Chapter 53:

Suruga Bay

Fantasy Life

Night had fallen by the time Yami landed in front of the house where Sofia and Samuel were sleeping. The sudden rumble awoke the couple and they ran outside to see what it was. When they got out the door along with Camila, Jun was carrying Maria in his arms over towards them with the others close behind. Sofia gasped at the sight of her lamia. "What on earth happened, Maria?" She asked frantically.

"So- Sorry," Maria stuttered. "I got in the way."

"Not true!" Kei exclaimed. "She helped us fight a nemean lion in the woods and got hurt."

Yun stepped forward. "I had Alba use her healing magic and Kaida applied some ointment she made herself. Maria's wound should heal up nicely but for now, she needs rest. Is there a bed for us to lay her in?"

"I'll go prepare one right now," Sofia said as she dashed off to the house.

Samuel turned to his succubus. "Go help her." He turned back to Jun. "Let me help you bring Maria into the house." Together, they hauled Maria into the house and laid her on a bed in one of the bedrooms. Kei went to the kitchen to prepare some soup and Rei brought a fresh pair of bandages. Kaida felt Maria's forehead which was burning hot. Quickly, she looked in her bag for some herbs and made some medicine to fight the fever.

Once Maria was fast asleep, everyone met out in the kitchen. Sofia was the first to speak. "Thank you so much for bringing my sweet Maria back to me."

"I'm glad she'll be alright," Rei said. "Sorry we couldn't keep her from getting hurt."

"We should be grateful that all of you made it back in one piece," Samuel commented. "I don't recall there being a mention of a nemean lion on Mt. Fuji. They're tough creatures and very dangerous. I will call in a search team to have it relocated to a more suitable location immediately."

"Glad to hear it," Kei smiled.

Everyone let out a relaxing sigh and Jun noticed a look of displeasure on Kaida's face. "Are you feeling ok, Kaida?"

"Hm," she looked up at him. "Oh yes. It's just that not only did Maria get hurt while we were out, but we weren't able to find a single mythical creature to bring back to the reserve. We... failed."

"I wouldn't be so sure about that," Sofia stated.

"Huh? What do you mean?" Jun asked.

Sofia grinned from ear to ear. "You all pass with flying colors."

"I don't understand," Rei added.

"Your assignment was to find a mythical creature in danger and bring it back here correct?" There was a nod from the teens. "Well, Maria is that creature."

"But she's your creature," Kaida protested. "Not a wild one."

Yun laughed. "Although that was your intention, you never specified that it had to be wild."

"Correct, Yun. Even by accident, you all still managed to follow the instructions laid out before the mission. So get some rest tonight, and then tomorrow we will send you off to your final destination."

Kaida wasn't sure whether to jump for joy or collapse right there at the table from the exhausting day. One thing was certain, she and the others slept well that night up there in the house on Mt. Fuji.

Morning came and the group was all packed up and ready to head out. Kaida had even woken up early to pat Yami down, making sure he was ready for flight. Sofia and Samuel had let Kei use the kitchen to prepare meals for everyone during the trip. And Yun made a final visit to check on Maria's tail. Camila came out of the house and handed a map over to Jun.

"What is this?" He asked.

"That is the place where you will find the treasure," Samuel replied. "I believe if you hurry, there is still time for you lot to win the game."

Jun unrolled the map and showed it to the others. "That's where the treasure is?" Yun asked skeptically.

Sofia nodded. "We wish you all the best of luck in your search and hope to see you again."

"One day we will," Kaida smiled. She jumped onto Yami's back. "What are you all waiting for?"

It took a moment for everyone to load up onto Yami, then he took off. Sofia and Samuel waved from the ground until the teens were up in the clouds, out of sight. Just before they were completely hidden from view by the clouds, Kaida could have sworn she saw Maria waving at them from her window. She waved back cheerfully, wondering if they would ever meet again.

Not long into the flight, Rei hollered up at Kaida, "Are you sure Yami knows how to get there?"

"I think so! He's been there before!"

Yun took the map from Jun and shouted, "Not to worry, I'll navigate! Onward to Suruga Bay!"