Warcraft Fan Fiction ❯ Turning Red ❯ Bloodheart ( Chapter 30 )
There is a faint, cold snap in the air at Tranquil Shore as the morning sun rises on a new day.
High elves often say ‘Anu belore dela'na’ (‘The sun guides us’). Today, as Phoenix looks up at the sky, she feels she’s in desperate need of guidance herself. She steps onto the sand and takes a careful look around for her half-sister. Once she feels safe she’s not around, Phoenix heads to the cave where she first met Trixie. It seems like a lifetime ago.
As she walks briskly through the woods to the cave, avoiding the main paths of the road, Harris’ voice pops into her mind: ‘She saw red, lost her ‘ead, that’s why we’ll all end up dead!’
Laughter echoes in her mind. It’s replaced by Henry telling Harris off, his gruff voice comforting her in some way. She can picture Trixie’s devious smile, Django’s scruffy hair, Seven’s hulking presence. The thought of her friends' mannerisms, their voices, how they were, reassures her slightly. But this comfort is intertwined with pain and a desperate yearning for the impossible, for them to come back. This yearning will eventually turn to grief. But not today.
Phoenix soon reaches the cave. She notices the circle of stones outside and thinks back to her interaction with Trixie in this exact spot, almost two years ago. Phoenix takes a coin from her pocket and flicks it into the circle, as the goblin would have done. It bounces onto a stone and falls outside the circle. Phoenix bends down and reaches out to it with her fingers, to slide it back within the circle, but changes her mind. She herself is outside a circle. In a way she always has been. Perhaps this is her fate.
Phoenix lingers, staring into the circle, at the coin outside it, contemplating the fate of her friends. That cruel mistress, fate. Is this what fate had in mind for her? For her friends to be murdered, so she just has to deal with it? She wonders again if it’s her fate to end her own life too. To join her friends. But then, what of her mother - and father?
Phoenix rises and walks into the cave, casting shadows across its rocky walls, a predator in search of answers. For a moment she thinks that her mother and Falkor may have gotten lost and not found their way here. But as her eyes adapt to the darkness, she realises Falkor is lying asleep in the corner, underneath a blanket. Her mother is sitting next to him, keeping watch. She looks up at the silhouette in the cave mouth.
“You took your time getting here,” Amelia says.
Phoenix wants to lash out at her. To swear, to throw her bag across the cave, spilling its contents, to scream at the top of her voice and let her rage ebb. No, she will lock her anger inside for now, let it simmer.
“I had to take care of a few things,” Phoenix says, deadpan, not making eye contact, locking her swirling bitterness away.
The silence shimmers between them.
“What happened to this poor child?” Amelia fills the silence awkwardly, turning to him.
“I don’t know, and I probably never will. Trixie most likely knew, but she’s dead now,” Phoenix responds, pacing the walls of the cave. “They all are - except her. Perhaps when he is old enough to want to share the details, we can try to figure out a way to learn from him. But he cannot write, just as he cannot speak.”
Amelia’s eyes follow her daughter again as she paces. She says: “He’s remarkable. He healed my burns and I am no longer in pain. Though it made him tired.”
Phoenix turns to look outside the cave mouth, at the circle of stones again. She answers: “He is remarkable. He is very lucky to be alive. Him and I are the last two from the group still alive.”
Amelia looks down at Falkor, then back to her daughter.
“Phoe, by the Sunwell, what have you got yourself into…?” she asks, standing. “These past few years, what happened down there just now. Please, tell me everything.”
Phoenix takes a step forward towards her mother, speaking softly, curtailing the pain, the fire inside, not to wake Falkor.
“What have I got myself into? What have I done?” she asks, slowly pacing the cave again, turning her head to face her mother through the darkness. “No, no. You don’t get to do that. This is all your doing,” Phoenix adds, pointing at her mother aggressively. “From your whoring, to my birth, to the fucking thistle addiction, your kidnapping, to all the secrets that have been kept from me. Like my father, and my horror of a sister. And the other secret you kept from Norros - me. This is all on you. So tell me, what have you got me into?”
Phoenix folds her arms. Amelia blinks and sighs.
Phoenix doesn’t give her a chance to respond, throwing another question her way: “You can start by telling me about Leonidas Bloodheart.”
“How did you know…?” Amelia whispers, stunned.
“Does it matter?”
“Yes, it does.”
“Because he leads a life of danger,” Amelia responds. “Because I have spent my whole life trying to keep you from him, from heading down a similar path.”
Phoenix laughs, with disbelief and sarcasm.
“Are we not already on this path?” she asks, opening her arms before folding them again.
There is a silent pause, followed by a sudden outside gust of wind that howls gently through the cave mouth.
“I don’t want us to be, can’t you see that?” Amelia answers, her voice cracking as she begins to weep.
“I found out about ‘dad’ about half an hour ago,” Phoenix adds. “I stumbled across some letters he had sent to Trixie, the goblin who took me in. There, you happy now? He was Trixie’s boss and he has been looking for me. Apparently I’m in his image.”
Amelia wipes a tear away.
“You are,” she says, forging a weary smile. “Leon would sometimes dock at Silvermoon and visit the inn,” she explains, finally revealing the truth to her daughter after 17 years of her life. “We… had you. He’s the captain of a ship, he smuggles, he fights, he sails to distant lands. His crew are ruffians. I wanted to protect you from that life.”
Amelia turns away, facing the cave wall in shame.
“So I kept you from him, from Norros, from the world. I pretended you were adopted,” she continues. “In trying to keep the lie strong and avoid rousing suspicion from others, I didn’t want to show too much affection to you, to do too much with you. I know now that was a mistake.”
Amelia turns back to her daughter, breaking down again.
“I am sorry, Phoe, I wasn’t there for you!”
Part of Phoenix wants to embrace her mother, somewhat understanding her predicament, but she remains, arms folded, stubborn and hurting for being left in the dark for so long.
“I promise, there is not much else I know about your father,” Amelia adds, between sobs. “He’s charming, funny, brave… but greedy. His hair is summer fire, like yours. I can tell you about some of the places he told me he’s been to, the trouble he’s got himself into.”
Phoenix shakes her head.
“Another time, perhaps,” Phoenix says. “Anyway, he’s probably dead. Or lost at sea. Trixie hadn’t heard from him in months. Last she heard he was setting sail for somewhere called the Dragon Isles. Never heard from him again.”
“Can you see now why I did what I did?” Amelia asks. “That could have been you on that ship.”
Phoenix strokes her chin at that suggestion. If not for being reunited with her mother, her life would be as good as over. Why not embark on some kind of suicide mission, to take the slim chance of seeing the face of her father, to explore uncharted territories?
“Phoe, you being on that ship would not be a good thing,” Amelia adds, as if reading the thought process on her face.
Phoenix looks back at her mother, with defiance.
“Wouldn’t it?” she asks. “If my friends were still alive -”
Amelia interjects: “Were they really your friends, Phoe, or were they criminals?”
“You would know, wouldn’t you,” Phoenix replies, her voice rising. “Living with the Steelfeathers. Not all criminals are evil like they are.”
Amelia responds: “From what I heard, your lot were no better than them.”
Anger, pain and helplessness mingle within Phoenix. Her anger rises as the conversation takes a difficult turn - and Phoenix does not want to go along with it.
“Well, you heard wrong. I’m not having this conversation with you,” Phoenix says, but continues anyway, her voice rising with anger. “This past year and a half, I’ve been desperately trying to find you. I thought you were dead. Now I have you again and my friends are the ones that are dead!”
I wish you were dead instead of them, Phoenix thinks to herself in the heat of the moment. The thought hurts part of her and she knows it is wrong to think - and to say - so she keeps it on her tongue. She knows it will pass. But at this moment, she feels it nonetheless. A faint silence returns, broken quicker this time.
“I’m sorry Phoe, that was a little cold of me. I did not know them… I should be dead myself,” Amelia starts. She has stopped crying now. “What they did to me…”
“And so should I,” Phoenix replies, louder now.
“Yet here we are,” Amelia says, looking down at Falkor and back at her daughter. “Thank the Sunwell.”
A thought crosses her mind; her face takes on a serious look as she speaks softly to Phoenix.
“Why don’t we say goodbye to them, properly? Together?”
“What do you mean, send them off?” Phoenix asks.
Phoenix thinks for a moment. It’s not as if they can just wheel a wagon-full of bodies into Silvermoon and lump them into a graveyard there themselves. And she doesn’t like the idea of Alexandra or anyone else coming across the bodies. It’s a good idea, she decides, perhaps it will even bring some closure.
“Yes,” Phoenix says, looking at Falkor asleep and feeling exhausted herself. She touches the keys to Fate in her pocket and feels reassured Alexandra cannot take the ship for herself.
“Let’s get some rest, wait until nightfall. I have some provisions with me, you must be starving, as am I.”
Back at the hideout, Alexandra discovers the bodies and chaos below. Upon seeing the death of her father and her friends, she does not shed a single tear. She knew she should have gone straight to Trixie’s hideout, but needed to head home to gather some provisions first.
Like Phoenix, a rage festers inside her. But unlike her sister’s, it is coiled with deep hatred and a lust for revenge, to make Phoenix truly suffer. She also wants to rectify her own mistakes: she should never have left Phoenix alone at the prison or stopped off at home to recover, before heading to Trixie’s hideout.
Alexandra wants nothing more than to end this once and for all. After reading some of the notes and letters in Trixie’s room and failing to find the key to her ship, Alexandra leaves the hideout and walks across the sands of Tranquil Shore to scout the surrounding area and nearby inns in search of Phoenix. She takes her father’s body back to the Steelfeather’s hideout and leaves him there. She will return to bury him properly once this is all over. She has one last location in mind.
Phoenix hadn’t heard the voices of her friends since seeing her mother again.
While dragging their bodies across the hideout and into the lift, she thinks she can hear whispers in her head, but can’t make out the words. As someone all too aware of the volatility of her mind, Phoenix tries to ignore it. Instead, she lets the numb nothingness sweep over her again as she takes her fallen friends out of the hideout and up into the sands of the Tranquil Shore.
The main feelings she can’t ignore are those of anger and hatred as she steps over the bodies of the Steelfeathers. Their eyes are shut and Norros is nowhere to be found. As expected, Alexandra has been here, and must have taken him with her. Phoenix doesn’t care. Let the other Steelfeathers rot down here, Phoenix decides. She contemplates filling in the hideout’s entrance to prevent anyone from giving them a proper burial or cremation. The other feeling she experiences is nausea, when taking what remains of Henry - a lump of charred meat - up onto the beach.
Phoenix, Amelia and Falkor gather sticks and logs from the nearby woods, using the hawkstriders to carry plenty back to the beach. They arrange a funeral pyre in front of the shack, looking out to sea.
Despite the circumstances, it is a beautiful evening in Quel’Thelas - one of the prettiest Phoenix has witnessed. There is a full moon in the twilight sky blanketing the horizon and the clean, dark waters are almost perfectly still tonight.
Falkor, in his brown robe and Amelia in her white shawl and robe, sit on the beach next to one another, holding hands. Amelia’s outfit flutters in a gentle breeze; Falkor’s face is somehow both cheerful yet juxtaposed with deep sorrow.
Falkor, unable to see, and Amelia, having not met Phoenix’s deceased friends in life, remain sitting, leaving Phoenix herself one last opportunity to bid farewell to those she would deem family.
Her stomach flutters as she slowly walks towards the pyre to say her final goodbyes. As she gets within touching distance of her friends, the words disappear. She looks longingly at the face of each, instead, before closing their eyes and moving to the next. Phoenix gently takes the golden inverted triangle brooch from Trixie’s boiled leather tunic. A slightly louder wave brushes onto the sand as she does so.
When she reaches Seven, she lingers and, out of respect for her dear friend, decides in the moment to respect one of his wishes. Phoenix takes the orcish dagger concealed within Seven’s mighty frame and passes it through her own belt, its hilt resting just above her waistline. She smiles, a little forcefully, a little awkwardly, before closing her eyes and turning back towards her mother and Falkor, fighting back the tears. It barely lasts 30 seconds, but ends up being the longest and hardest walk of her life.
Phoenix sits next to Falkor. The boy holds out his right hand and she takes it, the three of them connected, like an inverted triangle, strong and resilient. Bar one, they are all that’s left of this whole bloody ordeal.
They fought so we shall live, Phoenix thinks to herself, as she looks at the pyre. She wants to give a speech, to honour their lives, to give them a deserving send-off, but it is too painful to speak aloud and the words remain stuck in her throat. She closes her eyes and tilts her head downwards. Falkor notices this. His soft grip tightens ever so slightly in both his hands, as Amelia and Phoenix feel sudden warmth in his palms.
The pyre catches alight, gently, easily, with purpose. It spreads relatively quickly; flames dance across Trixie and her crew, caressing them. The fire is not angry, or harsh, or violent. It glows and grows in the night with nakedness, with purity. Smoke rises into the sea air.
Phoenix looks up. The flames flicker in her azure eyes, mirroring the water in front of her. She will never forget this moment, this image, for the rest of her life. But tears do not fall. Anger swells.
She breathes deeply. As her friends burn, she does a different kind of burning inside. She should be on that pyre too, she thinks to herself. She’d be with her friends, without pain, without torment.
Falkor feels the sweat on her palms. From the heat of the pyre, perhaps… or from her own volition. He sends a little calming energy her way, and she resists at first, but gradually accepts it.
As the hours pass and the night deepens, they sit together, in calm silence. Grey clouds waver overhead.
Phoenix pulls Trixie’s diary out of her bag and flicks through it. The most recent entry was written a few days ago. Phoenix skims through the page, not bothering to read it properly in the darkness, with the nearby fire occasionally lighting up parts of the text.
Life is good. Thirteen sent another letter and another job for us today, with the promise of more gold.
I am over the captain now… I think. I have long accepted that he is not returning and to just build on what we have here. My ship Fate and his, the Fortune, will not sail together again. That makes me deeply sad.
Maybe I will suggest we move back to Stranglethorn over the coming months. I’ll have a good think about it. Silvermoon is not safe for Phoenix, Django or Seven. Booty Bay will be open to us, giving us more opportunities.
But for now, I will continue to grow the coffers with business here. Part of me wanted to find him, but I will not disobey him and the danger is too great. Perhaps with more crew… no, what am I thinking. Life goes on.
Phoenix flicks back to random pages through the diary, for mention of the captain, for mention of herself. She wears a frown as she reads.
...She fights like him. But her stance is less stable, her fighting more wild. She has potential, but her weakness is herself - and I have made her aware of this...
...She won’t like me keeping this secret from her. But when she meets him, I hope she finds it in her heart to forgive us...
...I’ve kept her gift from her father in the locked room on the ship, safe until his return, so he can give it to her in person...
“Phoenix,” Amelia’s voice cuts cooly through the air.
Her daughter turns her head to face her; Falkor is still nestled in between them but they are no longer holding hands. A piece of wood crackles loudly on the pyre.
“There’s something else you should know,” Amelia says, distracting her from the diary.
“Oh goody, more surprises from the locked box of my life,” Phoenix throws her hands up before closing the diary and placing it onto the sand. “It seems I’m always the last to know about myself.”
“I wanted to tell you when you came of age,” Amelia says, calmly. “But I didn’t get the chance to when I was kidnapped.”
Phoenix sighs in anticipation of what else she could possibly learn after the past 48 hours.
“When you were a little girl,” Amelia starts, “the day Norros swung you off his back onto the table…”
“I remember,” Phoenix says, facing the sea. “Though I wish I couldn’t.”
Amelia continues: “You were knocked out cold. The impact to your skull was so great…”
Falkor listens to Amelia as she speaks.
“We were so worried about you. I paid for one of the best doctors to look at you - he conducted tests and monitored you while you were unconscious. He thought we might lose you, or that you could have entered some kind of long-term coma. So I was relieved when, after two full days, you woke. But you weren’t the same.”
Amelia blinks and sighs, her face wearing a sad, helpless look. Phoenix listens.
“Your personality changed. Your inquisitive, happy nature turned into anxiety, to shyness. You would quarrel more, close yourself off. As you grew up, we grew distant. You were harder to connect with.”
Phoenix looks down and fidgets with her fingers.
“I know,” Phoenix says. “I hated your profession. The bloodthistle. I didn’t want to go down that road. I felt trapped in the tavern.”
Amelia ignores this.
“The doctor continued to monitor you for some time while you slept in the evening. He diagnosed you with severe brain damage. Said your personality may shift further, that your behaviour may become more erratic. He said your head injury would probably cause you to lose control of the part of your brain that handles fear and anger.”
Amelia looks down. “Knowing you now, I see that he is right,” she adds.
Phoenix says: “And why are you telling me this now?”
“I didn’t want to add to the problem, I wanted you to be a child, without extra worry on your shoulders.”
“Well,” Phoenix considers. “I have already learnt about it myself. And I have gotten better at controlling my anger recently - my friends helped me handle it. But who knows how I will cope without Seven around now? I do not fear things as I once used to, but the blackouts… they are frightening.”
“Blackouts?” Amelia asks.
“When I get extremely angry, or scared, or even confused, my mind… shuts down. I blackout. When I wake, I am often surprised or terrified by my own actions. But it doesn’t happen as often as it used to.”
A look of concern dawns over Amelia.
“I had the first one after you were taken by the Steelfeathers. Chrim showed me the note they left him. The next thing I know, I’m standing over his dead body.”
Amelia, stunned, says nothing. A wave washes onto the shore.
“Phoe, I’m not going to lie, this worries me deeply,” Amelia says. “The doctor said your brain damage would affect you in some way, but I didn’t expect this. People will hurt you in life. But your anger could hurt others even more, or worse, as you’ve just told me. We don’t want that to happen again.”
Falkor moves his right hand towards Phoenix again, reaching out to her. She takes his hand in hers.
“Falkor tried to look into my mind, I guess to heal it, when I first met him,” Phoenix says, looking from the little elf to her mother and back.
“He treated some minor injuries I had. After I ran away from the inn, from Chrim, to escape the city, I was ambushed by Norros, Alexandra and the Steelfeathers not far from here. They robbed me and she beat me up. Afterwards, Falkor healed my wounds. But as he was finishing, I felt a sharp pain in my mind. Like a bolt of electricity. It stopped him too,” Phoenix explains, looking back at Falkor. “Even our little magician here couldn’t fix my fucked-up brain.”
Amelia grimaces at the swearing. The boy, meanwhile, smiles in Phoenix’s direction, his head moving towards the sound of her voice. If he had eyes, Phoenix is sure they would be looking at her warmly, with kindness and a willingness to help. Falkor raises his left hand, inviting Phoenix to sit opposite him again, like they did when they first met.
“Do you want to try again, Falkor?” she asks him.
He nods, still smiling. Phoenix moves to sit opposite him and Amelia watches them with concern, with hope. The pyre crackles gently nearby. Falkor holds out his left hand and Phoenix holds it, entering into some kind of communion with the child again.
The force startles Phoenix and her eyes are forced shut, like last time. Falkor focuses, his smile fading from his lips. But unlike last time, Phoenix does not resist. She loosens her body and mind, wholly trusting her friend. The aches from Phoenix’s recent fighting dissipate. The healing energy flowing through Phoenix’s body slowly moves up towards her brain.
The flames flicker on the pyre beside them; the water laps onto the shore. A hawk cries overhead. Falkor’s head spasms as he enters a deep state of concentration.
A shiver rises from Phoenix’s lower back, up to her spine and into her mind. Where she felt burning pain before, she starts to feel clarity this time, even pleasantness. The tension from the magical bond eases into a wave of warmth as Phoenix senses her mind is being healed, albeit very gradually. She sees her life flash before her, backwards. The faces of her friends pop into her head, followed by her times with them, her training.
Phoenix is being carried in Seven’s arms again. She hears Trixie’s voice as if the goblin is still alive.
‘We should not stifle her anger, it’s a strength that should be encouraged.’
Phoenix turns around in her vision and sees Alexandra there smiling, instead of Trixie. She punches Phoenix in the face. Shocked, Phoenix gasps and pulls backwards, struggling to open her eyes, to withdraw her hands from Falkor’s.
She tumbles backwards onto the sand and Falkor cries out, startled by the interruption.
“What happened?” Amelia asks, concerned. She rushes over to Phoenix and lifts her up to a sitting position again. “Are you okay?”
“I’m fine,” Phoenix says, dusting the sand from her red top. “I’ve never been better,” she smiles at her mother, at Falkor.
The boy looks forlorn and confused.
“Don’t worry,” Phoenix says to Falkor, placing a hand on his shoulder. “It was working. But I chose to stop it.”
“What? Why?” Amelia asks.
Phoenix turns to her mother. She’s not sure she would understand.
“My mind may be a weakness,” Phoenix says, “But it is also a strength.”
She stands, looking at the burning funeral pyre.
“I realised, I am going to need my bloodlust, the red mist as Trixie called it, if I want to defeat Alexandra. It’s a risk, I know, but I feel it’s one I have to take.”
Phoenix stares blankly into the red and white flames in front of her.
“To use my rage as a weapon. Against her.”
“Phoenix, please don’t,” Amelia says, her voice wobbling with worry, stepping beside her daughter.
“And if I don’t,” Phoenix replies, turning to face her mother, “she will be allowed to torture, to make others suffer again. How long until she puts together another gang and controls Silvermoon’s underworld? She will come after me. After us both. I will live my entire life on the run, scared, with regret. And so will you.”
Amelia says nothing. Phoenix knows she can’t argue against that.
“We can hire someone to deal with her,” Amelia suggests. “Tell the guards? Get her arrested.”
Phoenix shakes her head.
“I’m also wanted by them. I’m going mother, and you can’t stop me. This is my fight,” Phoenix responds.
Amelia interjects, somewhat angrily: “She’s still my daughter!”
“No, she’s not,” Phoenix says calmly. “She’s Norros’ daughter, brainwashed by him to turn against you. A daughter doesn’t torture her own mother. She doesn’t allow her to be raped, to be-”
Amelia turns away, embarrassed, her face red with distress.
“Mother…” Phoenix says. “I will try to make her see reason. If she says she will change - and she has to properly convince me - I will let her live. I promise.”
“Please don’t kill each other, for the Sunwell’s sake, for my sake… You’re all I have left.”
Phoenix embraces her. She says gently in her mother’s ear: “And when I return, Falkor can finish what he started. Once and for all, my mind will be right again.”
Amelia stares into her daughter’s eyes. There is hope in Amelia’s eyes, mingled with fear, with a mother’s concern. She nods.
“I know where she will be,” Phoenix says. “I must not waste any more time. Wait in the cave with the boy again. I will return by tomorrow morning.”
Amelia does not fight. She does not argue. She simply hugs her daughter again, briefly, with urgency. Phoenix packs her things and pats Falkor on the head as she walks away from them, towards Sunsail Anchorage.
“See you soon, little one,” she smiles.
Falkor gurgles back at her.
After ten paces, Phoenix stops. She turns around to see her mother smiling worriedly back at her, as the flames and smoke rising into the grey sky behind her.
“Would you say I’m more a Bloodheart, or a Dreamfoil?” Phoenix asks.
Amelia says nothing. Her smile remains but part of her face takes a sad turn. They both know the answer.