an English translation of the novel

Page 466-467

“Do you see it? The entrance to the nest is straight ahead.”

It was impossible not to see it. On the slope was a hole big enough for an elephant to go through. There were traces of the huge trees used for camouflage that had been dug up.

“But aren’t there multiple exits on the other side? Can’t the queen escape from a hidden route?”

Kiroumaru smiled, “There’s no need to worry. We first seal all the other exits and force the queen to come out this way. The queen will try to run, not fearing the power of the gods. And to begin with, where the queen lives is considered a sacred place and doesn’t have a lot of tunnels running through it.”

“So, where is the queen now?”

“In a room in the deepest part of the nest.”

A large number of Giant Hornet soldiers came flooding out of the nest. Some of them carried something carefully in their arms.

“Those are…?” I realized before I finished asking.

Nestlings.

“There are many nurseries within the nest. These nestlings were all birthed by the Ground Spider queen.”

“But, why?”

The satisfied look on Kiroumaru’s face was almost repulsive. “These are treasured spoils of war. They are the workforce that will serve our colony in the future.”

One of the soldiers brought a nestling to Kiroumaru. It hadn’t yet opened its eyes and was reaching out with its front paws as if trying to touch something. Its pink skin made it look much more like a rat than its adult counterpart.

I remembered what Squealer had said.

“The queen is executed and the rest of the members become slaves. As long as they live they are treated as less than scum, and when they die they are left out to rot and fertilize the fields.”

The nestlings had only a dismal future ahead of them. Although they were almost as intelligent as humans, queerats were still more like ants in nature. Why did such warped animals exist? That was a question I asked myself over and over last night.


Page 468-469

Squealer, who had following behind us, went up to Kiroumaru and started saying something to him. Since it was queerat speak, I couldn’t understand his words.

“The gods are present. Speak in Japanese,” Kiroumaru spat.

“Ah, gods, I’m deeply sorry. As a representative of the Robber Fly colony, I am just voicing my rights,” Squealer said, bowing repeatedly.

“Your rights?” Kiroumaru smiled pityingly. “Why do you think you have rights?”

“Isn’t it natural? The Robber Fly colony acted as the first line of defense against dangerous invaders and held them at bay until help arrived. However, during that time, we lost many soldiers to the enemy’s cruel and cowardly attacks. If it was another colony, they would have had to bear just as much damage. Since the Robber Fly colony acted as a barrier for all the other colonies, shouldn’t they be rewarded for their efforts?” Squealer said with so much passion that he was all but crying.

I didn’t get where he was going with this.

“Hn. Such foolish talk.” Kiroumaru saw my look of confusion and said, “Very well. It would be unfortunate if a small colony died out just like that. For your spoils, two hundred adults and three hundred nestlings. That is all.”

Squealer prostrated himself before Kiroumaru. “Thank you! I can report back to the queen with pride. Two hundred slaves and three hundred nestlings is enough to rebuild our colony. I am so deeply grateful, I have no words…!”

“Well, when the time comes the deed will pay for itself,” Kiroumaru’s eyes shone with a frighteningly cold light.

There was a commotion at the entrance of the nest. Soldiers that had been standing with spears at the ready went forward to help the ones that had rushed out of the entrance.

“Oh, it looks like some are still hiding inside,” Kiroumaru said rather cheerfully.


Page 470-471

Slowly, a huge queerat emerged. It was probably as big as Kiroumaru. I remembered him as I looked at his hammer-shaped head and leather armor covered with a cloak. It was the Ground Spider soldier than Captain Pinecone had reported to. Given Captain Pinecone’s submissive attitude, he was probably the highest commanding officer.

As Hammerhead stood and looked around calmly, his eyes fell on us. He spread out both hands to show he was unarmed, and called out something in a surprisingly dainty voice.

“Hn,” Kiroumaru snorted.

“What did he say?” I asked.

His smile widened, “It’s a dialect, so I don’t understand completely. Our language differs by country and region. But basically, he wants us to spare the queen if they surrender.”

“So you’ll help her?”

“Not a chance,” he narrowed his eyes. “Surrendering now is completely ridiculous, and sparing the queen in a war between colonies is impossible. Even an idiot like him should know this.”

Hammerhead continued talking.

“He wants to have a conference with us. Important information in return for the queen’s life. Let’s see what he has to say for the time being,” Kiroumarou went forward, still smiling.

Maybe the Ground Spider commander knew something about Shun and the others. Just as I thought that, something came out of the nest and hid behind Hammerhead’s cloak. Kiroumaru stopped immediately. But as he saw the thing peek out behind Hammerhead, he relaxed and continued forward.

Certainly, anyone who didn’t know what it was would think it was just two large dogs. they had stout bodies covered in bristly black hair and abnormally small heads that hovered just above the ground.


Page 472-473

“Blowdogs…!” I tried to scream, but only a hoarse whisper came out.

Kiroumaru was only six or seven meters away from Hammerhead.

Suddenly, the scene of Rijin’s death resurfaced as vividly as if it were happening right now.

 

The blowdog inflated. Its coarse black hair spread out and white lines of light showed between the bristles. If this warning was ignored, it would puff up one last time. Right before it died, its eyes rolled back in its head and saliva dripped from its mouth, a look of indescribable ecstasy on its face. As it reached its limit, the skin was stretched so thin that you could see through it in some places. Inside it, small blue and white sparks danced. (This was the first time I clearly saw the instant that the explosive powder in its body was ignited.)

Then the blowdog exploded.

The skin on its back was torn into pieces, and its head, still with a Cheshire Cat smile, was blown away in the blast. However, the shockwave kicked up great clouds of dust, expanding outward at increasingly high speeds. The blowdog’s sharp bone shards tore into Rijin and his body was shredded as if it had been scraped away by a coarse file.

 

I snapped back to reality. I thought I two or three minutes had passed, but it was actually only a second or two.

The blowdogs made their way in front of Hammerhead. Kiroumaru halted again. As if he sensed danger, he backed up nimbly. However, his honor as commander caused him to move just a second too late.

Skipping its final warning completely, the blowdogs went straight to inflating themselvs to the point of explosion.

“Satoru!” I gripped his arms tightly.

He opened his eyes.

All sound vanished and everything seemed to slow down. Time stretched out exponentially like in a dream.


Page 474-475

The blowdogs had swelled up into two giant balls. White warning lines were visible between their fur.

Then, it would explode…so I thought.

A split second before it happened, Satoru halted it with his cantus. One was sucked back into the entrance. The second he couldn’t get to in time. He forcibly crushed the blowdog’s body as it tried to explode. For a fraction of a second, the two opposite forces clashed.

The blowdog rippled strangely as it was grasped by an invisible hand, and imploded.

The outward force of the explosion rebounded in on itself. But then it ricocheted back out again with greater force.

If that second explosion had been repressed too, what would have happened? When a seal is explosively broken, the stronger the seal, the more powerful the explosion. If the explosion had broken the cantus seal, no one would have been left alive.

Fortunately, the image that Satoru had created of a giant hand saved our lives. A jet of energy shot out of the gap between the index finger and thumb.

Around the same time, the second black ball that had been pushed into the nest rocked the air with its explosion and blasted large amounts of dirt from the ceiling.

A split second before the shock reached us, I used all my remaining to push the now-unresponsive Satoru into the ground.

As we waited for everything to settle from the blast, I thought about the look of pleasure on the blowdog’s face before it self-destructed, and irrationally decided that it must have been male.

 

The nest had become a giant graveyard.

The bodies that the Giant Hornets brought out were covered in extensive wounds. Of course, they were all dead. The blowdog’s bones couldn’t have traveled through the twists and turns in the tunnels, so they must have been killed by the shockwave (from the detonation that was going faster than the speed of sound).

There was a clamor from the excavating soldiers. One of them came running out ecstatically.