After the incident at school, Kaida and the others' popularity only grew. She was claimed as a hero for finding Tsuda and Jun was renowned for being the strongest member of the team after facing Noda. Even though weeks had gone by, a big crowd of fans attended every practice event the team had. Yui worked diligently to keep everyone in line and have all the paperwork for the Fantasy Life League submitted as Tsuda trained the team.
On the day of the team's last training session, they were called into the principal's office. There he presented them each with a brooch, even one for Yui. The design varied for each student and each brooch was to look like that student's mythical creature. Yun's was a bird stoned with diamonds. Rei's resembled a coffin painted in gold. For Kaida, hers was a pair of dragon wings and a horn in the middle.
Before dismissing them, the principle said some final word to the students. "These are gifts made for you all by the students here at Ashikaga High. The students, as well as the faculty, wished to give you all a good luck present since tomorrow is the big event. Remember, you are going not just to represent Japan, but are the pride of your home town too. Do your best, and when you look at these gifts, know that you have the support of the whole school behind you."
Even though she was excited to see Ando, Mina, and the two jack-o-lanterns the next day, Kaida went home that night feeling butterflies in her stomach. Though oddly enough she felt happy. Kaida laid in her bed thinking about all the fun times she had over the year with her friends. They had all become so close even though they almost were torn apart. She thought back to nationals and their trip back to the Edo period with Himari. Thinking back on all the good times she had, Kaida closed her eyes and drifted off to sleep.
The next morning, Kaida met the others at school and loaded into the van. On the way Kei asked, "So have you thought about which creature you're going to use for the game?"
"My choice is Yami," Kaida replied abruptly.
"Really? I thought you'd use Chiyo."
"I thought about it, but after the incident with Himari I felt like I've been neglecting Yami. He had to hide out most of the time and even though he competed during the paint ball game, I was too quick to put him on look out duty. I want him to have a chance to actually compete and have some fun. But don't worry, Yui will look after Chiyo and cheer for us on the side lines."
"That makes sense. I know you usually alternate but the FLL only has one massive game instead of several smaller games."
"That's true, Tachibana," Tsuda chimed in. "Who knows what the higher ups have concocted this time. Even though it wasn't your intent, it was a wise choice picking Yami since dragons are more adaptable than unicorns." Tsuda turned the wheel before saying, "Ah! We're here."
Ando, Mina, Jessie, and Jackel all stood outside waiting to greet their quests. "It's been a while. So nice to see all these young faces again," Mina said happily. "Come, we'll have lunch prepared for you all after you have settled in."
Yui looked around the hotel. "It seems like there aren't a lot of people here. I thought it'd be packed with tourists coming to watch the game."
"We've been telling all our clients we're full," Jessie answered. "Most of the hotels have been having trouble with some visiting teams being too rowdy with all the excitement and as the establishment hosting the team from Japan, we saw that it would be wise if you didn't have guests disturbing you."
"But didn't you lose out on a lot of business that way?" Yun asked.
"Not to worry," Tsuda chimed. "The school received a generous donation after your big win at nationals, and part of it went to cover the rest of the hotel."
"Yes and besides, you all are good kids and we like it that way," Mina added.
The teens each got their own room this time but the girls all decided to hang out in Rei's room to chat and help each other prepare for the opening ceremony which would commence in a few hours. "Oh I'm so nervous! What do you think the game is going to be?" Kei asked as she brushed Kaida's hair.
"I think it'll be something like that paintball game, only a lot more players," Rei replied.
"I don't know. Were you able to dig anything up, Yui?" Kaida questioned.
"Nothing. The higher ups keep that information top secret so no team gets an advantage."
Kaida sighed. "Well, I guess we'll just have to be patient and find out at the ceremony."
"But I do know who your biggest competitors are."
After lunch, Tsuda looked everyone over to see if each person looked presentable. "You all look very nice. Now load up and let's head to the stadium."
The procedure for entering the stadium was identical to that of nationals, only with more competitors. Looking around, Kaida saw all sorts of creatures from around the world. Some of which she had never seen or heard of before. The teams were instructed to line up in alphabetical order by country, so Tsuda led the way behind the Jamaican team. As all the teams stood at attention in front of the stage, Kaida scanned the competition.
She remembered Yui explaining in the room who the top teams were. Near the end of the line up was the United States with an impressive lineup of mythical creatures, including a wyvern dragon. Near the front, Canada was no slouch either. Kenya boasted a lineup of both strong creatures and humans for the competition. Yui had believed that team or South Africa to be the best from the African continent. Europe held many elite teams all hailing from France, Germany, The United Kingdom to name a few.
Kaida's butterflies began to return when a voice came over the speaker. They were about to announce the game.