It took almost 20 days to complete this journey from my hometown.
We arrived at the capital on schedule, even though we almost died!
At the same time, our butts were at their limits! I don’t want to ride on a carriage for a while!
I staggered down from the wagon, then we passed through the magnificent city gates and walked through the streets of the capital, which was truly a different world.
The paved brick streets were beautiful.
The colourful walls of the houses and stores were dazzling to the eye and the people passing by were all dressed in pretty clothes.
There were several shiny, black-coloured carriages running along the street, and I caught a glimpse of someone who looked like she was a noble’s daughter.
It was about noon when we arrived at the capital, so we followed the signs to the market to have a quick bite to eat. There, we found countless stalls lined up on both sides of the street.
“Woah, what should we eat Rille-nee?”
Some of the stalls were selling food I had never seen before, and there were scents that I had never smelled before, but they all looked delicious. I couldn’t help but stare at the food.
“Hmm, there’s so many to choose from. How about you decide, Aime?”
We’ll be here forever if we can’t decide what to eat, so I decided on the nearest stall that was emitting a savoury aroma.
We brought two sandwiches with charcoal roasted lamb dipped in special sweet sauce. The price was 600 beles each. It was a bit expensive.
“Is there a festival on today?”
I asked the man at the stall as I paid, and he laughed.
“It’s always like this. Is this your first time in the capital? A lot of things here must amaze you.”
Rille-nee and I must have looked like complete bumpkins because we were carrying our luggage around with us.
The capital was different from my hometown, which had a rough scene behind its bustling streets.
The overall aura was bright and chill. It must be a city where every corner of the city is quite well-off. The prices are high. Isn’t the regional disparity too much?
Then, we found a place to stay and got comfortable.
There were only three days left until my exam. I was on schedule.
I decided that I will have fun after I take my exam, so I went back to my room for the final push. Rille-nee’s interview is scheduled on the same day as my exam.
Rille-nee was also reviewing her medical knowledge while I studied, so us sisters stayed in the inn until the day of our exam/interview.
Then, on the day of the exam.
We woke up at sunrise and got ready.
We both changed into our formal wear which we had brought with us for this day.
A clean flared skirt, a shirt with a collar, and a vest that fastens with strings. The only part of this formal wear that was different from our usual outfits was the white shirt. It was a luxury item that was tailored to fit me for today, so I only have this one shirt.
After a hearty breakfast, I packed my shoulder bag with the necessary tools and headed towards the ‘First Gate’.
The capital is protected by a double wall.
Through the ‘Second Gate’ on the outside, there is a town where commoners live and beyond the ‘First Gate’ live nobles who work in the palace and magic school. The palace is surrounded by another wall, and it is said to be higher than the centre of the palace’s tower. I learnt this in Fabio-sensei’s class.
Only authorised people can pass through the First Gate, so the gatekeeper asks people for their pass. It was a different pass from the travel pass.
Chancellor Leonard’s messenger delivered ours to us before we left for our trip; mine was from the magic school and Rille-nee’s had been arranged by the royal medical department. They are only temporary passes, so they can only be used for today.
The gatekeepers were suspicious of us, especially me.
They believed that only nobles could enter the magic school, just like Giedt. They asked me a lot of questions which ended up taking a lot of time. Good thing we left early.
Once we passed through the gate, Rille-nee was heading north and I was heading east, so we would soon part. So, we gave each other one last cheer in front of the gate.
“Good luck. I’ll be waiting for you in front of the school when you finish.”
It was expected that Rille-nee would finish faster than me since my exam would take all day.
“Thanks. I’m sure you’ll get hired too, Rille-nee! So have confidence and good luck!”
“I will. I’m your sister after all, I won’t do something uncool.”
She put her hands on her hips and reliably said, “You can count on me.” That’s the Nee-chan I’m proud of! I’ll do my best not to lose to Rille-nee.
We firmly shook hands and wished each other luck under the watchful eye of the morning sun.
The place where the exam took place, the Royal Magic School, was built on such a large plot that one would think it was the palace.
There were soldiers at the entrance who were as stern and imposing as soldiers who are stationed at a castle gate. Once I passed through the gate, I saw lavish grass along the path to the building and a garden with spring flowers blooming in the distance.
The noble kids who followed the signs to the exam hall looked as if they were on their way to a party.
The boys were dressed in morning coats (which looked like a suit) and the girls wore dresses that were gathered around the waist and the skirt loosely fell to their ankles.
The dresses weren’t ostentatious or overly decorated, and most of the colours were rather unobtrusive, like dark red or navy blue, or light spring colours, so it looked as if they were going to a casual tea party rather than a fancy evening party.
Well, either way, I was out of place.
The gazes of the nobles behind me stung my back as I walked. “Why is she walking in the same place as us?” I felt as if I could hear them say.
In times like this, it was better to stand up straight, lift your chin up and act unashamed. You will stand out more and be teased if you’re intimidated by their stares.
When I arrived at the huge, castle-like building, I heard someone say, “Ah, where do you think you’re going? Go back to your place.”
The man working at the reception desk at the entrance mistook me for a servant. I didn’t know this school had servants.
But this was within my expectations.
I showed the receptionist my exam pass and was allowed to enter the hall.
As soon as I entered the door, I found a large space that was wide both vertically and horizontally. It looked as if this large hall was probably used for school events. They had set up the room with chairs and long desks.
The seat that was designated to me on the exam pass was the second seat from the back on the last row to the left. I put my bag on the floor and looked around first.
Most of the seats were already occupied even though there was still some time before the exam.
At a quick glance, there were about 1,000 examinees sitting equally spaced from each other with a seat spared.
I honestly don’t know if this is too many or too little. The number was small compared to the number of examinees at a private university, but when I thought about how they were all nobles dressed in elegant outfits, I was surprised that there were this many.
Apparently, there are two types of nobles: court nobles like Chancellor Leonard, who have their own fief and work in the palace, and local nobles who only manage their fiefs.
So, there must be some local nobles here as well mixed in with those who live in the capital. This was a gateway to success for them too.
Most of them were boys but a third were girls. A mage was a position in the palace that even a noblewoman can hold.
They all seem to be a couple years older than me.
According to Fabio-sensei, it was common for kids of noble families to enter boarding school at the age of 11 to study various aspects of the world, and they graduate at 15. So, the kids here must be in the mid to late teens since students come here to take the exam after they have graduated boarding school.
A year is a big difference in the teenage years. I was even more out of place since I was a commoner and young.
Well, don’t worry about it and do your best. There was no age limit at this school, and they didn’t have a lower or upper limit of accepted students.
No matter how influential your family is, you get rejected without mercy if you don’t meet the passing mark while those who exceed it by just one point are admitted.
I heard that there are years when less than 10 students are admitted to the school despite the number of examinees. It was very strict. The exam is held once every six months and I heard that many students retake the exam.
This is probably the reason why there are some who look strangely old. They also look out of place.
The bell rang when it was time to start the exam. The doors were closed, and the exam questions were given out.
Nothing was out of the ordinary. It was an ordinary written test.
The questions were about what I had studied while coming to the capital.
I filled out the blank on historical timelines, and wrote out long, famous poems and sentences word for word. It was almost like a memory test.
I quietly sang the poem that the travelling entertainer, who I had met on the way to the capital, had taught me and wrote it down.
I was told that the test is used to determine if someone has the intelligence and aptitude to become a mage, but it wasn’t difficult to memorise the assigned materials. Honestly, I don’t think this has anything to do with intelligence.
It was almost the same for the science and math questions in the second half of the questions.
It was laughable that it was only asking us to list mathematical problems! The only enemy is a careless mistake!
Overall, there were many questions, but it wasn’t all that difficult.
There was nothing to be afraid of if you studied the basics well.
Some questions were related to biology, and my love for reading natural history books came in handy. There’s no harm in knowing something.