Saturday, November 16, 2013

Dark Redemption chapter 21: A Foot in the Door

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 semi-immortal half-fae living among humans, has been commissioned by the Faerie Queen to investigate fae activity in the city. He has learned of one such person, a fae named Ferner who has ties to the werewolf community.

The peculiar dream with the featherbunnies still lingered in Strephon's mind the next day when the cab he was riding in pulled up in front of Ferner Cooper's flat. "Here you are," the driver said.

Strephon paid the fare and hefted himself out of the back seat with his canes. "Ah, my chair, if you please?" The cabbie grunted and reluctantly ambled to the trunk and unpacked the wheelchair. Usually Tobias drove the cab which picked Strephon up; Tobias knew him and could anticipate his needs. Strephon realized how much he had come to depend on the cheerful Jamaican. Unfortunately, Tobias had his own life and other fares to carry. Strephon made a guilty note to himself to tip him a little more next time he saw him.

The hospital had been less than helpful. Yes, Ferner Cooper did work there. No, she usually worked the evening shift and besides today was her day off. No, they're sorry but they don't give out that kind of personal information. Well, if she is a relative of yours... Strephon had to exert a considerable amount of his faerie charm to persuade the receptionist to divulge Ferner's address.

A young woman answered the door. "What is it?" she asked. She wore a tattoo -- not a glamour, but actual ink on flesh -- of a wolf. She must disguise it with a glamour when she went to work; hospitals tended to frown upon that kind of body art, it might upset the patients. Her aura glowed like moonlight and her suspicious glare had a feral gleam to it. She really had gone native, Strephon mused; she seemed as much wolf as she was fae. Could she be the source of the Reavers' magic?

"Good day, Miss Cooper. I apologize for intruding. My name is Strephon and I heard there was one of my kin come to town. Since I see too few faces from the Unseen Court in this realm, I thought I would call and pay my respects."

"I have nothing to do with the Court," Ferner said harshly.

"Ah. Well, as you can see I am something of an exile myself. May I come in?"


"I... see. Well then, may I use your telephone? My cab has already left and I shall have to call for another."
Ferner narrowed her gaze. Strephon smiled pleasantly in return.

"What does a fae need a phone for?"

"I am half mortal, as you can no doubt see. This infirmity of mine," he indicated his chair, "is no disguise. Are you really going to leave a poor crippled man alone to his own devices?" A pretty blatant play for sympathy, and she knew it; but she snorted and allowed him to come into her flat.

"So why are you really here?" Ferner asked.

"Why to get to know you better, of course."

"I said really."

Strephon paused, considering for a moment, while maintaining his smile. "As I said, to get to know you. To ascertain where you fit in the scheme of things. You run with the wolves, do you not?"

Ferner frowned, and pointed to the telephone. "The phone is there."

Strephon went over to the phone and made a pretense of calling a cab, but he kept his hand on the switch, closing the connection. He hung up the receiver. "The cab should be here shortly." He looked around the flat. He saw little sign of fae magic here, and no sign of any silver collars or bracelets such as the Reavers wore. "A pleasant place you have. Quite cozy." He placed his finger together and tapped them.

"What do you have to do with the wolf packs?" Ferner asked.

"Oh, not very much. Except that a few of them attacked me and a lady friend of my accquaintance the other night." He tilted his head shrewdly. "You wouldn't know anything about that, would you?"

"Are you accusing me of attacking you?"

Strephon sighed. "Frankly, I'd be surprised if you did. Generally I'm not that lucky. However, it did occur to me that, having connections in the lycanthropic community, you may have heard something about the incident."

"I don't have that many connections. I used to run with the Reavers, but that was a long time ago; back when Kel Reeves led the pack." Strephon sensed bitterness in her tone. She obviously held no love for Blanka, the Reavers' current leader.

"What brought you back?" Strephon said quietly.

"Why should you care?"

Something about her answer struck a chord in Strephon. She needed something. He doubted that he could turn his back on her once the full moon rose, but his instincts told him that she was allied with neither Blanka nor Melchior. He made his decision.

"I'd like to help you if I can."

NEXT:  A Half-Hour With Miss Cooper

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