Chapter 1 – Story 42: Insurrection

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Right before the commander’s outburst, the slave dealer Grokakos was going around and checking the state of the slaves.
The slaves who have been mistreated and lived in this awful environment have built up their dissatisfaction and rage, and it was like a volcano where one wouldn’t know when it would blow. Usually these feelings are suppressed with whips and chains, but it wouldn’t be strange for them to explode if a chance shows itself.
The unexpected zoan attack was more than enough of an opportunity for this.
When the slaves heard the sounds of wood plates being hit and horns being blown throughout the city, no matter how quiet they might be, even they could guess that some odd situation is taking place in the city.
For that reason Grokakos was trying to restrain his slaves from rioting by showing off the slave overseers, who held whips in their hands
A voice reaches Grokakos, who is currently looking around the cages with a deliberately composed air as he takes along his slave overseers.

“Oi, what happened?”

Suddenly being called out, Grokakos was surprised. There shouldn’t be a human who would ask something in such an arrogant towards the master of this mansion.
Grokakos, who surveyed the surroundings to find who it was, noticed a dwarf staring at him from within one of the slave-holding cages.

“… Dvalin, huh?”

It was the dwarven slave I’m taking care of for that boy Soma.

“It’s nothing that concerns worms! It would be best if you slaves stayed quiet!”

However Dvalin strokes his beard while letting the chains of the handcuffs that were affixed to both his hands resound with a jingling, and calmly said to the enraged Grokakos,

“Let me guess what happened. … I’d say… didn’t zoan come to attack the city?”

Grokakos furrowed his eyebrows.
He felt something disturbing from Dvalin’s tone.

“… You bastard, what do you want to say?”

“Who knows. The important esteemed human doesn’t understand?”

“This damn worm. Do you think that you won’t get any whipping because you’re a slave someone entrusted to me?”

Grokakos laughed scornfully.

“You have taken quite the big attitude since yesterday, haven’t you, you little worm? Don’t push your luck! Even if you are something left in my care, nobody would complain if I treat you a bit roughly as long as I call it a cheeky slave’s education.”

However, Dvalin didn’t cease twisting his bearded face into a broad grin inside the cage. Grokakos lost his cool due to that attitude.

“This pesky bug! If you want the whip so much, I’ll give it to you!”

Grokakos gave orders to the slave overseers and Dvalin was dragged out of the cage. And then, once Dvalin’s chains are tied to the tree in the courtyard, Grokakos takes a whip that’s hit the bodies of countless slaves into his hand.

“How is it, worm? I’m lenient. If you go ahead and beg for forgiveness and lick my shoes, I wouldn’t mind pardoning you.”

Although he didn’t even have the slightest of intentions to do that, Grokakos pretended to be generous in order to get Dvalin to beg for mercy. If I whip him after allowing him to hold onto a little bit of hope, that will make the worm feel a far deeper despair and agony. Grokakos sadistically laughed as he imagines such a scene taking place. He awaited Dvalin’s reaction.
But, Dvalin’s reaction was different from Grokakos’ expectation.

“To do something to this warrior Dvalin after showing off your uselessness that’s just as bad as your crude ulterior motives, you are quite the laughingstock. You only have worth of the level of making my abs sore, at the most you are making me laugh.”

Grokakos ended up dumbfounded rather than angry due to the unforeseen insults.
After a short while he finally grasped that he was insulted and Grokakos’s face resembles the appearance of a beet due to his overwhelming rage.

“Warrior, you say!? The likes of a dwarf!”

The tip of the whip moved quickly as it was swung, and causes a whacking sound as it strikes.
Due to that, not only Grokakos who swung the whip, but also the slave overseers who were watching with vulgar smiles, opened their eyes wide all at once.

“There you go, look. Aren’t you just as useless as your shabby plans?”

The whip swung by Grokakos was tightly grasped in Dvalin’s right hand.
The shackles that should be affixed to that hand have fallen right next to Dvalin’s feet.
Dwalin hauled in the whip he was tightly holding all in one go with his thick arm. Grokakos, who was standing upright and unable to understand the situation that’s taking place right in front of his eyes, is dragged along with the whip and pulled straight towards Dvalin after falling down.
Once Dvalin grabbed him by the collar, he used all of his strength to drive his right fist into the nose of Grokakos.
With blood leaking out of his nostrils and screaming like a piglet that’s about to be butchered, Grokakos yelled,

“W-Wh-Why? The shackles? How? Why!?”

Dvalin spit right into Grokakos’ face.
Something that was mixed into the spit hits Grokakos’ cheek and falls down at his feet with a “plop”. Grokakos, who looked down at his feet, discovered a rolled up wire which was shining wet with saliva.

“Us dwarves have dexterous fingers, you know? If it’s a single wire that’s just to the extent of picking a lock, I can do that while I’m dozing off.”

He drives his fist into Grokakos’ face again.
It’s only then that the slave overseers, who at last grasped the situation, try to knock Dvalin down with the sticks they’re holding in their hands. However, the war cries that arose from behind them made their bodies freeze.
One after the other the dwarven slaves removed their handcuffs and chains, and jumped out of the cage where Dvalin had been put in. They swoop down on the slave overseers while brandishing the chains of the wooden shackles that had restrained them.

“Steal the keys! We will release our comrades!”

Receiving Dvalin’s order, the dwarves grabbed the keys from the waists of the knocked-down slave overseers, opened the cages in quick succession and removed the shackles of the dwarven slaves.

“Now, warriors! The time to fight has come!”

The suddenly freed slaves were moving about in confusion and anxiety wondering what they should do, but once they hear the yell from Dvalin, they once again realize that they were finally set free.

“”Uooooohh!!””

The people who had been slaves raised shouts from the bottom of their stomach due to their pent-up wrath and the delight of finally being released.

“Hiii!!”

Grokakos and the slave overseers screamed due to the slaves’ outcry.
However, all that resulted in was them drawing the attention of the people that used to be slaves. Raising jeers and angry voices that were unintelligible at this point, all of them attack Grokakos and the slave overseers at once. Grokakos and the slave overseers were made to pay in full for the atrocities they had carried out towards the slaves until then.
Dvalin, who saw the ghastly tragedy of revenge with his own eyes, steps up to a single cage that hasn’t been opened with a key as of yet and calls out to the inside.

“Yo, dinosaurians. We will struggle against some human opponents from now on, but what will you do?”

Upon Dvalin words, the clanging of heavy chains could be heard as a large body slowly stood up within the cage.

“Release us, dwarf. Even for me the boredom is too much to handle.”

◆◇◆◇◆

“W-What’s happening!?”

What the great commander saw are flames rising from a conspicuously imposing mansion inside the city and the black smoke that rose up from there. When he looks even closer, he perceives a great number of figures rushing out of that mansion while shouting.
At first the battalion leader wondered whether the citizens who were sent into a panic due to the notification of a zoan attack were careless with fire. However, not only do the people coming out of the mansion not try to extinguish the fire, but when they started to move throughout the city destroying small street stalls standing on both sides of the street in the process, he understood that it’s a far more serious situation.
Just then a messenger had been sent by the company commander whom he had ordered to head out and draft some of the citizens of the city.

“An insurrection of slaves, you say?!”

Due to the contents of the message, the battalion leader feels a shock that almost causes him to crumble to his feet.
On top of the worst-case situation of the city getting attacked by the zoan, there’s a slave insurrection. The battalion leader wanted to hold his head.

“If the zoan outside act in concert with this, it will turn into a terrible situation! Lead your company and suppress them swiftly!”

Receiving the great commander’s order, one of the company commanders, who stood close-by, descends from the city wall while calling his subordinates together.
A short time later the soldiers who headed out to subjugate the slaves that were rampaging within the city raise war cries and attack the slaves. In the blink of an eye, screams can be heard and blood flows as many slaves get cut down.
However, the soldiers’ superiority lasted only for a moment. The scene of the soldiers getting slain in succession by the slaves, who rallied their spirit right away, could be seen even from atop the city wall.

“Those cowards! What are they doing!?”

A single soldier ran up the stairs of the city while looking towards the location of the grand commander who stamped his foot on the ground several times in irritation.

“Message! Message!”

The soldier, who ran while shouting that, kneels down on one knee and bows in front of the battalion leader even while his intense breathing is disturbed.

“The resistance of the slaves is fervent. It’s not possible to suppress them easily! I was asked to request for reinforcements!”

The great commander reflexively replied by yelling.

“Don’t screw with me! Why do you have such a hard time with a simple slave insurrection!? And yet you morons call yourselves soldiers of Holmea!?”

No matter how big their numbers might be, the opponents are only rampaging slaves that took advantage of the chaos. Completely armed soldiers losing to a bunch of slaves armed with farm tools and fire hooks that can be found laying anywhere is at best something completely unforgivable.
However, due to the next explanation provided by the messenger, the battalion leader became speechless.

“That is, apparently the slaves got their hands on weapons from somewhere.They are armed with swords and spears. Because we attacked them without knowing about that, our side ended up suffering a great number of casualties!”

Attacking the guards of the slave dealer and the soldiers who were heading out to draft some citizens, and stealing a few weapons is something I’ve expected. But, from the way the messenger is speaking, the number of weapons possessed by the slaves appears to be a much larger amount.
Just where the hell did they obtain such a great amount of weapons? Entirely unable to guess where the weapons could’ve come from, the commander felt confused.
If he learned that the weapons held by the slaves had been illegally brought in by handing a bribe to the sentries at the east gate, the battalion leader would have likely slain the sentries of the east gate with his own hands out of sheer rage.

“Sir Battalion Leader! There’s a change at the zoan!”

Once he turns around towards the area outside of the city, the zoan, who had only kicked up a fuss by hitting their drums until now, started to move all at once. Dashing across the ground while raising a cloud of dust, the zoan head towards the northern side of the city.
Due to that, the battalion leader harbored the faint hope that they have given up on taking down the city and are returning to the plains.
However, betraying that hope, the zoan who ran to the northern side of the city jump into the river one after another, seemingly planning something and attempting to cross it via swimming.
Due to that sight, the battalion leader finally guessed the zoan’s intention.

“Are they trying to circle around to the city’s east side!? W-Why!?”

A dreadful idea flashed like lightning inside the great commander’s mind.
The battalion leader, who once again turned around towards the city’s interior, surveyed the state of the slave insurrection by swiftly letting his head turn around.
The slave insurrection that began at the mansion of the slave dealer Grokakos attacked the mansions of other slave dealers one after the other and increased their forces with that. Destroying all houses in the vicinity, they headed towards the eastern part of the city.
Even though there were also places close to the west gate among the mansions of the attacked slave dealers, the slaves that caused the insurrection are heading towards the east gate without even looking at the west gate.

“…! No way! Not only is it a what if they are acting in concert with the zoan. They were already cooperating with them!?”

The majority of the soldiers inside the city have been concentrated at the west side. The ones protecting the east side right now probably don’t even number a hundred.
If the east gate gets attacked from outside and inside at the same time, it definitely won’t last long.
He pondered whether they should immediately reinforce the east gate, but the slaves are already marching towards it like a swarm of black ants surging towards sugar.
The battalion leader, who judged that it would be impossible to defend the east gate any longer, decided to abandon the city.

“All hands, we are moving to the residence of the feudal lord! That place used to be a fortress. Even if the city falls, we will be able to defend until reinforcements arrive if we confine ourselves there!”

“What will we do about the city’s inhabitants!?”

“It’s impossible, give it up!”

The grand commander discarded the citizens below with a roar.

“This city will fall anytime now!”

◆◇◆◇◆

“Why would you attack the east gate? It’ll take up a bit of time”

Shyemul asked Souma and bent her head slightly to one side with a curious look.
Because of the river flowing through the centre of the city of Bolnis, one has to cross the river no matter what to travel between the east and the west of the city. Because they started a diversion at the west side of the city after crossing the river during the night this time, they had no other choice but to make the double effort of crossing the river once again to attack the east gate. Thus it’s a justified question to ask whether it wouldn’t have been fine to attack the west gate after starting a diversion on the east side of the city without going through such extra work

“That’s because it’s the east gate where we entered this city with Mr. Hopkins.”

Due to that answer of Souma, Shyemul understood it as notion that it would be likely easier to attack the east gate which they had checked with their own eyes.
But, the reason why Souma had the east gate attacked has a totally different aim.
His objective is to kill all the soldiers protecting the east gate.
No matter how much he was forced by being taken hostage, Hopkins’ standing would deteriorate if the the information that he cooperated in the capture of the city spread. He had been given the promise of a large monetary reward so he could make a comeback in a foreign country after leaving Holmea, but only that much is not enough.
Not protecting the profits of a cooperator thoroughly is wrong.
Without doing that, one will lose a precious cooperator. However, if you instead protect the interests of said cooperator, it will result in you not only gaining the trust of that cooperator but also make it easier to gain new cooperators.
The protection of a cooperator’s profit consequently directly connects to one’s own profit.
But, something darkish emerged within Souma’s chest.
Assaulting the city, it’s naturally wrong to not open either of the gates, east or west. At the same time that also implies that the soldiers protecting that gate will be killed.
For the final choice of which gate, east or west, should have its soldier killed, he took his and Hopkin’s own benefit into consideration.
That resulted in Souma considering it as a lowly act of weighing the scales, calculating the lives of others against his own benefit, and choosing the higher benefit.
The voice of a shady girl whispers into the ear of Souma who revealed a self-deprecating smile on his lips due to those thoughts.

“Oh, my lowly Souma. Are you trying to make it easier for yourself by despising, pitying and thinking of yourself as low, at this point? How unsightly you are. How miserable you are. It looks like you forgot your resolution after making merry for a bit, my beloved Souma.”

Souma immediately turned around due the dread that was similar to his heart being stabbed from behind, with a long, thin, needle.

“? What’s wrong, Soma?”

But, the only one behind him was Shyemul.
Was the girl-like voice I had heard just now an auditory hallucination?
The feelings of guilt within myself might have pointed at my own weakness by taking the voice of an imaginary girl? Souma wondered what was going on, but even so, he can’t wipe away an indescribable uneasiness.
That was Souma’s mental state, but he came to his senses due to Shyemul shouting as she points towards the sky.

“Look at that, Soma! A fire!”

Just as Shyemul said, black smoke could be seen rising up from close to the city’s centre.
Souma discards the matter of the auditory hallucination from his mind and turns his consciousness towards the events taking place now.

“Dvalin couldn’t control everybody!”

They came to the clean decision that it was inevitable for the slave dealers who incurred the enmity of many slaves. However, Souma wanted to avoid damage spreading to the city’s other residents.
Hence, thinking that it’s only natural that the residents won’t be attacked too much, Souma strongly insisted on the detailed instructions of having Dvalin turn the slave’s attention away from the residents to the east gate. Dvalin would have them continue shouting while throwing open the east gate as quickly as possible in order to allow the zoan, who are the slave’s allies, into the city.
However, not only was a fire set, but screams belonging to the residents could also be heard up to this distant location. Souma heavily regretted taking the slaves’ hatred lightly.

“Shyemul! I will go to the east gate, too!”

“Don’t be foolish! The liberated slaves are rampaging at that place. Soma, if you, a human, go to such a place, it’s not going to take a peaceful ending!”

Shyemul also noticed that the insurrection of the freed slaves has turned into a situation that diverted from Souma’s calculations. She gives her disapproval to take Souma to such place.

“B-But, I have to go! I have to join up with Garam and Zurgu as fast as possible.”

Shyemul felt uncertain due to Souma appealing to her with an expression as if he’s about to cry at any moment due to to his regret and impatience.
The other day, when Souma discovered a plant that had small red fruits in the plains, he observed it with great interest. Because he was dropped into this world from a different one, he is brimming with curiosity about the various things in this world.
However, because that red fruit actually possessed a strong poison that would at worst bring about death if eaten, Shyemul told Souma to be careful.
Once she did, Souma, who had observed the plant with his face as close as his nose touching it until then, jumped up in a panic and completely stopped trying to approach the plant, even though he’d be fine as long as he didn’t eat its fruit
Souma has such an unexpected thick head towards danger. But that’s because he doesn’t realize the danger of this world itself and because he trusts others easily. However, from Shyemul’s point of view, he has a cowardly aspect towards things that are obviously dangerous, to the degree that it can also be called oversensitive.
For all that, him stating that he wants to go to such an obviously dangerous place, where the slaves are rampaging like they are now, is not a decision that’s befitting of Souma.
Even so, Shyemul had an idea why he said that.
It’s that battle, the one that will be later on called 「Battle of Hognareah Hill」.
Thanks to that battle, where eight hundred enemy soldiers were reduced to ashes by utilizing his fire plan, Souma suffered from a severe 「Warrior’s Cold」. That one time where she felt anxious wondering whether he had a mental breakdown is still fresh in her memory.
Maybe Soma severely fears others dying from a fire that he caused himself. It’s possible that he’s being driven by the desire to join up with Garam and the others and prevent something like that from happening, without considering the danger to himself.
Shyemul wavered.
Souma is the keystone of the zoan’s counterattack strategy. Exposing such a person to danger is normally something unforgivable.
Shyemul dropped her shoulders in a grand manner and sighed.

“Good grief, you sure are willful, Soma. To get through the place where the slaves, who resent humans, are wreaking havoc and safely reaching the location of our brethren is even at best an unreasonable demand!”

Even the current Souma was capable of comprehending Shyemul’s point. Souma tried to apologise for him thrusting an outrageously absurd demand at her, but before he can do that, Shyemul bares her fangs with a brightly smiling expression.
The reason why Shyemul recognised Souma as her 「Navel Master」 is not because he has utility value.
She wanted to support Souma who had his feelings hurt deeply for the sake of the zoan even though he’s gentle to the degree of not being able to hurt anyone in reality.
In that case it’s clear as day what has to be done.

“However, if this is the wish of my 『Navel Master』, there won’t be any objection from this 《Noble Fang》!”

 


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