Chapter 48:


Fantasy Life

"Woah, that was gnarly!" Kaida, Jun, and Isla all turned to see Charlie and the others approaching them from the woods.

"You saw that?" Kaida asked.

"Just the part where it bit Yami and then you smacked it," Kei replied.

"Oh no Isla! Your leg!" Amelia shouted. She and Harper rushed over to her side. "What happened?"

Isla filled them in on the event as Jun helped her back to camp. Uriana and Ivy carried the branches for Rei to start another fire. As Isla was finishing up her story, Kaida grabbed some of the medicine she made that night at the hotel and applied some to Isla's wound. "This should help it heal. Luckily it's not deep."

"Thank you, Kaida," Isla said gratefully. "I wouldn't even be here if you and Yami hadn't come to my rescue."

"Aye, we certainly owe you lads for saving her," Charlie stated. "We fully intend to repay you for your kindness."

"It's no problem," Kaida said with a smile. "We are friends after all."

Yun interrupted the chat by saying, "Well, we only have a few more hours before sunrise. Let's get a few more hours of sleep. We'll need it for the hike ahead of us." The teens laid to rest while Harper circled about them, keeping an eye out for danger.

Morning came sooner than Kaida would have hoped. She was tired from last night's events and sore from all the walking. Isla rode on Jack for the remainder of the trip. Harper stayed close by and Kaida admired how brave the basilisk was, even though it was no bigger than Archie. 

Ahead of her, Kaida enjoyed watching the jackalope hop along as he listened to Uriana and Asa talking. From what Olivia mentioned the day before, jackalopes have enhanced senses and can learn to mimic voices. Kaida wished Archie had learned that ability already. She found it fascinating whenever she met creatures who could communicate apart from Asa.

Having left her Hawkesbury river monster back at the nearest river, Amelia spent most of her time making small talk with Kei and spoiling Matsume. Kaida decided to join in on the conversation. The talking stopped when Yun brought everyone to a halt.

"It seems as though we part ways here." Yun began, standing at the fork in the path. "According to both our maps, the Australian team heads to the right and we head to the left to find our different clues."

"So soon?" Olivia exclaimed.

"At least we had a good time together," Kei said. "Thank you for traveling with us."

"No mate, thank you for giving us a hand," Charlie said making his way towards the right path. "See ya around!"

After the fond farewells, Kaida and the rest of the Ashikaga team continued onward to the left side of the road. "I hope they find their clue," Kaida fretted.

"Don't worry about them," Jun commented. "They're a tough lot."

The team traveled further up Mount Tanzawa for a few more hours before reaching the spot located on the map. There was a clearing with a table and a small box on top. Rei read a letter sat next to the box. "Here is the first part of your test. Open the box and you shall be blest." Rei looked over at the box. "It's locked."

"So how do we open it?" Kei wondered.

"There doesn't seem to be a keyhole." Yun picked the box up to examine it. It was a simple wooden cube with no markings or textures.

"Maybe we could break it open," Kaida suggested. "Here let me see it." Kaida took the box from Yun and placed it next to Yami. "Could you step on this for me?" Yami lifted one of his front claws and placed it on the tiny box. It did not budge. Yami lifted his claw off the box, having given up on breaking it.

"Well that was a bust. What next?" Jun remarked.

"Maybe one of our creatures can open it." Kei took the box and handed it to Matsume who began to play around with it. "Let's give her a moment. Kitsune have a tendency to be very crafty so I'm hoping she'll be able to find a way into the box for us."

It didn't take long for a slit of the box to come out of the side, revealing a tiny button. "I'll be darned! It worked." Jun exclaimed. "So the box had a loose piece to remove."

"Even if we managed to make progress, I don't see how we will ever hit that button," Rei said examining the box. "It's inside a hole that's too tiny for any of us to reach. Even Matsume's claws won't reach it."

Kaida began to think of a way for them to reach in and hit the button. She began to fiddle with the brooch on her uniform. She looked down at it, remembering all her classmates back in Ashikaga. Then she remembered a time last year at school when a friend of hers needed help. This friend had lost the key to unlock the chain on her bike and asked Kaida for help getting it off. In order to pick the lock, Kaida took a sewing needle from the art room and used it to unlock the friend's bike.

"I've got it!" Kaida shouted. She removed her brooch and held it with the unicorn horn facing away from her. Taking the box from Kei, Kaida carefully inserted the tip of the horn into the hole. A sigh of relief came when there was a click and the box opened to reveal a scrap of paper. Kaida grabbed the piece of paper and handed it to Yun to read.

"Way to go Kaida! It says, 'You must travel further to find what you seek. Head to Japan's tallest peak.'"

"Japan's tallest peak? Mt. Fuji, right?" Rei asked.

"I believe so. Sounds like our next clue is at the peak of Mt. Fuji."

Kaida motioned Yami to lower himself to the ground. "Everyone get on. Flying will be the fastest way to get there."

Yun nodded before saying, "I'll send Alba ahead to scout the area." Once everyone was on Yami's back he shouted, "Let's hurry to Mt. Fuji!"