A mile to the west, the Sierra Madre mountain range loomed like a sentinel. The church was a haven for the weary, the lost, and the dead who lingered among the dancing shadows. The orange glow of candles swayed with the breeze of God’s breath.
There were no demons here, but once a soul strayed during the night and had never been seen again. Hadriel saw three tombstones in a withered garden behind the ruins of a house nearby.
They entered the church and glided down the aisle. Pews of petrified wood flanked them on each side. The faint moonlight fell through the faded glass of the high-arched windows. A thin blanket of dust covered the ground and the steps that led to the altar.
“I remember this place.”
Hadriel glanced up at the cross that was suspended above them. The Christ stared back. A thunderous silence echoed between them. Hadriel reminded himself that He was just a man and this was just a relic: the customs of borrowed myth permeated the soul and arrested the imagination.
A cool breeze ushered the church doors open. The Others turned away from the grey light, and glided behind stone pillars and into shadowed corners.
“Why are we here?” Hadriel wondered.
“The corridors of the mind are filled with the memories of the heart.”
Azrael said. “We are here because this is where you brought us.”
Hadriel turned to the brazier in the center of the altar. The glow within the coals reminded him of the dying embers of hapless love. He studied it for a moment. The orange glow pulsed. The heat emanating from the coals beckoned him. His heart ached for the affections he felt all his life. His breathing grew shallow. He felt incomplete.
Hadriel longed for the love that almost was, and the love that defined his life. He knew he had to find her. Despite the pain, he wanted to remember his greatest regret. He needed to relive it, and accept his fate, for a soul cannot rest without love.
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