And thus having gazed upon it, Aelius corrected many abuses and constructed a wall three hundred miles in length so that the people might live in safety. After arranging this matter, he returned across the sea, for he was disturbed at the news that the god Horaps had been discovered again after a space of many years.
—Anonymous Imperial History, BG, Aen. Ms.Hl. 17714
An icy wind rushed across the campus of Barrow School, high atop the hill, whistling and singing as it attempted to escape the labyrinth of tall, ageing buildings. Rose had lost the feeling in her nose long ago and her fingers were beginning to ache, but the wind had banished the clouds, and a little bit of frostbite was a small price to pay for an unusually clear winter night when a comet hung in the sky. The comet was as bright as any full moon she’d ever seen and it lit the sky like a lamp even though it was only the size of her fist. Behind it was a long tail, like a blue flame in a dark room, obscuring the stars as if it had burned them away. It was the most beautiful thing she had ever seen, and it filled her with joy and hope. She felt somehow connected to the comet, and through it to everything that dwelled in the sky and even across the whole planet. Lying on the roof of Gavin Hall, Rose imagined a girl somewhere far from here, halfway across the globe, in Bharat maybe or Enam, lying on the roof of her home, watching the comet and thinking of her. Was that girl all alone, too?
“High holy – ” Valres shouted, before remembering the need for silence. A white glob of candlewax cooled and solidified on the parchment of the book open in front of him, obscuring a passage he had not yet transcribed. This complicated matters, and his inability to express his shock in a less audible manner lent urgency to the situation. Students were not allowed in the rare books library, ever, under any circumstances, and especially not at night when they broke into the building. His family name notwithstanding, if Valres were caught, he would be disciplined harshly, perhaps even expelled from the University. And if he were expelled, his grandmother would force him into the Army, and he had no intention of bleeding to death face-down in foreign mud. He was destined for something far greater. Continue reading