His mother had told him all Noblemen hear it.
The shrieking of the Gale.
Every member of his family, living and buried, had grown up hearing the mournful sound, the weeping carried on the breeze in moments of stillness.
“In time, Felix,” she’d said, “You’ll learn to ignore it.”
But he didn’t want to.
Despite what he’d been told, it called to him, and only to him. He knew it. He felt something. When the wind laced its fingers through his hair and swept it off his face, he felt it. Something none of the others did. Or ever would.
When Felix stared out the window during his studies, it wasn’t the longing for adventure that occupied his mind. He’d watch the trees outside the castle walls, enraptured by the sight of the leaves fluttering in the Gale’s constant breath.
“The Gale provides the heartbeat of our world,” the governess said.
Yes. A heartbeat that echoed his own, measure for measure.
As the years stretched on, Felix could hear more than just crying. Whispers soon reached his ears, dissonant at first, but soon growing in clarity. They came to him when he was alone, isolated from any others who might steal away his attention.
Do you hear me, my Prince? Do you understand?
It took even longer to learn how to reply. The time that passed sharpened the yearning in his heart, until the very stirring of air against his skin sent a knife twisting in his chest.
The Evenheim court never ceased their whispering about him, he knew that. He caught their glances and barely-concealed looks as he stole away for countless moments of solitude. Word had reached the members of the city that their prince held conversations when he was alone, saw things that never were. He didn’t care. Every second he came to know the Gale, to know its pain (though not its cause), his soul grew fuller, his mind, stronger.
His love, deeper.
In all their exchanges with each other, one thing became clear. The Gale wanted something – needed something – and Felix alone could offer it. On his daily pilgrimage of solitude, the unspoken desire of the daemon hit him once again with enough force to weaken his knees.
“Please,” he called to the sky, voice shaking, “What will you have of me?”
He longed for the Gale’s sweet embrace, the ghost of a touch on his face, on his lips. The air swirled around him, gentle and sweet, and he closed his eyes against the thrill of it.
“My love,” he said, “Show yourself to me.”
He swallowed his frustration and bowed his head in deference. Was the reply ever any different? A daemon may choose to speak with him, but he was not its master. The Gale, ever patient and wise, would have him know this above all else. Love held great power, but never control.
At night, a horrid storm came to Evenheim. Felix was wrenched from his sleep by violent, pelting rain thrown against his window, and a lilting, dulcet voice.
My prince of Evenheim, heir to the throne.
In an instant, the covers were thrown back, and he went plunging into the deluge. Soaked to the bone, Felix turned up his face, opening himself to the lashing wind.
“Here I am!” he cried, reveling in the way the howling tempest tugged against his body. “How will you have me?”
A flash of lightning blinded him, the tremendous roar of thunder not far behind. In the ringing that filled his ears, Felix swore he heard a blessed sound. The laughter of a daemon, his love. His lips drew back in a gleeful smile, and madness overtook him.
Evenheim’s prince disappeared that night, not a soul to witness his fate. Some say he died in the storm, his bones exposed somewhere to be bleached by the sun, the right of pyre flowers revoked by the wind. Others say he was carried off. That among the rain and the thunder, he became like the air itself, and joined with the Gale. Together, they reigned over the Galelands, from now until the end of time.
For he was, after all, the air to the throne.