Saturday, August 3, 2013

Dark Redemption chapter 6: Table for Two

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, a half-fae dwelling in Redemption, has been visiting with Melchior Aesermann, a powerful Faerie Lord who has created computer games that combine virtual reality with fae illusion. Melchior wishes Strephon to join him, but Strephon is cautious, suspicious of Melchior's true intentions.

Lilith escorted Strephon back to the ground floor. To his immense relief, she did not flirt with him on the way down. The reporter was still arguing with the receptionist. She pounced on Lilith as she approached.

"I'm Cassandra True of the Daily Oracle; I have an appointment with Mister Aesermann..."

"I'm so sorry," Lilith purred, "but Mister Aesermann is not seeing anyone else this afternoon. I'm sure you can make an appointment for another time."


Lilith ignored her and turned to the receptionist. "Please call a taxi for Mister MacKenzie." Then she smiled professionally to Strephon and gave him a business card. "It was a pleasure to have you, Mister MacKenzie. Feel free to call any time."

The reporter glared at Lilith as she wriggled her way back to the lift. Strephon fidgeted guiltily. He couldn't help feel responsible for the lass losing her scoop. And he was not looking forward to encountering Lilith again at the party. Then inspiration struck.

"Pardon me, Miss... True is it?"


"I hope you don't think me impertinent, but may I ask if you are doing anything Monday night?"


"Monday night. Mister Aesermann has invited me to a dinner party and I hoped you would do me the honor of accompanying me."

The reporter regarded him with a cold, suspicious look. "Let me get this straight. You want me to go to on a date with you to some party that Mister Too-Busy-To-Talk-With-Reporters is throwing, is that what you're saying?"

Strephon was taken aback. "Ah... well, yes, that is, I couldn't help but overhear that you wished to speak with him and I thought..."

"If you need an escort, I'm sure you can hire one. I don't need a pity date, especially not from a..."

"..From a cripple?" Strephon concluded, becoming angry in turn.

"I didn't say that! Listen. It would be a violation of my journalistic ethics for me to just rent myself out for a story like some cheap tart."


"...Not unless you bought me a really expensive dinner first."

Strephon blinked at her, uncomprehending.

"I've been waiting here all afternoon and I'm starving. So do you want a date, or don't you?"

He shook his head. He had just gotten what he wanted; why did he feel like he had just lost the first round? "Well, Miss True, have you ever been to Little Kingston?"

* * * * *

Tobias dropped them off at Tortuga Bay, a small bistro run by one of his uncles. It was in a nicer section of Little Kingston, the part the tourists usually visited, and it was a colorful place providing a touch of the Caribbean to the usually grey and foggy streets of Redemption. The restaurant was only a few blocks from Strephon's house and they knew him there.

"I hope you don't mind a table," Strephon said as the maitre'd wheeled him to a place in the non-smoking section. "I have difficulty with booths."

Cassandra sat down opposite him. "I beg your pardon for not helping you with your seat," Strephon added.

"You don't have to do that, you know."

"Do what?"

"Remind me that you're disabled. You keep apologizing and making these self-deprecating comments about your wheelchair and your lack of mobility as if you were afraid I'd forget."

"Ah." Strephon paused, unsure how to respond. "Well, then... I apologize for apologizing."

Cassandra chucked at that. After they had placed their order and their waiter brought them their drinks she asked, "So how did it happen? Were you in some kind of accident?" She glanced at the chair.

Strephon had expected this question. "Oh, nothing like that. I had a severe case of polio as a child. It left me crippled."

"Polio?" The reporter frowned. "I didn't think that even existed anymore. They've had the vaccine for ages."

Strephon silently cursed himself. That particular taradiddle had served him well for a long time; it never occurred to him that it might be outdated. "I was never immunized. I guess I fell through the cracks. You know bureaucracy." He quickly changed the subject. "Why don't you tell me a bit about yourself, Miss True."

"Cassandra. If we're going to be eating at the same table we should be on a first name basis."

"Very good. And you may call me Strephon."

"Anyway. I'm a reporter for the Daily Oracle. Ever read it?"

"I usually read the Morning Star, I'm afraid. The Oracle, that's the one with the, er..."

"The girls with the big hooters? Yes that's the one."

"Not the word I was thinking of," Strephon said diplomatically.

"My job is writing captions for the Page 3 Girls. Welcome to the glamorous world of journalism."

"Now who's being self-deprecating?"

"Touché. Someday I'm going to have my own column, though. I'm going to call it True Stories. Maybe even get a shot at the Star"

"Well. Until then, I'll have to pay more attention to the captions."

She arched an eyebrow at him, but he managed to maintain an expression of angelic innocence.

They enjoyed their meal and after a while Cassandra asked "So what's your connection with Melchior Aesermann?"

"Family connections. My mother is friends with his aunt and suggested he might have a position for me in his company. Pure nepotism, I'm afraid."

Cassandra took another draw on her rum and coke. "Hell, if you've got the pull I suppose you might as well use it. That guy has an aunt? Scary."

Strephon thought of his own aunts, including the Queen of the Fae.  "You have no idea."

NEXT:  Who Let the Dogs Out?

1 comment:

kurt wilcken said...

As I've mentioned, "Dark Redemption" was something of a "shared world" project and Lord Jex let each of us participating develop our own little corners of it. Having introduced Tobias, the Jamaican cabdriver and mention of his grandmother, I decided to place a Jamaican community in the city, located near Strephon's home.

The city's two rival newspapers, the sensationalist tabloid "Daily Oracle" and it's more respectable competitor the "Morning Star" were also my additions to the City of Redemption.

I have to admit that I probably had the "Daily Prophet" from the Harry Potter books in mind, but I also thought that "The Oracle" would be an appropriate place for a girl named Cassandra to work.