We held each other’s hands and waited for the queerat ship to approach. Satoru’s hand was damp with sweat. Mine probably was too.
We stared silently at the scenery of Kasumiga Bay. The canoes sped across the lake much quicker than when we had been rowing them.
The three canoes were tied with thick ropes to the queerat warship. A group of strange triangular sails were raised as the ship sped forward across the water.
“I didn’t know their ships were so advanced,” Satoru said.
“Could it be that they’re more advanced in this area than humans?”
“Well we have cantus. We don’t need sails to propel a ship, right?”
No matter how big your sails are, there has to be a limit on how fast you can go. There’s no such limitation with cantus.
“That’s true…” Satoru crossed his arms and looked off into the hazy mountains.
“Who cares about the queerats. About what we were talking about earlier…”
“Yeah,” Satoru pulled out the charm from his collar.
Satoru opened it without hesitation.
“Have you looked at it before?”
“Isn’t it obvious? Who hasn’t taken a peek at it?” He raised the disc to his eyes.
Satoru’s face went pale.
“Let me see.”
“No,” he said, grasping the disc so hard his knuckles went white.
“Is something different about it?’
Satoru didn’t elaborate, but I felt a little better. At least mine wasn’t the only one that had changed.
“Could it have melted because of the heat?” I asked without conviction.
“No matter how hot it is or how weak the material is, it’s impossible. Plus it’s been in the sachet the whole time and hidden from the sun.”
“I dunno,” his expression darkened. “Whatever it is, it can’t be good…”
He fell silent looking at the opposite bank.
“I guess throwing it away is the best thing to do.”
Without a second’s pause, he took off the charm and threw it in the lake. Dragged down by the weight of the glass disc, the cotton sachet sank slowly into the water.
“Wait, what are you doing?”
“It’s fine, you did it too, Saki.”
“If they find out when we get back, something bad might happen. The fact that the purity mask is melting is definitely a bad sign. Check Shun and the others. If there’s any change, have them throw it away.”
“But then we’ll have no warning when a karma demon comes.”
“We’ll just have to deal with it when it comes then. We don’t even know what a karma demon really is,” Satoru said, his arms crossed.
“How will we explain it though? It’s easy if it’s just one person, but if a whole bunch of people lose their charms at the same time, it’s too suspicious.”