an English translation of the novel

Page 406-407

So we had no choice but to follow their pace. As we moved slowly over the plain, the queerats distributed their food rations. They were round, like pills or sweet dumplings, and a little bit sweet. They appeared to be made of rice flour, with honey, dried plums, and nuts rolled together. As Yakomaru said, it wasn’t anything delicious, but at least there wasn’t minoshiro in it.

As we left the plain, we started climbing a series of hills. I wondered why the area was so hilly, but it was impossible to see what was buried under the snow. All I could tell was that the hills were made of a different type of dirt. Even the plants growing on it were different from the norm.

A strange image floated through my mind.

It was the remnants of a battle between cantus users, where one side had attempted to annihilate the other in one stroke. They had fired an gigantic boulder and its impact had caused more destruction than even the nuclear weapons of the ancient civilization. It was like what had wiped out the dinosaurs 65 million years ago, a meteor over ten kilometers in diameter.

I was being ridiculous. Common sense told me something like that was impossible. Of course, in theory, cantus was an unlimited amount of energy. But in reality, there are a lot of restrictions that control how that energy could be activated. In order to affect something, you needed to have a perfect image of how that object would be changed. So with something as large and complex as a meteor strike, the mind was its own limiter. It was as impossible as trying to create a realistic image of the earth being split in half.

But… I looked over the hills overlapping each other like a mountain range. Even novice cantus users like us were able to start landslides and throw fairly large rocks. It might not be out of the question for geniuses like Shisei Kaburagi to move entire hills.

“We will arrive soon,” Yakomaru said. “Around the next bend you will see the Goat Moth colony’s stronghold built halfway up the hill.”

What appeared wasn’t so much a hill as a monolith. It was 150 meters tall and 300 meters wide. The rock face was so sheer that no snow accumulated on it, and so smooth that scaling it seemed to be virtually impossible.

“It’s just a wall…I don’t see a stronghold anywhere,” Satoru said, squinting.


 
     

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