Chapter 49:


Fantasy Life

Yami flew for a few hours before arriving at Mt. Fuji. There was a storm near the peak that was too dangerous to fly into so Kaida instructed him to land. Upon landing, Alba directed the group to a small cave where they could wait out the rain. There was a rustling inside the cave. Kaida turned and in the dim light made out the figure of a black bear, which Kaida assumed was the mother, and a cub. The cub came over and sniffed around while the mother laid herself down for a nap.

"I've never been this close to a bear before," Kaida stated in a sweat.

"Don't worry," Jun said. "Animals won't attack mythical creatures. We'll be safe as long as we stay near Alba, Matsume, and the others."

"Awww! He sure is a cute little guy," Kei commented. The cub sniffed Matsume and the two began playing with each other in the cave.

"Look, the rain's letting up!" Rei exclaimed pointing at the entrance.

"Excellent!" Yun shouted as he walked out of the cave. "Now we can make our way to the peak." He led the group forward as they climbed up the mountain.

Looking around, Kaida took note on how quiet the forest was. "It seems like we're the only ones out here. Do you think we'll run into any other teams on Mt. Fuji?"

"It's unlikely," Yun replied. "With the clues being so spread out like they are, we probably won't run into another team for a while." Just as he finished, a pegasus trotted by. It was a snow white color with hair that turned gold in the sun.

"Oh pretty!" Kei uttered. "I've never seen a pegasus before."

Kaida looked at its body. There was a bandage wrapped around its right wing. "I think it's hurt you guys."

Before Kaida could continue, a voice came out of the the forest. "Jana! Wait for me!" From the woods, a succubus emerged. She was a beautiful woman with hair of coal and eyes a glowing yellow. Her wings were tucked behind her slim body and her tail flickered.

The succubus stared at the group before shouting, "Oh my! We have guests!" She took off briskly up the hill with the pegasus behind. "Please do follow me. And watch your step."

The teens all looked at each other, not knowing whether to go along or not. After a few passing seconds, the team cautiously followed the succubus up the mountain. She led the group to a cabin located near the peak of the mountain. Outside was a man chopping firewood and a woman tending to an injured yokai. The man looked up from his work and exclaimed, "Ah Camila, you found Jana. Good."

The woman looked up as well. "Who are your new friends, Camila?"

"Not sure. Found them wondering the forest."

The woman stood up after tightening a the bandage around the yokai's arm. "Welcome children. It's been a while since we've had any visitors but please make yourselves at home." One look and listen, and Kaida determined that neither the man nor woman were from Japan. Both were tall and had tanned skin. The woman's hair was a dirty blonde while the man's was a darker brown. They also spoke with an accent of some sort.

"Thank you for having us," Kaida said with a bow. "My name is Kaida Fujihara and these are my friends. Pardon me asking but, where are you from?"

"My husband and I are from Argentina. Beautiful country."

"What brings you to Japan?" Jun questioned. "More specifically, why are you on Mt. Fuji with all these creatures?" Jun indicated to a pasture of collected creatures including types of yokai, a manticore, and single-horned creature of Chinese mythology which Jun recognized as a qilin.

"So many questions young one," the man said as he laid his axe down. Placing an arm around the woman, he said, "My name is Samuel Perez and this is my wife, Sofia. Camila over there is my succubus and together we run a wild creature reserve."

"A reserve?" Rei wondered.

"Oh yes. You know mythical creatures become free once their human passes on. Mt. Fuji is a hot spot for creatures to travel to when they go out on their own here in Japan. We were asked to come out here and help attend to this little place, and tend to creatures we find who are hurt or sick."

"What a wonderful idea," Kaida commented.

Yun spoke next. "It's a pleasure to meet both of you. Do either of you happen to know of a clue that would be hidden on this mountain? We are on a treasure hunt."

"A treasure hunt? How exciting!" Samuel thought it over for a moment. "I don't recall seeing any treasure, but you are welcome to search the area if you'd like."

"Come in and rest children," Sofia motioned towards the cabin. "My creature would be happy to make you something to eat after your long journey." With hungry stomachs and no reason to decline, the group followed Sofia into the cabin.

Inside they found a lamia slithering about in the kitchen. She had long, blonde hair on her head and green scales along her tail. She was wearing an apron and was in the midst of mixing a bowl of what Kaida assumed was going to turn into a cake. Sofia addressed the teens. "Children, this is my lamia, Maria. She takes good care of the house so if there's anything you need, please ask her."

Maria came to greet the group of teens. "It's a pleasure to have you," she said in a gentle voice. "If you're hungry, I'll get started on lunch right away."

Kaida and the others were all seated at a table inside the cabin. It wasn't long till Maria came bringing several trays of breakfast food. She gave each person a tray as she spoke. "I hope you all like it. I'm not used to preparing meals from Japan yet so I made breakfast a simple affair with some empanadas and potatoes."

Kaida's mouth watered at the smell of the food. Though she had never tried an empanada before, she was eager to take that first bite. "Thank you for your hospitality," she said to Maria. Then altogether the teens said, "Thank you for the food."