Bosko liked Malqata Library because it was quiet, especially on the upper floors. It made it easy for him to practice while he studied. He was reading about the Cull of the Southern Millers, taking notes with his left hand in a cipher he’d invented last week. Everyone thought he took his notes in code because he was worried about people stealing his work, but that wasn’t true.
He just liked writing in ciphers. He’d started doing it after he’d been transferred to the Central Enclave from the Thasca Enclave two years ago because an older student named Stasio had told him that if he displayed obvious aptitude for something useful, the Enclave would likely train him to do it.
Bosko wanted to work for the Intelligence Magistry, so he made sure to demonstrate obvious aptitude for it whenever he could. With his right hand, he was moving Earth and Water to make a dampener around his feet that would nullify the sound they were making as he tapped them on the floor. He couldn’t hear anything in the still library. Even if he could, he’d made a porous wave of Air that limited sound moving away from him.
Huh, the Miller’s Uprising had been partially funded by traitors from Thasca Province, not just the ones in Amanqa. Bosko hoped that none of his ancestors had been traitors. The Magistry definitely kept records of stuff like that and if treason ran in his family, he’d have to work twice as hard to prove that he was a loyal servant of the Empire.
He frowned, looking out the window. The sun was just past All’s Tower, which meant he should go to his combat lesson. He hated combat lessons—Bosko was not a fighter—but they were necessary, because other people were fighters and he might need to know how to get rid of them. He had a few classmates he wouldn’t mind getting rid of, like Horatio, who thought he was important just because he was the most powerful sorcerer in the enclave. The Central Enclave was full of powerful magic users and a lot of them were assholes, but Horatio was more powerful than most of the teachers, even. He was sure he was destined for a life as a military asset because of it, but Bosko thought he’d be better suited to a role in a colonial enclave, where he could be supervised. He was too stupid to teach, though.
An eagle arced through the sky behind All’s Tower, on the other side of the barrier that kept the Central Enclave separate from the rest of Qoilivar, and Bosko smiled as he waved his hand to gather all his things into his bag. He’d successfully turned into a bird this morning for a few minutes, which everyone had told him would be impossible.
He kept up his silence spell as he walked, trying to render it entirely undetectable. It was already good enough to get past the library’s detection spells, but good enough wasn’t good enough for the Intelligence Magistry. Maybe if he had to fight Horatio he’d turn him into a ferret, see how much of a bully he could be with a silly snout. That would be funny.
Horatio would try to kill him, of course, but Bosco wasn’t afraid of him. He was just big and strong, and anyone could be big and strong. Not everyone was in the Central Enclave because they were a brickheaded powerhouse. Bosko was here because in Thasca Enclave, he’d been better than everyone else.
And he still was here. He just had to work harder to prove it. Not to himself or Horatio or the teachers. But to the Empire.
“Forever may it stand,” Bosko muttered to himself, giving an Imperial salute.
He was walking by another student reading. She didn’t look up. Bosko smiled. His silence spells were getting better.