Saturday, November 30, 2013

Dark Redemption chapter 23: Just Trying to Help

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.

Cassandra True, a reporter for the Daily Oracle, has become acquainted with Strephon MacKenzie. She thinks he is an eccentric, if charming, recluse. She little suspects that he is actually a semi-immortal half-fae.

After the sixteenth ring, Cassandra gave up. "Where are you, Strephon?" she muttered. She wanted to share the good news with him, but he wasn't answering the phone. Where could he be? He told her that he rarely left his house so he couldn't be running an errand, and this was the third time she'd called him so he couldn't be in the loo.

An unpleasant thought had been gnawing at her since about the fifth ring: what if there was something wrong? What if he had an accident or something and couldn't get to the phone? He could be lying in the cellar with a broken something or other with no one to help him.

Or maybe she just wrote down the wrong number.

She gathered her purse together and dashed out of the newsroom. She could think of one way to be sure.

The bus dropped Cassandra off about five blocks from Strephon's house. She felt very self-conscious walking through the run-down neighborhood of once-stately homes. She walked nervously up to the door of Strephon's house and rang the doorbell.

No answer.

Of course, if he were lying somewhere in a pool of his own blood, he wouldn't be able to answer.

She tried the door. Locked. Only one thing to do.

She looked over her shoulder to make sure no one was watching. Then she circled around to the side of the building to where an ancient ivy vine covered the wall. She slung her purse over her shoulder and began to climb. Thank goodness this was one of those old buildings with lots of gingerbread to grab hold of.

Cassandra pulled herself up to the second floor and found an open window. How like that man to leave a window unlocked in a neighborhood like this! She found herself in the room she had spent the night in the night of the wolf attack. "Strephon?" she called. "Are you all right?"

She heard no answer, so she began to look around. She found Strephon's room easily enough. The bed was neatly made and there were fresh flowers in the vase on the bedside table. Cassandra wondered who made the bed and did Strephon's housework. He made no mention of servants, but she could hardly see how he could do it himself.

She sat down on the bed and absently stroked the counterpane. It reminded her of the dream she had the night before. She rarely remembered her dreams, but the recent ones were so vivid and... strange. She wondered what it meant to have erotic dreams about a man she only just met. Her flatmate Cecilie would probably say it meant she needed to get laid; that's why Cassandra hadn't mentioned the dreams to her. Cecilie had given her enough grief about spending the night here as it was.

Cassandra let her attention wander to the photograph next to the vase on the bedside table. It was a faded old black and white photograph of a beautiful woman in a frilly Victorian dress. Could that be Strephon's great-grandmother or something?

Something else caught Cassandra's attention: a carved ivory box inlaid with silver, resting beside the photograph. Something about the box intrigued her and she reached across the bed to touch it.
"What are you doing here?"

The voice behind her startled her and Cassandra fell backwards on the bed as she turned to face it.

A tall, slim man wearing a black trenchcoat and dark glasses stood in the doorway and frowned at her. "I said, what are you doing here?"

Next Chapter: Goldilocks

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