There. The Ground Spider soldiers were approaching. One…two of them. Along with what looked like a prisoner, though I couldn’t see him because he was in shadow.
There must be more units patrolling around. These two seemed completely relaxed so they must believe that we were stationed somewhere else.
We held our breath and waited for them to pass.
I looked at the soldiers through a narrow gap. They wound back and forth like a snake, struggling through the decaying forest.
The prisoner came into view, his hand tied to his waist and being led by a rope.
He looked like he had been badly beaten. One eye was swollen shut and there was dried blood around his nose and mouth. Even so, he was looking around restlessly and sniffing the air vigorously.
Although we had developed some sense of camaraderie after the last night’s events, I didn’t get the urge to risk myself to help him. After forcing Satoru to help so much, he had run off in the face of the enemy’s attack and abandoned us. Being captured by the enemy was getting his just deserts.
Goodbye, Squealer. I won’t forget you.
I bid him farewell in my mind. But he was still here. The Ground Spider soldiers tugged the rope, but he squealed in protest, still sniffing the air.
I was shocked. Squealer was looking this way. Since we were hidden in shadow, I thought it would be difficult to see us from his position, but he looked straight through the gaps in the fallen bamboo and right into our eyes.
He suddenly let out a shout and pointed this way.
Traitor. Anger and fear made my blood boil.
The two soldiers became excited. One pulled out a knife and the other unslung his bow and drew and arrow.
“…stop,” Satoru said from behind me.
The queerat with the arrow dropped to the ground like a puppet with its strings cut. The one with the machete stood dumbstruck.