The following day Kaida and the others were back in mythology class and geared up for racing with their mythical creatures. All the teens dressed in black body suits paired with running shoes. Kaida felt the suit stretch on her body, the material clinging. "Does it look too small, Rei? It feels a bit tight."
"Well, they are supposed to be tight. If you're going to be riding your mythical creatures you need something not baggy and strong to protect you from debris." Rei tugged at her suit. "Although something a little cuter wouldn't hurt. Black is so depressing."
"Think of this though, if we make the team then the school will have riding suits custom-made for us."
Rei's eyes twinkled. She gave a big huff before shouting, "Say no more! That's all the motivation I need to defeat anyone that gets in my way!" She snapped back to reality. "Oh and to be on the same team as you of course."
"Of course, it is," Kaida said sarcastically.
Tsuda approached the class sporting a referee's uniform. Tani walked alongside Tsuda holding two flags that would be used to start the race. "Good afternoon class."
"Good morning sensei!" The children said in unison.
"Today we will have a 3000-meter race which will be judged by Tani and myself. As you may know, if your mythical creature is big enough for you to ride on then you may do so. If not then you must run alongside your mythical creature. Your time will only be stopped once both creature and human make it across the finish line. This race is to judge the speed and stamina of you and your mythical creature. Keep in mind for the contest and for the tournament there will be obstacle courses, so it will only get harder from here."
Yui, who was standing behind Rei and Kaida, raised her hand. "Sensei, will there be a prize for winning today's race?"
"Just bragging rights, and the confidence of knowing how well you'll do at the contest."
Yui grunted, "So boring."
"Alright class head to the starting line!"
As they turned to go, Yui bumped into Kaida who stumbled back. "Hey watch it, Hirota!" Rei exclaimed.
"Oops sorry. I didn't see you there."
"Liar!" Rei took a step forward but was halted by a quick hand from Kaida.
"It's alright Rei." Kaida slightly bowed in apology. "I'm sorry. I'll be more careful." She stood back up.
Yui huffed, sticking her nose out. "You think you're so great, don't you? So why don't we make a little bet?"
"What kind of bet?"
"If I beat you in the race today then you can't try out for the team."
"And if I win?" Kaida said with a stern voice.
"Then I'll admit that you're better and leave you alone. On top of that, I will not compete in the contest. So Fujihara, do we have a deal?"
Rei jolted, "Kaida! You can't accept this! Even if you are a member of the track team here, Yami has never raced before!"
Gently Kaida patted Rei on the shoulder. "It's alright. It's true my victory lies in Yami's hands, or claws, or whatever, but I believe in him. I won't lose to her."
"Looks like we have a deal. My cyclops, Oden, and I are looking forward to this." She turned to leave but gave a glance back, "See you at the starting line."
"Ugh! She makes me so mad! Who does that girl think she is anyway?" Rei vented.
"Yui Hirota," Kaida pondered. "I don't blame her though. I heard that someone in her family, who was studying abroad in France, was on a team that won the Fantasy Life League a long time ago. After many years of being unsuccessful, her parents are pressuring her to make the team and win. Seeing me as her biggest threat, she is just trying to take me out of the competition."
"I can see how that kind of pressure would get to anyone but that doesn't mean it's alright for her to go around and pick on you as she sees fit." Rei gave a sigh and a look of dread came over her face. "You know she'll cheat right? How are you going to deal with it? If it were Chiyo you were riding I guess you could use some of her magic."
"I've got an idea, but I'm going to need your help."
The class began lining up at the starting line. Rei and Asa were side by side in starting position. Chiyo stood over with Tani to watch Kaida, who was atop Yami's back. Kaida looked over at Yui who was sitting on top of Oden's shoulders. Oden was tall and muscular. Some cyclops have horns, and Oden had a single horn growing on his forehead. Even though cyclops are humanoid creatures, they can grow three times the size of a normal human but are still not quite as tall as a giant.
"We got this Yami," Kaida whispered in the dragon's ear. Yami gave a grunt in agreement.
Tani stepped forward onto a stand set to the side of the race track. "Let the countdown begin! 3! 2! 1! Go!" She waved the two flags in the air signifying the start of the race.
Already in the lead was a boy riding on his kludde, a wolf-sized dog with a haunting blue flame around its head. The kludde had a set of dragon-like wings that were tucked at its side, waiting for an opportunity to use them. Following behind was another boy followed by a male centaur and a girl followed by a phoenix. Yui was following close behind the phoenix and Rei and Asa were just behind Yui and Oden.
"I won't let you beat us, Hirota!" Rei shouted, panting.
"Ha! Your little friend hasn't even left the starting line. This race is mine."
Back at the starting line, Yami began to flap his wings. Since dragons aren't the best runners, they tend to fly everywhere. And due to Yami's large physique, it takes a bit to get off the ground. A gust swirled around, the air lifted him and Kaida off the ground. "Let's catch them Yami!" One final flap of his giant wings and Yami soared through the air as fast as he could. One by one Yami and Kaida passed their fellow classmates. In no time at all they had caught up to Rei and Asa. "Sorry, we're late!" Kaida shouted down at Rei.
"Well, it's about time!" Rei hollered back. "I can't pass her but you can. Go for it!"
Yami's speed increased and he soon passed Yui. "Oh no, you don't," Yui said aggravatingly.
There was a sudden "roar" coming from the sky and everyone looked up. There was a manticore and its rider tailing Yami. The rider was a girl, and Kaida recognized her as one of Yui's friends. The girl shouted at Kaida, "You won't be going any further, Fujihara!" The girl's manticore rammed into Yami knocking Kaida off.
Before Kaida got close to the ground Yami shook off the assault and flew down, catching Kaida in midair. "Thanks, Yami. It seems like Rei was right about Hirota cheating."
From a distance, Tani and Tsuda were watching the race. Through a pair of binoculars, Tani got a closer look at the manticore charging Yami. As she watched, the girl with the phoenix blasted a ball of fire at Yami. "This isn't right. Tsuda, should we call it off? Those children are ganging up on Fujihara for no reason." Chiyo gave a snort of agreement with Tani. "Even Chiyo's nervous."
"I will have a stern talking to with those students and any others who join in the assault. However, I am curious to see how Fujihara and Yami handle this turn of events." Tani stared at him. "If I think someone will get injured I'll call the race off immediately. For now, let's watch."
Up in the air, Yami was still avoiding attacks from both sides by the phoenix and manticore. The manticore reared up, extended its scorpion tail, and charged at Yami. Watching from below Rei commanded, "No you don't! Asa cover him!" Asa launched a piece of fabric from her body covering the manticore's poisonous tail. She launched another and wrapped his wings. The manticore and rider fell but managed a graceful landing on the ground. Rei stuck her tongue out. "Sorry but not today."
Yami also went on the offensive, he blasted fire at the phoenix. Though there was no damage done there was enough force to ground the phoenix for a short period of time. "Way to go Yami! Now we can get ahead."
"I don't think so!" Yui shouted. "Do it, Oden!" With an earthshaking yell, Oden slammed his foot to the ground, breaking the earth apart. Taking his right hand, Oden grabbed the largest rock that shattered from the earth and flung it at Yami.
"Thought you might try something like that," Kaida said calmly. "Ready Rei?"
The boulder inched closer and at just the right moment, in sync, the two girls hollered, "Now!" Yami used his tail to fling the huge rock back down to the ground. Then Asa used a piece of her cloth to pull the rock down and over towards where Oden was. "You can have this back!" Rei shouted.
The rock hit with such a force that it knocked Oden over. The force of his fall caused the other competitors to fumble. Using this opportunity, Kaida clung to Yami as he made a dash toward the finish line, winning them the race.