Relics – Chapter Four

Fen Pentacoster was halfway into his morning walk around the block when the silver moose atop his cane suddenly glowed to life in his hand with a gentle golden hue.  He peered down at the cane with a raised eyebrow. 

“Well isn’t that something?” he asked, holding the cane up lengthwise with both hands and examining it.  Along the dark metal, a message revealed itself in glowing cursive letters.

Relic Reset Complete
Level 1 Unlocked!

This message vanished, pouring off the cane like golden dust being blown away by a gentle breeze.  What followed were several more messages, each which appeared and then vanished in the same way as the first. 

New Commands Unlocked!

Stay – Lvl 1 
Commands a single inanimate object to stay in place. 
Cannot defy natural physics or gravity

Come – Lvl 1
 Commands a single inanimate object to come to you.
Maximum weight of object is 50 lbs.

Follow – Lvl 1
 Commands a single inanimate object to follow you until 
Command is released with a ‘Stay’ Command.
Maximum weight of object is 50 lbs.

Actions which grant experience towards Level 2 
– Command multiple objects
– Use commands to assist others in daily activities
– Be intentional and considerate when giving commands.  Even inanimate objects have feelings.

“Well I’ll be…” said Fen as a smile spread across his face.  He turned in place, planting the cane back on the ground.  “Now let’s see,” he said, searching the small lawns which ran alongside the cement walkway.  His eyes flashed with excitement as he spotted a garden gnome with a red tunic and blue hat lying on its side, forgotten in an untended plot of dirt. Despite its forlorn nature, the gnome still wore a jolly smile between two rosy cheeks and a long, pointy, white beard. 

Fen lifted the cane and then slammed it hard into the ground.  “Come!” he commanded.  For a moment, the gnome didn’t move.  Then, slowly, it began to rock back and forth before abruptly tipping itself upright.  It tottered across the lawn and onto the sidewalk to stand in front of Fen.  

Fen eyed the gnome and then sighed. “Now don’t look at me like that Tilldrum,” said the old man. “When Arthur passed, our relics all but turned off. I couldn’t even get the microwave in my apartment to turn on.  Well, I mean, I could turn it on the old fashioned way but … oh you know what I mean.”  He took a deep breath and then smiled down at the gnome who had not reacted at all.  “But nevermind all that.  Things appear to be starting up again and I would be honored, Tilldrum, if you would join me for a walk.  Just like we used to.” 

The gnome did not react. 

Fen laughed and clapped his hands. “I knew you’d say yes, you old so and so.” Fen turned back towards the sidewalk he’d been walking along and planted the cane onto the ground once more. “Follow me Tilldrum.”  At this, the gnome clinked along behind Fen, following the old man as he continued his morning stroll just as they had done so many times before. 

Relic Reset Complete

Level 1 Unlocked!

A version of this message was seen by every single resident of Darkmoon Drive.  It was seen by a young man as flaming letters curled across the front of a large black forge. It was seen by a woman sitting in a room filled with treasures as it typed itself out on a golden antique cash register.  A thin man sitting in a room filled with fabrics and threads watched the message scrawl in tiny letters across a copper thimble which sat on his right middle finger.  Another young man didn’t see the words, but instead heard them, whispered to him by a glowing pendant which hung around his neck.  His cat ears twitched in surprise. 

Relic Reset Complete
Level 1 Unlocked!

Juno De La Cruz was standing on the Q train platform at the Times Square subway station when she saw the message. She was setting the case of her instrument on the cement floor, propped open to entice passersby to throw a dollar or two in as she played while waiting for her train.  Juno played a very unique instrument which she referred to as a ukeytar. It had the body of a small four-stringed instrument, but a range of black and white keys ran up its neck.  The strings of the body mysteriously disappeared beneath these keys. But despite being half ukulele and half keytar, it had once been able to actually produce any sound she wanted.  She could play the latest viral pop song, a banging rock concert, or she could even make listeners hear an entire orchestral suite.  And that was only a small slice of the power she had once been able to wield.

She’d decided today would be a good day for some light pop music; top 100 playlist vibes.  These were always more recognizable and thus got more people to toss her their loose change. Tourists loved pop music. They loved to be able to recognize the song. It was as if they found comfort in the simple familiarity of a song amidst this intimidating urban jungle filled with confusing train schedules, uptowns, downtowns and burroughs. She had planned to simply play in the station for a bit, catching the early morning crowd on their way to work in hopes of making some extra money, when the words curled to life across the koa wood that made up the body of her instrument.  The words quickly sped their way up the keys, playing out a tune as they went, and were replaced by even more words along the instrument’s wooden face. 

New Playlists Unlocked!

Any Song played in the musical genre of an unlocked Playlist will have the listed effect. 
A Casting Prelude consisting of a number of bars is required for casting a Playlist. 

Dream Pop
Prelude – 4 Bars
Reshapes Reality around the listener to create an alternate world 
in their mind’s eye which is cheerful, jubilant and head-bop worthy.

Actions which grant experience towards Level 2 
– Play a song from the DreamPop playlist for one or more people to help lift their spirits.

 She looked down at the instrument with surprise at first. But as the words continued appearing on its wooden surface, she realized she was finally regaining her musical spells. Well, only one spell for now. But it was a start. A broad smile spread across her face.  Something, or someone, had caused the relics to come back to life.

“Well this calls for a celebration,” she said to herself.  She closed the empty case, keeping the ukeytar slung over her shoulder, and went to stand at the edge of the platform, eagerly awaiting the next Q Train. 

Juno was twenty-three years old and stunningly beautiful. She had wavy brunette hair which hung down her back, sparkling chestnut eyes, and the kind of smile which warmed even the coldest room.  She wore a tangerine sundress covered in printed flowers, a belt at her waist, and a slim denim jacket.  

As the train arrived, she took a deep breath and exhaled, centering herself as she did before every performance. Juno frequently performed on subway platforms, street corners and occasionally in city parks, but it had been quite some time since her relic had worked the way it was meant to. 

Ever since Arthur’s death, her ukeytar had slowly been losing power, forgetting playlists she’d learned, and becoming weaker until finally all magic he had imbued into his creation was spent entirely.  It was now, for all intents and purposes, just a regular instrument, albeit a very odd looking one. But if the message she’d just seen was to be believed, something somewhere had caused some of that magic to return. She would need to return home to Darkmoon Drive to investigate further. In the meantime, she wanted to test the waters of her returning abilities.  A more reserved person might have sought a private space or waited until they were home to test their power. But Juno was simply too excited to wait, and besides, what was the point of magic if you couldn’t show it off to the world? What was the point of being a performer if there wasn’t an audience?

The train sped into the station, coming to a stop in front of her and the other waiting commuters. The doors slid open, giving way to a bustling crowd that stepped off the train and took off into the station.  Once they were out of the way, Juno and several others stepped onto the train, and the doors slid closed behind them. It was common for performers to play instruments, dance, or even sing on train cars, but most New Yorkers had gotten very good at ignoring them.  Some were even visibly annoyed when they saw a performer stepping onto their train. More than a few times, Juno had stepped onto a train, ukeytar in hand, only to see several businessmen and women stick up their noses and move to another train car before the doors slid closed.  As if it were some great injustice to be treated to a free show!  Because of this, most of her tips in the last several months without her powers had come from tourists who still found a song played to them as they traveled from one end of the city to another to be part of the magic of New York.

The train wasn’t completely crowded, but there were still several commuters, both sitting and standing, along the length of the train. At the sight of her holding her instrument, most people on the train looked away or became visibly more engrossed in their phone screen, book, newspaper or the conversation they were having with the person next to them. 

But Juno was not dissuaded. She simply put on a brave smile and pulled the ukeytar up into position, nestled comfortably in her hands, one hand on the strings, and one hand on the keys. As the doors closed, she played the first notes and instantly felt the magic surge through her fingertips. Words lit up in glowing gold letters along the wood of the ukeytar just above the strings.

Now Playing Dreampop Playlist.  

Her relic was alive once more. 

She began the song on the keyboard, playing a few notes which sounded like an upbeat electric guitar backed by drums.  It was a popular song, one which had just seen a resurgence thanks to being part of a viral dance on several different social media apps. A few people glanced her way, most likely surprised by the fact that her little instrument sounded like a full band. Two bars into the song, she began to sing, her voice filling the space of the train and eliciting a few more looks.  The power of Juno’s uketar was matched by the strength and beauty of her voice.  But the best was yet to come. Three bars in, she began to tap her foot to the beat.  If anyone had thought to look down, they might have seen splashes of color spreading out from her sneakers to the rhythm of the song. It was as if her feet were painting the song onto the floor. 

Unfortunately, people, especially those who are actively trying to ignore something or someone, never notice magic, even when it’s playing out right in front of them. 

Four bars in, she walked down the center of the train car, each step causing ripples of purple, blue, and pink to appear in her wake. It was as if the floor were actually a rainbow colored stream, and she was dancing across it.  Finally, some of the passengers were starting to pay attention. Some of them were even keeping the beat for themselves, tapping out the rhythm on the floor or with a single finger on their laps or arms. One older gentleman, who had given Juno a cold glare upon her boarding the train, now unconsciously shimmied his shoulders, which betrayed the scowl still plastered to his face.

Juno bent over to play a scaling riff, and when she stood back up, the train’s windows transformed.  Gone were the gray subway tunnels rushing by.  They’d been replaced by hypnotizing colors which shook and morphed to the beat of the song. A moment later, the whole train was pulsating with vivid colors, strobes and glitter.  It was as if the train had become a traveling dance club. 

Juno sat down next to the scowling man and played a gliss, pulling her hand across all the keys of the ukeytar from high to low. The train’s seats mirrored the movement, rolling in a wave that launched everyone still sitting onto their feet.  The older man was thrown into the arms of an older lady wearing a purple coat.  The two began to dance, spinning and twirling from the Lindy Hop to the Jive.  At one point, laughing merrily, he even dipped her!

At long last, everyone on the train was now dancing, swinging, jumping, bopping, and laughing in the middle of a large music hall complete with a full band.  A chandelier spun above them, casting lights across the floor and walls. Trumpets blared.  Some were even singing along boisterously to the song. Flowers, birds, and butterflies twirled through the air, appearing animated as if they had jumped straight out of a children’s cartoon.

Guitar and bass alike dug into the song as the drums beat out the rhythm driving the whole company forward. A DJ added scratches to the mix and backup singers harmonized with Juno’s voice.  

Drinks were on the house! Champagne and spirits poured from fountains into glasses that the passengers clinked in cheers to better days right before they started back into their dancing.  

A microphone appeared out of thin air and Juno, who enjoyed all forms of music, rapped a poem into it.  

By the time she returned to the chorus of the song, the train car, and reality as everyone knew it was just a faded memory. Everyone was full of joy. Any pain, sadness, worries, or doubts that had existed before getting on the train were now trivial and simply melted away.

“This is Penn Station, 34th street!” barked an announcer over head. 

The song ended. 

The train car’s doors slid open and everything was normal once again.  It was as if nothing strange had happened at all and the passengers had only dreamed it between stops.  As they left the train they nodded at her in thanks for the song. Some, still in a daze, placed a dollar or two in the case propped open at her feet.

Juno’s breaths were heavy after the performance. It had been so long since she’d been able to play like that—to use her music to truly connect with people—and to bring joy into their lives. She felt fulfilled in a way she hadn’t known for months. She looked down at the ukeytar as another message scrawled across its surface. 

Congratulations on playing your first show! 
Your efforts have allowed you to connect with your music on a deeper level and to heal the souls of all who heard it. 

Level 2 Unlocked!

New Playlists Unlocked!

Lo-Fi Hip-Hop
Prelude – 2 Bars
Heals Minor physical surface wounds.

Prelude – 2 Bars
Throws a small sized fireball towards the listener.

Actions which grant experience towards Level 3
– Continue playing shows to lift hearts and minds
– Heal minor wounds
– Defensive experience gained from Salsa playlist.

Yes!” cheered Juno, pumping a hand into the air.  She couldn’t help but be overjoyed at the return of her abilities. But she still had so many questions.  What had caused the relic to start working again?  Had everyone’s relics come back to life or just hers? Was Arthur back? No, that couldn’t be. Arthur was gone. But perhaps someone had finally found his heir. With so many questions somersaulting through her mind, she knew there was only one place to go if she wanted answers. 

The train doors closed and Juno waited patiently as the Q Train barreled South.  Towards Brooklyn.  Towards answers.  Towards home.




Of the four main characters in Relics, Juno and her power have DEFINITELY gone through the most changes. At one point, she used dancing to enact her power which was more based around electricity. But as time went I kept having ideas I wanted for her character and her abilities and they just kept not working with the dancing element. Even down to the second to final draft her powers went through a pretty big change. Now that we’re here, she’s become this incredibly compassionate, yet wildly overpowered spell slinging musician and I wouldn’t have her any other way!


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  1. Pingback: Relics – Chapter Three | Darkmoon Drive

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