Sunday, July 14, 2013

Dark Redemption chapter 3: Meeting Melchior

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.

Strephon MacKenzie has been commissioned by his aunt, the Queen of the Fae, to look into faerie activity in the city. His investigation leads him to Aesermann Technologies, a computer firm owned by a Fae Noble named Melchior.

The lift door slid open revealing a tall, lithe woman with short platinum blonde hair. She wore a tightly-tailored business suit with a short slit skirt which gave Strephon a spectacular view of her long, lissome legs. What arrested Strephon's attention, though, was the tattoo. A silvery iridescent tattoo adorned her cheek: an intricate labrynth of lines meandering from her eye down to her jawline and from there down the side of her neck. Her eyes were a vivid amber. "All she needs is a sandwich board reading 'I am a Fae'," Strephon thought.

"Hello, I am Lilith, Mister Aesermann's administrative assistant," she said. "Would you come this way?" She slipped behind his chair and pushed him into the lift. As she did so, Strephon caught a heady whiff of her scent; not mere perfume or even mortal pheromones, but the magic of raw fae essence.

"I can quite manage myself," Strephon protested. Unless the person was someone he knew and trusted, like Tobias, he generally preferred to wheel the chair himself. Lilith did not give him the opportunity.

"Mister Aesermann told me to see to you personally."

The door slid closed and the lift began to rise.

"You know," Lilith purred, "I've never met a person who was a faerie from the waist up, but whose..." she paused suggestively, "...legs were mortal."

"I hear that from people often." Strephon tried to keep his tone light and not show the discomfort he was feeling. He could recognize what she was doing easily enough; it was a common faerie glamour to radiate an aura of desirability. A simple trick. That didn't stop his mortal half from reacting to it. He tried to casually adjust the blanket over his legs.

"But your mortal half is a century and a half old. I suppose those parts are all worn out by now." Not a terribly subtle challenge.

"Well, better to wear out than to rust out, they say." Strephon could make suggestive banter just as well as she could. Good Lord, was she fondling the handles of his wheelchair? My, she was a naughty one. Strephon diverted his gaze to the numbers over the door.

Before she could respond with another come-on, the lift halted and the doors opened. Lilith wheeled Strephon into a luxurious office. He was greeted by a tall man with blond hair pulled back in a ponytail and a short goatee. He wore tinted pince-nez glasses and a lime green jacket over a black T-shirt. He looked more like someone's idea of a Hollywood agent than a Noble of the Fae, but Strephon could sense the power underneath the flashy facade. "Hello, Mister Mackenzie," the man said, "or may I call you Strephon?"

Strephon shook his hand with a cool smile. "Strephon is fine. You do me honor by receiving me, Lord Melchior."

Melchior's own smile widened just enough to show a bit of teeth. "That will be all, Lilith. You may go." Lilith pursed her lips into something almost like a pout, but slunk out of the office without a word. Melchior waited until she was gone before he continued. "To what do I owe this visit?"

Strephon shrugged. "I was told of your presence in this city. I felt I should pay my respects and apologize for not coming sooner."

"Who told you of me?" Melchior asked casually. "Don't tell me our beloved Queen sent you to spy on me."

Strephon smiled. "I have do intention of telling you any such thing."

Melchior gave a sharp, barking laugh. "Very good. But it is well known that you bear the Queen's special favor."

Strephon bowed his head. "Her Majesty has a special affection for my mother, and so thinks kindly of me."

"It is also well-known that you are a recluse, preferring to stay buried in your mortal house and shun the pleasures of the Court and the company of our kind. So I ask again: to what do I owe the pleasure of this visit?"

"I must admit to a fair amount of curiosity," Strephon said with a shrug. "I dwell among mortals because I am half a one myself. But what would cause a Lord of the Fae to humble himself so to take the form of a lowly multi-millionaire? Why would you willingly shut yourself up in this steel cage when the whole of the Unseen Realm beckons?"

Behind his tinted pince-pez, Melchior's eyes narrowed. "For all your eccentricities, I do not believe you are a fool. You know full well that our kind does not play with mortals merely for our own amusement. How did the verse go?

"We can ride on lover' sighs,
Warm ourselves in lovers' eyes,
Bathe ourselves in lovers' tears,
Clothe ourselves in lovers' fears,
Arm ourselves with lovers' darts,
Hide ourselves in lovers' hearts.
When you know us, you'll discover
That we almost live on lover."

Strephon's face darkened. "I'm familiar with that writer."

"Yes, typical mortal sentiment, but with a certain amount of truth. For all our superiority, we depend upon mortals. We feed upon their imagination and the stuff of their dreams. That is what gives the fabric of the Unseen Realm it's reality. And we inspire their dreams as well. You could call it a symbiotic relationship."

"I've heard that argument before, although rarely from a fae. I confess, though, that I fail to see why that would bring you to this city."

Melchior sat back in his leather chair and placed his fingertips together, mocking Strephon's own pose. "Let's just say we Fae have never seriously examined this relationship before and I have come to the mortal plane to do just that." Again, he showed his teeth in a predatory smile.

NEXT:  Of Fae and Ferrous Metal

1 comment:

kurt wilcken said...

Still no idea why the font size keeps changing on me. Although in one case it occurs in a word I fixed with the spell checker. Maybe it's the faeries.