The snowball fight ― which commenced after Ai, seeing Brenna hit her brother with a snowball, magically formed one to strike Jarod ― would probably be the stuff of legends for future generations, but I expected such antics to ensue many times throughout my company’s future.
Instead of retaliating against the twins, Jarod threw a snowball at me, and I redirected it at Mai, knowing that not just one of the twins was ever guilty. Hundreds of snowballs flew toward me, but I ducked behind Alma, who created a wall around us from the snow on the ground. She cheated a bit, in my opinion, reinforcing the wall with a telekinetic spell.
After impact, the wall exploded into snowballs, aiming at everyone in the vicinity, excluding me. Aaliyah seemed to unknowingly duck at just the right moment to dodge, obliviously picking up a decoration from the ones her aunt had made. Ariadne, on the other hand, was able to create a very decorative-looking wall of ice from nothing, despite her close proximity. Portentia acrobatically dodged several with incredible grace, not getting hit once. Mila blocked hers with the umbrella she carried out, and Cosette seemed to reflexively block one with her arm, knocking it to the side. I found myself wondering at how she developed such a reflex, given her novice performance at our daily exercises.
Raine, seeming to be asleep in the snow near Cosette’s feet, barely even twitched when she was hit by some of the snow from the snowball Cosette blocked. Ai and Mai caught theirs with their natural magic while Jarod caught the one aimed at him during a spinning dodge. Brandon, who was still making his snowball to attack his sister, was hit soundly in the back as Brenna took one to the arm. Emma, grinning, just let herself be hit. I couldn’t tell if my little fairy friend was disappointed nothing came at her or simply confused by the situation. Either way, she was excited when the retaliation came at Alma and me.
Vines erupted from the snow covered ground, using leaves to pack snowballs as they grew. The barrage they threw would have been considered quite formidable by most if that were all, but Ai and Mai were easily matching Emma as they caused snowballs to leap from the ground at us. Brandon was a little disturbing to watch, barely fitting in his clothing as he grew and threw something more akin to a snow-boulder than snowball. Brenna managed to magically hurl two snowballs at us while throwing a third. Portentia, Mila, and Cosette weren’t holding back their speed, rapidly lobbing snowballs at us as well.
As Alma and I were busy dodging, blocking, and redirecting snowballs, Aaliyah calmly worked away at the base of her snowman, appearing completely engrossed in the task. I felt Ariadne’s magic as I saw the flash of light just above me, but I wasn’t quick enough to dodge the snowballs that appeared already in motion. Alma didn’t do any better, an obvious hole was in her latest snow wall. How did one fight Ariadne? We found out a moment later when one of the fey appeared from nowhere, striking Ariadne from behind as she turned.
Alma, looking somewhere between amused and annoyed, created a mist to cover the creature and said, “If she’s going to come play, would you mind providing her with clothing?”
“I don’t mind, but I make no promises about her keeping anything on.” replied Ariadne, creating the clothing as she spoke.
“There aren’t any footprints.” I stated, realizing what was missing.
“She is a mystery.” admitted Alma.
Meanwhile, my little fairy friend was emulating Aaliyah and rolling a tiny ball of snow across the ground. Then she laboriously lifted the ball in her arms, flew to the other fey girl, and dropped it on her head.
With the others continuing to attack us, I called for a time-out, feeling we should divide into teams and establish some ground rules, mainly assigning a “fort” to each team and setting a victory condition in a capture the flag sort of manner. We also decided on preparation time to reinforce each base. Ariadne was kind enough to provide actual flags.
For obvious reasons, both sides wanted the newly arrived fey girl. Ariadne, thankfully, was interpreting for me, so the fey might better understand what I was meaning. Alma created a second little village for her team’s fort, including the fey girl, Brenna, Ai, Mai, and Mila. I was with the rest in the original village.
With Ariadne’s help, I created an enchantment around our flag that might keep Alma from detecting it too easily.
Once resumed, the snowball fight quickly escalated again. Aaliyah, still making her snowman, agreed to be the arbiter and timekeeper for when people were allowed back into play after being hit.
My little fairy friend proved more useful than I expected. Given her exceptionally tiny stature, the other team didn’t often notice her until she was dropping a tiny snowball on them. Of course, she still got distracted pretty easily and the beams of light when she blasted snowballs out of the air were very obvious.
The battle raged back and forth with both teams scoring. Many methods of victory were eliminated after the point, such as Emma pulling the the flag through the ground to our base with a plant and Alma vaporizing any snowball that came near her as she casually walked our flag back to her base.
Things took an unexpected turn when Raine was hit with one of Brandon’s stray snow-boulders. At first, I thought she was angry, transformed as she was. She looked around for a moment, and then started rapidly making piles of snowballs. I was quite certain nobody managed to dodge as Raine actually fought back, seeming to appear next to people as she attacked with snowballs. Even Alma was too stunned to even move. Maybe “startled” would be more appropriate.
When Brandon protested being out, Aaliyah declared “Fair game! Two points for team Raine, since you don’t have a snowball’s chance of guarding your flags with no players to defend against her. Boss-man, sir, our little fairy friend’s looking for Raine over there.” She pointed to one of the snow buildings.
“Okay, but Raine… You fought back!” I exclaimed.
She transformed back to her human form. “I-I… D-don’t h-hit me when… wh-when I-I’m napping. I-it’s r-rude.” she mumbled.
“Yeah, Brandon!” exclaimed Brenna as she punched him. “No picking on the kitty.”
“Why so nervous, child? We’re all friends here.” stated Ariadne.
Raine backed away from her, saying, “I-I’m s-sorry. I… I… I…”
“You probably wouldn’t guess how frustrated and amused you make me. I’ve spent over two thousand years healing people, and I can’t do a thing to help you.” replied Ariadne.
Raine seemed to fight with herself for a moment before taking a step forward and assuring Ariadne “D-don’t worry. I-I’m f-fine. I… I just… y-your m-magic feels i-icky.”
Laughing, Ariadne replied “I suppose that would be the case for you.”
Life here was never dull. That was my certainty.