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 tasked by the Faerie Queen with the mission of investigating a renegade faerie lord named Melchior who has established himself in the city. He has come to visit Lydia Palmer, the wife of the local vicar, who is active in the witching community.
Strephon gave the vicar’s wife a précis of his investigation into Melchior Aeserman. It irked him to realize how much of that investigation had been spent pursuing matters irrelevant to the matter. No wonder Devon was always so cross with him.
Lydia listened intently, and sipped her tea without interrupting. When he finished, she said, “This girl, Strephon. How do you feel about her?”
Strephon flushed. He hadn’t meant to mention Cassandra at all. And yet somehow she kept coming into his narrative. What was happening to him? He used to be better at dissembling than this. “Miss True is not my main concern.”
“I see,” the vicar’s wife said with a sage nod which somehow suggested a total lack of belief.
“My problem is Melchior and what to do about him,” Strephon insisted, perhaps a bit too forcefully to be persuasive. “Miss True is in no way connected with the matter.”
“Oh, everything is connected. It’s an essential principle of the Craft. But setting aside the girl for the moment…” Lydia put down her teacup with a business-like air and folded her hands; “…I’m not sure how I can help you. Cynthia Belltree is our representative on the Council, but she’s a career politician. Her motto is: Don’t Make Waves. I doubt she’ll make a stand about this Melchior fellow. And as for computer games, that’s really more of Albert’s line. Not that he’s ever played Virtual Hot Tub to my knowledge, but I’m sure he’s heard of it.”
“I thought you might help me with this.” Strephon leaned forward and with his finger drew a small quadrilateral on the coffee table. A small focusing ritual. As he leaned back an illusion appeared above the space of a silver collar. “The wolves who attacked Miss True and I last week wore these. They are marks of the Reaver clan, I’m told. The collars are inlaid with faerie runes.”
Lydia cautiously reached out to touch the collar. Strephon gave the illusion enough substance for her to handle it and observe it more closely. “Is it silver?” Strephon nodded. “It can’t be very comfortable, not for a werewolf, certainly.”
“It’s a machismo thing, I imagine. Although I fancy it’s also their leader’s way of reminding his pack who is in charge. From what I’ve seen of Mr. Lukas Bianca, he does not seem to strike me as a terribly subtle person.”
“And you think this Melchior had a hand in this?”
“I don’t know. His administrative assistant denies it; and although the collars possess faerie magic, I do not believe they are fae workmanship. But the coincidence is suggestive; and as you observed, everything is connected.”
The vicar’s wife pursed her lips for a moment. “I hate to say it… but this might be Belladona’s work. She made jewelry, and of the witches I know, she was the one most knowledgeable about faerie lore.”
Strephon scowled. “I was afraid of that.” If he had thought to speak with Morrigan a week ago, he might have gotten some answers. Or perhaps the results would have been the same. In any case, it was too late now; Morrigan was out of his reach, spirited away to who knows where.
“You might try asking around at the artisan’s market in Wildmere forest. It’s held every other Saturday. Belle used to sell her things there. Maybe someone there knows something about it.”
Strephon nodded. “It’s certainly worth looking into.”
“Another possibility. If you want to know more about werewolves, you might try Pastor Shepherd…”
NEXT: The Wolf in the Fold