“I’m fine. Just one more time.”
We retreated into the forest again and looked up at the sky. It came. A huge stone, tracing a parabola through the air.
This time, he didn’t stop it, but sent it flying off in a different direction. There was a sharp warning cry. The rock disappeared from our view, and crashed noisily into the ground. It sounded like an explosion. Broken shards clattered as they bounced off the bamboo stalks. Is it possible for the debris to fly all the way here? I was a little worried.
“They’ve definitely taken more damage this time.” Satoru said triumphantly, but there was no energy in his voice. He was probably at his limit.
“Okay, let’s get out of here!”
The battlefield was to the north, if we came out through the bamboo forest in the south, the Ground Spider troops might spot us from the west. We turned east and started making our way through the shady forest. Quickly. Quietly. Making sure that we remained concealed.
We wove our way through the dense growths of bamboo. The ground was uneven and full of fallen bamboo and creeping vines that blocked our path. The branches scratched at our faces and snagged at our feet. Walking even a short distance was exhausting. When we had first followed Squealer into the forest, the path must have been cleared in advance.
“It’s okay. Don’t worry. We’ll definitely get home.”
“Mhm,” Satoru was just managing to stagger along behind me. His eyes were blank and he was barely talking.
Just a little more. Just a little more until we get out of here. Once we get out of this maze-like forest, we can return by our original path.
I came to a halt as I thought about how Shun and the others were doing. Turning toward Satoru, I put my finger to my lips.
Even without listening carefully, I could hear it. Conversation. The piercingly high-pitched voices of queerats.
We got down on our hands and knees and crawled into a depression in the ground. In front of us were broken stalks of bamboo entwined in dried vines. We were completely hidden from the queerats, but their sharp sense of smell worried me. I hoped that we were upwind.