Saturday, September 14, 2013

Dark Redemption chapter 12: Networking

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 recluse, has been invited to a party being held by Melchior Aesermann, a Fae noble posing as a mortal, and has brought along reporter Cassandra True as his date. Several of the most powerful figures in Redemption's supernatural community have also been invited to this party, as well as a few other surprises.

"It's that detective," Cassandra whispered. "What's he doing here?"

"Undoubtedly he is wondering the same about us," Strephon replied under his breath. To his relief, however, the detective's companion headed straight for the buffet table and he followed her lead.

Strephon watched the little drama at the meat tray intently. Since the "Big Dogs" had taken an interest in his life, it only behooved him to take an interest in theirs. He wondered why Melchior was gauche enough to invite leaders of more than one pack to the same party. Then again, perhaps it was a deliberate political move to ensure that no single pack was snubbed. Or perhaps a reminder to whichever leader he was negotiating with that they were not the only pack in town. The detective faced down the President of the Decency League. Intriguing. The somewhat befuddled young man who had interrogated Strephon that morning was nowhere to be seen; the detective now possessed an intensity, a drive and a bite. The detective's companion observed the altercation with a combination of apprehension and satisfaction.

"Pardon me," one of the waiters interrupted him with a tray of champagne glasses. "Would you care for a drink?"

Strephon nodded and took one of the glasses. Cassandra reached for one, but then paused. "Um... could you bring me a rum and coke?"

"Certainly." The waiter glided away to bring the drink. Strephon directed a narrow glance at Cassandra, who returned it with a secret and slightly embarrassed smile.

Melchior was engaged in a conversation with the Aoi Kurayami while Lilith hovered at a discreet distance. They seemed to be discussing Aesermann's new game system and placing them in Miss Kurayami's cyber-cafes and possible strategies for international distribution. It all seemed quite conventional if one didn't know the gentleman was a Lord of the Fae and the woman a powerful vampire.

Strephon glanced over to the bald thin man with the thin, beakish nose. He was now speaking to a man in a grey suit with a peculiar aura. "Who is that?" Strephon asked.

Cassandra, sipping her rum and coke, looked over that way and shuddered. "I don't know. He gives me the creeps, though. He looks like a mortician." Strephon nodded; the man did have an aura of death about him. Now he recognized the man; it was Mr. Grey, a ghost of his acquaintance.

"Ah, Strephon; I'm glad you could make it." Melchior came over to him and offered his hand. "I hope you're enjoying yourself."

"Yes, I am," Strephon replied politely. "I don't think you've met Miss True." He gestured to Cassandra.

Melchior took her hand and gave her a charming smile which froze as Lilith whispered behind him, "She's a reporter. From the Oracle."

"It's so good to finally meet you," Cassandra said sweetly. "I was hoping I might ask for a few moments of your time."

Melchior curled his lip, but only for a moment. Then the mask returned. "Why certainly, my dear. Come with me. Lilith, will you keep Mister MacKenzie entertained while I'm gone?"

Lilith gave a predatory smile. "Why certainly."

Strephon cursed again. This was the last thing he wanted.

NEXT:  All Alone In a Crowded Room

1 comment:

kurt wilcken said...

Once again, Dark Redemption originally had several individual storylines written by different people which for the most part were independent from each other. But at Melchior's dinner party, a few of these stories intersected.

Since Strephon is not directly involved with these other characters at present, I merely had him observing the events of the other players's plots from a distance.

The drama at the meat tray alluded to in this chapter comes from my wife's story involving Lucinda the Corporate Werewolf and her new pet, Detective Masey. Lucinda engaged in a little verbal sparring with the other two pack leaders. When one of them delivers some veiled threats against her, Masey steps in to her defense, actually challenging the pack leader and forcing him to back down. Being a new werewolf, Masey does not realize how suicidal this is.

Mr. Grey is another of Jex's characters, a ghost who acts as a psychopomp, interacting with the souls of the recently dead and sometimes, in the case of the nastier ones, giving them the opportunity to choose their own damnation. Thoth thinks that Mr. Grey ought to lighten up.

Neither of these incidents have much of any impact on Strephon's story, but I didn't want to edit them out either.