an English translation of the novel

Page 91-92

We watched with bated breath. What would these two cantus masters do about the poison gas?

Nothing. Koufuu Hino’s bulging eyes returned to normal and he fanned himself lazily while Shisei Kaburagi stood motionless with his arms crossed.

“The wind…”

Satoru was the first to notice. The breeze that had been blowing until a moment ago died down. The acrid smell was disappearing.

The breeze started again. A soft, barely perceptible breath of air blowing in the opposite direction.

The wind grew stronger until it felt almost like a gale.

“I can’t believe it. …they reversed the direction of the wind,” I whispered incredulously.

I couldn’t imagine that either of them had the power to do it.

“Seriously. I would never be able to do this.”

Satoru seemed thoroughly impressed as well. He himself had created a tornado to sweep away the poison gas the Ground Spiders used, but the area had been windless at the time, and he had only moved the air in a limited space.

At night, the wind came down from the mountains, across the plains and toward the sea. It might feel like just a gentle breeze, but it was part of a much larger pressure system. Reversing it would take an absurd amount of energy, and I couldn’t even begin to imagine what sort of mental image was used to do it.

We still couldn’t see the queerat troop hiding what used to be upwind, but sounds of panic and cries of pain drifted over to us. That was only to be expected. After all, they were suddenly being choked by their own poison gas.


Page 93-94

“Ufufufufufufu,” Koufuu Hino chuckled unpleasantly. “Silly fools. No, even fools could do better. Did you actually think you could kill us, the gods among gods, with such a pitiful strategy?”

His bald head turned as red as a boiled octopus and he fanned himself rapidly. A lewd smile played about his thick lips and he licked them incessantly.

“Now then, let’s have some fun. Foolish little rats, what shall I do with you? Eheeheeheeheeheehee. …won’t you come and play?”

The first wave of queerats had numbered four or five thousand. They stood silently in front of Koufuu Hino, then in one mechanical motion, divided neatly into two groups.

For a moment, I thought they were about to attack, but something didn’t seem right. The queerats stood as still as statues. One group turned, not toward us, but toward the second group of queerats, and readied their guns.

“How ’bout it Kaburagi-chan? Pick a side.” Koufuu Hino’s voice had a hysterical edge to it. “You can even choose first.”

Shisei Kaburagi shook his head, arms still crossed. “No thanks.”

“Eeeh, that’s too bad. It’s boring playing by myself, but I guess I don’t have a choice. Well, let’s get started.”

Koufuu Hino took a deep breath and clapped his hands together. The sound echoed loudly around the square.

“Aaaiaiaiaiaiai!”

He clapped to a beat, and his eyes bulged out once again.

“Aaara! Essasaaa!” he yelled thunderously.

All at once, the second group of queerats attacked the first.

“I don’t believe this. How the hell is he doing it…?” Satoru said, sounding dumbstruck.


Page 95-96

Using cantus to control a living being was extremely difficult. Simply inducing emotions like fear or anger required considerable skill; making someone perform complex movements required a complete image of the target’s brain. Only someone with an exceptional level of concentration and imagination could pull it off.

Koufuu Hino was controlling upwards of two thousand queerats. To be able to manipulate such a great number of highly intelligent creatures didn’t seem to be humanly possible. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that his powers were almost godlike.

The controlled queerats moved like wind-up toys, attacking with horrific speed. The other group fought desperately, but they seemed unable to recover from the terror of seeing their friends being turned into brainless killing machines.

I suddenly remembered that Satoru had used the same tactic once. He had controlled queerat corpses to frighten the deeply superstitious Ground Spiders. Of course, the actual skill involved in doing that was nowhere near Koufuu Hino’s level, but the end result was probably just as effective.

“Smash, smash, smash your brain. When the soldiers come, slam the door. Once they’re gone, take a breath. Naked mice, scurry, squeak. Squeak, squeak, squeak.”1

He pounded the drum hanging from the tower and sang at the top of his lungs. The queerats slashed with their knives, blood and severed heads flying through the air. I could barely look at the ghastly sight.

“Ah…” Satoru said, staring transfixed at the bloody slaughter.

“What?”

“The controlled queerats are all moving the same way…”

Although he was a good distance away, Koufuu Hino heard and stuck out his tongue at us. There was a nasty look in his bulbous eyes.

“Oh ho. I’ve been found out. Fail. My trick’s been revealed.”

I finally saw it. Most of them were indeed doing the same thing. Some were even firing at empty space. There were probably only about ten different movement patterns being used.

1 He’s singing a twisted version of a children’s song called Zui Zui Zukkorobashi. There aren’t really any good translations of it out there, but the part that corresponds to what he’s singing basically goes, “Smash, smash, smashing sesame miso. When the soldiers come, slam the door. Once they’re gone, take a breath. Little mice eating from bags of rice. Squeak, squeak, squeak.”

Page 97-98

“I’d love to show you that I can control each one individually, but with so many of them, it’s a pain in the ass. Plus I’m kinda drunk…”

The queerats continued attacking without pause even as Koufuu Hino rambled on incoherently.

“Uheeheehee. Even if they want to run, my queerats won’t spare them. But even with me controlling them, victory isn’t guaranteed. I’ll be pissed if people think this is all I, Koufuu, am capable of. So let’s kick it up a notch!”

The controlled queerats began to attack with such speed that their wild, flailing movements ripped their own joints from their sockets.

“Eehheeheeheeheeheeheehee….!”

Koufuu Hino’s high, hysterical laughter rose above the stinking mist of blood spreading throughout the square.

We were so spellbound by the sight of the bloody massacre that we completely let our guard down. The combination of intense anger and hatred toward the queerats, and exaltation of being freed from our fear, was undoubtedly one of the reasons for our abnormal state of mind.

It might sound ridiculous, but it’s possible that even this was part of Yakomaru’s plan. If it wasn’t, then what happened next would have to be the result of unbelievably good timing.

With only a third of the two thousand queerat soldiers left, it seemed victory was at hand. Then came a sudden, deafening blast.

Ten more blasts followed. Then one final explosion so powerful it made the ground shake.

I couldn’t understand what was going on. Neither could anyone else, I suspect.

Later, testimonies by survivors painted a hazy picture of what had happened.

As we had been busy watching the slaughter, a couple of queerats that had been waiting for just this moment let off a volley of shots simultaneously. They had two targets. Koufuu Hino and Shisei Kaburagi.

We had all vaguely assumed that the queerats wanted to kill as many humans as possible. We thought their attacks were nothing more than the desperate struggles of a cornered animal hoping to wound its predator even as it died. But Yakomaru had plotted for victory from the very beginning. And the crux of his strategy was to take the lives of Koufuu Hino and Shisei Kaburagi.

Three of the shots had hit Koufuu Hino. One had gone straight through his thick chest. He slowly sank to the ground.


Page 99-100

At the same time, four soldiers quickly surrounded Shisei Kaburagi and blasted him with shots. The smoke from the gunpowder was so thick, he was completely obscured. Two queerats took the opportunity to rush in close. They were wrapped in bombs and caltrops, and once they were in point-blank range, blew themselves up.

How did they manage to get so close so quickly? Everyone wondered the same thing. The answer was simple. They were nearby all along. Inside the circular area protected by Shisei Kaburagi.

Everyone must have been dumbstruck at the sight of gun-wielding queerats appearing in their midst. Because at first glance, they appeared totally human.

But if you looked closely, there were visible differences. Their faces had no hair, eyebrows, or eyelashes, and their bleached skin were as wrinkled as a hundred year-old man’s. You could even see a glimpse of their yellow front teeth under their lips.

If the Ground Spider queen could control the types of offspring she had to create mutants like blowdogs and leaf-fighters, then it wasn’t out of the question to give birth to queerats that could pass for humans.

The false humans’ camouflage had two effects. The first was the ability to blend into a crowd. In normal situations, their appearances were strange enough that they might be noticed. But during a surprise attack, no one was going to be paying close attention.

The second effect could be seen in the queerat snipers. Any figure that resembled a queerat would be instantly killed with cantus. But in the dark, at a distance, the false humans triggered our attack control mechanism, making it impossible to use our powers. Even Shisei Kaburagi was no exception. They must have thought that with the combination of false human suicide bombers and snipers, even the most god-like human would not survive.

And yet, the explosion was cut off. When the smoke cleared, there stood Shisei Kaburagi.

On either side of him were two strange spheres, two or three meters across, and clear like a soap bubble. Smoke and fire whirled inside of them.

He had managed to contain both blasts. It was like the time Satoru had suppressed the blowdog explosion, except this was perfectly sealed.