“No, it’s not alright. Our colony would be crushed. And the Giant Hornet colony would not come out unscathed either. Going by past examples, General Kiroumaru would have to commit seppuku.”
“Committing suicide by cutting your stomach open with a sword. It’s used as the ultimate apology.”
I was stunned. Our dictionaries did not have such a strange term, and we could never have imagined that people of the past would perform such actions.
“I see. I never imagined we would cause so much trouble,” Satoru said meekly. “But that’s only in a really unlikely scenario, isn’t it? Like if we had an accident and died or something.”
“Yes, but in order to prevent that unlikely possibility, I must protect the two gods no matter what.”
Was he telling the truth, I thought as I looked at the ugly, naked rat.
“Is there anyone else following us?”
“No, just me.”
“That’s strange. If you’re going to protect us, wouldn’t you bring soldiers?”
“That…it was too sudden, so I didn’t have time.”
Satoru’s question addressed both our suspicions of whether Squealer was under orders from Kiroumaru to keep an eye on us. Acting of his own will could be his plan to steal all the credit. Just two days ago, I doubt we would have been this paranoid.
“Anyway, are you thirsty?”
Squealer held out the gourd hanging by his waist. It sloshed with what sounded like water. We glanced at each other, but the temptation was too much to resist, so I took the gourd and uncorked it. We gulped down the lukewarm water. Instantly, my blood starting to circulate again, and I felt as if I were coming back from death. I passed the gourd to Satoru and he drank as well.
“And yet you had time to prepare this.”
I wanted to express my gratitude to Squealer, but what came out of my mouth was a scathing comment.
“I took it from the soldiers as I rushed out after you. Taking one of these is no problem. As for the gods’ protection, if another colony were to come along, there would be a lot of trouble.”
Suddenly I realized that when I first took the gourd from Squealer, it had been full. He was undoubtedly thirsty as well after coming all this way.
“Thanks. You drink some too.”
I took the gourd from Satoru and passed it over.
“Thank you.” Squealer held it reverently in his hands and took a small sip.
In that moment, Satoru and I looked at each other and came to an unspoken agreement.
“Squealer, we need your help,” I said.
He looked up immediately. “Of course, anything. Please tell me what I can do.”
“We’re trying to get to the west bank of Kasumiga Bay. Please show us the quickest route.”
“…but why are you in such a hurry? If you wait until tomorrow morning, the Giant Hornet guards will bring you there safely.”
“Because if we wait until tomorrow, our lives will be in danger,” Satoru said bluntly.
Squealer had probably been sold by Kiroumaru’s promise to rebuild the Robber Fly colony, but unless we revealed everything to him right now, there was no chance of him coming to our side.
“What do you mean?”
“Kiroumaru might kill us.”
“That will never happen! As β★ë◎Å…the queerats’, and as the general of the largest colony, he would never think of harming the gods!”
“I can’t explain, but trust us.”
I took Squealer’s hands. He seemed surprised, but didn’t pull away.
“If that wasn’t the case, we wouldn’t be trying to run away in the middle of the night.”
Squealer thought for a moment, then nodded gravely, “I understand. I will show you the route. However, pursuers will probably use the same path, so we must hurry.”