"What are we going to do?" Kei asked. "I'm not sure I can climb that wall, let alone focus on answering questions at the same time."
"It does seem unusually challenging," Tsuda agreed.
"I think Rei should stay at the bottom and act as the belayer," Yun stated.
Kaida was surprised by this plan. "But Rei is the most qualified of the three of you to climb."
"Yeah Yun," Jun interrupted. "No offense but you especially don't have the strength to make it to the top. And it's not like Alba can help lift you."
"Listen to me for a moment. It is because Rei is the strongest that she should stay at the bottom. In case we fall, she and Asa can support mine and Kei's weight."
Yui thought it over for a moment. "Hm, I see. So by relying on Rei and Asa's upper body strength, not only will you reduce the danger of falling but I believe they might be able to support your climbing. Am I correct?"
"Exactly, Yui!" Yun turned to Rei. "It's true Kei and I aren't the strongest but if you and Asa can keep us from falling, then all we have to worry about is answering the questions."
"Are you and Asa up for it?" Kei asked.
With no hesitation, Rei turned to Kei and winked, "You bet I am. We'll get you up there. Just make sure you stay ahead of the pack."
Tsuda clapped his hands. "Sounds like we have a plan. Now get out there and set up. You all have a game to win!"
The volunteer staff looked over all the gear before lining up the climbers. Yun and Kei were fortunate to be lined up just to the right of the button they needed to press at the top. To the right was a team from Yokohama and to the left was the Naha team. Yun saw both the Sapporo and Tokyo teams were far over to the left and figured they would be little trouble. Behind him, Rei was holding the rope strapped to his harness while Asa was holding Kei's. Everyone was set and ready.
Shoji took the stage and said, "At the sound of the whistle, you may begin climbing the wall. I want a nice fair game today so play nice." He held up a whistle. "On you mark! Get set! Go!" The whistle rang throughout the arena.
Yun and Kei rushed to the wall and scaled it as quickly as they could. A few of the other teams passed them, reaching the first screen. Alba flew just above Yun, keeping an eye on things. Matsume's slender physique allowed her to scale the wall along with them. As they approached the first screen, both Yun and Kei already felt fatigued.
The screens were located in parts of the path that had rocks big enough to rest on. Kei and Yun took a moment to catch their breath before looking at the question. Yun read it aloud, "Type the answer: Which mythical creature is half eagle and half lion?"
"Oh, a griffin!" Kei typed on the screen as she spoke. The screen flashed green and they made their way to the next question.
As they reached the second screen, they caught up with the Naha team who were stumped by their question. Then there was a scream. Two girls to the right had missed their question and fell, but were held up by their belayer. Yun took a deep breath before reading the next question. "Type the answer: In German folklore, a race of mythical creatures has a king by what name?" Yun thought for a moment. "This one is much harder. No wonder that girl fell."
"I'm trying to think," Kei said. "It starts with an A. Arnold? Alfonse?" Her eyes burst open. "It's Albrich!" She punched her answer in and the screen flashed green. "Let's keep moving."
As Yun and Kei made their way to the third question, they heard a rumbling noise. The rocks shook beneath them. Looking down, Yun and Kei were startled by what was coming. A minotaur was climbing up the wall after them. He was a huge beast with sharp horns, a silver septum piercing, and armor covering his waist and torso. His human-like hands clung to the rocks as his hoofed feet launched him up the wall.
"Woah!" Kei shouted. "He's coming right at us!"
"I think it's the minotaur from Naha," Yun commented. "It must be because we just passed them"
"What should we do?"
The two reached the third screen but were too worried about their pressure to focus on the question. Before the minotaur could proceed any further, Alba dive-bombed the creature, throwing it off balance. Matsume followed up by punching the minotaur's chest, pushing him down. Kei looked down frightfully. "We need to leave the minotaur to those two. Let's focus on climbing for now," Yun said, trying to comfort her. After seeing Kei's nod, Yun read the third question aloud. "Multiple choice: In Chinese mythology, a phoenix will only land on which type of tree? A: Dove Tree, B: Parasol Tree, or C: Dawn Redwood."
"I don't think I know this one Yun."
"It's B." Yun pushed the button. A second that felt like forever passed as they waited for the screen to turn color. It became green. They both sighed with relief. "I remember coming across an article one time about the different tales of phoenixes from around the world. I read it a few years ago but I'm glad I was able to recall it."
"Let's move, we're almost there! Just two more questions to go."