They stood at the top of the cliff looking down at the road. Maya and her little sister Ingrid watched the delegation wind it’s way up the rocky incline.
“How long do you think it will take them to reach the front gate?” Ingrid asked.
“Half a day. As long as none of those carriages lose a wheel on the way.” Maya looked to her left and studied the cliffs and the ocean below. Her family had been on this spit of land for generations. The land bridge was the only way across the sound and they had held it against the giants from the east two centuries ago and the black horde from the west fifty years ago.
“When do I get my own keys?” Ingrid asked, tapping those hanging from Maya’s belt.
“When you get married and move to your husband’s house.”
“How come you have them? You’re not married.”
“I got them when mother died. I’ll give them to Sten’s bride someday.”
“Is she down there?”
“She’s supposed to be.”
The wind whipped around Maya’s head. Her tawny hair was held fast in her bun. Living here, she’d learned long ago how to make a bun that this wind couldn’t pull apart. She took a deep breath and smelled salt and the sea and her heart beat a little faster.
She looked at the horizon and studied the line where the aqua water met the turquoise sky. The salty smell and the scent of the unknown always drew. What was on that ocean? Why did men give their lives to it?
Ingrid tugged at her arm. “This is boring. Can we collect rocks? You know, over by the slides?”
The slides were where the land bridge was slowly eroding. Parts of the cliff would get undercut by the waves and slide into the ocean. There were amazing things to find, but it was dangerous. One of her uncles had died there.
“Not today. We have to be ready for guests.”
“Hmmph. Arrogant land-riders.”
Maya smiled. Those were her father’s words. He felt they were an entity of their own, beholden to none. They controlled the Dragon Walk, as the land bridge was called. Why should they bow to any?
“After all, we are the people of the Dragon Walk,” Ingrid said. “Did dragons really walk here?”
“I don’t know. You’ve seen the things that come down in the slides. Maybe they did.”
“Wow,” Ingrid said, and was silent imagining what that world must have looked like.
Maya sank into her own musings about keys. Would she hand them over? Could she hand them over? Maybe she could give away the power, but the freedom she could never relinquish.
The delegation was here to talk about a treaty, part of which was her brother’s marriage. Maya wondered if she would be married off. It was the strategic thing to do. Remove the keyholder and replace with the new chatelaine.
Maya could switch one set of keys for another. Would that still be freedom? Or would marriage be a struggle between ownership and partnership?
Prompt for today = Key
I know, I used “keys”. As far as I know, we don’t lose points for only coming close to the prompt. Or for being late.