Saturday, August 10, 2013

Dark Redemption chapter 7: Who Let the Dogs Out?

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 among mortals, has made the acquaintance of Cassandra True, a reporter for the Daily Oracle. He has taken her to a nearby restaurant for dinner.

Dinner went surprisingly well. Strephon hadn't been out for a social evening in the company of a woman since his Phylis died decades -- no, nearly a century ago. He had forgotten how pleasant it could be. To his surprise he found himself inviting Cassandra over to his house and was pleased when she accepted.

"Are you sure it's safe to be out on the streets at night?" Cassandra asked looking down the street. A fog was beginning to rise up from the direction of the river.

"Certainly. This is actually not such a bad neighborhood." There were street gangs, to be sure, but they all knew he was under the protection of powerful friends and left him alone. Vampires and werewolves as a rule did not hunt in this neighborhood, because Grandma Simms had protected it with powerful charms.

Just to prove himself a liar, his skin began to crawl as he sensed magic, dark and primal, nearby. He saw a canine shadow loping through the fog, parallelling their path; then another. Werewolves? What the devil were they doing here? With a chill, he remembered Tobias' warning about the Big Dogs.

"Would you mind pushing me for a bit?" Strephon asked. Puzzled, Cassandra did as he asked. "I want you to remain very calm and keep moving," he said in a frighteningly conversational tone. "Whatever you do, do not run."

"What is it?" Cassandra eyed the shadows nervously. "Oh hell. Are those wolves? Those are wolves!"

Strephon reached behind him. He kept a pair of canes stowed in the back of his wheelchair, which he could use to hobble for short distances at need. He often used them for getting around in his house. They had other uses. He took one of the canes and gave its handle a half-twist and a six inch steel blade emerged from its tip. "Have you any items of self defense on your person?"

Cassandra tried to keep the fear out of her voice and speak as calmly as he was. "I have pepper spray in my purse."

"Now's the time to use it."

The wolves attacked; three of them, coming from three different directions. They were lean, scruffy beasts with glowing blue eyes. Strephon swung his sword cane at one, drawing blood and a startled yip from the leader. Obviously it thought a woman and a man in a wheelchair were easy prey. Another leaped onto Cassandra, knocking her down and biting the sleeve of her coat. That one got a face full of the pepper spray. It yelped and retreated to a safe distance. A third wolf lunged at Strephon, bowling his wheelchair over on its side. He whacked at the wolf viciously with his sword, keeping it at bay.

Suddenly, a bright light shone in Strephon's face and a loud automobile horn sounded. A taxicab came roaring through the fog, squealing to a halt right next to Strephon and sending the wolves running. Tobias leaped out of the cab, brandishing a tyre iron. "Here now! Shoo! Go home!" he shouted.

The wolves did not care for the change in the odds. They melted into the fog; all except one.

Tobias ran to Strephon's side. "Are you all right? Gran had a premonition you were in trouble. I came as quick as I could!"

"See to the girl." Strephon pulled himself by his hands over to where Cassandra lay. The sleeve of her coat had been torn off and four long scratches marred her arm. He felt her jaw for her pulse.

"It doesn't look like she was bit," Tobias said.

"No, but she took a bad crack on the back of her head. And she was badly scratched." Strephon looked up at him. "Bring her to my house. I'll look after her."

Tobias nodded. Then his eyes widened. "Look!"

A naked woman lay where one of the wolves was; the one Strephon had killed. Tobias kneeled over her and frowned. "What's this?" The woman wore a leather collar, inlaid with silvery runes. Her neck was red and angry where the silver had seared her flesh.

Strephon pulled himself over to examine the body. "Fae runes," he said. "That explains how they could pass your Grandmama's wards. But what kind of werewolf would voluntarily wear silver?"

"The Reavers," Tobias said. "What did I tell you? The Big Dogs are running out of their kennels."

Strephon frowned. He'd thought the war between the wolf packs would not involve him. Perhaps he was wrong.

NEXT:  Bedside Manner

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