“Queerats? That’s impossible. They could never openly revolt against humans; they know that would be the end for them!”
“The must have somehow found out that they were about to be exterminated and decided to launch one last attack.”
“So the Robber Flies…”
The image of Yakomaru’s face appeared in my mind–his glib tongue and cunning, beady eyes.
“Let’s go! We have to warn everyone.”
As we took off running, the sky was filled with bursts of light and sound. One. Two. Three. The peonies and chrysanthemums were transformed into swirls of color, spinning like windmills in dazzling, complicated patterns.
A great cheer rose from the spectators. The firedrawing contest had begun. No matter how loudly we shouted now, no one would hear us.
I couldn’t levitate like Maria. But if I didn’t find a way to get above the crowd, we were all going to die here.
Suddenly, there was a thunderous roar that shook the earth itself. It wasn’t a firework going off. The sound was loud enough to break windows.
Deafening shrieks came from the crowd.
Satoru grabbed me by the shoulder and yanked me back.
“But…we have to warn-!”
“It’s to late for that. They’ve already started attacking. There’s nothing we can do.”
I backed away, ignoring his overly calm assessment of the situation.
“Everyone at the square…”
“It’s okay. All the powerful cantus users are there. The queerats won’t be able to do anything.”
I felt better at his words. No matter how you look at it, cantus-wielding humans could easily defeat the queerats and their primitive weapons.
We ran away from the square, but less than a hundred meters later, I felt a peculiar prickling on my scalp. Looking up, I could tell that the sky was filled with streaking arrows, but all I could actually see were faint silhouettes. It was as if they were painted completely black.