Relics – Chapter Thirty-Eight

New Ability Unlocked: Absorption

Charlie erupted out of the backpack. Charlie erupted from the backpack, flying through the air not unlike when he fell jumping off the building; however, this time, he was thrown up along the side of the unfinished building. The backpack was still gripped tightly in his hands. He flipped over the ledge at the top and came to land on the landing he’d jumped from only moments ago. There stood Walter Kemp, just as he’d left him, but with a much more surprised look on his face. 

“What did you? How did you?” For once, the man couldn’t seem to find his words. 

“I’m sorry Mr. Kemp,” said Charlie. “I really thought I could just jump off this building and end all of this. But it turns out I’ve still got a lot to do.” 

Kemp became enraged. “Give me that backpack, or I will destroy everything and everyone you have ever cared about!” 

“Yeah, that’s not gonna work for me either.”

Kemp lunged at him, but Charlie was ready this time. He held up the backpack, opened wide to face Kemp. The inside glowed fiercely as it began to pull at Kemp. 

“Wh-what is this?!” yelled the man. Suddenly, he was coming apart. Whole parts of him disintegrated into black sand which was then pulled into the backpack as if it were dust being vacuumed up. 

“NOOOO!” screamed Walter Kemp. But it was too late. In a matter of seconds, Kemp had been completely turned to black sand and absorbed by the backpack. As soon as the last speck of sand entered the backpack, Charlie zipped it closed. He let out a long breath and turned to look out on the city. In the distance he could still see the Brooklyn Bridge. It was no longer the place where he almost ended his life. Now he realized it was the place where his life had truly begun. He smiled at it, turned and walked away from the hole in the wall, ready to find a way back down the building and then a way back home. 

Walter Kemp was gone. That is, he was mostly gone. All of him had been devoured by the backpack, and he wouldn’t be able to reform while in its bowels. But this wasn’t the backpack’s doing. It was because Walter Kemp had lost the item which gave him his powers. A black ring which when placed on the fingers of new members of the Onyx Sun, allowed them incredible abilities. A ring which Charlie, in his tired state, did not realize was still sitting on the concrete floor where Walter Kemp had stood only moments ago. 

A ring which someone else would surely find when the sun rose on a new day. 




Hello all! So sorry for the delay but we are finally back with new chapters! Yay!

Relics – Chapter Thirty-Seven

Charlie was not entirely sure where he was, or even when he was. As he stood up, it became immediately clear that he could very well be dead. All around him, strands of thin red thread spun silently through the air, intertwining with each other as if they were weaving themselves together, then apart, then together again. Watching them do this slowly and peacefully brought an uneasy calm to his heart. 

“And so you are here at last,” said an old male voice. 

Charlie spun around to see a man standing behind him dressed in a brown sweater vest and slacks. He wore a brown fedora and had a scraggly white beard. He was plump and gave Charlie the impression that this might be what Santa Claus might look like in his off season. 

“And where exactly is here?” asked Charlie.

“Why, inside the backpack of course,” said the man. “You did crawl into it after all. A wise choice given that otherwise you would have gone splat on the ground, but one I would not recommend repeating. Being in here too long…does things to one’s mind. Irreparable things. Do it enough and you’ll no longer be able to tell the difference between this world and the real one. I should know. This place and my obsession with it is what eventually ended my life.

Charlie felt his breath leave him with the realization of who was standing before him. He shook his head in disbelief as a single tear rolled down his face. “Grandpa?” he asked in a whisper.

“The one and only,” said the old man with a smile. “My how you’ve grown. Little Charlie Cole. The last time I saw you, you were so little.” 

“Well whose fault is that?” asked Charlie, wiping the tear from his face, not wanting to give this man who had abandoned him and his mother the satisfaction of seeing him cry. 

“It is very much mine,” said Arthur. “A lot of things are,” he said in a much quieter voice. He turned and looked at the threads spinning all around them. “When I discovered the backpack, I was so sure I had found the answer. The answer to everything. I was sure I was going to change the world. I was going to show it to the greatest minds out there and together we were going to fix everything. We were going to solve world hunger, end global warming, stop wars for good. But then…” he shook his head, “I realized that for every ounce of good the backpack could do, it could also do incredible evil. Being able to make anything your mind can fathom is quite a powerful ability, and were it to get into the wrong hands…” 

He turned back to Charlie. “So I created a place where it could be protected. Not only by a vast labyrinth of dungeons filled with all sorts of monsters, but also by a building, filled with people who had proven that they could do good with just one small piece of its power.”

“You mean…” started Charlie, trying to sort out everything he was being told. “You made it all? I mean I knew you made the building and the relics, but the catacombs too? The monsters?”

“I made it all,” said Arthur. “And into every piece of it, I built a system that would test someone. Someone like you. And should they pass they test, only then would they be worthy of the backpack. The real backpack.”

The words seemed to echo off the walls.

“But…I have the backpack,” said Charlie. “I’ve had it since the day I walked into that place.”

“No. What you have is just another relic. A very strong one, mind you. The strongest even. You have an echo of the original backpack. One that makes you earn every piece of its power. The original backpack could create anything from nothing. It was more powerful than any one person could ever hope to handle. But I used it all the same to create the place you now live. And then I put my design to the test.”

“After you were already dead,” said Charlie.

Arthur sighed. “No. I put it to the test once while I was still living. I let someone playtest the little game I had created. And it all went so wrong. There was already so much anger in her heart. So much impatience. I had failed her, and when faced with the power of the backpack you now hold, even that was too much for her. So I had used the original backpack one last time. To erase the memory of it and Darkmoon Drive from her memory. Then I made sure she never came to find me or it, and I hid the original backpack behind the strongest door, in the deepest room of the catacombs, never to be found again until someone finally came along that was worthy. Someone like you, Charlie.” 

Charlie’s hand went to his mouth as a sob escaped him. “It was Mom. You tested this whole thing out on her. And she failed so you tossed her away like a piece of garbage.”

“I fancy myself a very creative man,” said Arthur. “A man with a brain that is always working. But I have never once considered myself a good man. I failed your mother. In every possible way.” He took a deep breath. “When I took her memories of the power of the backpack, something…broke inside her. It was like a light went out inside her.”

“You sucked out her soul,” said Charlie. “And then you abandoned her.”

Arthur stared at him for a long moment before nodding. “Yes, I suppose I did.” 

Charlie shook his head angrily.

“But she can never find that place or the backpack again, Charlie. The knowledge of it would break her. Mentally, she wouldn’t be able to handle the overlap of memories that would start to occur in her. What I did was wrong, but had I tried to bring her back in, it would have killed her. And if you try to show her the world you’ve found now, she will surely die.” 

“Then I’ll find another way,” said Charlie. “I’ll find a way to make her whole again.” 

“I truly hope you do,” said Arthur. “But to do that you will need the original backpack. The Celestial Bag, or so it was called by the ancients of this world. You hold the last true relic of its making. You are the only one capable of passing the tests that await you and fighting your way down into the depths of the Catacombs to retrieve it. Only then can you make right what has been wronged.” 

“Why are you telling me all of this?” asked Charlie.

Arthur shook his head. “I suppose like all old men who have failed in our lives. In the end, all we want is for those who come after us to do better.” Arthur motioned to the threads around them. “The world out there would have you believe that it’s quite complicated. Race, religion, politics, love, loss, good, evil. It can feel so overwhelming. And it can make someone like yourself feel so powerless. I imagine that’s why you planned to jump off a bridge one cold night not so long ago. To escape all the noise.” 

Charlie looked away, ashamed that his grandfather knew he had wanted so badly to end his own life. 

“It is a cruel joke that the hardest part of life is simply living it.” 

“So then what’s the point?” asked Charlie. “If it’s all so fucked up and complicated and difficult, why do it?”

“The point isn’t just to do it, but to find a reason worthy of doing it. Passion, love, purpose. The point is finding a reason to wake up every morning. And maybe somedays that’s as simple as being able to feel the sun on your skin. And others, maybe it’s the chance to save the world.  You hold every option in the palm of your hand every single day.” 

Arthur walked over to Charlie and grabbed his hands, cupping them in his own. “So jump, Charlie. But don’t jump out of this life. Jump in. Jump deep inside this world and feel absolutely everything it has to offer. Plant the seeds of tomorrow. Build the friendships that will last until your old and grey. Kiss the ones you love. Build. Explore. Make every day one that is worth fighting for.”

Tears streamed freely down his face now. He swallowed down the lump in his throat. “What if I can’t?” 

“Oh my boy. The question you should be asking yourself is what if you can?” 

Charlie coughed as another sob escaped him. Slowly, he pulled himself together. “I’m not going to see you again, am I?”

“As I said, this should be the last time you ever come here. The energy within the relics is too chaotic. Spend even a second too long here and it will tear you apart. And unfortunately, our time is almost up.”  Arthur reached under Charlie’s chin and raised it so that they stared eye to eye. “But, and I know this is an incredible cliche, I will always be with you.” 

Charlie hugged his grandfather. Despite the resentment he still felt for him. Despite the pain that he had never been able to know the man in life. Despite the revelations of what Arthur had done to his own daughter, Charlie’s mother, he hugged him because it was the one and only chance he would ever get to do so. 

“Now go back out into the world, and give it everything you’ve got.”




Thank you for waiting patiently for this chapter! With my Mom visiting from out of town this past week I got a bit behind on posting!

Relics – Chapter Thirty-Six

Milo and Bear landed in front of Walter Kemp on the street just outside the apartment. 

“Go back in there and tell your friend to come out,” said Kemp. “Surely he doesn’t want to see anything unpleasant happen to his little cat friend.”

Milo growled. He reeled back his arm and then threw a punch right into Kemp’s face. But to Milo’s great surprise, the punch didn’t land. In fact, it went completely through Kemp’s head, which burst into a million black particles, like thick smoke. Milo jumped back in surprise as Kemp’s head and smirking face reformed. 

“You really have no idea who you’re messing with, young man.” said Kemp. 

“Oh crap,” sighed Milo. 

Without warning, Kemp swung his arm in an upwards arc, throwing Milo backwards. Milo twisted his body, backflipping to land on his feet. He reached over his shoulder and grabbed the handle of his umbrella, flourishing like a sword, ready for battle. Bear lunged at Kemp’s arm, but it too exploded into black dust. Bear flew through it and was snatched out of the air by Kemp’s other hand. He threw Bear and watched as he crashed through the window of the abandoned building across the street from Darkmoon Drive. 

Milo lunged forward swinging the umbrella wildly. Kemp threw his arm out to his side. Milo watched in both horror and amazement as black sand formed a long, black, bastard sword in his hand. Kemp brought up the sword parrying Milo’s umbrella. Milo stepped back, then swung again. And again. The two traded blows back and forth. Bear flew out of the abandoned building as the mechanisms in the back of his chair rearranged themselves. This time, rather than thrusters, two small missile launchers popped up from the top, and two small missiles shaped like metal corgi faces shot out of them. The missiles careened through the air. 

Kemp turned and held his long sword in both hands, the wide side turned out to shield against the missiles  as they exploded on impact. Milo rolled out of the way, catching a glimpse of Kemp dissolving into a mound of black sand, only to reconstitute himself, untouched by the explosion. 

“Well that’s some bullshit!” yelled Milo, twisting around on the ground and jumping onto his feet. It began to occur to Milo that this man was not like any man he had ever fought. Even with the levels he’d gained on his relic in the week since Charlie had shown up, he simply wasn’t strong enough to beat a man this powerful. He reached up and wiped a drop of blood from his forehead and gripped his umbrella hard, ready to jump back into the fray. Kemp finished reforming and turned to Milo, sword in hand with a vicious grin on his face.

“What are you even fighting for?” he shouted. “A home? There are all kinds of homes. People move all the time. Yes, this place is special, but you can live anywhere. You are strong enough to survive without this place.”

Bear shot off another round of missiles, and there was another explosion of the black sand that was Kemp. But Kemp once again reformed and continued advancing on Milo, without skipping a beat. “So why fight? Why go through all of this just to lose? Just to die?”

Milo felt tears rolling down his cheeks. He threw himself at Kemp. The sword and umbrella clashed. Just as they locked against one another, Kemp head-butted Milo, sending him to the ground, covering his face. 

“Tell me why!” shouted Kemp. 

Milo struggled to shake off his head spinning and his vision blurring, forcing himself to stand. “I’m not fighting for a building,” he said. 

Kemp picked him up from the ground by his shirt collar and stared into his eyes. Milo could see the cold blackness in Kemp’s soul behind his eyes. “Then what?” asked Kemp.

“I’m fighting for the man who built it.” Milo spit into Kemp’s eyes. Kemp flinched, but wiped the spittle away with his spare hand. 

“That man is dead,” growled Kemp. “Just like you’re about to be.” 

“Then I’m fighting for this grandson,” said Milo, struggling to get free of Kemp’s grip. “Because despite all the reasons I shouldn’t, I like him too.” 

Kemp’s face became confused. “What?”

Milo didn’t waste the moment of distraction. He swung his fist and managed to land a punch squarely across Kemp’s jaw. Kemp fell back, dropping Milo to the ground. Milo scurried to stand, grabbing for his umbrella, before taking off towards Kemp. Bear came in for another attack, and Kemp threw a hand out and swatted him away without much effort. The corgi went flying. He then turned on Milo and shot out a hand which formed into black sand. It curled around Milo, lifting him into the air. But to Milo’s great surprise, the sand didn’t go in for the kill, but instead, went for the star-shaped pendant on his collar.

The consequences were almost immediate. Milo’s whole body convulsed. His hands turned to paws and then back to hands and then back to paws again. Fur covered his face. He could feel the struggle of his joints and bones wanting to change and the human side of his body trying to keep it at bay. It was like he was being torn apart from the inside. 

Milo let out a yowl as pain ripped through every molecule in his body. Kemp wasn’t going to kill him. He was going to take away his humanity which in many ways was even worse to Milo. 

A car ricocheted down the street, flying as if it were as light as a feather. Kemp turned his head to see the car coming just as it crashed lengthwise into him. The pain stopped, and Milo fell to the ground, coughing and gagging, gasping for air as his body tried to right itself. His vision was hazy, but as he looked up he could just make out a figure moving towards him on the street. 

“What?” said Oliver casually. He wore a dapper vest and slacks and his thimble glowed on his pinkie. “Hideous coat.  Had to kill it.” 

“Thank you, Oliver,” coughed Milo. 

“Milo!” Juno ran from the building and crouched down beside him. Bear rolled up, looking worse for wear but still standing. “Are you okay?”

“I’ll…live,” he wheezed, grabbing his side in pain.  There were others around him as well. Gary Rocolo stood with a large, menacing looking hammer in his hands. Mrs. De La Cruz stood near him, her dominoes floating around her, ready for a fight. Even Demetri was there with his yeast starter propped on his shoulder and holding a fork and knife screaming the lyrics to “WAP.” They’d all come to his rescue and were ready to fight Walter Kemp to the death to protect their home. 

“Sorry it took me so long to clear out the lobby so we could all get out here,” said Juno.

“You’re right on time,” said Milo, smiling up at her. 

On the ground beside them, black sand started to spiral, like a small black cyclone.

“What is—” started Milo. But he wasn’t able to finish the thought. An explosion of sand threw them all backwards. Some of them went skidding along the pavement. Others, like Milo and Oliver, were thrown into the brick walls of the nearby abandoned building as well as Darkmoon Drive. As the dust settled, the black sand reformed into Walter Kemp who stood in the center of the circle of residents. 

“You all seriously think you stand any chance of winning this?” he asked in a booming voice. “You all are just a bunch of silly parlor tricks. I am a member of the Onyx Sun. I hold real true power. We have the ability to change this world. Meanwhile, you’ve all been living on top of the greatest power this world, even this universe, has ever known, and you’re all content playing with your little toys. I am going to murder each and every person who lives in this building, and then I am going to take that power for myself, and not one of you is going to stop me!” 

A basic hoe can be used for many things. It can till and turn soil. It can help with the planting of seeds. It can even help to cut away weeds. But in this case, when used as an aimed recipe, it was used to shut Walter Kemp up. A basic hoe came flying in straight into Kemp’s beet-red face.

Kemp went tumbling across the ground. As he shook himself off, he looked up to see the very man he’d come to Darkmoon Drive to see, Charlie Cole, standing before him looking like a mad dog. 

“I can,” said Charlie. “I can stop you.” 

Kemp grinned. “Oh can you now?” 

Charlie held the red backpack out to his side. “You want this so bad? Then leave these people alone and take it from me.”

Walter laughed as his body rose and became a storm of black sand. “With pleasure.” The black sand quickly became a whirlwind. It wrapped itself around Charlie and though Milo, Juno and Bear all ran to reach him, they weren’t fast enough. The sand picked him up and carried him into the sky, tossing and turning him, spinning him until he was sick. They flew over buildings and streets and lights and water and then, quite abruptly, Charlie slammed onto hard cement and everything came to a stop. 

He took a moment to catch his breath. He was still alive, and the backpack was still in his hand, held tightly in a fist by one of its straps. He pushed himself up slightly and looked around. He seemed to be in a room of a building that was still under construction. There were holes in the unfinished walls and ceiling. There were even plastic barrels, stacks of wood and bricks and bags full of tools scattered round. As he stood, he turned and gasped as he realized that the floor he was on was at least thirty stories up, if not more. The street below appeared to be far in the distance, and the cars themselves looked like tiny pin pricks of light. And there in the distance, like a beacon reminding him of everything he’d been through, was the Brooklyn Bridge. A cold wind blew in through the open building and Charlie shivered.

“I hope you don’t mind me bringing us to a more secluded location,” said a rumbling voice behind him. He turned to see Walter Kemp reforming out of the black sand, his hands behind his back as he smiled at Charlie. “I thought a more private conversation might help this process. Much easier to hand over the keys to the kingdom as it were without the peasants living in it judging you. No, here it is just you and me. Two people who know how this has to end.”

“And how is that?” asked Charlie.

“You give me the backpack,” said Kemp. “And then you just walk away. This little dream of yours ends and you go back to whatever life you had before. Forget about all of this. No guilt. No judgment. You get to walk out of here, free.” 

Charlie let this all sink in. Kemp took a step towards him, but Charlie wasn’t ready to give in just yet. He took a few steps backwards, bringing him ever closer to the open wall. The only thing between him and a fall that would mean certain death was a step, maybe two, and an unfinished wall which opened out to all of New York City. 

“And what about the people who live there? What happens to them?” asked Charlie. His voice shaking. It wouldn’t mean much to walk away if people like Juno, Milo and Bear would have to suffer for it. 

“Those who go quietly will be unharmed,” said Kemp.

“What about the ones who don’t?”

Kemp sighed. “Mr. Cole. Some people just don’t know when to give up. Therefore it is up to me and people like me to show them how and when. But rest assured, that will not be your problem after tonight.” Kemp reached out his hand. “Now, give me the backpack.”

It was at that moment that Charlie knew what he had to do. He wasn’t sure how he knew it, he just did. It seemed as if fate had been guiding him all along. Because a week ago, he had almost jumped to his death to escape a life which he wanted nothing more than to escape from, and now he found that the only way to protect the lives he’d come to deeply care for was to jump. He realized, quite suddenly that in the end, one way or another, his life was always going to end with a fall. He was only grateful that the universe had given him a chance to experience a life worth having, before taking it away at last. 

“Give me the backpack, boy,” said Kemp once again.

Charlie shook his head. “No, Mr. Kemp. I don’t think I’ll be doing that.” 

When Arthur died, the backpack hadn’t gone up for grabs, it sat idly by, waiting for a successor, an inheritor. With Charlie’s death, the backpack wouldn’t be able to be passed to Kemp. The people of Darkmoon Drive would be protected. It was a small sacrifice to protect those who had shown him what it meant to want to wake up everyday. 

So Charlie Cole did what he’d meant to do a week ago on the very bridge that he could see in the distance. He jumped. 

“NOOO!” yelled Kemp. 

Charlie plummeted through the air, the ground racing towards him. Suddenly, the backpack unzipped itself and the inside began to glow with a fierce golden light. Before Charlie could even process what was happening he felt a pull, no, a tug. His whole body was being pulled into the backpack. With one final gasp, he disappeared into the golden light.

The backpack landed with a heavy thud on the sidewalk.




Wow! I had forgotten this chapter was so crazy until I went to post it! I just wanted quickly apologize for the inconsistent posts lately. We have been insanely busy with several upcoming projects making getting these posts out on time a bit difficult. Please bare with us!!

Relics – Chapter Thirty-Five

The mob of sand-thugs charged into the lobby of the building, crowding around the elevator as a large man frantically pressed the down button, repeatedly calling the elevator. The mob watched the numbers above the elevator door indicating the location of the elevator descend at a glacial pace, one floor after another until at last it reached the first floor, and the door slid open. They moved to enter the elevator but halted as they discovered that a young woman was standing in it, smiling up at them. 

“Well hey there,” she said. She began to play a romantic song on an odd instrument they had never seen before. It was the kind of song that might have been sung in the 1950’s as people longed to dance with their secret crushes. The kind of song you drank cocktails and smoked cigars to. And as she began to sing, the world around them altered. The lobby shifted as if it was being painted over with an entirely different reality, one pulled right out of a childhood cartoon. And within moments, they were no longer in the lobby of a broken-down apartment building, but instead on the deck of a pirate ship. Rain pummeled down from above. Lightning tore through the sky, and wind blasted through the sails as the ship moved up and down over rolling waves. 

One of the thugs in the front of the mob caught on that this was not in fact a good thing and charged at Juno. An enormous purple tentacle exploded out of the wooden floor. It loomed over the shocked thug for just a moment before crashing down on him, splattering him all over the deck. This, obviously, caused a fair amount of shock amongst the rest of the henchman. They now realized that this sweet girl and her adorable tune were actually a vicious death trap. 

Chaos erupted. Some of the men and women made a run for the sides of the deck, while others tried to charge at Juno. Continuing to play and sing as if she were simply playing an incredibly fun performance, she strummed the strings and played on the keys as tentacle after tentacle burst up from the deck and over the sides of the ship, grabbing some of the thugs and tossing them or simply dragging them under the water. 

The henchman stopped to get their bearings and noticed that Juno was no longer on the ship. The ship itself was barely accounted for at this point. Most of it had been torn away by the monster beneath the sea’s surface. Across the waves, they saw a smaller ship approaching and riding atop it was Juno, her ukeytar, and a large black cannon. They waved at her, yelling and moaning like a pack of scared zombies that she might hear their pleas over the sound of the storm.

But Juno just went on singing and playing. A spark of fire shot out of her instrument and hit the wick on the back of the cannon. It burned down as the henchmen yelled in protest. But nothing could stop it as it fed into the cannon and the weapon exploded, firing a giant cannonball at the ship’s remains. A fiery explosion ripped through the scene Transforming the world once more. 

This time, they were all in a dark mine. Juno rode in a wooden mine cart as it sped along a trail of train tracks suspended in midair. The henchman were behind her, stuffed into a single mine cart like sausages, and gaining. Though they were on a different track. If they could just get close enough they might be able to grab her and stop the assault on their lives. The mine cart approached Juno’s, but just as they reached out to grab her, the track they were on went up as hers went down and then down as hers went up. And then it all happened again and it was terribly inconvenient as they swung their arms wildly trying to grab her. 

Their pursuit of Juno came to an end when their track disappeared altogether, and their cart fell into the black abyss.

The world exploded with light. Juno skated along a surface of shimmering light beneath a bright winter sun. The world was white as snow all around her. From behind, she could hear several men and woman trying desperately to find their balance in the ice skates that were now tied tightly onto their large feet. A few of them caught on quickly and began speeding towards her.

“I’ve got you now you little witch,” hissed a woman who clearly had experience skating prior to this moment. 

A wicked grin spread across the woman’s face. But it quickly dissipated as she heard a terrible crashing noise behind her. She glanced back to see the mountain literally chasing them as a swirling white avalanche crushed the henchmen who hadn’t been able to figure out the ice skates in time. Worse yet, it was now racing towards her and the others who had actually managed to race forward. 

“Oh balls,” the women said, taking off on her skates alongside two other men. But they simply weren’t fast enough. The avalanche crashed down upon them. 

Juno skipped across a sunny green hillside as the few henchmen and women who survived cried out in agony all around her. Flowers sang along to her tune, all the while growing thorny vines and ensnaring a man with a baseball bat. The birds flew around her, whistling happily, before dive bombing another man and tearing through his ace, erupting it into black sand. A unicorn nuzzled her cheek, then promptly gouged a tattooed man through his stomach, exploding this body into black sand. A rainbow colored T-Rex stomped by, flashed Juno a wink and stopped to eat a man who brought a pistol to a ‘dino’ fight. The T-Rex swallowed the man whole along with the pistol and then burped black smoke followed by a rainbow, which erupted out of its mouth and flew out over the scene below. The rainbow arced across the sky and then, to everyone’s great surprise, it opened a pair of eyes and a toothy smile. Juno waved at the rainbow and it reciprocated by shooting lasers from its eyes, finishing off the last of the sand thugs. 

The song ended, the world returned to normal and Juno sighed, observing the mess of black sand which now permeated every surface of the lobby. “What a mess,” she said, disappointedly. 


Relics – Chapter Thirty-Four

Everyone in the apartment building was notified of Kemp’s ultimatum. They all knew the risks of staying in the building. And to Charlie’s great surprise, not a single one of them chose to leave. Now, Charlie, Milo, Bear and Juno sat in Milo’s cluttered apartment awaiting Kemp’s arrival.  Juno used Milo’s kitchen to brew a pot of tea and each of them held a small ceramic cup, but none of them even remembered to take a sip. They all had their reasons to be anxious. 

“I need to say something,” said Charlie, breaking a silence which seemed to have lasted hours. “I know I’m new here, but I just want you all to know that I am not going to sign anything over to that scumbag. No matter what.”

Juno looked up at him with a smile while Milo rolled his eyes.

“This place, you both, have given me a home here, and I wouldn’t give that up for the world.”

“That’s very sweet Charlie,” said Juno. 

Bear barked and pushed his head up against Charlie’s leg.

“Hmph,” said Milo, crossing his arms.

“Milo,” chided Juno. “You’re not even a little happy Charlie’s still here?”

“I mean I’m not mad about it,” snapped Milo. But to Charlie, even this was a surprise. 

“You’re not?” asked Charlie.

Their eyes caught each other. 

“Well…no,” admitted Milo. “But don’t get all sappy about it.” 

A small smile curved across Charlie’s lips. “I won’t.” 

From outside, the sound of a large crowd drifted into the apartment, and within seconds it grew to a loud hubbub of angry shouts and loud voices. They all ran to the window, opening it to step out onto the fire escape landing. Down on the street in front of Darkmoon Drive, stood a large crowd of thickly built men and women. Many of them held baseball bats, crowbars and other instruments that seemed like they would hurt to be hit with. But the most terrifying part was their eyes, eerily absent with grey swirly sand in their place. It made them look more demon than human. In the center of the crowd, looking just as prim and proper as always, was Walter Kemp. He smiled up at them. 

“I brought a few friends,” he said, motioning the crowd around him. They gave a cheer, thrusting their weapons into the air. “Now, I hate to use an old cliche,” he said as their shouts quieted. “But, we can do this the easy way or the hard way. Just come on down here, Charlie, pass the deed to me, and we will be on our way.” 

Charlie became confused. “That’s not going to happen,” he said. “But, even if it were, I don’t have a deed to give you. My Grandfather passed this place to me with a letter and a box of keys. I’ve got nothing to give you.” 

Walter let out a soft chuckle. “The deed to Darkmoon Drive isn’t a piece of paper, young man. It’s that thing hanging over your shoulders.” He pointed up at Charlie. “Hand over that backpack, and this place and everything in it will pass to me. No one has to get hurt.” 

Charlie clutched the backpack, pulling it tighter against himself. “This backpack, this place, is the first good thing to happen to me in a long time. And it’s a home to everyone that lives here.” He stood up a little taller. “We will not be giving you anything.”

“Yeah, so fuck off!” yelled Milo, who couldn’t possibly pass up an opportunity to be included in the conversation. 

Kemp sighed. “Very well. The hard way it is.” He gave a gentle wave of his hand, and the crowd of angry thugs barreled towards the door, pushing through the already weak gate and knocking it down completely. 

Juno turned to Charlie. “You have to stay here,” she said before Charlie could get any words out. 

“Wait, what?” he exclaimed. 

“Kemp needs the backpack. Which means he needs you. If he gets that, nothing else will matter. I know it sucks, but the best thing you can do is stay far away from him.” Juno stared at him as if trying to mentally convince him. 

“But you all need me,” he tried. 

“Nah, we’re good,” said Milo. 

Charlie looked at him with hurt in his eyes. 

Milo shook his head. “Look, Bear and I can go take care of Asshole Von Trap down there, and Juno can take care of his henchmen.” 

“By herself?!” cried Charlie. 

“Yes, by herself,” said Milo. “I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but she might act like a cinnamon roll but she’s actually a badass. Of all of us, she is the one you need to worry about the least.” 

Charlie looked at her, expecting her to argue the point and beg him to come help her.

But she simply shrugged. “He’s right. I’m a badass.” 

“Stay here,” said Milo, putting a hand on his shoulder. “Cheer us on if you need something to do.” 

“I—” Charlie tried, but they were already on the move. Juno moved back through the room and headed for the apartment door. Meanwhile, Milo climbed up on the fire escape railing and dove off it, spinning towards the street below. Bear’s wheelchair transformed, forming a pair of metallic wings, and he too took off after Milo. Only Charlie was left standing on the landing, completely useless. 



Hello all and welcome back! I just wanted to let everyone know we are safe and sound post hurricane. Hope you all had a great weekend!

Relics – Chapter Thirty-Three

LeBlanc’s was full of rough looking patrons, which was quite usual for the establishment. They played pool, drank large glasses filled with foaming dark beer and made crude jokes that most mothers would have gasped to hear. The interconnected rooms of the bar were dark except for bright fluorescent blue and red lights which cast their glow over everything and everyone. The cacophony of sounds in the bar were those of glasses clinking, pool balls crashing against one and another and into corner pockets and loud rumbling laughter which burst forth from the patrons like a frenzied horn section of an orchestra.

This all stopped the moment the door swung open, and he walked in. Walter Kemp was an imposing figure with his cold eyes and perfectly trimmed gray goatee. He wore a long black coat over an expensive suit. In his right hand, he held a stark black cane, and on his left hand was a large silver ring with a jet black onyx stone nested inside it. Every single person in the bar stopped to look at the man who had, at one point or another, personally hired each and everyone of them. Their job? To wait until the day he came calling for one of them to complete a job which required an extra bit of muscle or a generally negative attitude towards the law. But these requests were usually handled through an anonymous text or quiet phone call. Not the man himself showing up to LeBlanc’s unannounced. 

“Mr. Kemp,” said the bartender, a heavy set man with a thick mustache. “We didn’t know you were coming.” 

“Well, given that I own the place, I imagine my presence should always be expected.”

The bartender gulped down his nerves. “Of course sir.”

Walter Kemp stared daggers at the bartender, then broke away, a kindly smile spreading across his face. “Relax friends. I’m here tonight with good tidings.” He stepped into the center of the main room, everyone giving him a wide berth as though he were standing on his own stage. “After many years of searching, I have finally found that which I, and the organization I represent, have been searching for. A doorway, as it were, to a future full of potential, power and riches.” The eyes on each of the patrons glistened at these words. “And now all that stands in my way are a few ne’er-do-wells who have decided to take these things for themselves.” Disappointment flashed across several faces.  “Tonight, I ride into battle, prepared to go to war for everything we have all been fighting for, and I come to each of you, seeking soldiers to aid me in this battle.” 

Several low murmurs broke out in the crowd. 

Kemp held up his hands to calm the crowd. “That being said, I wouldn’t ask you to do this out of the kindness of your heart. Soldiers fight their best when they have something worth fighting for.” He reached into his pocket and pulled out a second ring identical to his own and held it up for all of them to see. Their eyes fixed hungrily on it. “There is a building, and inside that building, there is a door. Behind that door is a vast network of tunnels which leads to that which we seek. A power to remake the world. But I can only enter that door and that building should the deed be passed to me. I need the young man who currently holds the deed.” He paused for effect. “And whoever brings him to me alive will become the newest member of the Onyx Sun.” 

This time everyone in the room began speaking at once. Kemp smiled, taking in the fevered excitement. He held up his hands once more. “So what say you? Will you help me win this war?”

The voices silenced all at once, everyone looking around the room at everyone else to see who would make the first move. Finally, a thick man at the back of the room stood and crossed his arms. “Seems to me, you need us pretty bad if you’re willing to offer such a juicy reward.”

Kemp’s eyebrows raised.

“Seems it might be dangerous,” said the man. The crowd murmured and nodded in agreement. “Seems to me, we might appreciate a little sweetening of the deal, if you know what I mean.” The man rubbed his forefinger and thumb together as if fondling an imaginary dollar bill. The crowds agreeing voices grew louder.

Kemp smiled. “Well, it seems to me…” he paused and looked about the room. He leaned towards the man and spoke in a near-whisper: “You should have taken the deal.” 

He held out his arms and black sand exploded from the palms of his hands, engulfing the room and everything in it in a matter of moments. Walter Kemp grinned as he felt the life of every single patron warp until each and every one of them was part of the sand.


Relics – Chapter Thirty-Two

The four of them descended to the lobby where they found Daiyu waiting, to everyone’s surprise with exception of Juno. She looked absolutely terrible, and it was clear she had still not slept since the day before. 

“You came back,” said Charlie. 

“Don’t get all gushy,” she said. “I was sent to give you this.” She held out a wax sealed envelope, pointing it directly at Charlie. 

Milo reached out to take the envelope, but she snatched it back. 

“The hell?” growled Milo.

“It’s for him,” she said, pointing once again at Charlie. Charlie reached out gingerly and took the letter. He ripped off the wax seal, while looking up at her. “A wax seal? Did Mr. Kemp forget to tell us he’s a Victorian vampire?”

“He’s…older than you might think,” was all Daiyu said.

“Okay, well that’s ominous,” replied Charlie. He unfolded the paper and read. 

To Mr. Charlie Cole, Owner and Operator of Darkmoon Drive,

Since you have failed to hand over the deed to Darkmoon Drive in a peaceful and willing manner, I find that I have no choice but to issue an ultimatum. Tonight, I will be arriving at your place of residence with a few of my close acquaintances and if, at that time, you still refuse to transfer ownership of Darkmoon Drive over to me, we will have no other option but to take it by force.

I do hope you can find it in yourself to see reason before things become unnecessarily violent. 

Yours Most Truly,

Walter Kemp

Charlie looked up at Daiyu. “He’s gonna come here and kill us over this place?”

“To be fair, he already tried to kill us over this place,” said Milo, motioning towards Daiyu. 

“But you can convince him to stop this madness, right?” asked Charlie. 

Daiyu shook her head. “He’s done with me. Told me not to come back.”

“What?” Charlie was baffled. “Then stay with us. Help us fight him.” 

“I can’t,” she sighed. “Even if I wanted to, I’m powerless now.” She held up the broken bracelet which still hung from her wrist. “And besides, no matter how awful he might seem, I…I just couldn’t fight him. I’m sorry.” 

She turned to leave.

“Where will you go?” asked Juno. 

“Anywhere that isn’t this dumpster fire of a city,” she said, turning back. “Maybe I’ll head up North. Get some fresh air. Might be nice to walk outside without smelling piss and garbage all the time.” She turned to Charlie. “Look, you want my advice? Give him what he wants. Because if you don’t, he will kill you.” She turned and put a hand on the door.

“Daiyu,” Charlie called out.

She stopped but didn’t turn around.

“Thank you,” he said. She sighed and headed out into the world, the door swinging closed behind her. 

“Shit,” said Milo. “What do we do now?”

“Could we call the police?” Asked Charlie. 

“And say what?” asked Juno. “You wanna explain relics and magical backpacks and the catacombs to them? Face it, none of this is really in their jurisdiction.” She shook her head. “We’re on our own here.”

“I say if he wants a fight, we give him one,” said Milo, punching a fist into his other hand. “We can even get the other residents to join in.” 

“Some of them, maybe,” said Juno. “But most of these people aren’t fighters. They’re builders and crafters and cooks and artists, but they aren’t fighters. The best thing we can do now is to tell them to all be on alert and be ready to evacuate if things go south.” 

“Anyone who can’t fight should lock their doors and be prepared to hole up for the night,” said Charlie. “And if they don’t feel safe here, they can always evacuate before tonight.”

“I doubt any of them will do that,” said Juno. “This is all our homes. We’re all here because we don’t have anywhere else to go.”

“The only person who would run is you,” said Milo, then proceeded to stare at him as if waiting for an answer to some unasked question.

“Well obviously I’m not leaving so you can stop scowling,” said Charlie. 

“Great,” said Juno. “I’ll take the lower three floors. Charlie you take the upper three and Milo you can hit the fourth floor.”

“Why do I only get one floor?” asked Milo.

“Because you take forever to do anything, and you’re not exactly personable,” said Juno.

“I am the most personable you jerk!” hissed Milo. 

“Point made,” said Juno. “Everyone meet up on the roof, and we’ll work on a plan for tonight.”

“We have no idea what kind of acquaintances this guy is bringing,” Charlie reminded them. 

Bear barked in confirmation.

“Then we plan for everything,” said Juno. “Let’s go. We’ve only got so much time.” They all nodded and boarded the elevator, ready to tell the residents of Darkmoon Drive that today might be their last day in their homes, but that the four of them wouldn’t let it go without a fight. One way or another, it was going to be a long night.




Oh boy, things are really starting to look dicey for our heroes! I just wanted to quickly mention that due to some traveling I’ll be doing over the next week for work, Chapter Thirty-Three will be up on Monday 9/26! Thank you for understanding!!

Relics – Chapter Thirty-One

Daiyu had considered not going back to the loft apartment where she lived as a ward of Walter Kemp. After she snuck out the window of Darkmoon Drive, she made her way back to Manhattan on foot, as opposed to flying which she’d become accustomed to with the power of her bracelet and demon. She walked the streets, pacing up and down the streets and avenues. Normally, she would have consulted her demon, but he was gone now, possibly for good by the looks of her bracelet. Was there a way to repair a relic? She had no idea. And now that the man who had given it to her was dead, she assumed she would never find out. Then again, dead or not, he would have shunned her for using his gift against those who lived in the home he’d built them, the home he’d offered her once upon a time. So maybe it was best that the bracelet was broken, and there was no hope of repair. Maybe she deserved this. 

Eventually she came to the conclusion that whether she returned to the loft or not, Walter Kemp would find her sooner or later. Given the choice of running forever and facing the man who’d taken her in, and could just as easily throw her out or worse, she decided to face him. Daiyu was used to staring demon’s in the face. 

The earlier party had ended. A few people still lay lazily across couches and chairs drinking or smoking. A couple here and there continued cuddling and kissing, lost in their own world. Empty dishes lay on every surface from plates with meager crumbs to wine glasses with one final simp of dark red liquid in them. She stepped cautiously through the room, taking her to the long hallway that lead to both her room and Kemp’s study. At a thick black door, she used a single knuckle to knock. 

“Enter,” came Kemp’s husky voice from the other side. 

She moved into the room, realizing for the first time just how ragged she must look. Her clothes were ripped in several places and while her wounds had been closed by Juno’s magic, dried blood caked in patches on her skin where the cuts had been. 

Kemp stood across the room next to a cluttered wooden desk, looking out a large window over the city of New York. In the distance, the sky was shifting to a dark purple hue, indicating that the morning was fast approaching. “That took longer than expected,” he said in a low rumble. “It seems our little rascals proved more challenging than you thought.” He turned and smiled at her, but the smile dropped when he saw her appearance. “You look a wreck.” He took a short sip of wine. “I expect they look much worse.” 

Daiyu cleared her throat. “Unfortunately no … sir.” 

“No?” asked Kemp, raising an eyebrow.

“They are still alive and quite well. At least they were the last time I saw them.” She gulped down the fear that was rising in her stomach.

Any trace of a smile had disappeared from Kemp’s face. “And why, might I ask, is that?”

“Because they beat me,” she said in the slightest whisper.

“So why aren’t you dead then?” he growled, his grip on the wine glass becoming tighter. 

“They … spared my life.”

“I see.” Kemp turned and hurled the wine glass at the wall. It crashed into the deep blue wallpaper and shattered. Daiyu flinched. “You had one job to do, Daiyu. One job!” He rounded on her, moving in close so that she could feel his hot breath on her face. 

“I am sorry, sir,” she said, working to maintain her composure. 

“You are useless to me if you can’t handle even the most simple of tasks,” he growled. “Now, I am going to give you one more chance to take care of this situation. Fly back there right this moment and—”

“I … can’t …” she bit out. She held up her arm to reveal the cracked jade bracelet. He grabbed her arm roughly and turned it this way and that, inspecting the damage. He dropped her arm, like trash being discarded.  

“Useless!” he shouted. “You are now useless to me!” He stormed around the room, angrily grumbling to himself. “I should kill you, and be done with it.” 

She sucked in a breath and held it. 

He took a long breath in and then out, extending the exhale while pressing his hands down the front of his suit jacket. “But then again, perhaps you can be of some use still.” He moved to his desk and picked up a piece of paper with scrawled handwriting across its surface. He quickly folded it into thirds and stuffed it into an envelope before sealing it with a wax seal. He came back around the desk and thrust the letter at Daiyu. 

“Take this to the Darkmoon Drive, and see that Charlie Cole receives it. Can you manage that?”

“Yes sir,” she said, taking the letter carefully from him. She turned and headed for the door.

“Oh, and Daiyu,” he said, speaking calmly as if he hadn’t just threatened to end her life. She looked back to acknowledge him.

“Once the letter is delivered, I’d prefer it if I never saw your disappointing face ever again,” he said.

Without another word, she left the room, closing the door softy behind herself. 




Ughh, I feel so bad for Daiyu. But don’t worry. She’s got quite the story ahead of her!

Relics – Chapter Thirty

Charlie was not surprised that Daiyu had left in the middle of the night, but that did not change the fact that he was utterly disappointed. He thought that perhaps he and Juno might have made a difference in her life. Turned her away from a life of working as a hench-person for an evil overlord. But then, he supposed, that was all very fantastical of him. Perhaps that was what became of a life spent watching fairy tales and dreaming of a world better than this one ever was. With a heavy amount of resignation, he headed up to the roof with Bear to start on his chores for the day. 

A week ago, you couldn’t have paid Charlie enough to work a farm every single day. Yet now he found it brought him a great amount of comfort. He enjoyed doing something with his hands that didn’t involve scrolling social media posts. He was surprised to find that the work in and on top of the apartment building was a breath of fresh air. Of course, it would have been nice to check in with his mother, but then again, she knew where he was, and if she really cared, which she most likely didn’t given her track record, she could always come find him. 

He reached the roof and stepped off to find that his lettuce and tomatoes were fully grown. As someone new to farming, this might have been a matter of uncertainty, but in typical fashion of these strange fast-growing vegetables planted in the soil of this strange magical roof-forest, they had a way of letting him know they were ready. Each of the plants sparkled in the morning sun, telling him that they had reached perfection. 

He approached the tomato patch first, opening the little wooden gate on the fence and then reaching down and pulling one of the ripe red tomatoes off its stem. It plucked easily with a little snap and glistened in his hand like it was touched by magic. He smiled at the tomato marveling at the fact that he, someone who had almost given up on life, had somehow managed to create it. Or, at the very least, help it along. He brought the tomato to his mouth and took a small bite of it. Charlie had never been a huge fan of plain tomatoes, often requiring them to be buried deep in a salad, covered in dressing or piled atop a burger, but this tomato exploded with sweet, juicy flavor across his tongue. His eyes were wet by the remembrance of pure delight, and a tear rolled down his cheek.

“Must be a good tomato,” came a voice behind him. He quickly wiped the tear from his face and turned to see Milo approaching him. He was wearing a short-sleeve salmon color crop top under a black cardigan with beige slacks that ended at a pair of high-top sneakers. His ears were perked, uncovered atop his head, and his tail flicked proudly behind him. Usually Milo covered these parts of himself up, but now they were on full display. Charlie couldn’t help but feel as though this meant that Milo was finally starting to adjust to him living in the building and being more than a stranger in passing. 

“It is,” replied Charlie proudly. “Wanna try one?”

Milo glared down at the tomatoes. “I’m not really a plant food person,” he said. 

Charlie rolled his eyes. “Just try one.” He reached down and plucked off another plant, taking care to pick what he felt to be the best one. He wiped it off with his sweater sleeve and placed it in Milo’s hand. Their eyes met and stayed on each other. There were no fireworks or stars dancing around them this time, only their breath fogging the air between them. 

Milo broke away first, pulling back and looking away as he brought the tomato to his lips. He took a small bite and chewed it in a way that made it clear he was tasting every bit of it before passing judgment. Finally, he swallowed and looked back at Charlie. The sarcastic glint was back, replacing any twinkle of care that had been there a moment before. 

“It’s alright,” he said nonchalantly. 

“Bull shit,” said Charlie. “It’s delicious and you know it.” 

Milo let out a small laugh and conceded. “Fine, it’s delicious. You grew a plant that doesn’t taste like moldy grass. You want a medal?” But even with the snide remarks, he took another, much larger bite. The juice ran down his cheek. 

Without thinking, Charlie stepped forward and wiped away the juice with his thumb. Milo’s eyes went wide, but he didn’t back away. 

“Sorry,” said Charlie. “You had a—”

“It’s fine,” said Milo, using his cardigan sleeve to wipe his own chin. He cleared his throat. “So you grew a plant.” He eyed the tomato and lettuce plots and corrected himself. “A few plants. You made some friends in the building. You stopped the place from being bought out, and you adopted a mangy animal.” Bear barked at that last comment as if to say that he was not, in fact, mangy. “I suppose your little adventure is coming to an end soon.”

Charlie stepped back as if struck. “What do you mean?”

“I mean you swooped in here, saved the day and grew emotionally…or whatever.” He waved his hand in the air as if ‘whatever’ was a big enough word to sum everything up. “It’s the point of the story where you go back to your privileged little life ready to seize the day, and be a better person. And you’ll promise to come see us again, but you won’t, because ultimately we’ve served our purpose in your little story. We played our part and now you get to ride off into the sunset. I mean you’ll probably grab the same croissant as some well-to-do brown-haired, blue-eyed hunk before the credits roll, but your story is basically done.” 

They stared at each other for a long time, Charlie feeling as though his stomach had just fallen out from under him. 

“And we’ll just be here,” added Milo. He bit his bottom lip, stopping himself from saying more.

Charlie shook his head, his sadness quickly turning to ange. “You know what, Milo? Fuck you.” 

“Fuck me?” bit back Milo. 

“Yeah, fuck you!” Charlie pointed a finger at Milo angrily. “A week ago I was ready to kill myself. And then all of this happened. And you know what, I happen to like it here. I don’t want to leave. Because leaving means going back to the shittiness that sent me to that bridge in the middle of the night. I want to be here. But you are so determined to make me into this person that just walks away after taking one step in the right direction. This place is the only reason I’m still standing. It gave me a reason to keep going!” 

“But that’s the problem, Charlie,” growled Milo. “We aren’t your purpose. We aren’t here to give you a cause worth fighting for. We are people with our own lives and our own problems. We aren’t just side characters in your quest of betterment. Despite what you and everyone else seems to think!”

“Seriously?” Charlie snapped.

“Admit it, you walked up to this apartment and saw how it looked and who was living here and some part of you said, I can make a difference here. And if I can do that, maybe my life is worth something!” 

“Actually I didn’t!” snapped Charlie.  “When I walked up to this place, the first thought I had was ‘Well worst case scenario I can always go back to that bridge tomorrow night.’ But I’m still here!” 

“Because you haven’t ‘fixed’ us enough.” hissed Milo. “You’re only still here because you haven’t decided that we’re saved, and you can go home the hero!” 

“I’m only still here because I like you, you asshole!” 

Silence erupted between them. The words seemed to echo amongst the trees. 

“What did you just say?” Milo asked in a whisper.

“I said you’re an asshole,” grumbled Charlie.

“Before that,” said Milo. 

Charlie wiped the tears away that had been sliding down his face during the fight, before finally turning to face Milo. “I said…”

“Boys?” They looked up to see Juno running up to them from the open elevator. Worry played across her face. “We have a problem.” 




Ohhh, the drama! I really like this moment between the two of them and what it means going forward. I love that they have so many emotions between them and when it all comes to a head, it really just means that they care for each other.

Relics – Chapter Twenty-Nine

Daiyu awoke in a dark room with no furniture besides the chair she was currently sitting on. The chair, she now realized, was tied to by several long coils of rope. She gave the ropes a few hard tugs. Her arms were tied behind her back and her legs were held in place by ropes around her ankles. No matter how she contorted her body, nothing seemed to do much good. 

The door in front of her opened and light poured into the room from the hallway. Charlie stood in the doorway with a tray. Atop it sat a couple of small plates filled with food of different kinds. There was also a tall glass of water.

“Release me,” she snarled.

“I plan to,” said Charlie. “But first I need to know that you aren’t going to try and kill us all.” 

“Oh, sure, I won’t kill you. Do you believe me?” She was not in the business of trusting people, and she didn’t imagine anyone else should be either. 

“I guess that’s a good point,” said Charlie. He reached into his backpack and pulled out a small table, a new recipe he’d gained after leveling up following the fight in the subway. He only noticed upon returning to his room to change out of his wet clothes. He’d gained several recipes but was too caught up in the fight to notice any of them. 

Level 4 Unlocked!

New Creations Unlocked
Basic Wooden Table – Four legs, very sturdy.
Large Wooden Table – Six legs, ideal for larger groups and holidays.

Small Animal Housing – A modest home for chickens, rabbits or similarly sized critters.

Small throwing knives (Crafts 3 at a time) – Light and throwable. Good for stealth.

Brick – Can be combined to make walls and fences.

Brick Fence – (Aimed Creation) Good for keeping things in or out.

New Ability Unlocked: Pathways
Use Aimed Recipes to create pathways on the ground or other surfaces.
Note: Ground pathways are much easier to walk on than roof or wall pathways. 

New Pathways Unlocked
Short Grass Pathway – The most basic of pathways. 

Wooden Pathway – Modest planks good for garden paths.

Brick Pathway – Sturdier pathway for frequently traveled routes.

Charlie realized that he would have to investigate this new ability the following day when it was bright out and they weren’t trying to figure out what to do with the woman who had just attempted to murder them on a moving subway train.  He couldn’t help but think that pathways were going to make getting around the garden much easier.

He placed the food tray on the wooden table and circled around behind Daiyu. “I’m going to free one of your hands so you can at least eat,” he said. He realized this might also give her the chance to use some sort of Matrix-level technique to get herself free and kill him, but he wasn’t about to let her starve to death. He reached down and pulled one of the ropes loose in the way that Milo had shown him. Her right hand came free and she immediately grabbed for him, but he had anticipated this and backed up too quickly for her to reach him.

“You’re quick,” she said with what sounded like a bit of humor in her voice. 

“I’m really not,” he said. “But I’m also not really in the mood to get choked tonight.” He came around to face her and pulled a second chair from the backpack, which he placed on the floor and then sat down on. For a long moment, they sat in the empty apartment, staring at each other in silence. 

“It’s not poisoned,” he said, motioning towards the food. 

“That’s what people usually say right before they poison you,” she said. 

“You’ve been out cold for hours,” said Charlie. “If we wanted to kill you, we wouldn’t have gone to all the trouble of waiting until you woke up to feed you homemade tamales.” 

Daiyu looked down to find that one of the plates was indeed covered in unwrapped tamales. She reached out and picked one up, bringing it cautiously to her mouth. She took a small bite, chewed slowly and then swallowed. The gulping sound seemed to echo off the walls. She waited for several minutes, staring daggers into Charlie. 

“See?” he said after a while. “Not poison.” With this declaration, she proceeded to scarf down the rest of the tamale. She then picked up another and ate it as well.” 

“Seems you’re pretty hungry, even though you didn’t eat much at dinner,” said Charlie. 

“I knew he was going to send me after you if you didn’t agree to his terms,” said Daiyu. “And I don’t like to fight on a full stomach.” 

“So he did send you?” Charlie asked, as though she had revealed some big secret.

She scoffed. “Of course he sent me, you fool.”

Charlie sat back in the chair. “Why?”

“Why do you think?” she asked, picking up a slice of warm bread from one of the other plates on the tray. “Because you didn’t sell.” 

“No, I mean why this building? Why go to all this trouble for it?” 

“This building is more valuable than any of you know,” she said. 

“Because of the relics?” asked Charlie. “The relics belong to the people who live here. And they would leave with them if we all moved away.”

“The relics are nothing compared to what’s underneath…” she stopped, her expression becoming skeptical as though she had finally said too much.

“The catacombs?” asked Charlie. “This is all about the catacombs? What do you know about it? Is there something down there?”

Daiyu stared into his eyes, as if searching for something. “You tell me,” she said. 

The door behind them cracked open again and Juno stepped in, her ukeytar strapped to her back. “Hey,” she said almost in a whisper. “How are you feeling?” To Daiyu was taken aback by Juno’s concern.

“Who wants to know?” asked Daiyu. 

Juno smiled like a mother smiling at their child who has just tried to show more attitude then they quite know how to handle. “The person who can heal any wounds or discomforts you might have wants to know,” she said. “Or would you rather just stay in pain so you can keep up this whole brooding in the dark vibe you’ve got going on?” 

Daiyu let out a short gasp and swiftly turned her head away. “I’m fine,” she snapped.

“Uh huh,” said Juno walking to the other side of the Daiyu. “From over here you look like a hot mess.”

“How dare you!” snapped Daiyu, turning to face Juno quickly. She winced. Pain shot up her body from the sudden movement. 

Juno pulled her ukeytar from her back and fixed it in her hands, prepared to play. “Just sit still for a couple minutes, and I’ll make it so you can snarl in any direction you want, pain-free.”

Daiyu huffed, but didn’t complain as Juno played a soft song like a lullaby. Butterflies emanated from the instrument and flew to lay on various areas of Daiyu’s abdomen, arms, legs and neck. They began to glow, and as they did, Daiyu’s composure noticeably softened as the pain eased from her bruises. 

“That’s better,” said Juno as the song ended. She placed a hand on Daiyu’s shoulder. “Right?”

Daiyu waited a long moment before she rolled her eyes. “Yes. It’s better.” 

Juno stood and walked over to stand behind Charlie. 

“What’s the plan here?” asked Daiyu. “You’re just going to keep me tied up here like a prisoner? Are you going to torture me for information?” 

Charlie and Juno stared at her. “No,” said Charlie. “We’re going to let you go. And you can stay here, or you can leave and run back to that monster you’re working for.” 

“Why would you do that?” asked Daiyu, who was completely taken aback by this proposal. 

Juno placed a hand on Charlie’s shoulder and gave it a squeeze. 

“A week ago—” started Charlie before taking a long breath. “A week ago I was ready to jump off the Brooklyn Bridge. But something stopped me. Or, I guess you could say my Grandfather stopped me, in his own way.” Charlie took a few long breaths, as if trying to sort out his thoughts before going on. “Since then, I’ve learned that he was someone who tried to help people, someone who tried to make the world a better place.” He clasped his hands together and then unclasped them. “I didn’t survive that night just to wind up keeping someone prisoner against their will.” He shook his head. “I didn’t survive the worst night of my life just to ruin someone else’s life.” He stood up and moved towards her. “So we’re going to let you go.” 

Juno cleared her throat.

I’m going to let you go,” corrected Charlie. “Despite what everyone else has told me I should do. I’m going to let you go, and you are free to use this room as long as you’d like. Or you can leave. But I would ask that in exchange, you seriously consider breaking things off with your…employer or dad or boyfriend or whatever the hell he is to you.” 

Daiyu looked disgusted. “Dad or boyfriend?” The idea made her sick.

“Well I don’t know what you’re relationship is,” said Charlie.

“He saved me,” she said. “That’s all you need to know.” 

“Whatever the case,” Charlie continued. “Consider walking away. That man only wants to hurt the people who live here. And these people are good people. They don’t deserve that.” 

“You’ve been here a week,” said Daiyu. “You said so yourself. You have no idea what these people deserve.”

“I know they don’t deserve you trying to kill them to get to the catacombs,” he snapped back.

Daiyu started to say something but then closed her mouth. 

Charlie nodded, then went behind her and fully untied the rope. After a few short tugs, it fell in a heap to the ground at her feet. She didn’t move. She simply continued to sit there, watching them skeptically. 

Charlie and Juno moved towards the door. “I left some blankets in the other room, if you want to try to get some sleep,” said Juno. “And if you’re still here in the morning, there’s more where that came from.” She nodded towards the nearly empty tray of food. 

With one last look, Charlie and Juno left the room and closed the door behind them. 

“This is so stupid,” growled Milo, who waited for them in the hallway, leaning against the wall with his arms folded. 

“I agree,” said Juno. “But I also think it’s our only option.  If we let her go, the worst thing she can do is run back to Kemp. If we keep her here, he’s just going to come looking for her eventually anyway. And it’s not like he doesn’t know where we are.” 

“It’s out of our hands,” said Charlie. “She’s a person. She gets the choice. We did what we could. We did what my grandfather would have done. Or at least I like to think we did.”

“You did,” said Juno, placing a hand on his shoulder.

“Yeah,” said Milo begrudgingly. “As much as I hate to admit it, this is exactly what Arthur would have done.” 

“Let’s all get some rest,” said Charlie. They started down the hall. “But just for good measure, maybe everyone should lock their doors?”

“The building won’t let anyone enter an apartment that’s not their own with bad intentions,” said Juno. 

“It’s almost like this place is alive,” said Charlie. 

“Almost,” said Juno with a wink. 

* * *

The next morning. Charlie went to the empty apartment to check on Daiyu only to find the room cold and the window left open.  The blankets were untouched and Daiyu was gone. 




Apologies for posting so late in the day! This week has been absolutely insane! I always try to write Charlie with the idea that kindness is the most important quality. He is someone who is so down on himself and life, yet he always tries to lead with kindness. This, of course, sometimes leads to him getting hurt because the world is simply not as kind as he wants it to be or treats it. Hopefully his decision to let Daiyu go doesn’t come back to haunt him!