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The place was a ghost town. Despite its breath-taking locale, Appaloosa Plains had become a shadow of what it once was. The residents of the "sleepy ranching town" had drifted off, leaving behind shells of homes, crumbling remnants of Victorian architecture and empty streets.The city tried to save its existence by offering a funding assistance program for repairs, but the program collapsed when it was discovered that nearly all the buildings were contaminated with asbestos, had unsafe lead piping, needed all-new roofs or their foundations completely redone. Historical building legislation delayed construction work to such an extent that people opted to sell their homes to the government at a loss so they could move away from the red tape and renovation nightmare that their neighborhood trapped in. Now almost no residents were left and there was no city government to speak of. Appaloosa Plains was nothing more than a mess that needed to be cleaned up. Luckily, cleaning up mess…
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Chapter 17: Champs Les Sims (Part 1)

Part One: BienvenueEmery stirred as the taxi came to a stop. The sun was bright and harsh to her tired eyes. She’d fallen asleep on the long drive from the airport to the hostel where she’d be staying in Champs Les Sims. She blinked to see out the car window more clearly, and the large building came into focus. It was very old, but well cared for; despite its obvious age, the exterior did not look in need of any refurbishment. It was larger than Emery had expected, and she wondered what it was originally used for before it was converted into a hostel.She paid the driver and thanked him as he helped her get her bag out of the taxi, then headed inside.She was greeted by a member of the staff, an older woman with white and gray hair pulled back into a neat bun and thick, black rimmed glasses perched on her nose. “Bonjour, mademoiselle. Avez-vous une réservation?”“Uh,” Emery hesitated. “Oui, c’est une chambre pour Emery Tevellyn.”“Bien sûr,” the woman smiled, checking the name on her comp…