I felt a knot in my stomach when Ash told me we were going to go on a more involved investigation and this was shortly after we met so at this point we had not been on many investigations together and I already knew Ash was capable of handling just about anything whereas I was just starting to acclamate myself to some of the things he could handle.

At nightfall we pulled in a curved driveway lined with Weeping Willows and Okame Cherrys. It was a strange but delightful mix of intrigue and old-fashioned beauty. The drive led to a house of red brick with white shutters. It was a manor of stately grace with an odd air of deception. As the we parked and walked towards the front door I was struck by the sight of dead plants and decayed foliage lingering around the premises. It was an unwelcome discovery and heightened my nerves. Undeterred Ash jumped three of the five concrete steps to the porch and rapped on the front door.

A man in a well-worn suit greeted us and curtly asked us what we wanted. Ash said we were there to see Lologne and the man looked once to me and back to Ash and shut the door. I tried to muster enthusiasm and as I turned away my eyes fixated on what looked to be a decrepitly old dog of some sort sleeping under a weathered porch swing. I watched in near repulsion as the foam collected around the dog’s mouth heaved with its heavy breaths. A few jagged teeth protruded past its spotted, pink lips and an army of flies had made camp on its hindquarters. The more I watched the more I felt sorry for the poor beast. I was about to nudge Ash and show him the defiled creature when the front door opened. The woman on the other side was decked in faded mid-nineteenth century garb that was every bit authentic. The red plume in her hat drooped and was lackluster compared to its original intention.

Ash introduced Lologne as the resident of this "unnatural home" and we followed her into the house as she made small talk and guessed that we were there to see the basement. "I don’t go to the basement anymore." Lologne swept her skirt to take a seat and invited us to take the red velvet armchairs across from her. "Sadie can take you down, they don’t provoke her." Immediately my mind stuck on the word "they". "They" meant more than one and in a home with an energy vibe such as that one it couldn't have meant anything less than something terrifying, at least to me.

Lologne commented I looked nervous and cocked her chin towards Ash as if to ask if this was such a good idea. I was nervous and when I went to respond to her I knew my voice was going to crack so I cleared my throat and instead turned the topic of conversation to the poor, dying beast on her front porch. She said the dog was older than her, in her opinion, and brushed the topic away with her remark. So I turned the conversation back to the reason we were there and asked what was in the basement.

Lologne made herself comfortable and said that during the late 1700s and 1800s the basement housed slaves, around 10-15 at any given time. They would work the land for the family who owned the house and would return after a day's work to the cool basement where they were given food, water and meager shelter. She said there were usually a few females and after the lady of the house died from illness the man who owned the house would abuse the women and would beat anyone who tried to stop him. She said there were many people who owned the home over the years and there were numerous spirits on this property, both malevolent and benevolent; although very few of the latter.

As the night was wearing deeper into its cycle Ash asked where Sadie was and Lologne called for her. She was a woman no more than 80 pounds if she held a 70 pound weight. She was tiny, no more than five feet tall and her cheek bones protruded through her ashen face flesh. She shuffled rather than walked and her dress was so stiff it seemed to walk alongside her rather than on her. Lologne told her she wanted Sadie to take us into the basement and all the way back. I could feel my nerves started to short circuit and the pressure around my eyes seemed to push them into my skull as we rose to follow Sadie.

As we walked to the back of the large foyer and passed the looming front staircase I was taken by the oddities that hung from Lologne’s walls. The family portraits didn’t match, hundreds of tin types and faded photographs of many people from the same era. Strange instruments and utilitarian tools peppered across the walls between the photographs. I realized I could have spent all day in just the foyer when we reached a locked and chained door at the back of the staircase.

"Keep your hands to yourself." Sadie said to both of us with one eye as she faced the door. "Don’t scream and don’t run." She struck a match and lit a lantern as old as the house. Sadie’s warnings made me realize I didn’t care if Ash thought I was a weenie or not, that kind of disclaimer before one entered a door deserved a second thought. I stopped her politely and said, "You mean there is no electricity in the basement?" Sadie looked at me like I was crazy and shook her head as though that was a fact I should have already been aware of.

The air didn’t waft up the staircase it trudged slowly and by the time my foot hit the first stair I grasped I was in unchartered territory. The air reeked of offenses that caused the back of my nose to burn. It wasn’t just mold and dirt, it was more than that. It was decayed mold, festered dirt and something so unclean it repelled every good sense I had.

Sadie led the way and the staircase to the basement held twenty rickety stairs. Ash followed Sadie and left his hand behind for me to hold. When we reached the bottom of the stairs Ash held me loosely around the waist. He knew immediately I wasn’t ready for this and he worried as easily frightened as I was, at that time, that he had made a gross error in judgment. It had been awhile since he was in Lologne’s basement and over that time the shock of what it held had worn into a faint memory.

The basement was sparse of any holdings; no boxes or clutter just a dirt floor and copper piping above our heads. When Sadie raised the lantern I had a momentary glimpse of how large the basement was. Sadie turned back to us and pushed her long, bony finger to her lips and we nodded in acknowledgment. As soon as Sadie took the first step she broke into song, "Sing Hallelujah to the Lord" - I looked to Ash who shook his head for me to say nothing.

With every step Sadie continued to sing while softly & firmly she walked without hesitation. I found it difficult to breathe in the basement. The air was thick for abnormal reasons and for some reason I was compelled to hold the pendant Ash had given me as a gift with a Harpy, it gave me reassurance as I gripped the silver.

Ash ran his tongue over the bottom of his top teeth, his mouth slightly agape and my lips were pressed so tightly together it was uncomfortable. The only light was cast by the lantern Sadie swung gently as she walked in front of her. The light rocked back and forth across the basement and with every step on the dirt floor I was sure the floor moved. I was sure a few times I caught something in the shadows but the light moved too quickly to tell for sure.

We were no more than 20 steps from the staircase we’d descended when Sadie stopped. Her break in a deserted room immediately caused me to worry. She snapped her head to Ash who exhaled and looked to the floor. Sadie made a tighter grip around the lantern handle and began to walk away in full song. As I passed the place where Sadie had made her stop I looked briefly to my left and as my eyes came to meet the parting of the light in the shadows a gruesomely decayed grey face bobbed towards me its mouth wide open and I smelled something like toxically old breath. I drew air in to scream and Ash slapped his hand over my mouth. He held me tight against his body until he was sure I wasn’t going to disturb the still air.

My chest heaved and my wide eyes didn’t settle for a good minute. Ash continued to walk with me pressed against him until I nodded my head to assure him he could release me. The further into the basement we wandered I felt as though the room we’d passed behind them was closing into an abyss. I felt things play with the back of my neck and the crook of my knees. I didn’t dare turn around for I was certain beyond reasonable doubt that the grey faces followed close behind.

My walk was no longer uncertain it was wobbled by terror. The room began to close in around in me with putrid disgust, anger, hate, and fear. The emotions and energy was palpable and they weighed heavily on my chest. I felt stifled and light headed. The further we walked we no longer walked in the air around us we were part of the air we inhaled. The remnants of the tortured ghosts violated my lungs and seeped into my oxygen. I felt desolate, discouraged, hopeless, terrified and enormously sad. The pain started in my gut and rose quickly through my sternum, I started to shake my head uncontrollably and lifted the top of my feet to stop on my heels.

Ash tugged at my arm but I couldn't move. I was taken over by the energy in the room and knew if I spent another moment its suspended time I would succumb to its treachery of the soul. I yanked and twisted my hand from Ash and began to run, at full speed, back to the staircase. I ran in the pitch black with my hands over my ears. I felt jolts and scrapes of electric energy intersperse above, on and around me. They pawed at my hair, tugged at my clothes and swirled around my feet. I stumbled and nearly screamed in sheer mortification as my feet prayed to meet the dirt floor and not a gaping hole of hell’s entrance.

I thanked God I couldn’t see what they were; who clawed at my legs and arms. With each of their contact on my body I felt a little of my spirit stolen away. I nearly sobbed in joy when my left foot extended to hit the bottom stair of the staircase. I heard what I imagined was Ash’s footsteps behind me and I did not wait for confirmation. I ran on all fours up the staircase and to the door. My hands so wet with sweat the old doorknob jiggled in my hand rather than turn. I wiped anxiously at my clothes and turned the knob again to be let into the godsend of daylight.

I crawled not able to stand through the foyer and to the front door. I pulled on the giant knob to lift my weight and when I stood I saw Lologne in the parlor, perfectly still. She watched me open the front door and stumble onto the porch. I felt haggard, worn and exhausted. I staggered to a nearby tree and leaned; all the emotion left my stomach through my mouth in a gasping attempt to rid me of the stains left by the basement.

When I finished I rested my head against the tree and slumped onto my knees. I hardly swallowed and the fresh air did little to calm my frazzled nerves. My eyes floated through my skull and it made it impossible to focus. I saw the outline of Ash on the front porch and Lologne in the doorway. It was the last thing I saw before collapsed, resting my head on the cool grass.

Of course now I realize if I had just kept my energy as stable as possible and not psyched my energy before we even went into the basement things would have went far better. If I had just let my Harpy do its job I would not have been overrun with the enegy of the basement. Even now anyone, new or well-seasoned, would be affected but certainly not to the degree I was. One of the most important things when you go on an investigation is keep yourself even in terms of energy and try to be objective and not become part of the energy around you, just observe it. Of course these are lessons learned when you're new to things as intense as this house or homes like it.

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