Relics – Chapter Twenty-Eight

For a few moments, the five of them spiraled through what seemed like an endless darkness. A void of nothingness. Then suddenly, the world filled in around them as if being painted at warp speed, and they all crashed into a shallow pool of water. They were no longer cats since they had never actually been cats. Juno had simply used her Ukeytar to create the illusion for the police officers that they were cats instead of humans.  Now they were all soaking wet humans, with the exception of Bear who had remained a dog for the entirety of the ordeal. 

“That is the last time I listen to instructions from a dog!” yelled Milo who was thrashing about angrily in the water, clearly the most upset about being wet. 

“He got us out of there, didn’t he?” asked Charlie, wading to the side of the pond so that he could trudge up the bank. 

“And where exactly did he bring us?” asked Milo. “Central Park? Because I can promise you that is not a safer place to be at this time of night.” 

Bear barked as he paddled over to the side of the pond. 

“We’re on the roof,” said Juno, wading onto the bank alongside Charlie and glancing up into the surrounding trees. 

Charlie followed her eyes to find the tall cement ledge which confined the magical roof rising above them in the distance as well as the incredibly tall dead tree in the distance.

“The roof?” asked Charlie. “But how?” He turned to look at Bear who was now shaking himself dry. The corgi looked up at him, panting with his tongue hanging lopsided out of his mouth. “Is this … how you got up here in the first place?” 

Bear barked. 

Charlie turned to look at the lake again. He looked up to the sky at where they had fallen from and was surprised to see several pieces of trash appear from nowhere and fall to the water below. A paper cup, a crumpled napkin and a plastic wrapper all morphed into different sized fish just under the water’s surface. They swam off into the pond and disappeared beneath its murky surface. 

“Huh,” said Charlie, not really sure what else to say. Everyday, this place became a little more weird and unexplainable. And yet, it all seemed to make some strange kind of sense. The apartment building, all the residents, and their relics were oddities for sure. But somehow it all seemed to fit into its own strange ecosystem. 

“Someone help me get demon-lady out of the water,” said Milo grouchily. Daiyu, who was still unconscious. She was floating peacefully with her face above water. Charlie and Milo went to her, and together they pulled her out of the pond. Luckily, she was incredibly light, made only heavier by the water logged in her clothing. They laid her gently on the bank of the pond, and then the soaked team stared down at her. 

“I don’t really have a lot of experience with fighting with people and then bringing them home with me,” said Charlie uncomfortably. “What’s the proper procedure here?” 

“We could always kill her,” said Milo nonchalantly. 

Juno swatted his arm. “We aren’t going to kill her.” Juno bent down and touched Daiyu’s arm. “We need to get her somewhere warm and dry, and then we need to make sure she can’t just start beating us up again the moment she wakes up.”

“It’s her bracelet,” said Charlie. “It’s what’s giving her powers. I saw her using it when we were fighting.”

“I still say it’s not a relic,” said Milo.

“It sure seems like one though,” said Juno, examining the jade bracelet on the girl’s arm. 

“We could always take it from her for now,” said Charlie. “Until we know more?” 

“You can’t take someone else’s relic,” said Milo. “Not without a whole lot of pain.”


“Relics are made for one person and one person only,” said Juno. 

Bear barked agreeably as if pointing out that his own relic was made just for him.

“One person or animal,” Juno corrected. Bear barked again in approval. “But I don’t think we need to worry about that.” She turned Daiyu’s limp arm to reveal a large crack in the bracelet. “I don’t think this thing is going to be doing anything until it gets fixed.” 

“So let’s get her somewhere safe,” said Charlie. They all agreed and proceeded to lift Daiyu up before making their way to the elevator.




Not much to add on this one. It’s a short chapter but we finally have some answers about the pond and how it functions! We also have a new housemate, at least until she kills everyone. Hopefully that doesn’t happen though. Hopefully…

Relics – Chapter Twenty-Seven

Juno, Charlie and Milo regrouped on the platform, turning as Daiyu and the lion pulled themselves free of the train car. Everyone on the platform screamed at the sight of her and made a mad dash for the turnstiles leading out of the subway.

“What do we do?” asked Charlie.

“We have to stop her,” said Juno. “Otherwise she’ll just keep coming.” 

“We have to avenge Bear!” yelled Milo. “He was the only dog I almost kind of liked!” 

The train began to pull away from the station as Milo lunged at her, faster than he ever moved before, swinging his umbrella like a sword and parrying each of her attacks. For a brief moment it looked almost like the two of them were dancing across the platform. The lion’s head reared up and shot down a fireball from its mouth, forcing Milo to flip backwards to avoid it. 

Charlie knew he only had so much wood and stone, but this was a life or death situation. Besides, if he lived he could always collect more materials later. He leapt forwards and, using his aimed creation ability, started shooting swords at Daiyu. The first one caught her across the shoulder, slicing into her skin. She rounded on him as the lion started launching fireballs in his direction. She lunged at him, grabbing him with a clawed hand around the middle and then spun and threw him out over the now vacant train tracks. He slammed into the wall across from the platform and fell down near the tracks, barely avoiding the lethal third line. 

“Charlie!” screamed Juno, as she ran over to the tracks to try and help him up. Daiyu had the upper hand now. She grabbed Juno and threw her, slamming her into Milo so that the two of them went rolling backwards across the platform. As Charlie sat up, Daiyu came down from above, pinning him in place. She growled in his face as the lion over her head opened its mouth, green fire roiling in its throat. 

“You should have just sold the building, Charlie Cole,” she said. 

“Th-that’s what this is about?” he asked, trying to catch his breath. “You’re gonna kill us over a library.” 

“Please,” she said in a hiss. “There’s no library. We both know just how valuable that building is. We both know what it’s hiding. Did you really think Mr. Kemp just wanted it for a stupid library?”

“Actually, yes,” said Charlie. “I mean, libraries are awesome. They allow for the free consumption of news and literature. Not to mention the social programs that they—”

“SHUT! UP!” she growled. From down the tracks, there came a new sound. A terrible sound. The sound of an oncoming train. And if Charlie were to peer down past his feet while still laying in the gravel between tracks, he would see the blazing lights of the next train which was barreling straight for them.

“You and your friends are going to die here, and then I will personally evict everyone who lives in that building. Mr. Kemp will get what he wants, and I will finally be free.” 

“Free?” asked Charlie, trying to focus on what she was saying despite the oncoming train.  “Let us help you. We can help get you free. If that’s the only reason you’re doing all of this for him, just let us help.” 

“No one can help me,” she snarled. “Only he has the ability to break my curse. And he’ll only do it once you’re all dead and Darkmoon Drive, the catacombs, and their prize is his!” 

The train began to honk, getting closer and closer by the second. Daiyu grabbed Charlie’s neck, creating claw marks as she slowly tightened her grasp, cutting off his air. 

“Please!” he gasped with his final breath.

“No,” she said. 

A deafening sound like jet engines washed over them as something crashed into Daiyu, ripping her off of Charlie and taking her and the lion into the wall, through it, and into an adjacent tunnel. 

With the train almost upon him, Charlie rolled over, placing the backpack underneath him and imagined the ladder. It shot out of the backpack into the gravel, shoving the backpack and Charlie with it up towards the ceiling. Charlie was launched clear of the train car just as it careened under him, shattering the wooden ladder into a million tiny splinters. Charlie slammed into the top of the train car, rolling across it until he fell from the roof and dropped in a heap to the platform below. 

“Charlie!” screamed Juno as she and Milo ran to him to make sure that he was okay.

As they stood over him, he pushed himself up on his elbows. “How…” he started, hoping to understand what had just saved his life. They all looked up as the train pulled out of the station, revealing the hole in the wall. It was filled with dust, and difficult to see through.  They saw movement. A shadowy mass emerged and headed straight towards them. It flung itself on top of Charlie, attacking him. No, not attacking him. It was licking him!

“Bear?” Charlie suddenly realized that Bear wasn’t actually dead in the Hudson River, but safe here in his arms. He hugged him tightly and allowed the face licks. 

“You…are all…dead,” rasped Daiyu as she crawled out of the hole in the tunnel wall. She limped over to the ledge and pulled herself up onto it, glaring at them. Blood trickled down her face from her forehead, and her whole body was covered in dust. 

Charlie noticed that her thick jade bracelet now had a large crack in it, and though it flickered with shadowy energy, it didn’t seem to be able to conjure the lion any more. For all intents and purposes, Daiyu was powerless. 

“You…are all…” she paused, taking in a deep breath as she tried to steady herself. But they could all tell that she didn’t look steady on her feet. “Dead…” she whispered, and then toppled to the ground, unconscious. 

“And stay down!” yelled Milo triumphantly. 

“We should go,” said Juno, noting the sound of sirens in the distance.

“And just leave her?” asked Charlie.

“She tried to kill us,” said Milo. 

Charlie approached her and leaned down to take a better look at her bracelet which was crackling with black electricity as if it were desperately trying to start working again to no avail.  “Is this…a relic?” he asked.

“Of course not,” said Milo, leaning down next to him to get a better look. “Arthur only ever made relics for the people who live in the apartment. And I’ve never seen her before in my life.

“Me neither,” said Juno. “But…”

They both turned to look at her. “But?” asked Milo.

“Well, I mean, who knows, right? Arthur was a person and people have secrets. Maybe it is a relic. It would make sense given what it could do.” 

“Okay but she’s also crazy evil,” said Milo. “Arthur wouldn’t make a relic for someone who was evil.” 

“He always said that the relics were incredibly powerful. What made them dangerous or not were the people who used them.” 

“So it could be a relic,” said Charlie. It was meant it to be a question but it came out more like an answer. 

Outside the subway station, they could hear the sound of sirens growing much closer now.

“We need to go,” said Milo.

“She’ll be fine, Charlie,” said Juno shakily. “If we try to get her out of here, we’re going to get caught.” 

“We have to try,” said Charlie. “She’s all beat up. We can’t just leave her here.” 

“Really?” asked Milo incredulously. “You’re going to choose this moment to be a superhero?” 

“Help me get her up,” said Charlie, going to put an arm around her. Milo rolled his eyes and came over to help lift her from the other side. 

“If we can get her out of here, I can heal her wounds,” said Juno. “But we’re going to have to get by the police.”

“Could you maybe…” started Charlie, who felt he was starting to understand how Juno’s power worked, “make it seem to the police that we are something…else?”

Milo stared at him and then turned to Juno. “Could you do that?”

Juno thought for a long moment. “Technically yes, but … they’re the police.” She paused. 

“This is not the time to be saintly, Juno,” snapped Milo.

“Please Juno. It’s the only way we’ll get out of here,” pleaded Charlie. 

“Ugh, fine!” she snapped, pulling her ukeytar into her hands. “But only because I really don’t want to go back to jail.” 

*           *           *

Outside the subway station, police cars pulled up to the station, responding to an urgent call, to find a most curious sight. Two cats, one speckled gray and black, another a golden tabby, were carrying a third all black cat on their backs up the steps of the subway. Behind them was a fourth long haired cat who was meowing a lovely tune which seemed, impossibly, to be a song off the newest Taylor Swift album. Behind all of these cats was a Corgi that was rolling along with the help of a doggie wheelchair. 

As soon as they were up the steps, they continued along the sidewalk in a line like their very own small animal parade. At the corner, it seemed that the cats meant to cross the street, but the Corgi suddenly started throwing quite the fit, barking and carrying on at a green garbage can on the corner of the street. The cats looked at the Corgi and meowed at it. And this proceeded to sound very much like a heated debate of meows and barks. The only exception was the long haired cat who continued to sing through even more of the Taylor Swift Album. 

After this discussion finally came to a close, the corgi went to the trash can, climbed up, which looked incredibly funny to the police since the dog was so small and had small legs not made for climbing and jumped headfirst into the garbage can. 

He was followed, hesitantly, by the cats, who did the same. When they were all in the trash, one of the officers approached and looked into the garbage can, only to find that there was nothing there at all. They all agreed it was the strangest thing they’d ever seen, but decided to investigate later as they still had not gone to check out the commotion below ground in the subway station. It should be noted that one of the officers filmed the entire animal parade and later that night posted it on Tiktok. The video went viral and the man was later asked to recount the story on Good Morning America. 




I feel like we get a little bit of everything in this chapter. Some mysteries. Some funny character moments. Action. And a couple quick “Wait, what?” moments which I’m always a fan. Hopefully our team won’t regret bringing Daiyu home with them…

Relics – Chapter Twenty-Six

“A library,” scoffed Milo. “What a ridiculous idea.” They all now sat in a subway train car heading back home. Surprisingly, they were the only ones to board this particular car, so they were all taking advantage of the extra space by spreading out on the seats. 

“I think the idea is really nice,” said Juno. “Hopefully he finds a new spot near us and builds one there. I’d love to be able to walk over to the library everyday on my way home.” 

“It’s a little weird that he so specifically wanted to build it on our street,” said Milo. “Like, I can think of several streets around us where it would probably be easier to get a hold of the buildings he’d need to tear down. Hell, two streets away from us is a whole street of condemned buildings, but he chose ours? Seems fishy.”

“And what was up with that lady?” asked Charlie. “Daiyu, he said her name was, right? She just sat there the whole meal and only ever ate one bite. Was she supposed to intimidate us or something?” 

“Were you intimidated by her?” Asked Juno with a little laugh. “Maybe she ate earlier or maybe she wasn’t that hungry. Maybe they have a weird relationship. Don’t just judge her cuz she looked a little intense.”

“You’re right,” said Charlie. “I’m just being paranoid.”

The train car emerged from a tunnel and was now speeding over the water below as it crossed over into Brooklyn. The train came to a slow stop and then an announcement came from overhead. “Ladies and Gentlemen, please excuse the delay, but this train has been stopped due to train traffic ahead of us. We will be moving shortly.” 

“Unbelievable,” said Milo. This was the exact reason he preferred to travel on foot. Subways just had far too many delays.

“I’m sure we’ll be moving again soon,” said Juno. “Just relax.” Bear gave a soft bark which sounded almost worried. 

Charlie pet him on the head to comfort him. “Don’t worry buddy. This happens all the time.” Bear still seemed tense though. “We’ll just sit here for a bit and then after a while the train will just—”

There was a sudden thump directly above them as if something had just landed on the roof of the train car. 

“What the hell was that?” asked Charlie. Bear began to bark. Milo stood up, looking quizzically at the roof. Light padding sounds thumped above them as if someone was actually walking along the top of the train car. 

“I’m going out,” said Milo.

“Absolutely not,” said Juno. “Are you insane?” 

“I’ll be fine,” said Milo, moving to the back of the train car and opening the door. “I do this stuff all the time.”

‘That is not the comforting statement you think it is,” she replied. 

Milo moved out onto the landing between cars and then used the ladder to climb up to the train car roof where he saw something, or rather someone, who took him completely by surprise.

“What are you doing here?” he asked.

Daiyu’s back was to him, but as she turned to face him, dark wispy shadows formed around her, curling like black and red flames. “Looking for the four of you,” she said. “Looks like I landed on the right car.”

“Landed?” asked Milo, who was confused because this would imply that she could fly.

“Let me show you,” she said. And suddenly she was launching towards him, the shadows forming into wings behind her. She slammed into Milo and the two of them went careening across the roof of the train car behind them. They rolled and Milo managed to pull himself free. As he came to a stop, he righted himself into a crouch and pulled his umbrella from his back like a warrior unsheathing a sword. 

Daiyu reached out a hand and a shadowy claw formed in its place, digging into the metal of the roof to stop her from rolling off the side. She launched at Milo again, but this time he was ready for her. She swiped at him with large shadowy claws over her fists. He deflected the claws with his umbrella, flipping over a dark tendril as it swiped at his legs. He swiped away two more attacks and then jumped at her, landing a kick square in her chest that sent her reeling backwards. Not missing a beat, he pounced forward using this hands and legs.

But just as he lunged, the train car lurched and suddenly began moving again. The shaking threw him off balance and he missed her, slamming himself into the roof instead and rolling away haphazardly towards the edge of the train car. 

She stood and held out her arms. From her back emerged a large lion-like creature. The creature was made flesh by the swirling shadows rolling off of Daiyu. It had deep red fur adorned with swirling gold patterns, blood-red eyes and a large horn protruding from the center of its head like some sort of demonic unicorn. Two of its teeth protruded past its lower jaw like a saber tooth tiger.

“What the hell are you?” asked Milo, trying to get back on his feet.

“I am the holy vessel of the Nian,” she said. The red lion sprung forward and grabbed his leg, throwing him from the train car. He twirled in midair, spinning the umbrella and using the hooked handle to catch the edge of the train. He swung into one of the windows and crashed back into the train car. This being the one behind where the others were sitting, there were a few bystanders sitting around. All of them gasped as he landed in a heap in the middle of the car. The breath had been knocked out of him, but even so, he pushed himself up on his elbows and yelled, which came out more like a gasp. 


In the next car over, Juno and Charlie eyed each other and then made a dash for the door connecting the cars, jumping from their train car to the next one. There they saw Milo laying on the floor, trying to prop himself up and calling out for Juno. 

“It’s okay. We’re here,” she said, kneeling down next to him and pulling her ukeytar from her back in order to heal his wounds. “What happened?” 

A creaking groan came in response to her question. They all looked up to see part of the train car’s roof being ripped away as if it were nothing more than paper. In the hole above, they could make out the shape of a woman as well as some sort of large demonic lion. 

“It’s Daiyu,” coughed Milo. “She’s like … super evil.”

Daiyu jumped down through the hole in the roof and landed right next to them, readying a fist which was quickly wrapped up in the shadows so that it became a large, claw-filled paw, ready to pulverize them. 

SLAM! Bear crashed into her, the thrusters on his wheelchair blasting away behind him and propelling him like a rocket. She flipped backwards, slamming into the back of the train car as the other passengers screamed, running towards the other end of the train to use the emergency exit to escape. 

Daiyu shook herself off as Bear wheeled around and launched himself at her again. This time, however, she was ready for him. She grabbed him out of the air with one of her clawed hands and then threw him through one of the train’s windows.

“Bear!” yelled Charlie in terror as he watched the corgi disappear into the night. He tried to go to the window to look out, but the train slipped into darkness as it entered a tunnel. “Shit!” he yelled, feeling anger and pain enveloping him. He turned to Daiyu, his face turning red. “That was my dog!” 

“Don’t worry,” she said in a hiss. “You’ll all be joining him soon.” She lunged forward. Charlie grabbed his backpack under his arm and launched several ladders at her as an aimed creation. She ripped through the first one with one of her claws, barely managed to deflect the second, and then was hit in the stomach by the third which launched her backwards.

Juno helped Milo to his feet. He shook off the blow and turned, gritting his teeth and snarling as he jumped back into the fight. Juno began to play a fast song which enveloped Milo and Charlie in a protective bubble. The lion appeared above Daiyu and used its large teeth to bite into the bubble as Daiyu dug into it with the shadowy claws. 

“I can’t hold her back much longer!” yelled Juno. 

Charlie reached into his bag and pulled out a glimmering sword. Just as the bubble shattered around him, he stabbed the sword into one of the Daiyu’s hands. She let out a scream, reeling back in pain. But the lion seemed to be acting of its own volition as it roared and shot a stream of green fire at Milo. He dodged into a roll and then smack the lion’s head with his umbrella.

The train car came to a stop and the doors slid open. Daiyu spawned two large black tentacles, each of which wrapped around Milo and Charlie and threw them out the doors onto the station platform. She launched herself at Juno who played a high pitched set of notes which caused Daiyu to see a series of flashing lights, momentarily blinding her. Juno used the momentary distraction to jump off the train as well. 

*   * *

Not far away, in the Hudson River, Bear was slowly sinking deeper into the murky water. The impact of hitting the water caused him to lose consciousness and soon his little body would run out of breath. It wasn’t the worst way to go, saving the only friends you ever had in your short life from an evil demon woman, but Bear liked life with his new family. It seemed such a shame to leave it without making a few more memories. 

His eyes burst open, and he started to paddle with his small feet. But even though he was awake, he realized it wouldn’t be enough. He was too deep. He was going to drown. 

There was a sound from his wheelchair as it began to transform. Bear understood that something new was happening to him yet again. This time, not only did the chair sprout two little thrusters, but it also covered itself in thick blue metal along with two plane-like wings. The thrusters ignited, propelling him upwards. 

He broke free of the water and kept soaring upwards. Bear zoomed into the air, flying like a small Corgi plane. He banked left and made for the tunnel where he had seen the train vanishing as he fell into the river. His friends were in trouble! Not to mention, if they died, who was going to serve him his dinner?




A new transformation for Bear? A fight scene on a train? A cliffhanger? How will they get out of this? Well, of course I know, but I’m excited for you all to find out!

Relics – Chapter Twenty-Five

They rode the subway north, which felt strange since it was their first time ever leaving the confines of Darkmoon Drive together. It was a quiet journey until they transferred to a semi-crowded train at Union Station. Milo and Charlie sat down, with Bear hopping up into Charlie’s lap, but Juno remained standing. 

She was holding her ukeytar in her hands, her fingers hovering over the keys and the strings. She cleared her throat and began to play.

Now Playing Dreampop Playlist. 

It was a slow song at first, and most of the people on the train didn’t even look up at her, but as the sound of the song grew, the walls of the train car shifted into clouds. They were all soaring through the sky. Birds flew past, and the clouds moved around them like soft fluffy pillows cradling each rider with care. Juno spun, singing and playing, and the clouds spun too in a gentle circle around them. Milo, Charlie, Bear and all the other passengers held their arms out, soaring like super heroes through the sky. Bear’s ears flapped freely in the breeze. The ocean lay far below them. And past it, there was a lush landscape filled with trees, rivers, rainbows and mountains. It was all so glorious. 

Charlie looked over to see Bear flying beside him with his tongue lolling out in the wind. Then he looked to his other side to see Milo who was laughing and giddy. And for a brief moment, their eyes met and they laughed together and everything felt more right than it ever had before. 

And then the song ended and everything went back to just as it was before. Like it was all a daydream. Juno bowed as everyone clapped and a few people placed money into her instrument case. 

“Aren’t they freaked out that they just had a full on hallucination?” Charlie asked Milo as they watched the tips dropping into the case.

“To them, it was just a really good song,” said Milo. “They figure they just imagined all of it. Because to normal people, imagination is the best they can hope for.”  

They left the station and headed down the street towards their destination. Charlie felt himself growing more nervous by the second. 606 Lexington Avenue was a tall brightly lit building with an awning over the sidewalk and a doorman dressed in a suit. The man opened the door for them without so much as a question, as if they were expected. Though he did give Bear a rather disapproving look. Inside, another man led them to the elevator, which was covered in mirrors and pushed the button for the penthouse for them. The doors slid closed. 

“This place is too fancy,” said Milo. “I don’t trust it.”

“Honestly,” said Charlie, taking a deep breath, “Neither do I.” 

“Just relax you two,” said Juno. “We just have to keep our cool. This is all a show. It’s just like my performances. It’s a lot of pomp and circumstance to distract us. Focus on why we’re here.” 

Bear whined as if to say this was not entirely helpful. 

The elevator reached the penthouse, and the doors slid open to reveal an enormous modern loft apartment. Everything was decorated in neutral whites, grays and blacks. A butler dressed in a black suit approached them and offered to take their coats. They obliged, though the butler practically had to wrestle Milo’s out of his hands. They were then led through the entry room and adjoining den where several well dressed men and women were chatting, laughing and drinking from crystalline glasses. Every single person was a sight to behold, like they had just stepped off the cover of a fashion magazine. The butler led them swiftly through the room and into a large dining area. There, at the head of the table, was the man they had been invited to see. 

“Ah! At last!” The man was older with graying hair and a gray goatee but even so, he was devilishly handsome. He moved around the table and approached them, extending a hand to shake theirs. “Walter Kemp, at your service. And whom do I have the pleasure of dining with this evening?” 

“Charlie Cole,” said Charlie, shaking the man’s hand. It was a very tight, firm handshake. “This is Milo and Juno De La Cruz.” He shook their hands too. Juno smiled at the man but Milo gave him a viscous side eye. “Oh, and this is Bear.”

“Well hello there,” said Walter, leaning down to pet Bear softly on the head. “Oh yes, allow me to also introduce my colleague, Ms. Daiyu Chen.” They all looked up to see a Chinese woman, most likely in her mid-twenties, sitting at the far end of the table. She was dressed in a long sleeve black and purple sweater. Her face was aged and sharp like a blade. She had thin black hair, pale skin and a silver nose ring. She lifted a single index finger off the table to acknowledge them, then leaned back into her chair. “She’s a bit standoffish,” said Walter. “But please, take a seat. Our first course will be out in just a moment.” 

They took seats around the table. Charlie begrudgingly sat next to the woman named Daiyu with Bear hopping into the seat next to him. Milo and Juno sat on the opposite side of the table. Within seconds, plates were brought out by several waiters and placed in front of them. The plates each presented a salad laid out in a line made of small cuts of lettuce, flower petals, thin green beans and several slivers of chicken. There was a blood-red sauce painted in an arc on the side of the plate. 

“This looks beautiful,” said Juno, never one to lose her manners. 

“It looks very green,” said Milo with a scowl on his face.

“Well most salads are,” said Walter with a chuckle. “Please, eat.” 

The four of them took small bites at first but Charlie was happy to find that the salad tasted absolutely incredible. The mix of flavors danced across his tongue. Even Bear happily put his paws on the table and chowed down on the salad. The only one who didn’t even touch the salad was Daiyu, who kept her arms folded, staring down into the center of the table the entire time. When they had all finished their salad, the plates, including Daiyu’s full one, were whisked away and replaced with a mushroom soup topped with two long slender mushrooms reaching out of the soup like brown flowers, as well as light drizzles of a white and green sauce. This too was absolutely incredible to Charlie’s taste. Juno happily sipped the soup and gave it another compliment which made Walter smile. Milo licked at it like a cat licks milk from a bowl. 

Finally, the main course arrived which was a steak cut into several smaller slices laid across a wine colored sauce and surrounded by sliced golden tomatoes. Charlie had never really understood everyone’s obsession with steak, but as he ate the meat in front of him, he finally got it. The meat melted on his tongue. Bear and Milo practically swallowed theirs whole and Daiyu finally took a bite. Just one single bite. She then gently patted her lips with her napkin and placed the napkin back on the table before returning to sitting completely still. 

“So let’s just get into it,” said Walter, breaking the sound of clinking knives and forks. “You fine gentlemen, young lady and esteemed pooch,” he nodded at Bear, “Have found yourself in possession of something I want very much. A little apartment complex known as Darkmoon Drive.”

“That little apartment complex is our home,” cut in Milo. 

“Oh I know. And I respect that. Trust me, I always go into these discussions fully aware that these aren’t just buildings made of bricks and mortar, but homes and memories. But I also know that this is a world of progress. A world of change. A world of growth. That street and the buildings on it are old and falling apart and realistically speaking, those of you who call it home will only be able to do so for so long. Sooner or later, everything, even old buildings, even homes end. I am merely offering to make the process of letting go easier on all of you.” 

Walter Kemp stood from the table as Milo, Charlie and Juno eyed each other suspiciously. “I know what you’re thinking,” he said. “You’re thinking I want to tear it down to build some big soulless chain store. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. My dreams for Darkmoon Drive are of a place that everyone can enjoy.” He held up his hands as if spelling out the words in the air. “The Darkmoon Library and Learning Center.” He smiled at each of them, letting the words sink in. “A place where families can come to read and learn and grow together. A place that can foster a community of hope for a better tomorrow. And not only will I pay for the construction, books, and staff. I’d like to also offer to move each and every occupant of the current Darkmoon Drive to a new home where they can continue their lives knowing that their old one was sacrificed for a better tomorrow.” 

They all sat in silence. Charlie had to admit that the idea was a captivating one. A library would benefit everyone in the neighborhood. And it wasn’t like they’d be leaving everyone out to dry. They’d all be able to move on Walter Kemp’s dime. But these thoughts were only fleeting. Darkmoon Drive wasn’t just a building to be bought and sold. It was a magical creation of his grandfather’s design. Some of the tenants had their relics built into the very foundation itself. There was also the ever reaching roof and his garden to consider. And then there were the catacombs. What good was a library if it was built on top of a gateway to the dark underworld. No, though this offer was enticing, there was simply no way that Charlie could sell Darkmoon Drive. He looked up to notice Juno and Milo staring at him, as if waiting for a response.

“Mr. Kemp,” said Charlie. His voice came out hoarse and shaky, but as he spoke, he began to find his confidence. “Your offer is a fair and generous one.” 

“That it is, my boy. That it is!” Said Walter, acting as if this were a done deal.

“But,” said Charlie, making everyone in the room freeze. “We are not, at this time, interested in selling Darkmoon Drive. You are right. As buildings go, it’s a bit rundown. But as a home … I think it’s doing just fine. Better than fine even.” Walter Kemp looked like the wind had been blown out of his sales. “I’m sorry Mr. Kemp. We appreciate you having us here tonight and all your hospitality. But the answer is no.” 

Walter Kemp stood still for a long moment, then adjusted his tie and smiled. “In any case, I appreciate you all taking the time to meet with me. Now, Rondo will show you out,” he gestured to the butler who was standing in waiting for them. Before they could say anything more, Walter disappeared into a nearby room, followed closely by Daiyu who stood abruptly from the table and exited in his wake. 

Charlie, Milo, Juno and Bear followed the butler back to the elevator. Charlie noticed that all the guests from before, every single one, were gone. They’d simply vanished. But there was no time to mention this as they were ushered onto the elevator and sent back to the ground floor. 

“Thank you,” said Milo, looking at Charlie sincerely. 

“I was never gonna sell it,” said Charle. “Still, it probably would have made a nice library.”

“Reading is gross,” said Milo.

“Stop,” said Juno, slapping him playfully. “I love reading.”

“Yeah, and it’s weird,” added Milo. “You’re just staring at dead trees for hours on end. Like, you could be using that time to dig through trash or yell at birds outside the window.” 

“Clearly you have much more worthy hobbies than me,” said Juno, rolling her eyes.

“Clearly,” said Milo.

They left the building behind and headed back to the Subway once more. 

* * *

Back upstairs, Walter Kemp sat at his desk, grinding his teeth and cracking his knuckles as he glared out of his window over the city of New York. Daiyu stood behind him, her hands clasped behind her back.

“What do we do now?” she asked. 

“Now, my dear,” said Walter, his voice no longer carrying the kind undertones it had while entertaining their guests. “You find them … and you kill them. And while the police are clearing up who owns what and what was left to whom, we swoop in and take Darkmoon Drive.” Walter turned to look at her, a darkness clouding his eyes. “We gave them a chance to do this peacefully. I even promised them a fancy library. As if we’d build something so preposterous on top of such a special site. And still they refused. Now, we do this the hard way.” 

“Yes sir,” said Daiyu. She turned and left the room, closing the door behind her.




Ohh, things are getting exciting! Something tells me the next couple of chapters are going to be full of action. But what do I know? Oh right, I wrote them. Hahahaha!

Relics – Chapter Twenty-Four

“I look ridiculous,” said Milo as he tugged on the sleeves of his new suit. The finished outfits looked like something one might wear to a gala or fancy cocktail party. Charlie’s suit was a deep blue color with a crisp white shirt and tie underneath. Milo’s, on the other hand, was a dark magenta which matched the darker complexion of his smooth skin perfectly. It was clear, however, that Milo was not used to wearing clothes that fit so snuggly. He was usually seen in loose fitting pants and sweaters or even crop tops. This did not mean that he looked messy or unkempt. Quite the opposite. Charlie thought that Milo looked perpetually like a street model who just casually put together the perfect assortment of clothes. Milo couldn’t possibly look better than he already did normally.  Yet, Charlie couldn’t help but stare at Milo.  He was dumbstruck that Milo could somehow look even better than he normally did.

Bear had also been dressed up with an adorable red bowtie around his neck.

“You all look wonderful,” said Juno, stepping off the elevator behind them. “The perfect gentlemen.” They had agreed to meet on the roof as Juno said there was one more important detail to iron out. 

“Gross,” said Milo, shifting in his clothes once more. They both turned to look at Juno and their mouths fell open. 

She was dressed in an elegant lilac colored satin gown that made her practically glow like a princess before them. 

“You look amazing,” said Charlie.

“Obviously,” said Juno, giving them a twirl. Her ukeytar hung from her back in its case. 

“You wanted to talk to us about something?” asked Milo, who already seemed bored by the whole evening despite the fact that it hadn’t even started yet.

“Oh yes,” said Juno. “Tonight being a party, I thought it might be wise to have a word or sign in case there’s trouble. You know, in case we get separated.”

“Why would we get separated?” asked Charlie, who was only just now realizing he might actually be required to be social at this social event. 

“Well you know,” continued Juno. “In case we start socializing or one of us is getting a drink. Or what if something comes up and only one of us notices and the others are busy dancing.” 

“Dancing?” asked Charlie in a terrified voice, as if he’d just been told they might be asked to fight a giant monster at the party. “Oh no, I will not be doing any of that.” 

“Well you might,” said Juno. “It is a party after all. “What if some adorable young man approaches you and asks for a dance? What are you gonna tell him?”

“I’ll tell him, no thank you sir,” said Charlie resolutely. “I don’t know how to dance and even if I did, interacting with strangers makes me itchy.” 

“Just tell them that,” said Milo. “It would definitely be a turn off.”

“You don’t know how to dance?” asked Juno in surprise. “But anyone can dance. Don’t you ever hear a beat and just have to move to it?” As she asked this, she gyrated her body to an imaginary song. Charlie was quite sure he had never felt the sudden urge to do anything of the sort in his entire life.

“No, I have not felt that urge,” said Charlie. 

Juno threw up her hands in exasperation. “Well if we’re going to a party, then there’s no time like the present.” She laid her instrument case on the floor and told Bear to keep an eye on it. He sat next to it, prepared to guard it with his life. She then approached Charlie and held out her arms, beckoning him forward. “Come on.”

“Oh I don’t think—” he started.

“Just do it you big wuss!” chided Milo.

Charlie took a deep breath and then stepped into her arms. It took a moment to get his hands placed correctly as she had to correct him several times. But once in place, he held on for dear life as she counted out four steps, moving him slowly in a tight square across the ground. After a few rotations, he thought that perhaps, he might be getting the hang of it. He even felt himself guiding the movements, if only slightly. 

“Oh my God, Charlie! You’re leading!” Juno laughed. 

“I think leading is a strong word for what I’m doing, but thank you,” said Charlie, his cheeks reddening. 

“Okay, now you have to try it with music,” she said as she stepped away from him. “Milo, step in for me.”

“Um, what?” asked Charlie, all of his anxieties rushing back into his head. Dancing with Juno was one thing. She was kind and safe and encouraging. Milo was crude and judgmental, not to mention the fact that he looked incredibly handsome in his suit. Charlie couldn’t dance with someone who was judgmental, crude AND dashing. It simply wouldn’t do. 

“Oh come on, Juno,” whined Milo. “Do I have to?” 

“Just for a few steps so he can see how it feels with music,” she said. “I also taught Milo how to dance. Pretty soon you’ll both be graduates of the De La Cruz Dance Academy.” She laughed to herself as she stepped away and pulled her ukeytar out of its case where it sat on the ground nearby.

Milo walked up to Charlie and held out his hands. “Let’s get this over with,” he said. 

Haphazardly, Charlie placed his hands on Milo’s waste. Milo wrapped his hands around Charlie’s neck and the two of them looked down at their feet, trying to get the placement right. As they did this, Juno began to play a light tune. 

“You’re stepping on my feet,” snapped Milo.

“Sorry,” said Charlie.

“You’re count is all wrong,” said Milo as they moved in a lopsided square, nearly stomping on one another.

“Sorry,” said Charlie once more. 

The music crescendoed, but they were too busy snapping at each other and apologizing to hear it. 

“Owww!” cried Milo as Charlie stepped on him again.

“I’m sorry, I just can’t get it right. I—” 

Charlie was about to make up some excuse about having two left feet when he looked up into Milo’s eyes at the exact moment that Milo looked up into his. The world exploded around them. The music filled their ears with such intensity that everything else melted away. Suddenly, they were all each other knew. All each other had ever known. They moved in perfect harmony, spinning as stars and comets and whole galaxies danced around them. No one was stepping on anyone now. Were they even standing on the roof anymore? No, they were floating, twirling through a black night sky permeated by the twinkling of every star that ever was or ever would be. Fireworks erupted around them in brilliant reds, blues and golds. Charlie felt himself being pulled towards Milo. They were close, but he wanted to be closer. Both of them closed their eyes, leaning in as another barrage of fireworks lit up the night sky.

“That’s it! You got it!” shouted Juno. Charlie and Milo looked up to find that the world had returned to normal. No stars. No fireworks. They stared into each other’s eyes, breathless for a moment longer, then quickly stepped back from one another, suddenly awkward and unable to look each other in the eye. 

“Great job,” said Milo awkwardly. “We should um—”

“We should get going,” said Charlie, clearing his throat.

“Exactly,” said Milo.

They turned to look at Juno who was smiling deviously as she placed her instrument back in her case and then threw it over her shoulder. “Uh-huh,” she agreed with them. 

“Wait, we’re bringing our—” started Charlie, pointing to the ukeytar. 

“I’m not about to go into battle without my relic,” said Juno. “And you shouldn’t either.”

“It’s dinner, not a battle,” said Charlie.

“It’s negotiations,” replied Juno. “And negotiations with rich men are always a battle.” 

Milo nodded and picked up his umbrella which was leaning against the wall next to the elevator. Charlie followed suit and affixed the backpack to his back. Finally ready, the four of them descended in the elevator and set out into the chilly night.




Okay I LOVE this chapter so much. This is one of the only chapters that was written out of order in the first draft. In fact, it was one of the last scenes I wrote. I came up with it while listening to a song and just had to add it in and I’m so glad I did. Sometimes our final additions to a story are the most important!

Relics – Chapter Twenty-Three

The next day flew by. Charlie kept to what had now become his daily chores, going up to the roof to water all of his plants and check on things. The tomatoes and lettuce looked like they might be ready to harvest in a day or two which seemed absolutely insane considering it had been less than a week since he planted them. He also cut down a couple more trees and broke down a few rocks as well just to have the resources in case of an emergency. It also occurred to him that they might need to go back to the catacombs eventually if he hoped to make anything else with copper, but that would be a project for another day.

He decided to use a little of his free time fishing in the pond again. This resulted in catching three more fish. It would have been seven but his reeling skills still needed work. He caught a minnow, another river bass and a trout. How all of these different fish were living on a rooftop in Brooklyn, he had no idea, but at this point the nonsensical nature of this building was bizarrely starting to make sense. 

When his chores were done, he returned to his apartment with Bear and showered before realizing that he didn’t really have anything to wear to a fancy dinner party. He decided to go see if Juno had any thoughts on the matter.

“We could always go see Oliver,” she said. 

“Oliver?” asked Charlie, who was fairly certain he was about to meet another one of the quirky tenants of the building. 

Oliver Duong lived on the fourth floor in apartment 405 and was apparently a professional cosplayer and costume designer. All around his apartment were costumes created to resemble all sorts of characters from both anime and films, some fully completed, others still in the process of being sewn together. There were all manner of costumes, from warriors and soldiers, to ice skaters and princesses, fairies, robots, and many more. 

Oliver himself was a very thin, slightly shorter, younger looking man. He had tan skin and jet black hair which swooped down dramatically over one eye. Everything about him felt artistic, from his model-like frame to his sharply cut jawline. He was refined and elegant, as if he too were part of the costumes he chose to display. He answered the door wearing a button up white shirt and beige trousers with suspenders. His feet were bare. Charlie thought Oliver’s outfit seemed very much like something a hobbit might wear. “Yes?” he asked in a clipped tone, as if they had just caught him in the middle of something very important.

“Oliver, I’d like you to meet Charlie,” said Juno. “He’s Arthur’s grandson.”

“Hello Charlie,” said Oliver, seemingly neither interested nor surprised. “You need something?” he asked.

“Well,” Juno pressed on. “We are going to a very nice dinner party this evening and Charlie doesn’t have anything nice to wear, and I was thinking you might be able to help him out with a spare button up or even a blazer you’ve got lying around?”

“And I could buy them from you,” said Charlie, not sure how much these nice clothes were going to cost, but wanting to make sure he didn’t continue accepting handouts from the residents of the building. “Or possibly rent them for the night?”

Oliver allowed the door to open more fully as he looked at them both with a hungry glint in his eyes. A devilish grin spread across his face. Charlie had to admit that the young man was quite attractive. “An outfit?” he said excitedly. “For a soiree?” 

“I mean, it’s just dinner,” said Charlie, feeling like a piece of meat. “And possibly drinks … at a nice place … I guess.”

“It’s on the Upper East Side,” said Juno who realized that they had peaked Oliver’s interest. “And there’s a personal chef.” She raised her eyebrows as if this was the most enticing part of all.

“Well why didn’t you say so?” asked Oliver. He reached out and pulled Charlie into the room by his arm, past several mannequins in different costumes. They reached a room packed to the brim with various fabrics covered in elaborate designs. There were multiple sewing machines and various spools of multi-colored threads. The walls were practically covered with sketches and designs. Charlie felt like he stepped into the office of someone who worked at Vogue. Oliver snapped his fingers, and the large sewing machine at the back of the room tossed a long measuring tape into his hand.

He went to work measuring Charlie from head to toe, not the least bit squeamish when it came to touching Charlie everywhere and anywhere. “And does mademoiselle have something to wear?” asked Oliver, eyeing Juno. 

“I have a dress, and Milo, well I’m sure Milo can find something in that old apartment of his.” 

Oliver threw down the measuring tape in disgust. “Absolutely not! ABSOLUTELY NOT!” he yelled angrily. “You expect me to make this monstrosity into a star,” he waved wildly in Charlie’s direction, indicating to Charlie that he was the monstrosity in question. “And leave you and the cat to wear peasant clothes? I won’t stand for it!” 

“Oliver, please,” started Juno. “There’s not a lot of time, and I don’t want you to go out of your way to…”

“I have your measurements as well as the feline’s already,” said Oliver. “It is no trouble. I can’t have you bringing down my art with your ‘dress.’” He made finger quotes as he said dress and then rolled his eyes as if it were a foul word that tasted wretched on his tongue. “I can have them all done in thirty minutes.” 

With that, he snapped his fingers again. Fabrics from all over the room flew out from their bolsters, swirling in a tornado of color around Oliver as he eyed them each carefully, selecting one then another out of the air with a point of his finger, or flip of his wrist? The selected fabrics flew into the sewing machines on their own. They twisted and turned, transforming slowly into a dress jacket and then a shirt and pants. Charlie watched in absolute astonishment. 

“I don’t understand,” said Charlie. “What’s his relic? It seems like everything in the room is magical.”

“It’s the thimble,” said Juno, inferring the small copper thimble on Oliver’s pinky finger. “It gives him telekinetic powers.”

“Telekinetic powers? That’s like super hero level.” He thought for a moment. “Or super villain level. He could take down the world with something like that,” said Charlie. 

“Sure,” she said. “But he chooses to design haute couture. It’s what brings him joy.” Charlie looked at Oliver, the fabric dancing through the air and the sewing machines working overtime in every corner of the room. He watched as magic came to life, not for the first time and certainly not for the last, right before his eyes. 




Oliver! Truth be told, Oliver is only a small part of this first arc of the story, but I really hope you enjoyed meeting him because he’s got so much more to come. I’ve got big plans for this adorable little cosplayer!

Relics – Chapter Twenty-Two

To the Owner and Operator of Darkmoon Drive,

I, Walter Kemp, do formally invite you, and any you wish to accompany you, to a small gathering I am holding at my home at 606 Lexington Avenue. Consider this an offer of goodwill and an opportunity to open discussions concerning my proposal to purchase the property of Darkmoon Drive. 

I understand your immediate response may be to decline, but I would implore you to at least hear me out. Even should my offer hold no interest to you, you’ll at least have yourself a delicious home cooked meal from my award winning in-house chef, Antonio, as well as an evening of drinks and dancing with some of my finest friends. That being said, I strongly believe you will be quite excited to hear my offer and future plans for the property. 

The party begins tomorrow evening at 9PM. I look forward to dining with you.

Sincerely and with Much Regard,

Walter Kemp 

“So what do we do?” asked Charlie. Juno and Milo had joined him in his apartment to discuss next steps. Juno brought food cooked by her mother, and Charlie created extra chairs to accommodate them all. Bear was happily eating a cooked chicken leg with rice that Mrs. De La Cruz steamed specifically for him. 

“We say no,” said Milo. “This isn’t even a discussion.”

“I say we go,” said Juno.

“You’re a traitor, and I hate you,” said Milo in an incredibly casual voice. 

“Hear me out,” said Juno, swatting him playfully. “Even if we have no intention of selling this place—”

“Which we don’t,” interrupted Milo. 

“It might be worth hearing why this guy is so interested in it. If we know why he wants it, maybe we can dissuade him. Because chances are that if this rich guy wants to go to all the trouble to send a letter and have us for dinner, he’s not going to stop until he has a reason to or gets a firm no.” 

“So we just go, eat this guy’s food and tell him to go screw himself?” asked Charlie.

“But in a nice way,” said Juno.

“Pft, no promises,” added Milo.

“Anything to add, Bear?” asked Charlie. Bear looked up with his tongue hanging out of his mouth and then went back to chomping away. “I think he’s good with whatever we decide.”

“Then it’s decided, you’ll go and hear what this guy has to say and then tell him no,” said Juno.

“Oh no,” said Charlie. “You all are coming with me. I am not doing this alone.” 

“I agree,” said Milo. “We are not trusting the fate of our home to the guy who’s barely lived here a week.”

“I actually agree with you,” said Charlie. “Not because I’m going to sell it, but because I’m not awesome in social situations, especially ones with high stakes.”

“To be fair, Milo is not great in social situations either,” said Juno.

Milo hissed at her.

“My point exactly.”

“Then we’ll need you there to be the voice of reason,” said Charlie. “And Bear is coming too.” 

“Ew, why?” asked Milo.

“Because he’s part of the team, and I’m not leaving him behind,” said Charlie.

“I don’t know if I want to be on any team that allows dogs,” sneered Milo.

“Those are bold words coming from a cat,” said Juno. 

“Yeah, but I’m awesome and I don’t lick my butt.” They all looked over to see Bear licking under his leg. He looked up at them in surprise.

“You don’t anymore,” corrected Juno. “But I suspect that’s just because you’re not as flexible as you used to be.” 

Charlie let out a burst of laughter.

“That is not funny,” said Milo. “She is not funny. Do not laugh.” 

“I’m hilarious,” said Juno. “Anyway, if we’re all going we should make sure to get plenty of rest tonight so we can be on our best behavior tomorrow.”

“I will do none of those things, and you can’t make me,” said Milo.

“Uh-huh,” said Juno. “Well just this once maybe you try to not be the worst.” 

“I know you are, but what am I?” asked Milo.

Charlie laughed again but then looked up in surprise.

“Are you laughing at me?” Asked Milo defensively.

“No, no,” muttered Charlie. “I just … I thought it was funny. What you said. I didn’t mean—”

Milo sat up proudly. “Well you’re right. I am quite funny. Hilarious even. You hear that Juno? The loser thinks I’m funny.” He bit back his words. “I mean … Charlie thinks I’m funny.”

“Nice save,” said Juno. 

They continued to chat and eat for the next hour before Juno finally stood, stretched and said good night, hugging Milo and Charlie and giving Bear a pet on the belly. Milo, surprisingly, didn’t get up to leave with Juno. However, after she left, Charlie and Milo sat across from each other, silent, neither of them sure what to say next.

“Um, everything okay?” asked Charlie, trying to think of a polite way to ask the other man to leave so that he could get some sleep.

“You’re not gonna sell this place, right?” asked Milo. Despite his earlier boldness, he suddenly seemed smaller and less confident, as if exposed. 

“Of course not,” said Charlie. “After everything you’ve all done for me? I couldn’t. Besides, I’d have to give up my garden and all of you. I—” He caught himself. “Before I came here, I was not in a good place. I was, am, a mess. But this building. All of you. It’s given me something I didn’t have before?”

“Friends?” asked Milo. “You seem like kind of a loner to be honest.” 

Charlie smirked. “I am. But no, I was gonna say hope.” 

Their eyes caught each other and locked for what might have been a second or several minutes. “Well,” said Milo, clearing his throat. “Don’t forget that tomorrow when that guy waves a big fat check in front of you.”

“Who needs money when you can sell monster bits to Magda?” asked Charlie, and they both laughed. 

“Yeah,:” said Milo. He stood from his chair. “Well, I should get going.” 

“Yeah,” said Charlie. He gave Milo a wry smile as he went to the door. “I suppose I’ll see you at my window tomorrow morning?” he asked, jokingly.

Milo looked back, his ears perking ever so slightly. “I suppose you will.” And with that, he left, closing the door behind him. Charlie couldn’t say why, but the moment the door clicked shut, he felt the oddest thought skitter across his mind. He thought for just a moment, that he was sad to see Milo go. For just a fraction of a second, he wished that Milo would have stayed even just a moment longer. But the thought vanished as soon as it came, and Charlie went to work cleaning up the table. 




We are back from Gen Con and back on track! I know this is a short chapter but there is lots of excitement to come so just bear with me!

Relics – Chapter Twenty-One

Back on the roof, Charlie used the newfound smelted copper to finally create the upgraded axe. It looked very much like his basic axe except that the blade now had a shimmering layer of copper laying across the sharpened edge. He walked to one of the nearby trees and gave it a test swing. To his surprise, it cut much deeper than his original axe ever had. He also found that this axe was oddly lighter and better balanced. Thus it seemed easier to swing. After only five chops, the tree began to bend. This time, Charlie was prepared to get out of the way and let the tree fall. Bear stood back, which Charlie was grateful for as it meant he didn’t need to worry about the tree falling on top of the little dog. With the tree down, Charlie used his backpack to suck it up. 

He went back to the garden plots and used his fence aimed creation to place fences around the new plots.  

“Finally done,” he said to Bear who looked at the new fences without even a hint of excitement. “Trust me, when this garden gets bigger, we’re going to be happy it’s organized.” Charlie was surprised to hear himself say this. It was the first time he’d really acknowledged any plans to be here for a good amount of time. It was a comforting thought but also a little disconcerting since it triggered his fight or flight response to commitment. But even with the little rush of anxiety he felt, he couldn’t help but notice that the idea of finding a place he actually wanted to be for more than a few hours was strangely exhilarating. 

He looked up and saw that they still had a few hours of daylight left. “Well, what do you think Bear? Should we do a little exploring?” 

Bear barked in agreement. 

Charlie threw the backpack over his shoulder and the two of them marched off into the woods behind the garden. Charlie had been meaning to walk a bit deeper into the forest, but he avoided it since he hadn’t really had time since arriving. He also been worried that Bear was actually a monster that was going to eat him if he strayed too far into the darkness. Now that he knew Bear was not a monster, he felt at least a little more confident that if there was something lurking in the woods, the two of them might possibly be able to take it on together.

They moved deeper into the woods than Charlie had ever been before, and he was surprised to find just how thick the trees, bushes and rocks got further in. It made him feel hopeful that he would most likely never run out of materials to build with since there were so many all around them. In the distance, he could make out the ledge which marked the edge of the roof, but as they walked it never really seemed to get closer, even though Charlie was sure that it must be possible to reach it if they walked far enough. 

He could also make out what appeared to be a very large tree, taller and wider than all the rest, but it had not a single leaf that he could see. Its bare branches looked like hundreds of bony fingers reaching up to the sky. Perhaps the giant tree was dead. He was so busy looking up at the ledge and the trees in the distance that he didn’t even notice what lay right before him until his foot stepped down into something cold and wet.

“Gah!” He jumped back in surprise as the cold liquid seeped into his shoe. Spread out before them was a large pond. This must be where the water from the stream he used daily. As he looked across the water, little bubbles rippled across the surface now and then. And that was when he remembered one of his new creations. He pulled the backpack from back to front and pulled up the Basic Fishing Pole.

Basic Fishing Pole – Allows user to catch fish
Materials Required
– Wood Units x 4
– Grass Units x 6
– Rock Units x 1

He selected it, then pulled a brand new fishing pole out of his backpack. It was a simple wooden pole with a line attached to a spinning lever on one end and a curved hook on the other. There was also a small red and white orb made out of smooth wood near the hook which he was pretty sure was called a bobber. 

“Any idea how to fish?” he asked Bear. Bear’s ears perked up in confusion. “I’ll take that as a no.” He walked around to the side of the pond and tried his best to imitate what he’d seen in movies and on TV with the fishing pole. He swung it back and then cast it out. However, on the first try, he was pulled backwards as the hook got tangled in a tree branch behind him.

“Dammit!” he yelled. He went over to the tree and pulled down the branch, untangling the hook from the leaves. For his second try, he moved over to a clearer area and tried casting again. This time, the hook flew out into the middle of the pond with a soft plop. The bobber stayed floating above the surface. They stood on the edge of the pond, staring out at the bobber.

“Soooo, is this it?” asked Charlie. “We just sit here, and wait?” 

Bear’s wheels minimized into his wheelchair as he plopped down on a large boulder.  “Alright,” said Charlie, sitting down on the rock next to him. They sat next to each other, staring out at the water for a long while. “How did you get here?” asked Charlie, not expecting a response. He was merely thinking out loud. “Like how does a dog get onto a magical rooftop?” he sighed. “This place is so weird.” 

There was a sudden, almost imperceptible tug on the fishing line. Ripples undulated out from the bobber. “Did you see that?” asked Charlie, reasserting his grip on the fishing pole which had loosened over time. There was another tug on the fishing line. This time the bobber submerged for just a moment and then reappeared on the surface. Charlie quickly got to his feet and held onto the fishing pole, keeping his eyes locked on the bobber. Suddenly, the bobber sank under the water and he felt the line go taught. More than that, something was pulling hard on the opposite side of the line. Charlie went to work reeling the line in, using as much strength as he could muster, pulling at the line first to the, left then to the right, as whatever was under the water tried desperately to escape. Charlie cranked the reel, putting his whole body into it. Bear barked frantically as if cheering him on. 

Charlie gave one final hearty pull, and the end of the line popped out of the water with a large thick green fish hanging from it. The weight of the fish was more than Charlie had expected. It swung on the line and slammed into his chest, throwing him backwards. He toppled onto the ground. He and the fish flopped frantically around in the dirt as Bear barked and danced around the fish, attempting to keep it from escaping but also being somewhat terrified by it.  

Charlie propped himself up just as the fish flopping its way back to the water. “Oh no you don’t!” he yelled, pouncing on the fish with his whole body and wrestling it into submission. Not sure what to do with the fish, he pulled his backpack off his back and placed it under the fish. The backpack obediently sucked up the fish putting an end to the struggle. Charlie sat back on the ground, taking deep breaths as he wiped sweat and dirt from his brow. Bear came to sit beside him and he gave the dog a scratch behind his ears. “Fishing is intense,” he said. 

He looked at the screen on his backpack. 

Inventory Update:
+1 River Bass
Length 16.3 inches
*New Record*

“Maybe we can eat some fish tonight?” he said to Bear. 

Bear barked happily.

“Only I have no idea how to cook fish,” he said. 

Bear whined sadly. 

“Charlie?!” they both looked up at the sound of a voice far off behind them. “Where are you?” 

“Hold on!” Charlie yelled back. “We’ll be right there.” Charlie stood and together they made their way back to the garden. Standing there in the clearing was Milo looking as grumpy as ever. 

“Where have you been?” asked Milo.

“We were fishing, actually,” said Charlie. “I caught a fish.” He smiled proudly. 

“Well, while you were doing that, this came,” Milo held up an already opened envelope. 

“And that is…”

“A letter from some guy named Walter Kemp who not only knows about this place but apparently wants to purchase it from the owner.” Milo held out the letter to Charlie who took it gingerly in his hands. 

“I don’t understand,” said Charlie. “Can he do that?”

“I guess that depends on the owner,” said Milo. They stared at each other for a long moment.

“But I thought my grandfather was the owner,” said Charlie.

“He was,” said Milo. 

“So then who…”

“Are you being serious right now?” asked Milo. “You inherited it from him. You’re the new owner. This letter is for you!” 

“But I thought I only owned my grandpa’s apartment.” Charlie was completely bewildered. 

“You do. AND you own the rest of the building as well.”

Charlie took a long moment to contemplate this before settling on an appropriate response. “Well fuck.” 




One of my favorite things to do in any life or farming sim game is go fishing so there was no way it was not going to make it into this story in some way! Just a quick reminder that there will be no new chapters until Thursday August 11 as we will be away at Gen Con for the next week. If you want to see all our boardgame adventures, make sure you’re following me on tiktok and Instagram @Ezeekat!



Relics – Chapter Twenty

“You need to see Gary,” said Juno when Charlie arrived at her apartment and told her what he was trying to do. Mrs. De La Cruz forced him to sit down and put several dishes filled with food in front of him that were all steaming hot and smelled delicious. He tried to tell her no, but she proceeded to sit a plate in front of him and dished large helpings of food onto it. Then a few of her floating dominoes shoved a knife and fork into his hand. Juno shrugged as if to say that it was no use fighting her. 

So he ate, which was probably a good thing since he hadn’t eaten all day, and as it turned out, he was starving. Mrs. De La Cruz also made a plate for Bear, who, Charlie suspected, was liked quite a bit more than himself. Bear happily ate the hot meal. 

“How are you liking it here?” asked Mrs. De La Cruz. 

“Oh,” Charlie quickly finished the bite of food he was chewing. “It’s nice, I guess.” 

Mrs. De La Cruz stared at him, clearly expecting more. 

“It’s nice having so many people around. People who…care.” 

“Didn’t you have people who cared back home?” she asked. 

He thought about his mother. He hadn’t reached out to her or gone to check on her, but somehow he knew she wouldn’t care either way. She often went on long trips away from home without a word to him, shacking up with a new boyfriend or taking a weekend trip without ever mentioning it.  She once drank too much and admitted to him that she never wanted children and, if she could do it all over, she would have gotten an abortion. The sad thing was that this hadn’t surprised Charlie in the least. So, yes, it was something special to have so many people around that not only seemed to care about him, but also cared deeply for each other.

“Charlie?” He looked up to see Mrs. De La Cruz watching him. He’d completely lost himself in his thoughts.

“Sorry,” he said. “No, not a whole lot of people who care back home.” He took another bite. 

“That’s a real shame,” said Mrs. De La Cruz. “Everyone deserves to have a little love in their life.” 

“Yeah, well just because everyone deserves a little, doesn’t mean they have it,” said Charlie. But as he heard the words leave his mouth, he realized how rude they sounded. “Sorry,” he mumbled. 

“It’s alright dear,” she said. “But might I offer a bit of advice.” 

Charlie looked up at her. 

“When it comes to love and care,” she started. “It starts with us loving and caring for ourselves.” She took a finger and poked it right into his chest. “It starts here.” 

To Charlie’s surprise, a sudden shuddering sob escaped his mouth and a tear rolled down his face. It was as if the emotion was imprisoned deep inside him and suddenly broke free. He put a hand to his mouth to stifle the cry. “I’m … so sorry,” he said, wiping away a tear. 

Mrs. De La Cruz smiled at Juno on the opposite side of the table and then reached out and put a hand over Charlie’s. “My dear boy. Whoever taught you to apologize for expressing your emotions, was quite wrong.” 

Charlie and Bear finished eating quietly and then left with Juno, but before they left Mrs. De La Cruz gave Charlie a tight warm hug. “Stay strong young man,” she said in his ear. “You still have a long story ahead of you.” 

They left the apartment and headed down the hall to apartment 202. 

“You’re mom’s kind of awesome,” said Charlie.

“She’s been through a lot. No one just wakes up and is that sagely,” said Juno. “When my Dad passed away, it was really hard on her. And then when my brother … well, the point is, she made it through all of it, and now she’s basically Yoda.” 

“What about you?” asked Charlie.

“What about me?”

“How did you deal with your dad’s passing?” 

Juno stopped mid-stride and looked at him. “I started playing music. There were days I couldn’t even talk, but I could always play. I could always find a song to work through my emotions, even when I couldn’t find the words for them.” 

“I hope I find a way to process everything I’ve been through someday,” said Charlie. But then, a smile broke across his face as he recalled the feelings of joy and accomplishment that planting, and learning to wield his various tools gave him. “Though, maybe I’m starting to figure that out.”

“Well then let’s get you back to it ASAP,” she said. She knocked on the apartment 202. 

The door swung open abruptly as if the occupant had been standing behind it and waiting for them to knock. They were greeted by a thin man with dark skin, wild hair and a scraggly little white beard. He was wearing a wrinkled white shirt and beige slacks with thick work gloves on his hands. Charlie also noticed that the man’s apartment seemed to be very dark even though it was only mid-afternoon. Yet from somewhere deep inside a soft orange glow emanated. 

“Juno!” he said in a deep, kind voice. “I haven’t seen you in some time, young lady. Staying out of trouble I hope?”

“Or trying, at least,” she responded and gave the man a hug. “This is our new resident Charlie.” She waved a hand in Charlie’s direction. “He’s Arthur’s grandson.”

“Well well,” said the man. “You must be the reason old Franny has started glowing again. But where are my manners? The name is Gary. Gary Rocolo.” He extended a hand and gave Charlie a firm handshake. 

“Charlie Cole,” said Charlie. “And who is Franny?”

“Franny is my forge,” said the man with a twinkle in his eye.

“I’m sorry, forge?” asked Charlie. “As in, olden days sword-making type of forge?” 

“I don’t know about olden days,” said Gary. “But you are in the presence of a fully trained master blacksmith, and Franny is the vessel through which I hone my craft.” He eyed them both with the look of a child excited to show his parents a new toy. “But maybe a demonstration is in order. Come in! Come in!” He opened the door wide for them. 

Charlie and Juno entered the apartment, and Charlie found that his nose was immediately filled with a thick smoky fragrance. The air was thick and heavy. The door across from them in the entry hall was slightly ajar and from inside an orange glow seemed to flicker. “This way, this way,” said Gary. He opened the door and ushered them into a room that was entirely too big to be in a Brooklyn apartment. The room was filled with a massive forge made of thick stone and black metal which looked like the face of some ancient monster that might live inside a volcano. Glowing molten metal streamed through the machine, illuminating the room. 

“What is that!?” asked Charlie who was completely flabbergasted by what he was seeing. 

“This is Franny,” said Gary. “She can make any scrap of metal into something worth its salt. Not to mention a proper sword, axe, mace or shield.” He suddenly caught himself. “Though as of right she’s only really good for burning coal and smelting copper.”

“Well that’s lucky since smelted copper is exactly what I need made,” said Charlie. He pulled the backpack around and reached in to pull out the copper tubes and wires that he collected in the catacombs. 

“Ahh, let’s see now,” said Gary, taking the tubes from Charlie as if they were priceless artifacts.  “Yes I do think we can do something with these.” He took them to the forge and opened a large grated compartment in the front. He placed the copper tubing onto a small tray that popped out and then pushed it back in and closed the grated door. He walked over to the side of the forge where there was a large lever. “Now for the magic,” he said and then pulled down on the lever.

There was a loud FWOOM of steam as loud clangs and bangs started to fill the room around them. The forge lit up even brighter than before as various pistons and levers moved in chaotic harmony with each other. Bear barked at the forge, clearly not enjoying all the noise. And then, just as quickly as it had begun, it all stopped with a sudden Ding! The compartment popped open and there sat two shimmering orange bars of copper which looked like delicately wrapped bars of chocolate. 

“Woah,” said Charlie. “That’s amazing!”

“It is indeed,” said Gary, patting the forge on the side. He walked over to the grate and lifted the bars, taking them to Charlie and placing them in his hands. “For you, good sir. Bring me more, won’t you? Before long she’ll be back to her old self.” 

“I can definitely do that,” said Charlie. “In fact, I have a few more bits of copper. Mind doing a couple more rounds for me?” 

Gary’s eyes lit up. “Well why didn’t you say so!” Let’s get to smelting!” Without further ado, they went to work loading the forge with all the copper Charlie had collected. Before long, he had a good supply of copper bars. Gary was ecstatic, telling them to come back with even more as they said their farewells. Charlie, Juno and Bear headed back down the hall. 

“Little does he know, we’ll have to risk our lives again if we want to get more scraps anytime soon,” said Charlie. 

“Aw, it wasn’t so bad,” said Juno. “We only almost died like three times.”

“Fair, next time we’ll shoot for a solid five near-deaths.” 

They laughed as they reached Juno’s apartment. “Hey,” started Charlie. “You’re friends with Milo, right?” 

“Sure,” she said.

“Do you think you could talk to him about hanging outside my window and watching me all the time?” 

Juno rolled her eyes. “Have you tried telling a cat what to do? They’re not exactly team players.” 

“Sure, I just thought maybe you could persuade him,” said Charlie.

“Or, and I know this is crazy,” she placed a hand on Charlie’s shoulder. “You could talk to him yourself.”

“I’m not really big on confrontation,” said Charlie.

“Sounds like you could use the practice then,” Juno grinned. “Milo is a good person. He cares about this place, and the people who live here. But he’s also lost a lot of people that he really cared about.  That does something to a person. It makes it so hard for them to trust anyone. And they start to think that maybe the easiest course of action is just to be on their own.” 

“How do we break through all of that?”

“Well, you remember that in his heart, Milo is still basically a kitten. He might act aloof, and he might seem like a jerk, but if he’s hanging out on your window every day and checking up on you, I think it’s safe to say he cares about you. Even if he might not say that part out loud.” 

“So what, should I bribe him with tuna fish?” 

“It wouldn’t hurt,” Juno said with a wry smile.

“You can’t be serious,” said Charlie.

“I am always serious Charles,” she opened her apartment door and grinned once more. “Except for when I’m not.” She gave him a wink and disappeared into the apartment.

Charlie looked down at Bear. “That was not helpful, was it?” 

Bear only quirked his head and barked a small whimper.  




Good news! I am feeling much better and finally out of the Covid woods! For the next couple of weeks, chapters might be a bit odd. There will be a new Chapter this coming Monday but then Carl and I will be at Gen Con checking out the latest boardgames for the rest of the week and weekend, so we’ll essentially be taking a week off. I’m hoping to get to a place where I am ahead enough on edits to never take time days off posting BUT we just aren’t there yet. So sorry! But I hope you enjoyed this chapter and the one that comes next!!



Relics – Chapter Nineteen

Charlie awoke to find Bear cuddled up beside him on the floor, snoring a soft doggy snore and occasionally kicking his front paws as if he were chasing something in a dream. Charlie smiled and gave the dog a scratch between its ears. Bear awoke and turned his head to lick Charlie’s face. Charlie turned over to look out the window.

“GAH!” he screamed as he saw Milo kneeling in the window, staring down from the blinds. “Why!?”

“Just making sure you’re still here,” said Milo, his voice muffled by the window’s glass. He jumped up the wall, disappearing from sight.

“That man has serious issues.” Charlie got out of bed, showered and dressed before he and Bear headed out.  Before leaving, he found a note slid under the door in frenzied handwriting. 

Come see me when you have a moment. New seeds! 
– Harriet 

He placed the note in his pocket but decided to stop by Magda’s apartment before going up to Harriet’s to see if she could tell him anything about the bags of monster parts they’d gotten from the catacombs.

“Got something to sell ol’ Magda?” the woman bellowed as she welcomed him into her home. They walked to the room with the antique cash register as Charlie opened the backpack and pulled out one of the bags. “Well put it on the register and let’s have a see.” 

He did as he was told and within seconds, the register popped open, offering him $50.

“Looks like your monster bits are worth some cash,” she said. 

“I guess that’s good since I don’t know what else to use them for,” he said. He decided to sell half of his share of the monster parts and keep the other half in case he suddenly learned a creation that required several bundles of monster parts. He placed the cash into his backpack and thanked Magda. 

“Don’t thank me,” she said. “It was a pleasure doing business with you, and I think I know just the person who will love these monster parts,” she said with a wink. Charlie did not want to meet the person who purchased monster parts, but she assured him he wouldn’t as long as he stayed off Wall Street. 

Next, he and Bear headed up to see Harriet. 

“Hello dear,” she said, sweeping the door open. “And who might this fine upstanding gentleman be?” she asked, noticing Bear. 

“This is Bear,” said Charlie. “I found him on the roof and now he’s living with me.” 

“Well he is a dashing fellow,” said Harriet as she bent down to give him a head scratch which he very much appreciated. 

“You said you had some new seeds?” asked Charlie. 

“Oh yes,” exclaimed Harriet. “Come, come.” They moved into the room with the apothecary cabinet and Charlie was surprised to find that the cabinet now had drawings on three more drawers: Carrots, Radishes and Green Beans.

“When did this happen?” asked Charlie. 

“Oh last night. I imagine it’s due to the seeds I gave you growing, so I wanted to thank you in person.” She gave him a hearty hug. “And of course, I’d love it if you tried planting some of these new ones as well, but, hmm…” she trailed off, fiddling with her thumbs. 

“What is it?” asked Charlie.

“The thing is, I can’t just go on giving seeds away. I’m on a fixed income you know. I know it’s a lot to ask, but if you want more seeds, I will need to charge you.” 

“Oh, I totally understand,” said Charlie, realizing, again, that he had very much been relying on the kindness of strangers in this building. Obviously they too needed to make ends meet in order to survive. He smiled at her, hoping to calm her nerves. “I’d be happy to purchase seeds from you.” 

“Really? You don’t mind?” she asked.

“Of course not. Besides, hopefully the more things I grow, the more seeds you’ll have to offer. Win win,” said Charlie. Along with eating what he grew, he might also be able to sell the finished produce to Magda and even turn a profit eventually. It only made sense that he’d have to pay for the seeds. Though he also made a mental note to share some of the fully grown vegetables from the first batch with Harriet when the time came to pick them as a way of thanking her.

He requested an assortment of all five seeds, the three new ones as well as the two that had been available the first time he’d visited Harriet. All of these came to a meager $20 which he was more than happy to hand over after selling off some of the monster parts. Harriet placed each of the seeds in their own individual pouches before thanking him profusely and sending him on his way. 

He and Bear ascended the elevator to the roof. To his enormous surprise, the lettuce and tomatoes had grown even more. There was no way that vegetables grew this fast normally but now the leaves of the lettuce had grown much larger, and the tomato plants had grown a full stock and several leafy shoots. If he didn’t know better, he’d say that both would be ready to pick in another day or two. Which was insane when you really thought about it. 

“Looks like we’ve got a bit of work ahead of us, Bear,” he said. He wanted very much to plant the new seeds as well as build them their own fenced in plots. But this would mean clearing out more land for planting the seeds, watering them, and then building the fences, which would of course require more wood. 

He decided to take this large list of tasks one at a time. First he went into the forest and gathered some water in his watering can. He then watered the lettuce and tomatoes which had dried up overnight. With this out of the way, he decided the next thing would be to clear new areas for the plots. For this, he would use the scythe. He knew he could potentially reinforce his scythe with copper, but he had very little copper to spare after the catacombs journey, and wanted to save it for his axe, as cutting down trees had proven to be the hardest form of gathering resources for him and he wanted any help he could get in that department. 

He used the scythe to clear a large area of land next to the existing plots. He then also cleared some area behind the already planted tomatoes and lettuce, where he would plant the new seeds. 

Next up was the hoe, which he used to create new mounds for the seeds. As he created these mounds, he sprinkled seeds on them, and then buried them. Pretty soon he had five separate little gardens for five separate vegetables. In very little time at all, he had become a regular gardener. He watered all of them, which took two more trips to the spring in the woods, and tested his theory that the backpack may be just as good at collecting things as it was at launching them or creating them.   He was right.  He collected the “fence” he built on the backside of the tomato and lettuce plants. He had thought this might be possible since the backpack seemed to be just as good at sucking things up as it was at creating things. He aimed the backpack at the first of the fences and visualized it returning to the bag. Just like that, the fence pulled itself free of the ground and re-entered the bag. He did this with each of the backside fences and then used them, and a bit more wood, to extend the fence so that it surrounded the now larger area where he’d planted the new tomatoes and lettuce. 

With this done, he was now running very low on wood, so it was finally time to cut down a couple more trees. He selected the creation upgrade for copper axe from his backpack.

Copper Axe – Upgrades a Basic Axe
Materials Required
– 1 Basic Axe
– 5 Smelted Copper

He selected the upgrade but was instantly greeted by an error message.

Error: Missing Ingredient
5 Smelted Copper

But that didn’t make sense. He definitely had copper in his bag. He tried again but got the same message, and that was when he noticed the problem. The upgrade required smelted copper.  

“How do I smelt copper?” he asked himself. Bear was lazily basking in the sunlight on the green grass and perked up at the sound of his voice. Charlie wasn’t even sure he fully knew what the word smelt meant. But if there was one thing he had learned, it was that most of what he needed could be found within Darkmoon Drive’s walls. He decided it was time to take a break and go ask Juno if she knew anyone who could help him out. After all, he hadn’t met nearly everyone yet, even if Juno was dead set on him doing so. 

“Come on, Bear,” he said. Together they headed for the elevator and made their way down to the second floor.




Nothing big to report here. I’ve been suffering through having Covid this past week, but I’m happy that I felt well enough today to get this chapter posted. Hope you are all doing well!