Still, we couldn’t help but look at the queerats. What was surprising was that out of the group of twenty or so, only about half of them looked like normal queerats. The other half had striking abnormalities that didn’t appear to be birth defects, but rather a purposely designed variation.
Both the captain and vice-captain were covered in scales, and upon closer inspection, I could see scales on their bodies in between the gaps in their armor in addition to the scales on their face and hands.
In the group of archers were four queerats who had bows twice the size of the other archers’, and each had an arm that was disproportionately large, like a fiddler crab. The larger arm, which held the bow, resembled a long club and seemed rather stiff, while the arm that nocked the arrows was shorter with a muscular upper arm. The forearm tapered toward the hand and the fingers appeared to have pairs of hooks on them.
Two other queerats, with huge eyes like a chameleon and large ears like a bat, constantly monitored our surroundings, swiveling their eyes and ears this way and that.
There were also ones with a single long horn on their heads, or with abnormally long limbs, but I couldn’t imagine what the use of these features were.
“What’s up with these guys? It’s like a monster parade,” Satoru said.
“Well, they are queer rats.”
“I didn’t know that’s what the name meant.”
It really wasn’t funny at all, but somehow this boosted our spirits just a little bit.
As we climbed the hill, the moonlight revealed a path surrounded by the ghostly silhouettes of the trees. But the queerats turned away from the path and slipped through a narrow gap between multiflora rose bushes. We had no choice but to follow, pushing through the thorny branches.
I wonder if these bushes were planted specifically to deter predators from approaching their nest. As I was thinking about this, the winding path suddenly opened up.