Saturday, June 14, 2014

Dark Redemption chapter 51: Accepting Rides From Strangers

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 become involved with a mortal reporter, Cassandra True; a relationship which has suffered some strain because of his attempts to hide his non-human heritige from her and to shield her from supernatural menaces. When he drops by to visit her, he finds her in the company of a strange man, Saul Taylor, who is a co-worker of hers and also a sorcerer. Taylor offers to drive Strephon home.

Cassandra's friend Taylor was courteous; infuriatingly so. He made a great show of pushing Strephon's chair out to his car, despite Strephon's protest that he was perfectly capable of pushing himself. When they arrived at the car, Taylor actually picked Strephon up to help him into the back seat, to Strephon's supreme annoyance. Strephon kept his temper, however, and held his tongue until Taylor got behind the wheel.

"So, have you told her what you are?" Strephon asked.

Taylor glanced up at Strephon through the rear view mirror. "Have you told her what you are?"

Under other circumstances, Strephon might have acknowledged the touché. Instead, he pressed on. "What precisely is your game, Taylor?"

Taylor chuckled. "Are you asking my intentions towards Miss True?"

"If you like."

Taylor seemed amused. "What business it is of yours?"

"Miss True happens to be a friend of mine," Strephon answered, doing his best to keep his tone cool and level.

"Yes, and a fine job you've been doing of protecting her so far."

"What do you mean?"

"By my count, in the fortnight you've known her, you've put her life in danger no fewer than three times." Taylor ticked them off on his fingers. "There was the werewolf attack outside the restaurant the night you met. Then there was the murder attempt at that party of Aesermann's you took her to. And, of course, we mustn't forget Morrigan kidnapping her specifically to get at you."

"Those were not my fault. And I saved her in those instances."

"As I understand it, in the last case she actually saved herself. The fact remains that she wouldn't have been in danger to begin with if not for you."

Strephon was silent. The blackguard had a point. That very fact had been bothering him. After a while he said, "What is your interest in Cassandra?"

Taylor shrugged. "She's an attractive girl. Perhaps I just enjoy her company."

"You're a sorcerer, and your employer Simon Knox is also a sorcerer. Am I to believe that your interest in... in my friend is just a coincidence?"

"You can believe what you like. Maybe Knox asked me to keep an eye on her as a favor to his pal, Melchior Aesermann. Maybe my editor asked me to show a rookie reporter the ropes." Taylor paused a moment and glanced in the mirror at Strephon again. "Maybe I thought she'd be fun snogging."

He's trying to provoke me, Strephon thought to himself. He clenched his kneecaps tightly. "If you lay one finger on Miss True..."

"You'll what? Horsewhip me? Thrash me within an inch of my life? Write a scathing letter to the Times?"

Strephon fumed in silence.

"You may not have noticed, Strephon old fellow, but your Miss True is not exactly happy with you. She's quite fed up with the lies and evasions and the patronising attitude. You had your chance with her, and frankly, you blew it."

The car turned the corner onto Fitch Street. "I believe that's your house up ahead. Would you like help with your wheelchair?"

"No, thank you. I'll manage."

Strephon watched as Taylor drove away, cursing his own impotence. Now the villain would go back to Cassandra's flat and who knew what he would do.
* * * * *

He needn’t have worried.  Cassandra was so annoyed with both men when Taylor returned she told him she had a headache and that she’d talk to him later.

NEXT:   Tea at the Vicarage

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