Chapter 1

I'm not sure how long I have been so alone; days blurred together – days only turning into days because I slept, not because I knew the sun fell or rose. Being like this everyday, waiting in a small circular room with nothing but moist grainy walls and a somewhat soft platform in the middle which I assumed was the bed...I don't think I could have felt worst if I had lost my voice, which I vaguely recalled someone say was like the sun in winter snow, instead of my family and my sight. My life changed forever, and I couldn't even recall exactly how it changed. All I could think of was my confusion and desolation, and I wondered day after day when someone would come to save me. I must have had a life filled with people who cared for me.

But how would I know someone had come to save me?

I cannot remember a face. My memories before this confinement were only in dreams that were soon forgotten when I awake. Only the lingering scent of happiness remained, which only made me want to stare at my hands and think: "So this is what I became."

Oh how I wish I could see my hands.

All I could really remember was seeing an outline of a boy holding a white cloth, surrounded by gushing red flames and dark smudges of smoke, before forever blinding me.

The last time I could see, and I couldn't even remember whom I last saw.

Clunk.

I twirled around, my hair brushing the ground for it grew so long, toward the direction of the noise. The unnatural tug at my cheeks returned as I tripped myself running, tracing my hands along the cracked wall, until I my hand slipped out into an opening and the warm glow of the sun bathed my forearm.

"Adrian!" I yelled, my voice squeaking from the use of it. Laughter rose from below. I rested my head on the still and smiled. I didn't know where I was looking; I really wished I was looking directly in the eyes of Adrian or at least toward where he was. "You came to see me! How long has it been?"

I closed my eyes, the pressure of my eyelids heavy. No... I shook my head. It was not heavy. I was just concentrating too much on the feel. I've been paying too much attention to my other senses, when all I really need to do was to listen. Listen for the honey voice I have wanted to hear since I first met it. "It took a while to escape the guards. They can be so annoying sometimes."

I laughed. "It just means your father cares for your well-being. He's probably worried because of your disappearance."

A pile of twigs broke below, snapping under what sounded like heavy stomps. I tapped my knuckles against the sill, trying to match the rhythm of the steps. When it stopped, the air seemed to still. He must be sitting down.

"He shouldn't be worried," Adrian said. "For I am in the presence of a beautiful young lady who could do me no harm other than causing my pulse to beat rapidly."

I pulled away from the window, the warmth of outside gone. Instead, it felt as if the sun that was outside was now painted onto my cheeks. Even after placing my cool hands onto them, it burned. I pinched my earlobes and turned back around, my toes fidgeting as I tried to remain a cool face. "But you must have tons of beautiful ladies waiting for you at your castle, just waiting to be called Princess by you, Prince Adrian."

"I'd rather be with you, Alida, my girl in the tall tower."

I laughed to hide my embarrassment. "You mean you like girls that are unattainable?"

It was quiet and I could have kicked myself for reminding myself of my isolation. But then, when I was in the presence of Adrian...I did not feel alone anymore. It was like the welcoming kind of sickness, one where when it struck, you lose yourself with your emotions. It was such a strange feeling, so new and warm and gentle, I would laugh at myself for thinking I would never want it to end. In the encounters with Adrian, I had changed from a frightened girl facing a lifetime of emptiness to a lady with hope again. Hope I thought disappeared with the use of my eyes.

"I will save you," Adrian said. It sounded like a whisper, but I knew he must have yelled it. He had told me in on of our previous encounters that I was in a tall tower, one where he had to shield his eyes to look up at me because I am so close to the sun. Or perhaps he said I was the sun and my beauty blinded him. He can say such sweet words that make my stomach twirl in such a smooth way, it made me suspicious of whether or not he uses such words daily. "I will take you from the tower the evil witch had placed you in. We will find out your real name that you have forgotten, find your family, know your history...and then...I'll take you home with me."

The blood drawn from my lips tasted sweet. "I love the name you have given me."

"Alida," he said. My heart skipped a beat. "My little winged one."

The air whisking my hair back turned cold and the heat that kissed my skin shadowed. I wanted to cry. Why was I cursed in such a way that I could not even see what my prince looked like? To not know if his angelic voice matched his features? If only I could touch him. To have a day to touch his face and understand the things he thought about without using words to find out. "One day I'll fly to you."

"If you jumped now, I'll catch you."

The words echoed in my head. He was right; if I jumped now, I could leave. I could be free of this prison. But...

Life in here was easy. Even though I couldn't remember how or why, a witch certainly had placed me here. Magic seeped through the walls, giving me everything I needed. Meals appeared when I was hungry. Fresh water gushed forth when I felt like bathing or quenching my thirst.

But it was oh so lonely.

I smiled. "Tomorrow. I'll leave tomorrow."


The first time I met Adrian, I already forgotten everything. It already became the normal routine of waking up in the dark and forever sitting silently, listening for signs of life outside the window for entertainment and pleasure, as I combed my silky hair with my fingers. Sometimes I would hear a bird sing, loud and chirpy, as if nothing was wrong with the world. I entertained the thought of trying to match the tone, but it only made me depressed. Why sing happily when there was nothing to be happy about? I had lost everything.

Not everything. How could I lose everything if I do not even remember what I have lost?

The wind was fierce that day. I should have withdrawn away from the opening in the wall in case something flew its way up to where I was and hit me, but sitting near the only place close to the outside word became a need. There were no birds singing, but it did not matter. The wind slicing at my skin? It made me feel alive and for the first time, I felt an itch to say something. I opened my mouth, but no words came. I scratched at my throat, trying to dig out some sort of noise. It was as if I was hit over the head by a boulder. Had I lost speech, so as not to call out for help? Or was it because there was no reason to speak before, so it blacked out like the world did?

It came out as coughs. Hesitant and strange and rough. It hurt my throat like fish scales slicing upward along my skin. But the noise...hearing something being produced from my own body that I had forgotten what it sounded like, lifted my heart. I swallowed and without any real words coming to mind, I hummed and wailed and sung. Life became brighter, strange since I had no idea what I was trying to have the world understand about me. It was like having someone ask me to talk about myself; I was not sure exactly what to say so I rambled in hopes that I said something good.

"You must be a fairy, for you had caste a spell on me!"

I gasped and looked down toward the voice, my face heating as I realized how pointless that was. "Who is there?"

"Prince Adrian of the kingdom Doveva. And you, my lady? Are you not a fairy?"

I bit the bottom of my lip, repressing the giggles that were bubbling in my chest. "I am very much a human."

"Then, my very much a human, why is it that you are up in a tower?"

I frowned, blinking my eyes. "I am not sure, Prince Adrian. I have always been up here."

"No mother? Father?"

I shook my head. My hair fell over my face. "No one."

"Then, my lady. You shall have me."

I blushed. "I do not want to keep you here when I'm sure you have else where to go."

"It's too late. You have already captured me with your voice and beauty."

I rubbed my arms until it numbed. It was so strange hearing another person's voice...and to hear words as silly as those? I have been stuck in this place for a long time. I have not spoken until that day and my beauty, if I ever had it, should have faded away like everything else. "Will you really come again?"

"Yes."

And he did. This went on for a year. He would come back with stories about his kingdom, the parties he would hold, and the watchful eyes of his father, the king. When he did not talk, he would ask about me. What was my favorite food? Do I remember anything? What do I do all day, stuck in the tower?

I was scared to answer. In comparison to his life, mine was empty. The only thing of interest was my last memory, my last sight.

"Are you talking about the burning of the Aurora Kingdom?"

I froze, my fingers entangled in my hair that was half braided. "There was a kingdom with such a beautiful name?" I continued the braiding but more consciously as I strained to hear. "And I lived there?"

The voice from below seemed to be frowning. "It happened six years ago. No one really knows what happened. Just that, one day, the alluring throne came up in flames and disappeared before anyone could come to rescue the potential survivors."

"You mean everyone died?" A shaky laugh whistled from within me. "Then it is impossible for me to be a part of the Aurora downfall."

The air seemed to sigh a smile of relieve and after a while Adrian's voice yelled out, "It was perhaps for the best."

I raised an eyebrow. I wasn't sure how far up I was from where he was, he probably couldn't see my tweak of my brow, but I did it nonetheless. What he just said was odd of him. "The death of others is a good thing?"

"N-no!" His voice squeaked. "I meant...well, I was to marry the princess of the castle. When we were both twelve, our parents had prearranged it. Soon after, she disappeared. Along with Aurora." He was silent, as if trying to figure out what else to say. "She would be eighteen today."

Disappeared at the age of twelve after an engagement. Something felt strange, as if something was amiss, but I shook it off. "I hope she's still alive. She may hold the answers to what truly happened on Aurora's last day."

"Are you curious about her?"

"Slightly," I said. "But she wouldn't have anything to do with me, other than the slight connection with you. I'm just curious to see how her life has fair now that she has nothing."

Just like I have nothing. Though, she still has more than me. She has life and perhaps family. I tried to imagine a young princess escaping the fires. Did she have someone with her? How did she escape, if she actually did escape? Did I know her? If I find her, could she tell me who I am?

I laughed. So many questions. So many of them...so pointless. Like I could meet the princess. A princess that died six years ago.


The moment when the ground slipped under me, I knew something was wrong. I searched around, feeling with my hands for something to grasp, but my fingers slipped from the wall taking with it some grains of it that broke off. I gasped, trying to breathe and rationalize my thoughts.

Adrian was waiting for me. Today was the day we promised my escape.

Really. There wasn't anything to be afraid of. Why didn't I try slipping away earlier? Even though a witch put me in here, where was she now? Nowhere. There was no one to tell me no. I could have just climbed down anytime.

Well. Maybe not. I couldn't see and climbing down a place with no sight was pretty scary.

But then, so was fleeing from anything.

Alida, everything in life would be scary. You just need to fight that fear.

And the first step was to get the hell out of this tower.

I stood up and took a deep breath. I reached forward, taking tiny steps – heel to toe, heel to toe – until I reached the window. I had nothing with me beside the clothes on me. Clothes I don't even know if it fits properly or if it matches and compliment my features. Would Adrian care how I dress?

I shook my head and slapped my cheeks together. Enough of this. Adrian...he wouldn't care what I wear. He was kind and gentle. He'd meet me at the bottom of the tower, ready to catch my fall. And he'd hold me and I could finally know who he was.

Splitting my hair and braiding them in two, combined with the knowledge of what I was going to do, my head felt heavy.

In a matter of seconds, I'd be free.

I reached forward and grabbed the edge of the window; my thumb scratched the inside while my fingertips glazed the inner tower. I jumped up onto the window, my feet landing lightly onto the window still. The wind kissed my face.

"Are you there, Adrian?" I yelled. My eyes squinted. Although I could not see, I could feel the rays of light.

"Jump. I'll be down here to catch you!" he said from below. I smiled, imagining a man below with arms wide open, ready to run and catch a falling maiden in distress.

I jumped.

No!

I screamed. A gush of wind picked my body back up, the feeling of falling stopped. Everything darkened. I couldn't feel Adrian's presence anymore.

My arms hid my face, my mouth quivered. Goosebumps rose.

No! Cecilia!

"What's going on?" I yelled, desperation in my voice. "Where's Adrian?"

You can't leave. You can't. A soft scratchy whisper, urgent. Not with him. Banish. Leave. Not with him.

"I don't want to be alone anymore!"

Not with him. Not with him.

For a split second, the voice sounded familiar.

Fire. Outline of a boy. Crackling laughter. Yelling. Screaming. Taunting.

It was the witch. Neci.

Leave. But I'll find you. I'll take care of you. Mark my words.

A flash of light. The first I'd ever seen in such a long time. It reminded me of the white cloth that was wrapped around my eyes when I was little. How bright.

And the world darkened again.