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Word Count: 1,897
The Kiss of Death Short syncopated clopping echoed throughout the desolate ally ways that wound through the dark outer limits of Bordeaux France An eerie stillness hung in the air and at the same time an unsettling anticipation The lanky coachman lashed out at his team of horses who already pushed on in an uneasy canter Rain drizzled lazily from a dreary sky a grave contrast to the surreal restlessness that consumed the inhabitants of the city Signs of the great black plague had been sighted in a small village along the Garonne River So close to Bordeaux Flat brick walls and dank ally ways flashed by swirling together into a cold gray nothingness as glimpsed from inside the jerking stagecoach Pulling her satin wrap closer about her shoulders the Duchess of Bordeaux shivered trying to rid herself of the ominous awareness that had settled thickly around her as a dense fog that enmeshes itself upon a boggy landscape The coach came to an abrupt halt shattering the portentous mindset the duchess had lapsed into The rain had begun to pound mercilessly upon the marble pavement that led to a vast castle In moments the rain condensed into tiny shinning globes cracking like a thousand claps of thunder as each hit the stone pathway The Duchess winced as the hailstones lashed at her exposed flesh hastening to fasten her cloak upon her chin Her arm raised to protect her eyes from the treacherous frozen rain she began the trek up the tedious marble stair case to her grand chteau as she climbed the marble became encased in a thick layer of frost Breathless and her cheeks colored crimson as a blazing flame the Duchess entered through the heavy oak doors leading into the large vestibule that served as an entrance room into the richly furnished palace of the French royal family Edgily she allowed the servants to remove her soaked garments and at
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