Siren had learned her lesson about judging people prematurely two years ago. Everybody, regardless of age, sex, race, or occupation, was many times deeper than she first assumed. Some people, she would have preferred not to learn more than their first impression suggested. Even a serial killer had standards. But the interactions had saved her life.
Illyana was like most of the people she'd talked with: annoying to no end at first, and easy to empathize with after mere minutes. As she'd expected, a dryad was no different from any other race.
She landed in front of Sigmora's clinic and pulled her wings around her body, leaning against the wall beside the door. She'd made friends before. Why did she naturally return to Illyana? She was probably twelve or thirteen, one or two years younger than Siren, and missed her parents. Was that alone enough? Illyana probably didn't think of her as a friend. She didn't know the extent of the damage she'd done to the dryad's ankle, but it was a terrible first impression. Then again, the very first impression was probably one of Siren sitting in a tree and writing very sloppily, if she'd seen the text at all.
Siren had learned her lesson about judging people prematurely two years ago. Everybody, regardless of age, sex, race, or occupation, was many times deeper than she first assumed. She would have preferred not to learn about some people beyond their first impression. She may be a borderline psychopath, but there were some personality traits that dwarfed a blood angel's inherent psychopathic tendencies. Regardless, the interactions had saved her life.
She landed in front of Sigmora's clinic and pulled her wings around her body, leaning against the wall beside the door. She'd made friends before. Why did she naturally return to Illyana? The dryad was probably twelve or thirteen, one or two years younger than Siren, and she, too, missed her parents. Was that enough to draw Siren to her? Illyana certainly thought of Siren as an enemy, if a merciful one. She didn't know how much damage her cut had done to Illyana's ankle, but regardless, it was a terrible first impression.
The change to the first paragraph does sound like of like an info dump, but what if you replace "there were some personality traits that dwarfed a blood angel's inherent psychopathic tendencies" with "even a serial killer has standards"?
Saying "there are some personality traits that dwarf a blood angel's inherent psychopathic tendancies" tells us something, without telling us much. Knowing that Siren is a blood angel, and that blood angels have psychopathic tendancies, is good to know, but it's better to show that instead of telling it. Anything you state about her personality (since your 'voice' in this story is acting as a storyteller, as opposed to describing the events that happen) needs to match her actions. In this case, it would be better to say as little as possible about her personality, only telling the audience what they need
to know and what works for the benefit of story, and showing as much of her character as you can through actions.
"She would have preferred not to learn about some people beyond their first impression. She may be a borderline psychopath, but even a serial killer has standards." Those sentences would reveal a lot about her personality and the statement of 'borderline psychopath' would compliment her actions of 'being a serial killer.' The entire statement shows how bad she is, or was, but shows that there are limits to how far she's willing to go. That gives the audience something to connect to in Siren's personality, and shows that she has some good in her.
"Regardless, the interactions had saved her life." That sentence is a little confusing, but... also unsettling. Especially since it follows her statement about not wanting to know more about some people, because even a borderline psychopath, who is a serial killer, has standards. It makes me want to ask what kind of people Siren had been interacting with, but at the same time I don't want to know the answer...
However, "the interactions had saved her life" is an important point to the story. The questions are 'Who did she interact with?' and 'How did the interactions save her life?' And the question of whether the interactions caused, or were the result of, her change in her thinking toward other people. Those questions don't have to be answered right away, but they should be answered at some point in the story, even in pieces over the length of the story.
What format is the story in? Chapters of a complete work, an episodic format...? Have either of these characters already been introduced in the story? I'm asking because you're to be referring to things that seem to have happened in the recent past (Siren hurting Illyana's ankle) which implies that you told that part of the story already, but it also feels like you're introducing the characters for the first time.
If the story is written in chapters within a single manuscript, and you told the story of Siren hurting Illyana's ankle earlier in the manuscript, then you may not need to tell that part of the story again unless there's a 'story reason' to it. If the story is in an episodic format, then you should tell the audience everything they need to know about the story up to this point so that they can understand this episode as a complete episode (as a 'jumping in point'). There are many ways that you can write an episode so that it fits into a larger work but that the episode is also a story with a beginning, middle and end.
Siren's personality: She's borderline psychopathic, and was a serial killer, but she has limits. Until two years ago, she made assumptions about people and assumed that they were shallow, but since then she has learned that people are many times deeper than she first assumed. Perhaps Siren had no problem killing people because she thought of it as being similar to slaughtering animals? Maybe Siren longs for a deeper relationship with people, and realized two years ago that she can have those relationships if she gets to know people more? Either way, she misses her parents, the same as Illyana, which is probably what's drawing her to Illyana: empathy. However, knowing the story of how Siren cut Illyana's ankle would tell a lot about Siren's personality, and the personality of Illyana.
Illyana's personality: She probably thinks of Siren as an enemy, if a merciful enemy.
She'd been gone for a long time, acting as a messenger--one of the many jobs laid on her in the absence of angels or falcons. Was Illyana still here? Probably. With her ankle the way it was, she wouldn't be going anywhere for a few weeks, if not more. Siren knew very little about healing injuries, but she knew what a tendon was, and she knew she'd cut halfway through one. Thinking about it, her own ankle hurt. She reached down and felt the thick tube-like thing on the back of her ankle. Then she imagined it being cut. She had a lot of apologizing to do.
The door opened a moment later, and Illyana's face stuck out. Their eyes met. Illyana looked away first. They both started to speak at once.
"With her ankle the way it was, she wouldn't be going anywhere for a few weeks, if not more." The story didn't saw when Siren cut Illyana's ankle, in relation to 'the present' (was it two weeks ago? or a few months ago?) and that line is also vague in regard to how long ago her ankle had been cut. The sentence about how long Siren had been gone also doesn't state a specific time. The two sentences can work together, to show a relative distance in time that compliments the story, but I sugguest changing the sentence about Illyana's ankle to make that work.
"With her ankle the way it was, she wouldn't have been able to go anywhere for a few weeks, if not more." or something similar to that shows a solid past tense, as opposed to 'wouldn't be going anywhere' which sounds like Illyana intends to leave as soon as she can. The way that you worded the sentence reads like Illyana wants to escape before Siren gets back.
"Illyana looked away first" implies that Siren looked away second. Looking away is a subtle statement about a character's emotions in that moment. If Siren didn't look away, then you might want to change it to "Illyana looked away at first" or "Illyana quickly looked away, then there was a moment of silence before they both started to speak at once."
Instead of only saying what's happenning, try to describe the scene that's unfolding. That will paint more of a picture in the minds of the readers and let you present the story from a specific perspective.
"Go ahead," said Siren.
"I'm sorry," said Illyana, edging out of the doorway. Her ankle was wrapped in cloth and held straight by a shaft of wood that stuck out the top of the wrappings. She was on crutches, her clothes had been replaced by the clinic's typical garment that looked like a pillowcase with sleeves, and her hair was neatly combed. Like many citizens, she wore a sunhat.
Illyana nodded, avoiding Siren's eyes. "I knew what you were, and that was why I provoked you. I was mad at someone else and took it out on you."
"I owe you an apology, too," said Siren. "I tried to kill you."
"Well, you're a blood angel."
"That's no excuse. You're a dryad and you didn't steal anything--did you? From the clinic?"
"No. I got a job, though. It pays."
"Jobs pay. So you really can heal?"
"I already told you I could. By the way, where did you go? I can hear your wing beats from a kilometer away, and you haven't been around for a week."
"So you assume I fly everywhere?"
"Those things are massive," said Illyana, pointing at Siren's wings. "Walking doesn't look all that convenient for you. I stick to trees myself. So I imagine you stick to the air."
Siren motioned toward the southwest. "I was delivering a letter."
So far, Illyana was angry at someone and took it out on Siren by provoking her, because Siren is a blood angel (since you state here that Siren is a blood angel, it doesn't need to be said in the first paragraph). It sounds like Illyana thinks that all blood angels kill people, but Illyana still provoked Siren. So Illyana was very upset when she provoked Siren, possibly either grieving or suicidal (you imply that a blood angel did something to make Illyana upset, and Illyana thinks that all blood angels kill people).
Siren seems to have overreacted (she tried to kill a twleve or thirteen year old). Since she had been a serial killer, and you imply that she had interactions with people that were even worse than she is/was, I assume that she would have been able to defend herself from Illyana without trying to kill her. So the implication is that Siren reacted without thinking, or Siren has a temper.
Either way, the fact that Siren seems to be worried about Illyana shows that Siren is trying to change how she reacts (at least toward Illyana) and that Siren probably feels guilty for the way that she acted. The way that Siren speaks to Illyana in the story sounds hard, almost rude, like Siren is trying to trying to show compassing but she's also put up a wall. If feels almost like Siren is sending mixed signals to Illyana, because Siren doesn't really know how to show that she cares about Illyana. (If that's what you intended in the dialog, Good job!)
Illyana provoked Siren, in anger, and Siren tried to kill her. If Illyana was already grieving, then her experience with Siren would probably have scared her and made her grieve more. If Illyana was only angry, then she might also have a temper. If Illyana was suicidal, then she might have been scared by the experience or fully expects Siren to kill her one day.
Either way, it takes courage to talk to the blood angel that attacked her when she's of the opinion that all blood angels kill people.
Illyana can hear Siren's wings from a kilometer away. You said that there are no falcons or angels to deliver messages, and you didn't state or imply that Illyana can specifically identify the sound of Siren's wings, which would differentialy it from the sound of a falcon's, angel's or another blood angel's wings. So I assume that Siren had been the only blood angel within a kilometer of Illyana since she cut Illyana's ankle.
When Illyana opened the door to talk to Siren, it sounded like Illyana had worked through a mental process to understand that she should apologize to Siren. But she opened the door to someone who cut her, and admits to trying to kill her. Either Illyana is fearless, or she had some interaction with Siren between then and now (enough for Illyana to be reasonably certain that Siren isn't going to try to kill her) and has only now decided to apologize.
Illyana's attitude toward Siren, and the type of interaction that they've had since the fight, can be implied by body language and the way that they speak their dialog. Try describing the scene; tell us what the characters are doing, and what they're saying. Actions can speak volumes.
Silence followed. Siren quickly resumed the conversation.
"So you've been around during the night? What did you think of the wind?"
"About that," said Illyana. "I have questions. And I can't stand around like this. Can we sit down or something?"
Siren slid down the wall and sat on the grass. Illyana rolled her eyes.
"You're so informal."
I don't understand what Siren is saying... if she's using an ice-breaker, the way she's saying it feels awkward. It almost sounds like Siren is asking seriously, which doesn't appear to make sense if Siren has been away for a long time and Illyana has a cut ankle. For a moment, I thought that Illyana wanted to ask questions about the wind, before I realized that Illyana probably wants to ask about the letter.
If you change "you've" to "have you" and "did" to "do," it will sound more like an ice breaker / small talk, or if you tell us how Siren says the like, or her motivion in saying it.
"So you've been around during the night? What did you think of the wind?" said Siren, trying to fill the silence.
"Siren slid down the wall and sat on the grass." sounds a little out of place. You mentioned Siren and Illyana at a doorway, but didn't mention Siren leaning against a wall. At first, I thought that Siren might be outside of Illyana's window, but then remembered that Illyana edged through the doorway. If Siren was standing against a wall, you should tell the readers that. When Illyana opened the door and her eyes met with Siren's, I assumed that Siren was standing in front of the door. Body language and actions can say things about a character's personality. If Siren started standing against the wall after Illyana stepped outside, that shows part of Siren's personality. If Siren was standing against the wall and knocked on the door with the back of her hand, and Illyana opened the door and had to peak out and look around before she saw Siren, that shows something different about Siren's personality.
Siren slid down the wall and sat on the grass, and Illyana rolled her eyes and commented that Siren is so informal. That sounds like a comment that's made between people who know each other. Illyana's reaction implies that she has interacted with Siren enough to care that Siren is informal.
I think it would benefit the story if you tell the audience what type of interaction Siren had with Illyana between the ankle cut and now. Did Siren visit Illyana? Did Siren help Illyana in any way? Did Siren sit near the clinic sometimes to watch over Illyana? And how did Illyana respond to Siren's actions? If Illyana behaved differently toward Siren in the past than she does now, that can be shown through each of their body language during the conversation, even starting from when Illyana opens the door.
Illyana sat against the wall as well, close enough for comfortable conversation, far enough away to indicate that it wasn't a casual, friendly conversation. As soon as she opened her mouth to speak, a horn sounded, long and low-pitched. Siren's entire body tensed. The horn rose an octave, and Siren jumped forward, running a few steps before rising into the air. Twice a month, on a fairly regular schedule, she heard that horn, and she was usually closer than this to the gates where the rippers would converge.
You wrote how Siren reacts to the interruption, but the story would benefit if you also showed Illyana's reaction.
Even Siren was slightly afraid of the rippers, despite the skill that came with her race. She arrived at the south gate as guards propped planks and beams against it. She dove quickly. A quick thrust of her wings kept her from breaking her legs on impact as she stood and faced the rippers.
You're not describing the scene enough for me to understand, at first glance, what's going on. "She dove quickly." Why? What did she dive into? A tunnel, water, the air? Where is she landing, and why does she need to use a quick thrust of her wings to stop her from breaking her legs?
The next sentence implies that she dove over the wall, but it takes time to pick up speed if she's flying, so how high was that wall? how fast was she flying down the other side that she had to thrust her wings to slow herself down? If she jumped over the wall, and her legs are powerful enough to jump over the wall, wouldn't her legs be strong enough to support her when she lands?
Then I think about her anatomy. A bird's bones have pockets of air inside them, which keeps the bird light and makes the bones strong enough to support the bird's body. But a bird takes off by flapping its wings, not by jumping.
Strong muscles need strong bones, but when a person exercies it puts stress on the bones, which causes them to crack inside. When the bones recover from that, they heal by becoming more dense, and able to withstand more force (like force from stronger muscles). But when bones become denser, wouldn't they also become heavier?
If you say that Siren dove into the air and flew over the wall so fast that she had to use thrusts of her wings to slow her down, that sounds believable and avoids the question of how her anatomy works. Unless she has supernatural abilities; if she does, it would be an idea to mention them in the story.
The creatures' backs were turned toward her, and there were five of them. They slashed at the gate with huge, heavy claws. Calming her nerves, Siren reached out to the sides and pulled her bladed feathers free from each wing, six in total. She held them in front of her and carefully angled them at the creatures. Two for the one in the middle. One for each of the others.
That description was good. I could follow the story without wondering what's going on.
She pushed the blades forward. All six hit their marks, and all six rippers died.
All six turned around and charged.
Siren waited a few seconds, then jumped and beat wind against the creatures as she rose into the air. She flew away from Sigmora and the rippers chased her, red blades sticking out of their backs, blue blood slowly dripping from fatal wounds. She flew slowly, letting them follow her. Once they were dead, they could follow her for about ten minutes before finally realizing they were dead. In those ten minutes, she was in as much danger of being caught and dismantled as when they were alive.
She flew for ten minutes, and then the rippers fell all at once and didn't move again.
'Death' is usually defined as 'when the body can no longer function.' Here, it implies that the rippers only stop moving when they Realize that they're dead. ...how does that work? If they can carry on functioning even after they've dead, why do they stop when they 'realize' that they're dead? What's the significance of that?
She landed and quickly collected her blades. She'd dump them in the forest later, with the rest of them. Why she kept them, she wasn't quite sure, but it felt right. For now, she backed away from the rippers. They were dead, of course, but though she was credited with being the most dangerous creature on the continent, she knew differently. She was horrified of death. It barely seemed like an inconvenience to rippers, and there always seemed to be more of them.
On the flight back to Sigmora, Siren realized that she'd been trembling. She'd only been injured by the creatures once, two years ago, and had fought hundreds since. Why was she so scared of them? It was probably a variety of things, but greatest of all, she thought, was their lack of concern for their own lives. All they did was kill and eat. Kill and eat. Kill and eat. If she cut their heads off, their bodies would chase her and tear her apart without realizing they had no way to eat her. And then they'd die and collapse and crush whatever life was left out of her.
She may be a monster, but even monsters feared bigger monsters.
Okay, well done! I don't know how Siren's life was saved through interactions two years ago, but I assume that someone helped her during/after an attack from the rippers. It also raises a question: Was she a serial killer because she murdered people, or because she killed rippers?
I was going to ask how Siren could function in that world without being hunted by the police, but if Siren only killed rippers, that would make her more of a hero. It doesn't tell us why Illyana provoked Siren (through if Siren is a hero, Illyana may not have been mad at a blood angel), but it does kinda say why Illyana wouldn't be terrified of Siren.
This was a surprise twist at the end that changes the context of Siren's personality. I wasn't expecting it. Well done!