The sky grew dark and the team, along with their new companions, settled down to camp for the evening up in the mountains. It became chilly that night so everyone pitched in to help build a fire and clear the grounds of debris for room to sleep. At first, a few of the teens weren't sure about settling down for the night at which Yun replied, "I believe it's best we rest. Asa is the only mythical creature we have that is of any use in the dark."
"Yeah, I suppose you've got a point," Ivy said with a yawn.
After the fire was started, Kaida and the others divided up the food that they had prepared the night before. The Australian team had little rations on them and were offered some of the food. "What do you call this thing, mate?" Charlie asked holding the food that was handed to him.
"It's called an onigiri," Kaida replied. "It's really good."
"What's in it?" Olivia asked, staring at her helping.
"This one has chicken wrapped with rice and seaweed," Rei answered before taking a bite out of hers.
Isla was the first to give hers a taste. "It's actually pretty tasty." She took a second bite. "I'll have to get used to the seaweed part though."
All the others tried the food. "Blimey! That's better than I thought," Charlie exclaimed. "Thanks for sharing your food. We didn't expect to be camping."
"Yes, you all have been so wonderful," Olivia said cheerfully.
"Glad you like them," Kei said. "So can you tell us more about your hometown?"
"What would you like to know?" Amelia asked.
"What's your school like? What clubs do you guys do?" Rei asked excitedly.
"Well, we all attend a high school in Cairns. It's a city in the northern most part of Australia." Amelia turned to look at Charlie. "We are all from Cairns except him."
"Aye, I grew up on a cattle farm in the Outback," Charlie added. "I only moved to Cairns about two years ago with my family."
Isla continued the conversation. "It's a very beautiful area, if you all ever come visit. Dreadfully hot though, I'm afraid."
"I've heard you have to wear hats when you play outside. Is that true?" Jun asked.
Amelia nodded. "The sun is brutal, but we still have fun outside. Both Olivia and I swim after school, while Charlie over there plays rugby, and he's very good at it."
"Yeah, and I play tennis," Isla chimed. "Ivy, you play netball with your younger sister after piano lessons don't you?"
Ivy gave a slight nod before asking, "What about you guys?" You have a beautiful country here. Can you tell us more about it?" Both teams spent much of the night talking about home. Then one by one they all drifted off to sleep.
Before morning arrived, Isla awoke to check the fire. She patted Harper on her scaly head before heading off into the woods to collect more firewood. On her way, she broke a stick on the ground and turned back to see if anyone had woken up. When no one budged, Isla began to walk again. It was a quiet night with a half moon in the sky so there was very little light. As she continued gathering the sticks, Isla looked up at the stars. How majestic they were!
Isla felt she had collected enough branches to last the remainder of the night. But when she reached down to pick up the last one, she stumbled over a rock, dropping all her sticks and scrapping her leg. "Ouch that hurt!" She exclaimed, clenching her thigh. A growling noise sounded behind her. She whipped around to see what it was. In the darkness, she could see nothing.
"Hello, is anyone there?" Out from the shadows came what Isla first thought was a lone wolf. As it inched closer she could see it was a creature with black fur, red eyes, and quite large in size. The creature snarled and crept closer before pouncing into the air. Isla tried to stand but stumbled again because of her leg. All she could do was scream.
The campers all jolted awake to the sound of a far off shriek. Rei and Kei hugged each other for comfort. "Wha-What was that?" Kei managed to say.
"I don't know. It sounded scary though," Ivy said.
"No worries," Charlie exclaimed. "So long as we all stick together."
Yun took a look around the campsite. "Yes, but some of us are missing."
Back in the forest, Isla slowly opened her squinted eyes to see Yami standing in front of her. A voice called out to her. "Isla! Are you alright?" Isla turned to see Kaida and Jun running to her.
"What are you two doing here?" Isla asked in disbelief. "I thought I left you all asleep."
"Yami heard you walking off by yourself and got concerned. He woke me up and we followed you here."
"I heard movement and followed Kaida," Jun remarked.
"I've never been so relieved." She struggled to stand until Jun placed her arm over his shoulder. "Thank you. What is that creature anyway?"
Kaida turned to look at the creature. "I think it's a wild okuri-inu. A creature that stalks lone hikers and devours them when they trip." Kaida examined Isla's leg. "Seems like you did just that."
"That's all good to know, but how do we make it leave?" Jun asked.
"Normally you'd have to trick it into believing you didn't trip but at this point Yami will have to fight it."
"Can you run back and get help, Kaida?"
"I don't want to risk it. I'm fast but that creature could outrun me any day." Kaida grabbed one of the branches from the untidy stack that Isla dropped. While Yami and the okuri-inu faced off, Kaida slipped around behind the creature.
Yami used one of his claws to stomp on the creature but it was too fast. The okuri-inu clenched its large jaws on Yami's leg before leaping up and biting at his neck. Yami squirmed and shook trying to get the creature off. Kaida waited until Yami lowered his head closer to the ground then whacked the creature in the head, knocking it off of Yami. The okuri-inu shook its head in pain before fleeing into the forest.