Beneath the gleaming skyscrapers and picturesque facade of the City of Redemption lies another city; a community of dark and ancient magic populated by creatures of the night. Dark Redemption is a shared-world novel based on an online role-playing game by James Crowther.
The Fae, immortal creatures of magic and subtlety, have returned to Redemption and are once more meddling in the affairs of men. Strephon MacKenzie, a half-fae living among humans, has been commissioned by the Faerie Queen to investigate.
A taxicab pulled up outside of Strephon's house and the driver, a tall, bearded Jamaican in dreadlocks, came out and bounded up the anachronistic wheelchair ramp. The driver rang the bell.
"Ah, Tobias," Strephon said when he answered the bell. "I did not expect you so soon. I only just called."
The cabbie grinned. "Gran tol' me you might need a lift, so I made sure I was in the neighborhood." He pushed Strephon's wheelchair to the street and helped him into the cab.
"And how is your dear grandmama?" Strephon asked.
"Oh, just fine. She talks about you often. She says, 'Tobias, you pay heed to Mister Strephon now! He's frien's with the Good People.' "
Strephon smiled. Grandma Simms was a sweet old lady who told fortunes in the back room of her little convenience shop in the Little Kingston district of Redemption and was undisputed matriarch of the city's Jamaican community.
Strephon waited patiently as Tobias folded up his wheelchair and stowed it in the trunk of the cab. "Gran also said to tell you, there's trouble on the street. The Big Dogs been running out of their kennels; marking their territory. Looks like it could be a war coming."
This was not good news. Strephon had heard the local werewolf population had been growing lately. He supposed it was only a matter of time before the rival packs began fighting each other. Did Melchior have anything to do with the werewolf situation? Yet another mystery.
"Where to?" Tobias asked.
"Corrigan Street, if you please. Aeser Technologies." If Strephon was going to find answers, that was the place to start.
Aeser Technologies was just as Strephon had imagined it; an ugly box of glass and steel. Post-modern architecture had a lot to answer for in his opinion. He wheeled himself past an abstract sculpture in the style of the Blast Furnace Accident School, only slightly redeemed by the fountain incorporated into the piece. The cool magic of running water could do a lot to ameliorate modern monstrosities, but even it could do only so much. At least the building had a handicapped-accessible entrance, so Strephon had to concede modern design was good for something.
It being a Saturday afternoon, Strephon did not seriously expect to meet anybody. He mainly wanted to survey the territory and look active so that Devon would cease nagging him. He was surprised, then, to see a receptionist on duty at a large desk in the lobby, arguing with a young woman with short brunette hair.
"I'm sorry, but Mister Aesermann cannot see you without an appointment."
"I made an appointment! If you could just tell him I'm here. Cassandra True from the Redemption Daily Oracle."
"He is in a meeting."
Strephon cleared his throat. "Pardon me, but could you tell me when Mister Aesermann will be finished with his meeting?" He gave the receptionist his most charming smile. Being half a fae, he could be extremely charming.
The receptionist blinked at him. Unsure what to do, she relied on rote. "Do you have an appointment?"
"I'm afraid not, but I think Mister Aesermann will be interested in speaking to me." Strephon pulled a calling card from his pocket and handed it to the receptionist. "We have mutual friends at Court." This was true. He did not say which Court.
The receptionist stared at the card as if hypnotized; then pressed a button on her intercom. "Mister Aesermann? There's a Mister Strephon Mackenzie here to see you. Yes, Strephon. Very good." She looked up at Strephon. "Mister Aesermann will be with you in a few minutes. You can have a sea... uh, you can wait over there."
Strephon nodded and wheeled himself over to the waiting area and selected a magazine. The brunette stormed after him and sat down nearby. "How the hell do you rate?" she groused.
Strephon shrugged apologetically. "I guess it pays to have connections. What do you want to see Mister Aesermann about?"
"I'm a reporter for the Daily Oracle. We're doing a profile on Aesermann for our Lifestyle section. I had to re-arrange my whole weekend to get this interview, but now he's blowing me off!"
"I'm sorry," Strephon said. The girl was not unattractive, when she wasn't scowling. "I'm sure it was merely a scheduling mistake."
"Mister Aesermann will see you now," the receptionist announced. "The elevator is to your right. His office is on the fifth floor."
Strephon apologized again to the reporter and went to the elevator. He felt bad about cutting in front of her in the queue, so to speak. He considered bringing her along so she could have first crack at Melchior. No, what he wanted to discuss was not for mortal ears.
Halfway to the elevator, he paused and turned his head back to the girl. "I hope you get your interview."
NEXT: Meeting Melchior