The sky was a dark grey.
Winter had come this year and the capital was immersed in daily doses of shivering cold.
Some living beings were sleeping or dying, and even those who were still awake spent more time in silence during winter than any other season, perhaps because of the heavy clouds that hung in the sky.
There was no difference in the commoners’ district or the nobles’ district, which are separated by gates.
Students attending the Royal Magic School inside the first gate usually wrapped a scarf around their necks and rushed off to the study room or lounge after class since they had large fireplaces.
But unlike the others, I was outside in the school’s vast garden, the pride of the school, where grass was green, and flowers bloomed in spring and summer.
A place where life was dominated by the silence of winter just a few moments ago.
It was transformed into a lively battlefield by energetic young people.
“Behind you, Aime!”
I quickly lay down at that warning and a small round object flew past just above my head. It fell soundlessly onto the snowfield a few meters away.
I couldn’t launch a counterattack since I was still lying on the ground. Instead, Alec twisted his back halfway and quickly fired a shot to cover me.
I could see the enemy retreating when I regained my footing.
Alec’s blue eyes narrowed gently between the endless battle.
But the peaceful moment only lasted a moment. He and I both grasped new snowballs in our hands.
There were two enemies in front of us.
Cliff shouted an incarnation and a mass of wind rushed past in a straight line along his outstretched arm. I was flung aside like a leaf as it passed by me and swirled outward from its core.
My robe and undergarments were covered in white after it rotated a couple more times. A bit of snow went onto my back, and I felt a chill, and Rock was coming towards me with one arm out ready to attack just as I got up.
Alec protected me with a wall of fire just before the snowball hit me. Nice!
I waited for the magic to die down before throwing a snowball at Rock. It hit him right in the face since he couldn’t escape in time.
I was in a bit of a hurry and lost control of my throw.
It must have hurt a lot even though the snow was fresh and soft. Rock shook his head to shake off the broken pieces of the snowball and looked at me angrily. Run!
It was quite strenuous to run in ankle-deep snow and even more so when it came to having a snowball fight with magic.
The capital had a record snowfall in the winter of my second year before graduation even though snow was rare in this area. Even Alec and the others who have lived in the capital for a long time have never experienced such a heavy snowfall.
It had been snowing constantly since dawn and had finally stopped just after classes ended.
I stopped by the garden and grabbed a handful of snow on my way to the study room. I whispered about how it might be easy to make snowballs with this snow and Alec wanted to know what that was.
Rock and Cliff were with us at the time, and of course they were against the barbaric snowball game, but we coaxed them into it by saying it would help us practice magic.
It wasn’t fun to have a simple snowball fight with mages.
But it was dangerous to hit people with magic, so direct attacks were limited to snowballs.
The game didn’t end with just one hit. It was a death match in which the team who loses all their energy due to the cold and pain loses.
This game trains our control and the ability to channel only the necessary amount of mana. It really does!
We divided into teams of two; it was Alec and I vs Rock and Cliff. The teams were decided based on our skill and physical abilities.
As we all know, I was the weakest, so it was only right that I should be teamed up with Alec, who had the best magic in our class. Rock and Cliff would also hesitate to attack because of Alec’s status.
But it was still a tough match.
I ran away from the angry Rock when I ended up back where I was before, but this time, Cliff was waiting for me with a snowball.
You guys are picking on me too much! I’m still a girl even if I’m not the Prince! I look younger than you two!
Cliff triumphantly shook his snowball.
“You’re looking down on me too much!”
I faced my palms down to the ground like I was falling down, chanted my spell and a breeze of wind whipped up the snowball with so much force that it sprayed all over Cliff from below.
Although my magic was weak and I was extremely slow at activating my magic, I can use magic instantly like everyone else if I accumulate and preserve mana in my body beforehand.
Cliff was defeated by the force of the snow and fell backwards helplessly.
“I-I’m not going to let you beat me!”
I happily laughed at Cliff who was shaking the snowflakes and trying to get back up.
A snowslide hit us.
The snow piled up in the garden was pushed up from the bottom and fell on top of our heads like a tidal wave.
There was no time to escape. Our entire field of vision was covered in white and snow was getting into our mouth and clothes as we screamed. My whole body was buried in the snow.
I managed to pull my arms out, stick my head out, and crawl out to find a girl with long silver hair standing with her hands on her hips on the grassy ground where the snow had cleared.
She looked like a snow queen as she sent snow flying around her.
“This isn’t the time for playing around!”
Merry shouted at us with a raised eyebrow.
But I was the one who wanted to yell at her.
““Are you trying to kill us?!”
Cliff, who had crawled out of the snow, said at the same time as me.
We were almost buried alive!
More than half the snow in the garden was instantly pushed away by the magical storm and formed a rather impressive pile thanks to Merry, who had more magic than Alec, and arguably had the most mana in the school. Are you a human snowblower?!
But Merry didn’t feel bad. She stopped her foot on the ground in anger.
“We do! His Highness and Roderick are buried under this snow too!”
“Wait, they are?! His Highness and Roderick are here too!?”
You didn’t see them?
Merry grew anxious but they soon crawled out of the snow mountain on their own. Thank god the snow was soft.
“I-I am sorry…”
Rock simply sighed at Merry who had shrank back and apologised while Alec smiled reassuringly.
“Don’t worry about it. It’s nice to feel the snow with my whole body.”
“I-I am really, really sorry. I will definitely make sure you two aren’t here next time before I use my magic.”
“Don’t use it while I’m around either.”
Cliff and I agreed with each other for once.
I’ve been treated like this since I first entered school because I was a commoner but Merry treated Cliff badly as well.
Unless it’s someone she has to pay respect to, there may be only one person who she cares about.
“How can you two be so carefree at a time like this?!”
Merry pointed her index finger at me, and completely ignored Cliff who said seriously, “We’re not playing around, we’re training.”
“Matty’s exam is coming up in a month!”
Merry stopped her foot and screeched in anger.
Our non-mage friend will take an exam to become a researcher at the palace’s magic research institute.
These exams were held in the early spring, close to the graduation ceremony. While a mage would have been accepted into the institute without a second thought, Matty’s life would change drastically depending on whether he passes the exam or not.
He often stays in his room to study after morning classes these days. He used to always come and observe our afternoon practical classes, but he has been doing this much less frequently lately.
From what I can see, Matty liked to study quietly by himself, so I’m not particularly worried about his absence. He was smart and always got a perfect score in his regular exams.
“Matty will be fine.”
But, his cousin, Merry, was overprotective and worried about him. She couldn’t stay calm when it came to Matty.
My consolation apparently made her angry.
“What’d you say?! Don’t act like he’s not your friend!”
“That’s not what I’m trying to do. It’s important to believe in him.”
“What if he fails?!”
Don’t say such an unlucky thing…
I smiled wryly at her since she was freaking out.
Well, it is quite heartless of us as his friends not to do anything for him.
“Then, how about we invite Matty for tea for a change of pace? We can ask him if he needs help with anything then.”
A break is important. He should take time to talk to those around him and have fun even if studying alone is easy for him.
“Merry and I will set everything up. Alec and the others can get Matty.”
“I’ll come too, Your Highness.”
Cliff stopped Alec, who had immediately agreed, and glared at me.
“You should fix your habit of ordering nobles around before we graduate.”
I half-heartedly took my stubborn friend’s advice.
Cliff doesn’t like it when I act overly friendly even though we’re friends who have snowball fights together. He’s friends with those around him, including me, in his own way.
Alec understood his principles. He gave up his role as errand’s boy without saying a word. Cliff immediately headed for the dorms.
Merry conjured a fireball for us as we cleared the snow from the corridor.
We held out both hands and the snow that had stuck to our clothes, and was difficult to brush off, was melted by the heat. The hot air dried up the moisture and we were dried in no time at all.
My voice came out involuntarily as a thought flashed through my mind as I stared at the small sun-like ball of flame.
Alec stared at me curiously.
“Oh, hmm, I was just thinking about how convenient it would be if anyone could warm up quickly like this. It’s cold because of the snow and it’s hard to sleep at night.”
I can play happily in the snow since I have a warm roof over my head. I would have cursed the heavens for screwing around if this had been ten years ago when I was living in the streets.
“Magic is so nice. This is surely the power that can make many dreams come true.”
I smiled at Alec, who had a mysterious look on his face, and went back inside.