"Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to the circus of the strange, the sideshow of the sinister, and the theater of the bizarre. Enter a realm of dark wonders to indulge in your wickedest dreams... Or, if you dare, explore the shadows of your most diabolical nightmares. Cast your eyes upon the cruel oddities of nature, and behold monstrous creatures from the depths of the abyss. Marvel with awe and dismay at unbelievable death-defying acts that teeter on the very brink of doom. Leave the mundane world behind, for those who visit this festival of phantasm are never the same again.

Step this way: there's no turning back..."

A carousel spins on a deserted lot. There is no wind, and no living being in the vicinity. The entire place, it seems, is abandoned, looking eerie, otherworldly, even, in its apparent desolation. The calliope music plays off key, and, though it may well be a mere trick of the imagination, the other tents begin to appear. A full circus now, indeed, but no one is around to observe the out of place spectacle. It is a deserted and strange land now, where there once was nothing, and anguished wails and frightened screams permeate the air from unseen sources. This area is known as the Borderland, a gateway between this world and the world of the strange, where one's imagination can turn deadly in the blink of an eye. It is a melting pot of paranormal activity, and once every so often, the floodgates burst, giving way to unexplainable occourances best left forgotten. This strange setting that has materialized out of nothing more than a thick, strange mist, is known locally as The Carnival of Lost Souls. Legend depicts it as being a ghastly stage show of pain and torment, as the Ringmaster scoops up the depraved souls of the living and enslaves them to become part of his unending circus. Those who enter while still mortal are said to go mad, either from physical torture, or from the mental and emotional stresses caused by trying to solve the riddles and mazes woven and set out by demons. The few who do manage to escape the Carnival usually last a few years in silence before landing themselves in an institution. The majority, however, are toyed with, captured, and then killed in one way or another. Their anguished souls are not permitted transendence, and instead are ensnared to become an eternal part of some goulish side-show.

As with most circuses and carnivals, the Big Tent is at the center of the grounds, and is the hub of entertainment. It is no different here, in fact, the parallels between this derranged midway and the popular child's attraction are quite numerous. The biggest difference here is the lack of gaudy, eye catching stripes and colors. Most of the tents have only one, solid color, and all of them have a distinctly dark, gothic feel. The Big Tent is, naturally, the prime example, decked out in black and blood red. A cracked stone archway serves as the entrance, and the stage lights flicker in an array of blues and purples. On the center stage, a figure stands alone. Top hat, tailcoat, and showy cane in tow, this creature- for he is no man- is none other than the Ringmaster. The overseer of the Carnival. He has taken the form of a slender man, though an unearthly grace hovers around him, appearing to be only in his mid twenties. His eyes are an unusually bright green, set like jewels into a stark white face. Red and black stage makeup form artistic diamonds around his eyes, highlighting them further, and trail like mocking tears down his high, bony cheeks. He bares his sharp fangs in a maniacle grin, his pallid lips curving unpleasantly into a cruel smile. He lopes off, out of the light of the stage, and sinks into shadow.

He reappears in another tent, beside a woman apparently much older than he. She wears a long green dress, and a great assortment of gold chains and bangles. Her whispy grey hair is pulled away from her thin, bony face. Her claw like hands are poised over a crystal ball, and her dark saffron eyes peer into it with sharpness akin to a hawk. Tarot cards are set out on the small table at which she sits, and incense sticks lay pale trails of smoke in the darkness of the tent. The pair of ancient demons- mother and son- gaze expectantly at the crystal ball. Slowly, the shape of a human girl takes form within the swirling mist.

"The time has come," The woman states, her voice cold and rasping. The girl in the ball stares innocently back, long, coffee colored hair fraiming her high, strong boned face. The Ringmaster taps the bottom of his chin, where a thin, pale scar can be seen. He seems far away, deep in thought, "Carmine."