After a moment of silence, a huge commotion erupted.
“The city is outside the plains!”
“Why do we zoan have to leave the plains to fight a battle?!”
Several zoan raised objections, which is only understandable.
The zoan’s world consists of the plains itself. Being suddenly told to leave that world, there’s no way for them to be able to simply agree with a “Sure, let’s go”. For them, that would be like telling a fish to walk ashore.
“I can’t think of attacking the city as anything but an act of sheer madness.”
“Indeed! We are the rulers of the plains. Something like attacking a stone city is reckless!”
Also, even the zoan were easily capable of imagining how difficult it would be to attack a city. Even though they couldn’t capture even a single fortress until now, an act like capturing a city, where far more people live, by themselves is nothing more but talking about a dream within a dream.
If it’s only about repelling attacking human forces, Souma would also choose to meet them in the plains. If it’s these vast plains, it wouldn’t be difficult for the zoan to defeat military forces that are even several times their numbers, as long as the zoan exhaust their enemies with guerilla warfare by capitalizing on their innate mobility.
But, even so, for Souma there was a reason that they must leave the plains.
“But, if you seclude yourselves in the plains, the zoan will get annihilated sooner or later!” (Souma)
Even if they would be able to ward off human troops in the plains once or twice, it’s impossible for that to continue permanently. The humans are no fools either. Without fail they will come up with a plan on how to deal with that, and then the zoan will likely be defeated before long.
These plains are surrounded by mountains on three sides with the south being left out. While these mountains serve as a natural barrier to fend off the invasions of other powers, they also isolate the plains from the rest of the world.
If there was something like a lucrative industry in the plains, there would also be the option of preserving their strength and nurturing that industry. But, the reality is that the only ones in the plains besides the zoan are the pioneering villages.
The more time passes, the more the difference between the power of the zoan, who would hide in the plains that are an isolated area cut off from the outside world, and the humans, who are living in the outside world, would keep growing.
At any rate, learning of the world outside, there won’t be any future for the zoan unless they expand towards that world.
With the fire ambush and the capture of the fortress, the die had been already cast. They had to act as soon as possible.
“You have no other choice but to stop secluding yourselves in such confined plains and set out into the vast world!” (Souma)
The majority of the zoan present were unable to follow Souma’s thinking. They were unable to even understand what he was telling them.
However, while negligible, there were also some who felt something from Souma’s words.
They’re part of the younger zoan, such as Shyemul and Garam.
Because they possessed a more flexible thinking due to their youthfulness, they sensed the change of an era, even if they couldn’t comprehend everything Souma said.
And, there was also one person in that camp who was quite unforeseen.
“… Pfft! Wahaha… kakaka…!”
All of a sudden someone burst into laughter.
Once everyone shifted their attention in that direction, they found Zurgu who apologized by raising a hand slightly while resisting the urge to laugh.
“Er, excuse me.” (Zurgu)
Having finally restrained the laughter, Zurgu leaned his upper body forward while still in a sitting posture and asked Souma. His eyes are filled with a sparkling similar to a child’s anticipation for something new.
“Brat, are you seriously telling us to attack the city?” (Zurgu)
“Yes. If we don’t do so, the zoan will be destroyed.” (Souma)
“There also will be a turn for us, the Claw Clan, to attack the city… right?” (Zurgu)
Once Souma nodded, Zurgu’s right eye, which hadn’t been crushed, narrowed into something similar to a smile.
Zurgu then hits his right knee with a loud slapping sound.
“Interesting! How very interesting, brat!” (Zurgu)
Without even trying to suppress it this time, Zurgu breaks into a riotous laughter.
Due to the unbelievably disgraceful behaviour from Zurgu, who had kept his silence until now, the other zoan including his clanmates were completely dumbfounded
Believing that Zurgu would be delighted if he could go on a rampage, Souma warned him in a hurry,
“But, the major premise is that you listen to what I say!” (Souma)
“Aye, I see. In that case I will entrust you with this.” (Zurgu)
What Zurgu took out of his bag after saying that was a necklace created from stringing multicolored jewels and fangs of animals on a thread.
There was a world of difference in its making compared to the one he had received from Geeta and Shyepoma earlier. The shapes and sizes of the beads of the diligently polished jewels are completely uniform. Each jewel has a minute design carved into it. What especially attracted one’s notice are the two huge fangs located in the centre. It’s unknown from which kind of animal those came, but beautiful patterns had been drawn with dyes on the surfaces of the huge fangs that are similar to those of a saber-tooth tiger.
“Clan Chief! That is…!”
Zurgu’s expression changed due to this and he firmly declared to his clanmate who tried to stop him,
“There’s no other time than now to use this!” (Zurgu)
“This is…?” (Souma)
He had the necklace pushed upon himself by Zurgu, but he has to ask Shyemul behind him what exactly this is since he doesn’t understand the meaning.
Shyemul stared at the necklace in Souma’s hand with an expression of sheer disbelief.
“That is the Necklace of Victory Prayers which is worn by the chief of the Claw Clan during battle. However, to entrust that to you…!? There’s no way!” (Shyemul)
“W-What’s this about?” (Souma)
Due to the fervent, agitated manner of Shyemul speaking, Souma, who had noticed that this isn’t just a simple necklace, becomes anxious.
“The person who wears this will have the same military authority as the clan chief! In other words, it’s the right to order the warriors of the Claw Clan. It’s not something to be entrusted to another unless there’s a state of emergency where the clan chief is no longer able to go on!!” (Shyemul)
This was the trump card Zurgu had prepared.
For the Fang Clan that had lost many warriors due to the frequent battles with the humans, it’s something they would desire to the extent of strangling someone’s neck for it. Using this as a bargaining chip, Zurgu intended to get his share of territory with it.
But, because that was equal to yielding to another clan, Zurgu couldn’t play that trump card easily. Until now he had silently watched the situation’s development.
“I have already summoned 300 warriors, chosen from the best among the Claw Clan, to this area.” (Zurgu)
“Zurgu! You bastard, surely you didn’t!?” (Garam)
“Don’t misunderstand, Garam! I had only called them just in case.” (Zurgu)
Zurgu hurriedly stops the enraged Garam.
“Adding even the soldiers nearby, I will now entrust all the four hundred warriors of the Claw Clan to you, brat…no, Soma. Please use them as you see fit. Of course, I’m included in this number as well.” (Zurgu)
Placing both his fists on the sheeting, Zurgu bowed his head. All the zoan present were surprised by his offer.
This was totally unexpected for Zurgu who was infamous for his arrogance.
Shunpa placed a hand on her cheek and had a troubled expression while saying an「Oh my」. Banuka slapped his own cheeks. And Garam suspected whether or not that’s the real Zurgu.
“Please raise your head, Zurgu. That saves me trouble. It’s my side that has to wonder how I may thank you for that…” (Souma)
He had spoken while giving in to his fury, but as a matter of fact he had been worried whether his words had truly reached the zoan. For that reason Souma was happy and felt relieved when he was told by Zurgu that he believed in him and would entrust his warriors to him.
“I look forward to working with you.” (Souma)
Souma placed both his fists on the sheeting and deeply bowed his head towards Zurgu.
However, there was someone who didn’t feel too happy about that deeply emotional scene.
“Bah! Oy, 《Ferocious Fang》. We, the Fang Clan, are falling behind!” (Shyemul)
Overpowered by the bared displeasure of his younger sister, Garam hurriedly turns around to Souma and both of them bow their heads after placing their fists on the sheeting in the same manner.
“Of course, we, the Fang Clan, will obey you, Soma.” (Garam)
“Thank you, Garam.” (Souma)
Shyemul nodded while folding her arms and looked as if she were satisfied due to that. Then she looks at Banuka of the Mane Clan, who haven’t announced their stance yet.
“Sir Banuka, what will you do?”
“Y-Yes, oh esteemed Divine Child!” (Banuka)
Being called out by Shyemul with respect, Banuka straightens his spine with moistened eyes.
“Naturally, we, the Mane Clan, will abide to Soma!” (Banuka)
“… ! Young master! It’s wrong to be imprudent.”
Due to that, his clanmates around him remonstrated Banuka in a panic.
“It’s not imprudent. It’s certainly true that I’m inexperienced, but even I know this much. The Fang and Claw Clan, who were said to not cooperate with each other, are trying to do so under that Soma. Such a thing once happened in the plains, didn’t it? Who could have imagined something like that?” (Banuka)
No one was able to answer Banuka’s question.
“I think of this as big sign. If we don’t go with the flow of these times, the Mane Clan will regret it for all time, don’t you think so? I’m aware that I’m reflected as nothing more than an unreliable novice in the eyes of everyone. But, I wonder, can’t you believe my words and follow me?” (Banuka)
It’s not just because he was told to do so by Shyemul.
Even Banuka, without fully understanding Souma’s words, felt something shivering inside his mind.
Due to these splendid words of Banuka, who was considered to be nothing but flaky, his clanmates that assisted him until now unintentionally end up choking due to their tears of happiness.
By now, there wasn’t a single among his clanmates that protested against Banuka’s decision.
With the state of the other clans like that, Shunpa, who was accompanied by the shrine maidens of the Eye Clan, leaked a small sigh.
“Oh my goodness, with this, us Eye Clan don’t have any other choice than obedience as well.” (Shunpa)
While voicing it out with words, Shunpa had already accepted that it will turn out like that.
She knows that it’s impossible for Shyemul to recognise that person as her 「Navel Master」 just because he’s called the divine son of the Goddess of Death and Destruction. She doesn’t know the reason for it, but Souma possesses something that made even Shyemul, who is known for her high pride, subordinate herself to him.
That might be the flow of the times Banuka spoke of, Shunpa thought.
Certainly, currently she feels a large power streaming towards Souma.
It’s the sole flow that tries to pick up and rescue the zoan who had been merely toyed with after getting dragged into turbulent times, whether they liked it or not, because of the increase in power of the humans.
However, what’s waiting at the end of that flow might not be salvation, but death and destruction which symbolise the goddess that granted her grace to him.
But, despite that, Shunpa felt slightly surprised due to there being a part of her herself that wants to surrender itself to that flow.
As if hiding the emotions that resembled the violent throbbing of her chest, Shunpa prostrated herself on the spot.
“We, the Eye Clan, also swear to obey you, Lord Soma.” (Shunpa)
In this instant Souma became a being unprecedented in history for being obeyed by all zoan living in the plains.
“What’s your intention here, Zurgu?” (Garam)
It was Garam who called out to Zurgu, who was gazing at the faraway mountains by himself, in the plains that were dyed red by the twilight.
Without bringing anyone along either, Garam stands next to Zurgu.
“My intention, you ask?” (Zurgu)
“About a piece of shit like you nestling up next to Soma.” (Garam)
To entrust the warriors of the Claw Clan to Souma, who isn’t a zoan, much less to say about him being a human, was an unimaginable act by Zurgu as far as Garam knows him.
However, with that as an impetus, there’s no doubt that the remaining clans will gather as well and express their will to obey Souma. It’s a safe bet that Zurgu was most likely strongly impressed by Souma.
Hence, Garam, who suspected whether or not there’s some bad motive behind that all the more due to this, feels it necessary to enquire about Zurgu’s real feelings before it turns into a situation that cannot be undone. And thus he faced Zurgu alone like this.
Zurgu smiled bitterly due to the monologue of Garam, who doesn’t show any effort to hide his misgivings.
“Hey, Garam. When you were a child, did you happen to think about what might be on the other side of those mountains that surround these plains?” (Zurgu)
“What is this, all of a sudden?” (Garam)
Unable to understand what Zurgu wants to say, Garam frowns.
“I did. I believed that there’s a Fire country on the other side of those mountains and that the sun is produced there every morning. I really wanted to visit that place when I became an adult…” (Zurgu)
Zurgu spread his large arms.
“And now? Once I became an adult, these plains became my world. When I became clan chief, my world became even smaller. It shrunk down to just the territory of the Claw Clan. I became desperate in that small world.” (Zurgu)
Zurgu laughed at himself after dropping his shoulders.
“Hey, Garam. The zoan will perish if they don’t change. I thought so.” (Zurgu)
Garam was surprised.
Because it was something Garam had thought as well.
“However, what about it!? Before speaking about what to do about the zoan, it means that I would have to change myself first! If you don’t call that laughable, then what else!?” (Zurgu)
While he has talked with his clanmates about them having to change and the necessity in learning the humans’ way of fighting for the sake of the zoan’s survival, Zurgu noticed that he himself was still bound to the old values of the zoan.
And, the one who allowed him to realize that is Souma.
“I was astonished by Soma! Not because of his fire ambush or the fortress capture. It’s due to the size of the world that he looks at!” (Zurgu)
Even Garam felt a strong sympathy with that.
What he senses after getting close to Souma is that he looks at an unbelievably distant place.
That’s only natural.
If you speak of the world in modern Japan, it’s the entire Earth. To Souma’s awareness the plains are no more than a small fraction of the continent called Seldeas, no matter how vast they might be. Not only that, Souma probably wouldn’t consider it strange even if he was told that they discovered an unexplored continent on the other side of the ocean in this world, as he knows of the historic discovery of a new continent by Columbus.
The world that exists inside Souma, who grew up in modern Japan, was a much larger world than that of anyone in this world.
“I wanted to see it! A vast, expansive world! The world Soma sees!” (Zurgu)
Standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Zurgu who yelled that, Garam silently gazed beyond the mountains in the same manner.
At this time something hot wells up in the chests of these two.
Even if they didn’t put it in words, both of them, Garam and Zurgu, sensed it.
After a while Garam traced back his steps along the path he came, leaving behind Zurgu who was still continuing to gaze beyond the mountains.
“Zurgu, I forgot to mention one thing.” (Garam)
Garama said on the verge of leaving.
“I thought the country on the other side of the mountains was made out of gold.” (Garam)
For a moment Zurgu stared blankly at him while not understanding what he was told.
When Garam’s figure had vanished from sight, Zurgu’s shoulders begin to tremble slightly at last. That trembling becomes gradually stronger. Finally his entire body starts to quiver.
And then, finally unable to endure it, Zurgu burst into laughter then and there.
There is an expression saying 「There are seven arms, one tongue, three horns, one cloth and two heads on the Divine Son of Destruction」 in posterity.
These words originate from the well-known figure of the「Divine Son of Destruction Soma Kisaki」on a famous fresco within the Kontart Cathedral.
That fresco is something that was painted by the hands of the artist Numari, extolled as a master painter. Numari was a fanatic believer of the Holy Faith. Even that fresco was drawn with the goal to instigate the hostility of the believers towards the「Divine Son of Destruction Soma Kisaki」 and to elevate their fighting spirit.
For that reason, the figure of the painted Souma is something that doesn’t appear to be human whatsoever.
The figure of Souma inside that fresco rides on a dark beast that flies in the air, launching flames and scattering fire onto the humans and cities resting on the ground. Souma himself is a grotesque monster that possesses seven arms as well as two heads, beast and human. Three twisted horns are growing out of the human head which is adorned with a shabby crown, and a red flame dwells within the human’s eyes as a long tongue lolls out of its mouth. Its mouth is split open straight up to the ears. Each of his seven arms have different shapes and colors, and hold a different weapon with one of the seven deadly sins inscribed upon them in an ancient language. This is to express the idea that Souma is the root of all sins.
As a matter of fact, this fresco isn’t a painting that only depicts Souma. Souma’s troops are also shown with him on this fresco.
For example, the beast head that is right next to the human head. This beast head, which is flattering the human head besides it by licking its cheek, is Shyemul. She was said to have been one in body and soul with Souma.
Also, the black beast that flies and scatters fire while the grotesque monster rides on top is Garam.
The seven arms with unique shapes are the seven generals who served Souma and are called the「Seven Arms Generals」.
Those Seven Arms Generals are a literary creation that came forth in future years. At that time, official positions with such a naming didn’t exist.
Based on the tales of the Divine Son of Destruction in the future, it reached the point of them being called the Seven Arms Generals, imitating the fresco of the master painter Numari who couldn’t leave out the seven generals by any means. They were the most prominent commanders in each of the clans within Souma’s army, which was a mixed army consisting of seven races.
One of the Seven Arms inside the painting of Numari tightly grasps a machete. It’s an arm covered by red fur.
The meaning of the ancient letters written there is 「Wrath」.
《Mad Claw》 Kraga Bigana Zurgu.
As the bravest general of the army of the 「Divine Son of Destruction」, he is a man later extolled as the《Arm of Wrath》 and one of the Seven Arms generals.
The Seven Arms Generals are similar to the Twenty-Four Generals of Takeda Shingen.
Souma had at this time succeeded in making the zoan obey him, more or less.
At last he will start to move towards the capture of the city.
However, being pleased by Souma’s steady advance, the shadow of the goddess has…!