Maya went out to the great hall to check on her orchestra of servants. Her opus was beautiful, and her guests had plenty of drink and devoured their penultimate course.
She leaned against the wall at the back of the hall for a moment of rest. The yells popped in her ears, and people bumped into and tripped on her. She closed her eyes and remembered earlier in the day standing on the cliffs and the wind whipping her face. The feeling of wide expanses and the excitement of adventure returned. It was intoxicating, and she didn’t want to be stuffed into this crowded hall.
“Hello Maya,” Lenore said.
Maya opened her eyes to the ebony hair and pale skin of Sten’s lovely betrothed. “Hello. What can I do for you?”
“Let’s walk,” Lenore said, stepping out of the great hall and into the warm, late afternoon air.
Maya followed her, watching her white dress flow in the breeze.
“You are younger than me,” Lenore said, “so you may not know the ways of the world.”
Maya pursed her lips to hide a guffaw. She’d been running the castle for almost ten years. She knew a thing or two.
“I should tell you,” Lenore continued. “I am the chatelaine now. You shall give me your keys.”
They were near the cliffs, where the edges were not safe. Maya studied the edge and tried to decrypt exactly what Lenore wanted.
“Give them to me,” Lenore said.
“Now?” Maya said.
“Of course, you silly little girl.”
Lenore was quite close to the edge of the cliff.
“Lenore, your too close to the edge. Come away.”
“Oh, it’s fine. It’s not dangerous as your father said. You are hiding something in these cliffs and don’t want us to find it.”
“What?” Maya couldn’t imagine how Lenore had come up with such a ridiculous idea.
“You’ll give me the keys now, and I will find what you’re hiding.”
And then Lenore was gone.
“Lenore?” Maya said. Then realized that the cliff must have given way. She carefully approached from another direction and got on her belly and crawled to the edge.
Below, Lenore was draped across the pile of jagged rocks the had been the edge she was standing on. There was blood and Lenore’s limbs were twisted in strange directions. She made no sound and did not move, not even when the waves came over her face. Her dark hair swirled when the waves surged.
“Oh shit.” Maya couldn’t get down there safely from here. If she did get down there, could she do anything by herself? Was Lenore even alive? If Maya wasted more time, everyone would wonder why she hadn’t acted faster.
“Right then,” she said and scuttled back to safety. She hiked up her skirts and ran back to the castle using every iota of speed she owned.