A mournful melody suddenly came to my mind, along with a verse we had learned in Harmony School1.
Home gets farther away. Farther away.
Turn back along the road. Turn back.
“How long are we going to go this way?” I was almost at my limit.
“We just have to get away from their nest.”
The only thing Satoru was thinking about were queerats coming after us.
“We’re heading west, right? If we keep going, we’ll be going farther and farther from Kasumiga Inlet.”
“But we can’t go back. Until we find a detour that’ll take us around, we’ll have to keep going this way.”
“But all these paths are straight. Why don’t we go off the path and head back?”
“If you go into the forest in the middle of the night, you’re just going to get lost. You can’t tell which way you’re going and you might end up where you started,” Satoru shivered.
“But if we keep going down these paths, it’ll be easy for them to find us.”
“That’s why I’m trying to put as much distance between us as possible.”
Our ideas were completely opposite to each other. Satoru showed no sign slackening his pace, so I had no choice but to follow.
But he suddenly came to a halt.
Satoru put a hand to his lips and motioned for me to be quiet. He crouched down and looked intensely ahead.
I followed his gaze. I didn’t see anything out of the ordinary.
I was just about to say something when I heard a rustling sound in the thickets ahead.
Twenty, thirty meters ahead, on both sides of the path were shadows that resembled small humans. Some of them held what looked like spears or swords.
The despair was overwhelming. Grasping his crude spear firmly, Satoru took a step forward.