Chapter 30:


Fantasy Life

Climbing up the wall, Yun began to notice that there weren't as many players near the fourth screen. Most teams got their questions wrong and had to start again near the bottom. Even so, there were too few players up as high as Kei and him. "Hey Kei, does anything feel off to you?" He asked.

Kei looked around. There were two teams above them on the fourth screen, the Naha and Fukuoka team just below, and the others were all somewhere between screens one and two. "Those questions weren't that hard, were they?"

"That's my thought. We were too caught up to realize but the teams are dropping like flies."

"I wish we could communicate with Rei. Maybe she is seeing something we can't."

"Unfortunately all we can do is keep our guard up and trust that Alba and Matsume will handle any issue that arises."

"You think it's someone's mythical creature knocking all the other teams down?"

"Not sure. Let's hurry just in case." They reached the fourth screen. "Type the answer: What famous dragon of Norse mythology guarded a large sum of gold?"

"They all guard gold!" Kei exclaimed.

"I think it's vague on purpose to make the question harder. What's a dragon we know from Norse mythology? This would be a perfect question for Kaida."

Kei thought for a moment. "Oh! It's Fafnir!" Kei typed their answer and the screen flashed green. "We just covered famous dragons in sensei's class last month."

"Great Job, Kei! One more to go."

Back down near screen three, Matsume and Alba were still holding off the minotaur. The armor left little room for Matsume to attack and Alba, being a creature of healing, did little except to annoy the beast. The minotaur had had enough and with one of his huge hands, he smacked Alba into the rocks. Matsume bit the minotaur's hand but was flung off the wall in no time. Alba recovered and flew to grab Matsume before quickly retreating up to where Yun and Kei were.

A voice called out, "Are those your creatures attacking my minotaur?" Yun looked to the left to see one of the members from Naha next to him, a short-haired boy that was muscular and tan from working in the sun. His teammate had a similar physique but had long hair that was tied back into a bun. A leprechaun dressed in all green rode on the second boy's shoulder. Seeing both boys up close, a surge of dread came over Yun and Kei.

"It- it was chasing us," Kei stuttered.

"Yeah cause you weren't supposed to pass us," The leprechaun laughed. He teleported above Yun and stomped on his right hand. "If you could fall now it would do us a favor."

Yun clung to the wall with his other hand and readjusted before the leprechaun could knock him off. He looked down and saw Alba carrying Matsume up towards them. "Kei! Go on ahead. We'll take care of them. You need to get to the last question!"

"What if I don't know it?"

"We won't know until you read it. Now hurry!" Yun swung at the leprechaun who teleported back onto his human's shoulder. Alba let go of Matsume who made a clean landing between Yun and the boys. Alba flew higher, waiting to dive.

Kei hurried up the wall and caught up to the two teams ahead of them. One of the teams missed their questions and began to fall while the other had a werewolf after them. Kei turned and focused on the screen in front of her. She read the question aloud. "True or False: Creatures such as the Loch Ness Monster and Kelpie originate from Ireland." She thought for a moment. "Ugh! Dallas is a Kelpie. I should know this. Come on, what did Jun say?"

She remembered back to a time of their training when they studied each others mythical creatures. Tsuda advised the group to research and know the strengths and weaknesses of both friends and foes. They all sat at lunch talking about the origins and abilities of their different creatures. "What was it that Jun said?" She asked herself.

Below, the leprechaun was dancing all around Yun. Matsume lifted her nine tails to appear bigger and leaped for the leprechaun who teleported once again to his human's shoulder. "These guys are fun. Can I play with them some more, Goro?"

"No Colin! You and Nori need to keep this chum busy while Ken and I head up to the button before that girl gets there.

"Leave it to us, boss," Colin said as he teleported to the minotaur, Nori, who had just stampeded back up the wall.

Yun looked down as Nori charged in his direction. He felt helpless against the creature but also wasn't sure how to stop Ken and Goro from going after Kei. His first thought was to send Matsume after Kei, but he also knew there was no way he and Alba could take on a minotaur and a leprechaun on their own. "As long as I can keep them from Kei, that's all that matters right now. Matsume! Alba! I am going to have to leave the minotaur all up to you two again. I'll take out the leprechaun."

"Oh, you think a human can challenge me, huh?" Colin exclaimed. "I'll show you!" He teleported above Yun and landed on his chest. Yun crashed into the rocks but held on with his remaining strength. "Not enough. How about we do it again!" This time, Yun grabbed Colin's ankles and used his momentum to swing him into the wall.

"Doesn't feel so good does it?" Sudden dizziness came over Yun. The hit from earlier had made it hard to breathe and he began to lose his footing on the wall.

"Aww, feeling weak are we?" Colin teased. "Let me give you a hand." He gave Yun one final push overboard, falling a few feet before getting caught by the rope that Rei was holding. Rei could see he was exhausted and let him down slowly rather than allowing him to climb back up the wall.

"You did your best," Rei said helping Yun to his feet. "It's all up to Kei now."

"What was it? Think, Kei, think!" For a second, she heard Jun's voice in her head saying, "Yeah, I once took a trip to Scotland so Dallas could visit his country of origin." Her eyes widened. "It's Scotland! which means that the answer is false." Kei hit the button and the screen flashed green.

Even though they were sore and achy, Kei moved her arms and legs as fast as she could to reach the button. Her heart sunk when she heard the voices of Ken and Goro behind her. "Wait up little girl! We'll press that button for you!"

She looked down and asked herself, "What happened to Yun?" Seeing her sidetracked, the boys took the opportunity to close the gap. Kei snapped out of her trance and continued forward. Soon she was within reach of the button. "I see it!"

She froze. She was high off the ground and the button was on top of a rock that she would have to jump to, otherwise, she wouldn't be able to reach it. Kei wanted nothing more than to climb back down and call it quits but she knew that wasn't an option. Mustering her leftover strength and courage, she leaped for the ledge and came within reach. With the rush of things, Kei didn't check her rope and caught it on a rock as she jumped. A snap sound echoed in her ear as she felt herself falling from her goal. Worse, she bore witness to Ken hitting the button, winning Naha the second game.