“I know…but we should rest a little first. Let’s build a fire and make lunch. It’s no good trying to do anything when you’re half-starving.” Satoru brushed away the snow on a fallen log, sat down, and opened his backpack.
Feeling just slightly relieved, I sat down beside him
Having to retrace our path back to the boats felt like a colossal waste of energy. But I couldn’t complain. There wasn’t a lot of time left.
The sky had grown darker as the cloud covered sun moved slowly west. It was probably just after three in the afternoon. The snow had mostly stopped; only the occasional flake fell here and there.
Our speedboats flew up the dark grey river.
Compared to two years ago, our steering skills had improved dramatically. That, plus the fact that the boats had been engineered for speed meant we traveled at a blistering pace. We passed through the Holy Barrier at some point, but since the rope didn’t extend out onto the water, I’m not sure when exactly we did.
Our landing point wasn’t clear, but we managed to do alright based on Satoru’s sense of direction. There was a map in the boat, but we didn’t have the time to study it, so we pressed on ahead.
Satoru slowed the boat and shouted across to me. “I think this is the right spot!”
“Are we going ashore?”
He pointed ahead to a wide bank with a snow-covered plain extending all the way north from it. This wouldn’t be a bad starting point.
We moored the boats and went ashore. Since we had been using cantus the entire time, my head felt hot and stuffy. I wanted to stop and rest, but there wasn’t time. We strapped on our skis and started moving immediately. We went up a hill and soon crested the ridge. From there we descended a gentle slope, letting gravity pull us down. Once we were on level ground, we shuffled forward using only our legs.