Chapter 1: The Return

Follow the Route de Palomieres until you pass the little café on the top of the ridge. Then, look carefully to your right as the forest begins. By a collection of old tree stumps, you will see a narrow dirt road. This is the way you want to go. Brambles cover the ground so be careful. After about a half-mile the path gets steep. Don’t worry you are going the right way. It’s all up hill from now on. Slowly the trees open into meadows. Floating high above an eagle watches. If you hear distant bells, it is only from Marcel Fontan’s sheep. The air turns cold, but do not give up or be frightened. You are not lost but going to Banios-sur-l’Ange. This is where the Devil landed when God threw him out of Heaven.

In the distance, nested between high cliffs and a river, is a village. A pale mist hangs above it like a discarded Christmas ribbon. The warren of stone cottages that make up Banios-sur-l’Ange or Banios-by-the-Angel are blue under its shadow. But what you see over the village is not mist or a forgotten rain cloud. It is a Cloud of Goodness brought there by an angel. When God decides to answer a prayer, what at first appears a blessing—which is what the people of Banios thought the Cloud of Goodness was—may turn out to be something we wish we had never asked for in the first place. This is what happened in Banios. They ask for help from the God of all universes and wound up with a curse of a very particular kind.

Here is the story, according to the Devil himself. Mind you, this is only his version of events.

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