, but takes her time, moving her hand gently in front of the cards, her forefinger pointing and ready. She lets her subconscious take over.
She taps one card, three from the left.
“Take it,” he says. “Put it face down on the table… and don’t swivel it sideways.”
Phoenix lifts it away from the other cards and presses it gently onto the table, below the larger death card.
She looks up and scans her hand across the cards again. Rather than make a childish rhyme or count to ten in her head to choose at random, she tries to place meaning in her choices, tapping the card only once it feels right to her.
She takes the second card, one third from the right-hand edge of the pack, and places it next to the first chosen card, face-down on the crystal-clear glass table.
The room is so still as she moves to take the third and final card, she can hear the aged elf breathing opposite her. The candlelight makes a rogue flicker as she suddenly stops her hand on the third and final card, almost confused by her choice and in deep thought.
Phoenix rests the card next to the other two, the card of death towering above them.
“Ready?” the fortune teller asks, holding his arms out to Phoenix with his palms upwards again. She nods, feeling tense.
“As I say, do not dwell on each card, child,” he says. “Turn them over one-by-one, have a glance, then commune with me.”
She starts with the left-hand card, her hand hovering above it in anticipation. Phoenix gradually turns the card over to reveal a man looking over his shoulder, struggling to carry five swords. There are two more swords on the floor beside him.
‘Seven! Seven swords,’ Phoenix thinks to herself with excitement, her eyes lighting up.
“The next one,” the fortune teller gently commands.
She turns over the centre-most card, below death. It displays five elves, with one stave each. It looks like they are holding them aloft and crossing them over, but not on purpose as such - they seem to be in the midst of a conversation or some kind of dance. Phoenix cannot make much sense of that.
Her hand hovers over the last card and slowly turns it over, the flipping of the card in her fingers seemingly loud in the silent tent.
Phoenix frowns at the picture, unable to make it out. She soon realises it’s upside-down. She tilts her head for a better view. The card appears to show two figures in a small rowboat, with six swords standing impossibly by themselves at the front of the boat. The figures look like… a mother and daughter.
The heart in Phoenix’s chest thuds.
“Th-this one’s upside down,” she blurts.
“We don’t swivel them around,” the fortune teller replies. “It stays as it is. Do not dwell.”
He holds out his hands and shuts his eyes.
Phoenix, feeling tense, forces her eyes shut and places her hands in his. This time he closes his fingers around hers as he attempts to read her troubled mind.
The fortune teller focuses and his mind is flooded with a myriad of possibilities. Several visions come to him from the distant future: a circle of thorns; a rookery full of crows; a bar in Bilgewater Harbour.
More paths emerge in his mind, crossing over and under, creating a complex web of possibilities. A demon in the void. A sword made of shadow. A dark, hooded androgynous figure eating a banana. The joy - and pain - of a promising but ultimately fleeting friendship.
Darkness. Death. Though for whom he cannot tell.
The energy from Phoenix and her potential is almost overwhelming. The former magister shifts and attempts to visualise the more immediate future rather than what could lie ahead for Phoenix in decades to come.
He sees a ship in his mind, two elves of similar height engaged in combat on deck. A recurring vision of a beautiful woman decayed by bloodthistle, pale and alone, keeps coming into his mind, as does a cave by the coast of Stranglethorn. He also sees Silvermoon under attack by hordes of undead, one of his regular visions, though this time sees Phoenix desperately struggling to fight off a group of skeletons encircling her.
The feeling of both love and hatred emanates from Phoenix, with too fine a line between the two. The fortune teller sees several visions of Phoenix losing control, consumed by rage. Eventually, this bubbling anger forces him out of her mind.
He gradually draws his hands away from Phoenix’s and slowly opens his eyes. Phoenix does the same and looks at him expectantly from across the table.
“I am sorry, child,” he starts. “Your life will not be easy, at least not for a while.
“You are young, there are too many possibilities for me to pin down a precise future for you. I saw many visions, most of which were hard to make sense of. But one thing is certain: there will be conflict, betrayal and death.”
Phoenix looks uneasy and strokes her hair in thought. “What kind of visions?” she asks.
“You were fighting someone on a ship, an elf your height. I saw another woman, repeatedly, she looked like you, but pale, she suffered some sort of addiction. Another time, you were helping to defend Silvermoon from a horde of undead. But I am sorry to say, its fall is inevitable.”
Phoenix soaks the visions in, finding it hard to believe the latter.
“Mother…” she whispers to herself.
“Then there are the cards,” the fortune teller adds, pointing to the tarot cards between them. “The death card in this instance represents a new beginning for you, but also that someone close to you may die, I’m sorry to say,” he explains, Phoenix fearful that he may be referring to her mother.
“The seven of swords card, this signifies the betrayal I mentioned earlier. Someone may be deceitful and lay a trap for you, so be aware of this. Then there’s the five of wands… representing some sort of disagreement or conflict. You seem quite pained about something, angry and tense. This will result in some kind of confrontation.
“Then there’s the six of swords, the mother and daughter on the boat. When upright this card hints that you may be undergoing a transition or rite of passage… but it was upside-down. This means you cannot move on - there is baggage that needs to be sorted before you can.”
The fortune teller sighs, his milky white eyes looking at Phoenix with pity.
“Something is holding you back, child, and until you resolve it I’m afraid your pain and anger will continue. On a more positive note, you have real energy and potential. You are young and have time to grow and learn. Do not take my reading entirely to heart.”
He smiles and gathers the cards up, placing them back into their deck.
Conflict, betrayal and death. Phoenix feels the pit of her stomach churn with fear and anxiety. She tries to bury these feelings.
“Thank you,” Phoenix says with meaning, removing her coin purse and taking a gold coin out for the fortune teller.
He waves her away. “I do not do this for coin,” he states. “I have enough of that. I get to see so many lives from across Azeroth who come to this harbour, it gives me meaning to assist and offer guidance. Now if you don’t mind, the last few readings have left this old, mad elf rather tired,” he croaks.
Phoenix smiles at this and stands up to leave, placing the coin back into her purse. As she moves towards the tent’s exit, she turns around one last time, her curiosity getting the better of her.
“Magister,” she says, feeling unusually confident around a stranger. “Why did they cast you out? You are still wise.”
“Ohh,” he dithers and frowns. “No one calls me that these days…! The others didn’t like what I foresaw,” he manages to stutter. “They believe Silvermoon is eternal. But they are blind.”
Phoenix feels troubled by the certainty in his voice. She is conflicted whether to believe him or not.
“What is your name?” she finally asks him.
“Phoenix,” he replies. “Go, I am tired now,” he says, stepping into the back room, not giving her a chance to respond. “Oh and flip the sign outside will you? I’m closing.”
Unsure whether he’s referring to her, or if he shares the same name, or perhaps both, she decides it doesn’t matter and smiles anyway. Phoenix opens the tent to leave, before turning the sign around. She will continue down the path of crime, of finding herself, of searching for her mother. Her fate has not yet been sealed, but of the multiple paths that lie open before her, very few are without hardship and heartache.