Gil opened her eyes. She was standing at the edge of the tower’s upper parapet, looking out across the churning, broiling sea of ink-black waves. Dark storm clouds were gathering overhead, stretching to the edge of the horizon and blotting out the sky.
“How did I get here?” She muttered.
The last thing that she remembered was pressing her ear to the keyhole of one of the subterranean cells. One moment the smell of damp, human refuse and cold iron had been in her nostrils, the next she was breathing in fresh salt air.
Gil could feel chills tickling their way up her spine and down her arms, having nothing to do with the cold, blustering wind which whipped across the prison’s roof. She was confused, feeling lost and somehow separated from her own mind.
There was a hole in her memory. Its shape was still discernible, in that she knew it was something of the utmost importance that she had forgotten. Gil screwed her eyes tight and focused her mind on trying to haul the thought back from the shadowy recesses of her memory.
“Are you well, Mistress Gil?”
It was the voice of one of the other wardens. Gil turned and saw the square shoulders and broad belly of Mag. His expansive, firm gut tumbled out over the top of a thick leather belt, his steel-capped boots and heavy gloves stained by many years of hard use.
“I’m alright, Mag. Just keep to yourself.”
The portly warden gave Gil a curious look between a pair of narrowed eyelids but said no more. He walked away with the long brass keys jangling on his belt. The sound brought a sudden wave of panic washing over her.
“Where are my keys?” Gil thought.
Her hands shot to her waist and sweat began beading on her brow as they failed to find the precious keys. At length, she discovered them hanging by a thin leather strap at the back of her belt. Relief hit her with such force that she almost lost her footing and toppled from the top of the high tower.
Gil looked at the long brass stems and sharp teeth. Her heart froze. There was one key too many. It hung there, at the end of the leather thong, black sides smooth as polished marble and teeth as sharp as razors.
It was a key she had heard of. Everyone knew its name. But it was one she had no business holding. The Key to Hell, opener of forbidden doors.
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