Friday, January 16, 2015

Dark Redemption chapter 59: Into the Lioness' Den

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.

Cassandra True has discovered that her roommate Cecily has become involved with a vampire at a local club called the Cyba-Netsu .  Her attempt to discuss the situation with Cecily has gone badly and ended up as a quarrel.  She decides that she will have to go to the club herself and speak with its owner, a powerful vampire named Kuraymi .

“There is somebody watching the club from across the street.”

Kurayami looked up from her invoices.  “You are sure, Seymour?”

The club’s bouncer nodded curtly.  “She’s been sitting at the bus stop for over an hour now.  Three busses have gone by and she’s still there.”

“Do you recognize her?”

“Yes.  She has been here before.  She is Miss Cecily’s friend.”

Kurayami brought her pencil to her lips thoughtfully.  “Yes, the reporter.  She is also a friend of Mister MacKenzie.”  Seymour stood over her waiting mutely as she considered the matter.  “”It is a cold, damp night.  Invite her in.  Politely.  Bring her here to my office.”

Seymour nodded again and turned to leave.

“And Seymour,” Kurayami added, “bring her in the side door; not through the club.”

  • * * * *

Cassandra had not intended to confront Kurayami this quickly.  She had planned to just watch and see when Cecily went in and came out again and maybe get a good look at Phillipe.  She’d also hoped that in her overcoat and sunglasses, she’d be nicely inconspicuous.  In retrospect, she realized that was a mistake.  When the club bouncer came out to her and offered her and umbrella and invited her in, there seemed little point in refusing..

“How pleasant to see you again,” Kurayami said as the bouncer escorted Cassandra into her office.  “Do have a seat.”

Cassandra gingerly sat down in the chair the looming bouncer placed for her and accepted the fuzzy navel from the tray he offered,  “Thank you,” she said.  She felt the same unease as she’d felt when visiting Mrs. Morrigan; the sensation that she was entering a spider’s web.  Still, she couldn’t back down now.

“You may remove your coat if you like.  Please, make yourself comfortable.”

Actually, Cassandra would have felt more comfortable with the coat on, but acceded to Kurayami’s request.  She thought she caught the hint of a smirk on Kurayami’s face as she unbuttoned her overcoat and revealed the high-collared blouse she was wearing.  It had seemed an obvious precaution at home when she was getting ready to go out; now it seemed childishly futile.  The smirk disappeared when Cassandra unbuttoned the coat further, revealing the medallion Grandma Simms had given her.

“Should I be carrying a crucifix?” she had asked Grandma Simms.

“You say your prayers before going to bed every night?  You go to church every Sunday?”

“Um… well…”

“A cross be no good luck charm.  You can’t impress a vampire by pretending.  This might help, though.”  Grandma Simms had pressed the medallion into her hands. “ I
It has spells on it to repel the undead.  Might not stop a powerful vampire like Kurayami, but it’ll give her something to think about.”

Kurayami seemed to be thinking now.  She gave an annoyed frown and Cassandra thought she heard a sharp intake of breath like a hiss.  Kurayami’s glance darted to her sharply.  After a longish pause that made Cassandra’s throat feel dry, Kurayami said, “So.  That’s how it is.”

Cassandra nodded and hazarded a sip of the fuzzy navel.

“And my I ask you what brings you to my club this evening?  You know you are welcome to come inside whenever we are open.”

Cassandra took a deep breath.  “I’m sure you remember my friend Cecily.  She comes here often.  She’s been seeing a lot lately of this guy she met here named Philippe.  I don’t think we need to pretend he’s not a vampire.”

There.  She’d said it. Cassandra felt her cheeks burn under Kurayami’s relentless gaze; did that lady ever blink?  But at least it was all out in the open.

Kurayami did not respond immediately, as if carefully choosing her words.  “Then I think we may speak frankly.”

Again, Cassandra nodded.  The sip of alcohol had bolstered her confidence a little, but she didn’t want to drink too much.

“You disapprove of your friends paramour and so you wish to break them up, am I correct?” Kurayami continued.

“I’m concerned about Cecily and her safety.”

“Surely, she is the best judge of that, isn’t she?”

“I don’t think she’s entering this relationship entirely of her own free will.”

Kurayami chuckled, as if Cassandra had said something funny.  The laugh made Cassandra feel chill, but she pressed on.

“:I have reason to believe that she and Philippe have been doing drugs.”

The chuckle ceased.  “That is preposterous.  I permit no drugs in  my establishment.”  The warm hospitality had left Kurayami’s voice, replaced by an edge of steel.

“Maybe they’re not doing it here…”

“Where is your proof?”

Cassandra looked away.  That was the thing.  “It’s mostly a hunch.  But I’m pretty sure.”

Kurayami relaxed and the serene smile returned.  “Don’t you think you are being a bit presumptuous?  Your friend’s romantic affairs are her own business, not yours.  You are judging Philippe based on superstition and Hollywood myths.  You haven’t even met him.  Don’t you think your friend knows his character better than you?”

Cassandra tried not to squirm.  What Kuriyama said was true; Cassandra had been asking herself the same questions.  It was hard not to feel intimidated in her presence, and the sensation of entrapment became more and more palpable. Cassandra felt a strong urge to simply acquiesce and go home.  “Perhaps…” she said.

Then she met Kurayami’s basilisk gaze and held it.  She knew now what to do.  “Perhaps you are right.  It’s wrong for me to jump to conclusions like that without getting to know him.”

Cassandra stood up and gulped down the rest of her fuzzy navel.  “Thank you very much, Miss Kurayami; you’ve been very helpful.”  She grabbed her overcoat and headed for the door.

“Miss True!”  

Kurayami obviously did not consider the interview over yet; but Cassandra had no desire to prolong it.  She beat the bouncer to the door, but paused before she left.  “And thanks again for the drink.”

She strode briskly out of the office and towards the club floor.

Next:  Getting to Know You

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