an English translation of the novel

Page 95-96

Using cantus to control a living being was extremely difficult. Simply inducing emotions like fear or anger required considerable skill; making someone perform complex movements required a complete image of the target’s brain. Only someone with an exceptional level of concentration and imagination could pull it off.

Koufuu Hino was controlling upwards of two thousand queerats. To be able to manipulate such a great number of highly intelligent creatures didn’t seem to be humanly possible. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that his powers were almost godlike.

The controlled queerats moved like wind-up toys, attacking with horrific speed. The other group fought desperately, but they seemed unable to recover from the terror of seeing their friends being turned into brainless killing machines.

I suddenly remembered that Satoru had used the same tactic once. He had controlled queerat corpses to frighten the deeply superstitious Ground Spiders. Of course, the actual skill involved in doing that was nowhere near Koufuu Hino’s level, but the end result was probably just as effective.

“Smash, smash, smash your brain. When the soldiers come, slam the door. Once they’re gone, take a breath. Naked mice, scurry, squeak. Squeak, squeak, squeak.”1

He pounded the drum hanging from the tower and sang at the top of his lungs. The queerats slashed with their knives, blood and severed heads flying through the air. I could barely look at the ghastly sight.

“Ah…” Satoru said, staring transfixed at the bloody slaughter.

“What?”

“The controlled queerats are all moving the same way…”

Although he was a good distance away, Koufuu Hino heard and stuck out his tongue at us. There was a nasty look in his bulbous eyes.

“Oh ho. I’ve been found out. Fail. My trick’s been revealed.”

I finally saw it. Most of them were indeed doing the same thing. Some were even firing at empty space. There were probably only about ten different movement patterns being used.

1 He’s singing a twisted version of a children’s song called Zui Zui Zukkorobashi. There aren’t really any good translations of it out there, but the part that corresponds to what he’s singing basically goes, “Smash, smash, smashing sesame miso. When the soldiers come, slam the door. Once they’re gone, take a breath. Little mice eating from bags of rice. Squeak, squeak, squeak.”

 
     

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