“Saki, be careful,” my mother said through tears as she hugged me tight before we parted.
“Even if you have cantus, it’s still dangerous if the five of you get separated. Do not drift from the pack, do you hear me?” my father warned over and over.
“Okay, I’ll be fine,” I said cheerfully.
But there was a nagging feeling of unease that I just couldn’t put my finger on.
The only hospital with wards for patients to stay in was in the town of Gold, separated from the center of the district. It was surrounded by paddy fields, where year after year, bright green shoots slowly turned into golden sheaves of rice.
We boarded a small boat and set off down the pitch black waterway. Everyone was dying to reach the hospital as soon as possible, but for safety’s sake, we had to move slowly. It was maddening. Since there was always the possibility of being ambushed in the dark, we sent an empty canoe ahead of us as decoy, but there was no guarantee the queerats would fall for the trap.
“Hey, what’s that thing you’re worried about? Can you talk about it now?”
Satoru spoke quietly, aware that the others would be listening. “Yeah. Something doesn’t add up.”
“First of all, why would Yakomaru fight a war he has no chance of winning? You know how he is. He wouldn’t take a risk if he wasn’t absolutely sure he’d come out on top.”
“You guys know Yakomaru?”
Fujita, who was on lookout at the bow, stood and came over.
“Yes. We met him when he was still called Squealer.”