an English translation of the novel

Page 218-219

We fell down the pit that seemed to extend all the way to the center of the Earth. It was the final resting place for dozens of humans and queerats. The bottom was too dark to make out, rendering cantus useless. I flipped over to face the sky and imagined throwing a grappling hook over the edge of the hole. I managed to swing myself over to the wall.

The stone was still wet and slippery from the rain. It was humid in the pit, and the explosion had depleted most of the oxygen in the air, making it hard to breathe. A miasma of blood and burnt flesh wafted all around us.

“Saki, are you alright?”

It was Satoru’s voice. He appeared to have found a place to land far above me.

“I’m here! How’s Niimi?”

“I’m okay.”

I couldn’t see around the rocks, but his voice was closer than I expected.

“I see a tunnel just below me. Let’s go in there.”

A green flame flickered on the wall. I was blinded for a second, but managed to mark the spot where it had come from A red afterimage drifted across my field of view.

I imagined myself sticking to the rock face like a compass needle on a magnet. Once I was secure, I started climbing slowly up the wall like a gecko.

From beyond the pit, I could hear a cacophony of screams and falling buildings. The fiend must have started his slaughter. I bit my lip. There was nothing we could do right now. All I could do was pray that at least some people could manage to escape.

I closed my eyes and tried to slow my frantically beating heart. I had to concentrate on getting out. There should still be some time before the fiend turns his attention to the pit.

Satoru was already waiting inside the tunnel when Niimi and I arrived.

“Hurry! Get inside.”

He pulled us up one by one.

The tunnel was only a meter and a half tall, forcing us to stoop to fit inside. It smelled even worse in here. I thought my nose would wither from the stench.

“What is this smell?”

“I think they used mortar made of feces and dirt to reinforce the tunnel,” Satoru said, pinching his nose.


Page 220-221

“Why would they do that?”

“To speed things up as much as possible, I suppose. They really pulled out all the stops for this war.”

Niimi spotted a torch on the ground and lit it. The smell was still stifling, but now we could see a little ways down the tunnel. The ground was littered with all sorts of debris. Grass, twigs, dead bugs, and more. I assumed this was the remains of their food.

“Take a look at this,” Niimi said.

There was a large bloodstain in the ground, with smeared tracks leading from it.

“There’s an injured queerat here. Be careful, it might still be alive,” Satoru whispered.

We followed the trail farther down the tunnel and saw the queerat lying ahead. At first glance it looked dead, but then I saw its chest rising and falling slightly.

“Look, its left arm is missing…” Satoru pointed.

Its left arm was cut off at the shoulder, and it held a bloody sword in its right hand.

“Kaburagi Shisei probably caught it by the arm, so it cut it off to escape.”

“I can’t believe they’d go to these extremes…” Niimi said.

“Back when Kaburagi Shisei pulled the soldiers out of the pit, most of them were naked. This one is wearing metal armor, so it has to be at least a general. It knew it had vital information that couldn’t be revealed to the enemy so it had to get away at all costs.”

“…should we put it out of its misery?”

“No, we’ll make it talk if it still can. …don’t worry, the fiend won’t come after us so we have some time.”

Satoru pulled the queerat’s sword away. It seemed to regain consciousness and looked toward us, eyes glowing red in the light of the torch.


Page 222-223

“You. Answer our questions honestly and I’ll give you a quick and painless death,” Satoru said, crouching in front of the queerat. “You look like you’ve been through hell. Why do you go this far to rebel against us? I don’t understand what’s going through your heads.”

The queerat just stared at him from its position on the ground.

“What is it? You speak our language, don’t you? It’s too late to pretend you don’t.”

“There’s no need to deceive you,” it replied in a calm, almost conversational tone.

“I see. So tell me. Where’s Yakomaru now?”

The queerat shut its mouth and refused to answer.

“Yakomaru is lying to all of you. Why can’t you see that? He doesn’t value the lives of you soldiers at all.”

“The lives of soldiers? Please. The lives of individuals are meaningless before a greater cause.”

“What greater cause?”

“The liberation of our entire species from your tyranny.”

“What tyranny? I don’t think we’ve ever treated you badly.” I spoke without meaning to.

“We are an intelligent species. We ought to be treated as your equal. Yet with your devilish powers, you’ve robbed us of our dignity, and treat us like animals. The only way we can restore our pride now is to wipe you off the face of the Earth.”

“Do you really think you can do that?” Satoru shouted indignantly. “You’ve killed a lot of people with your cowardly attacks. But a single survivor is enough to slaughter you all!”

“That will not happen. Not as long as the hero of our liberation, Squealer, who you call Yakomaru is with us. As well as the messiah heaven has sent us.”

“Messiah? The fiend?”

“Fiend? …you are the fiend!”

The queerat leapt up from all fours and made to attack Satoru.


Page 224-225

The tunnel flashed with iridescent light as our cantus collided. The queerat hurtled through the tunnel and smashed against the exposed rocks.

“Shit!” Satoru shouted, but it was too late.

The queerat was very obviously dead.

“He jumped at us so we’d kill him…”

“Let’s go,” Niimi said. “We can’t linger here. I must fulfill the final task Tomiko-sama left me. The two of you should get to the Temple of Purity.”

We hurried through the narrow tunnels, sweating and gasping in the stinking air, searching for the exit to the surface that we were sure was somewhere along here. Satoru believed we had a good chance of escaping as the fiend most likely wouldn’t be able to dig out a deep enough shaft to cut off our path ahead of us. But if he finished his slaughter early, there was the danger that he would arrive first at the tunnel exit and wait for us.

I remembered what happened at summer camp fourteen years ago. Finding our way through the maze of tunnels had seemed like an insurmountable task, but compared to what was happening now, it seemed like a nothing more than a child’s dare.

So many people had died, and I still had no idea whether my parents were safe. And now we probably didn’t even have a town to return to anymore.

I fought hard to keep tears from falling down my face.

Koufuu Hino and Shisei Kaburagi, both unparalleled in their power, were dead. We had nothing left to fight the fiend. But we couldn’t give up. This was the real test of courage–how far you could continue to go when the future looked completely hopeless. This was our test.

I couldn’t give up. Tomiko had entrusted the towns to me. Just this thought alone gave me strength.

 

We came across a shaft to the surface about two hundred meters into the tunnel. The exit was located in the space between tree roots and cleverly camouflaged by grass. I was shocked that they had the audacity to place the exit so close to town.

After making sure there were no enemies around, we came to the surface.


Page 226-227

Usually, we could have taken a canal and gotten out of here. But most of the waterways had been drained as a countermeasure against the powder-spewing monster, and the few main canals that remained usable were undoubtedly closely watched by the enemy.

Satoru and I had no choice but to make for the Tone River on foot. Niimi parted with us here.

“I hope the best for you both,” he said, clasping our hands.

“Are you sure you don’t want to come with us?” Satoru pleaded, but Niimi shook his head.

“No, I must go to the town hall. Those were Tomiko-sama’s orders.”

“But isn’t it too late to make the announcement? Most of Hayring is already…”

“I don’t know whether it’s too late or not. But if my warning can save one extra life, it will not be in vain.”

Niimi had made up his mind. We each went our separate ways and that was the last we ever saw of Niimi.

We climbed a hill, forcing a path through the long summer grass. I was drenched in cold sweat from the fear that the fiend might pop up behind us at any moment. Turning back, I saw ominous black smoke rising from the center of town.

Like before, our progress was slow as we had to watch out for queerats waiting to ambush us.

As we finally left Hayring, the announcement from the town hall came drifting through the air.

 

Emergency announcement. Emergency announcement. A fiend has appeared. A fiend has appeared. Its name and type are unknown, but it is suspected to be a Klogius type 1 or 2 variant. It is suspected to be a Klogius type 1 or 2 variant. The fiend has attacked Hayring and claimed many casualties. I repeat. The fiend has attacked Hayring and claimed many casualties. Please make your escape with all haste. All present at the town centers please evacuate immediately. Those near the outer edges should continue moving as far away from the towns as possible…