“About four or five kilometers northwest of here. It’s not affiliated with the Giant Hornet colony, and has been unwilling to join our coalition…one of the few independent colonies.” His eyes flashed. “What would your business with the Goat Moths be?”
Satoru and I looked at each other. We needed Yakomaru’s help, but that meant we had to reveal a certain amount of information.
“We’re looking for our friends…” Satoru said, trying to summarize the situation without giving away more than he had to.
“I understand! And the fastest way would be to located the individual called Squonk. We’ll go to the Goat Moth colony first thing tomorrow.”
“I’d rather go right away…”
“I understand your feelings in the matter, but the snowy paths are dangerous at night. I fear that the Goat Moths might also construe our approach as a raid. There are only four or five hours until sunrise, if you don’t mind waiting.”
I was surprised that it was already so late. I looked over to Satoru, and he nodded, agreeing to postpone our departure until morning.
“We have prepared a simple meal. It’s not much, but I hope you will enjoy it.”
At his signal, two queerats came in bearing lacquered trays.
It reminded me of the rice gruel I had eaten at the Giant Hornet’s camp two years ago. Soft rice, miso soup with burdock, taro and other ingredients, unidentifiable dried foods, and grilled fish. The dried food was tasteless and hard as shoe leather, but everything else was alright.
Yakomaru stayed with us as we ate and pestered us with questions. It was obvious he was only pretending to chat with us in order to glean more information, and that annoyed me. When we finished eating, I decided to make a request.
“When we came here two years ago, it was nighttime too, wasn’t it?”
“Yes, yes. I’m very fond of that memory. Though, to be exact, it wasn’t at this location.”
“That time, we paid a visit to the queen even though it was already very late. I would like to greet the queen now, too.”