From the same tunnel came a number of black-clad forms.
Queerat soldiers. They were naked; each wore a leather bag of some sort and held a blowgun made to be used in small spaces like these tunnels.
They seemed to catch our scent. They quickly spread out and put the blowguns to their mouths. Only one in four held a torch, though I don’t know whether it was because they had good night vision or because they didn’t need to rely on sight at all.
Then another figure appeared. It was too dark to make out the face, but I guessed it was either Yakomaru or the fiend.
It came toward us, showing no sign of fear. The only thing that distinguished it from the other soldiers was the hooded cloak it wore despite the heat and humidity. It walked forward, looking around at its surroundings.
The soldiers appeared to have found the tunnel Kiroumaru disappeared into. They turned their attention back to us. The hooded figure bent forward slightly and the light illuminated its hair. In the firelight, it was blood-red…
Satoru and I snapped the necks of the two soldiers nearest us. They dropped without even having time to scream. The other two didn’t seem to comprehend exactly what had happened, but fled down the nearest tunnel in panic anyway.
Now only the hooded figure was left. It slowly raised its head to look at us.
We turned and ran down the tunnel.
I wasn’t sure if the fiend had gotten a good look at us. But in any case, two soldiers killed by cantus ought to be enough of a provocation.
The fiend should be coming after us. We stopped around a bend about twenty meters into the tunnel. I lit a small bundle of roots, held my breath, and waited.