A Night in the Life of the Comtesse DeSpair

The servant's mad laughter echoed in retreat down the stone hallway. The Comtesse DeSpair breathed a weary sigh and slowly walked to the small window in the turret. Peering out upon the dark, unsettling landscape, she could see a thick mist was beginning to creep up the Valley DeMentia into the Black Mountains. In an hour, even the highest peaks of the Sullen Spires, which stood like loyal sentinels around the Castle DeSpair, would be concealed by the fog... and one could only guess as to how many days or weeks it would be before sunlight would touch these hillsides again. This thought comforted the Comtesse, who was always most at home in the darkness.

As she stood there watching the slow approach of a million icy fingers slithering up the valley, the Comtesse pondered the news that the crazed servant had delivered her. The Viscount DeLirium had sent notice that Queen Audacious had bestowed upon the Comtesse the highly coveted QEOM award - the highest humanitarian award in the nation - due to DeSpair's contribution to the Library Eclectica of a hundred priceless ancient Illuminati manuscripts.

The Comtesse briefly entertained the notion of travelling to Catatonia to attend the banquet to be held in her honor. Catatonia was a fine city, full of fascinating, lovely sites and people. It might be a pleasurable journey at that. However, the dull weight of sorrow held steadfast to her shoulders as the realization of her destiny to never again leave the sullen grounds of her estate hit her hard. With a heavy sigh, she sat at the dark walnut desk and, adjusting her shroud, wet her quill pen and began her reply:

Your Royal Highness,
I wish to thank you for this kind gesture on my behalf. I am immensely honored to be selected for such a highly-esteemed award and the thought of a banquet in my name to be attended by you and the King truly fills my heart with irrepressible joy. However, I must sadly and reluctantly decline said invitation. I fear my health has taken a turn for the worst and the long journey to Catatonia may be too much of a burden for my tired heart to endure. Although the attractions of your lovely city are a great temptation, I feel it is best for me to remain safe within the walls of my estate. With your permission, I will send a servant in my stead to retrieve the award and return it safely to me to be placed in the position of honor on my mantelpiece and cherished forever.
Yours devotedly,
Comtesse DeSpair

The Comtesse placed the pen down on the desk and ripped off the veil to wipe her tear-stained eyes. She gazed in the mirror across the room at her hideous, grossly-disfigured countenance and, all at once, flew in a rage and began smashing the mirror with her bare fists. When all that remained were broken bits of glass, she fell in a heap to the floor and lay sobbing hysterically. Somewhere in the distance a wolf howled a solitary lament as the thick fog settled deeply about the Castle DeSpair.




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