The chances of all of us meeting up again seemed rather bleak. To begin with, wasn’t the idea of splitting up based on the thought that some people would be sacrificed while others escaped?
“And before we reach the forest?” Satoru asked, coming up next to Shun.
I understood at once what he was asking.
The edge of the forest was a good fifty meters away from the foot of the hill. There were no trees or rocks to hide behind, so we would be easy targets.
Maria let out a sob. I couldn’t help but realize again the seriousness of the situation we were in. I wrapped my arms around her shaking shoulders and nuzzled my forehead against hers, trying to comfort her.
Before long, the discussion began again in hushed voices.
It was about the enemy’s intentions. Were they going to attack here? Were they just making sure we were really leaving?
If we assume that they were going to attack, we would have to make for the forest as fast as we could. In that instant, we would reveal that we didn’t have cantus. The act of running away would definitely induce them to attack. In that case, the probability of all five of us making it out alive was impossibly small.
On the other hand, if we bet on the chance that they wouldn’t attack, and lost, then no one could save us.
“…no choice but hold out until we’re nearly there to watch their reaction,” Shun’s words had a touch of defiance in them.
“And who gets to determine that?” Satoru said.
“All of our lives are on the line,” Shun sighed.
“Let’s take a vote.”
Because of the subtle dips and rises in the ground, the border between the hill and the open field was ambiguous. The deepening darkness blurred the contours of our surroundings, steeping everything in shadows. We crossed the determined focal point and continued on through the open field, not knowing when an arrow would come whistling toward us.
My breathing became quicker, shallower. My pulse pounded in my temples.
Even though I had to be prepared to run at any moment, my legs felt rubbery, unable to exert any strength.