Chapter 1 – Story 31: Map

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“Did they really capture it…?” (Zurgu)

Zurgu muttered in a daze while staring at a warrior of the Fang Clan flying a large flag atop the fortress’ walls.
The zoan had made countless attempts to assault that fortress, which was a cornerstone of the humans’ rule over the plains. However, regardless of the clan, they weren’t able to take that fortress even at the cost of hundreds of zoan casualties.
Even Zurgu’s intention was to attack that fortress as his first action after unifying all the clans of the plains. For that reason he talked on numerous occasions with his brethren about the method to capture the fortress. However, they weren’t able to come up with anything but attacking it with an overwhelming amount of zoan, so he prepared himself for it reaping a heavy toll of casualties.
However, as if sneering at that resolve, Souma and the warriors of the Fang Clan ended up capturing the fortress easily.
In addition to that, an emotion that he doesn’t know nor can he name raged inside his chest.

“As expected of Chief Garam, isn’t that right, Uncle?” (Shishul)

Zurgu grimaced due to his niece Shishul’s eyes sparkling, openly showing her excitement without noticing his complex feelings.

“It’s not Garam’s achievement. All of it is that brat’s doing.” (Zurgu)

He shifted his attention to Souma who was satisfiedly looking at the captured fortress at a place slightly away.
The appearance of Souma, who awkwardly smiles at Shyemul who is delighted as if his achievement is her own, can’t be seen as anything but that of a simple human child. In terms of a zoan’s sense, he’s a worthless existence.
And yet he caused yet another miracle after the battle of Hognareah Hill.
Right, it’s truly a miracle.
Taking that fortress with just the warriors of the Fang Clan that numbered barely more than sixty can only be described as miracle.
Surveying his vicinity, it’s not just Shishul. The zoan of all the clans that gathered in this place were cheering due to this brilliant feat.
Despite this, Zurgu’s mood was quite gloomy.
As anyone can see, there’s no doubt that this is an achievement of Souma and the Fang Clan. The other three clans remained only spectators as they captured the fortress.
With this, there will be no room for objection even if the Fang Clan said that they would put the entire plains under their control. Putting aside the Eye Clan that supported them, it’s a situation where the Mane Clan and the Claw Clan that adopted a contradictory stance won’t be able to complain at all even if they are told that they won’t be given even an inch of land.
I was conceited for having a bit of intelligence and thus misread that human brat. That regret was a bit too late.

“How about the soldiers we called together?” (Zurgu)

The nearby Warrior Leader of the Claw Clan replied in a quiet voice so that the other clans wouldn’t hear it,

“They have already approached nearby. They can move according to your orders at any time.”

“I see…” (Zurgu)

In addition to the one hundred warriors that are currently under Zurgu, there are a further three hundred soldiers that were summoned secretly. With them it’s probably possible to kill all the other clans in this place, steal the fortress and take control of the plains in the name of the Claw Clan.
Even if I say so myself, that’s a lowly idea, Zurgu reveals a self-mocking smile on his lips.

“Clan chief, you must not be imprudent…!”

Noticing his clan chief indulging in evil thoughts, the Warrior Head remonstrated him.

“… I know. I won’t do anything stupid.” (Zurgu)

Even if we stole the fortress here and obtained the plains, that will be something temporary.
Zurgu will at times take measures that might be called cowardly, but stealing the plains here isn’t a cowardly act.
It would be the deed of a fiend.
The reputation of the Claw Clan alongside Zurgu would get smeared with mud and hit rock bottom. It wouldn’t end with being denounced by the other clans and treated as enemies, but with the clan scattering after being deserted by their brethren.
If that happens the Claw Clan would probably become the second lost clan.
If I stay idle now without doing anything, the Claw Clan won’t be able to leave its difficult livelihood on the hills, however, having said that, I haven’t come up with a move I can carry out either.
The belief that all of this is his own blunder stabs painfully into his chest.
In that case he has to consider begging for forgiveness from Souma and Garam by going down on his knees. No matter how much of a humiliation it might be, he has already resolved his mind to accept such a thing when he became clan chief.

“Though it would be great if it finishes with only me being the one to bend my knee…” (Zurgu)

The Warrior Head was startled by the monologue that doesn’t fit Zurgu, but he purposely didn’t say anything.

◆◇◆◇◆

At the moment he ascertained that it’s a warrior of the Fang Clan flying the flag on top of the fortress’ wall, Souma’s waist almost gave in.
In exchange, Shyemul, who was next to him, is happy enough to make up for the both of them.

“Soma! We did it! We captured the fortress!” (Shyemul)

Shyemul triumphantly looked at the soldiers of the three clans that escorted them under the pretense of acting as bodyguards for the sake of preventing Souma’s escape in case they couldn’t capture the fortress.

“Did you see!? There’s no need for bodyguards anymore. Hurry up and get lost.” (Shyemul)

The warriors that were shoo’d away in such a manner couldn’t complain with the other party being a divine child and reluctantly went back to their own clans.

“Good grief. What rude fellows to not believe in you, Soma.” (Shyemul)

Souma smiled bitterly due to Shyemul getting all worked up.

“That’s inevitable. Even I wasn’t 100% sure that it would succeed.” (Souma)

“That’s your bad side, Soma. You have to be more confident about yourself.” (Shyemul)

“I will work on it.” (Souma)

Due to Souma answering with a vague smile on his lips, Shyemul sighs as if to say 「Can’t be helped」.

“There’s more I want to say, but let’s head to the fortress for now. The other clans are troubled.” (Shyemul)

Because the fortress was taken by the hands of the Fang Clan’s warriors, it will be impolite for them to try entering the fortress before Shyemul and the others who are from the Fang Clan.
When he passed through the fortress’ gate accompanied by Shyemul, Souma stopped walking.

“What’s wrong, Soma?” (Shyemul)

Once she follows Souma’s line of sight wondering whether something happened, she found dark red stains spreading on the ground at the end of his gaze.

“It’s still a bit…” (Souma)

Even though he resolved himself for this, for people to be injured due to his plans and actually seeing traces of blood with his own eyes, he still can’t help but feel shaken.
Hiding that unrest of his, Souma showed a stiff smile.
Shyemul still didn’t understand the finer subtleties of human expressions, but that isn’t too much of a problem. Since recognizing Souma as her Navel Master, Shyemul always kept working hard on trying to understand him. She can at least guess what Souma is thinking at this moment.

“It won’t change that quickly. Besides, if you were to suddenly laugh wildly after seeing blood like Zurgu, I would be troubled.” (Shyemul)

She says this in the form of a joke to ease Souma’s emotions even if it’s just a bit. Souma, who was happy about the consideration of Shyemul, was able to display a very natural smile.
Just at that moment Garam turns up. In his hand he grabbed something like a round, big cloth.

“Garam, thanks for your hard work.” (Souma)

“Yeah. Though, I haven’t done anything significant. Once we proceeded as you told us, it was simple to an astonishing extent.” (Garam)

Shyemul, being next to Garam who said that, nodded satisfied while saying 「Right, right」. Seemingly even Garam has already given up on mentioning anything regarding that. He didn’t say anything and just released a small sigh.

“What has happened with the soldiers that became prisoners?” (Souma)

“I gave strict order to not make a move on the wounded soldiers. The soldiers that look like they want to fight have been gathered in one place and had their weapons take away.” (Garam)

Learning that Garam and the others didn’t injure the humans needlessly, Souma released the tension from his stiff shoulders and took a breath in relief.

“As there’s no problem with monitoring them once you took their weapons away, please put priority on treating the injured soldiers. If people die due to not getting any medical treatment, it will aggravate their dissatisfaction.” (Souma)

“Got it. That’s what we will do.” (Garam)

Garam calls a warrior that was close-by, and passes on those instructions.
After that Garam holds out the thing similar to a large cloth to Souma.

“Also, this was requested by you as well.” (Garam)

“Great! That will help.” (Souma)

The expression of Souma, who was given that cloth-like item by Garam, brightens up in a flash.

“It was in the room of the most important guy in this fortress. According to what he says, that seems to be the only one they have.” (Garam)

“That’s regrettable. However, it’s still better than nothing. And, please let me speak with that person later on if possible.” (Souma)

“Understood. However, currently the humans are probably all worked up. It would be best to wait until they calm down.” (Garam)

Garam winks at Shyemul. Guessing his intention right away, Shyemul answered back with a slight nod.
It’s hard to say it in front of Souma. It’s not just the prisoners that might not think well of him speaking to a zoan as an equal. If a human is in the same location as the zoan like just now, the humans will naturally discover that he led the two battles at the hill and the fortress.
If the humans were to put two and two together, Souma is in danger of the brunt of the human’s resentment being directed at him.
If something happened, such as Souma being killed by the hands of such people in the worst case scenario, the honour of the Fang Clan that elevated him into such a high position would take a huge hit.
No, the problem isn’t just our honour here.
Garam has reached the point of believing that Souma is an existence indispensable for the future of all zoan and not just the Fang Clan. If they lose him at this current point in time, the zoan will once again be driven back into the mountains, and get degraded to mere beasts that are hunted by the humans.
And above all else, if we let him die so easily without returning a single favor after receiving so much from him, it would be a disgrace for all zoan.
In order for that to not happen, someone who guards Soma is necessary.
Fortunately Shyemul, who obeys Souma, isn’t only excellent as warrior, but will also serve as deterrent against zoan who don’t harbour any good feelings towards Souma since she’s the divine child of the God of Beasts.
As an elder brother he can’t calm his heart about his younger sister that is at a marriageable age obeying a man despite him being from a different race, but currently he has no other option but to ignore it.

“Well then, it’s wrong to make the guys from the other clans wait outside forever. I will go meet them, I suppose?” (Garam)

Garam walked up in order to show in Zurgu and the others that were waiting, who were likely growing increasingly irritated and impatient in front of the gate.
Once Garam has left, Shyemul’s eyes sparkle with curiosity as she stares at the round cloth-like item in Souma’s arms.

“Soma, what on earth is that? Please let me know.” (Shyemul)

One would know at a glance that what Souma is holding in his arms isn’t a cloth. Its rough surface is obviously different from a cloth that was weaved with threads.
It’s a parchment that was manufactured from a large animal skin.
Souma went to a corner of the fortress where there’s no people around and spread it on the ground.
The surface of the expanded parchment is packed with hand-drawn drawings of what seems to be mountains and buildings.

“This is a map.” (Souma)

As Souma said, it was a map depicting the state of the plains.
At the time when Soma made plans to capture the fortress, he asked Garam that he’d like to have a map in order to grasp things like the position of the fortress. Surprisingly the zoan didn’t possess a map though.
When Souma asked what they would do when they have to explain a location, he was told that they would draw on the ground at that time.
Once he asked how they decide things like the territory of a clan, they told him that it was determined by saying things like “From that round rock” or “From those two trees.”
Being a hunting race, the zoan have a sharp sense of direction by nature. It was probably sufficient with only that much.
However, that doesn’t apply to Souma who isn’t a zoan. He wanted to somehow get his hands on a map. Accordingly, if it’s the fortress that is an important military base of the plains, they will likely have a map of the plains at the very least. He requested for Garam to search for it.

“Ohh, these plains look like this.” (Souma)

For Souma, who doesn’t know about this world over here at all, this map that he sees for the first time is a map of a fantasy world that is overflowing with dreams and adventures. He gets excited by just imagining what’s over there? or what kind of animals live here?

“Hey, Shyemul, is this map seriously correct?” (Souma)

Upon Souma’s question, Shyemul looked down on the map while squinting.

“Hmm… I think that this shape is mostly right.” (Shyemul)

The Solbiant Plains that were drawn on the map remind one of a huge bag with its opening pointing downwards, I guess. Pictures that seem to be the zoan villages and the fortress are drawn on the upper side, around the bottom of the bag. On the other side there’s a drawing of something like a city or a village around the area of the tightening opening at the underside of the bag.

 


Souma pointed at that drawing.

“Do you know what that is?” (Souma)

“That’s probably a city of the humans. I heard a story that the humans built a huge city made out of stone around that area slightly before they showed up in these plains.” (Shyemul)

Souma fixedly stared at the city drawn on the map.
From just the surface of the map, he isn’t able to read how big that city is, how many people live there and what kind of life they lead there.
However, he has decided on the things he has to do.
Souma firmly clenched his fists.

“Next we have to attack this city…” (Souma)

◆◇◆◇◆

With the fall of the fortress of the plains, it seemed like everything succeeded just as Souma intended for it to.
However, at this time a little incident took place.
It’s the rampaging of a single young zoan.
He had very recently perpetrated an unbelievably huge disgrace.
If things go on like this, he will lose his qualification as warrior. For a proud zoan, that was a humiliation difficult to stomach.
For this reason, he was very impatient. He had to perform a huge meritorious deed in the battle for this fortress, no matter what happens.
During the capture of the fortress, Souma, through the warriors of the Fang Clan, first called out to the humans to surrender and strongly ordered the zoan that they must not take the lives of those who have surrendered after complying with his call.
However, since he was in a hurry to get an achievement, he slashed human soldiers without any questions asked.
Certainly, he was conceited and strong. Starting a fight with several soldiers as opponents, he was able to hold up their decapitated heads.
However, even a mouse will bite a cat if it’s cornered.
One of the soldiers he was about to kill, suddenly mounted a fierce resistance after raising a strange voice.
He killed that soldier somehow, but during that fight he suffered a severe wound at his right arm.
At first he thought it was a simple arm injury that will get better soon because of the muscles and arteries luckily being safe. But on the next day, he suddenly collapsed after developing a high fever. Getting unlucky, a disease ended up entering him through the wound on his right arm.
Three days and nights after that he idled between life and death as he had nightmares due to the high fever.
And then, finally having regained his consciousness on the fourth day’s morning, he tastes a far larger despair than his delight of having kept his life.
His right arm was no longer there.
While he was comatose, the wound on his right arm deteriorated and at last it began to rot. Hence, in order to save his life, his right arm had to be cut off.
With his right arm gone, he won’t be able to run across the ground on four limbs like he had until now and likewise, he won’t be able to fight with his machete. Before it could be taken away from him, he ended up losing the qualification as warrior all by himself.
He cried and shouted in grief and rage.
However, no matter how much he screamed, the right arm he lost won’t come back. Even so, he couldn’t bear it without crying and shouting.
His acquaintances greatly worried about him due to his state that was painful to look at. But, no matter how much they tried to comfort him with words, it didn’t help. They had no other choice but to quietly watch over him for a while until his sadness would be alleviated with the passage of time.
Several days after that.
Worried about him not going outside at all even after recovering his consciousness, one of his friends visited his tent.
However, his figure had vanished from within the tent.
Due to that, his friends gossiped that he likely disappeared voluntarily to some unknown place after feeling the shame for having lost his qualification as warrior. However, that was only for a short time. That rumour got buried among the topics of everyday’s life and the big battles to happen after that, and before anyone realized, his matter has been completely forgotten.
His name is Fagul Unuka Gajeeta.
In the past he was a young warrior that led many youngsters in the village of the Fang Clan.
His name and existence has vanished from the centre stage of history.
For just a short while—

 


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