Nathaniel watched as his sons entered the Academy grounds and went to their dorm room to unpack. Then he turned his attention to his wife. He could see she missed him and sighed at the thought of bringing her pain. Then his attention turned to the strangers that had come to town.

They were just what he suspected they had been. When they encountered the wardens assigned to find him, out came the badges that he remembered. He closed his eyes as the memories flooded back.

“Please, please, make it stop,” Nathaniel moaned, curled on his side in a fetal position. He was only partially acting. Over the course of the days and weeks that the men had held him, forcing him to watch, to see things, his will to live had slowly worn down.

Now he was a shadow of his former self. “I said to build up his gifts, not break him. What can we do with a clairvoyant that can’t see anything but death? We need him so we can watch our enemies, not so he can see commoners killing each other over a new pair of shoes. Dispose of him.” The man stalked out of the room, slamming the door as he left.

The underlings looked at each other, perplexed and not quite sure how to proceed. Their hesitation was all that Nathaniel needed. The man who’d left had been a mage and strong in illusory off-magic. These two were nothing more than hired hands.

When they finally recovered enough to make their way to Nathaniel’s side, the man was driving away in his expensive car. All at once, Nathaniel surged to his feet, catching both men on their chests with the heels of his hands. The toppled and he spun to verify that they would not be pursuing him.

One was hardly conscious while the other gasped for his breath, but struggled to rise. Nathaniel kicked him in the chin and then dashed from the room. The small building had held only the three of them and he made good his escape in a short order.

He traveled from town to town for some time, always wary of the government agents who’d wanted to exploit his gifts. Less than a month later, he stopped at an inn and happened to look in the mirror. His once golden hair had faded to a stark white and he smirked. The men who’d captured him would be a little more hard pressed to find him now. It was soon after that that he met Margery.

Now the men were back. Somehow they’d tracked him down. Rather than bring danger to his family, Nathaniel had fled. He pushed away the feelings of hopelessness and steeled himself to being a spectator in his life. It was the only way to freedom.