Author's Note: This is my first attempt to work in the Campione-verse, so go ahead and smash it apart. Just be sure to offer some constructive criticism along the way.

Read and Review!

"James" – Regular Speech

'This sucks…!' – Thoughts

"God Slayer" – Heretic God

"Lightning!" – Magic Spell/Authority


Campione. Also known as the Rakshasa Raja, Devil Kings, Supreme Rulers and Bastard Children of Epimetheus, they are mortals who, through various and often suicidal means, have slain a Heretic God or Goddess and stolen their Authority for themselves.

No simple mage can ever attempt to weather the might of a Campione, for the power of the Gods that dwells within a Devil King nullifies all mortal magic unless it is directly injected into the body of the Rakshasa Raja in question.

Currently, there are seven Campione, each ruling different territories all around the world, in Asia and Europe and America. They are, in order of ascension: Marquis Sasha Voban, King of the Balkans; Luo Cuilian, The Ruler of the Martial Realms, Ruler of China; Madame Aisha, The Queen of Caves; Alexander Gascoigne, The Black Prince, Campione of England; John Pluto Smith, The Masked Campione, Hero of America; Lord Salvatore Doni, The King of Swords, King of Italy; and Kusanagi Godou, Campione of Japan.

Whilst all of these peoples are unique and powerful, a unique event is happening. At this moment, three of the current Campione, Kusanagi Godou, Luo Cuilian, and John Pluto Smith, battle together in the territory of Kusanagi Godou; in Japan. Their foe: the Heretic God known as The Great Sage Equaling Heaven, Sun Wukong, and his sworn brothers, Zhu Ganglie and Vaisravana.

And yet, while this occurs, trouble brews in the land of America, the territory of John Pluto Smith himself. Events begin to move that will herald more problems for not only the Masked Campione, but the rest of the world.

Chapter 1: An Unusual Phenomenon

James Morris sighed as he looked out over the calm waters of Clayton Lake from his fishing boat. It had been over fifteen years since he'd been in this part of Maine, and while he could happily claim that he missed it… He didn't, not really. It was cold here, there weren't any stores nearby and he was miles away from civilization. His last batch of memory's of this place were from when he was a child, and the perspective between then and now was insurmountably different.

He missed his house in the suburbs of Richmond, mourned for his old life and cursed his rash decisions. Regardless, he was here and he was here to stay, at least until he got his head on straight.

James was a grown man of 23, with cropped brown hair and stormy green eyes. Tall and broad, he stood at just over six feet with a relatively average build, if on the huskier side of the spectrum. Dressed in a simple pair of tan slacks and a thick grey hoodie, the only thing that really stood out about his attire was the necklace wrapped around his neck, a silver chain with a ring of dangling keys as its focus. Well, that and his beard, a full and groomed beast that James had painstakingly managed for nearly two years now.

He was also recently divorced.

'Which was exactly why I came back here in the first place.' he thought morosely, idly adjusting one of his lines. Fish weren't necessarily scarce over here, but they weren't plentiful either. He needed to be smart if he was to catch anything else, though the ten bass in his cooler would settle him for the next few days, maybe even a whole week if he was smart about it. Regardless, his moving to the wilderness was, while annoying, the best thing he could think of. 'If I had to see that bitch again, I don't know what would happen. Nothing good, that's for sure.'

That day had started out like any other, he awoke to go on a quick jog and then left for work, chopping trees for a group of nameless paper companies. At the time, with new clients lining up his schedule, there wasn't as much time for his wife. Guilt had begun to creep up on him, so he decided to take a half day from work at random to spend some quality time with her. She had been hinting rather heavily about having a kid at the time, and while he wasn't fully on board just yet due to his heavy itinerary, the process of creating one was always fun and worth the worry.

And of course, he came home to see her fucking the neighbors eighteen-year-old brat, home from college for the week.

'I should have beaten that piece of shit black and blue.' James wanted to slaughter the kid when he'd caught sight of it all, but in the end, through the panicked cajoling of his ex-wife and the payout the little shit's father coughed up, he stayed his hand. The money wasn't anything substantial, but it was enough to pay for the divorce while ensuring that the bitch didn't get a dime, leaving just enough cash left over to buy a one-way ticket back to Maine, his old stomping grounds; the land of his birth.

Looking up, he saw that the sun was beginning to darken; rain clouds were in the process of covering the great ball of fire, and that more than anything let James know it was time to pack it in. With a lethargic shrug and a scratch of his beard he reeled in his lines, put the poles on the boat deck and puttered back to his mother's old cabin. Idly, he noticed a curiosity as he made his way back. He wasn't the only one out on the water today; a white cruiser was coasting the edges of the lake just about two miles out.

Odd, seeing as how in the ten days James had been out here he hadn't seen another person anywhere near this part of the lake. The only people he'd seen were the occasional campers and the nearby farmers who sold vegetables for ridiculously cheap prices. But even then, they were more than thirty miles away, in opposite directions from each other.

He looked at the cruiser for a few more minutes, debating on whether he should help or not, before shrugging and deciding that, no, he wasn't needed. Whoever was on the boat was probably one of the rare locals that also had property around here, and they would know when to leave. If not, well... they would be in for a surprise. He could see that the boat didn't have a cover, so it would be a sad day for the driver of the cruiser when the rain hit.


In the cruiser itself, a woman looked at the lakefront with a strained visage, pointedly not knowing when to leave or that it was going to rain anytime soon, lost in thought as she was. She had a riotous mane of dirty blonde hair that was half-heartedly shunted into a bun, light brown eyes and freckled skin that was one step short of being pale.

Her name was Heather Duffy. She was a mistress of the unseen, a practitioner of magic in the school of Illusion, and she was a proud member of the Sorcerous Sacrilege Investigation.

Furthermore, she was not happy.

To say she was unhappy was quite the understatement in actuality. She was furious, and more than that she was just plain confused.

'Of course, it's hard not to be.' she thought bitterly, idly looking at the only other boat on the water in sheer boredom.

Just before His Majesty John Pluto Smith left for Japan, he battled with and conquered a rogue group of mages that called themselves the Staff of Ending, a newly formed magic association that contested the Sorcerous Sacrilege Investigation and its Campione. Heather could even understand their original reasonings to a degree, though that was mitigated by their extremist actions.

The moment her master ascended to the rank of Campione after slaying the Heretic God Tezcatlipca, he made the declaration that the whole of America was his and that their mages were welcome to join his newly established order. Like most, Heather was more than happy to do so. The magic associations of the America's were quite splintered and disregarded when compared to their European counterparts, but for them to serve directly under a Campione? There was great honor in doing so, and more than that John Pluto Smith was the first to ever be born in America. The American mages would gain the status they had toiled after for centuries to obtain in a mere instant.

Like a great migration they flocked towards his banner and bowed at his feet, and the Investigation was formed amidst the echoes of glory and hope.

However, those that did not wish to follow His Majesty were many. They were an overly prideful lot, and while His Majesty did not mind most of them, there were quite a few that were so prideful and vain that they became a problem. In truth, they were more prideful than they were reasonable, which led to their vilification and eventual downfall.

A group of them ended up forming the magic association who's entire goal was to slay His Majesty, summarily naming themselves the Staff of Ending. The mages of the Staff of Ending were almost successful in their most recent attempt to kill John Pluto Smith, nearly setting off a bomb that would have wiped out half of California in the process. Were it not for his swift actions and cunning visage, North America would have lost millions in a ritual sacrifice that would surely have brought about the descent of multiple Heretic Gods, leaving the country to be a veritable warzone of the supernatural.

In response to this, the bulk of the Staff of Ending was summarily executed and imprisoned. However, there were still many mages that were not a part of the Sorcerous Sacrilege Investigation that called America home, and many were concerned that the Staff of Ending was only the beginning.

Which was why Heather was now here, in the middle of nowhere. His Majesty's personal assistant, Annie Charlton, ordered the lower and inexperienced members of the Investigation to, well... investigate the country for rogue magic users in order determine their loyalties and ensure they were not leftover members of the Staff of Ending. It was one thing for there to be independent mages, it was entirely something else when those independent mages nearly caused a genocide.

In most cases, Heather would have been glad to do this. Indeed, she was quite excited when this was first anounced; she would finally have the chance to showcase her hard-wrought magical skills. It was difficult to gain prestige among an organization as large as hers was, which meant assignments like this were what she craved. Furthermore, all of her close friends and even her younger brother had been sent to wondrous places such as New York City and the beaches of Florida and the Grand Canyon, and if the trend followed she would be allowed to go somewhere similarly interesting. As a relatively sheltered native from a small town in rural Georgia, the thought of travelling always appealed to her.

Heather soon found out that not all assignments were equal, and this was not the traveling she had in mind. This became far more apparent, seeing as she was sent to the ass end of Maine.

And of course, it started to rain. 'Just my luck!' Heather groaned, having forgotten to grab an umbrella or rent a boat with a tarp. It was only a light drizzle at the moment, but she could tell from the clouds overhead that it was going to pour soon. 'Why didn't I check the weather this morning? I could have just had a day for myself in the hotel!'

Panic soon overtook her. She didn't know where anything was, nor did she know about a hotel nearby that would let her wait out the storm. Hells, the only reason she came out to this portion of Maine was because she'd heard that there used to be a family of hermit-like mages that lived around here a century or so ago, and she figured there might still be a few of them around.

'Well, I guess there's nothing else to do.' she thought, staring rather blatantly at the now retreating fishing boat. She had been ignoring the boat for the most part, seeing as how it was just anchored in the middle of the lake. Now though…

'Let's see if northern hospitality is a thing.'

Twenty minutes later

James' Cabin, Stapeln Villa

'The fish are looking pretty good.' James thought as he cleaned his catches in his kitchen sink, swaying to and fro as his iPod blared some Sinatra. The lights were on, and while the place was still a tad dusty, it seemed to be just the same as it'd always been.

Honestly, when James first returned to the cabin he could scarcely remember this place, seeing as how the last time he'd been here proper was when he was eight years old. But the moment he'd stepped through those doors for the first time in fifteen years all those fond memories came back to the front of his mind. It took time for him to get adjusted to living out here, without access to the internet nor any form of media, but adjust he did. It was just lucky that he'd always been an outdoors-man at heart, loving the fresh air that nature brought and the countless stars in the night sky. Now, whenever he stepped into the cabin be it from going fishing or logging or even just taking a piss, it felt like he was returning home. He felt invigorated just from entering its abode.

Stapeln Villa was a cozy little thing, nestled under a deep expanse of trees. Its property line segwayed into a small little creak with an even tinier boating dock, barely large enough to host his fishing dingy. Sitting at just over 1,000 square feet on a few acres of land and made entirely out of polished logs and stacked stones, the cabin was a place that had been in his mother's family for over 300 years. It was a boasting claim, he fondly remembered. She loved to mention it and would regale him of stories of her own childhood in the log cabin, though she never would speak of why it was so important to her family. He had thought tradition was tradition, and that it just made sense to use a good house. He was hopeful that, when he had a family of his own, they would be able to spend summers here with their grandparents, away from the ever-growing necessity of technology modern world.

Sadly, that chance was never to come. A few months after his eighth birthday, his mother passed away from a harsh winter flu. It had been passed to her in a fish market, and had quickened due to the strain of being unknowingly pregnant with a second child. Her funeral was a quiet affair, and James was moved to New Orleans with his father immediately after, where he remained until he graduated high school and found a job cutting trees in Virginia. When his father died in a car accident just a year after his move to Virginia, James found himself the sole inheritor of the property.

Idly, he looked out the window. The storm was in full effect, darkening the skies overhead as expected.

What was not expected was the boat docked next to his dingy, tied to a tree instead of on the dock itself. It was that white cruiser from earlier, though it wasn't as white as it had been previously; such was the penalty of docking in the mud.

Frowning, he turned his iPod off. Apparently, the music was quite loud, for he could now hear the telltale sound of somebody banging on his door. It was a small property, so he reached the front door in just under five seconds.

Looking through the peephole, he caught sight of his intruder. She was a pretty woman that appeared to be his age, though she was drench from head to toe. Tall and freckled, with long blonde hair, teary brown eyes and pink cheeks. Her damp sweater and muddied pants gave him a clear view of the shape of her body, which was quite the nice bonus.

"Yes? Can I help you?" James asked as he opened the door just enough for his head to pop through.

Her cheeks went from pink to red and her neck followed suit, but after taking a steady breath she was able to compose herself, returning her cheeks to that pink color. "Can I come in? Just until the storm settles?" she asked, her voice echoing a slightly southern accent.

James sighed and looked to the top of his doorway, counting from five to one in his head, thinking. It felt strange to let this, well, stranger in his house, but he supposed there was no reason not to. She didn't look dangerous and was probably just freaked out by the rain.

Plus, even though he wanted to get away from people to reorient his mind, he still missed conversation. And there was one skill he'd never really been good at that she might be able to help with.

"Can you cook?"

Blatantly confused, she nodded.

Without another word he opened the door fully, allowing her entry. She did so quickly, then froze the moment the door closed behind her, looking around warily.

He grunted and returned to the kitchen, where she followed slowly. He could understand her wariness, figuring that it was more than a little difficult to have to ask a stranger for help in the middle of nowhere. There were plenty of horror stories based around that very plot.

But that didn't matter to him. It wasn't like he was going to do anything of that nature to her. He just wanted somebody to help him cook, and maybe a bit of conversation to go along with that.

"Bathrooms just down that hall," he pointed lazily. "I'm cleaning up the fish right now. Once you get done in there, you can help me out in here. I can do some basic dishes, but I'd like to eat something different today. Here's to hoping that's where you come in. I'm James, by the way."

Robotically, she made her way inside the bathroom, the reply of "Heather" barely reaching his ears due to how quiet it was. What was not quiet was the loud sound of his bathroom door locking.

Shrugging, James did the most logical thing he could do by turning on the ear orgasm that was Frank Sinatra once again.


Heather was in a very strange position. Namely, she was having a hell of a time not freaking out.

'There's something wrong with this place!' she thought furiously, absently grabbing a fluffy blue towel to dry her hair.

The original plan had gone just about as well as she could have expected, in the sense that she didn't really have a plan and it was quite obvious that she wasn't doing well.

The little stream that that fishing dingy went through was very small, so much so that she quickly found herself having to retract her motor and use one of the oars hidden in a compartment to row her boat after the dingy. Then, after she made it to the dock, she realized it was designed for one boat in mind, so she had to tie her boat to a tree instead, muddying one of her nicer pairs of boots in the process. That was when the rain fell in full effect, leaving her soaked to the core.

Then, of course, it took the guy that lived here about ten minutes to open his damn door. She could hear from outside the overly loud music that he was inside and guessed that he just didn't hear her. Which, in truth, just made her progressively madder.

She was just about ready to go bang on his window when the music stopped, and the door opened just moments after. He was a fairly normal looking guy, with a simple cropped patch of hair and, though she was annoyed to have to admit it due to her angered state, quite pretty green eyes. He was taller than her by just a few inches and sported a bulkier build, though not particularly defined in musculature. However, the combination of his larger build and that stupidly full beard threw any thought that he was pretty right out the window.

While subtle about it, Heather found little attraction in the masculine form. She wasn't a full throttle lesbian, having had dalliances with a few boys in the past, but those boys were slim and tiny and Heather preferred women most of the time. She definitely had no attraction to this lumberjack-esque type of man.

'Really, I think the only reason he let me in was because I said I could cook' Heather huffed, removing her sweater so she could towel off her body next.

It was very strange and even more confusing, but Heather didn't really care at that point. She just wanted to get inside and away from the downpour.

But when she entered… Heather couldn't really describe it. One moment, she stood outside of a quaint little log cabin, and the next she was stood inside the fortress of an enemy, one that could decimate her. She had been assaulted by the most potent magic she'd ever felt, bar the one time she'd seen His Majesty use an Authority.

The magic in this house was so rich. The man that owned the place, James… he had to be a mage of some kind. Though unusual and especially rare, he could be a Caretaker, a magic user whose magic was bound to their property; binding theirs spells to the bricks and stone and wood used in the creation of their home, adding even more power when people lived inside the home. The magic that a Caretaker used was not one of defense, but instead was meant to attack invaders. The subtle difference was, to put it lightly, dangerous. Caretakers were notoriously hermit-like, preferring not to bother with other magic users and organizations. They were the type to tuck their heads in the sand, only emerging when somebody got to close to their homes.

That, that was a bad thing. It also a good thing. Heather had come all this way out here to find a mage, and she did. The problem was, if her hunch was correct and he was a Caretaker, then she was in a less than ideal position. This cabin was not a place she called home and she hadn't been keyed in to the ward stones. The only forms of protection she had in here was status as a guest and her own magic, which wasn't offensive in nature; she could distort his senses and mask the existence of certain objects and areas, but that meant little when a Caretaker knew their home like the back of a hand. She would never be able to trick such a person in their property. And, if the interrogation went poorly, her guest right would be revoked and she would be considered an invader.

Invading the home of a Caretaker, with magic like this? That was of the same level of stupid as challenging a Great Knight to a fight.

'Right, just be calm. Just make sure he's nobody dangerous and get out of here once the storm settles.' Plan in mind, Heather put her still damp-but-not-soaked-anymore clothes on.

To be on the extra safe side, she dropped to her knees, hands clasped together in reverence and began her chant.

"I call upon thee, Prince Loki! God of Trickery and Lies! Lend thy might to this one! Grant mineself the sight that thou hast gained from the realm between realms! Allow this one to see treachery! To view that which is wrong! To hide from all save your radiance!"

Heather winced as her magic focused into her left eye, turning the brown iris gold. This spell, while not particularly powerful and easily breakable, was beyond useful. It did exactly as she asked, allowing her to peer into that which should be discernible while under the guise of an illusion herself. Hidden magics and the intent to harm were made manifest before her, and while Heather didn't want to use the spell, it was better safe than sorry.

Exiting the bathroom, she found herself quite glad she'd performed the spell. The quaint little sitting room that was in front of the washroom was now host to a cellar door, previously hidden from sight. It was massive, taking up half the room in itself, made of a black stone with carvings that glowed a soft purple hue. She know those carvings well, those were Nordic runes inscribed on the door, focusing primarily Nauthiz, Isa and Eihwaz.

As a witch that focused on the Nordic powers, it was necessary for Heather to at least know the basics of these runes. As a woman that wanted to be a master in her chosen field of magic, she knew far more than just the basics. And looking at them… Heather found herself rubbing her hands together, quite happy with her find.

Nauthiz: Delaying and restricting. A rune that resists all things, overcoming conflict in the end

Isa: Challenge and frustration. Blocking thought and activity, a standstill.

Eihwaz: Strength and reliability. The driving forward to gain, a protection with a purpose.

These were runes of prevention and protection. They must have been used to make the mind believe there was nothing there. The runes were what formed the illusion, and it was pure chance that she could break it due to her use of the Lokin magic system in this particular case.

There was only one thing Heather could only think of that the man, James, meant to guard.

His ward stones.

If she held his ward stones, there would be no chance he would be able to not answer her questions! Those were what powered the magic of his home, what allowed him to be a Caretaker. If she had those then he would be at her mercy, not the other way around. The interrogation could go on without worry. She would finally be able to show her worth to His Majesty, maybe even being allowed to serve by his side like Lady Annie!

With newfound purpose, she walked to the hatch and made to open the door. It was, of course, quite jammed, having been dustier than her grandmothers snatch. Luckily it wasn't locked. She floundered to lift the thing, heaving and huffing and hoping that her struggle didn't break her fragile illusion.

Finally, with a great heave, the hatch opened with a great bit BANG! Her illusion shattered right then and there, just as her hope did, as the door slammed against the cabin wall, and fear welled in her as a great beam of azure light shot forth, crashing through the ceiling like a boot to an ant, blowing the rain clouds away and brightening sky like a supernova, only to disappear in a singular instant. James burst into the room just after, the knife for the fish in hand, dripping blood and scales onto the wooden floors.

"What the hell?!" he thundered, glaring a green venom at her. With his larger build and his horribly angered state, Heather was already in a state of panic, but she was far more intimidated by the inside of the hatch.

Her initial intimidation was quick to turn into pure, unadulterated fear. A horrified gasp escaped her mouth, her hands snaking to cover the bile that threatened to spill from her core. Her stomach was doing flips, churning around as if it were a raft stuck in the middle of a tsunami. She fell to her knees, scrambling towards the cabin wall, desperately wishing that she had just stayed in the rain and suffered a small cold.

For underneath the hatch lay no ward stones. Beneath the cabin was a basement, deeper than any Heather had ever seen. It was so deep that she could hardly make out the bottom of it, that was until a row of braziers lit up in blast of vermilion flame. Those braziers lit the whole of the basement for her to see, and what lay on the ground was appalling and apparent in all the same.


Corpse after corpse after corpse, there was a near uncountable number of human cadavers lining the bottom of the floors. They were strewn along the walls, out of the way from the writing on the floor. No, that wasn't writing, those- those were the skulls of the corpses, spread out in such a way that spelled something. She breathed out, revulsion and awe seeping out all the same. It was a rune, formed of the dead. A rune of ultimate sacrifice, made from the lives of what seemed to be a thousand people. It was a Y shaped symbol, only with a third prong.

Algiz: Shield and shelter. The warding of evil, a hidden danger.

And she could feel it, the evil that this rune meant to ward. Having been witness to His Majesty use his Formless Spawn Authority, she was familiar with what this evil was. There was a distinct feeling in the air when the power of a God was nearby, and Heather could feel her hackles rise, her adrenaline pumping. There were no words to describe the words of pure, unadulterated fear she felt. It was primordial, a natural reaction to such an unnatural force. Campione were called Devil Kings for a reason, for their power was not right, just as what she unleashed was not.

Within that basement, she could feel the power of an Authority. She did not know who's power it was, nor what type, but that magic- the potency of it... There was no question in her mind, this was the power of a Heretic God.

'What have I done?'

She knew she had opened Pandora's veritable box. This was not the home of a Caretaker, or at least this was not where the ward stones were kept if he truly was one. This was the home of a different kind of creature; a fool. There was never a greater fool than one that thought they could shackle the power of a God.

Feet thudded against the wooden floor. She looked up.

James approached.

She scooted further against the wall, desperately hoping to escape the madman before her.

He continued his approach. He still had the knife in his hand, she noted as her heart drummed.

Heather could no long contain herself. The bile that made to rise did indeed come forth, spilling painfully onto her clothes and the floor and even a little inside the basement.


James was normally a pretty decent guy, he liked to think. He didn't think he was a good person, believing that such a distinction didn't actually exist, but he did what he could for people when the situation presented itself.

While he took this Heather girl in primarily because she could cook, he probably would have let her inside in any case. It wasn't something a good person would do, it was something any person would do. She looked miserable in the rain, and he was well aware how far away the next town was.

He now deeply regretted letting her inside.

She was having a panic attack. Crying big, honking tears and puking her guts out on her clothes and his floor and the basement that he hadn't had before.

'And what the hell happened to me roof?!' Indeed, there was a circular hole in the middle of the roof, just above the basement that should not be. It looked to be just about three feet in diameter, and just above he could see a blinding skyline. The rain was gone, which shouldn't have been possible since he had just seen the clouds less than a minute ago. That storm was going to last the rest of the day, possibly even through tomorrow.

"What the hell was that?!" he yelled at her and found himself uncaring of how loud he was. He was so bloody confused, and more a little afraid all the same.

Basement, basement, basement, BASEMENT.

There was no basement in Stapeln.

"I-I'm sorry!" the girl, Heather, cried out, struggling to stand. She fell further onto herself, putting more of her mess onto her body. "I didn't mean to do it! Please, I didn't mean to!"

"Didn't mean to do what?!" James bellowed, and Heather shrunk back even more. Was it wrong for him to yell? Probably. James knew he handled confusion strangely. When confused, instead of attempting to work out a solution, he got loud and confrontational. It was a matter he struggled with on a regular basis.

She hiccupped, shaking and holding herself in her arms. James had to take a moment to calm himself, what little could be calmed.

He failed, miserably.

'This doesn't make any sense!' There had never been a basement in this cabin, nothing of the sort. James knew this for a fact, he'd searched day in and day out for something interesting and exemplary in this place and all around the land he owned. A basement in the middle of the floor? When there was no carpet or covering?

"Where did the basement come from?" he asked as calmly as he could, staring her down. "What happened to me roof?" His stare could not be called friendly, regardless of how calm his voice was.

"I-I undid the illusion and opened the door. I'm so sorry, but please! I need to contact my organization, we need to let John Pluto Smith know about this! Lives are at stake!"

"Illusion? Spellwork? What are you, some kind of wiccan? John Plu- Isn't that that weirdo that thinks he's some kind of superhero? In Los Angeles, right?"

She stared at him then, her eyes somehow going even wider. Strangely, while one eye was the brown he remembered seeing at the door, the other was now a golden color. It looked… unnatural.

"…You don't know?" she asked, looking even more confused, though she seemed to be monumentally relieved.

"Know what?" James asked, impatiently.

"About-" she took a breath. "Do you know anything about it? About us?"

"About what? Who?"

"About magic?"

Bewildered, James stared at her. Then he started laughing, loud and boisterous.

"What- magic? What about it? Are you gonna tell me I'm a wizard or something, Hagrid? Hate to break it to you, but I'm James, not Harry. I might name my son that, though."

Shaking his head, James looked away from the apparently mental girl and down towards the basement. Eyes wide, he was suddenly glad for the desensitization that modern day video games offered the brain.

You don't know?

Bodies upon bodies, forming a strange, trident-like symbol. More bodies. It smelled horrible too, rotten and festered and just… dead. Bodies upon bodies upon bodies. It was unnatural, it was unthinkable. It-

Do you know anything about it?

'Was this why Stapeln was so important to mom? To her family? Were they a bunch of murdering crazies?'

No… No, that couldn't be it. Maybe his ancestors, but his mom was as normal as could be. She went to school in New York and lived in the city for a few years before meeting his dad.

'They only came back to Stapeln because she'd inherited it and was expecting me' he thought, staring at the bottom. In his peripherals, he caught sight of movement in his newly found basement. Block after block, brick after brick, a stairwell took shape, spiraling from the bottom of the newly discovered room to the hatch door. Nobody down there made those stairs, and neither had anybody up here. They began to emit a similar green glow as the braziers did, adding to the dread of the room.

About magic?

Mechanically, he turned back towards Heather. Somehow, in that short span of time, she'd re-righted herself. She still looked a mess, with her own puke seeming to decorate her more than her clothes, but she was no longer in a panic. Her face was set, mismatched eyes serious, and her mouth was pinched in a grim line.

If he had a mirror on hand, James was sure he'd be sporting a similar look. He plopped down right in front of her, uncaring for the mess on the floor.

"Tell me about magic," he said- no, demanded. "Tell me about my family."

Her shoulders set and her eyes changed; from frightened to relieved to more serious than he'd ever seen a person. Her mouth opened, and the words that followed shattered his reality.

So, this is a very different style of story for me, if you couldn't tell. Highly plot driven, with deeper character traits and a strong case of intrigue.

The reason I decided to write this? I happen to be a huge fan of the author SeerKing, and absolutely love that authors story "Campione of the Raging Tides". It's masterful, it's wonderful, and I highly recommend you give it a looksie if you're one of my readers. If you just read Campione stories then you probably already know about that one and can understand my enjoyment.

This is going to be a struggle to write, but hopefully I'll be able to do it well. I haven't updated any of my stories in a while, both because I don't have as much time as I used to and because none of my stories currently up are mature enough to hold my attention. The hope is that this will get me reinvigorated in the FF community, though if not… meh. I honestly don't mind. It's a hobby and there isn't anybody in this world that can make me do what I don't want to do if I'm not getting paid for it.

Thanks again for reading. Let me know what you all think.