Saturday, April 19, 2014

Dark Redemption chapter 43: ...Nor Iron Bars a Cage

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.

Plucky girl reporter Cassandra True has been imprisoned by Mrs. Morrigan, the sweet old lady she was supposed to be interviewing. Morrigan, it turns out, is a sorceress with an obsessive interest in Cassandra's friend Strephon. Morrigan has already enslaved a pair of faerie named Banshee and Wisp to her will and now intends to use Cassandra to lure Strephon into a trap

For a while, Cassandra sat still in the suspended cage, trying to keep it from rocking. The Wisp sat in a chair at the other end of the room and watched her. Finally, she dared to speak.

"So... you're magical?"

"I am a Fae," the Wisp answered simply. "Your kind know us as faeries."

"Oh." He didn't look like a fairy. "I thought that fairies were tiny creatures with butterfly wings who sit on cowslips and such."

"You're thinking of pixies. We get that all the time." He folded his arms and grunted. "Edmund Spenser has a lot to answer for!"

"I... I never knew things like that were real."

"Well, they're not. They're quaint Victorian fictions. Arthur Conan Doyle has a lot to answer for too."

Cassandra decided she'd better change the subject before he started tearing into William Shakespeare, Oscar Wilde and Edward Bulwer Lytton as well. "So... you and that other girl are Mrs. Morrigan's slaves?"

"We are not slaves!" The Wisp composed himself. "The Witch compels us to serve her but we are not slaves! The fae are immortal and cannot be enslaved by lesser beings!" He rose from his seat and advanced towards the cage. "The Witch is a mortal. Every breath she takes brings her closer to death. When she is dust, then my sister and I shall be free!"

"Ah." Obviously she picked the wrong subject. Cassandra shifted her position which set the cage swinging again. "Um. would you mind letting me out so I could stretch my legs? It's kind of uncomfortable in here."

"Is the cold iron of the bars searing your mortal flesh?" Mist sneered.

"Um, not exactly..."

"Then you have nothing to complain about!" The Wisp returned to his seat sulkily.

A sudden understanding struck Cassandra. Wisp had once been imprisoned in this very cage. She dimly recalled that fairies had a problem with iron. She could envision the poor creature, trapped and terrified in the agonizing confines of the iron cage as the witch taunted him.

"I'm sorry," Cassandra said meekly. "It must have been horrible for you."

The Wisp only grunted in reply.

"I don't suppose you'd care to bring me a drink of water? Please?" She looked at him imploringly.

The Wisp eyed her suspiciously, but rose and ambled to the kitchen. A few moments later he returned with the glass.

"Um, could you come a little closer?" Cassandra pleaded. She had a crazy idea.

Wisp made a face and inched a little closer to the iron bars of the cage, holding out the glass of water. Cassandra held her breath. She would only get one chance to try this.

She lunged and made a grab -- not for the cup of water, but for the amulet around Wisp's neck. The Wisp gave a startled shout and tried to jerk backwards, but Cassandra had a firm grasp on the amulet.

"Let go! Let go! It hurts!" the Wisp shouted.

"Stop struggling! I'm trying to help you! Duck your head!"

Wisp did so, and Cassandra yanked the amulet off his neck. The Wisp fell to the floor gasping and panting. Cassandra tumbled backwards, sending the cage swinging wildly.

The Wisp gradually caught his breath. Then he grasped his chest and patted himself. He dissolved and reformed in a standing position. "You freed me," he said.


"You didn't have to do that."

"It... it seemed like the right thing to do."

Wisp stared at her for a while. Then he turned around and left the room. He returned wearing an oven mitt. He used the mitt to take a large iron key from a nail on the wall and tossed the key to Cassandra. "I owe you nothing," he said. Then he dissipated again into a mist and fled from the cottage.

Cassandra knelt on the bottom of the cage staring at the key she clutched in her hands. Too late, she called out, "Thank you!"

NEXT:  The Banshee Sings

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