Felix slammed the door behind him in a huff and stepped away from the manor. He wished that the bang of the door could silence more than his mother that evening. He’s heard enough. From his mother, from his father, from this City. But he’d never have true silence in Evenheim.
It was late in the evening, and the dark hour was coming upon the Dusk. The city buzzed with murmurs, even during this time of sleep when the streets were empty of people. He found it impossible to ignore the obnoxious sounds of the City Daemon. He grimaced and covered his ears in a futile effort to shut it out. He tried to ignore it by focusing on something else, like the cool breeze from the Gale on his face. It wasn’t enough to calm his nerves.
A woman delicately stepped out of the house to approach him. Felix let go of his ears and composed himself. He could barely see her as the eclipse gradually covered the sun. It was one of the house Magicians, probably sent by his mother. Felix glared.
“Prince Felix,” she said calmly.
“Nitwit,” he muttered in a begrudging greeting.
“I’ve been told to see that you come back inside.”
Felix scoffed. “You can see me come inside when I feel like it.”
“I expected as much,” she said unperturbed.
She stood there patiently, as usual. He looked away to scowl at the darkening city streets.
“Is there something I can assist you with?” she offered.
“The city won’t shut up,” he hissed. It got on his nerves, the murmur of its needs and wants and all that begging. And it was absolutely obnoxious, like the Daemons only wanted things from him and his family. How did his father handle this constant nagging? But then, his parents nagged him too.
Felix was the crown prince! Now in his adolescence, he was studying to inherit the throne. But, because of this, instead of feeling connected and powerful, no one listened to him anymore. They all asked things of him instead. His parents became the “King” and “Queen” to him and talk was always about responsibility and discipline. Was he only there to be the next city-caretaker? Did they not care about him as their son anymore?
He felt surrounded and isolated at the same time. He wanted to suffocate the noise.
If the city would just shut up...
Maybe a Magician could do it.
He looked back at Nitwit.
“Make it Gale-blasted quiet.”
She inclined her head, “My apologies, Prince. To quiet the city daemon is an impossible task,” she said matter of factly.
“And, the Gale is never quiet,” she added for good measure.
His eyes widened. What was this? How was there something he couldn’t make a Magician do?
“Silence the Gale then!” Felix snapped.
“Also an impossible task, my prince. The Gale does not heed the commands of Magicians.”
He flinched. Even Magicians, the ones that always did what he told them to, didn’t respond to his current needs.
A breeze nudged him. Was the Gale making fun of him, now?
Felix let out another sharp scoff and turned away. Before he commanded something worse of Nitwit, which would have Felix reprimanded again by “the King,” he ran off toward the southern gate. He’d just leave then, leave the city until he couldn’t hear it in his head.
He made his way through the streets, seeing by the light of the guards’ lanterns that stood by either side of the Evenheim Gate. He quietly went through, toward the open fields between Evenheim and Norin.
He’d rather be alone in silence, than in this disquieting city.
The voices from Evenheim’s city daemon gradually died out as he trudged away, as far as he needed to. His feet brushed against the grasses that grew to the height of his knees. Finally, he had his silence except for the Gale brushing across the field.
Alone and in the darkness, he let himself shout and act out in a tantrum, stomping and destroying patches of grass. Really though, what were Daemons anyways? Needy emotionless inanimate things that can’t do anything for themselves.
The Gale swept by, pulling away some of his negative energy and subtly cooling his rage. He heard it rustling through the grass and it caressed his face, brushed his hair back. He felt his heated frustration in his gut gradually subside with each whispering breath of wind. Felix frowned and breathed deeply.
Maybe raging at the nothing actually helped let off steam for once.
Or was it something else?
Another breath of wind went across his eyes. He blinked, realizing he was tired. He knew he should be home and asleep. But home was his annoying city and where his family was. He scowled. Things he was supposed to be connected to, and yet he felt so distant from them. And used by them.
But here he was, outside in the dark, with nothing but the wind and stars.
Felix sat down in the dirt slouching among the flattened grass. He then gave in to a need to lie down. He stretched his legs out and put one arm behind his head. He looked lazily at the sky, as the perpetual breeze soothingly brushed his hair and caressed his skin.
Despite the winds’ calming influence, he couldn’t sleep. He wrestled with his thoughts, restless and twisted.
He was alone. And no one cared.
This was fine. Maybe he should just leave Evenheim altogether. They didn’t need Felix to be its ruler. He could leave it to his sister.
No one would care. No one would miss him.
The wind wailed.
Felix sat up gasping, suddenly winded from an overwhelming pang of sadness, loneliness and longing. And… concern? This confused him. The wind howled and rushed about the grass, restlessly.
These… these weren’t his emotions he felt.
“Gale, what was that?” he muttered to himself, gripping his chest.
The billowing gust died down to a small cry. Felix could catch his breath now.
It wasn’t a word but a sense of the word in his mind. A breath inside his head that spoke the feeling clearly. It felt similar to the city daemon’s speech, except it wasn’t layers and layers of voices, but more like intrusive emotions.
He looked around, fruitlessly in the darkness.
“What daemon speaks?” he demanded. Should he leave? If a daemon forced its influence on him while he was alone, he could be taken by its whims.
But that might not be so bad.
He pushed the thought aside.
“You speak concern,” he pressed, trying to sound as imperious as he could. “What do you want? What are you?”
The Gale swept around him curiously. The feeling of helpless loneliness fell away but he still felt that sad longing stick with him. A need, to be noticed. It felt uncertain, concerned. He felt it with every brush of the wind.
He paled as he realized, it was the Gale itself communicating with him. It spoke with its feelings and emotions. This was impossible to deny. Felix felt its emotions and they connected with his own amplifying how he felt.
He felt a wish to connect, to be heard. Was this his own feelings from before? Or did the Gale feel the same way? He relaxed, dropping his authoritarian façade. Did they want the same thing? Could they comfort each other?
“I – I feel your pain,” he said gently.
The Gale shied away from him, startled. A vacuum remained in its wake, leaving him alone and breathless.
“No wait! I don’t mind,” he breathed.
The moon peeled away from the sun gradually, spilling warm light on to the land, as the dark hour ended. As his eyes adjusted, Felix could see the grass swirling in tight cycling waves in a perimeter around him, leaving him in a strange void of stillness.
Was the Gale surprised? Scared?
“Please. It’s okay. I don’t mind,” he repeated.
The air cautiously filled back in around him. He could breathe normally again. He could feel the Gale. They both longed to connect, to have another hear them. And they felt acknowledged. This made him feel good.
“Did you – bring me out here? Were you trying to talk with me?” he asked, becoming more excited with each word.
Another delicious breeze blew through him. His heart jumped. A clear answer. The Gale said yes by feeding him its happiness. This was nothing like the one-sided pressure of voices from Evenheim’s city daemon. He enjoyed this.
“Why me?” he asked, curious.
A short series of juxtaposed feelings washed through him. Surrounded but deserted. Used but unnoticed. Connected yet disconnected.
“I see. You felt my pain too.”
He was recognized.
The Gale was at least hundreds of years old. According to some of his books, some had theorized the Gale’s sentience but nothing mentioned its emotional capacity. It was connected to all in the Cycle and bound them to its rules for centuries, but had no one considered how it felt in all that time? Did no one know it had emotions? Was the Gale hurting a hundred times more than he? And for all those years?
Felix and the Gale had heard each other. The Gale had comforted him and now he wanted to return the favor. To ease the pain the Gale shared with him.
“I’m here now. I hear you,” Felix offered.
The Gale twisted and twirled through the field. The rustling of the grass sounded like shy giggling to his ears. Then a gust brushed up and kissed his cheek.
His face flushed.
Felix’s heart pounded in his chest and ears. He had butterflies fluttering wildly in his stomach. He felt a warm sensation run through his skin.
What was happening to him?
He wanted more.
Was – was the daemon manipulating him? Would he have wanted to comfort the Gale without its influence over him?
Did he care?
He wanted it now. To connect with the wind. To comfort and share this time together. To share emotions together. Especially this elation the Gale gave him.
His anger and frustrations had been lifted and blown away, replaced with this thirst to please the Gale. This new connection made him feel warm and light and dizzy, like he could float away.
The Gale whirled and swept through his jacket and his hair, and playfully kissed him and nudged him excitedly. He heard its laughter and felt its amusement. He could feel the Gale’s excitement and joy as if they were his own. It was overwhelming. If it was pleased, it delighted him. If it was delighted, it made him ecstatic.
The Gale gently slowed its path through the grass, drawing him in. He felt himself relax as he lazily followed the rippling path the wind made with his eyes, entrancing him. His eyes became heavy. How long had he stayed up through the morning?
The Gale’s peace sedated Felix. It could not rest itself, but it would be happy to have him sleep. A warm sensation came over him.
He must sleep. The air became heavy around him, encouraging him to lie down. He had no energy to fight it, and he didn’t mind. He gave in, and curled up in the grass. Doing what the Gale wanted made him feel warm and fuzzy.
The Gale gently blanketed him with a warm breath as he let sleep take him.
Felix woke to feeling a touch caress across his face and hair. He blinked and stretched. The Gale tickled his face and pushed him gently to get up. He yawned. How much time had passed?
“Good morning,” Felix chuckled.
The Gale giggled and the wind kissed his forehead in greeting. His heart jumped again, his adrenaline waking him fully. He was excited to share more time with the Gale. What would they do together now?
He wanted to do what the Gale wanted, to feel its joy overwhelm him over and over again. He wanted to stay out here, to let the wind to take him wherever it desired.
The Gale felt his wish and a gentle breeze expressed its concern to him.
“What’s wrong? Why shouldn’t I stay?”
He had a family to go home to. He felt the Gale express its yearning for connection again, but it was a wish for Felix to go back, to connect with his own family.
“But–?” Felix protested weakly. He wanted to have some more fun. Share more together.
The wind giggled and nudged him.
“Okay, okay. I’m up,” he said.
He stood and brushed the dirt off his clothes and hair. He was sad to leave.
The Gale died down to a simple gentle constant breeze. He recognized the feeling as the breeze he felt every day of his life.
The Gale was telling him he was being silly. He couldn’t “leave” it. The Gale was ever-present.
And now that they knew each other, they’d never feel so alone again.
As he entered the perimeter of Evenheim, a welcoming feeling came into him. He paused to listen. It was from the whispers of the city daemon. They would tell his father he was back.
He looked up as he heard the guards by the Evenheim Gate call to him. They explained that the King and Queen were looking for him. Servants and guards were told to search in and around the city until he was found. Felix nodded and briskly passed them by. His parents would be mad then, but – they did look for him.
They cared. And the city cared.
As he weaved through the streets of people going about their regular business, the Gale brushed against his shoulders. Felix sighed. “Yeah, yeah. I know. You don’t have to say ‘I told you so,’ okay?” he mumbled under his breath. He’d go apologize to his parents for worrying them. He smiled, despite himself.
And there was something else he needed to clear up.
“Nitwit!” Felix shouted as he approached the manor.
She appeared at the entrance and held the door for him. “Welcome home. I see you’re coming back inside.”
Felix snorted, then turned his face away to hide his expression. He felt ashamed for how he acted earlier. He had left her with three standing Obligations to handle: the one from his mother and two impossible ones from himself.
He couldn’t look her in the eyes. “You don’t have to silence anything,” he muttered.
She raised an eyebrow curiously at his rescission. “Thank you, Prince Felix.”
As he walked passed her, a pleasant breeze followed him inside.