Lucas didn't sleep that night, instead he lay awake staring at the ceiling and listening to the soft breathing beside him. If the war broke out, or rather when the war broke out he would most certainly would be taken. As an ex-guardian his skills would be useful. However that was not what kept him awake, men with families were permitted to remain behind to support them. However, if the Guardians truly wanted him, who knows what they would do to Trisha to get him.

The next morning Lucas slid out of bed and went to the fields, he worked on separating the quinoa seeds from the heads with no pause, no rest. He received his pay silently and returned home. Together his wife and he ate dinner, then they spoke for hours about what they should do in their situation. How they would react if the war came. Trisha would not fight, she was done with violence and believed that she must care for their child. Lucas did not wish to fight either, there was no need to verbalize his reason. They both knew.

So the next several months passed, each week Trisha growing a bit larger and the war looming ever closer. Tidings of conflict came the same day a beautiful baby girl did. Lucas and Trisha glowed with admiration as they gazed at their new daughter, "Hope, we will call her Hope." Trisha's tired voice was full of love, Lucas simply nodded. Unable to speak as he looked at his daughter. Internally he feared that one day she would become like him. But he did not verbalize his fears, instead he reveled in the new life and new addition to his family.

He spent a lot of the next day smiling serenely. Watching his wife hold Hope, or holding her himself. Whenever he looked down at the innocent little face of his daughter Lucas could nearly forget the war. However a conflict years in the making was not something that could be put aside. The next day Lucas returned to work, and was surprised to see only half of his fellow field workers the rest, he was told, had been taken to war. They worked hard that day, working longer hours than usual. Lucas strived to fill the gap left by others but when it grew too dark to see, even for them, the field was not complete.

They walked back in a sore silence, moving slowly to ensure they didn't lose their way. Lucas separated from the rest sore from his work, which was twice as much as the rest, he dragged one foot after the other. He knew he should stop pushing himself so hard, but he was driven by a simple need to provide. He focused on it, and let it take over him. The others carried on, leaving him behind without noticing it. Lucas let them, unwilling to draw attention to his difficulties. The larger group faded from hearing as the traveled down the path and soon Lucas was alone.

It was eerie walking through the silent night. A twig shifted over the earth and Lucas froze, extending his senses. Adrenaline was pumping as he heard another soft shift in the earth. Slowly he began to place the sound, several elves were creeping round him sliding through the dirt to get closer. Lucas exploded in a sudden sprint as he attempted to escape, abandoning all pretenses of stealth the elves broke out after him. Lucas's muscles cramped in pain and screamed protests as he forced them into motion. The lithe pursuers caught up easily due to the difficulty Lucas was having in gaining compliance in his body. They tackled him, holding his face to the dirt so he couldn't see them.

Lucas struggled but exhausted from the day's labor his stamina soon gave out. "We will keep it simple Lucas. You will enter the army and support our cause. Or Trisha and new baby Hope will become victims of the enemy." Lucas roared wordlessly into the dirt as he bucked, trying to displace the elves holding him but nothing shook the clinging bodies off of him. They simply held on until he again subsided into a pained compliance. "You have three days. And don't try to escape, we will be watching." Lucas growled into the dirt trying to memorize the voice, the smell of the elf, anything that would help him identify the anonymous figure.

A sharp smell invaded Lucas's nose and instant blackness roared over his vision pulling him towards unconsciousness.
*~*~*~*
It was light when he woke, the sun had risen over the horizon. Lucas sat up quickly looking around. He had been pulled off the road so none would discover him. Groaning at the pain his his limbs Lucas stood up and, as the memories of the last night filtered through, began to hobble home. Trisha would doubtless be worried as he had not returned the night before. Quickening his pace Lucas estimated how much time it would take him to return.

Luckily the field he had worked the past day was not far from his home so Lucas was racing up the path to his home before the hour had passed. He burst into the door to see Trisha sitting with tear swollen eyes begging a Guardian to go out and find him. She gasped in relief as he came in, "Where have you been!?!?" Lucas gaped at the Guardian, he did not expect Trisha to react so wildly to his disapearance. The Guardian himself stood up brushing off his uniform, "Indeed Lucas," he drawled, "Where have you been?" Lucas looked at the man steadily, straining to match the voice with the one from the night before. They were however different so he simply pulled Trisha closer ignoring the question.

With a snort of disgust the Guardian shoved past, leaving a lingering sharp scent on the air. That Lucas recognized. He turned after the retreating back and considered attacking it but he could not bring himself to do it with Trisha so near. So he simply watched the man leave. Trisha hugged him tightly, "Where Lucas?" He buried his face in her hair, letting the fine strands tickle his nose. "I was attacked last night, I have three days to join the Northern cause or something will happen to you and Hope."

Lucas spoke in a monotone, voice dead, devoid of feeling. He could feel Trisha stiffen in anger, "I won't let them, we'll leave." Lucas shook his head, "They're watching us Trisha. Lets just enjoy the time we have together." He pulled her up into his arms and carried her to the single bed. Hope lay sleeping in a small crib beside them as Lucas settled down. Trisha held onto him, "How will Hope and I eat. She's too small to be left while I work. And I can't afford someone to care for her." Lucas sighed and looked up, unsure of what they would do.

"Perhapse," he said slowly, "the Guardians will be of some help." She recoiled from his suggestion, "Lucas what are you saying. The Guardians just threatened my life and the life of your daughter!" Lucas nodded, "I know, but they can help. They don't want to hurt you, they just want me. I'll go willingly if they agree to care for you and Hope." Lucas could tell Trisha didn't like the idea, but she acquiessed. Perhaps she sensed how close he was to breaking down from the fear and stress. So she simply held him, enjoying the warmth of his presence before the war would take it away.

The next day Lucas settled his affairs, and prepared everything he needed. Trisha cared for Hope and watched him never saying a word. Lucas didn't blame her for her silence. He understood how she must feel, being left behind at the mercy of those who were taking him. But seeing no other choice Lucas continued to ready himself for the next day.

When he awoke Lucas wished he hadn't. Trisha still slept beside him, carefully Lucas slid out from beneath the covers and looked down at the sprawled figure he had grown to love. Trisha had always possessed a strength yet had never been afraid to be vulnerable. Blinking back tears Lucas turned away and kissed his daughter on the brow, he hoped that he would one day return and raise her. But privately he didn't think it was likely. So he picked up his knapsack and walked out of the house, leaving his peaceful life behind.
*~*~*~*
There was only one other man in the recruitment center. Lucas answered his nod with with nod of his own. The man seemed to take that as an invitation to walk over and introduce himself. "Names Hobien, you?" Lucas sighed a deep rattling breath, "Lucas." The man nodded, eyeing him strangely "You don't sound excited for someone volunteering to serve." Lucas snorted, "Who says I'm volunteering?" The man raised an eyebrow and glanced around suggestively as if pointing out their location. Lucas ignored him, instead focusing on the Guardian who had just entered the room.

"Lucas." The deep voice matched the one over his head a few days ago, this man was the one who held Lucas down. Nostrils flaring Lucas glared at him showing that he recognized the man. To his credit the Guardian had the presence of mind to show a little guilt, "Orders you understand." Lucas looked away, still furious at his situation. Hobien stood silently to the side looking very confused.

"Fill out these forms. Then follow me." The Guardian's curt remark ended the confrontation, and as Lucas hunched over the small slips of parchment he swore to himself he'd get revenge on the man pulling him from his new family.

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