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Epilogue: In the Clouds・A
In the mountains, peaks still capped with snow pierced the blue sky.
Narrow ponds and puddles left by melting snow, and colorful alpine plants embroidered the vast slopes. Below the valley was a veritable sea of snow.
A lone road stretched up the mountainside. It was large and well-maintained.
Between the road and one of the ponds lay a group of humans. About 30 of them, counting both adults and children. Parked next to them were two trucks laden with travel gear.
Kino looked out at the scene from a distance through her binoculars. A gust of wind sent her brown coat aflutter.
“Well?” Hermes asked from the road, a slight distance from Kino.
“No movement,” Kino replied tersely.
“Was it bandits?”
Kino shook her head. “They’re all foaming at the mouth. And from the green tinge on their faces…”
“They probably didn’t know.”
“Don’t keep me in suspense, Kino,” Hermes urged.
Kino put down her binoculars and plucked an herb from the ground. She showed it to Hermes. “This herb also grows in the lowlands, but the ones that grow at high altitudes are poisonous. If you didn’t know that and boiled it into your food…”
Kino tossed the herb aside and looked at the corpses in the distance.
“…That’s what happened to them. It must have been last night.”
“Wow. So they all died,” Hermes said, astonished.
Kino narrowed her eyes. “I didn’t really want to see that,” she mumbled.
“Then close your eyes,” Hermes joked. At that moment, a strong gust of wind sent the edges of Kino’s coat flailing.
Kino held on to her coat and looked at the mountainside. A great white mass was ballooning in their direction. In the blink of an eye, it crashed over Kino, Hermes, and the corpses.
It was blinding.