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Dark Souls - 2015

Kinjinsake
Kinjinsake

I once prided myself on being a true skeptic; part of my being a detective meant that I looked for real solutions to real problems. Scientific inquiries and hard evidence once lead my thought processes. After all, once mustn't get entangled in thoughts of the supernatural, the intangible, the emotion filled. I questioned "ghosts" and "strange goings on" and wrestled with them head on, always uncovering a simple, logical, earthly explanation for these occurrences.

However, the last case I took on... it completely shook me to the core. It single-handedly made me question everything I've ever believed in as a rational investigator. And now I'm not even sure I will ever be able to see clearly again.

It all started with a woman... and a strange package...

---

I glanced out the window of my PI's office curtains. My current client, a lovely blonde with a face full of freckles and a southern twang, looked up as she left a sizeable check on the desk. All six feet of her rose in her seat. "Thank ya kindly for all the help. We sure appreciate it. Never would have attributed that strange new garden growing to a broke up water main! Thought it was a ghost my own self."

I chucked. "There is always a rational explanation to these types of events. I assure you. If you ever again need my services, drop me a line."

We walked to the door, which I opened for her. On my doorstep stood a woman. In a moment I was able to take in a number of important details: her head was covered in an embroidered scarf, golden threads. A pair of Foster Grant sunglasses were perched on her nose. Her hands: adorned with lacey opera gloves beneath a charmeuse long-sleeved blouse and tweed overcoat. She was, decidedly, dressed in sumptuous articles of clothing. A wealthy woman who seemed harried.

My former client nodded politely toward the woman as she left. This new woman removed her sunglasses to reveal a set of wide, penetrating hazel eyes, which seemed almost unnaturally open. Dark circles ringed them. A single lock of copper hair fell from her scarf across her youthful fac

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Kinjinsake
Kinjinsake

Dark circles ringed them. A single lock of copper hair fell from her scarf across her youthful face. Her overall visage was one that unsettled me, however pretty.

"Detective-" she uttered in a rich contralto. "I need your help. Your reputation as a skeptic precedes you. My friend... I need your help to find her."

"I usually deal with murders, but of course; I can take on this case as I have just finished one. Might be good to change things a bit Where do you believe she has gone to? What is the nature of this missing persons case?"

"The last place she was seen was our home several days ago... a manor just outside town. There is only a burnt black silhouette of her person left. It is terrifying, and the police are, slowly, investigating."

I raised an eyebrow. "That is strange. It could be intentionally done, or, heaven forbid, she might have been immolated after being murdered."

"The marking was on a wall, detective. And her face shows."

Clairie Song
Clairie Song

"That is quite a puzzle to solve, and an odd one at that" I said as I poured myself a cup of Faust instant coffee. "Tell me more Miss. . ."

"Miss Embry, Esther Embry." She nodded, as to assure herself of her own title. Her demure southern accent along with the richness of her voice screamed 'southern belle'. It was almost as obvious as her eyeing the porcelain cup that I held in my hand.

"Well, Miss Embry would you like some joe while you explain to me the events that lead up to the day that your friend disappeared?" I poured her a sufficient amount of coffee and passed her the small white cup. She wrapper her fingers around the cup in one hand. Her spindly fingers were just long enough to almost encompass the bottom of the mug itself. Pianist. Must be.

"Well, Clotho and I were planning to throw a ball at my Manor to celebrate the September Equinox. We look for any old reason to mingle and entertain with our friends. I do believe that Clotho was even more excited for this ball than I was. . . she was quite the socialite." I watched as Miss Embry trailed off leaving me and the rest of the world light years behind. She took a sip of her coffee and singed her lip a little. That seemed to wake her from her trance.

"When was this Equinox party planned to take place?"

"Well the Equinox can fall on any given day between the 21st and the 24th, but it usually falls on the 23rd. Clotho's plan was to Invite a few folks over on the 22nd at 11 p.m. and have them party all night til the morning. It was fun to think about, but in reality I didn't want people thinkin' they can sleep in my house wherever."

"So it was meant to be an overnight party. . . with no sleeping? Tell me, was anyone helping to plan this party with you?"

Kinjinsake
Kinjinsake

Esther smiled humorlessly. "Well, my friend, Jace, helped plan some. But for the most part, tt was only us two girls planning. My mother did not think it a good idea to throw a soiree at the manor. Said we might "wake the spirits" if we did. I told her she was being superstitious. It's why Clotho and I were planning on moving to our own place in the city soon. My mother is consumed by the ghosts of that old house. I am young and don't want to be bothered. Now I declare it is a fine specimen of architecture, though, with countless rooms."

I couldn't help but notice she pronounced the word like "rums."
"Eh hem-" I cleared my throat. "So this party occurred through midnight. What happened then?"

Esther suddenly became withdrawn, her hands clasped in her lap. I noticed she, too, had a face full of freckles, and a wide-set nose. Creole, perhaps? I couldn't say with certainty.

"We had convened in the long hall around 11pm. It is a rather sizeable area on the second floor, and contains a large stained glass window. At the other end of the hall is where we were, drinks in hand. We fell asleep there as well. At the stroke of midnight we were all sprawled on the floor and chaises in that space. We had perhaps over imbibed. However, what I remember is the blood curdling scream I heard after the chimes of the clock. We all awoke with a start to discover my dear friend, my sister, had vanished along with her flute of champaign. I remember a light of some kind.
Furthermore, that ghastly shadow was on the wall, a burnt-up mess. I screamed, detective. Screamed and screamed. Her face... the impression of her very face was etched into the wall like charcoal. My friend, Eloise, touched the figure, and it was like a spell fell over her. She collapsed on the ground in a fit, convulsing. It was a horrifying sight."

I frowned, taking all this in. Dozens of possibilities ran through my head: false walls, spray paint, sleeping pills, runaways... anything might have happened.

"One more thing. Why do you refer to Clotho as your friend first, and then sister?"

Kinjinsake
Kinjinsake


"She is adopted, and she is my best friend, but make no mistake; I love her with my heart."

"Adopted huh?"

"Yes. Her mother is my mother's sister. And she died in that house."

Clairie Song
Clairie Song

"Is there a long history of death in the house?" I said pouring more coffee into my cup.

"Well. . . for all the reason that you would think. The house has been in our family for centuries. It was a plantation home you see. Slaves have died there. Their. . . masters have died there. Following those events many of my family have taken ill and chose to die in the place."

"So. . . yes then? Do you believe it to be cursed?"

"Heavens no detective. Though some do. My more for instance with her 'wake the souls' and 'voudoun' speak" she said as she flailed her arms around animatedly to illustrate what a witch might do to cast a spell. "My grandmother and her made all of us as young ones carry gris-gris wherever we went. I still have it in my purse for when my grandmother comes to visit. She sure likes to snoop"

"Ah! Gris-Gris", I said rubbing my chin. "The amulet of protection against bad spirits? So your family is quite superstitious?"

"Superstitious and nosy!" She said huffily as she re-positioned herself in the seat to sit up straighter.

"So how exactly did your aunt die in the house? Was she ill like your other family that chose to die there?"

"Not exactly. She had been suffering from a bout of depression. It had taken over her whole life, but that's not even what took her away from us. When Clotho and I were younger, about 10 apiece, there was a fire in the Manor. One of the cooks started a grease fire that got out of hand. My Aunt Alcea was killed while trying to go back and save the cook. Neither of them made it out. She was brave, just like Clotho was. . . is."

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