And so Elizabeth knew the gargoyles had leapt from the top of the Cathedral and come down to earth to take her back into their dark realm because she could smell the wet earth wiggling between their toes.

She cringed as their apelike feet clawed at her gown, but she appreciated being able to touch the ground again, through them, because her hospital bed had been stifling the life from her for over a month.

Elizabeth knew she was weak, and that she had little ticking time left, and so she turned to her children and smiled.

“Be good,” she urged them, “My strength leaves me to become you.”

Her children nodded; one of them wiped away a tear trickling down Elizabeth’s face.

“And you,” she turned her head and struggled to catch her waning breath on the inhale, “you were a great man, but not a good husband.”

He took a step closer and held her outstretched hand.

“Now, be a better father.”

A gargoyle grabbed her other hand and began to plunge her under, and — as her heavy heart and battered breasts and growing liver all began to sink her — Elizabeth found one, little, last puff of life and quickly whispered, “You cannot marry my betrayer.”

And so she was gone; having lived a full life that, in the end, was filled with a bitterness wholly of not her own making, but completely of her ultimate undoing.

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