A/N: ahh, the first -real- rewrite for TofD! hopefully i did a good job :3 this story and the characters belong to me. no stealing. read, enjoy, review? let me know if i should go back for a third rewrite haha :) - victoria
Tower of Dove Chapter 1: The Elf Girl
Lilyana was only half aware of the voice speaking. Well, she was probably more like one-sixth aware of it, the way she would be faintly aware of a distant buzzer going off and by the time she finally realized that the words were being directed at her, the voice had grown soft and timid.
She blinked and looked up at the person standing in front of the bench she was sitting on. With her dazed trance broken, the sounds of the village market flooded her ears. The clacking of horse hooves on the cobblestone road, the obnoxious laughter of middle-aged noblewoman as they walked by, and then there was the voice of the familiar blonde boy trying to talk to her.
"Uh, Lilyana," he said, "did I come at a bad time?"
It was Simeon Oakleigh, the son of the Village's Premier. He was a nice boy of seventeen, although his personality was as bland as unseasoned rice. He was always trying to get her to go places with him, which was somewhat irritating, but she didn't hate him like she did most of the other village's population of moronic, self-centered imbeciles. He was a nice guy. She continued to look at him, noting the way he nervously chewed the inside of his cheek and the way his hair fell perfectly over his forehead. A little bit too perfectly. Perfection made Lilyana uncomfortable. His lips moved again, as if he were saying something. Had he said something?
He played with the cuff of his silk button-up shirt and shifted his green-eyed gaze away from her. "I guess I'll, um, just talk to you another time." He turned to walk away, his black shoes tapping against the cobblestone.
After about three taps Lilyana realized that he had probably been talking to her for several minutes while she just stared into space like a genuine dumb blonde. "Damn it," she muttered, standing up as his figure drew farther away. In a louder voice she said, "Simeon?"
Slowly, he turned around, his eyes wary. Maybe he was finally getting sick of pointlessly chasing after her. "Yes?"
Lilyana brushed her uncombed blonde curls off of her face before crossing her arms over her chest. Somehow she managed to make this simple action spastic and awkward, and she immediately wished she hadn't moved at all. She didn't look at him when she said, "Sorry."
She glanced up from beneath her eyelashes and saw him shrug and smile. Then he continued to walk away, not bothering to say another word. She sighed as she watched him go; she never meant to hurt his feelings, but somehow she was incredibly good at it.
She stormed off in the opposite direction of the tailor shop she had been sitting in front of, no longer wanting to wait for the dress her mother had sent to be hemmed. She was too frustrated with herself to just sit around anymore. She needed to go to the forest and not think about her failures as a human being, always saying the wrong thing or just not saying anything at all. Her old therapist had told her that nature was a good comfort for her, and it was one of the few things that stupid analytical woman had been right about.
The marketplace was crowded enough to make Lilyana want to punch anyone who came within touching distance of her as she moved through the sea of people out for a window-shopping stroll. Of course, most of the people within touching distance were woman or younger children. There were nearly no men in the village over the age of twenty. Most of them had left to serve in the Raven War, against the Heron Village and their ally, the Robin. She frowned as her thoughts shifted to that pointless war. She wouldn't think about it, not again. But when she finally made it out of the market and the noise of the village's people grew faint, she had no choice but to follow the road to the cemetery. She hated the cemetery. All she could think about when she passed it was the war. All she could think about was her father.
Her bright blue slippers made a satisfying slithering sound as she followed the almost-deserted path towards the cemetery. Maple trees, still a bright green from the summer sun, lined the sides of the road, blocking the view of the market businesses on the other side. Lilyana breathed deep. She loved the smell of trees.
A few young women gave her strange looks as she walked past them, but she was used to strange looks. She was probably the only noblewoman who had ever been seen wearing such a bright blue color with a pink dress. She was horrible at matching, not to mention that she frequently "forgot" to comb her hair and didn't bother with makeup. Honestly, she looked like a mess. And honestly, she just didn't give a damn.
Her pace slowed as she approached the entrance to the cemetery. It was on the right side of the road and lined the remainder of it all the way down to the forest path. Past the wrought iron fence she could see beautiful white headstones carved with the names of the deceased, going on for miles until they were nothing but small dots in the distance, disappearing over the rolling green hills that met with the blue summer sky.
She felt a twinge in her chest and shook her head before quickly turning on her heels and walking away. She hadn't gone to her father's grave since the start of summer. It just hurt, thinking of him. The war had been going on for seven years now, and he had died in the first year of it. The Premier of the town, Amethyst Oakleigh, had tried to comfort Lilyana, saying that her father had died bravely, saving many of his subordinates lives.
Yes, he had died bravely, but it was still for a meaningless war. Seriously, who got into such long, brutal battles over land? Just to make a profit! Before this war, Lilyana had been so bright and lively. She had found beauty in everything and everyone, but after her father's death she could see the human race for what it truly was. A bunch of self-centered, violence-driven scum, and she could never forgive the Heron for starting this war, just as she would never forgive the Robin for allying with them.
She remembered the day the Heron and the Robin had burned their farmland, setting fires far off in the distance. She remembered the smell of smoke and how it had rained ash, and how the flames in the distance seemed to lick the tops of the trees. The screams of the village's woman as they worried that the fire would come too near, and then there was the realization that war had begun, that her father would be a general. That he may never come back.
She smacked herself repeatedly over the head, ignoring the bewildered stares from a group of elderly men as they passed her. She couldn't think about this stuff so often! She picked up her pace, practically jogging the rest of the way to the forest and doing her best not to glance at the cemetery beside her.
The air was humid, which didn't do much to help her frizzy hair as she went quickly down the road. Sometimes she let her little sister, Posy, fix her hair up. When she did, her curls spilled down her back and fell to her waist like a waterfall of blonde. Right now, she looked like she had been fighting for her life in the wilderness, barely getting by on berries and sleeping in a cave inhabited by mountain lions.
If only life were that simple.
Finally she reached the forest and breathed a sigh of relief. The bright sun leaked through the canopy of the tall trees and shone down on her as she walked down the dirt path. After a few minutes, she ventured off the path and waded her way through the shrubs and plants, sometimes moving branches out of the way or plucking thorns from her knee-length dress. She momentarily wished she had worn something longer, or maybe a pair of jeans. Then again she hadn't planned to have one of her stupid self-loathing fits and ignore Simeon—again—before storming off into the wilderness. If she had known this before, she would have dressed appropriately for conquering the wilderness.
She finally pushed past the trees and walked into a meadow filled with soft green grass and random patches of flowers. She smiled as she found a spot near the edge and laid down, closing her eyes and feeling the warmth of the sun against her pale skin and cheeks. She could distantly hear the roar of the river as it flowed downward and the rustle of leaves as animals scurried through the edge of the trees.
Eventually, when she was sure that she was alone, she began to sing. Softly at first, but her voice grew with confidence and the comfort of her father's old lyrics. He used to love singing and when she sang, it felt as if she was close to her him. Sometimes, she imagined that he was singing with her.
Someone's voice called out and Lilyana's song stopped. Her eyes opened and she stood, staring toward the direction the voice had come from. It had been a man's voice; maybe Simeon was searching for her nearby.
"Hello?" the voice called again.
"Simeon?" Lilyana called back. It didn't sound like Simeon, though.
"Rhea, where did you go?" The voice was closer that time. "I swear you evil woman, if you led me all the way out here just to leave me . . . well, I don't know what I'll do, but I guarantee it won't be good!"
A young man pushed past the branches of a bush and stopped in front of Lilyana. He stared at her, surprised. Lilyana took two steps back and poised herself to sprint away.
"Wait, don't go," he said as he stepped closer.
Lilyana paused, one foot lifted off the ground as she debated running away. She'd never seen this man before, although he was closer to a boy than a man. She gave him a long look as she scrutinized his appearance. Messy black hair—he obviously didn't bother to comb it, vibrant green eyes—they made him seem like he had a hyperactive disorder, and lightly tanned skin—his hyperactive disorder obviously had him outside a lot.
The boy-man blinked as if seeing her for the first time. "Cute dress."
Lilyana's already rosy cheeks turned red. Was he mocking her? "Piss off," she spat. She turned on her heels and sprinted away into the green and brown branches.
"Wait!" the boy-man called after her. Then he was beside her, panting as he struggled to keep with her as she easily dodged trees and leapt over fallen branches and low shrubs. He stumbled a lot as he tried; if he wasn't fast, she would have lost him quickly.
"Sorry I was too straightforward," he panted, "but I don't really know my way around this, erm, area. Do you know where we are?"
"Earth," Lilyana said. He frowned and opened his mouth to answer, but she ducked a long branch and pulled it back. When she let it go, it smacked against the boy-man's torso and he stumbled and fell backwards.
He shouldn't be getting back up soon enough to follow her. She kept running. The trees and bushes whipped past her in a blur, but she began to jog once she felt comfortably far. That had been incredibly annoying. Cute dress. Yeah, she was just such an adorable person.
She gradually slowed to a walk and then stopped altogether as she leaned against the trunk of a tree. The trees began to grow larger in this area as the redwoods gradually eased from the smaller species of trees. Lilyana liked the redwoods. They smelled nice, but they were much too large to climb. The forest floor was littered in their fallen leaves and branches, and she closed her eyes and slumped to the ground, exhausted. That irritating boy-man had been fast. Too bad he wasn't clumsy. Then she could have laughed at him as he tripped and slammed his face into the ground.
"Are you trying to kill me? I mean really, a tree branch? That hurt."
Lilyana's body tensed. Had he really caught up to her so quickly? She opened her eyes despite her desire to keep them closed and there he was, standing not too far in front of her. He had about three twigs sticking out of his hair and his bright eyes made him look on the crazy side.
If he murdered her, she would have one hell of a fit in the after life.
"Okay, the silent treatment. I get how it is. Sorry I trampled on your overly-sensitive feelings." He shook his head and crossed his arms as if he disapproved of her actions.
"Overly-sensitive?" Lilyana couldn't believe his condescending attitude. He was the one who had disturbed her. She stood and glared at him for a long moment before speaking. "What do you want?" she demanded. More venom leaked into her voice than she had intended. That worked, though. Maybe he would be intimidated.
He only smiled. Maybe it amused him instead. "Like I said before you tried to whip the life out of me with a branch"—that was just overdramatic, she thought—"I want to know where the hell I am."
Lilyana rolled her eyes. What an idiot this boy-man seemed to be. "How can you not know where we are? See all these redwoods around? Take the hint. It's the Redwood Forest."
He looked contemplative for a moment before saying, "This is the neutral ground of the war, right? It doesn't belong to anyone."
Yeah, it was. It was everyone's land. He must be really clueless not to know such common information. She decided not to tell him that, though. His eyes really were rather frightening at the moment and he seemed so out of his logical mind, maybe he really was a murderer.
She could already hear the news as the paperboy jogged through the town swinging his new headline over his head. "Noble daughter's mutilated corpse found buried in the Redwood Forest! Boy-man with a crazy gleam in his eyes suspected!" What a tragedy that would be.
"Hell, space cadet, are you there? You really are a stereotypical dumb blonde, aren't you?"
Lilyana's thoughts refocused on the boy-man in front of her and she glared. "Sorry, I was just thinking about how you look like a homicidal maniac," she said.
He actually laughed, but it wasn't a good-humored one. It was nasty. She cringed away from it. "I look like a homicidal maniac?" he asked. "Well, coming from an elf-girl singing songs alone in the forest, I guess I can take that as a compliment. Thanks, elf."
Lilyana didn't know what to say to that. He was so . . . infuriating! She only glared. "I told you where you are, so leave me alone."
He laughed again. His laugh was so annoying. It sounded like he was boasting of some underachievement that he took pride in. She found her self mocking him by laughing back. He fell silent and the smirk wiped off his face. The absence of his smirk suddenly changed something about him. Maybe his eyes had become dimmer. No, they still looked psychotic.
He said, "Alright, sorry. I'm being a jerk."
"You got that right," Lilyana said.
He looked irritated. "You aren't exactly making a sweetheart out of yourself, elf." Lilyana raised an eyebrow, but he continued to say, "Look, I didn't mean to spit fire at you. Though you started it"—was he really trying to apologize or piss her off more?—"I'm sorry I engaged in such immature behavior. You obviously aren't old enough to have gotten past those stages. What's your age anyway? Fourteen?"
If he wasn't joking, Lilyana was going to take her fingernails and claw out his crazy-man eyes. "I'm seventeen, you idiot," she said through grit teeth.
"Never would've guessed," he mumbled so that she could barely hear. If only she was the type to grow her nails out. Then she could really do some damage to that pretty face of his.
He said, "Since I'm being the bigger person and apologizing, you don't have to do the same. I already forgive you." She was going to yell at him for being so rude, but he kept talking and asked, "What village are you from, anyway? There're a lot of them around this area, I think."
He really was an idiot. Of course there were a lot of villages around here. The Quail, Sparrow, Blue Jay, Woodpecker, and that despicable Robin were all villages of the area. Instead of pointing that out to him, she decided to leave him ignorant and said, "I'm not going to tell an immature, homicidal mad-man where I live."
He rolled his eyes at her. His I'm-so-much-smarter-than-you attitude had her fists clenching in aggravation. Punching him would feel really good right about now.
"Okay, fine, but I won't tell you my village either," he said.
"As if I wanted to know what village a loser like you comes from."
He ignored her completely and seemed to attempt to be nice again. "Alright, we're really getting off on a broken leg right now." He smiled at her. She refused to return it, so he said, "I'm Hiero Camber. Nineteen years old and a devout lover of sarcasm. I disregard the feelings of others and only care about myself. At least that's what my friends tell me. I personally think I'm amazing. My opinion really is the only thing that matters, anyway."
Lilyana stared at him. Was he being serious? He did say he was a lover of sarcasm, but the cockiness resonating in his tone just made her angry. How could anyone be so sure of themselves? His clothes weren't even well kept. His gray shirt was tattered and his jeans were worn. He either didn't know what the definition of laundry was or thought dressing like a bum made him look cool.
"Alright, just don't introduce yourself," Hiero said. "That's friendly, too."
She bit her lip and stared at him. She noticed him fidget as if he was uncomfortable, and she smirked. Good. It felt nice to make him squirm. This slight satisfaction lifted her spirits high enough and she said, "I'm Lilyana Ameline. Call me Lily and I'll kick you so hard you'll never have children. Got it?"
"Ouch, there's that attitude."
She didn't answer him. Instead, she turned and began to walk away. He was annoying and she didn't want to be subjected to his degrading remarks any longer. She was of nobility, after all! He looked like an average boy-man who knew nothing of grief or responsibility. He could never understand her.
"Where are you going?" he asked as he matched his pace to hers. "You aren't going to sprint away again, are you?"
She ignored him.
"Oh, I see, you're searching for another tree branch to beat me with! Catch me off guard and stuff. Since I am a homicidal maniac, you know."
"Why are you still talking?" she asked.
He laughed. It wasn't as obnoxious this time, but she still didn't like it. Maybe she could glue his lips together so he couldn't speak. She'd probably be doing a favor to many people by doing so.
"You're a brat," he said, "but I find you entertaining."
Entertaining? "What do you think I am? Someone to be toyed with for enjoyment!" She stopped walking and turned to glare up into his face. He was taller than she had first realized. This bugged her more than it rationally should have, but height tended to boost men's egos and this Hiero person definitely didn't need anymore fuel for his.
This time he seemed like he was trying to hold back a smile. He failed. "No, not at all! I just find you interesting, is all."
"If you want to have children one day I suggest you cut your tongue out."
"Why would you want to do that?" he asked. "Taking my beautiful voice from the world would be a crime against humanity."
"That's a good joke." Before he could retort, she said, "I'm going home. Don't follow me or I'll have the guard come and really cut your tongue out so that you can't harass anyone with that irritating voice of yours, okay? Bye, Hiero."
She walked away faster this time and was relieved when he didn't follow, but as she disappeared into the cover of the redwoods she could hear him call, "Until we meet again, elf girl," followed by his obnoxious laugh. If they really did meet again, she would be sure to run the tree branch through his brain.
As she walked amidst the towering trees, the wind blew in the direction she was trying to leave.