A/N: Hey everyone, hope you like the story. Yes, I finally got around to writing a story... amazing... about flames, you know the spiel. If you would like to send me constructive critisism, I would greatly appreciate it. If you want to tell me my story sucks, tell me why and I will be immensly thankful. Okay, time for me to stop blabbing and time for you to read:)

Summary: All she intended to do was a bit of exploring, but the unnervingly attractive demon/entity/thing trapped underneath her stairwell had different plans...

Prologue: Stairwell

The crunching sound of tires running over gravel was music to Jamie's ears... the sound of her mother's car finally pulling out of the driveway. It had taken her ten minutes to convince her mother to leave her at home alone while she went to work, and another five to get her out the door. Normally, her mother wouldn't be so concerned, but she seemed to think that since her daughter's leg was broken, she was incapable of navigating around the new house alone.

Now, time to get busy… Jamie got up from the couch awkwardly and reached for her crutches. The old wood floor creaked threateningly under her weight, but thankfully didn't crash under her. The house was positively prehistoric, and she wouldn't have been surprised if the floor had caved in beneath her.

Unfortunately, she overshot the distance between herself and the crutches (leaned on the coffee table in front of her) and ended up in a heap on the floor. She grabbed the table cloth on her way down in a failing attempt to keep herself upright and brought the crutches and a pile of books down on top of her.

Sadly, getting her leg broken had only contributed to the clumsiness she had already possessed since birth.

"Stupid books-ah… ahhh… ahhhchoooo!" A large cloud of dust rose from said books and sent Jamie into a set of particularly violent sneezes. Phlegmy noises filled the otherwise silent house before she managed to quiet herself.

Note to self: burn old books when my leg heals… Jamie shot a glare at the ancient volumes (lying harmlessly on the floor) and reached for her crutches. This time she achieved her goal and somehow managed to heave herself up off of the unmercifully hard floor. Because she had only acquired them a week ago, her crutches were a bit of a challenge, but she was able to gracelessly hobble around the room and towards the stairs.

Lady luck smiled on Jamie for a few precious moments and she was able to waddle down the hallway and reach the top of the stairs without too much difficulty. The upstairs was as old and faded as the downstairs, though in slightly better shape. There was dust everywhere (she noted this as she was seized by another fit of sneezes), but there wasn't any mold in sight.

The floor was beautiful cherry hard wood, and still contained some of its past elegance. A thick, slightly moth eaten rug covered part of the floor, but her mother had beaten it and cut off the fraying edges, so it looked all right. The walls were covered with the same wallpaper that covered the walls in the kitchen and bathrooms; a dull yellow and white checkered pattern, with little blue cherries in the squares.

For all the mold and decay, it was quite easy to see that the home had once been beautiful. It was also easy to see that there were some interesting stories closed up in its walls.

Naturally, Jamie felt that it was her duty to uncover those stories.

The first mystery she wanted to investigate was a small, inconspicuous door tucked in the corner of the room. Well, it would have been inconspicuous, had it not been nailed shut. That in itself was rather interesting, but Jamie was intrigued for another reason.

The door had been nailed shut from the other side.

When Jamie and her mother had first toured the house with Ms. Wenderson, a sharp eyed real estate agent, the door had called to Jamie, pleading to be opened. When asked what the door's purpose was, Ms. Wenderson was quite for a few moments before replying enigmatically, "The door is something that is not supposed to exist. A technical error by the architects, there is nothing behind it."

Her mother had solidly forbidden her from the entire area when she had asked if she could explore. Her exact words had been:

"—and if you even think about thinking about going up there, I will make your life a living hell, Jamie. I will unmatch all of your socks, I will burn all of your toast, I will put saran wrap over the toilet seat—"

Jamie had interrupted her with a snort and a laugh. God, her mom was weird.

She knew she would be in an incredible amount of trouble if she proceeded past the door and up the flight of stairs that it hid. So naturally, this was all the more reason to go and try to not get caught.

Waddling determinedly towards the door, Jamie pulled a hammer out of her sweatshirt pocket, which she had gotten earlier just for this purpose. This would be the hard part: getting the nails out of the wood. They had been nailed in from the other side, and the nails, which were long enough to stick through the wood, would need to be forced back through.

Hopefully whatever had been nailed to the door on the other side would fall off once she pushed the nails through. After gingerly setting her crutches down on the floor, Jamie set to work.

There were about fifty nails in all, and once she got the hang of it Jamie managed to make pretty fast work of them. The wood of the door was relatively soft and the nails moved from the wood with more ease than she had expected. Every five nails or so, the sound of splintering wood would echo erily from the other side of the door, and she assumed it was the sound of partially decomposed boards dropping.

After all of the nails had been removed, Jamie stood back and surveyed her work. The door stood forlornly, riddled with punctures and cracks that looked like bullet holes and stab wounds. Luckily she always had been a bit on the morbid side, so this only urged her on.

"Now, for the door itself…" She murmured to herself between breaths.

A sharp twist on the doorknob and a forceful pull was all that was needed to open the door. The rusty hinges squealed painfully in protest as the door swung open. Beyond, Jamie could faintly make out a small landing at the foot of the stairs before darkness swallowed the room.

She pulled and kicked the boards and nails out of the landing. The last thing I need is to step on a rusty nail and get hepatitus or something... she thought grimly to herself.

Having anticipated the darkness (she sure didn't expect to find a fully lighted room), she pulled out her mother's powerful flashlight and flicked it on. Shadows danced tribal dances across the walls as she tried to adjust her crutches so she could carry the flashlight and walk with the crutches at the same time. However, one look at the staircase told her that this was a lost cause.

Decomposing and ancient, the staircase was no friendly place for crutches. Out of the maybe thirteen total steeps, half were cracked and a third had broken completely through. The passageway was narrow and treacherous, the light was poor, and the stench was horrible. It smelled as if something had crawled underneath the stairs and died. Jamie pondered this for a moment. What if there actually was a dead body, or maybe TONS of dead bodies...

"Stop," Jamie firmly told herself. "Before you let your imagination run wild you need to make it up those stairs! Architectural mistake, my ass. There is something up there..."

The wide beam of the flashlight didn't do much to banish the darkness and Jamie got the distinct feeling that she really shouldn't be doing what she was doing. She had a broken leg, she had been strictly forbidden, the stairs looked as if they were about to collapse and quite frankly, the whole thing was a bit creepy.

However, she had come too far to be intimidated now. She was going to that attic even if it was the last thing she did. Which, considering the state of the staircase, didn't seem too far off… she winced. REALLY not a good thing to be thinking about!

Taking a deep breath, Jamie placed her crutches down gently behind her and held the flashlight in her mouth. Looking at the stairrails on either side of her, she grimaced. They looked like a bone that a dog had been gnawing on for some time; hollow, full of holes, and gross.

With a wrinkled upper lip she grabbed the handrails none the less and gingerly eased her weight down onto the first step. This one, luckily, was wole, and it creaked and groaned in complaint but held her weight. The next one had almost fallen completely through, so she skipped over it and stepped on the one above it, her foot barely touching the board before she stepped up to the next.

This method worked for several steps, but just as Jamie was beginning to relax, she got a bit cocky and…


Alas, the step in which she had so willingly placed her foot had an extreme case of dry rot and fell through just as she eased her weight upon it. Shadows danced across the walls as the flashlight fell from Jamie's mouth as she opened it to scream. Flailing wildly, she grabbed the handrail in a desperate attempt to keep from falling into the darkness below.

Unfortunately, the handrail didn't hold well to the sudden weight and Jamie heard the sickening sound of fracturing wood before she fell down into the inky gloom that had swallowed her flashlight and the rotten stair.

"You're telling me she actually found the staircase?!"

The servant looked down uncomfortably. "Er… well… yes, I suppose you could say that… but not to worry, my lord! According to that world's time, it hasn't been used in sixty years! She won't be able to reach the top… er… surely it will collapse underneath her!"

"You blundering FOOL! That's what I'm afraid of! Do you know what's underneath the stairwell?!"

"O—oh… but— no— she can't possibly—! I mean, surely my lord, with the powerful scroll you placed on him, and with the poor condition of the home… she can't… she couldn't… she probably won't even survive the fall! Perhaps—"

"'Perhaps' nothing! I was just beginning to make progress in squashing those rebel vermin and now you tell me their leader is about to break free?! Do you know how long it took me to imprison him?!"

"But sir, don't you think you're overreacting a bit? It's hardly likely that she could break the seal—" The servant bit her lip and knew that she had stepped over the line. Judging by Mason's narrowed eyes, he had come to the same conclusion.

"Insult me again and you will find yourself in the streets. If you value your life, girl, you will shut the fuck up and get out of my sight."

She nodded nervously and scrambled out of the room.

"He couldn't possibly awake…" Mason assured himself.

The words sounded hollow even to his own ears.

A thin beam of light shone down on the face of an unconscious girl, her limbs twisted at an awkward angle. A shattered flashlight lay several feet away, next to an old, rotting board. Dust swirled about, painting patterns in the air, and a particularly large cloud of the particles hovered over the girl's face…

The peaceful quiet was disrupted by a series of spastic sneezes followed by a string of curses.

Jamie sat up cautiously, checking her limbs to see if anything had broken. Well, her leg was still broken, but there was no surprise there. Otherwise she was basically in tact. A thin trickle of blood flowing from a shallow, two inch long scrape on her shoulder marked the worst harm done by the fall. There were some bruises on her legs and her wrist seemed to be sprained, but the injuries could have been far more severe. Folded sloppily beneath her was a thick piece of cloth, so it had probably saved her from more serious damage.

Her flashlight, however, hadn't had such good luck. It had just missed the cloth she had landed on and was cracked down the middle.

Well, that was great. Just great. There went her main source of light.

Fortunately, the room wasn't completely dark. Since she had left the door to the stairwell open, a slim trickle of light fell through the cracked stairs above her and allowed enough light for her to be able to faintly make out her surroundings.

The first thing she noticed in the room was… dust. And lots of it. It looked as though someone had put a vaccuum on reverse and sprayed the entire room with a good inch thick coating.

Jamie groaned. Ever since she and her mother had moved into the house, she had been sneezing non-stop. An unfortunately acute dust allergy combined with an old, dusty house did not make for a happy person.

Aside from dust, though, the room seemed to be relatively empty. The cloth beneath her and an odd looking chest in the corner were the only signs that it had ever been used. The walls looked to be made of solid concrete, and the ground was hard dirt. No doors, windows, or openings of any sort marked the walls, and there were no trapdoors on the floor, unless they were underneath the chest or Jamie herself.

Jamie couldn't help but feel slightly unsatisfied with the outcome of her search. There was no way she fell through a rotting staircase for nothing. I guess the only reasonable thing I can do right now is open that chest and pray that my mom gets caught in traffic…

Anita looked at the sky outside apprehensively. Rain and slush poured down on the city with violent force. Driving in weather like that was going to be awful. The freeways wouldn't be good to drive on, so she'd have to take the long way home… making her at least two hours late.

I'll have to phone Jamie and tell her I'll be late… poor baby, I hope she'll be alright at home without me… She fretted about her daughter as she reached over for the phone and punched in the number. The phone rang several times before the answering machine kicked in.

She must be asleep, Anita assured herself. Or maybe she just can't hobble fast enough to get to the phone... she chuckled in spite of herself.

"Honey? The weather's awful, I'm gonna take the long way home. There's money for takeout on my desk. I'll see you soon. Love you, bye."

She hung up the phone and stared out her office window again, watching the rain swirl down the glass in abstract patterns. Somehow she got the odd feeling that something was about to happen, something big. Naahh, I worry too much. It's probably just gas.

Since she figured she would be stuck down underneath the stairs for a while, Jamie decided that she had better make good use of the time she had been given. Although the first thing she wanted to do was investigate the strange looking chest that lay hidden in the shadowy corner of the room, she also felt that she should check to see if there were any secret exits from the room.

Limping around the small area, she found her suspicions to be true. There was on way to enter—or exit—the room except for the way she herself had come upon it.

Her initial assessment of the room had been wrong, however. There was a door. Unfortunately, it was sealed with bricks, and even if she hadn't left her hammer outside the stairwell, she doubted that she'd have managed to breatk through them

The only way she'd be able to get out would be to find a way to scale the smooth, concrete wall and somehow swing herself up onto the stairwell. And even if she made it that far, the old wood would probably collapse again, giving her more injuries and making it even more difficult to climb up.

It was a pretty hopeless situation.

But, to look on the bright side, there was a mysterious box sitting in the corner, waiting to be opened.

As she hopped over to the chest, she caught her foot on something. As she fell to the floor and reached to inspect what had tripped her, she found it was the cloth she had landed on. It was surprisingly heavy, and upon closer inspection, Jamie found that it wasn't just a piece of cloth. It was a cloak. A deep blue one with crusted dark brown stains on them… stains that looked suspiciously like blood…

Jamie set the cloak down on the floor softly. If that really was blood, which her more macabre side rather hoped that it was, then she probably shouldn't be touching it. And as intruiging and interesting a development that would be, a dark, creepy hidden passageway with no exits probably wasn't a good place to think about bloody cloaks. Especially when one doesn't know how long they must stay in such a place. She pushed the matter from her mind and moved on to the box.

Elaborate designs spanned across the entire surface, each engraved at least a half-centimeter deep. The etchings didn't seem to have a pattern form, just random swirls and squiggles, spiraling endlessly over the top and sides. It was made of some dark wood she was fairly sure she had never seen before (not that she was much of a wood expert). A large iron lock was attached sturdily to the front.

She placed her hands on the lid and tugged on it lightly, not really expecting it to do anything. To her surprise, it opened smoothly beneath her fingertips. Strange that the lock had been open... she could have sworn she saw a blue light flit across the corner of her eye, but it was probably nothing. Her attention was on the box.

You would think that an old chest like this one would surely have creaky hinges, Jamie mused, like all of the other doors in this house. But the hinges opened compliantly without a sound. And why would there be such a large, intimidating lock if no one bothered to actually lock it? Something wasn't right…

Jamie rolled her eyes. That just meant that whoever had opened the chest last had forgotten to lock it, and that whoever made the hinges had been a good blacksmith. Obviously being stuck beneath your house could make you a bit paranoid.

"Now, to see what's inside…" she said quietly to herself as she peered into the deep chest. All she could see so far was darkness. Did the box have a black velvet lining? No… it was wood… "The dim light makes it dark," she mumbled to herself, reaching into it and feeling around for the bottom of the box. Instead of meeting solid ground, however, her hand met empty air.

Jamie frowned. That wasn't right. The chest was deep, but it wasn't that deep. She pushed her hand down further. Still nothing. Finally, she pushed her whole upper body inside, and to her horror, fell in.

Or rather, she would have fallen in, if a hand hadn't grabbed her foot from behind and stopped her.

Favian tightened his gripped on the girl's leg and managed to tug her out of the accursed chest in a few sharp tugs… inhuman strength did have its uses. The girl lay sprawled out on the floor now, her left leg (which was covered in a bulky cast) twisted at an awkward angle beneath her. She was staring at him unabashedly, obviously in a state of shock. He blew a lock of blue hair off of his face self-consciously, realizing how odd he must look.

"Er… hello," he offered uncomfortably. This seemed to snap her out of her stupor and she opened her mouth and screamed.

He winced and clamped his hands protectively over his ears. "Hey, knock it off!" He yelled in an attempt to stop the shrill scream that was threatening to burst his eardrums. This only made her widen her eyes and scream louder. Belatedly, Favian realized that he probably didn't speak the same language as the strange girl in front of him and groaned. This would be a pain. At least her mouth was open, though.

Before the girl had a chance to react, Favian's hand darted forwards and reached down her throat.

A/N: So, how was it? If you have any questions or comments, I would love a review:)