Chapter 1:

First Day

Fantasy Life

Present Day

"Hurry up we're going to be late!" Kaida rushed out the door in her new school uniform. A sailor uniform with a lavender skirt and tie with a clean, white shirt. As she ran she fidgeted with her hair tye, trying to place her hair in a ponytail so it wouldn't be affected by the blustering wind. "Ah man, I can't believe I'm gonna be late on the first day! What a way to make a good impression on the first years." She is now a second-year at Ashikaga High School and was looking forward to meeting some of her new kouhai.

At the house, Ayumi shouted from the window. "Wait! You forgot your lunch!" A loud whoosh came from the house. Ayumi looked up at the sky, soaring with the clouds was a dragon. It was black in color and as large as many of the houses in Ashikaga. Just one of its four legs contained enough force to crush a bus. The dragon flew off in the direction Kaida was running. She looked overhead and saw something drop from the dragon's front claw. It was her lunch box!

Kaida picked up speed and caught the lunch box before it hit the pavement. She continued to run as she hollered, "Thank you, Yami! I'll meet you at school!" Yami gave a deafening roar and flew off, creating a gust of wind that caused Kaida to fumble and trip. "Yami!"

At school, the bell has rung and Kaida is panting heavily by the doorway. "Just made it."

"Rough morning, Fujihara?" She looked up to see who was speaking to her and noticed the teacher staring at her from the front of the class. "You know class starts when the bell rings." The other kids laughed and a blushing Kaida made her way to her desk towards the back of the classroom. This isn't shaping up to be the amazing start of her second year that Kaida was hoping for.

The bell rang again and the class was out for lunch. Kaida sat and sighed in relief to have a break. As she was packing up her things for lunch, she heard a voice calling out her name. "Kaida! Kaida!" There was only one person that called her by her first name in the school. She turned around to see a girl of the same age. She had a more slender build than Kaida and was a few centimeters shorter. The girl lifted a finger to remove a strand of hair that dangled alongside her dark eyes.

"Rei!" Kaida leapt into her arms and gave a warm embrace to her friend. "How have you been? I haven't seen you all break."

"Yeah, sorry about that." She rubbed her head in embarrassment. " I meant to write but it kinda slipped my mind. We went to go see some family in Osaka after our vacation in America."

"You need to tell me all about your trip!" Kaida exclaimed.

"Why don't we talk over lunch? I'm starved," Rei said, making a slight gesture to the door.

The two girls took their lunches outside and sat under a tree on the school grounds to eat. Rei brought along a blanket for them to sit on. Ayumi had packed Kaida a bento with some onigiri and chicken. "Onigiri, how yummy!" Rei said practically drooling.

"What do you have, Rei?" Kaida glanced down to see a bowl full of curry. "That looks tasty too." The two of them talked for a while and caught up on the events over their winter break.

"So you helped your dad garden most of the time?" Rei asked.

"Yes, I had fun but I couldn't have done the work without Yami or Chiyo."

"How are they doing by the way? I'm still amazed every time I see them."

"What do you mean?"

"How are you not amazed? You're the only person in the world ever to have hatched two mythical creatures! Everyone in school is so jealous."

"I've gotten used to it I guess. Both of them are well behaved so it was easier than I expected to take care of them. You have a great creature yourself, Rei."

Rei giggled, "Asa and I have gotten pretty close. Next class is mythology, so you'll get to see her and I'll get to see Yami and Chiyo."

"Well, Chiyo won't be here today, she is with dad. But Yami will be so happy to see you again." The bell rang for class to begin again. Kaida stood up and said, "Come on, let's go."

For mythology, the class met outside on the rugby field. All the students stood with their mythical creatures in front of their teacher. He was a handsome man, physically fit and tall. What made him popular however was his subtle smile. It was gentle yet endearing, and it made him easier for students to approach him. Behind the teacher stood a female centaur. Her broad physique made her intimidating to strangers but she too had a smile that calmed even the most nervous of people.

"Good afternoon everyone. I remember you all from last year but as a refresher, my name is Tsuda Hisako and I'll be your mythology teacher this year." Tsuda stepped to the side and gestured towards the centaur. "And as you may remember, this is my creature and friend, Tani."

Tani stepped forward and greeted the class with a bow. "Hello everyone. I look forward to working with you this year."

Tsuda looked out at the class. There was an array of mythical creatures including a mummy, a cyclops, an ogre, and even another centaur. He looked over each of them, proud of how much all the creatures have grown since the previous year. He gave a quick nod of satisfaction before lecturing.

"Now, I have a big announcement to make. But first some housekeeping things, I'm sure you all know these but I'll say them anyway. While at school, your mythical creatures are to stay with Tani in the school's nursery. While I'm teaching, she will look after your creatures. Last year we focused on how to increase your bond with your mythical creatures and their origins. This year we will be working on teaching them skills. Having your creature learn skills will not only allow them to assist you in day-to-day activities but can also help them grow stronger. This will be more important now than ever because at the end of this school year our school could go on to compete in the Fantasy Life League."

There was a quick gasp from the students, which turned to mutter. Tani tried to collect everyone together. "Calm down everyone. Tsuda sensei isn't finished yet." The class fell silent.

"Thank you, Tani." He nodded at her before continuing. "Now, I know you are all excited about the news but bear in mind that to even reach the qualifiers is a challenge." Tani rolled a chalkboard over to Tsuda's side and handed him a piece of chalk. As he talked, Tsuda wrote out a visual for the students to follow. "Let me explain how the tournament works. First, teams from schools all over the world compete nationally for a winner that will go on to represent that country. Once each participating country has its chosen team, the teams will meet up at a location for a qualifiers round, this year being in Tokyo. The qualifiers are over when eight teams are left. From there the eight teams face off until one is left the winner. Any questions so far?"

Rei raised her hand, "Tsuda sensei!"

"Yes, Iwasaki."

"How will we know who will get picked for our school's team?"

"Excellent question. I was about to move on to that. The school will be holding a contest next week for all classes to participate. The judges will be looking for speed, power, and the bond between you and your creature. Each team will consist of five people. If you are one of this school's select five you will move on to compete nationally."

"What about school and club activities?" One of the boys in the class asked. "Wouldn't those get in the way of competing?"

"Those who are accepted will be exempted from any club activities and practice for the tournament will be substituted with Tani and me as your advisors." Tsuda took a last look around to see if anyone else had something to say. "Well, if no one has any more questions then the class is dismissed. We will begin training tomorrow."

"All creatures follow me!" Tani shouted.

As the class headed back to the main building, Rei noticed Kaida wandering off. "Where are you going, Kaida?"

She turned back to respond, "I want to ask Tsuda sensei a question. Go on back to class without me."

Tsuda turned to see Kaida waiting for him. "Why hello Fujihara. Is there something I can do for you? Actually, I was going to ask where Chiyo is. Only Yami came to school today."

"I'm sorry I forgot to inform you." She bowed sincerely. "Chiyo learned a spell for growing plants over the break, so my dad asked if he could borrow her to help with work today. But I'll make sure she comes with Yami tomorrow."

"Glad to hear that. Now, what is it you wanted to talk about?"

"Um, I was wondering..." She paused, unsure of how to phrase her question.

"What's on your mind?"

"Well, I was wondering if it was possible to compete next week using two mythical creatures?"

"Using two?" Tsuda thought it over. "I don't recall there being a rule that didn't allow it but that's only because people typically have only one mythical creature. But since you have two that does put you in an interesting situation. Tell you what, I've got a buddy who is an official for Fantasy Life League. I'll get in touch with him and ask what his thoughts are. Stop by my office after school tomorrow and I'll tell you what he says."

"Really? Thank you Sensei!"

"Anytime. Besides, it would be a shame if someone so talented didn't compete." He glanced up to the sky longingly, then looked back at Kaida with an earnest look. "I want to build a team with the best this school has to offer. I want us to win."