an English translation of the novel

Page 153-154

We peeked timidly over the side of the boat. There was only the quiet whisper of the boat moving through the water.

“I wonder if Okano is okay…”

Satoru didn’t answer. He probably knew there was nothing he could say to give me any real peace of mind.

“Was that really a fiend?”

Satoru cocked his head, thinking.

“I don’t know what else it could be.”

“But…where did it come from? There aren’t any abnormal people in the district. The Board of Eduction has been watching everyone with eagle eyes.”

“I don’t know. I don’t know anything right now. There’s only one thing that’s clear.”

“What?”

“The reason Kiroumaru’s army was annihilated. No matter how skilled his warriors were, they were no match for a fiend.”

“That makes sense…”

“And one more thing. Why did Yakomaru start the war? I don’t know for sure what connection the fiend has with the queerats, but if it’s what I think it is…”

He went quiet.

“What’s wrong?”

“Quiet… Don’t make any sudden movements. Just keep talking normally.”

“What are you talking about?”

“Don’t change the pitch of your voice.”

“Alright. Like this? Tell me. What’s going on?” I said, trying to keep my voice steady.

“There’s a boat following us about a hundred meters behind us.”

“Huh? …no way.”

I felt the blood drain from my body.

“It’s the boat we used as a decoy. The fiend’s on it, I’m positive.”

I looked around slowly and saw, by the starlight reflecting off the water, the silhouette of the other boat.

“What do we do…? Why isn’t it attacking? And…”


Page 155-156

“Don’t raise your voice. The second it realizes we’ve noticed him, we’re done for. …as for why it hasn’t attacked, it’s probably letting us lead it to where all the townspeople are.”

This was the worst situation possible. If we kept going, we’d invite the murderer right into our midst. But I couldn’t think of a way to get it off our tail either. I racked my brain desperately, but fear had numbed my mind and I couldn’t come up with anything.

“If we go as fast as we can…can we escape into the canal?”

“No, we won’t make it,” Satoru said shortly. “The canal is a straight line, there’s nowhere to hide. Even if we went as fast as we could, it would capture us with cantus in a second.”

We couldn’t stop its boat, or hinder it in any way either. The fiend would attack the second it saw any sort of opposition from us. As long as we were in its line of sight, it held all the power.

“Then…wait. Are you saying we have no chance?”

“Hold on. I’m thinking. Just keep talking.”

All I could rely on now was Satoru’s steady calmness. I kept talking about whatever came to mind.

“I never thought we’d be in a situation like this. I still can’t believe everything that’s happened tonight. It’s the Summer Festival too. A lot of people died. Some right in front of my eyes. No one saved them. …and not just that. We abandoned Okano and the others…no, we left them to die. Why did it come to that? What in the world went wrong?”

Tears spilled down my cheeks.

“I don’t want to die here. I don’t want to die not knowing anything. It’d be like a bug that got stepped on out of the blue. At the very least, I want to know why I have to die. I can’t just die and leave things the way they are.”

Satoru was still thinking with single-minded concentration.


Page 157-158

“I don’t believe that Maria is dead. I don’t want to believe it. I love her. …but she saved us tonight. Remember? When we were about to go to the square, I saw a younger version of her. And in chasing after her, we avoided the queerats’ surprise attack. If we had gone to the square, we might have been shot and killed. …like Hiromi Torigai. I hated her. After all, she wanted to kill us like we were just disposable lab rats. Wanted to kill us with those terrible impure cats. But now I understand. She was just afraid. She felt she had a duty to prevent the horrible events that happened tonight. …but that doesn’t mean I’m about to forgive her for what she did to Maria. And not just that. Even the things she did to our friend, the faceless boy.”

My chest hurt so much I could barely get the words out.

“I loved him. Loved him from the bottom of my heart. It kills me that I can’t remember his name. …I love you too, Satoru. But I still can’t deal with my feelings about him. And as long as I can’t figure that out, I can’t move forward. So…”

Satoru looked at me. “I feel the same way, Saki. It’s embarrassing to admit this as an adult, but I can’t get over my feelings for him because my memories were taken from me.”

“Satoru…”

“That’s why we can’t die here. …we might not be able to defeat the fiend, but I think we can trick it and get away.”

“How?”

This was the ray of hope I had so desperately hoped for. Satoru explained his plan.

“…the problem is how to get ashore. It’ll be hard once we enter the wider canal. We have to find a spot before that. A place where the waterway narrows.”

I perked up. “…no, the wider canal works better! The fiend wouldn’t be suspicious if we went ashore there.”

Satoru smiled as he listened to my reasoning.

“Alright. Let’s do that. I’ve never levitated a person before, but I think I can manage it. We’ll do it right when we enter the canal.”


Page 159-160

“Got it.”

I went over the plan in my head. Although much of it depended on Satoru executing two techniques at the same time, it was up to me to make sure everything went well. If I failed, it would all be for nothing. We only had one chance.

The boat continued at the same slow pace, wearing down my patience bit by bit. If we sped up, it would attract suspicion, so all I could do was wait.

Finally, the way ahead of us was open. The narrow waterway would soon join the canal.

I realized that my vision was becoming clearer. Not because my eyes were adjusting to the dark, but because dawn was approaching.

Our trick would work much better in the dark, but apparently we didn’t have that luxury anymore.

Satoru kept checking over his shoulder, measuring the distance between our boats. The fiend was about a hundred meters back, still following intently.

Our boat entered the intersection of the waterway and the canal and went left. The canal was dozens of meters wide, almost the same as the Tone River. The fiend was still in the waterway and had an unobstructed view of our boat.

Timing the moment carefully, Satoru waited for the moment the fiend’s boat entered the canal and conjured a mirror behind our boat. It was probably larger than any mirror that had ever been created, spanning the entire width of the canal.

Just like that, we had doubled the distance between us to two hundred meters. The fiend was still traveling toward us, but it was now following its own reflection instead of our boat.

“Ready? I’m sending you over.”

“Okay…!”

My body lifted off the boat and flew over the side. I skimmed over the water with the speed of a falcon.

We couldn’t float freely through the air like Maria, but we could manage to move each other a fair distance.

In a few moments, I was far away from the boat. A pillow of air slowed me down and I fell onto the bank of the canal.


Page 161-162

As soon as I dropped down on the grass, I flipped over and lay low to the ground, scanning for the positions of the boats. Satoru’s boat was already well ahead. Next came the mirror, then the fiend’s boat. The fiend was still concentrating on chasing its own reflection and didn’t seem to have noticed me flying through the air.

Now it was my turn. I lifted Satoru out of the boat, and being careful to stay in the shadow of the mirror, brought him ashore.

Satoru had his arms around his knees as he sped toward the bank. I realized he was going too fast, but it was too late to slow him down. He bounced when he hit the ground and went rolling across the grass.

The mirror shattered in a puff of mist and disappeared. It was still dark enough that the fiend probably didn’t notice the sudden change in the boat’s appearance.

There was still more to the plan. I pushed the now empty boat as fast as I could. The bottom of the boat lifted out of the water and began skimming the surface of the canal. It was a lot easier controlling the boat once I wasn’t in it. The fiend didn’t speed up and gradually fell behind.

Then, Satoru’s speculation came true. The boat we had been riding in suddenly burst into flames.

I drew back my cantus to prevent it from coming in contact with the fiend’s. The burning boat continued traveling forward by momentum until it bumped against the bank of the canal. The flames ate away at it until it slowly sank beneath the water.

With the fire extinguished, the surrounding area was once again enveloped by darkness.

Satoru approached, still crouched low. He crawled the last few meters and came up beside me. He seemed to have landed hard on his side and kept rubbing at it. We grasped each other’s hands tightly.

The fiend approached the place where the boat had sunk and circled it almost longingly. What was it doing? We watched impatiently. As long as the fiend kept hanging around, we couldn’t move. If it spotted us now, there would be no escape.

Finally, it slowly turned the boat around. We held our breath as it passed in front of us. Every hair on my neck was raised in anticipation, but nothing happened. The fiend returned the way it had come. My body went weak with relief.