Lucas paid little attention to the path as he followed Amana towards the Academy. Hobien on the other hand seemed enraptured by the great building. "What's wrong haven't you seen the Academy before?" Lucas's question was slightly mocking but Hobien didn't react to the snide tone, choosing instead to answer openly, "Never this close, It's amazing isn't it." Lucas rolled his eyes but replied, "Indeed." Amana didn't react to the short discorse behind him,apparently reserving his own opinion.

Upon entering the grounds Lucas looked to Amana for direction, he was unsure as to where they would be taken. Amana gestured towards a series of low wooden buildings, "That is where you will be staying." Lucas pulled up, "What? We're staying in the old stables?" Amana glanced back, unconcerned by the disgust, "They've been rebuilt." Ignoring Hobien's curious glance Lucas began striding towards the buildings.

He had to admit, the buildings were now superior to the old stables that had once rested on the land. Much of the manure and rotten straw had disappeared, replaced with stone floors and wooden bunks. Several men already rested in the long room, talking with each other and reading letters. Amana gestured for Hobien to choose a bed, Lucas moved to follow the other elf but a hand on his shoulder stopped him. And he died inside as he realized he was to be treated differntly, seperated from the other men. "Sorry Lucas, you are to stay at the Academy, you understand?" Amana's calm voice was tinged with worry.

Lucas knew it made sense, he was here against his will and the other men were volunteers. Sighing he waved at Hobien half-heartedly and followed Amana towards the main building, he knew curious gazes followed them as they walked out of the sleeping room.

Outside the air was still, no wind stirred the atmosphere as the pair of elves strode up to the giant gates barring access to the building. Gaping at the feat of engineering Lucas glanced over at the impassive expression on Amana's face. "When did they put those gates in? It looks more like a fortress now then a school." Amana nodded, "It's a precaution. The council deemed it neccessary." Lucas sensed the finallity in Amana's words and dropped the topic, wondering if the Council truly believed the South would advance this far.

Amana shouted, entreating the guards to open the gate. They did so, allowing the two to enter into the courtyard. It was different than Lucas remembered it, rather than one on one training drills took up much of the courtyard. More barracks lined the inner wall, all larger and more comfertable than the converted one outside. Noticing the difference Lucas turned to Amana to ask about it, but the sour expression on the elf's face made him decide to hold his tounge.

Harsh shouts echoed in the foyer as Lucas entered, Amana's name was called making the guardian pause. He looked from Lucas to the elf yelling at him. A second call seemed to decide him, Amana pointed towards the stairs, "Go up the Council Chambers, you know the way. And Lucas, hurry."With that the elf turned away and hurried off. Lucas sighed as the clamour around him increased. He slid between bodies, dodging maps and elbows heading for the chambers.

It was quieter in the stairwell, but only just. The odd page still ran up and down the stone steps bearing various sacks of parchment or letters. They ignored Lucas and he did likewise, merely tilting his body to allow them to pass without dropping their load. It was with heavy steps that Lucas emerged from the steps and headed down the upper halls. The Council chambers were located at the end of the hall, ornate wooden doors with gold leaf decorations. Hesitantly Lucas knocked, his tap echoing in the long halls.

It was not long before a voice emerged from the room, "Enter." it commanded. With a final glance over his shoulder Lucas pushed his way inside, the nine council members were seated around a circular table. The only member he recognized by name was his old trainor, Hoffman, the fit elf nodded in recognition but otherwise remained silent. It was a different member who spoke, "Lucas, we have been expecting you." There was a pause as if they were expecting him to respond but Lucas remained silent, observing them impassivly. As the silence lengthened the elf spoke again, though his voice was not tinged with impatience it retained an innate authority, "As an elf who has been trained as a Guardian, yet isn't a Guardian you are uniquely suited to commanding a small task force to aid our cause in the war."

Again the man ceased to talk, waiting for some reaction from Lucas, Lucas however did not give one. He simply waited. The elf who had been speaking refused to continue, choosing instead to glare at Lucas. It was Hoffman who finally broke the silence, "You will be a tactical unit, hit and run. We hope to turn you and your team into a scalpel of sorts, carving pieces from the enemy as the engage with our own army." The quick explanation answered some questions Lucas had been silently contemplating, but one weighing on his mind drove him to ask, "How long?" There was some shifting and muttering through the council before Hoffman spoke again, "We don't know lad. For as long as the war."

Lucas looked away from the nine faces, he wanted to turn and run from the room right then and there. Run back to Trisha and Hope. But he knew he couldn't, any attempt to flee would result in their deaths. "Do I have a choice?" The first elf interrupted him, "Of course you are free to leave should you wish for your family's death. That is your choice." Lucas gritted his teeth, restraining his violent impulse to wring the man's neck. "Do I have a choice in my team?" The elf who had spoken out reddened slightly before answering, "Of course. But I must limit you to a dozen elves." Lucas nodded. "I already know two, I wish to observe training to select the other ten."

Hoffman grinned broadly standing up, "It shan't be so bad you'll see." Lucas froze the jovial man with an icy stare, "Do not make light of the situation you have forced me into. I serve the North to save my family." His calm voice was razor sharp, it leaked danger, death, and destruction for all who crossed it. Several council members could be seen to be hiding fear and intimidation but Lucas ignored them. Instead he focused his steely gaze on Hoffman, behaving in a way that he would never have even dreamt of when he was still in the Academy. However Hoffman didn't seem bothered, he merely shrugged the rebuke off and spoke, "By the way, which two do ya think yer getting?"

"Hobien and Amana." The simple statement hung in the air as Lucas looked around the nine, "Amana and who?" it was a woman who spoke this time, her flaming red hair tied back, a sword concealed under her cloak, a warrior. "Hobien, he's the elf who volunteered today." She shrugged and glanced around her, "I see no problem, Hobien is a nobody. And Amana is no loss." There were nods and mutters of consent around the table then Hoffman again grinned at Lucas. "Two down ten to go. This way." He gestured  towards the doors and Lucas followed him outside and towards the training grounds.

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