Perrin had enough of all of them. Nobody listened to her. Her father always took action too late. Willow always thought they shouldn't do anything. And Rivek. Rivek was the worst. He just agreed with anything Willow said.
She wrapped her arms around the branch above her head and hoisted herself upward. Let them find her here, she thought, as she lifted herself up by another rung. If they actually wanted to listen to her - or maybe even apologize - they would have to come looking for her.
As she brooded, nestled in the broad arms of the oak, she heard music. She should have picked a tree further away from the castle. A boy with sand-colored hair sauntered down the road below, whistling a spirited tune while accompanying himself on a beaten guitar. He would reach her hiding spot well before she had the time to climb down and find a new one. At least she could more further upward.
She stood to climb, but the branch under her foot snapped. The boy looked up. He straightened his emerald tailcoat and lifted a crimson headband from his eyes. Even from her perch, Perrin could see the sea-green irises shining at her from his ruddy, freckled cheeks.
"Wow, she's really pretty."
Perrin stuttered. "You think I'm pretty?" Oops. Mind reading. Again.
The boy's shocked expression revealed he actually hadn't said anything, but it quickly morphed into a sly smile. "Of course. Hasn't anyone ever told you that?"
"Well, let me be the first." He extended his hand. "My name is Darathem Set Kaiaden Voluska-"
"Your name is stupid long."
"But you may call me 'Kai'." He extended his hand towards her. "Now, let's get you out of there."
"I like it up here."
"Suit yourself, then," he laughed, "but I bet I could make you change your mind."
He struck an opening chord on his instrument. It hung in the air, asking for an audience. He hummed a few notes. It didn't seem like anything too impressive, just another sea shanty.
But as he went on, the chords flowed together like ocean waves, submerging her in sound. He told her about a strange but beautiful girl with wings on her head and fins for feet, who left her underwater palace to marry a simple but kindhearted sailor with the gift of melody. As he sang, Perrin couldn't help but slowly descend to listen.