“That can’t be…!”
“I suppose…the fiend must have somehow made his way here from a different district. In that case there really isn’t any way for us to kill him. We can send impure cats after someone before they awaken as a full fiend, but once it’s happened…we can only pray for a miracle. Pray that it accidentally hurts itself, or becomes ill, or something.”
“But two centuries ago the towns managed to recover from the fiend’s attack. Didn’t you live to see it?”
“Yes, I did. That’s why I vowed never to let another fiend appear again. The district will not survive a second attack,” Tomiko said in a low voice. “We were beyond lucky last time. We won’t be this time. Not when the queerats have already caused so much trouble…”
She stopped, as if realizing something.
“It can’t be a coincidence. The queerats’ attack and the fiend’s appearance must be related. But how…?”
There was shouting outside. My heart almost flew out of my chest. The voice was coming closer. It wasn’t just one person. A whole crowd of people were shouting.
“Niimi, why the commotion?” Tomiko asked.
Niimi and I peered out the window. People were running around in a panic in front of the school. I understood instantly what was happening.
Someone in the crowd shouted, “Fiend!”
So he was here… Fear and despair almost brought me to my knees.
“Saki, you have to leave right now,” Tomiko commanded.
“We’ll go together!”
“I’m staying. I’ll only slow you down.”
“Pass through the Holy Barrier and go to the Temple of Purity. The Security Council meets there in times of emergency to recuperate. If your parents survived, they should be there as well.”