Grubitsch "Grubbs" Grady, the younger child of chess-obsessed parents, grows increasingly uneasy with the recent strange, nervous behavior of his parents and sister. One night, he finds the mutilated bodies of his family and encounters Lord Loss, a gruesome human-like demon who sets his two familiars, Vein and Artery, on Grubbs.
Although Grubbs manages to escape, he is deeply traumatized and is placed in a mental institute. He refuses to respond to treatment until he is visited by his father's younger brother, Dervish Grady, who tells Grubbs that he knows demons exist and convinces Grubbs to finally accept help.
After Grubbs recovers, he lives with the rather eccentric Dervish in his mansion near the village of Carcery Vale. Dervish
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Dervish finally uses magic to save Grubbs, but Lord Loss sees this as breaking the rules of the game and is about to let his familiars kill Dervish, Grubbs, and Bill-E. However, Dervish is able to convince Lord Loss to let Grubbs finish the chess game, while he battles the familiars. A terrified Grubbs then makes a bad game worse. Then Grubbs realizes that Lord Loss is feeding on his despair and then decides to play with an aloof attitude. This throws Lord Loss' concentration, allowing Grubbs to win the game. Lord Loss then cures Bill-E, but someone must battle him in his realm. Grubbs offers to go, but Dervish refuses to let Grubbs fight and goes instead. Dervish leaves to the Demonata universe, leaving Grubbs behind with Bill-E. Grubbs lies to Bill-E, telling him that Dervish used a calming spell to try to cure his lycanthropy. Grubbs figures that it's better for Bill-E to believe that Dervish is his father, since his real father is dead. Fourteen months later Grubbs has been caring for Dervish in his zombie-like state, also dealing with the fear that he'll turn into a werewolf. One morning, Grubbs wakes up to find blood under his nails and hair in his teeth. Thinking that he has turned, he prepares to call the mysterious Lambs Dervish told him about, to kill him before he does any harm. As Grubbs reaches for the phone he hears someone call his name. Turning to look