Chapter 9:

Revised Plan

Fantasy Life

After the match, Kaida met up with Rei to rest. A staff member approached her carrying a lance with the same orange-colored band given to the boy earlier. "This is your last one. Be careful on how you use it," the staff advised. Kaida took the lance carefully as though she feared touching it would cause it to break.

"Oh Rei," Kaida began. "How will I ever make it three full rounds?"

"We'll think of something," Rei encouraged. "I still have Asa's fabric wrapped around my first one. If it holds up well then maybe she can wrap yours as well."

Kaida shook her head. "I appreciate the offer but the competition is about Chiyo and I working together, not Asa."

"I understand." Rei let out a sigh before continuing. "You know at least you came out with more points than Keiko. You beat her ten to five."

"I don't feel like those five points matter all that much considering the damage to my lance," Kaida pouted. She sat in thought for a moment but then perked up. "Wait how did the points work again?"

"I believe it was one point for making contact, five for a broken lance, and ten for a fall. There was also something about receiving negative points if the lance hit anywhere besides the chest plate, especially if it hits a creature or horse."

"Was there anything regarding needing to use our lances?"

"What do you mean, Kaida?" Rei asked. "That is how you get points."

"Not necessarily." An idea swirled around in her mind causing Kaida to become ecstatic. "In my match, I knocked Keiko off her horse which earned me ten points and my lance shattered giving Keiko five points, correct?"

"Yeah," Rei replied, still confused.

"What would the result be if my lance shattered but Keiko didn't fall off Ahmer?"

"Then," a realization came over Rei. "Kaiko would have won the match five to zero!"

"Exactly! So what if, for the second-round match, I don't use my lance but I focus on staying on Chiyo? This way I preserve it for the third round and I get points."

"That's crazy, Kaida," Rei exclaimed. "Do you know how much force goes into knocking an opponent off? If your next opponent lands a direct blow, you'll go flying!"

"Chiyo and I can work something out. Like, what if she straps me around her torso with her vines?"

"Is that against the rules?"

"Only one way to find out."

After the fifth set, Tsuda announced the second-round pairs. Kaida would be up against a girl named Yoko Machida, who had a giant for a mythical creature. Rei was up against Mita Keiko and Ahmer for the second round.

"Talk about coincidence," Rei commented.

"Be careful with her, Rei," Kaida cautioned. "She used force to overwhelm me. Don't let her catch you off guard."

The two girls listened for their names to be called out. They were not in the first set or the second set. When the third set of rounds was called Kaida was to head to quadrant two and Rei was needed at quadrant three. Kaida and Rei wished each other well as the two split off to the area where their opponents were waiting.

Kaida met Yoko at quadrant two. She was mounted on a stallion that looked much like Rei's horse Turnip. Yoko's giant stood just behind her at what Kaida estimated to be about 4 meters tall. Kaida had only seen one other giant when she was a child. That giant's head reached the height of a two-story house. Though Yoko's was smaller, the large size was impressive nonetheless.

Kaida was the first to greet Yoko. "Hello, I don't believe we have met before. I'm Kaida Fujihara and this is Chiyo," she said combing through the unicorn's mane.

"Nice to meet you. I'm a first-year student, Yoko Machida." She directed her attention up to the giant before continuing. "And this is my partner Jo."

Jo waived with a big smile and, in a booming voice, said, "It's nice to meet you Fujihara and Chiyo."

Before the two girls could say anything else, a judge blew the whistle indicating the start of the match. Kaida and Chiyo went to their side of the field and prepared to run. When the whistle blew again, Yoko's horse and Chiyo sprinted into a full gallop. Kaida was wondering how Yoko would use Jo. She looked up and saw Jo still standing in place. Without giving it much thought, Kaida lifted her lance and whispered to Chiyo, "Grow."

Chiyo's horn lit a pale green color and vines grew from the tip of the horn. The vines encircled Kaida's waist, tying her down to Chiyo. As the two horses came close Kaida aimed the lance just so it would barely miss Yoko. Kaida braced herself for impact. Right when she was anticipating the blow, Jo took a giant leap and landed on the ground. The earth rattled underneath Chiyo's hooves and caused her, and Yoko's horse as well, to panic. They bucked and cried out, not sure what to make of the rumbling. Yoko reached her lance out on her bucking horse to try and tap Kaida but missed.

Once the horses calmed down Kaida heard Yoko exclaim, "Ah! I missed! I'll get you next time."

Kaida was clinging to Chiyo's neck, rattled by the bucking. "Woah that was wild! What was your goal there, Machida?"

"Well, since you grew those vines my plan didn't go quite as well as I was hoping," She paused to pat her own horse down to calm it. "I was planning on having Jo knock you off your unicorn by scaring it."

"But it scared your horse! Don't you think that's a bit dangerous?"

"So long as I can stay on my horse I see no problem. The rules said ten points for knocking your opponent off their horse, it didn't specify how." Yoko shrugged her shoulders before continuing. "So I guess I'll just have to hit you while the horses are going crazy. I'm curious to see how you'll handle it." She gave a mischievous smile before returning to the starting spot.

Kaida felt trapped. Even if she was expecting it now, there was no guarantee that Chiyo wouldn't freak out from the next tremor, and if it hadn't been for the vines Kaida knew she would have fallen off. She asked herself the same question as Yoko, "How will I handle this?"

The whistle blew again with Chiyo and Yoko's horse running at a gallop. Kaida prepped her lance again, but this time she was aiming. "I'm going to have to try to hit her. Even if by chance, if I can hit her before she hits me, I'll end the match with a point." As she raised her lance, Jo jumped into the air and came down on the ground with more force than the last jump.

Kaida barely kept hold of her lance as Chiyo flailed her way down the field. Kaida's heart sank when one of the vines around Kaida's waist snapped from the force of being jostled around. She looked up, strangling her lance, to attempt a hit on Yoko. With no luck, she missed her chance. All she could do was watch Yoko and await the blow to the chest.

Yoko adjusted her grip on the lance while staying on the horse's back. In one clean motion, she aimed her lance directly at Kaida's chest plate. Before her lance made contact, the horse reared its hind legs upward, forcing Yoko's lance to go down. The lance struck Chiyo in the flank, very near to where Kaida's leg was. Chiyo cried out at the unexpected hit.

At that, the judge blew the whistle and two others came down to calm the horse. The one with the whistle shouted with a touch of anger in his voice, "Match over! Yoko Machida, by the rules set before the match, you are hereby disqualified!"