Saturday, December 7, 2013

Dark Redemption chapter 24: Goldilocks

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.

Worried about her friend Strephon, reporter Cassandra True has gone to his house to make sure he is all right. When she gets no reply at the door, she climbs in an upper window and finds herself in Strephon's room. Then, a stranger enters...

"Who are you?" Cassandra asked.

"My name is Devon," the man in black replied. "You might say I'm a cousin of Strephon's. No need to ask who you are, although you still haven't said what you're doing rummaging through my cousin's belongings."

"I was looking for Strephon!" Cassandra said hotly.

"Did you expect to find him in his underwear drawer?"

Cassandra blushed. "I've been trying to call him all afternoon and he hasn't answered. I was worried about him."

"As you've probably guessed by now, my cousin is out. I suggested that he buy an cellular phone, but that would be too 21st Century for him. He's not very big on any technology that post-dates the Crystal Palace Exhibition."

Cassandra frowned, but she couldn't puzzle out what he meant by that. "Hey, if you were here all along, why didn't you answer the door?"

"Why don't I make you some tea and you can wait for Strephon in the parlor? He'd never forgive me if I didn't show you hospitality."

Cassandra followed him downstairs to the parlor, her cheeks burning. She found it hard to believe that this neo-goth punk in the pseudo-Matrix shades could be at all related to Strephon, the dignified gentleman with the old-fashioned sideburns and Victorian manners.

Devon did seem to know his way around Strephon's house well enough to make a pot of tea, which argued for his bona fides. Cassandra stirred her cup and sipped it. "Strephon never mentioned you," she said at last. "Do you live here?"

"No, I'm just visiting. You could say I'm from out of town."

"Are you from America?" His accent didn't sound American, but being a foreigner might account for the aura of strangeness the man seemed to possess.

Devon chuckled. "Oh no, much farther than that. Farther than the Moon and nearer than a heartbeat."

"Is that some kind of a riddle?"

"You might say so. Perhaps Strephon will explain it to you someday."

Cassandra found Devon's smug attitude highly annoying, but since she had been technically trespassing, all she could do was drink her tea and wish Strephon would arrive.

Before her tea grew cold, her wish came true. The big oaken front door creaked open and Strephon pushed his chair into the foyer. "Devon!" he said with more than a touch of annoyance. "What are you doing here?"

"Keeping your lady friend company. You really need to set better wards around this place."

Strephon furrowed his brow. "Indeed, I do. You may go now, Devon. The front door, if you please."

This remark also puzzled Cassandra. Did he expect Devon to sprout wings and fly out the window? Devon only smirked and ambled to the door. "Nice talking to you, Miss True," he said, lowering his glasses.

Cassandra stifled a gasp. His eyes were a vivid purple and slit like a cat's! At least that's how they looked for the instant she saw them before he slipped out the door. Designer contact lenses. It had to be.

When Devon had gone, Strephon turned his attention to Cassandra. "What are you doing here?"

She was getting tired of this question. "I wanted to tell you the good news, but when you didn't answer the phone..."

"The phone? How did you get my number?"

"What? Oh, that. You forgot to give it to me. So I called the taxi company and got Tobias's number, and then he gave me his grandmother's number and she gave me yours. Oh, and she told me to give you a message. She said: Don't be a fool. Treat her right. " Cassandra wrinkled her nose curiously. "Who was she talking about?"

Strephon cleared his throat. "My cat, Mrs. Hudson. Grandmama Simms is a great cat lover. Anyway, you were saying?"

"When you didn't answer the phone, I got worried. So I came to make sure you were all right." She felt foolish. What must Strephon think of her?

Strephon said nothing for a long time. "Well, what was the good news?"

"Huh? Omigosh! I completely forgot! I got my byline! My editor liked the story I wrote! Both of them; the profile on Melchior Aesermann and the story about that poor programmer. And that's not all!" She leaned closer to him and said in a confidential tone. "Guess who else liked the story? Simon Knox! He called me up and wants to schedule an interview! Simon Knox wants to hire me! Isn't that incredible?"

Strephon ran his hand along his chin thoughtfully. "Yes, it certainly is."

NEXT:  Tutorial

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