Blake pulled his sweater on over his shirt, watching how it messed his hair up further. He offered his reflection a shy smile, his cold eyes sparkling softly in the light coming in from the window. He grabbed his brush and began to sort through the mess of dark tangles. His black clothes matched his raven hair nicely, he thought, admiring himself for just a moment. Of course, he was just a smaller version of his older brother, except for one thing...

He glanced at the picture on his bedside table, Gavan looking cheerfully back at him. His hair was light, shinny blue, and his eyes were golden, like their mother's.

He wondered how the man was doing, anyway. He normally sent in letters every week since the draft called him in, but they hadn't gotten one in almost three. It wasn't that surprising, really, considering that the war seemed to be escalating as of late. The battle must take a lot out of everyone present. He just hopped Gavan was giving those vile Flamme's what for. They were the ones that started it, anyway.

No need to think on such things at the moment, though. Now fully groomed, he went down stares for breakfast. He smiled at his mother, and thanked her as she sat the food in front of him. As he ate, he watched his little sister giggle and fling baby food across the room. Her mom had been pregnant with her when her dad went off to war, so she'd never meet him. The sobering thought soured the sweet cereal in his mouth, but he ate anyway.

"So, do you need me to work in the shop again?" he asked once he was finished, and she'd taken his bowl away.

"Actually," she said with a smile, "I thought you could do some shopping for me? We need some chicken for dinner. And some more mashed carrots." she chuckled and glanced at the little girl and the mess she was making.

Blake nodded and got what little money they had together, before hurrying off to the marketplace a few blocks away. It didn't take long to get what he wanted, and as he paid the man he felt a pair of strong arms wrap around his waist, "Hey buddy! Long time no see."

He knew the voice instantly as belonging to one of his school friends. He turned and returned the hug, "Wow, Dan, it has been a long time, hasn't it? What have you been up to?"

"Oh, not much, really. My girlfriend broke up with me, so I'm living the single life again."

"Ah, sorry about that."

"No big deal. More food for me, yes?"

The two spoke ideally for a few more minutes, and it brought memories back to the young man. He used to have a crush on him, his best friend. Of course, he never did come out of the closet, and Dan was no involved with the opposite sex he'd no doubt that he was straight. Not that it mattered, that crush was a long time ago. He hadn't heard from him in over a year.

After that, he hurried home, slower than before. This time, he took the time to admire the world around him. With all the pure Glace around, everything was pleasantly cold. Frost coated the houses and roads, brilliantly shining sunlight off their surfaces. Most of the people walking by had the trademark blue hair and frosty eyes, but a few didn't. They were human. And still a few would have either the eyes or the hair, the mixes between the two races. He was like that. Him and his two siblings. At least he wasn't the only one, so he didn't feel that out of place.

As he approched his house, he noticed a deep blue carriage,the horses tethered to his fence. He felt a thrill of excitement at the sight, Maybe his brother was back?

He took off into a run and flung open the front door, but before he could say or do anything, he was silenced by the sullen sight in front of him.

There were three Glace officers, dressed in dark blue, standing in the living room. His mother sat with his Kaylee in her arms, sobbing into her hair. "He's, only seventeen! Please, please you can't..."

Blake tensed as one of the men drew closer, and in a monotone voice reported, "Gavan Clearwell fell in battle. He passed away during sunset twenty days ago. I extend my sympathies, but that does not change what I must do."

The news hit Blake like a physical blow. His brother, Gavan, dead. Dead, not coming back. But he, he was just alive, how could he...?

And then it clicked. The draft. One of age man must be sent from each family. Since their father had been killed, and now Gavan, the only one left to take was him.

"But, but I haven't had any training!" he protested, fear pricking his heart, "What about my mother? My sister? They need me!"

"You will be trained before you're sent to battle. As for your family, they must handle it themselves."


"If you don't go, you and your mother will be put to death for treason, and your sister will be sent to an orphanage. Do you really want that?"

The threat left him speechless. He'd forgotten about that particular part of the law. With a heavy sigh, he hung his head and said a defeated, "I will go.

"Good. You have five minutes to say your farewells, and to grab anything you might need. Hurry up."

Blake didn't have anything he truly wanted to take with him, except some spare clothes and the picture on his bedside table. It didn't take long for him to gather everything, leaving him to try to speak soothing words to his distraught mother.

All too soon, he was made to get in the carriage, and watch his house get smaller and smaller as he was taken away.