Warcraft Fan Fiction ❯ Turning Red ❯ Harvest ( Chapter 24 )
The crew head back to the western edge of Eversong Forest and there, over the coming months, they prosper.
Unburdened by the presence of the Steelfeathers, the crew relaxes and finds a steady, almost easy line of work trading with the elves. They continue importing goods from Stranglethorn - and vice versa - though Trixie begins paying for items to be transported by other ships following the scare with the pirates.
Thirteen writes to Trixie regularly and keeps her informed of his work in Stormwind, as well as the goings on there. He tells them how he found some unlikely work in the building trade, joining the Stonemasons Guild and says he is receiving good pay. Thirteen speaks highly of its leader, Edwin VanCleef, whom he seems to respect dearly.
Thirteen also passes the crew tip-offs, jobs and more smuggling work, in exchange for a cut of earnings. He picks up various jobs in taverns around Stormwind - some of which pay very well. While he does not get involved with smuggling directly, he acts as a middleman, allowing Trixie to liaise and strike deals with people she wouldn't otherwise have met. It proves extremely lucrative for the crew to have a trusted informant on the other side of Azeroth’s Eastern Kingdoms. As well as giving them jobs, Thirteen also keeps them posted on the orc’s invasion and the increasing skirmishes between them and the humans.
Trixie urges Thirteen to stay safe and to arrange safe passage out via ship, should he need to escape quickly if the orcs launch a full-scale attack against Stormwind’s walls.
Ironically, the crew grow closer than ever to Thirteen despite him living a great distance away. He seems to come across more friendly and helpful in his letters and it’s clear to Trixie the elf is happy. They get to know him much better a world away than they ever did when he was in the hideout with them.
The crew’s coffers grow and, as such, they are able to afford better equipment, clothing and food. Inspired by Trixie’s own cloak, Phoenix purchases a similarly beautiful garment with some of her gold, a rich, deep red piece of clothing with finely stitched golden embroidery that is warm yet light.
One day, Trixie receives another letter from Thirteen, this time with a task that’s different from those that have come before. As she reads it on her desk, her brow furrows for a moment, before relaxing again. She walks out from the tiny door of her room and back into the main living area, the lanterns around the walls gloomily lighting up the cavern.
As the goblin enters the room, Phoenix swears and angrily throws the two playing cards in her hand onto the table, much to Django’s delight. The jack of clubs and the queen of hearts. He drops two aces face up and begins scooping up a large pile of gold from the centre of the table into his pale blue calloused hands, chuckling mischievously.
“Phoenix, Seven, job for ya,” Trixie says, passing the letter to Seven, who is sitting on his bed. He leans back and begins to read it.
“Good, mon,” Django says. “I be needin’ more of your gold for you to lose to me,” Django says to Phoenix, who responds with a blank stare that is cold enough to cut through the air like one of Thirteen’s throwing knives. The troll stares back, raises one eyebrow and guffaws, leaning his head back and running a few gold coins through his fingers as he does so.
“Fuck you and your pocket aces,” Phoenix says to him, shoving herself back from the table and sulking in her seat.
Django’s continued laughter becomes a cackle. He looks at Phoenix’s moody facial expression, a face that has just lost a lot of money and it makes him laugh even harder.
“Dat face!” he cries.
He whoops and struggles to catch his breath properly, coughing and laughing uncontrollably as he keels over and thumps the table with his fist. “Dat be da face of a sore loser mon!” Django points and laughs. Phoenix’s eyes burn holes in the troll’s forehead.
“Okay, okay, simmer down, blue,” Trixie says to the troll. “Bugger off to your bunk for a bit.”
Django, still chuckling, takes the gold in a bulging purse and leaps onto his bed, stretching out and taking a bite from a half-eaten fruit.
Trixie pulls up a chair and makes eye contact with Seven, who has finished reading the note. She bops her head to the right, motioning for Seven to pass the letter to Phoenix. Still scowling, the elf snatches the piece of paper up and begins to skim-read it.
I trust you and the crew are well. Thank you for your recent delivery of Westfall cider and the elven silk you shipped across. More gold is on its way to you in a separate shipment due in the next week.
I have another job for your lot, should you wish to take it. Not a usual delivery, this one.
I was in the Pig and Whistle tavern the other evening when a friend of a friend poured their heart out to me and some of my friends. Turns out their sister had got into trouble and ran away from Stormwind, looking for a new life in Silvermoon.
They haven’t heard from her in over two weeks, despite usually sending letters to each other as soon as they receive one, every few days. They’re worried about her - their parents would like to arrange her safe return back to Stormwind. They’re pretty rich and are paying well for this, upwards of 50 gold if she’s brought back well and is convinced that returning home is the right thing to do. I told them about my links with Silvermoon and they seemed very keen indeed. I’ve marked up her last known address for you (PTO), let me know if you decide to take this up and I’ll let my contacts know.
The girl’s name is Sandra by the way, she’s human, late twenties, blonde hair.
“Someone running away, looking for a new life… sounds like me. And I’ll be running away again if that git keeps on robbing me at cards,” Phoenix says, looking across the room at the troll.
Django responds by raising one hand and giving a thumbs-up.
“Phoenix,” Trixie starts, a little uncertainly. “Given the circumstances I’d like you on this one. The girl sounds like her life is in transition and she has some difficulties, maybe you can talk some sense into her and speak about what you’ve gone through.”
Phoenix nods. “You okay, Trixie?” she asks.
The goblin’s big eyes settle on Phoenix as she frowns.
“Yeah, of course, I’m always okay redhead,” Trixie responds. “Guess there ain’t much to go on this time round.”
Phoenix laughs, almost forgetting about the money she lost to Django. “What do you mean? We’ve got the girl’s address, her name, appearance. What more do we need?”
Trixie flicks her eyebrows up and yawns. She seems a little bored from their recent jobs.
“I suppose you’re right,” she says. “I dunno, our work here just seems so easy nowadays with Thirteen trading goods and throwing us bones… not that I’m going to complain!”
She flicks a gold coin up into the air and follows it with her eyes, letting it fall to her mouth as she catches it between her teeth and winks at Phoenix.
“That’s the spirit, boss,” Phoenix responds, smiling. “It’s an easy job. And I need some money to win my gold back from that toerag over there.”
In the corner, the blue troll can be heard letting out a light chuckle.
Trixie flicks the coin from her mouth into the palm of her hand again, and spins it on the table as she talks.
“The address is on the other side of Eversong Woods, on the Eastern coast, not far from Silvermoon,” Trixie continues. “It’s a few hours’ ride from here and I know you both work well together. It’s up to you how you get there, walk or see if you can hitch a ride. Maybe make camp in the woods, away from the main paths, away from any unwanted interest, especially now the orcs are enemies of pretty much everyone.”
The coin’s momentum slows and noisily spins to a stop after bumping into Django’s pocket watch. Seven sits patiently as Trixie talks and looks at the watch. It’s 7pm.
Trixie glances at Seven and adds: “Not that I need to tell you both that of course. Oh - and take this.”
The goblin places a small radio device on the table.
“If ya need to get a hold of me,” Trixie says.
Phoenix nods and puts the transmitter in her bag along with some provisions. Before she heads up the ladder with Seven, Phoenix turns back to Trixie and, grabbing a nearby bottle of booze, slams it down on the table near her.
“Cheer up boss, it might never happen.”
Trixie half-smiles, half-frowns, swats Phoenix away and wraps her fingers around the bottle.
“Thank you redhead, I’m glad my cockiness has rubbed off on you,” she says. “Now off you go, now, there’s a good crew,” Trixie adds jokingly, turning to one side, leaning back and raising her legs onto the table, her expensive-looking black boots resting on the wood.
Phoenix and Seven say their goodbyes to the rest of the group and head up the ladder, leaving no time to waste. As they reach the top, they’re greeted by a light autumnal breeze, which carries both the scent of smoke from a nearby campfire and the salt of the sea water nearby. Phoenix and Seven pull up their bandit masks - red and grey respectively - in response.
Emile is sitting up, smoking a cigarette, his hair dishevelled. Some empty mugs of beer and a bowl of half-eaten boar ribs are next to him.
“Mornin’,” he murmurs sarcastically.
“Hey Emile,” Phoenix smiles.
“Beautiful evening,” he responds, staring out to sea.
Phoenix and Seven follow his gaze and see the wondrous sight for themselves.
The sky above the Tranquil Shore is a gorgeous dash of red and orange, interspersed with tinges of purple and twilight blue. Phoenix thinks it’s one of the most beautiful vistas she’s laid her elven eyes on.
“Red sky at night, sailors delight,” Seven says, stepping forwards and staring out to sea.
“Yup, though this has been like this all day, since morning” Emile replies, sighing, before coughing a smoker’s cough. “Happens around this time every year, always so suddenly. Harvest time. After crops are harvested, good weather and good food always follow.”
Emile puffs on the cigarette and blows out smoke casually into the air.
Phoenix looks down at him and frowns, a little jealous of his utter laziness and easy living: “Don’t you ever get up and y’know, walk around? Do your legs even work?”
“Phoenix,” Seven adds in a disappointed tone.
Emile cackles. His beard is looking particularly rough and untidy. “Only when you’re all away or someone else decides to take a shift, Henry is nice, he sometimes comes up here and takes my place for a bit. Gives me some rest from looking after you all.”
Phoenix scoffs at the thought of this bony tramp looking out for them, but soon feels ashamed for not having offered before. She soaks in the view one last time, not wanting to move. Another sea breeze kicks up, flicking ginger hair over her red tunic as her cloak billows behind her.
“See you tomorrow Emile,” Phoenix says, not looking down at him, unable to shake her stare from the red sky ahead.
“Catch you later, red,” he responds, tapping his cigarette onto some old newspaper beside him.
It would be the last thing he ever said to her.
Phoenix’s leather boots sink into the sand as she walks against the breeze, Seven falling in beside her. The pair walk silently for most of the way towards the nearby inn, confident and comfortable in one another’s presence. There, Phoenix hires a wagon to take them as far east as possible, to the address with no questions asked, while Seven keeps his skin covered and face masked by his grey hood. They pay over the odds for a straight trip there, for the driver to wait outside and for agreeing to allow Phoenix to drive on the way back. After Phoenix and Seven sleep and eat while on the wagon, it’s the driver’s turn to get some shut eye as they inspect the property.
Phoenix leaps off the wagon and cracks her neck, jumping on her toes a few times to get the blood flowing. The scruffy, feathered hawkstrider at the front of the wagon turns its head towards her. Seven is much slower, yawning heavily and lurching off the wagon reluctantly.
It’s mid-evening again, the sky having turned a darker shade of red, with streaks of pink flowing throughout. The house in front of Phoenix and Seven is a humble-looking building, small and old. One window is boarded up, the other functional but looks like it’s about to fall apart. There are some flower beds in the front garden, which look freshly planted. The gate is creaking as it swings gently in the breeze. The edge of a sea cliff lies a few metres beyond the building.
The house is at odds with itself. It seems like someone has attempted to spruce it up half-heartedly.
“Who on Azeroth would live so close to the edge of a cliff?” Phoenix asks.
“Sandra would, apparently” Seven responds, sharply. The way he says it is humorous and Phoenix can’t help but smile. She feels content as she walks along the gravel pathway and knocks on the door.
“I’ll do the talking, okay,” she says, looking around to Seven.
“Go nuts,” he replies.
Phoenix responds by pulling a face like she’s losing her mind. He elbows her gently in her side, looking ahead, ready for the door to open. It doesn’t.
Phoenix knocks again. No answer. Phoenix sighs and starts walking around the side of the building to inspect further.
“Wait,” Seven says, placing his large hand around the handle and turning it.
Phoenix turns back to see the door opening.
“Hmm, it’s unlocked,” Seven says, before pushing the door wide open and stepping into the house.
It is dark and musty inside, as if it hasn't been entered in a while. At the other end of the room, there’s a table next to another couple of boarded-up windows. Someone is sitting on a chair at the table, facing away from Phoenix and Seven, towards one of the windows.
“Hello?” Phoenix says, walking into the room cautiously, her boots patting loudly on the wooden floor beneath them.
Phoenix squints and sees the hooded female figure spasm suddenly. She is wearing a red robe and her right leg is showing. Phoenix keeps walking, apprehensively, Seven close behind her.
She looks at the person’s bare leg and stops. She holds her arm up to Seven, stopping him in his tracks. He stands beside her, faithfully, looking at Phoenix and back at the figure in the darkness in front of them. Something seems strangely familiar, but something else doesn’t feel right. Phoenix pauses to inspect the person properly.
“Sandra? Are you oka…”
Phoenix’s mouth goes dry as her heart gets caught in her throat. She realises the person is not sitting naturally, it’s as if her hands are tied to the seat, concealed by the robe she is wearing. She hears a faint muffle escape from the figure and starts to panic.
Phoenix looks back towards the half-open door, grabbing Seven to turn with her and dash towards it. But she barely takes a step before the world falls away beneath them. A trap door opens up and Phoenix and Seven tumble down into a dusty stone pit some three metres deep, lying in pain from the fall.
“Phoenix!” Seven blurts out, alarmed.
Stunned, Phoenix tries to clamber to her feet but a sharp pain shoots through her left knee and she collapses.
A shadowed figure steps from a corner in the room above and throws a couple of canisters of thick sleeping gas into the pit, hissing loudly like a couple of metallic snakes.
Phoenix and Seven lie in a crumpled heap, unable to respond quickly. Phoenix rolls away from the orc and lifts one canister up to throw it away from them, accidentally breathing in a mouthful of gas as she catches her breath. She wheezes nastily, dropping the canister and falling back to her knees. In the corner of her eye, she notices her bag of provisions and rifles through it quickly, searching for the radio transmitter. When she finds it, her shaking hands almost lose grip, but she manages to hold it up and flip the switch.
“Trixie, come quickly, it’s a trap!” Phoenix splutters, her consciousness fading. But there is no static, no noise at all - the device must have broken when they fell.
While this is happening, Seven grabs the canister and throws it with full force back into the room above them. It smashes into the ceiling and almost falls back down into the pit, narrowly avoiding it. He fumbles for the other canister, but it is too late. The gas has already filled their lungs. Trixie’s formidable duo soon collapse helplessly, trapped like a pair of flies in a spider’s web.
Seven succumbs to slumber first, his aching bones from the fall giving in to the gas quickly, while Phoenix follows a few moments afterwards. She takes his motionless hand in hers and looks at his closed eyes in desperation, before losing consciousness herself.