Judging from what just happened, they must have more comrades hidden nearby. I looked around at the trees once more. Now that I knew what to look for, it wasn’t half as difficult. In no time, I spotted three more of the camouflaged soldiers.
Before I had even finished pointing them out, Satoru released his cantus and brought them crashing to the ground.
“What the heck are these things?” I asked.
Satoru looked over the corpses with his brow furrowed. I couldn’t bring myself to touch them, but the protrusions on their bodies and the leafy structures didn’t look artificially made.
“It’s not too surprising though. When we ran into them last night, most of the troop members looked like monsters anyway.”
I thought of the scales covering Captain Pinecone.
“But…so, they can look like anything? Why?”
“I don’t know, but I have a theory,” Satoru covered himself with the hood again. “Anyway, we have to be careful from now on, since we don’t know what forms they might take.”
“We should just turn back. It’s too dangerous.”
“We’ve come too far, they’ll chase down us if we run.”
Satoru left no room for argument, so we kept going.
After a while, the path started curving to the right. We were slowly approaching the Ground Spider’s nest.
I reflected on our encounter with the tree fighters. Satoru had ripped up enormous trees and sent them flying through the air, knocking down more trees and bushes along the way.
Gradually, the dense growth thinned out. On the left was a marsh so full of duckweed it looked like it was covered in confetti.
“Wait,” I held Satoru back by the elbow. “I have a bad feeling about this place.”