“Saki!” a voice called to me from somewhere far away.
Satoru. He was coming closer.
“Saki, are you okay?”
“Satoru…run,” I finally managed to choke out.
“Can you move?”
The voice was right next to me. A face appeared over me, looking into mine. Although I couldn’t see his expression, it was unmistakably Satoru.
“I don’t think so.”
“Don’t give up. Let’s hurry and get out of here,” Satoru pulled me up.
With his help, I somehow managed to get back on my feet.
“Can you run?”
I shook my head.
“Let’s walk then.”
“No…it’s too late.”
“What are you talking about?”
I looked over Satoru’s shoulder. Satoru turned as well. In the darkness were countless glowing eyes. I could faintly hear them breathing.
“We’re completely surrounded by queerats.”
I was sure that we were going to die right there. But fortunately, I was wrong. The two of us were driven forward at spear-point by a group of queerats. They seemed to still be wary of us, and always kept a distance of at least three meters away. Thanks to that, we weren’t tied up or pushed around by them. But their spears were always pointed at us, and a little ways away a group of them had their bows at the ready.
“Did the others escape?” I asked quietly.
“I’m not sure. I lost sight of them soon after we entered the forest.”
I wondered if the queerats were going to forbid us to talk, but they didn’t seem to care. So I figured this was as good a time as any to ask.
“How in the world did you find me?”
“I saw you ahead while I was running.”
Chasing after me defeated the whole point of splitting up, but I didn’t have the heart to criticize him.
“The others probably got away.”
I knew he was just agreeing with me to try to cheer me up, but it worked.
The queerat in the lead signalled us to stop.
Ahead of us was a small clearing. Were they going to kill us here? I closed my eyes. A stick-like object poked me in the chest and my eyes snapped open again.
A queerat as tall as I was stood in front of me, armored and wielding a long spear. It appeared to be the leader of the group. I rubbed my chest where it had jabbed me. It hadn’t penetrated my shirt and I wasn’t bleeding. Looks like it had poked me with the butt end of the spear, not the point.