Chapter 18:


Fantasy Life

It had been a full day since the bear attack. Everyone finished doing their chores early and decided to go and explore down by the river. It took some coaxing to get Jun to join the others and even after he agreed he just dragged his feet along in the back, bringing the mood down.

Yun turned to his brother, "Why don't you cheer up? You've been like this all morning." Jun did not bother to reply.

"Look, everyone!" Kei shouted. She ran towards a path of flattened grass near the riverbed. "Where do you think it leads?"

"I don't have any guesses," Kaida said. "Should we follow it?"

Rei was the first one to reply. "Yeah! It'll be an adventure!

"We'll probably get lost," Jun commented.

"No one asked you," Rei snapped and turned her back to him.

Matsume led the group, sniffing along the path as they traveled. The path took them further up into the mountains. As they came to a clearing, Matsume halted and growled. "What is it, girl?" Kei asked. "Smell something?" There was a blaring screech from behind them. As everyone shifted to see what was making the awful sound, a blurred figure flew by and snatched Jun.

"Jun!" Yun shouted.

Kaida could make out bird-like wings from the creature but still wasn't sure what it was. "After it!" She commanded, jumping onto Yami's back. Dallas took off running after the creature before Yami was able to lift himself off the ground. Following behind, Yami and Kaida pursued the kidnapper from the air. As they neared the culprit, Kaida was able to make out what it was, a woman with wings for arms and taloned feet.

"She's a harpy!" Yami gave a loud roar. The sound waves were strong enough to knock the harpy off balance but she held tight to Jun's shoulders. "You're faster, fly above her!" Yami beat his wings and rose higher into the sky before diving after the harpy. Seeing the dragon coming, she veered to the left. As Yami passed by her, the harpy created a gust, pushing Kaida off of Yami's back and she began to fall.

Wasting no time, Yami used his long tail to slap the harpy down before diving after Kaida. Stunned by the hit, the harpy loosened her talons, dropping Jun. Yami dove as fast as a creature his size could. Before Kaida got too close to the ground, he flew beneath and caught her midair, then flew after a falling Jun. The harpy straightened out and screeched in annoyance.

With both Kaida and Jun on his back, Yami flew back to where the rest of the group was. They were all panting from chasing after Dallas. After Kaida and Jun slid off Yami's back, Jun lashed out in fury. "What is his problem?"

"Excuse me?" Kaida questioned.

"Your dragon almost got me killed!"

"My dragon saved you."

"I was fine on my own! If it wasn't for you-"

He was cut off abruptly by a slap to the face by Kaida, leaving a red mark on the side of his cheek. "You are so infuriating! No thank you or nothing? I should have just let the harpy take you. I hope it comes back!" Before Jun could respond, she stormed off into the forest, and Yami followed close behind.

"Kaida wait!" Rei shouted, running after her friend.

Kei motioned to follow but thought it better to give Kaida some space. She instead busied herself calming Dallas and the other creatures. Yun approached Jun and glared at him. "Are you going to yell at me too?" Jun remarked.

Yun slapped his other cheek. "You deserve worse. I am ashamed of you." Jun just stood motionless. "What happened to you? I mean sure you've always had a temper but before we joined the team, you were always so kind. Why are things different? Is it because I asked you to join the team?"

Jun shook his head. "I'm just fine."

Yun spoke in a deep, stern voice, hoping his point would be made. "That's your answer every time but I won't accept it. This time, I'm getting an answer." Jun still didn't speak. "What would mother say if she-"

"Don't ever bring her up!"

There was a moment of silence. All the creatures and Kei turned to listen in on the conversation. Yun was the first to speak. "So that's what this is about." A look of sadness came over his face, and his eyes glazed over.

"I told you, it's fine."

"You should have talked to me, Jun. We're brothers. Twins!"

"Don't bring this up again!"

"Look, if you're mad about what happened then that's your problem. But don't ever take your anger out on Kaida, or any of the others again!" Jun remained silent as he turned his back and walked back to camp. Dallas trotted along behind him.

Kei gingerly approached Yun. "What was that about?"

"Don't worry about it. It's my problem to fix."

"I hate to disagree, but this problem is affecting the rest of us."

Yun let out a deep sigh. "I guess you and the others have a right to know. I'll tell you what I believe is causing Jun to act up and why he has a short fuse, especially with Kaida. It all has to do with our late mother."