Chapter 1 – Story 32: Seven Arms 1

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In the past, there was a great war between the zoan and the Holmea State upon the Solbiant Plains.
Holmea had begun the reclamation of the Solbiant Plains about thirty years prior.
However, the king of Holmea became irritated due to the reclamation not advancing as planned. It had lagged behind by several years due to the resistance being put forth by the zoan being much fiercer than expected. Because of this, he passed a decree to clean out the zoan by using the army.
Receiving this decree, Holmea’s national army carefully prepared and marched towards the Solbiant Plains after organizing an amount of military troops numbering around 15,000.
The first to suffer tragedy was the Tail Clan, who had their residence in the southern area of the plains.
Due to Holmea’s army suddenly advancing upon them, their lands were raided as their homes burned down, and even the elderly and children were killed. Leading its survivors, the Tail Clan fled to the north.
They then appealed to all of the clans that lived in the plains together to help them repel the humans.
The Eye, Fang, Claw and Mane Clans immediately responded to that appeal. The first allied army consisting of all the zoan clans was formed in the Solbiant Plains.
It was a huge army exceeding 24,000 warriors. It consisted of 1,000 from the Eye Clan, 6,000 from the Fang Clan, 8,000 from the Mane Clan and 2,000 from the Tail Clan.
The united zoan army clashed with the national army of Holmea in the central area of the plains shortly before the beginning of summer.
First the warriors that won fame in each of the zoan clans stepped forward, and, in accordance with zoan battle etiquette, named themselves and challenged Holmea’s national army to duels.
However, Holmea responded with their archer units all shooting arrows at these warriors simultaneously.
The warriors who had stepped forward to challenge Holmea to duels were shot to death by these arrows, causing the zoan to rage.
The enraged zoan began to charge forwards, but the pace of the army was unequal due to their command being held by the clan chief of each clan. Besides that, the warriors were starving for exploits on the battlefield and wanted to achieve the highest recognition. The lack of control was obvious.
Hence, even more zoan fell victim to the human archers. Even with this, due to their numbers as well as their tough bodies and mobility, the zoan charge led to them closing in on Holmea’s army. The zoan weren’t called the rulers of the plains for nothing.
However, what set out en masse to the front line and traded places with the archers was the heavy spear infantry known by the surrounding countries as「Holmea’s Black Wall」. They are notable for having their bodies clad in armour that consisted solely of the color black.
This company of heavy spear infantry set forward into a formation where their large shields were joined together and their pikes were pointed out. The formation resembled a sea urchin, or the burr of a huge chestnut. With the zoan only wearing a torso armour knitted out of ivies that protected merely their chests, the assault was a suicidal act that went far beyond recklessness.
Being stabbed to death in succession by this formation, the zoan paid dearly with a heavy toll of death.
When the momentum of the charge was completely halted by the heavy spear infantry, the tank corps’ that had been deployed at both wings begun their attack by going around and cutting into the flanks and rear of the zoan army. With this attack becoming the finishing blow, the zoan were routed.
Furthermore, Holmea’s army organized a pursuit unit centered around the tank corps’ and, counting in the pursuit of the zoan who had started to flee, they completely beat them down.
The losses of the united zoan army added up to 15,000. The miserable truth is that they lost more than half their numbers in this short time. In contrast to that, it’s said that the casualties of Holmea’s national army were no more than a mere few hundreds. In short, this was a tragedy of the highest order for the zoan.
After this, Holmea’s army reduced the zoan villages left in the plains to cinders and ashes within several months. They left behind nothing but one battalion at the fortress built next to the northern hills and withdrew its main army. This battalion was later on reduced to the size of a company.
However, all of the zoan clans had already lost their strength to counterattack after they were driven into the hills and ruthlessly split up.
The zoan’s defeat in this grand war was from the fact that they used battle methods that relied upon the military prowess of the individual against humans who fought systematically, as well as the army of united clans really being only an army in name since the command structure and guidelines for their actions hadn’t been consolidated, especially with the clans being basically an assembly of separate families.
But even as they suffered such a crushing defeat, the zoan never made use of this lesson.
Even after this battle, the zoan adhered to their traditional ways of fighting and continued to pointlessly sacrifice many of their warriors. Not only that, they had tried to consolidate their forces by setting up a leader, but that in turn invited a confrontation between the clans over who should be in command, resulting in them getting their priorities backwards.
This might be so because of the zoan’s character that could be called earnest and highly prideful. Those traits, which can be considered as virtues in the right situation, expressed their obstinacy in front of a new era’s arrival.
Later on, Souma Kizaki would accomplish many reforms and changes.
The zoan were loyal to the point of even being ridiculed as the 「Cattle of the Divine Son of Destruction」by those who opposed them. But according to Souma, they also weren’t able to easily accept the reforms and changes brought about by him at first.
There are even some who evaluate Souma Kizaki’s battle as a fight against the conservatives that weren’t able to accept the reforms and changes caused by him.
This means that Souma Kizaki’s biggest battle in the Solbiant Plains might just have been the fight against the conservative thinking of the zoan.

 

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“Soma, are you listening properly?” (Shyemul)

Souma, who was deep in thought by himself, came to his senses after he was poked by Shyemul.
They are inside a tent that was hurriedly set up outside the fortress.
Going by the schedule, there should be a conference taking place in the fortress right now. But as all the buildings inside the fortress were littered with injured soldiers, there was no room to hold a conference. Besides, inside the fortress that was built with this era’s architectural technology, the rooms simply weren’t large enough to allow ten odd people to fit inside them, even if it’s just the clan chiefs.
Hence it was inevitably decided to put up a tent outside the fortress and hold the conference there instead.
The first thing they discussed there was the treatment of Souma.
Currently, Souma’s position was that of being a guest of the Fang Clan.
However, if Souma wanted to give some sort of opinion to the zoan, or if these zoan wanted to hear Souma’s opinion, they would have to inconveniently go through Garam, the chief of the Fang Clan, who’s taking care of Souma as a guest.
For Garam there were many advantages such as the Fang Clan’s influence becoming more powerful through monopolizing Souma, but respecting Souma’s will of wanting to equally exist for all clans, he endorsed Souma as a guest of all the clans that had gathered there.
The other clans unconditionally approved of that.
This was with the intention of them wanting to improve the clans’ impression of Souma, even if just for a bit, for the settling of the clans’ domains coming up after this. It was also for the sake of preventing the influence of a single clan from rising too much due to them monopolizing Souma.
However, the talks proceeding well went only up to this point.
Once it came to the discussion about the reconquered plains, the talks stagnated completely.
Souma, who thought that the zoan have to band together and work as one for a common cause now, decided to shelve the demarcations of the clans’ domains due to it likely becoming a cause for discord between the clans after talking with Garam and Shyemul prior to the conference.
However, that in and of itself was interpreted as the Fang Clan trying to hog the plains to themselves by the other clans.
Of course, Garam tried to dissolve this misunderstanding, but the clan which obstructed that was the Mane Clan.
Even they were fully aware that it was up to the discretion of Souma and the Fang Clan, who had taken back the plains, what to do about the plains. And thus, although they completely misunderstood the situation, they interrupted Souma’s and Garam’s statements. They feared that they would lose the chance to even get an inch of land in the plains after the topic was shelved and the effective control over the plains by the Fang Clan became an established fact.
Since the Eye Clan, which had announced their support of the Fang Clan early on, was apparently bewildered by the shelving of this topic, the impatience of the Mane Clan also had the ulterior motive of wanting to stab into this gap. However, they had expected the Claw Clan and its clan chief Zurgu, who were maintaining an eerie silence despite revealing an attitude of dissatisfaction, to oppose this far more ardently than themselves.
That resulted in the Mane Clan having to make an insipid speech demanding Garam to share the plains to make up for the role they assumed Zurgu would play, who only listened to the conference with his arms folded, his right eye shut and a sullen expression that didn’t fall apart.
For that reason the elderly zoan, who served as an advisor to the inexperienced Banuka, began talking about the time when the ten siblings, that would become the zoan ancestors, were created by the God of Beasts. After that he spoke about their own genealogy. Singing praises to the distinguished services of their ancestors, he then started to talk about how much territory would be appropriate for them to be given with that as their reason.
At first he listened to the zoan history with great interest, but upon understanding that it’s mere bragging and a reliance on past glory, Souma’s interest faded. Not only that, given that he had to get his next plan started as soon as possible, he began to even feel irritated with them wasting time idling on such a story.
Finally, as he ignores the speech of the Mane Clan, Souma pondered how he would be able to persuade them.
But, a remark was hurled out that even Souma couldn’t ignore.

“We haven’t finished retaking the plains yet!”

While he was showered by everyone’s attention as they were surprised as to what he might mean with that, the zoan of the Mane Clan that had begun to have his first white hairs mix into his fur threw out his chest seemingly confident about this statement.

“Aren’t there human villages still left in the plains!? You can only say that you have really retaken the plains once all these humans have been driven out of the plains!”

Certainly, although they had captured the fortress, there is a great number of pioneering villages that the humans have settled into spread among the plains. They are even now making a living by burning these plains and cultivating their fields.

“I have heard that the Fang Clan lost many warriors. Can I ask you to leave this part to us, the Mane Clan?”

In short, it means that they want to do a meritorious deed before the territories are decided.
However, that achievement is nothing more but the murdering of the pioneering humans in the plains.
Souma’s aura completely changed due to that.

“! What’s wrong, Soma!?” (Shyemul)

Due to Souma suddenly standing up in silence, Shyemul calls out to him in surprise.
Thanks to the silent fury that was transmitted from the back of Souma that was turned towards her, she remembered it.
It’s about that night. The one she can’t forget either.
It was exactly like the time she stood in front of Garam and the others after she fell into a predicament for his sake after he yelled at the zoan for their apathy.

“Man, just do whatever you want! I’m leaving!” (Souma)

With Shyemul not having enough time to stop him, Souma shouted out his anger.

“Is there something that has rubbed you the wrong way…?”

The zoan were flustered.
Capturing the fortress was without a doubt Souma’s achievement. If they let him leave without even repaying a single thing to the person who achieved such a great feat, those present in this place would likely be slandered for being a horribly inconsiderate group.
However, Souma didn’t know about that.
The reason for him having recovered from the anguish caused by the battle of Hoghnareah Hill was because he wanted to save the very young zoan similar to Geeta and Shyepoma.
Even him acting selfishly was because of the young lives that he rescued, and the zoan that thanked him for that.
And yet, the zoan, who should have been rescued, now talk about doing the same things to the humans.
Only that was something Souma could never forgive.

“Once you open your mouths, it’s just the domain of the clans, the domain of the clans! To me it doesn’t look like anything other than castaways, grabbing hold of the same small piece of wood in the ocean, and whining about the size of the wood that they’re holding on to! It’s freaking absurd to fight over a piece of wood that will be knocked over by a single big wave!” (Souma)

Even though they acknowledged the size of Souma’s achievements, the zoan partially rose to their feet with the colour of rage dying their faces due to his overly direct verbal abuse.
Souma sharply thrusts a finger at those zoan and says,

“Do you believe that all this will be over after the humans get driven out of the plains?! The humans will DEFINITELY come back! But next time it will be for the sake of thoroughly and mercilessly annihilating the zoan!” (Souma)

Souma’s words poured cold water on the emotions of the zoan who were elated due to their victory.

“Did you think that it will be the end once you won? It’s the opposite! It’s just the beginning! It is the start of a battle that will continue until either side gives up! The path for the survival of the zoan is nothing else but to continue to win, win and win!” (Souma)

The zoan saw a vision of the human forces that will likely advance on them due to Souma’s words.
The sounds of the drums that resound alongside the army’s march, the sounds of the military shoes, the sounds of the armours and weapons, and the voices of the soldiers shouting to kill the zoan has turned into an auditory hallucination that makes the zoan’s eardrums tremble.

“Such a…!”

“As expected, this guy is the divine child of Aura, the goddess of death and destruction! He came to bring death and destruction upon us!” (Banuka)

Banuka shouted in a manner similar to a scream while pointing at Souma.

Due to that shout, Shyemul, who is a divine child herself, and the shrine maidens of the Eye Clan are woken up from their fear towards Aura’s divine child and were able to suppress it by supporting each other.

“What about that!?” (Souma)

However, Souma bragged triumphantly.

“You guys weren’t doing anything besides being crushed for a long time now, right!?” (Souma)

That brief comment attacked the zoan like a lightning bolt.
It’s the real condition of the zoan all of them know about, but for the proud zoan it was also something they deliberately avoided recognizing. But, Souma, without allowing them to do that, clearly thrust the current situation in front of their noses.
Unable to deny it and on the other hand unwilling to admit it, the zoan groaned in frustration.
The one among them who approved of Souma’s point was Garam.

“It’s as Soma says. We, the Fang Clan, were right in front of complete annihilation. No, even now that hasn’t changed overly much.” (Garam)

The ones who fell into the danger of being extinguished the most among the clans present is the Fang Clan. This late in the game, he didn’t act like he is averting his eyes from the current situation of the zoan in order to keep up appearances.

“I know that we will perish if we fight. However, even a superior warrior won’t be able to fight for eternity. What do you intend to do, Soma?” (Garam)

By discussing this with Souma in front of everyone, Garam tried to have all of them comprehend the situation the zoan were placed under.

“I know that. It’s hopeless unless we finish it by finding some common ground. But, that’s not a matter relevant now.” (Souma)

Going along with Garam’s intention, Souma, who had regained his composure somewhat, said.

“I heard the humans attacked with tens of thousands troops in the past. Compared to that, this time we just won against a mere several hundred soldiers. Seen from the humans’ eyes, it’s at the level of being hit lightly, once, from behind at a spot that they neglected. It won’t be any good in that case! With just that, we won’t be able to convince them that fighting us is a terrible idea!” (Souma)

“What are you telling us to do then?” (Garam)

Hearing Garam’s question, Souma spread the map he entrusted to Shyemul on top of a sheet.

“This is the fortress where we are now. If you continuously head down from here on, it looks like there’s a city.” (Souma)

While pointing at the upper half of the map, Souma surveyed the zoan in the surroundings.

“There’s only one thing we have to do. We will assault this city!” (Souma)

 


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