Warcraft Fan Fiction ❯ Turning Red ❯ Deep waters ( Chapter 22 )
Phoenix is watching Thirteen and trying not to laugh. It’s the third time that day his breakfast came up to say hello.
Thirteen is hunched over a railing vomiting his food into the ocean again, the young pale elf riddled with seasickness and nausea.
Seven is laughing heartily at his companion, as is Harris, whose whooping is almost melodic. Phoenix stifles her laughter.
Thirteen quickly gave up telling the rest of the crew to fuck off whenever they laughed at him puking up, the constant shifting of the boat clearly making him queasiest member of the crew. Phoenix wonders if he’s also given up on trying to soak magic from the Sunwell to stop the vomiting. She watches as he spits the last of his sick into the sea and sits up against the railings again, silent. For someone who wants to see the world, he’s incredibly susceptible to seasickness, Phoenix thinks.
The crew had stopped off at the shores of Stranglethorn Vale for a week, seeking news of Trixie’s captain, but to no avail. Instead, they traded some fine elven fabrics with the goblins of Azeroth’s well-known Booty Bay, while picking up large quantities of cigarettes, exotic fruits, rum and other alcohol to trade back in and around Silvermoon.
The hull is packed full of cargo and, the crew, while disappointed at the lack of progress in finding their true captain, are largely in good spirits. Some have been drinking a few of the bottles they picked up, including Phoenix, whose mild seasickness seems to be quelled by rum. She passes a half-drunk bottle to Thirteen, who weakly bats it away. He just carries on looking almost lifelessly at the water stretched beyond the boat as far as the eye can see.
“Suit yourself,” Phoenix says to him, turning away to stare out to sea. She has never really liked him, anyway.
The sun is shining in full force and the sweltering heat is almost ungodly. Sweat drips from Phoenix’s brow - she wipes it away with the sleeve of her cotton shirt and looks at the open sea once more. She catches a glimpse of a beautiful blue macaw diving through the air in the distance. In a blink it’s gone, and the deep blue sea is all there is to view. It should be getting boring, but to Phoenix she relishes these trips Fate offers her, standing proud and feeling the strength of the rum burn her throat and oesophagus.
The sea is incredibly calm, the gentle waves stroking the hull of the ship soothingly. With barely any wind, Fate is moving along at a snail’s pace and the crew know they have a very long journey ahead. They are not dressed in their usual garb on the open seas - apart from Trixie. Her boiled leather clothing, red scarlet cloak and eye patch seem to suit every occasion, but most of the others have traded their leather tunics, trousers and boots for simple cotton shirts, vests and light shorts to keep cool. Most are barefoot, much to the aversion of Phoenix’s eyes - especially when it comes to the dwarves. She didn’t think it was possible for a foot to have that much hair on it.
Swords and daggers are in holsters, as are a few guns - Trixie takes no chances when sailing the seas of Azeroth, especially when making a long trek like this from Silvermoon to Stranglethorn and back.
Only a few of them are on the upper deck at this time. Thirteen, Phoenix, Seven and Harris are enjoying the weather and keeping an eye on their given duties. Seven has the helm, Harris is manning the sails and assisting Seven with navigation, while Phoenix and Thirteen, the runts of the crew’s litter, are still the ‘do anything’ deckhands. They clean, assist the other officers, do simple repairs, carry cargo, sometimes help Henry cook and occasionally act as powder monkeys, assisting the dwarves, Seven and Django to fire the cannons (though this activity is a rare last resort).
Henry is up in the crow’s nest, topless, the beam of the sun shining down onto his shiny bald head. He is fanning himself with one hand and sipping water from a flask with the other. The flask is getting light - he’s almost finished the last of the water in it already and only topped it up a couple of hours ago. Henry uses a spyglass to occasionally scan for ships and land on the horizon, shouting down to Seven and Harris with any news. Up in the crow’s nest Henry can feel every little movement of the ship, every bob and tilt. Today, there isn’t much - the water is calm.
Trixie is downstairs counting gold and writing on the ship’s ledgers, updating them with the haul they collected in Stranglethorn, while Django - the crew’s first mate and Trixie’s right-hand-troll - is in the kitchen preparing some food for the meal later that day, chopping up and sniffing some spices, and occasionally snorting his white powder. Falkor is soundly asleep in the crew’s quarters.
Phoenix, aside from having to listen to Harris hum an annoying tune, is feeling good. She won a reasonable sum of gold back in the Salty Sailor Tavern, gambling on card games that Django had taught her. There, she struck up a relationship with the bartender Nixxrax, the pair sharing stories and jokes.
Almost as if reading her mind, Seven calls across to Phoenix: “Yo beast, you’re looking kind of smug there.”
She slowly turns to face him, across the deck, leaning back on the railings.
“You know you just got lucky back there to win that gold,” Seven adds.
“It was all skill,” she grins, taking another sip of the rum.
“Yeah you keep telling yourself that. Where was the skill against Trixie the night you didn’t know when to quit?”
Phoenix sticks her tongue out at him and takes one of the many gold coins from her pouch, throwing it at him carelessly and arrogantly.
He ducks instinctively and the coin goes skidding across the deck, plopping into the water below.
“At least catch it,” Phoenix moans.
“If you want to throw your money away, that’s your problem,” he retorts.
Up in the crow’s nest, Henry is looking through the spyglass, content to be away from the antics below. It’s quiet up there and he can barely hear his brother’s nonsense. As Henry turns 180 degrees to face behind the boat, back towards Stranglethorn, his peacefulness is smashed to pieces like a blunt club to the face.
Henry thinks he sees something on the horizon: black and red-striped sails. He lowers the spyglass and for a few seconds, sits there hoping it not to be true, biting his lip. He raises the spyglass to his eye again and notices the sails are still there, wobbling in and out of focus. A feeling of dread washes over him as he forces himself to take a deep breath and lean over the edge of the crow’s nest.
“Bloodsails!” Henry bellows, the nervousness seeping into his deep voice as he repeats: “Bloodsails on the horizon. Get Trixie up here now!”
She hears the words on deck and panics. Knowing it’s not something Henry would joke about, Phoenix races past Harris, whose musical mumblings have immediately been cut short by the news, down to the lower deck. Nervousness sinks into her stomach, clashing with adrenaline.
“Trixie!” she shouts, running to the captain’s quarters. “Boss!”
She opens the door without knocking.
“Trixie,” she repeats, quieter now, catching her breath for a moment as the goblin looks up from her desk and back at Phoenix, wide-eyed.
“Bloodsails,” Phoenix says, quietly.
Trixie stares back at Phoenix and her face drops. She says nothing as she puts her quill down, hops from her chair and walks calmly but swiftly past Phoenix.
Django, hearing Phoenix’s cries, leaves the kitchen - with his apron still on - and sees Trixie briskly stomping her way to the top deck. He glimpses eye contact with Phoenix and looks pained. He follows.
“How far, how many?” Trixie calls up to Henry, the rest of the crew looking on expectantly.
“Just one, boss, but it’s big. It looks like a galleon,” Henry calls down to her, while trying to stop the spyglass in his hand trembling. The ship is a little clearer to see now, it’s closer and appears to be moving fast. He concentrates hard and sees oars on the ship’s sides. “A gall… A galley, mam.”
The power in Henry’s voice fades. “It’s a galley,” he says quieter, not wanting it to be true. “At full speed it could be here in half an hour.”
Trixie closes her eyes and strokes her hair with one hand, the other rubbing the eye under her patch. In that moment the other crew members don’t know where to look. They are on the open seas, barely moving, a sitting duck to any huge vessel - especially one that has oars and a large crew to catch up with them. And especially the Bloodsail Buccaneers, a group the crew are all too aware of. The bloodthirsty pirates are notorious for ransacking ships, stealing goods and not leaving any survivors. Trixie growls: her contacts had assured her the Bloodsail Buccaneers were away from Stranglethorn, but they must have returned earlier than expected.
The silence - a calm before the storm - is deafening. The gentle creaking of the boat, the sea slapping into the hull and the gorgeous blue sky overhead does nothing to calm the crew’s growing anxiety.
Trixie taps her foot on the deck, seemingly in thought. All eyes are on her, awaiting her orders. Phoenix tries to imagine what Trixie is thinking. Hiding below deck? Nah, not her style. Using the rowboat to escape with the crew… and leave the cargo behind? No chance. Surrendering? The thought makes Phoenix shudder.
“Any other ships out there?” Trixie calls up to Henry, calmly, breaking the silence.
Henry looks back into the spyglass with despair, scanning the horizon as he turns around a full 360 degrees.
“I’m afraid not, Trixie,” Henry says, deflated. “Nothin’ but open water. It’s just us and them.”
Henry looks back at the Bloodsails. “They’re moving towards us fast,” he adds.
Trixie begins loading her gun. “Seven,” she says, turning to the orc behind the wheel of Fate, while spinning the chamber of her pistol and locking it with a click. “Turn us towards them.”
For a few seconds, nothing is said.
“What?” Django interjects, stepping towards the goblin. “We cannot - ”
Trixie glares at him, her eyes beaming a stare that would quite probably scare the wildest of wolves away. Phoenix acknowledges it as a stare that says in equal measure, do not dare defy me and do not dare spread doubt amongst our ranks.
Django takes a breath and looks around at the crew, smiling confidently - on the surface at least.
“You heard what the captain said, Seven,” Django says, his smile fading as he takes off his apron. Seven shakes his head and turns the wheel, the ship drifting about face.
“Suit up, arm yourselves, load the cannons,” Trixie says to the crew, not taking her eyes off her own pistol. “I want everyone on deck, standing tall,” she says with defiance. “Now!” she turns and shouts at them with authority. The crew gets to work, charging below deck to gather their weapons and change into their usual attire. Henry returns to the deck with Falkor, who looks like he’s just woken up.
A sloop against a galley, this is surely madness, Phoenix thinks to herself as she prepares the cannons. She tries her best to place trust in Trixie’s plan, in whatever crazy idea she has.
When the crew returns to the top deck, the Bloodsail Buccaneers’ galley can be seen clearly by the naked eye. The sight of the huge red and black sails screams danger, like the colouring on the abdomen of a deadly venomous spider. Phoenix is glad that Falkor cannot see it.
“Load all the cannons with grapeshot,” Trixie commands.
Seven and Django prepare the cannons on the starboard side, while the dwarves take the port. Phoenix stands beside the former, raising her red bandit mask to cover her face and bringing her left palm down to rest on the hilt of Heart. Her right hand touches the linstock in its stand, ready to light the cannons when ordered. She forces herself to adopt a calm clarity, burying feelings of panic and terror. Thirteen, meanwhile, does the same with the cannons on the other side. He moves over to the dwarves, slowly, his face looking a little better as the sea is a lot calmer now.
Trixie paces the deck, an angry look smouldering across her face. She stands on the top of the deck, by the wheel. Falkor sits nearby, he appears to be meditating.
The Bloodsail Buccaneers are closer now and the crew can hear the shouting and whooping from the pirates in the distance. Trixie keeps her eye on the huge boat in front of them, taking them head-on. A few minutes pass; the crew stand in silence, awaiting their fate. The enormous galley keeps sailing in their direction, the small green goblin keeps standing defiant, watching them come closer. If this situation continues, the galley will simply smash Fate into smithereens. Phoenix realises Trixie is probably playing a game of chicken with the Bloodsail Buccaneers. This is not going to end well, she thinks, as a sudden pang of fear rushes through her body, the adrenaline sweeping through her veins.
Trixie stands facing the Buccaneers, the huge ship looming over her tiny sloop, and she does not turn to face the crew.
Phoenix turns and sees the huge ship rushing towards them. She is itching for Trixie to turn the ship so they can fire their cannons and get the first hit in. While she is ready to light the cannons, part of her is ready to leap into the water and swim away with her friends.
The laughter of the pirates can be heard loudly now, their galley less than a minute away from ramming into Fate.
The pirates are all shouting over one another. One barks from across the water: “Ahoy there, it’s death here, pleased to meet ya!”
Another says: “We won’t be swift, or merciful!”
Others start chanting towards Trixie’s crew: “Jump, jump, jump!”
“You’re dead anyway, might as well jump,” another laughs.
Phoenix does her best to block out the noise, the nonsense from these bloodthirsty fools. She faces the ship again and realises they are about to get crushed by the front of the galley. Phoenix and Seven exchange a worried, desperate glance at one another.
Trixie stands defiantly, still facing towards the galley.
Fate suddenly sways and Phoenix winces, bracing for impact, but she realises the movement is from the waves being pushed in their direction, not wood smashing into wood.
The galley turns at the very last moment, moving to pass Fate’s starboard side. Trixie spins Fate’s wheel sharply to the left. The huge galley passes Fate’s starboard side, looming high above them, most of the pirates shouting and laughing down at Trixie’s crew from the galley’s upper deck, with others hanging onto the rigging. Most of them are humans, but there are a few goblins and high elves amongst their ranks too. They could easily swing down onto Trixie’s boat, but remain where they are, laughing and shouting obscenities down at the crew. They are toying with them.
Thirteen rushes across the ship to the starboard side’s left-hand cannon beside Django.
As the pirate vessel passes Fate, some of the pirates spot Phoenix, her shiny ginger hair flowing halfway down her back.
“There’s a fine young woman we have for us, lads!” one pirate shouts. His words are met with a chorus of disgusting cheers, hooting and wolf whistles. Seven bares his teeth. Phoenix tries to force herself to stay calm and not lose her cool.
Having narrowly missed collision, Trixie rolls the wheel to the right to level the boat up, so that the back of Fate doesn’t hit the rear end of the galley. But the pirate vessel is so huge, its rear still looks like it’s still going to tear into Fate as it turns. The galley levels up at the last moment, missing Fate by an inch. Trixie winces as the black wood of the pirate vessel narrowly misses her ship. She wastes no time in issuing her next order.
“Fire the starboard cannons!”
Phoenix leaps into action, striking the linstock to light it and shoving it into the rear of the cannon beside her. This silences the wolf whistles. Thirteen does the same on his side. Both Phoenix and Thirteen cover their ears and step away from the cannons as Django and Seven make the last few adjustments, aiming for the top of the pirate’s deck.
Both cannons go off almost simultaneously, thundering loudly through the air. Most of Django’s cannonfire misses as the fast-moving galley has already sailed past Fate, but some of the grapeshot hits the rear of the vessel, knocking one pirate dead into the water and ripping part of the ship’s edge to splinters.
Seven’s cannon strikes true. It smashes into the top deck, the arrangement of round shot firing in different directions like a giant shotgun. The different shots rip through wood, rigging, part of a sail and a handful of pirates, killing them or seriously maiming them. Wood and smoke and screams fill the air.
A confused series of shouts go up from around the vessel. Trixie turns her ship to face the Bloodsail Buccaneers. Phoenix is unsure what will happen next - the galley will just ram them, surely?
“Prepare to board!” Trixie shouts decisively, and most of the crew leave the cannons to start climbing the rigging, Phoenix joining them. From the rigging, she turns around to see Henry, who is hesitating. He is looking down at Falkor, who is smiling at him. Phoenix doesn’t know how the kid can smile in a situation like this.
“Up we go, wee lad,” Henry says, eventually lifting Falkor up onto his shoulders.
Phoenix looks ahead as she climbs, to see the giant vessel turning around, preparing to come back at them. The crew are already near the top of the ship now, ropes in hand, ready to attempt to board the galley as it passes them next.
Falkor begins moving around uncomfortably above Henry. The elf boy is blowing air out of his mouth repeatedly, like he’s out of breath or panicking. Henry looks distraught.
“Henry, up here!” Trixie shouts. “Let’s kill them and take their ship!”
Phoenix is not sure whether Trixie really means it or is just displaying outward confidence to inspire her crew. It works a little; a spark of hope lights up inside of Phoenix. Then she considers the odds - they are still outnumbered maybe six to one - and her positivity slinks away again.
Falkor is moving about more uncontrollably now, making some whimpering noises and blowing air out again. He is pointing to the crow’s nest.
“Steady, lad,” Henry says to Falkor, as he struggles to climb the ship’s rigging, Falkor’s arms tight around the dwarf’s neck. “I’m moving.”
Eventually he gets near the top, and Falkor attempts to wriggle free.
“What are you doing?” Henry asks him, and Phoenix and the rest of the crew are probably thinking the same thing.
Falkor makes some murmuring noises, points at the crew and back to the deck below. He then pats his chest and points up repeatedly. He then blows again and again.
On his fourth or fifth blow, a sudden almost unnatural gust of wind raps fiercely towards Fate and Django almost loses grip of the rigging. He cries out, but just manages to hang on. Phoenix has a sturdier grasp of her rope, but remains stunned.
A look of realisation flashes across Trixie’s face.
“Henry, put Falkor in the crow’s nest! Seven, take the wheel! The rest of you, below deck, now!” she barks.
Henry looks at her puzzled. He looks to his right and sees the Bloodsail Buccaneers’ ship facing them, moving towards them fast.
“But,” he starts, then stops. There is no time, Phoenix thinks as she slides down the rigging, wondering what on Azeroth is going on. Henry plonks Falkor into the crow’s nest and pats him on the arm, but recoils slightly as he does so.
The crew do as Trixie says and head below deck, with Seven remaining behind to steer Fate forwards, Trixie holding a mast tightly on deck and Falkor sitting in the crow’s nest.
The winds overhead kick up violently, swaying the ship. With nothing between him and the sky, Falkor channels his magic more clearly, pockets of clouds forming overhead, dimming the skies.
“Turn us around, away from those bastards, Seven,” Trixie orders the orc, her voice harder to hear over the noise of the howling wind around them.
Falkor uses all his concentration to call forth the wind without brewing a dangerous storm. He is shaking violently now, his face tensed up, ripples of magic brimming beneath his skin.
Seven turns the ship just as a powerful gust fills the sails. Fate moves sharply through the water, the sudden movement almost toppling the light, small ship overboard.
Trixie is knocked off her feet.
“Steady!” she screams at Seven, who is holding tightly onto the wheel.
Fate straightens up and begins to sail away from the galley behind them. Seven, his back to the pirates, cannot see what is happening. Trixie’s scarlet cloak and black hair is whipping wildly in the strong winds around them. Holding on to the ship’s rigging and looking behind them, Trixie watches as they gain some distance between them and the pirates, who are some 50 metres away.
Falkor, whose mind is already in pain from the might of his magic, attempts to twist the spell even more dangerously in an attempt to save his crew.
He uses all his concentration to keep the wind strong - but contained - around Fate. He then begins a separate, similar spell, summoning the wind in the larger areas outside of Fate’s vicinity. He feels some of that outside wind hit a larger object and knows it must be the pirates. Then all of a sudden, he reverts the second spell to move that wind in the opposite direction.
Falkor yelps in pain.
Trixie looks up at the crow’s nest with worry.
Falkor cries at the top of his voice to help manage the flow of magic, the complexity of his conjuring and channeling of the sunwell, his body becoming a font of powerful magic to keep the spells in unison.
“It’s working, Falkor! You’re creating distance between us!” Trixie shouts up at Falkor excitedly, her eyes closed, the wind almost deadening her voice.
Then she sees the pirate vessel turn, and her jubilation turns to desperation. The ship has stopped chasing them and is opening fire instead. “Watch out!” she shouts instinctively.
An explosion flashes from the galley. It fires its port cannons towards Fate. The huge cannonballs hit the water around them, some further in the distance, one just a few metres away. Seven hears the loud splash of the cannonfire and turns around to see the vessel, its port side turned towards Fate.
While there is now some distance between the two ships, there’s still the chance Fate will get hit. The cannons fire again, a thunderous boom filling the air. They miss, hissing passed the small ship into the water.
Falkor focuses and continues the twin spells for about a minute - as long as he can possibly hold both spells together. Then he lets the second spell go, and feels some of the pain from his mind lessen.
The vessel is still firing, despite being far away, cannons hissing into the water. One cannon strikes through Fate’s main sail, tearing it. Trixie rushes below deck and brings Harris up to repair the sail, who gets to work quickly, climbing up the rigging using needle and thread to keep the sail together temporarily.
Luckily, the wind is strong enough to keep Fate moving, and before long the pirates are out of sight. Falkor sits in silence over the next few hours, keeping up his concentration on the first wind spell until the crew reaches land.
Trixie remains on the top deck with Seven, guiding him with her deep knowledge of Azeroth’s seas back to land - and the relative safety of the human city of Stormwind.
They smiled in the face of death that day - and lived.
Little do they know they will be staring back at it again soon.