Chapter 14:

Blind Man's Bluff

Fantasy Life

When the whistle blew the teens quietly shuffled further back into the field, away from the creatures. Kei stepped on some loose leaves that had blown onto the field from some nearby trees. The crackling sound alerted the creatures. Dallas made a quick dash towards the direction of the sound but just missed Kei. She backed away slowly, trying to get out of smelling range.

Dallas and Yami both sniffed the air for any scent of their humans. Dallas continued to pinpoint Kei while the other creatures searched around them. Asa held out her bandaged arms and walked lethargically in search of the teens. Alba flapped her wings in frustration. She heard Matsume crawling about and flew to her. Matsume cared little about the small bird as she continued to sniff around.

As Kaida and her teammates continued to back away slowly, she was examining which of the creatures would be the most difficult to avoid. She looked at the creatures and thought to herself, "Matsume has the strongest sense of smell amongst them and will be the one to watch out for. I know Yami's hearing is good but he's so tall that I doubt he'll be able to hear any movement. Vision is Asa's only good sense, but with her being blindfolded, she won't be an issue. And it seems to be the same issue with Alba. Without her eyes, she can't see where she is flying."

Kaida continued to think over the situation as Yami advanced in her direction. The dragon lowered his head so his ears and nose were closer to the ground. Kaida held her breath hoping to not alert his attention. Rei, who was far over to Kaida's left, had tried shuffling her way through the grass but had tripped over a hidden twig. The sound from the fall alerted all the creatures but Matsume was the quickest to react and she ran at Rei, with Alba hanging onto her back. Unable to get up in time, Matsume pounced on Rei, knocking her back down to the ground.

"Alright! Alright! You got me!" Rei shouted trying to push the kitsune off of her. "Kei, you've got an impressive mythical creature. She was so fast!"

Almost on instinct, Kei gave a hearty, "Thank you!" Dallas immediately nudged his nose against her. "Oh, man! Guess I'm out."

"That's two down and three more to go with fifteen minutes remaining!" Tsuda informed the group.

"That was just pathetic," Jun grumbled.

"It was an accident," Kaida remarked in a hushed voice.

"She shouldn't have been so thoughtless."

"I dare you to say that again."

Yun scrambled over in between them. "Not now you two. They'll hear us."

"Ok then, Tachibana was thoughtless. Happy?" Jun said ignoring his brother.

"I told you it was an accident. Why are you so hard on everyone?" Kaida asked frustratedly.

As the two argued their voices increased in volume while completely ignoring Yun's plea for silence. Ultimately Yun let out a shout to quiet the two down. "Enough both of you!" Realizing what he did, Yun quickly clasped his hand over his mouth.

All at once, the creatures ran toward Yun. Kaida turned and shouted, "Run!"

The three teens dispersed across the field. Now that their location had been given away, this had turned into a full-blown game of tag. Asa trailed behind Dallas as they ran after Jun, following his heavy footsteps. Yun was getting chased by Yami, who was shaking the ground as he ran. Kaida, being the fastest managed to stay in front of Matsume who was getting dragged down by Alba.

It wasn't long before Yun was nabbed by Yami. "Oh, man! Good job." Yun patted Yami on the nose.

Jun was strong and well built for physical activity but his stamina failed him. He soon slowed to a jog and was soon touched by his kelpie's muzzle. He said nothing but grumbled under his breath.

Kaida was still going strong running away from Matsume until Alba decided to take off. She flew fast in the direction of Kaida's footsteps until Kaida felt a pinch on her back. Alba had a peck right under her shoulder. Kaida let out a yelp in surprise but then turned to the caladrius and stroked its feathers. "I'll have to do better next time."

The whistle blew and after removing the cloth from around the creatures' eyes, everyone returned to where Tsuda and Tani were waiting for them. "Putting it bluntly... that was atrocious." Everyone lowered their heads in shame. "Seriously, you five are the best our school has to offer but you couldn't even make it ten minutes against your own mythical creatures. How do any of you expect to make it through nationals like that?"

"It's because they got in the way," Jun said pointing at the girls.

"What?" Rei was appalled. "I know I was the first out but how did that have anything to do with you?"

"And I know I messed up when I shouted, "Kei said sweetly. "But it wasn't on purpose. I promise I won't do it again."

"Ugh! How did the lot of you even make it on this team? This school must not have standards at all."

"Jun stop it!" Yun shouted. He stepped in front of the girls. "I don't know what your problem is but you don't speak to your teammates like that."

"Ha! I don't want to hear it from you. It's thanks to you that Fujihara and I got out. We failed because of you."

"No," Tsuda interrupted in a deep, sour voice. "You lost because you didn't work together as a team, Jun Kita. Don't think I didn't hear your argument with Fujihara earlier. Your brother is right. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that if it hadn't been for you, Fujihara and your brother had a high chance of winning this game. Sure Iwasaki got clumsy and Tachibana got lost in the excitement, but not once did either of them do anything to hurt their team."

Jun clenched his fists and lowered his head but said nothing. Tsuda shook his head before continuing. "I'm calling it a day. Head home everyone, we will discuss this more tomorrow after everyone has had a chance to clear their head."

That night Kaida went home drained from the day's activity. She slept little that night, worried if staying on the team was the right thing or not.