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's investigation into fae activity in the city has led him to the office of Melchior Aesermann, a Lord of the Faerie posing as a mortal who owns computer firm.
"You are in an interesting position," Lord Melchior continued. "Having, if you'll pardon the expression, a foot in both worlds, the Mortal World and the Unseen Realm, you can appreciate what we are doing here."
Now things were getting interesting. This was the point where Melchior was going to feel out his loyalties and try to recruit him for whatever his scheme was without saying anything that would compromise him if Strephon decided to decline. Strephon leaned forward and rested his chin on his folded hands. "Tell me more."
"It is nothing less than a complete paradigm shift."
"Ah... paradigms. That's one of those words management consultants like to use to impress other management consultants."
"Perhaps this might impress you." Melchior picked up a ugly paperweight from his desk and tossed it to Strephon.
Strephon caught it easily; then gaped at it. "This is iron!"
"Yes. Cold iron. The Faerie's Bane."
Something had been nagging at the back of Strephon's mind and now he realized what it was. As a half mortal, Strephon could endure the touch of iron, but how could a pure-blooded Lord of the Fae exist in a modern steel-frame building, let alone toss pieces of wrought iron around like cricket balls?
"The paradigm has shifted," Melchior repeated. "The relationship between Mortal World and the Unseen Realm has changed, for those with the wisdom to see it. Millennia ago, mortals were weak and primitive, at the mercy of Nature. We preyed upon them openly and mocked them as they sought to propitiate us with their worship or control us with their rudimentary magic. But over the millennia they learned to worship stronger gods and they developed tools and technology to gain their own control of Nature and in doing so, lost their fear of us. We were still masters of Nature and so we did not recognize the danger until it was too late. Then they learned to master Iron and so gained power even over us.
"Perhaps at that point we should have left the Mortal Plane altogether, but everything Mortal is subject to change and the Fae are patient. And always the Mortal dreams drew us back; dreams as sweet as the lotus blossom full of desire and terror and beauty; dreams we used to shape our own reality. But by now, the mortals had turned away from us; with their technology they had little need for us. Or so they thought.
"As much as we needed their dreams, so did they need to dream. As long as their imagination was enraptured with wheels and engines, we kept our distance, enchanting a Shakespeare here or a Byron there, but for the most part leaving Mortals alone.
"But now things have changed."
Melchior tapped a few keys on the laptop computer on his desk and turned it around. The screen displayed an image of the very office they were in. Then, before Strephon's eyes, it morphed into a fairyland, with flowered glades and mushroom office furniture and the office morphed too, reflecting the image on the screen. Then it changed again into a symphony of chrome and steel, then a heaven of translucent alabaster, then a hell of smoke and flame, all the while maintaining the general form and architecture of the room.
"Virtual reality," Melchior said, as the office resumed its default setting. "Dreams and technology have become one and provided an interface by which we can manipulate and control their technology. A new age is dawning, Strephon; the Age of the Silicon Fae. The gateway is beckoning. Are you interested?"