“I don’t see the snow hut.”
I looked around at the sparse forest. I thought this was the place, but I wasn’t completely sure. It might be just a little farther ahead…
Me eyes fell upon two pine trees about thirty meters ahead.
“Over there! It was between those trees.”
We searched the area carefully. There was no trace of the hut, but something looked off. There were clumps of snow stuck high up on the trunk.
“Someone destroyed the hut and leveled the snow.” Satoru rubbed his chin, a sign that he was deep in thought. “A queerat couldn’t have done it. There was a lot of snow; I don’t think it could have managed to pulverize all of it and spread it around. Either Maria or Mamoru did it with cantus.”
I felt slightly relieved. At least they had been fine when they left here.
“But which way did they go?” I looked around again. There were no footsteps or sled tracks.
“No idea. It looks like they made sure that no one would be able to follow them.”
“You think they went to the trouble of erasing all their tracks?”
“The queerat probably did. Maria can fly quite well even when carrying Mamoru.”
I was at a loss for words. I had thought everything would be fine once we made our way here. Now I realized how ridiculously naive I had been.
“…I don’t suppose they went back home?” I asked hopefully.
Satoru shot me down immediately. “If they did, they wouldn’t have had to erase their tracks.”
What were we supposed to do? I was about to cry, but managed to hold it back because Satoru was with me.
“We have to look for them.” Even as I said that, I was painfully aware that we didn’t really have a plan.