Chapter 1 – Story 26: Conference

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Entrusting the reception of those who came along as escorts to his clanmates, Garam led only the important members of each clan to the clan chief’s tent.
Once they were guided to the place for the meeting, they entered and the Eye Clan as well as the Mane Clan sat down on the inner left side while the Claw Clan took the right side.
It’s a setup where it’s as if the Eye and Mane clans were confronting the Claw Clan. The same thing could likely be said on the emotional level, as Banuka, who had been made a fool of in front of everyone else, faces Zurgu with obvious hostility.
However, that can only be called reckless.
Not only does Banuka have no chance in regards to individual military prowess and magnanimity, but he also loses on the power of the clan backing him. Since she probably anticipated that, Shunpa of the moderate faction has sat down on Banuka’s side to keep the balance.
While harbouring gloomy feelings due to the situation being like this before the conference even starts, Garam sat down on the seat in the innermost part of the meeting place. The Elder and Shyemul are next to him on the left and right as advisors. Shyemul being next to him is in order to show that the divine child is supporting the clan chief of the Fang Clan.
First of all, Garam begins by explaining the whole story about the string of battles starting from the night raid.
Before long, even the members of the other clans were greatly fascinated by the bold strategy called the fire ambush that didn’t exist among the zoan previously, as well as the remarkable feat of chasing away military forces that had more than 800 soldiers with the Fang Clan’s meagre troops.
The one Garam paid attention to while talking was Zurgu.
The biggest obstacle in the current conference is how to obtain the acknowledgement of Zurgu, the clan chief of the Claw Clan, which is boasting the largest power among them. Hence it is indispensable for Zurgu to recognise Souma’s achievements.
As far as Garam sees at present, Zurgu seems to hold quite a bit of interest.
Unlike the mere surprise of Shunpa who’s estranged from battles and unlike Banuka who is innocently delighted as if listening to a heroic tale spun by a storyteller, Zurgu carefully listens to every single word Garam says while slightly bending forward in order to not miss a single thing.

“That’s all. These are the facts about the battle against the humans that took place on this occasion.” (Garam)

When he finished talking about everything while allowing questions several times during his retelling, quite a bit of time had passed.
Right after feeling a little sense of accomplishment due to having finished speaking, Garam gets bathed in cold water by Zurgu’s next words.

“Humph, I don’t think that it’s a battle befitting a proud zoan warrior, 《Ferocious Fang》.” (Zurgu)

As if him earnestly and enthusiastically listening before was a lie, Zurgu ridiculed Garam while picking his ear, looking like he was bored.
Although he was grim-faced, Garam didn’t object and only averted his face slightly.
Due to that reaction, Zurgu was convinced of his own conjecture being correct.
If the plan that repelled the punitive force was something thought up by Garam or someone of his clan, Garam would have likely rebutted one way or the other.
However, he looked sullen because he got stabbed where it hurts. Also, the reason for him averting his face was because he couldn’t deny what I said, as he himself thought the same as well.

“《Mad Claw》, in that case, tell us, how would you fight the humans with only a few troops?” (Banuka)

The one who rebutted him, instead of Garam, was Banuka.
Taking no notice of the youngster who’s misunderstanding this venue to be a place to promote himself to the divine child, Zurgu furthermore says,

“I’m praising you, 《Ferocious Fang》. You, who spoke of the zoan pride like it is your favourite catchphrase, used a method I couldn’t have possibly come up with myself. To have reached the point of thinking of such bold move if it’s for the sake of your clan!” (Zurgu)

Garam’s face warps due to that plain obvious mockery.
Zurgu’s mockery was based on the scheme that even Garam probably would have no other choice but to reveal the guy who gave him the plan due to being unable to hide him any longer, if he’s told even that much.

“It is as 《Mad Claw》 says. The recent events are not something I came up with. I only followed the suggestion of a certain person.” (Garam)

Due to the words of Garam who had resigned himself, Zurgu clenches his fists secretly with an I’ve got it!

“Oh, that’s a surprise, I guess.” (Zurgu)

Zurgu says with a triumphant expression.

“In that case I believe that the talks won’t get anywhere unless you introduce that person first.”

Garam hesitated. According to the original plan, he should have introduced Souma based on the circumstances observed as he probes whether Souma would be accepted by them.
However, what Zurgu says is reasonable.
Judging that refusal would be a bad move here which would only lead to complicating the story unnecessarily, Garam calls out to Shyemul.

“Shyemul, please bring him here.” (Garam)

After a light nod, Shyemul retreated to inner part of the tent.
And then, when Souma makes an appearance with a timid look while being led by Shyemul after a short time, a huge commotion occurs at the venue.

“His name is Kisaki Soma. He’s the person who provided us with the plan.” (Garam)

◆◇◆◇◆

It being a human was within the range of Zurgu’s expectation.
But, the one in his imaginations was a veteran warrior or a general.
A man with sturdy muscles and bones, height and the brazen face of a man in the prime of his life that was backed by the conceit of having wandered many battlefields.
This was the figure Zurgu imagined.
However, the one who actually appeared is a human child, completely different from what he had imagined. No matter how you look at it, let alone him being a veteran warrior or general, it’s a weak youngster that has never even held a sword.

“No way! 《Ferocious Fang》, are you telling us that a brave man of your degree borrowed the power of a human!?” (Banuka)

As if acting as representative of the agitated people, Banuka stands up and presses Garam with this question without even trying to hide his anger.
Because that reaction was something he had already anticipated, Garam replied calmly,

“It’s a fact that we drove away the humans in accordance with Soma’s plan. And, he’s also the one who said that he will take back the plains.” (Garam)

Everyone intently observes Garam, but there’s no indication of him telling a lie or a joke.
Zurgu was wondering once again.
Garam is a zoan warrior who’s not inferior to me at all. If it’s him, he should have seen a long time ago that this human youngster is no warrior or general.
For Garam to still recommend that human youngster knowing that, it’s no trivial matter.
Isn’t that truly a display of that kid’s true value?
This has finally become interesting!
Thinking that, Zurgu swiftly peeks at the representatives of the other clans.
Banuka appears to be a greenhorn plainly releasing his hate towards the human.
In contrast to that, Shunpa exchanges whispers with the shrine maidens behind her that had accompanied her. It seems that they are discussing the stance of the Eye Clan.
Well then, what should I do in this situation?
Zurgu considered it once and then jumped into action.

“The proud zoan of the Claw Clan can’t cooperate with a group that seems to have joined hands with a human. I will have you allow me to return home.” (Zurgu)

Zurgu stood up sluggishly. The members of his clan follow after him as well.

“Wait, 《Mad Claw》!” (Garam)

Garam called Zurgu, who pretended to be leaving, to a halt. Once Zurgu stopped his feet and looked over his shoulder, he said while openly exposing his contempt,

“Is there still anything left to say?” (Zurgu)

“《Mad Claw》, I do understand your discontent, but please listen to the end.” (Garam)

“Tell me, what’s the necessity to listen beyond that?” (Zurgu)

Zurgu said while facing all zoan present besides Garam.

“Bastard, what you’re saying is an insult towards us proud zoan warriors! Are you telling us to abide to what a human, moreover a weak brat, says!? To this human brat that’s even inferior to those excreta-scavenging monsters!?” (Zurgu)

Those don’t seem to be the words of Zurgu, who usually brags that as long as you win, no matter what’s said, it’s the grumbling of a loser. But if it’s the zoan warriors, all of them probably think the same.
It’s difficult to downright deny this.
Even so, if he intends to detain Zurgu, Garam has to behave modestly.
Feeling that, Zurgu tried to cleverly seize the initiative by getting the upper hand on the emotional side by taking an attitude of accepting Souma reluctantly.
However, at that point he got attacked from an unexpected side.

“Zurgu! Asshole, did you fucking insult Soma just now!!?” (Shyemul)

It’s Shyemul, who was emitting a flame of rage from her entire body.

“Yeah, so what about it!?” (Zurgu)

Zurgu retorted like that, but he didn’t anticipate Shyemul’s reaction.
According to Zurgu’s prediction, the one who has got to feel the most unhappy to be told to do as told by a human should be Shyemul. In accordance to her nickname 《Noble Fang》, Shyemul’s pride is notorious. Such a very proud zoan shouldn’t deem it acceptable to obey a human that ought to be hated, no matter how much it concerns the fate of the clan.
Even the report from the lookout stating that she followed around this human child very likely means that the divine child herself monitored this human child and tried to expel it if circumstances permit.
Zurgu made such a wrong prediction.

“If you insult Soma any further with that shitty mouth of yours, I won’t stay silent! Swearing on my pride, I will make your dumb ass atone for it!” (Shyemul)

Zurgu is flustered due to this unexpectedly threatening attitude of Shyemul.
There was no way for him to decisively confront the divine child in front of the other clans. The feeling of reverence towards the divine child is weak within Zurgu himself, but he doesn’t take the clout the divine child possesses lightly.

“Dang! Can I have you pull back here, divine child? I haven’t been talking to you. If you are saying that you can’t allow the insult, it’s more logical to tell the person, who received the insult, to retaliate! I’d like you, who is unrelated to this, to stop butting in.” (Zurgu)

Zurgu tries to prevent the divine child’s intervention by stressing that the problem is to the bitter end the responsibility of the human child.
Even so, Zurgu’s complaint is just.
Everyone thought that Shyemul had no other option but to keep her mouth shut.

“I am related!” (Shyemul)

However, Shyemul declared,

“Soma over here is my 『Navel Master』! Do you believe that I will stay silent if you insult my 『Navel Master』!!?” (Shyemul)

Insulting her 「Navel Master」 to whom she even dedicated her mind, body and soul is a far more intolerable disgrace than being insulted herself. Shyemul’s wrath is reasonable as well.
However, due to Shyemul’s rage, the location fell silent.
Even Zurgu solidified with his mouth still open.
The one who recovered the quickest among them was Garam, who, after all, kept Shyemul company for a long time as an elder brother.

“Shyemul… What did you say just now?” (Garam)

In contrast to the appearance of Garam who had to do his best to just ask that, Shyemul replied quite indifferently,

“Mmh? I only said that I won’t stay silent if you insult my 『Navel Master』.” (Shyemul)

“『Navel Master』, you say…?” (Garam)

“Uh huh. I had Soma become my 『Navel Master』.” (Shyemul)

Shyemul boasted while throwing out her chest.
At that moment, all the zoan present at that place raised shouts that were neither screams nor angry roars.

“What’s up? Is that something that surprising?” (Shyemul)

Only Shyemul remained calm during everybody’s reaction.
But it’s only understandable for everyone to be surprised.
The divine child is a being that enjoys the favour of the god who created them. Because that divine child said that she offered all of her body and soul to a man of another race, it’s similar to a thunderclap in a blue sky, or rather spelling the end of this world for the zoan.
It was likely close to the mental state of zealous believers who were made aware of their holy woman, whom they worshipped, was actually getting married and even giving birth to a child.
To say nothing of her partner being a human whom they should hate. The scope of the shock they received is overwhelming what they can imagine.
It resulted in those like Banuka having completely blank eyes and some among the shrine maidens of the Eye Clan fainting. As expected, Shunpa doesn’t show such disgrace as a younger sister of the head shrine maiden and perseveres somehow, but even so she was also greatly perplexed.

“Shyemul! You with such a guy…!” (Shunpa)

“G-G-G-Garam! You are her elder brother, right!?” (Zurgu)

“Shut up! Even I didn’t know about that!” (Garam)

Due to being grabbed by his collar by Zurgu, Garam shouts with a voice close to weeping.

“Hohohoho! For that bedwetting lass to have reached the point where she possesses a 『Navel Master』, that’s a surprise.”

The only one among them who raised a happy laughter was the Elder.

“Elder, the bed-wetting part is uncalled-for!” (Shyemul)

“In any case, it’s a joyous occasion. It would be wrong of me if I don’t give you some kind of congratulatory gift.”

“Then I’d like to have your treasure, that alcohol, Elder.” (Shyemul)

“Hey, a big one came up here. But there won’t be that many happy occasions. Very well, come around later to my place to pick it up.”

Garam gets exasperated by the exchange of those two.

“Both of you, what kind of stupid stuff are you talking about!?” (Garam)

“What is it, 《Ferocious Fang》? You won’t give me your blessing?” (Shyemul)

Shyemul tells him this while pouting.
The act of fortuitously meeting a person to whom one can offer their body and soul is the biggest honour for zoan warriors. If there’s a person who managed to obtain a 「Navel Master」, they will usually hold a feast in their honour.
Besides, it’s not like it’s forbidden to have someone from another race as 「Navel Master」.
Even in the past there are several examples of zoan making people of other races into their 「Navel Master」. All of them are nothing but famous heroes and great men.
Also, there’s no rule stating that a divine child isn’t allowed to welcome a 「Navel Master」.
But then again predicting such a situation to occur is by nature something unreasonable. At any rate, there’s absolutely no reason to criticize Shyemul’s deed.
Garam does understand that in his head, but while that might be the case, it’s a totally different story if it’s about the question whether his feelings can come to term with this.
He wondered if he should scold her harshly, but unable to find any befitting words, Garam, whose mouth opened and shut like a fish, finally squeezed out his next words.

“You, idiot!!” (Garam)

Shyemul feels offended by this.

“Calling me idiot, what’s that about? What idiocy?” (Shyemul)

“What’s wrong about calling an idiot by their name!?” (Garam)

“Even though you are my elder brother, there are things you can and cannot say, right!?” (Shyemul)

By now it’s a simple sibling quarrel.
Once they were shown others exposing a more disgraceful behaviour than themselves, the zoan present collected themselves instead. They started to get bored by the childish sibling quarrel that began all of a sudden.
The two, who haven’t noticed that, finally reached the point of arguing over having taking or not taken a snack during their childhood. Shunpa coughs loudly.
Shyemul and Garam quickly came to their senses due to that.

“Since we all properly comprehended that you siblings, Chief Garam and Divine Child, have a very good relationship, how about stopping around here?” (Shunpa)

Being told so by Shunpa with a gentle tone that had a wry smile blended in, the two writhe in shame.

“It seems to be the same for you two as well, but I’d like to calm my head for a bit I think. I believe I’d like to take a temporary break at this point and continue with the conference at a later point again, but how about all of you ladies and gentlemen?” (Shunpa)

There were no objections towards Shunpa’s suggestion.

 


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