Hello, Alicia here! Of course you know that. Welcome to my new story! Actually, it's the first in a trilogy! Just thought I'd let you know.

Disclaimer: I don't own Adventure Time. I do own Mike the centaur, though! He's all mine. So are Azalea and John. No stealies.

Chapter 1: Taken

"So what's this, way over here in the west?" Finn asked, pointing to an island in the far left area on the map of Ooo. Marceline smiled.

"I was hoping you'd ask," she said smugly, as though she'd absolutely known he was going to.

They were sprawled out on the floor of the treehouse, lying side by side with a carefully handmade map in front of them (everyone knew that Marceline possessed the most detailed map of Ooo, having travelled it more than anyone else). It was the middle of the night, and Jake was asleep up…ladder, was probably the proper term. Finn himself was getting tired, but was way too intrigued by what Marceline was showing him to care. The vampire herself didn't appear tired at all.

"That, Finn," she turned to him, and he could smell sweet strawberries on her breath; she must have been snacking on the shades of red from them, "is the Ruined Kingdom," her eyes sparkled with knowledge she wanted to share. There was silence for a few moments as the hero waited for her to continue, but she just watched him like a predator waiting for the right moment to pounce.

"Well? What is it?" Finn pressed impatiently. Marceline grinned, as though he had run right into her proverbial (and rather literal) claws.

"It's an old human city, from before the war. Nobody's been there in years; I myself only scoped it out from above...and it was freakin' impossible to get to. It's said to be haunted...and not just by ghosts," she took a deep breath. "Legend has it that if you enter the city, whatever is dearest to you will be stolen away. It's true, I know it is.

"Many years ago, there was a centaur named Mike. Mike wanted to be remembered for something, to do something no centaur had before! So he set off, through the Forest of Helplessness, over the Desert of Lost Souls, into the Caverns of Eternal Darkness, and across the Endless Ocean until he reached the Isle of Ruins. Walking into the Ruined Kingdom was like stepping into the past; rubble of old human buildings was everywhere. Stone and brick, metal and rubber…and fire. Oh there was fire, fire in the sky, Finn. Fire that fell down right in front of the centaur and scarred him terribly. So Mike continued until he reached the heart of the city, where he encountered a figure shrouded in shadows. The figure congratulated him on reaching the heart of the kingdom, and granted him one wish, Mike wished for his scars to be gone. 'Your wish is my command,' said the figure with a terribly grim chuckle. And it waved its hand, sending Mike home in a swirl of black magic. But it wasn't his home, not really; his family and his house were gone. And he never saw them again.

"I didn't want my house to vanish, thanks, so I stayed above. Anyhow, there's really something powerful lurking in there. I could smell it," Marceline finished. Finn sat in silence for a few short moments.

"We should totally go check it out sometime!" he assumed that it was some sort of epic monster she had smelled, and that the centaur had been a made-up story. Really, what centaur would be named Mike? Marceline bit her lip.

"Did you not hear what I just said?" she asked in a sternly disbelieving tone.

"'Course I did! But I think it's a load of supernatural patooie!" Finn exclaimed the first thing that came to mind.

"Patooie?" Marceline raised an eyebrow and he blushed. "In any case, would you want Jake and Bubblegum kidnapped in the dead of night?" there was silence as they both realized that it was the dead of night. "Not this dead of night. Some other dead of night," the vampire clarified. Finn chuckled, and she blushed a bit. "What? It's not funny!" he just chuckled harder...until his stomach embarrassed him by growling loudly. Marceline burst out laughing.

"Guess I should get a snack," Finn muttered, standing and taking a couple steps towards the kitchen

"Aw come on, don't be like that," she floated after him, hovering in front of him and sticking out her tongue.

"It's getting late, Marcie. You should head home," in response, she used her vampire powers to move the sign, revealing an M. "Or you could stay here," she grinned.

"Great!" she exclaimed happily.

"But you're taking the couch," she pouted. "Marcie. You float," he pointed out.

"Oh yeah..." she murmured in realization.

"Night," he headed for the ladder.

"What about your snack?" she called.

"It's almost morning anyhow!" was his reply as he tucked himself into his sleeping bag and closed his eyes.

"Goodnight Finn!" but he was too tired to answer.

"WAAAAAAH!" baby Finn was crying, kicking around in his mother's arms. He didn't understand what was going on! He had just been snug and safe in his bed, and now his mother was running with him through this strange forest. Finn's sky blue baby blanket was still wrapped around him, though, providing some comfort to the child.

"Sh, sh," his very human mother gently bounced him up and down, and he started to giggle. She smiled warmly, gently. He loved her smile; it was like his own personal ray of sunshine. He reached up with his hands, trying to catch the love beaming from his mother's eyes in tiny fists.

"Azalea!" called Finn's father. She turned, and he caught a glimpse of the man; blonde hair, blue eyes. Just like Finn himself. He had a sword in his hands. "It's getting closer!"

"It's not far," Azalea replied tiredly, her blue eyes exhausted and her blonde hair muddy. Her husband nodded.

"You go ahead," he said authoritatively.

"John..." she began

"I'll hold it off for as long as I can. Go!" Azalea hesitated, then started to run, her baby bumping up and down uncomfortably.

Finn started to cry again.

"Sh, sh," she whispered, beginning to sing. "Hush little baby, don't say a word. Momma's gonna buy you a mockingbird...and if that mockingbird don't sing, momma's gonna buy you a diamond ring..." Finn started to giggle, and Azalea set him down inside a small cave. "You'll be safe in here, baby. He won't get to you," she planted a kiss on each cheek and the top of his head. "Oh! Almost forgot," she pulled a hat from her pocket and pulled it over his head. "It's expandable. A little big, but it'll fit for just that much longer. I love you, my baby bear," she gave him one last smile.

Then she was running back towards his father, and he was abandoned.

Tears spilled down his chubby cheeks, and he crawled out of the cave, leaving his blanket behind. The baby human crawled for what seemed like an eternity to him, but he lost track of where he thought Azalea might be. Beginning to wail again, he curled up under a bush, remembering his mother's song. He blubbered something vaguely similar in rhythm to himself, his tears coming faster. Where was his mother? Was she playing with him? She always came back when he cried. Why wasn't she back? Why didn't she love him anymore? Finn squeezed his eyes shut and tried to go to sleep, letting the melody of his mother's song play over in his head. The last thing he heard was a woman's shriek.

And he never saw his parents again.

Finn sat up with a start. The dream had felt so real...

"Yo, Finn, wake up buddy!" Jake pounced on his bed. Finn squinted at the sunlight.

Sunlight. Why does that feel wrong…?

"Marceline!" he gasped, trying to jump out of bed and falling flat on his face—with heroic grace and poise, of course.

"Relax bro, she's fine. Left a while ago, she told me to tell you she said bye. Or maybe it was I told her to tell you to...no no no, she said..." while Jake confused himself, Finn clambered out of his sleeping bag and began making his way to the ladder. "Hey, I made you breakfast!"

"Thanks man," Finn said gratefully as he climbed down. There was a heaping pile of waffles on the couch, so Finn sat down and started eating. Jake joined him a moment later with a stack twice the size of Finn's. The dog dug in with his face. "That's gross."

"Hey, don't knock it 'till you try it!" Jake raised his face from the slop to say, bits of waffle dripping from his jowls. Finn made a disgusted face and resumed his normal eating. The waffles were gone in no time.

"I'm gonna go visit Peebles," he said, getting up.

"Later dude!"

The Candy Kingdom was absolute chaos.

Candy people were running amuck, screaming and crying and exploding and junk.

"Mr. Cupcake!" Finn stopped him. "What's going on?"

"Oh Finn! It was terrible!" that was all he said before he kept running. Finn drew his sword and sprinted to the castle.

"Princess Bubblegum!" he burst into her lab to see a crying Peppermint Butler. "What the math? Why are you so upset?"

"Oh Finn!" Peppermint Butler sobbed. "It was the most horrid thing! A huge dark cloud swooped low over the land, covering the Candy Kingdom in darkness! Then these...these glowing skeletal ghosts appeared and began to walk among us, moaning and groaning. Oh it was terrifying! They had bloody weapons and…and…"

"Peppermint Butler!" Finn shouted, shaking him. "What happened to her?" Peppermint Butler cried harder.

"They carried her away, Finn! They took Princess Bubblegum!"

"Jake! Jake!" Finn shouted, looking around the treehouse. It was abandoned, with no sound of anything stirring. "Come on, man. If this is a prank, it's not funny! JAKE!"

"H-he is n-not here, F-Finn," BMO stammered, crawling out from beneath the couch.

"What do you mean?"

"He means, Jake was taken," Marceline's voice said from behind him. The vampire, Finn saw as he turned around, was leaning against the wall, so high up that her head was almost touching the ceiling. She floated down until her boots made contact with the floor and walked over to Finn. The click click click of her footsteps made her approach that much more ominous. "Taken by the same force that took Bonnibel."

"How do you know?" Finn barked.

"Because I was there. I saw Bubbles get taken and flew back here to warn Jake, but it was too late," Marceline's excuse for knowing seemed genuine.

"What force?" Finn asked angrily. Marceline smirked.

"What force, Finn? Why the very force that haunts the Ruined Kingdom. The very force that wiped out the last shreds of humanity. The very force that failed to kill you when you were just a baby," she smirked, her face too close to his. A blaze of righteous fury ignited in the hero. This…this monster had likely killed his parents! His ancestors! His very foundations! The creature had to be destroyed!

"Who?" he snarled. "Tell me who!" it was a command that couldn't be ignored, a command that bore the threat of mortal injury.

"I thought you might be curious," the vampire gave him an evil smirk that only infuriated the hero and walked away. How could she find anything about this situation amusing? How could she just…just walk away after something like that? Didn't she know the emotional impact her words were having on Finn? She bent over for something hidden in shadow, and Finn was momentarily confused. What was she doing? This was urgent! He needed to pack! He needed to go; now! Then she turned back around and threw a bag at him. "I packed your stuff for you; cram it in your pack" she told him. Finn took off his backpack and shoved the bag into its depths (it was actually empty today). "We're heading for the Ruined Kingdom," the vampire continued. "It's time for someone to face the Prince of Games."