an English translation of the novel

Page 318-319

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.

Page 320-321

At first glance it looked like an empty meadow, but the queerats visible near the base of the big Mongolian oak trees indicated that their nest was there. The entrance was cleverly camouflaged by tall weeds, so it seemed like the queerats were appearing out of thin air.

One queerat, conspicuously larger than all the others, made its way forward sluggishly, pushing aside the smaller queerats. It wore a cloak draped over its leather armor and was unmistakably the highest ranked in the colony. But its most distinguishing feature was its protruding, hammer-shaped head.

Captain Pinecone dropped down on all fours and crawled deferentially towards Hammerhead. The two started discussing something. Hammerhead glared at us with its beady eyes while giving orders to Captain Pinecone.

I was afraid that we were going to be lead down into the pitch black tunnels, but instead we were driven away from the nest, into the woods. There was a giant birdcage, two meters across and one and a half meters tall, made out of the vines of multiflora roses wrapped around the branches of the trees.

There didn’t appear to be an entrance to the cage, but one area was devoid of branches and only had the stems of the roses stretching from top to bottom. The queerats parted the stems with their spears and ushered us inside. When they withdrew their spears, the stems sprang closed again. It would be impossible to get out without being cut to pieces by the thorns. In addition, a sentry was posted outside, watching us darkly.

The cage wasn’t tall enough for us to stand in, so we had no choice but to sit on the cold ground with our backpacks as a cushion. The moonlight was just bright enough for us to barely make out each other’s faces.

“It’s been a rough day, huh,” Satoru said, in a gentler voice than I could ever have imagined him using.

Tears welled up in my eyes and threatened to spill over.

“Seriously, worst day ever. …Satoru, how’s your wound?”

“It’s perfectly fine. The blood’s dried already; it only just nicked the skin,” he said, wiggling his ears.

He was the only one in our class who had that talent. I relaxed and gave a small smile. The blood on his forehead made the cut look serious, but as he said, it wasn’t really a big deal.

“What do we do now?”

Page 322-323

“Anyway, all we can do now is wait to be rescued. If Shun and them make it out okay, they’ll alert the village.”

How long would we have to wait until the rescuers got here? Just thinking about it was depressing.

We sat pressed against each other in the narrow birdcage.

“It’s still watching us, huh.”

It’s been about an hour since we entered the cage, but the sentry was still glaring suspiciously at us. It met my eyes and turned away, but looked back toward us soon after.

“Ignore it. It’s just a stupid queerat,” Satoru said, putting his arm around my waist.

“But, somehow…hey, what are you doing?” I directed the second half of my sentence toward Satoru.

“Your nerves are probably all frazzled, right? I’ll help you relax,” he said, leaning over me stiffly. The light behind him hid his face in shadows, but I could still see his eyes glittering brightly.

“Okay. I’ll do it. Just lie back,” I put my hand on his chest.

Satoru stopped moving. I felt his heart beating through his T-shirt. I smiled, and slowly pushed him over.

The pale moonlight illuminated his face as I ran the back of my hand gently down his cheek. Satoru closed his eyes, and kept contentedly still, like a pet cat.

When I cupped his face in my hands and kissed his forehead, Satoru buried his face in my chest.

I caressed him gently from his neck to his wrist, to his torso.

Until now, we never had a chance to touch each other like this. But our usual interactions, snapping and teasing each other, were all expressions of love.

Satoru was completely hard now. Until now, I’ve only had experiences with girls, so I didn’t know what to do with a boy. When I touched him through his jeans, I could feel its heat and pulsation through the thick material. What was I supposed to do?

Page 324-325

I tried to bide my time by running my hands over Satoru’s inner legs, squeezing his butt, but he grabbed my hand and put it on his genitals.

I undid the button and unzipped his jeans. He was so hard that it looked like his boxers were about to rip.

Once again I caressed his most sensitive part. This time, I could see its size and shape much more clearly through the thin material of his boxers. I thought it was interesting that it looked almost alive, reacting to my touch like a little pet.

Suddenly, the false minoshiro’s words echoed in my ears.

“When stress among members of a group arise, bonobos will relieve it through intimate sexual contact. Mature males and females engage in sexual intercourse, and immature individuals or individuals of the same sex will rub their genitals together in an imitation of intercourse. This prevents conflicts and maintains order within the group…”

No. We’re not monkeys.

I shook my head, trying to drive away unneeded thoughts.

But. There were strict rules in the Code of Ethics regarding sexual acts between boys and girls, almost to the point of being forbidden. But something just one step away from it, that is, contact between two people of the same sex, was allowed, even encouraged. Why is that?

“The first step was to have frequent physical contact. Hand holding, hugging, and cheek-kissing. The second step was to encourage contact between opposite and same sexes from childhood to puberty. The idea was to make it a habit to use sexual play, and the ensuing orgasms, to dispel tensions between people. And the third step was to encourage free sex among mature humans.”

If what the false minoshiro said was true, then all of this was just something created to protect our society…

“What’s wrong?” Satoru asked, because I had suddenly stopped moving.

“Nothing, sorry.”

“This time, let me do it,” he said, groping me.


Satoru probably thought he was being gentle, but he was actually tickling me. I squirmed and threw my head back. Then I felt a pair of eyes drilling into me. The sentry. It stared unblinkingly at us.

Page 326-327

No one, adult or children, wants to be watched when they’re having an intimate moment with their partner. So when an outsider happens upon a situation like this, the proper thing to do would be to look away and leave as soon as possible.

But then, when the third party isn’t human, there isn’t such an expectation. Once when Maria and I were spending time together on the Hamasaki sand dunes, Shun’s bulldog Subaru was there as well, though I don’t remember how that came to happen.

In this case though, the queerat’s gaze was different from Subaru’s, and felt extremely unpleasant. It obviously didn’t understand the meaning of our actions; all its primitive brain could imagine were obscene  acts as it looked lewdly at us with, saliva dripping from its mouth.

Since I had stopped moving again, Satoru opened his eyes.

“What now? Stop teasing.”

“I’m not. …look,” I flicked my eyes in the direction of the sentry.

Satoru tsked. “Just ignore it.”

“I can’t.”

His fun spoiled, Satoru glared menacingly at the queerat.

“Damn it. That bastard. I’ll deal with it.”

“Without your cantus?”

Sensing mockery in my words, Satoru’s face became sullen. “Even without cantus, humans still have knowledge.”

I decided to keep my scathing retort to myself. “…but there’s nothing you can do. You can’t get out of the cage, and you can’t talk to it since it doesn’t speak our language.”

Satoru thought for a while, then his eyes lit up. I had a bad feeling about this, but kept silent for now. Satoru started rummaging through his backpack.

“What are you looking for?”

“This,” he said proudly, pulling out a white bird’s egg, no, a haythatcher’s fake egg.

“What are you going to do with it?”

When the fake egg is struck, it explodes and what’s called a “devil’s hand” springs out, emitting a foul smell and covering two to three meters of the surrounding area in feces. Be that as it may, the force of the blast isn’t enough to kill. At the most it’ll just enrage your enemy.