When we arrived, we went around Mamoru’s house looking for footprints. At least now having snow everywhere was helpful.
“Hey, is this it?”
I hadn’t found footprints, but sled tracks. Judging from their width, they appeared to be a child’s sled.
“Mamoru was never great with skiis. He hardly ever used them, in fact.”
“It looks like he dug out the sled he used in Friendship School. Look at how deep the tracks are. He must have brought luggage.”
Running away on a kid sled piled with luggage wasn’t a smart plan, but it seemed like something Mamoru would do.
After a while, I saw Satoru’s canoe coming toward us at breakneck speed.
“Sorry for making you wait. Which way are we going?”
He was already decked out in trekking gear. His skiis were wider than mine, which meant they required more strength to use, but also meant he could walk on still water like a water strider.
We started along the sled tracks. Even though Mamoru had over three hour’s head start, he couldn’t have gone too far because his laden sled shouldn’t be able to go very quickly without losing balance. And if he stopped to figure out where he was going, maybe he would only have two hours on us.
The tracks started from behind the house and ran straight for a while before turning right and up a small hill.
“It looked like he was trying to find a path people don’t usually use,” Satoru said.
“But he didn’t even bother to erase his tracks. That’s just like him,” Maria replied from above us.
“Why didn’t he use a canoe?” I asked.
I had been wondering about this since the beginning. A canoe would have been more familiar to use, faster, and could fit his luggage much more easily.
“He didn’t want to be seen?”
I guess that was the biggest reason. But it might also mean something else. It was easier to go by the canals, but that meant it would also be easier to pursue him. Perhaps Mamoru wanted to go past the Holy Barrier and into the mountains.