Saturday, May 17, 2014

Dark Redemption chapter 47: Business Luncheon

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, has been commissioned by the Queen of the Faerie to investigate fae activity in the city. To that end, he has cultivated the acquaintance of Melchior, a powerful faerie lord who has taken over a computer company.

"I recommend the Veal Frommage a la Asteroth," Melchior Aesermann said. "Not up to the standards of the Faerie Court, of course, but quite passable for mortal viands."

Strephon had never been to the Chez R'lyeth before. It was a trendy restaurant occupying the top floor of the Trinity Building in downtown Redemption. It served only the hautest of cuisine and offered a spectacular view of the downtown skyline and of the castle in the Old Town.

"I've become quite accustomed to mortal food," Strephon said after the waiter left with their order. "The problem with faerie food is that after a century you're hungry again." Melchior chuckled politely and Strephon then added, "May I ask why you invited me here?"

"Right to business, eh?"

"I gathered this was a business lunch."

Aesermann put his hands together and rested his elbows on the table. "Have you considered my offer?"

Actually, Strephon had nearly forgotten about it; the last few days had been so crammed with events and distractions. "Well," he said, "it is intriguing, but I'm a little bit vague on a few important points. Not to seem gauche, but what exactly are you offering me? What do I gain by joining with you?"

If he expected Melchior to be offended, he was disappointed. "You gain my patronage," he said. "That is no small matter."

"In the Faerie Court I'm sure it is not, but I make my home here in the Mortal Realm. I'm afraid I have little use for Fae politics."

"But my dear Strephon, I have influence in this world too and am gaining more. I understand you had some difficulty with a witch named Morrigan last night. I could have helped you with her. I would have been happy to take care of the matter."

Strephon colored. He should have known Melchior would hear about that sooner or later. "It was a personal matter," he said. "I preferred to deal with her myself. Perhaps I should say more importantly, what do you expect from me in return for your patronage? I know nothing of computers. I rarely even use the telephone. I have no experience in marketing or management. I can offer nothing to your company."

Melchior laughed. "I can hire technicians and programmers. But you have a unique position in this community which could prove useful to me. You are familiar, of course, with the Council?"

He did not have to specify. The Council was an group of werewolves, vampires and the occasional god or two, which informally governed the magical beings of the city. "I have had dealings with the Council, but not for many years."

"Lady Kurayami is on the Council and she has nominated me for membership." Melchior permitted himself a self-satisfied smirk.

"Congratulations," Strephon said.

"I have yet to be approved. As you no doubt know, there currently are no Fae sitting on the Council. Some of the members are outright hostile to us."

"Well, the Fae have traditionally held themselves above such petty mortal concerns as parliamentary procedure. I take it you do not."

Melchior's smile became more wolfish. "The Fae are going to become a presence in this city. It is only right that they be represented. And who better to represent them?"

Strephon nodded thoughtfully. "A reasonable ambition. And how does my unique position fit in with your goals?"

"I want you to accompany me to the next Council meeting. Speak a few words on my behalf."

"I have not had contact with the Council in decades! I hardly know who is on it anymore!"

"You met some of them at my party last week. And the Council knows you. You are respected as a long-time resident of the city and regarded as an honorable man. You carry more weight than perhaps you suspect."

Strephon pondered. Shallow flattery, of course, but how should he respond? The notion of nominating this cad for even a library card repelled him. On the other hand, Melchior was going to proceed with his plans with or without the Council's blessings; perhaps it would indeed be better to have him out in the open within the Council's sight rather than plotting in the darkness. And how better to gain Melchior's confidence enough to uncover those plots than to aid his social-climbing.

"Since you put it that way..." Strephon said, "...I accept."

Next:  Dangerous Dreams 

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