"Tell me a story, mama."

A gentle tug on her skirt, presumably from the speaker, made the young woman look down and away from her tedious kneading of dough. A small child, not yet grown to her waist, clung to her and gazed up with eyes glazed with unshed tears. When the child saw her tired expression, she shrank back slightly. "Please?" the tiny voice continued, wavering slightly. "I can't go to sleep, 'cause of the wind." As if to reinforce her point, the gale outside flared up, sending a piercing screech through the wooden house. The child flinched and clung on even tighter to the skirt. "Please, mama?" she begged, trying not to cry again.

The woman sighed and, after a few vigorous rolls, set the dough aside to rise before kneeling down to hug her shaking daughter. "Now, now, it's just the wind, darling. It can't hurt you any more than the rain."

"You can drown in the rain," the child declared, pushing herself away from her mother and glaring defiantly at her. "And dust devils can tear trees to splinters when they get big. Hergo told me so." A second later, another loud shriek tore through the house, causing her to leap back into her mother's arms with a squeak.

Her mother chuckled to herself, then gently stroked her daughter's hair. "It's alright, sweetie," she crooned. "It's just Lelouch, running off to meet the sun. He's terribly late, you see, and he has to be at the ocean by the morning to set the fishermen's boats to sea." She easily invoked the name of the Spirit of the Wind, a deity whose title was usually not called on out of both respect and fear in their small mountain village. She also failed to mention to the child that the wind would certainly not be gone by morning, and that the black wool clouds outside were the beginning of a harsh winter storm that was expected to last another week, all but burying their small mountain village in snow. But, as saying these things would only upset her little girl even more, she smiled softly and added, "Please don't cry, darling; Lelouch may be a fickle Spirit, but he hates tears of all sorts, especially from children. It makes him cry, too; you don't want it to start to rain, do you?"

The little girl wiped away her not-quite-shed tears and stared at her mother with wide grey eyes. She shuffled her feet shyly before asking, "Can you tell me a story about Lelouch? So I's can go to sleep?"

The mother was quiet for a moment, silently debating. When a loud gust of wind made the little girl burst into tears, the woman gave in and promised to tell her a story as long as she was a good little girl and went straight to sleep afterwards. Her daughter, needless to say, quickly agreed, and clung to her arm like a vice as they walked to their family's shared bedroll. When they were both snuggled tightly together under soft fur blankets, the mother stroked her daughter's hair and began to croon a bedtime story that most little girls her age had already learned by heart:

"Once upon a time," she whispered, "when the World was one island and one sea, all of the great races lived as one—humans lived with elves and dragons and even fey in perfect harmony. However, after a time, the races began to drift away from each other and even began to quarrel over little things like land and money. God became upset that his creations were fighting with one another, and so he gave them Magic do that they could heal and care for one another. But the races only quarreled more so over their new powers, and used their magic to create war and hurtful things. Seeing this angered Him, and He split the great island into a thousand pieces to keep them apart. This did nothing but spread the fighting farther and farther apart, until the entire World was awash in war and grief. After seeing that even this could not stop their quarreling, He became angry and drowned the world with water to punish them for hurting the World and one another. When everything was dry and the destruction was made clear, he grieved over all of the beautiful lost things and vowed that such a disaster could never be allowed to happen again. But he could not let things go on as they had before, either. So God took the greatest, bravest people from all of the races and created the first Spirits—the Council of Ten.

"From the elves, he created Branna, the Spirit of flames, and Sol, the Spirit of the sun. From the dragons, he created Kioshi, Spirit of beasts, and Jorden, the Spirit of the earth. From the fey, he created Miri, Spirit of—"

"And Lelouch?" the impatient child asked, rewarded with a teasing pinch on her chubby cheeks. "I was just wondering…." she mumbled.

"And yes, Lelouch," her mother said with an exaggerated roll of her eyes, "was created from the humans as the Spirit of the wind."

"Oh." The little girl giggled and snuggled closer to her mother. "Okay then." After a moment, she fidgeted, still not quite sleepy. "…Was that the whole story, though?"

"No. Would you like me to continue, without interrupting?"

The girl's face was instantly solemn. "Yes ma'am," she said gravely.

Her mother ruffled her hair. "Well, alright then.

"After the whole Council had been appointed, it quickly became clear Lelouch was very special, even among the spirits. He was very powerful and beautiful; they say that his hair was as fine and silver as the morning mist, and that when he spoke, it sounded like a flute playing long and clear. He was the last of the Council to be appointed as well as the youngest in his mortal years, and because of that he was treated as a child among them. He did not become angry at the other Spirits treatment, though, and instead chose to ignore them as much as he could. However, as millennium passed and more Spirits were appointed, he had already grown accustomed to the lifestyle of a nomad and of wandering through the world to tend to his duties, never settling down in one place. This was why, when the other Spirits began to take wives and husbands, he was the only one of the Council who stayed alone. The other Spirits worried over him and tried to persuade him for many years to take a wife, or at least a lover, who would keep him company. His solitude, they insisted, was unhealthy for someone who had lived as long as he. But Lelouch never took a woman to his side and was never lonely; the wind does not care for such things as love or companionship, but for freedom and change.

"This continued for nearly ten thousand years; he saw kingdoms rise and fall and watched as the World froze and thawed and burned and froze again; he watched it all alone and was satisfied.

"When the new World became ten-thousand-and-one, the Council demanded that Lelouch take a wife. Lelouch became very, very angry and threatened to leave the Council in turn. They argued for almost a decade before they came to an agreement.

"Instead of forcing Lelouch into marriage, they decided for a contest of sorts to be had for him to find his perfect bride.

"An enormous Stepway was built, stretching into the sky up to Lelouch's castle. The terms of the contest were clear; any woman who could climb the Stepway would become Lelouch's bride. Hearing this, women from all over the world raced to the Stepway in hopes of winning the heart of the powerful and beautiful Spirit. However, it soon became clear that climbing the Stepway was not simply a matter of strength. You see, when the Stepway was finally complete, Lelouch placed an enchantment on it, bringing it to life. The Stepway could look into anyone's heart who attempted to climb it; if she did not meet Lelouch's strict requirements, the Stepway would reject her. Hundreds of thousands of women tried to climb the Stepway, but none could climb even a hundred feet from his castle before the Stepway threw them to the earth. After many years, the number of women who came to be Lelouch's bride dwindled, and after nearly a century, the contest was all but forgotten.

"The Council was furious with Lelouch, of course. They accused him of cheating; surely, they said, he had set his expectations far too high for any mortal woman to achieve. Lelouch laughed openly at them. While it was true, he admitted, that his standards were not reasonable by any means, they were all obtainable nonetheless and therefore broke no conditions of their agreement. When the Council heard this, it reluctantly admitted defeat and did not interfere with Lelouch's relations anymore. Lelouch could have taken the Stepway down then, but he decided not to. He kept it to serve as a permanent reminder of his promise to never surrender his heart to any woman.

"To this day, the Stepway still stands proudly as a gateway to Lelouch's castle, and occasionally, a woman will travel from across the world to try to win Lelouch's hand. But to this day, no one has climbed to the top and claimed their place by Lelouch's side."

By the time the woman finished her story, her voice had lowered to a whisper. Her daughter had grown very quiet, absorbed in this fascinating tale of the Spirit of the Wind. In fact, the mother was sure that she had fallen asleep when her tiny voice spoke up once more.

"When I grow up, I'm gonna marry Lelouch," she mumbled, smiling to herself.

Her mother smiled softly and kissed her child goodnight one last time before she drifted off to sleep. "Aye, baby," she murmured, "I said the same thing when I was your age. Lucky for you, the Stepway didn't seem to like me much. I didn't make it two feet off of the ground before I fell and busted my arse, and right in front of your daddy, too..."

Her voice trailed off not because of nostalgia, but because of the eerie silence that had crept over the house sometime during her storytelling. Carefully, she lifted her daughter's arms from around her neck and snuck across the room, trying to confirm her suspicions. Sure enough, the winter storm that the village elders had predicted to last until the next moon had suddenly dissipated. The night sky was clear, revealing a white waxing moon sparkling above the snow covered treetops, and the shrieking, snow-covered wind that had terrified her child had been reduced to a gentle breeze outside.

A slight movement in the trees made her stiffen and squint into the forest. She could have sworn that a head of white hair, unheard of in her secluded mountain village, had nodded in her direction before ducking behind a tree and vanishing into the night. A moment later, a harsh gale of wind tilted the trees sharply to the south and was gone as quickly as it came. The woman gave a small surprised gasp when she realized what had happened and immediately clasped her hands together to retain the good luck of a passing spirit. "Oh, thank you, Lelouch," she whispered, knowing that he heard her and expecting no response.

She ran quickly to the family's small shrine in the northernmost corner of the house and gazed at the two small statues standing there; one was of the smiling Spirit Palirio, the female protector of the house and family, and one was of Manen, the beautiful Moon Spirit that looked over their village. Very carefully, she parted the two statues and bowed her head in thanks, vowing that the next morning, she would run to their priest and obtain a new batch of incense and small figure of Lelouch. It would stand in the center of their house's shrine for generations as a reminder of the wandering Spirit who had calmed a great winter storm for the sake of drying one little girl's tears.