Only two hours passed before she heard his footsteps on the rocks outside her cave. She covered her eyes with her hands. “Go away. Please.”
He stopped just outside the cave. She peeked from behind her hands and saw tall, black boots.
“What are you afraid of?” His voice was gentle but determined. Somehow, she knew that he wouldn't leave until she had answered him.
She released a deep sigh. She didn't want to tell him. “Afraid of everything. Everything but my cave.”
Then he bent by the opening, reached inside, took her hands in his, and pulled her out. She resisted, but he was stronger than her.
She wrenched away. “Let me alone! I cant take care of myself.” But she knew she couldn't. And he knew it too.
He sat her on a rock and took out the Key. Once again, he held it out to her. “Go ahead. Take it.” His smile was encouraging, like the sunlight bursting over a gloomy morning, bringing it to life.
With fingers that weren't her own, she reached for the Key. This time she would take it. She would. The very tip of her finger touched the Key, and the chains groaned. As they began to coil about her feet, she jerked back, shaking her head.
Her visitor sighed, then looked into her eyes with nothing but kindness. “Allow me to help you, daughter.”
She watched in fascination as he knelt by her feet. Inserted the Key in the lock. Turned it. She heard a click.
And the chains fell away. She expected them to resist, but they held no power against the Key. They rattled down the rocky slope and splashed into the sea.
He stood, smile widening. “Now you can dance. Come on!”
“But...” She faltered. “I can't. It's too dangerous. I can't risk it...”
He grabbed her hand and enfolded it in his. “I can't promise there won't be danger, sweetheart. But I can promise you this: I will be right beside you. I will protect you.”
She looked up at him, hope stirring in her heart. “Truly?”
They left the cave behind and walked into the sunlight. At long last, she would dance, free as the falcon. But she wouldn't be alone. He would hold her hand.