an English translation of the novel

Page 476-477

“The queen’s body has been found,” Kiroumaru said after the soldier had made his report.

He had been seriously wounded in the blast and the bandages around his back and shoulder were stained red with blood. The air was full of flies buzzing around the mountain of excavated corpses and they hovered annoyingly around Kiroumaru as well.

“I will go inspect it.”

He looked down at the ragged body at his feet. If it weren’t for the remaining shreds of the cloak, you wouldn’t be able to tell that it was Hammerhead. He had intended to take Kiroumaru down along with himself. Kiroumaru stomped derisively on the corpse and continued on his way. It obviously hurt to walk. But more than that, the pain of anger and regret at the sacrifices of his troops caused by his own negligence was hard to bear.

I looked at the unconscious Satoru. He didn’t seem to be hurt and his breathing was regular. He’d probably be okay if I left for a few minutes.

“Can I see too?”

For the first time since the explosion, Kiroumaru showed his disconcerting smile. “…I don’t really recommend it.”

“Please take me with you as well,” Squealer followed, ignoring Kiroumaru’s warning.

He seemed relatively unharmed from the explosion.

A large part of the nest had collapsed from the shockwave. We stood over the deepest crack and looked down. I gasped.

“Is that really the queen?” I asked.

Kiroumaru nodded. “Since the queen needs to give birth to so many nestling, her body is necessarily much larger. That said, I don’t think there’s ever been one this big in our country.”

It seemed impossible to lift her up out onto level ground.

However I looked at it, she was about as big as a mid-sized whale. Most of her bulk appeared to be her uterus. Her head was incongruously small in comparison.


Page 478-479

“Let’s return,” Kiroumaru said, giving rapid orders to the soldiers working below.

The soldiers heaved in unison and flipped the queen onto her back. We saw her stiff face. It was similar to the Robber Fly queen, but much uglier. Her teeth, ten centimeters long each, were bared as if she had died in a fit of anger.

What was even more shocking was her abnormally long torso. There were innumerable nipples for feeding many nestlings at one time. But apart from that, I thought I also saw a large number of feet, like on a hornworm or a minoshiro.

“Why are there so many legs…?” I asked.

“Unthinkable…this is terrible,” Squealer said, “It’s absolutely unforgivable!”

“We already knew the soldiers were completely mutated, yet you’re surprised that the queen is also a mutant?” Kiroumaru said sarcastically.

“Mutant…? But how?”

“The queen can’t be! She’s the one who makes mutants. This queen was mutated by the previous queen who gave birth to her!” Squealer shouted.

“Huh? So…?”

Kiroumaru glared at Squealer, who was beside himself with anger.

Squealer cringed and shut his mouth. “I’m sorry, I cannot explain more.”

Turning toward me, Kiroumaru bowed.

“Why not? I’m a god!”

“I understand. Earlier, you saved my life. I will never forget that until I die. But the Ethics Committee has said that we are not allowed to let young gods know of any knowledge that might harm them.


Page 480-482

It looked like I wasn’t going to be able to get more information out of them, so I gave up and went back outside to Satoru. As I was leaving, Kiroumaru was giving out orders on how to move the queen’s corpse. I wanted to know why they needed the corpse, but was afraid of what the answer would be. Suddenly I was so tired that I was about to keel over. I didn’t care about the queerats anymore. They could go kill each other for all I cared.

Before long, we were shown to the Giant Hornet camp. Even as two queerats carried Satoru around, he didn’t wake up.

I threw myself onto a bed of soft hay and fell asleep instantly.

Since yesterday, we had been thrown into one dangerous situation after another. But we were safe now. We were going home. Kiroumaru would guard us until we got to where the canoes were hidden, and then we would row down the river ourselves. I looked at Satoru sleeping soundly next to me. I wasn’t worried anymore. Even if he didn’t wake up, I would bring him home.

Thinking of Shun, Maria, and Mamoru gave me a leaden feeling in my chest. I wanted to believe that they were okay, but in light of all the disasters the two of us had gone through, it was hard to be optimistic. If their canoes were still there, I’d have to ask Kiroumaru to go search for them.

But that could wait until I woke up. The Ground Spider threat had been dealt with. If the three of them were still okay, they probably wouldn’t run into any more danger.

With that thought, I felt myself finally relax.

I can’t stay awake any longer. Let me sleep for a moment.

Slowly, I slipped into darkness.

Right before I fell asleep, Satoru’s voice echoed in my head.

 

“Look, ever since last night, we’ve walking the line between life and death, right?”

“Uh huh.”

“But I’d wager that this is actually the most dangerous situation we’ve been in so far.”

 

What exactly was the danger? Wasn’t Satoru just being overanxious?

Now I was worried, but I couldn’t fight the drowsiness anymore.

I fell into a deep sleep.

end of volume 1; page numbers will reset in the next post