Warcraft Fan Fiction ❯ Turning Red ❯ Phoenix ( Chapter 29 )

[ Y - Young Adult: Not suitable for readers under 16 ]

As Phoenix steps off the bottom rung of the ladder and her boots hit the floor of the cave, she thinks she hears a shuffling sound. 

She freezes in place and scans the room. The elf that was underneath the table is no longer there. She walks slowly into the room, into the smell of death, into the hell that once was a home, a memory which will haunt her for years to come should she get out alive. Where did he go?

Her eyes fall to Trixie’s dead body, slumped painfully on the floor. 

The goblin’s words ring in her ears as if everything is normal again.

‘You look but ya do not see.’

Phoenix, frustrated, angry, upset and determined, counts the bodies and looks carefully at the nooks and crannies in the room. She starts to look vertically, rather than horizontally, and an idea pops into her head. 

She spins around and presses herself to the floor to glance under the bed beside her. 

The elf is there, his eyes closed, his face a manifestation of fear. It’s the same Steelfeather she let live back in the alley after being ambushed.

“Get out,” Phoenix demands, casually, reaching to grab him.

“Please, don’t hurt me! I was just following orders,” he whimpers.

Phoenix reaches for him but he squirms back towards the wall and avoids her.

She rises and pushes the bed aside. It scrapes harshly on the rocky floor, leaving him without cover. The Steelfeather tries to move back under the bed but his kneebone is still exposed and he cannot move properly. 

“I’ll give you your fucking orders,” Phoenix says.

She pulls him up violently and pushes him into the wall. As the foot of the elf’s bad leg touches the ground, he cries out in pain. Phoenix grabs his right wrist with one hand and begins to strangle him with the other. 

In the struggle, the elf’s panic rises, in sync with Phoenix’s anger. 

There are no words to be said. Only hatred and the willingness to seek vengeance are all Phoenix wants to focus on right now. Seven will not return, the crew will not return, but avenging them may ease her suffering somewhat. 

She watches the elf’s face turn purple as her grip tightens; he swipes at her face with his free hand but she evades him. As his suffocation deepens, his will to fight ebbs away. Just as he looks like he’s starting to lose consciousness, Phoenix lets go. 

The elf slumps to the floor, facing up, desperately choking in breaths of air as he fights for life. Phoenix grabs his right arm and positions herself so her left foot is by his head and her right knee crunches into his armpit. She pulls his arm back sharply so his elbow hits her knee. The top of his arm snaps loudly as it breaks. He screams in terror.

Phoenix lets the crooked arm flop down, before doing the same to his other arm. There is some kind of sweet, ironic delight in breaking his arms as Django had one of his own disfigured earlier, using a move the troll had taught her during her training. The elf’s agonising screams echo around the chamber but Phoenix only hears the throbbing heartbeat in her ears as her adrenaline spikes.

She is tempted to break the elf’s good leg too, to crush a fourth limb, but he can barely breathe and the arm breaks send him into shock. Not to mention the blood-loss from his knee and its protruding bone following Trixie’s earlier attack. As he lay dying, Phoenix rises again. She feels nothing. No remorse, no satisfaction, just emptiness. The bristling anger, her red mist, her greatest weakness and her greatest strength, a part of this nothingness.

‘You do what you must. You build the pain into your story, until it isn’t pain anymore, it’s just another piece of who you are.’

Trixie’s old lesson echoes in Phoenix’s mind.

‘While there is such a thing as fate, you can mould it and make it your own…’

Just words, Phoenix thinks to herself. Fired up from the assault, she turns her attention to the other Steelfeathers scattered around the room. Her determination to be the last person standing, to ensure that Trixie and her crew will be avenged, despite the odds, is utterly unwavering. 

She glances at Norros’ unconscious body and leaves him for last. She begins checking the pulse of the Steelfeathers around the room, before dragging the three thugs still alive but unconscious to the wall furthest from the ladder. She then throws four chairs towards them, being careful not to disturb the corpses of her friends in the process, before sitting each Steelfeather upright in their own chair. She ties their legs and hands to the chairs, tightly, using rope.

Phoenix paces a little, thinking about what to do next. She can’t bear to look at Seven or Django, or Harris, or even Trixie in the state they are in. But she wants to see them, to remind her what the Steelfeathers have done. Just as she wonders if Henry managed to get away, she notices a few charred body parts beside the table and looks away in horror. 

She thinks back over Trixie’s words: ‘It is good that you have anger, that you have fear… But never show your fear.’

“Instil it in others,” Phoenix whispers, almost taking on the role of Trixie’s persona as she does so. Telling herself to act, as if it’s someone else giving the instructions. 

She thinks back to her protests, that she would never murder innocent people and hears the goblin’s voice in her mind as if she never left.

“These are not innocent,” Phoenix speaks.

She walks over to Norros and gently drags him to the other Steelfeathers slumped by the far wall, being careful not to wake him.

Phoenix repositions one of  the chairs to face the other three unconscious Steelfeathers. She rests Norros here and ties him up to the chair, like the others.

“Be good to find out where Thirteen is,” she says aloud, quietly, before hearing Django’s voice in her mind. It says: ‘Make dem pay.’

Phoenix nods and pulls the sleep darts from their necks. She pulls out her rapier and begins stroking the end of it sharply across the leather jerkin of one Steelfeather, drawing a thin line of blood as she goes. 

She pauses, and moves to a bunch of boxes in the corner, before rummaging through one. Phoenix takes some duct tape and uses it to tape up the mouths of the three Steelfeathers facing Norros. 

She turns to their leader and opens her coin pouch. She shoves a gold coin into his mouth, then another, and another, one by one until there are ten gold coins resting on his tongue.

“There’s your fucking toll for the bridge, paid in full,” Phoenix mutters to herself, before adding three more coins and taping up his mouth. “With interest.”

Phoenix gently touches his chin with her thumb and forefinger and slowly tilts his neck back. 

A couple of the coins move to the back of his throat, making him gag. He comes to and starts coughing and spluttering, leaning his head forward as his eyes dart left and right. As he cannot open his mouth, he begins to choke.

Norros tries to move his right hand to his mouth but it’s tied to the chair. Two hands grip his shoulders tightly. 

“Don’t die yet,” Phoenix’s voice commands. 

She jerks his head forward and pats the back of his neck, hard. The thirteen coins move to the front of his mouth and the leader of the Steelfeathers breathes deeply through his nose.

Shock and realisation dawn on him, his face a contortion of anger and embarrassment. Phoenix walks in front of him and sits on the lap of the gang member opposite Norros, before removing her red face mask.

He looks at her, seething, unable to speak.

Phoenix stares back, blankly, deciding her next move. 

A moment later, she pulls her mask back up, stands and walks over to Django. She leans down and takes his sharp, deadly dagger, turning it over in her hands.

“Thank you, friend,” she whispers, picking up the weapon and returning to the remaining Steelfeathers. She takes some flasks of water and splashes it onto their faces, giving them a few good slaps to wake them, making sure Norros sees everything. The three of them turn their heads left and right before seeing the chaos around them, and then the elf in red, her mask up, her eyes brimming with hatred and anger. Their own eyes, in comparison, are wide with fear as they watch her hold the dagger over a torch on the wall, before lowering her mask again so they can hear her voice clearly.

“You know, your bitch daughter,” Phoenix says, calmly, as if she is talking about something mundane like the weather. “She thought it would be a good idea torturing our mother with a hot poker.

“But made the mistake of talking a load of crap, for too long,” Phoenix continues, holding the dagger in the flame, turning to look back at Norros. “I won’t make that same mistake.”

As Phoenix walks towards Norros, he begins struggling, trying to talk through the tape over his mouth.

“Shhh,” Phoenix responds, approaching the Steelfeathers while holding the red-hot dagger. She wants Norros to see his gang suffer, the way Django and Trixie saw theirs suffer because of him.

She steps towards the Steelfeather furthest on the right and asks him: “Where are your gang based in Stormwind now?”

He shrugs.

Phoenix doesn’t give him a second chance. She slices the burning hot dagger through his throat. It gets stuck halfway through his neck, blood splattering outwards like a fountain, onto the floor. The elf’s head hangs backwards, no longer properly supported by his half-wrecked neck. Phoenix removes the dagger, causing the Steelfeather to spasm as he dies and blood continues to gush from his mortal wound.

The Steelfeathers next to him let out muffled screams, their eyes wide with terror. The one in the middle closes his eyes and begins to shake. Urine shortly flows down his leg into a small puddle on the floor. Norros closes his eyes tight and turns away.

As Phoenix inflicts fear on those around her, she feels power mingling with her nothingness, her anger. For a moment, the mix of colliding emotions within her are tempered. 

The thought of torturing them for longer runs through her mind, but she knows Alexandra may be here at any moment, so she quickly dismisses it and moves to the Steelfeather in the middle of the three.

Phoenix rips the duct tape from his mouth.

“Please,” he gasps.

“I haven’t asked you anything yet,” Phoenix says, in a composed manner with cold undertones, not unlike her half-sister. 

She shoves the dagger into the wood of the dead elf’s chair, between his legs. Instead, she pulls her sword, Heart, from its scabbard. She strokes her rapier gently across the middle elf’s face and down his cheek to nestle beside his neck, like a snake waiting to strike. The elf trembles.

“Where. Are. You. Based. In. Stormwind,” she states, pausing between each word, as Alexandra once did to her, back when she interrogated her by the bridge a few years ago. 

The elf swallows and responds urgently, looking at the floor, too scared to look at Phoenix, or his boss. 

“There’s only a couple of us left there,” he says. “With Thirteen. They live in the Old Town, they have a room in the building next to the leatherworkers. They also frequent the tavern by the docks. I don’t know…”

The elf stops ranting and gulps quietly; sweat is dripping down his brow. Phoenix lowers her sword, feigning mercy, before leaning in to him. 

“It’s okay, please continue,” she whispers.

“I - I don’t know… where Thirteen lives,” he adds. “That’s the honest truth, I swear. He works with the Stonemasons and Edwin VanCleef.”

Phoenix stands upright again and smiles blankly at the elf, nodding. 

“There, that wasn’t so hard, was it?” she says. “WAS IT?” she shouts, swapping between calm and furious in a heartbeat.

“No,” he responds, trembling.

“And there you were thinking I would kill you…” Phoenix continues. 

She looks at the three of them, two gagged, one petrified sitting in his own urine and the fourth dead, his neck massacred, his vacant stare towards the ceiling creating a juxtaposition that is almost comical. Phoenix starts to snicker. If she doesn’t laugh, she’d cry again.

“It’s funny, really, this situation, is it not?” she says, eloquently, turning again to the middle elf, who doesn’t know where to look or how to respond. Phoenix lets out another laugh, mockingly this time.

“Come on, it’s funny, laugh with me,” she says to him again.

He starts to let out a fake laugh that comes out more like a frightened warble. 

Seven’s unmoving, lifeless face flashes into Phoenix’s mind and burning anger flares up inside. She wants to kill this Steelfeather right now for laughing at him, for laughing at her true friend’s death. Another voice inside her tells her to stop, to not harm someone begging for mercy, to show humility for his compliance.

But something else triggers like a spark in her mind. Revenge, retribution, retaliation is all she can think of. This happens in a matter of seconds. And Phoenix, the once shy and good-natured young girl, forced to waver into morally grey waters over the past few years, teeters dangerously into the black for the first time as she raises her sword and thrusts it clean through the elf’s cheek, into his mouth and out his other cheek, breaking a couple of teeth in the process, but narrowly avoiding his tongue.

In her mind, Phoenix sees Django smiling, the way he did when he taught her how to wield a blade.

The elf lets out a muffled cry, the sword inside his mouth preventing him from moving his jaw or even screaming properly. Phoenix lets go of her sword and knocks his chair forward, before dragging it towards Seven’s body. The sword is still stuck between his cheeks as it clatters and scratches along the floor, making a mess of the elf’s face as blood fills his mouth quicker with each bump. But fury clouds Phoenix’s judgement; the state of her sword is the last thing on her mind.

“You find this funny?” she spits with fury, with venom. “Laugh! Go on, laugh at him, we’ll see what other holes we can make through your body!”

Phoenix leans down and grabs the hilt of her sword. She pushes it, slowly, further into the elf’s cheek as he gurgles in terror. As the blade passes through, it becomes harder to push it further, and so she twists it as she applies more pressure. It suddenly splurges forward, ripping the elf’s face open. He cries out in agony and turns what’s left of his face to the left, too scared to lay his eyes on the orc’s dead body.

To Norros and his lackey sitting opposite him and slightly to his left, Phoenix probably appears insane. An elf devoid of rational thought, with no room for mercy, extremely rash - and irrational. She decides that she doesn’t care what they think.

Phoenix rises, the blood from the encounter seeping into her red tunic and gloves. The reason Trixie died her clothes red in the first place. She leaves her blood-soaked sword next to the elf on the floor, who is still tied to the chair laying face down, awkwardly, blood pooling from his face onto the floor. He moans with flooding pain. 

Phoenix pulls the dagger from the chair to the right. She thinks of Alexandra and the fact that she may be here soon, prompting her to pick up the pace. She steps beside the last Steelfeather opposite Norros and plunges the still-hot dagger into his heart. He chokes and struggles, as blood leaks from his chest - and then his mouth. His death is swift; he barely lets out a sound.

Phoenix, unarmed, turns to Norros. One of the last remaining Steelfeathers in the cavern, the father of her half-sister, the elf in black that once haunted her dreams, the one responsible for this entire mess.

His eyes are unflinching and show little fear. This disappoints Phoenix. She asks him a question, not out of serious interest, but mild curiosity.

“Do you know who my father is?”

Phoenix never felt anything but resentment towards her father, for leaving her and her mother. Though she did not care about him before, she now sees him as part of the catalyst for this whole mess. Knowing his whereabouts to talk it through in person, or get his side of the story, may give her some kind of closure.

Norros shakes his head instantly, obviously unable to speak. But despite this whole ordeal, he does not show fear, like the others. Phoenix hates the fact she admires him a little for that.

“Do you know where he is, or what he does?”

Norros shakes his head again, this time more slowly. 

Phoenix sighs as she walks to the other side of the room by a bundle of clean clothes and picks up a peg. She returns and barely looks at the leader of the Steelfeathers as she carelessly places the peg over his nose, blocking his airways. 

Phoenix begins walking over to Trixie’s body in search of the keys to Fate’s cabins.

Norros, unable to breathe with his airways blocked, struggles. He shakes his head fiercely from left to right, trying to loosen the peg. His movement rocks the chair from side to side, sending it tumbling to the floor, with him still tied to it. It falls to the right, near the other remaining Steelfeather in the cavern, not far from her sword.

Phoenix, inconvenienced by the noise of the falling chair, by being interrupted, looks over her shoulder to see Norros turning his head towards the floor, knocking the peg from his nose. He breathes in deeply through his nose and begins wriggling in an attempt to free his hands and grab Phoenix’s sword.

She stays calm and checks over Trixie’s slumped body, unperturbed by Norros’ attempt to break free. Phoenix trusts Trixie’s rope tying techniques she taught her and feels confident they will hold the head Steelfeather in place. 

Phoenix looks at the face of her own leader. The goblin’s eyes are closed - she looks as if she is sleeping, at peace, but her green skin has turned a sickly light purple around her neck and parts of her face, a sad reminder of her death and strangulation at Norros’ hands. 

A deep wave of sadness rocks Phoenix’s heart, as the weight of the situation begins to sink in. Though she never truly trusted Trixie, she cannot deny the impact the little goblin had on her life. She taught her so much, gave her the confidence to fight back, to survive and, through her deception, inadvertently taught her not to trust too quickly. She led her to adventure, to Seven. 

There are no tears left for Phoenix to cry. Not because she does not feel sorrow, or guilt for not getting to the hideout fast enough to save her crew, but because the cold nothingness has swept over her again. Perhaps it is her way of dealing with a situation she has no idea how to accept, or perhaps she is just cold like her sister.

Phoenix pats the goblin down and finds nothing on her. She thinks to herself, those bastards attacked while they were sleeping, so why would Trixie have anything on her anyway? But the goblin was never one to easily figure out...

The sound of the wooden chair knocking against the ground over and over distracts Phoenix. It annoys her more than it worries her. She blinks several times in frustration but does not allow Norros to halt this moment immediately.

“Goodbye, boss,” Phoenix whispers to the goblin. “I’m so sorry.”

She rises and walks back towards Norros, briefly glancing over her shoulder towards the ladder for any sign of Alexandra. 

Phoenix hears the chair rattle against the steel of her sword. Norros is desperately trying to squirm his way out of the tied rope, and has inched himself beside Phoenix’s sword, but she looks down at the rope and it is holding fast to the chair, as expected. She smiles at that, as she kicks her sword away from his reach. Phoenix holds her expression as she straddles Norros and the chair, at the thought of enacting revenge on him. He avoids eye contact with her. The elf who tortured her mother, killed her friends and put her life on this dangerous course. The man has been brought to death’s door by a blow to the head and some tape, and can’t even look at the eyes of the person that bested him. To think Phoenix once feared him so. Pathetic.

Phoenix’s smile suddenly fades as she grabs his nose with her hand and squeezes it tight. He does not deserve a quick death, she decides. Norros struggles harder, banging his head backwards onto the ground to try and shake free from Phoenix’s grip, wriggling left and right with all his strength to break the rope’s ties.

He makes a muffled noise of exertion; it’s his turn for his heart rate to accelerate as he struggles for life. Some snot spurts onto Phoenix’s fingers, but she remains focused, unfazed. 

Norros begins moving his head in wide circles and he slips free of Phoenix’s grasp for a moment, sucking air in deeply through his nose. Phoenix, angered, repositions herself and brings her knee over his neck, stopping him from moving, while choking him at the same time. She squeezes his nose again. His will and focus begins to break; the coins in his mouth tumble towards the back of his throat. One gets stuck, forcing Norros to swallow it. But it is no use for him and, after a few moments, his movements start to wane. Phoenix crushes the life out of him, strangling him with her knee over his neck. It takes longer than expected for Norros to die - more than a minute - Phoenix thinks he may have been drawing in energy from the Sunwell. But she takes every second to look into his eyes, to watch him fade away, so that in the future, when she has nightmares about this day, this is the memory she will hold. The moment when she watched her enemy die, not her friends.

Deep down she knows it is wishful thinking. When Norros eventually slumps dead, Phoenix is aggravated that he barely showed any signs of fear. Just desperation and complete focus on survival. 

Phoenix stands, without so much as even glancing at him. She picks up her sword, wipes the blood and flesh from it using the cloth from her pouch and re-holsters it. She realises sword-mouth’s moaning has ceased, so she quickly checks his pulse and finds there isn’t one. Phoenix makes her way towards Trixie’s room. 

She examines the neatly varnished, small wooden door and eyes a set of two different locks. One keyhole is large, inset on a piece of metal, while another is smaller and horizontal, below it, carved into the wood.

Phoenix frowns and pulls out her lock picks. She easily navigates the large vertical keyhole and picks the lock, before getting to work with the horizontal one, which proves much more tricky.

After a few minutes, trying different sized lock picks, Phoenix stops and takes a deep breath. She steps back and inspects the door a little more closely, thinking about her options. She decides to place her ear up against the door as she picks the horizontal lock, listening carefully for the tumblers. One is almost silent as it raises in place. She closes her eyes, focusing hard, and continues with the tumblers. There is a large click and Phoenix feels relief.

She turns the handle and pushes. Nothing happens. She pulls the handle. And pushes the door again. It must still be locked. She bangs the door a few times with her fist to make sure.

Phoenix can hear Trixie’s voice in her mind: ‘You look, but ya do not see.’

The elf lets out a frustrated moan as she shoulder barges the door, which holds steady.

Phoenix thinks again of Trixie’s words and, like the lever above the hideout, wonders if there is something around the edge of the door she hasn’t seen. She thinks back to the time Trixie took her to this room and asked her to look away before she unlocked it. Her boss wouldn’t have done that if there wasn’t an unusual or hard-to-see lock, surely.

Phoenix drops to the floor and inspects the door’s edges. She sees a handful of impossibly small holes in the door and at first, wonders if they are woodworm. But they wouldn’t be lined up like that, surely. She places a lock pick in one and looks with surprise as she feels it raising a tumbler, but it gets stuck. She does the same for another hole and it gets stuck again. She attempts to pull this pick out and ends up snapping it.

“Oh, for…” Phoenix mutters under her breath. Trixie must have some tiny keys somewhere.

She gives up trying to pick the door and returns to the main room. She has a quick check of Trixie’s bed and finds nothing but a bottle of rum under her pillow. Phoenix decides to take a swig of this and moves to return it, but ends up pausing halfway before placing it in her own bag instead.

She thinks about searching Trixie’s body again but decides to search some of the Steelfeathers instead. She finds a few sticks of unlit dynamite, and adds them to her bag. She gives up looking for the keys. She doesn’t have time.

Phoenix pulls the table towards the ladder, before returning to Trixie’s door. She lights one of the smaller sticks of dynamite using a nearby torch and rolls it towards the door, before taking cover at the other end of the room behind the table. The single explosion shakes the ground and sends wisps of smoke into the cavern. 

Phoenix checks the entrance to Trixie’s room and the door has been blown off its blackened hinges, leaving the rocks around it charred and loosened. Phoenix steps through the doorway.

“I don’t need to look, or see,” Phoenix says. I’m doing this my way, she thinks to herself. Sometimes you gotta make a door.

As Phoenix walks into Trixie’s cluttered yet cosy office-come-storage room, she decides she quite likes the smell of explosives mixed with the taste of rum still on her tongue. 

Phoenix’s eyes scan the messy room; she wonders where Trixie keeps her keys to the boat. Maybe she should have asked Django while she had the chance...

Her mind wanders. She has the urge to search the room from top to bottom - there must be valuable treasures in here. Not that they matter. Phoenix thinks again of the keys to the ship and finding them before Alexandra. She starts with the writing desk against the wall, covered in papers and maps. She slides her hand across the desk, skimming through notes and being nosy.

Phoenix begins opening the drawers in the writing desk and her eyes fall to the list of Trixie’s crew. Sorrow descends on Phoenix again as she thinks about keeping the parchment as a keepsake of her life here - and a reminder to kill Thirteen. She pulls the parchment onto the table, taking a seat. She just wants to sleep, but pushes through her exhaustion. 

Phoenix reads the list of names, along with each person’s age, the date they joined and when their contract ends. There are many crossed-out names as crew members have come and gone over the years. Ages have also been crossed out and updated as the years have passed.

Phoenix’s name is near the bottom. She is surprised to see that Thirteen only joined the crew two months before her - and Falkor three months. But she is more surprised by something else. Something she didn’t notice the first time she scanned the list of names. Her eyes sharpen as she reaches the bottom.

Trixie Merriweather, 42

Django Bur’Kett, 31

Henry Hinklebottom, 37

Harris Hinklebottom, 37

Seven, 26

Falkor Cloudstrider, 8

Thirteen, 22

Phoenix Bloodheart, 17

Bloodheart? What? Her surname is Dreamfoil. And why is there a little heart doodle to the left of Phoenix’s name? Maybe Trixie had planned on giving her another nickname? She frowns, feeling confused and folds the parchment into her jacket pocket.

Phoenix places one hand on the top of the writing desk, brushing it lightly in thought. Her red fingerless gloves tighten as she tenses her hand into a fist and releases again. 

She grabs a random piece of paper from a stack on the writing desk. It is an old letter from Thirteen, detailing one of their previous smuggling jobs. Traitor, she thinks to herself, her blood boiling for a moment. She puts the letter in her pocket, a reminder for revenge.

Phoenix snatches another letter and reads it. This one is from a merchant in Stranglethorn concerning smuggled goods. Others are from traders, sailors and friends and associates of Trixie - nothing that stands out. 

Next, Phoenix begins searching through the drawers of the writing desk. There are four on either side of the desk - three normal-sized ones and a larger drawer at the bottom. She opens them in quick succession. The first holds a dagger and some coins, the next some pieces of dark iron, the third is a drawer full of Django’s drugs in several envelopes. Perhaps this will sell well, Phoenix thinks to herself, pocketing them into her bag. Despite what she’s been through, she has no temptation to take the drugs herself - her mum’s bloodthistle addiction has been enough to put her off for life. The larger, bottom drawer, is empty.

She slides open the drawers on the right and finds mostly junk. There’s a stack of parchment and ink in the top-right drawer, plus other items of little value in the next two: a pack of cards, some rope, a slightly rusty harmonica. 

Aha, there they are. Phoenix wraps her hands around a set of keys on a chain, one of which she recognises as the key to Fate’s cabins. She shoves them into her pocket.

Phoenix drops her hand down to grip the handle of the final, larger drawer at the bottom, but shifts in her seat when she realises it doesn’t have one to grab.

Not again, Phoenix thinks. She gets on the floor for a closer look at the drawer. It is shaped similarly to the one on the opposite side of the desk, tidy and decorative, but has a small heart-shaped keyhole in the centre instead, with a crudely brushed line of red paint around it. 

Phoenix takes the keys from her pocket and looks at them carefully. One is tiny, with a heart carved into its teeth. It is inlaid with what appears to be a small ruby in its ornate handle. 

She carefully slides the key into the heart-shaped hole and finds it moves quite a way into the drawer. She twists it and the drawer protrudes half an inch, allowing Phoenix to slide it open fully. 

There are many letters inside the drawer, neatly stacked, plus several candle stick holders lined with dried wax and a tatty-looking diary. The letters are addressed to Trixie, to a mailbox at Sunsail Anchorage and are written in thick, black, elven calligraphy. 

Phoenix reads the top one, dated over a year ago, the crisp note crinkling in her hand: 



The time has come. As you know, tomorrow we set sail for the fabled Dragon Isles. We have prepared so much for this and it is finally coming to fruition. This is the greatest and most perilous journey we’ve embarked on but it will also be the most lucrative. Fortune is fully stocked and loaded and she is ready to sail.

Again, I am sorry you cannot be by my side for this, there’s no one else I’d rather have with me as we move through uncharted waters. But we need to keep the money coming in and operating as usual to cover these steep costs, and there’s no one else I’d trust to get that job done. 

I don’t know how long this journey could take, or when I will be able to send you a letter again. 

As agreed, should you not hear from me in the next two months or so, I will repeat this again so your stubborn mind understands it. Do not come after me. Keep my daughter and the crew safe, stationed by Silvermoon. That’s an order.

You have done so well finding her in that manner. It must have been fate! I wish I could sail to you right now and meet her myself, but time is short and the crew have been paid upfront to sail tomorrow. 

I will be in touch again soon.

Your Captain,
Leonidas Bloodheart


Phoenix blinks. She hastily grabs a handful of letters from the pile, skim-reading parts of them: 


...Phoenix, what a wonderful name!.. 

...I want to say I cannot believe that the courtesan has told her nothing about me, but given the circumstances I am not surprised...

...So she has a temper like her old man? That’ll be the fire in her hair, like mine no doubt…

...I am glad her training is going well. I still can’t believe she has joined you all willingly. That is beyond my wildest expectations. I can’t wait to meet her myself…


Phoenix gently places the letter back in the drawer and stares into space, in thought, as what she’s read sinks in.

Trembling, Phoenix takes the oldest letter at the bottom of the pile and accidentally knocks the rest over, sending them sliding around the drawer. She leans back into the seat and holds the paper up as she reads it.



I am glad to hear you have docked safely at Sunsail Anchorage and found a suitable location for a base of operations.

Be discreet. Have someone snoop around the inn, get eyes on the girl if she’s still there, get to know her and report back to you. Remember, the rumours are she has my hair. She should be around 14 years old and have no memory of me. If you are certain she is mine, you are to watch over her without drawing attention, as discussed, and report back to me while I decide the next steps.


Phoenix pushes the paper to the desk, her finger still in contact with it, before taking a deep breath. After a moment, she stands. This must be the piece of withheld information that Seven mentioned back in Silvermoon.

She thinks about leaving the room, about forgetting these letters ever existed. Ignorance is bliss, Phoenix. Leave the information here in the desk where they will reside, untouched, forever. It’s impossible. She sits back down and continues reading.


While you’re looking for my alleged daughter, I want you to recruit some local elves to our cause. As always, only take on those with talent or exceptional potential, who respond well to orders. Trust can be built in time. 

You know me… elves may take a little while longer to integrate into the crew. Be patient, as you know we are a proud, difficult species but with great competency.

Speaking of me, I’m off on this next job over the next few days. Hopefully it will bring in enough coin for us to hire the last few crew mad enough to embark on this trek.

Finally, and as always, find some trade and start forging relationships with merchants and others in the area. I trust you will bear me some good news soon.

Your captain,
Leonidas Bloodheart


Should she take the surname Bloodheart? Phoenix doesn’t know how to feel. First the trap, the ordeal with Alexandra, reuniting with her mother, then losing almost all her friends... so much death and pain and change. And now this. 

‘You being in the group is not just some strange coincidence,’ Seven’s words ring in her ears.

Phoenix starts to feel faint. She blinks a few times, trying to hold her consciousness. She forces herself to move, to focus on something and thinks again of Alexandra making her way here soon. She cannot afford to faint. 

She spots a few bottles on Trixie’s desk - some wine, whiskey and rum. She grabs the rum. Shaking, she opens the bottle and takes a few large gulps, sitting back and trying to remain calm. The rum settles in her stomach and she takes a few deep breaths. But she takes them quickly and feels tingles in her arms.

Shaking, Phoenix picks up all the letters and folds them hastily into her bag, along with Trixie’s diary. She decides to read them in detail later on, once she has time to, once she’s digested everything that’s happened over the past day - if she can stomach it.

Before leaving Trixie’s room, Phoenix has a quick snoop around, picking up a few valuables and pouches of gold, but not having the clarity of thought to properly inspect them. Before departing, she looks at the weapons on the wall and those scattered around the room, and considers taking some. But she’s not in the right frame of mind for clarity, for decision making. She touches the hilt of Heart. This sword is a part of her now, it has done well by her and she has no intention of abandoning it.

Phoenix skulks through the main room, trying her best to ignore the death around her. She considers springing a trap on Alexandra. But she cannot bear to be in this room any longer than she must, for madness would surely take her already splintered mind. No - let Alexandra see her father like that, let her see what her followers have done and let her wonder where Phoenix is. Let her feel fear.

She heads up the ladder and doesn’t look back. There are questions her mother needs to answer.