Warcraft Fan Fiction ❯ Turning Red ❯ Death ( Chapter 27 )
Norros Steelfeather and the brunt of his gang walk quietly across the golden sands of Tranquil Shore, before stopping outside the shack as planned.
Norros enters and steps over Emile’s dead body, grinning and looking for the hidden lever. He knocks over a bottle but picks it up again quickly, minimising the noise and getting some of Emile’s blood on his fingers. After shuffling about a little, he finds the level and steps on it, opening the grate.
Norros turns to his gang, places his hands on his waist and inhales a deep breath of sea air, before breathing it out pleasingly. The elf’s unsavoury, pockmarked face is full of arrogance as he flicks his long silver hair out of his eyeline. He clicks his fingers twice and points at the hole to the hideout, silently commanding two of his gang to lead the way.
One takes several sticks of dynamite from his bag and passes some to the other. They light them and throw them down the shaft into Trixie’s hideout below.
Henry, asleep in the bunk closest to the opening, is woken by the sticks clanking against the rungs of the ladder. He looks up over his bedcover towards the ladder, but doesn’t notice the sticks on the floor below his eyeline.
Small flames hiss along the wicks of the sticks. It is the last sound Henry hears.
A series of deafening explosions send the dwarf’s body flying across the room in several chunks.
Harris, in the bunk above his brother, is a little more shielded by the blast thanks to a metal board at the foot of his bed. But he is still hit.
The explosions rattle the bed, knocking it over along with Harris, who is not only sent sprawling painfully onto the floor, but set alight as the red-hot twisted bed frame crashes to the ground beside him. The dwarf instinctively rolls over to put out the flames, but the damage is done. He cries out in agony; his flesh is burning; his clothing is scorched.
Part of the underground hideout caves in immediately following the explosions. A couple of sticks of dynamite roll towards the direction of Falkor’s bed, in between the dwarves bunk and Trixie’s bed. While it isn’t close enough to harm Falkor when it explodes, it loosens some rocks nearby, creating a small chasm below, quickly filled by several falling rocks - as well as Falkor himself who is tipped from his bed. The elven mute falls into a gap made by the explosion and, through sheer luck, the rocks that fall on top of him are balanced by other debris, leaving the boy trapped in a small alcove, where he lay shielded by the carnage and collapsed room above. He is not crushed, yet has no room to move.
Falkor, now smothered in darkness, can hear the faint muffle of Harris’ piercing screams above as he suffers extreme burns. These sounds mingle with frantic footsteps clattering down the rungs of the ladder. His friends are in great peril and while he has the power to try and lift the rocks away, he feels helpless. Hopeless. Terrified. Falkor cries out in panic, howling into the room above, but his cries are barely audible to those nearby.
Trixie and Django, nearer the far end of the hideout, are woken instantly by the explosion and the squelching pieces of Henry sent flying into objects around the room - the table, chairs, beds and walls. The body part that once was Henry’s knee hits a bottle and sends it smashing to the floor. They shield their eyes from the explosions and hear the falling of the rocks, looking up only to see Harris briefly on fire, before he rolls on the floor and the flames dissipate, leaving the dwarf smoking from the burns cooking through layers of his skin. The room is almost pitch black but the noise, the smell and the shaking ground assault the senses. It is pandemonium.
Django, who is shirtless and almost naked save for a pair of long shorts, instinctively grabs a spear and blowdart from under his bed. In the sudden chaos that ensues, there is barely any time to equip concealed weapons like daggers, light lanterns or make any verbal orders.
Trixie - who had fallen asleep in her usual clothes and scarlet cloak after a heavy drinking session the night before - unsheathes her sword and faces the thick smoke and scurrying of footsteps in front of her.
The Steelfeathers rush into the darkness, huddled together, using their numbers as an advantage. Some of them hold aloft torches to light their way. The light catches Trixie’s face for a moment, showing her bewilderment and anger all rolled into one.
While the Steelfeathers have the element of surprise, they do not know the layout of the room like Trixie and Django do. The first couple that pelt out of the smoke are struck swiftly by the troll’s sleep darts as he hears the Steelfeathers approaching. They fall to the floor mid-run, dropping their torches and leaving the crew still hugely outnumbered by thirteen to four, with one of Trixie’s comrades trapped and another in serious pain.
Trixie quickly drops her sword and kicks it over to Harris, before grabbing a spare from beside her bed. Harris, with tears of pain in his eyes, hears the weapon clatter beside him, urging him to get up and use it. Trixie knows the joker of the group struggled with his training and is not a fighter, but by Azeroth he needs to try to be one now. Harris cries out and, with great effort, forces himself to grab the sword’s handle with his right hand. But still he remains painfully sprawled across the floor, motionless, as he tries but fails to muster any inner strength. In a freak way, it works in his favour - the four Steelfeathers that come bundling into view think he’s already dead.
One moves around the table to Trixie’s right while the other three run towards Django in an attempt to overwhelm him. The blue-skinned troll barely has time to fire one dart before the other two are upon him. He fires and in the relative darkness it luckily pierces the skin of one gang member, who slumps to the floor, but the other two are quickly upon him. The first drops his torch onto the table and charges with a sword. Django waits until the last moment before thrusting his long spear upwards into the assailant’s neck. It is not a clean thrust, however, what with the attacker running quickly as he’s struck, meaning the spear goes through his neck and out between his eye and nose, sending blood spraying everywhere. The spear is lodged in his mangled face as his dead body falls to the floor, keeping the weapon out of Django’s reach.
The other gang member swipes his sword at the troll, who, now weaponless, is forced to dodge instinctively, his blowdart device out of ammo and the spear out of reach.
The cave is dim: the torches on the floor beside the fallen bodies mainly light up the blood on the ground, but some light is better than none for Trixie’s crew.
Meanwhile, as the smoke starts to clear, five more Steelfeathers advance into the room with haste and urgency. While Django dances around his attacker, Trixie jumps onto the table with a pre-emptive strike towards the torch-less thug who approaches her. She drops back down to the floor on her right, pivoting 180 degrees through the air and jabbing her sword underneath her left arm to pierce the elf’s stomach with her back to him in the dim hideout. It’s a risky move but one that catches her enemy by surprise, unguarded and unprepared, as he collapses to the ground dead.
Trixie looks up and sees three of the new Steelfeathers almost on top of her and jumps backwards, but not quickly enough. Flames from two of their torches allow her to see their angered faces in the darkness for a moment. A thrusting sword pierces the skin on her left shoulder slightly, and she recoils in pain. Blood seeps against her boiled leather jerkin, staining it a brown crimson. In the corner of her eye she sees two others rushing to Django on her left, who is already struggling without a weapon. It’s hard enough fighting whilst severely outnumbered, let alone being caught by surprise, in the dark, while hung over. Agonising doubt begins to etch into Trixie’s mind.
One thug launches towards her with an aggressive thrust of his sword directed at the little goblin’s face, but she parries it instinctively, striking back with swiftness, aiming for his knees. She cuts through one leg deeply to the bone, but another two are upon her before she can deal a fatal blow. The elf falls to his knees and cries out in pain, as blood pours down his leg and onto the floor. One Steelfeather sidesteps sneakily to her right and pulls out a dagger, attempting to use his other arm to pull her close and stab her; the other keeps his distance and begins summoning an arcane missile spell. Trixie does her best to hold them back.
As this is happening, Django punches the nearest to him in the stomach and then the face, sending him crashing onto the table as two newcomers approach the troll, who has no time to grab a weapon but instinctively dodges again and hopes to prize a sword from one of his assailants. At that moment, with great pain, Harris raises his charred leg at the perfect time, tripping up one of the two heading to Django. The Steelfeather tumbles to the floor and lets go of his sword, allowing Django to dodge a swipe from the other and pick it up the fallen blade in one movement. As he’s doing so, his attacker turns his head to see Harris standing behind him, about to swing Trixie’s rapier across his chest. The strike is weak and only injures him slightly as the blade is not able to pierce effectively. However, it’s enough for Django to finish the task and gut him with his new sword, up through the lower belly and out his upper back. This time Django’s strike is clean - he withdraws the sword quickly and kicks the dying elf away from him straight afterwards.
Django hears crackling sounds near Trixie, to his right. Pink sparks light up the darkened room as an arcane missiles spell continues to be cast. But there is no time to pause; Django turns to his right to see the man he knocked onto the table, now recovered and about to strike him. As Django deflects the elf’s sword strikes, he can see Trixie is in trouble, caught in a struggle with an assassin trying to stab her. The troll sidesteps slowly to his right as he parries the attacks, attempting to close the distance between himself and Trixie. Meanwhile, the tripped elf is now back on his feet and turns to attack. The dwarf does his best to parry two strikes through the pain, but he is no match for the elf in his state. The Steelfeather stabs Harris with his sword, once, twice, three times through the heart, ending the dwarf’s agony for good. He slumps to the floor, still sizzling from the explosions of the dynamite.
With one arm, the assassin caught in a struggle with Trixie grabs the goblin’s sword arm and holds it down, while raising his dagger in his other. The defiant leader grips her attacker’s wrist to prevent him from bringing the dagger down towards her neck. At half his size, it is exhausting for her to keep this up for long and she slowly leans backwards, losing ground.
While Django is still struggling with his own attacker, he also sees Trixie getting lower to the floor. Instinctively, he uses his foot to flip a chair towards the assassin. It careens with the attacker, who stumbles backwards and loses his grip with Trixie. As he does so, four deadly arcane missiles vault from the magic user’s fingers through the air, lighting up the cavern like a flashing firework. One misses, causing the wall to crumble slightly behind Trixie, a line of small flames - not enough to start a fire - left in its wake. Two others head directly towards Trixie, but the dark iron crystal underneath her tunic protects her and they dissipate into thin air. One may have hit the assassin if not for Django’s chair launch. The fourth missile veers wildly off target into the path of Django’s right arm.
Not only does the magic burn the troll’s arm, it also hits him like a brick. The impact breaks Django’s right arm instantly, bending it backwards unnaturally. The troll shrieks and, in a desperate attempt, drops his weight onto the swordsman attacking him. They fall to the floor towards Harris’ murderer and both of their swords clatter loudly onto the rocky ground.
Django punches the elf underneath him with his good arm repeatedly three times in the face, knocking him out cold. He tries to roll away from the Steelfeather standing above him, who killed Harris moments ago, but isn’t quick enough. The elf rakes his sword across Django’s back, who cries out again as blood is drawn across his sky blue skin.
Norros, meanwhile, still in the shack above, looks out at sea. With most of his gang downstairs attempting to end the crew’s lives, he orders the final three Steelfeathers to descend the ladder, leaving him alone. The gang’s leader is smoking one of Emile’s cigarettes. He speaks to the dead body calmly, above the noise of the shrieks and swords clashing below.
“Yes, it’s all over now,” he says, blowing out smoke into the air.
“Taking a while though aren’t they? Must remember to leave a few for my daughter.
“Maybe I should remind them myself.”
Norros throws the cigarette onto Emile’s dead body and descends down the ladder.
Trixie, now recovered save for the aching wound in her left shoulder, swipes at the assassin quickly and quietly. He dodges a few of her strikes, but is soon struck by her sword and mortally wounded, collapsing to the floor. He lays dying on the ground, blood pooling from his own wounds and the elf next to him, whose deep gash to his knee and thigh keeps him rooted to the floor, unable to stand.
Three more Steelfeathers, the last of Norros’ gang, enter the room, quickly, quietly, without torches. Their leader follows them.
The mage fighting with Trixie realises her anti-magic protection will do him no good and backs off quickly, scampering towards the ladder. The goblin charges towards him blindly, her eyes focused on her target. She looks at the mage’s back but does not see the newcomers emerging from the shadows near the ladder. One thrusts a blade towards her left ribcage, piercing her skin, puncturing a lung and narrowly missing her heart. The pain and shock is too great. The green goblin stops in her tracks, cries out, drops her sword and clutches the wound, falling to her knees.
Django, at the other end of the room, rises and blocks a sword thrust with his bare hand. The sword goes right through the troll’s palm, slicing through his veins, but Django pushes his hand into the blade further, roaring as he does so, allowing him to get closer to his opponent, his tusks and wild red hair coming within touching distance of his attacker. With his other arm broken, all Django can do is headbutt the elf. He does so with ferocity, crunching hard into the man’s nose, breaking it. Django juts his face forward again, his tusks piercing the man’s face. Blood spurts onto the blue troll’s face and sticks to his tusks.
One of the three new Steelfeathers, a woman, walks casually towards Django, who is unaware of her presence. She slices at the troll’s legs and feet, inflicting more pain to the troll’s increasingly mutilated body. He collapses to the floor, bleeding from several wounds.
Django knows today is probably his last. But at least it will offer him the chance to smile in the face of death one more time. He starts to accept his fate.
Another Steelfeather approaches Trixie and points his sword to her bare neck, drawing it back slightly as she coughs up blood onto the floor from her chest wound. Her left lung is filling up with blood.
There are two Steelfeathers standing beside Django and four around Trixie, including their leader Norros. Another is greatly wounded, his knee gashed open from Trixie’s attack and unable to walk.
Trixie and her crew have lost.
Silence falls across the cavern, broken slightly by the heavy breathing of Trixie and Django, stung with pain and serious injuries. The green goblin and her second-in-command may be beaten, but they leave the Steelfeathers with significant losses, having thinned their numbers from fifteen to eleven. Of those eleven still alive, three are unconscious from the sleep darts and two are seriously wounded, leaving six standing in normal condition. Their captain would be proud.
One Steelfeather spots a lantern on the wall and uses one of the fallen torches to light it. Others join him, lighting the other lanterns around the room, casting light across the cave. The smell of blood and smoke fills the chamber.
Footsteps from the shadows at the back of the room, near the ladder, come into the light. Norros walks up to Trixie and squats next to her, meeting her at eye level and smiling at her. She remains on all fours, hunched over in pain and does not look at him. A string of bloody saliva hangs from her mouth and connects with the floor. Norros carelessly flings her sword towards the wall. He asks her: “Where is this captain of yours?”
“Eat shit,” she snaps, instantly.
Norros stands gently and walks a few paces away.
“I’ll ask again,” he says, before turning towards her and taking a short run up before kicking her square in the side of her face, knocking her over onto her back. Trixie whimpers and stares up at the ceiling, her vision swimming from faintness.
“Where is your captain? And the keys to your ship’s cabins?” Norros repeats angrily.
She doesn’t answer. Like Django, Trixie begins to accept her fate too.
Norros begins handling her, roughly patting her down and feeling for any keys on her body.
“We’ll be taking all your goods and reclaiming our place here in Silvermoon now,” he says.
Trixie wants to shout at him, to defy him, but everything is a great effort and she feels tired. It’s becoming difficult to breathe as her lung fills with blood.
Instead, she says carefully: “Even if I knew where he was, I wouldn’t tell you. And the keys are not here.”
“Liar!” Norros shrieks, placing his boot on Trixie’s heavily wounded chest and pressing his weight onto his foot.
She gasps in agony and tries to roll onto her side, letting out a deep moan.
Django, who can hear the exchange but cannot see it, turns onto his left side, leaning on his good arm, the blood from his gashed hand pooling onto the floor and trickling down his body. He looks underneath the table and can see Norros and Trixie on the other side of it. His weary eyes follow the robed mage walking past them over to the Steelfeather who Trixie left unable to walk. The blood is seeping freely from his leg, the bone still showing. He struggles to keep in control, shaking and in mild shock. It comforts Django slightly to see the mess they’ve caused to the Steelfeathers, against the odds.
The man with the bloodied nose scurries away from Django and sits on one of the beds, while the woman who cut up Django stands nearby, keeping an eye of the troll. The other three stand behind Norros, facing Trixie.
The Steelfeathers glance at the still bodies of Trixie’s crew now and then, with a mix of malice and respect, making sure they are definitely dead. In the chaos of the fighting, some Steelfeathers are still not aware some of their compatriots are actually asleep from Django’s darts, rather than deceased.
Falkor, upon hearing Trixie cry out in pain, cannot hold his terror inside and begins groaning in fright again, sporadically. This muffled noise from beneath the walls surprises the Steelfeathers.
“What the fuck is that?” Norros yells, turning away from Trixie, giving her a moment’s respite. “Who is that? Is that a hidden room? Find it! Bring me whoever it is,” Norros commands the three beside him, who immediately spread themselves around the room in search of the noise. They quickly get as close as they can to Falkor’s wailing and peer into the rubble, looking for a way through.
Trixie wants nothing more than to console the child right now, to call out and tell him everything is going to be alright, to embrace him. To check if he is okay. But she doesn’t want to give anything away to the Steelfeathers. Lying still, approaching death, her thoughts drift to her captain.
‘Where are you?’ she thinks to herself. She can feel Norros’ presence nearby again and closes her eyes, hoping death will claim her rather than having to spend another minute with her gloating enemy. She does not resist death’s grasp, on the contrary she embraces it.
As she’s passing from life to death, Norros suddenly grabs the goblin around the neck with one hand, lifting her off the floor and slamming her into the wall, choking her. Her muffled, almost lifeless scream is followed by more distraught cries from Falkor. Her wheezing scream is cut short as Trixie takes her last breath.
Django, reeling from the pain, cannot watch. Nor can he properly hear what Norros is saying anymore. He looks back towards the entrance and thinks of the after-life, as he starts to close his eyes, urging Bwonsamdi to claim his soul. Perhaps he will join Trixie and his friends in whatever’s next, he thinks. This brings him some comfort.
Before he shuts his eyes, Django sees movement from the back of the room near the ladder. He is the only one in the room looking in that direction and thus the only one that notices it. Ah, it must be Bwonsamdi, the loa of death coming to claim his spirit, he thinks. But… Bwonsamdi is supposed to have deep eyes of fire. Ghoulish markings on his skin. And a staff. Django frowns for a moment, then his lips spread into a faint smile. For a moment he forgets his pain.