Saturday, November 23, 2013

Dark Redemption chapter 22: A Half-Hour With Miss Cooper

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, is investigating faerie activity in the city. After being attacked by werewolves bearing fae enchantments, his search has led him to another expiate fae, Ferner Cooper, who has adopted the identity of a werewolf herself and formerly ran with the Reaver wolf pack.

“I said I like to help if I can,” Strephon repeated calmly

Ferner looked at him squarely trying to see if his offer was real of not when she realised what she was doing she scowled.

“I why should I trust you” Ferner finally asked

“You can’t” still said in the damn calm manner, she was so tempted to just throw him out of her flat but then what would her neighbours say. Sighing she ran a hand though her damp hair knowing that she wouldn't be able to rid of him that easily.

“Fine you have half an hour to explain why you want my help then you will phone a taxi and leave if I decide to help I get back to you clear?”

She almost smiled at the look on his face when he realised she knew he hadn't phone a taxi.

“Well then if I only have half an hour I best get started, mustn’t I?” Strephon said calmly.

"As for why I need your help," he continued, "It's a bit complicated. As I mentioned, a lady acquaintance of mine and I were attacked two nights ago by Reavers. An unpleasant occurrence, but these things happen, I'm told, in the Big City. Now, I hope I can be forgiven for taking an attack on myself personally, but there were one or two other curious things about this particular attack I found noteworthy.

"To begin with, the attack took place in Little Kingston. I'm sure you're aware that neighborhood lies under the protection of Grandma Simms, as I believe it was back in your time as well. She keeps her neighborhood protected with spells to ward off werewolves, vampires and other creatures of the night. Terribly unfair, I know, to lump wolves and vampires together, but as both prey on mortals, I'm afraid she makes little distinction between the two."

"The fae prey on mortals too," Ferner replied. "What does she think about you?"

"Oh, we have an understanding. We trade biscuit recipes and so she grants me special dispensation. But the curious thing is, how did the Reavers come to be in Grandma Simms' territory in the first place?"

"What about the other curious thing?"

"That is more complicated. The attack took place within a few hours of my visit with Melchior Aesermann. Are you familiar with the man?"

"Should I?" She frowned. "The name sounds vaguely familiar. Melchior?"

"Yes. Lord Melchior. He too is a fae slumming among the mortals like we are. As you well know, if a Lord of the Fae spends much time away from the Court, it can only mean he is plotting something behind the Queen's back."

"I don't like politics," Ferner growled. "That's why I left."

"I heartily agree with you. Would that I could avoid courtly entanglements myself. Unfortunately, a Royal Command is a Royal Command, and she is my favorite aunt. Anyway. The Queen requested that I look in on Lord Melchior and see what he was up to. It seems he is manufacturing computer games utilizing fae magics in order to corrupt the souls of mortals. Not that morals need much corrupting, but he wished to corrupt them in such a way as to benefit him. You know how things are."

Ferner wrinkled her nose at him. "The clock is ticking. Get to the point."

"Well. Lord Melchior is also building alliances here in Redemption. He does business with at least one of the more powerful vampires of the city and I have reason to believe he has connections with the Reavers as well The Reavers have been utilizing fae magic. So you see how the timing of my attack is suggestive."

"You think that Melchior ordered the attack?"

"As I said, the timing is suggestive. So I am looking for information. I would appreciate any help you could give me."

Ferner thought for a long time, watching him warily. "Listen," she finally said. "I don't know this Melchior guy. I've never met him before, I've never heard of him before. I don't think he ordered your attack, though. Blanka has been giving his pack magic charms; collars and bracelets with silver runes. They allow his pack to pass through magical protections."

"Must be handy for a wolf," Strephon commented.

"If they don't mind bonds of slavery," she snarled. "And the burning touch of silver. I heard that a few of the pack ventured into Little Kingston and were driven off by an old man in a wheelchair who killed one of them. Sheila, her name was."

"A friend of yours?"

"No." Ferner's expression seemed to say but she could have been... "There was talk of hunting down the man in the wheelchair and teaching him a lesson, but apparently Blanka forbade it."

"Hm..." Strephon said stroking his chin. "Then perhaps I owe Blanka my thanks. Well, that certainly argues that my attack was not orchestrated."

"You sound disappointed."

"Oh, I'm not. Any information I can get at this point is helpful. But there is still one important piece of information you can still give me."

"What's that?"

"What do you want?"


Strephon placed his fingertips together and leaned forward. "I said I would help you if I could. A gentleman keeps his word. You answered my questions, so I am prepared to keep my side of the bargain. What is it you are seeking in Redemption and how may I help you find it?"

“What am I seeking in Redemption” Ferner repeated almost like in a trance then shook her head. “Why do you even care in wanting to help me? And don’t say it’s because of your word; because gentleman or not, you’re still Fae; and no Fae I know has every keep their word” she tried so hard to keep the hope out of her voice hope that maybe this person could help her find Luna.

Strephon understood what she meant. One of the few things that could bind a fae was a promise, but because of that weakness the fae had practiced for centuries finding loopholes and tricks so that a faeries word almost always meant something different from what one thought it meant. “Well, as I said at the beginning of our talk, I am something of an exile myself, and Fae or not I always keep my word.” Strephon said quietly.

Ferner sighed and walked over to her fridge, carefully thinking everything over before she made a decision. She pulled out a bottle of red wine. Would you like some?” she offered showing the bottle of wine to Strephon “or would you rather have something else?”

“If you don’t mind a cup of tea sounds lovely right about now”

“If I had minded I wouldn’t have asked but tea it is”

Ferner went and put the kettle on, taking out some of the tea to make a fresh pot. Then she poured a cup for Strephon and a glass of wine for herself.

“Very well. I will tell you. But I swear: you use this against me and, favourite of the queen or not, you will pay.” Ferner growled, and a feral gleam came into her eyes. She stapled her fingers together and took a deep breath to prepare herself.

“About ten years ago Luna, my life Partner of ten years, disappeared. It was this very flat that we stayed in. I went to work one night and when I got home she was gone. She took no cloths, no money, nothing. I thought that she was maybe out; after all it was the day after the full moon; but I was wrong. She never came back. Didn't phone or anything.

"So I did the only thing I knew. I went to the different packs in the city. They knew me, and we had ran together on many occasions, but they hadn’t seen Luna. I tried the Fae in the city even going as far as the council” Ferner snarled this part in hate a disgust. “But they were more concerned about helping themselves than anyone else. And so I left Redemption travelling across the world trying to find if anyone had heard of her. As you can see, Strephon, I had no luck.

"I returned here to find that not only has many of my friends been killed but that the whole structure of the city has changed.” Taking a sip of her wine she studied his face trying to see for any reaction to her tale. “So you see if doesn’t matter what I want for I will never be able to get it”

Standing up gracefully, she added, “I will bid you a good day sir. As I said early the phone is over there” pointing to the phone Ferner made her way to the baloney wiping away a single silver tear that was rolling its way down her cheek.

Strephon watched sadly as Ferner turned her back on him. Poor creature. She truly was like him in many ways; she belonged to neither one world nor the other, and straddled them uncomfortable and alone.

He called for his cab. Then he picked up the biro by the phone and in a neat hand wrote down the address of a convenience store on Fitch Street and it's phone number. He thought for a moment and added, Tell her Strephon sent you. Perhaps Grandma Simms could not help her; the trail of her friend was so cold; but he could think of no other aid he could offer; nor even that she might accept.

"I apologize for the intrusion. Thank you very much for your time." Strephon made his excuses and wheeled himself to the door to wait by the curb.

NEXT:  Just Trying to Help

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