Having received the official appointment to suppress the slave revolt that took place in Bolnis by Holmea’s king, Darius left the castle and directly headed towards the national army’s garrison located in the suburbs.
The general entrusted with this garrison was naturally surprised. Even if you say that the two were generals of equal rank, the other party was a former grand marshal, albeit a retired one. Darius was an opponent he cannot hold a candle to in regards to career, nor pedigree or age. He jumped out in surprise, put on his formal mantle to at least show off in some manner, and rushed out to greet the other party. Alas, Darius only said “I’m coming in”, and rudely began to walk throughout the garrison with a sidelong glance at the general.
Noticing that his destination were the barracks where the common soldiers are staying, the general tries to detain him in a hurry, but Darius chases him away with the brief comment “Do not interfere.”
Darius opened the door that had begun falling apart and entered the barracks.
“Is Bolgus here!?”
The voice of Darius reverberated inside the barracks, which had simple beds lined up in a cramped manner.
The soldiers are startled due to Darius’ sudden visit. A middle-aged man with shortly trimmed dark hair streaked with grey and an unshaven face steps forward. It’s a rough looking man that would fit the appearance of a stereotypical bandit boss, if this weren’t the barracks of the national army.
He is a veteran that brought together the common soldiers that served under Darius in the past.
“Hey there, Your Excellency the Grand Marshal. What are you doing in this kind of pigsty?”
The reactions among the soldiers inside the barracks were split twofold. The relatively young soldiers, who never even considered the possibility of a high ranking noble general visiting their barracks that’s recognised by them and others as a filthy garbage dump, were frozen in place with surprised looks. However, the veterans, who have the experience of fighting under Darius in the past, are hooting and hollering things like「We’re pigs!?」 and 「A pigsty is still better than this dump」.
“I’m not the marshal anymore. — However, it’s good to see that you are the same as usual.”
“Excuse me for that then, Your Excellency the General. Well, the ones called humans don’t really change that quickly.”
“There’s no mistake in that.”
Darius loosened his expression suddenly as if looking at something dearly missed, but that immediately completely reverts into a stern expression.
“You have heard about Bolnis, haven’t you?”
“That is, well…”
Guessing what Darius wanted to say with only that much, Bolgus said next,
“Meaning, you are going to need us for something, right?”
“I will organize a punitive force from now on, but I’d like you to take charge of two companies.”
“I don’t mind, but the young noble masters are going to be upset again.”
Judging from Darius’ manner of speech, it seems like he will form a force for some special mission and he’s thinking of making me its commander. However, as it’s a unit that will carry out such a special mission, it will be easy to obtain meritorious deeds with nothing more than participating. For the noble commissioned officers, who are thirsting for achievements, it’s a role they’d desperately like to take upon themselves. If that’s snatched away by a human that came from some commoners, they won’t take too kindly to that.
“Don’t care. There’s no need to humor children who mistakenly believe they can battle with just their lineage.”
“Haa… However, the one’s facing their displeasure will definitely be us, don’t you think?”
“That’s why I’m asking you. You can likely handle this naive and retarded treatment.”
Since the time when Darius brilliantly flourished as general, he had appointed this Bolgus to a responsible post one way or another. Not only did he value his nerve when it came to speaking his mind even to a high ranking noble like Darius, he was tolerant, for which he has been idolized by the common soldiers below him.
But what Darius valued above all else is how he evades the harassment of his superior officers of noble origin, who were jealous of him being assigned to important posts by Darius, like an eel and his toughness.
“Well, you are not wrong about that, I guess. — So, what caused you to deliberately come to this place? If it’s only that much, it would have been fine to talk with me after you put the formation in order, right?”
“In which case it will be too late. There’s something I want you to do right away.”
Saying that, Darius spreads a map of Holmea’s western part he had an attendant hold and spoke about the details of the mission. Due to that, Bolgus wears an expression telling that it doesn’t make sense, although he is able to understand the details.
“Hee, I see. But, are the zoan that capable? I have never heard about that being the case.”
“It doesn’t matter even if it’s just a fool’s errand. Then it will just be a matter of pinching and crushing them.”
Once Darius acknowledges it, there’s no objection by Bolgus. He lightly bows as if sticking his head out and answers 「Understood」.
“I leave the selection of the soldiers under your command to you. As for your equipment and supplies, I will explain it to those of military affairs. Do as you like.”
Bolgus turned around to the soldiers who attentively listened to their conversation, and said in a loud voice,
“You heard him, you bastards, didn’t you!? We will give victory to the former grand marshal, who only has a few years left to him, to decorate his last performance.”
The barracks shook from the resounding cheers that came from the soldiers.
Drum sounds reverberate in the plains located east of Bolnis.
Matching those, countless roar-like yells could be heard and the earth trembled with the rumbling footsteps. The ones causing those yells and footsteps are close to 1,000 zoan.
And, in a place slightly apart from the zoan, the dwarves and dinosaurians gazed at that spectacle.
Garam raises his prided loud voice towards them.
“Got it!? If the drums continuously beat in an intense Dododon! Dododon! like just now, it’s the signal for charging. Next we will play the drums for the standby order!”
Shishul, who followed behind him, makes the drums she holds resound with a Don! Dodon! after hearing Garam’s words. Thereupon the running zoan suddenly stopped all at once.
“This is the signal of standing by. — Then, everyone please participate now as well!”
Upon Garam’s words, the dwarves and dinosaurians start walking in groups and enter in-between the zoan. After confirming that everyone had assembled, Garam shouts,
Hearing that, Shishul begins to play the drums.
What they were doing was training for the sake of acting as one upon command.
The ones who obeyed Souma so far had only been the zoan. But now that they had taken Bolnis and absorbed the freed slaves into their force, they were compelled by necessity to consolidate the methods for mobilization upon command.
The rhythms of the drums used for those commands were adopted without change from the ones used by the zoan. The zoan, who lived in the wide plains, possessed the skill to convey surprisingly many various information by just combining the rhythms of playing the drums. Naturally, it’s not as if everybody can learn all of them right away. Currently, they’re limited to having them completely memorize the rhythms for attacking and waiting.
“It’s simple, but there’s no other option but to have their bodies memorise it by repeating it many times over. Sooner or later, they’ll be at the point where their bodies react to the commands before they even understand the rhythm they just heard.”
Garam, who explained it like that to Souma who is standing nearby, gives an instruction with a gesture of his hands. Once he does, Shishul plays the drum with the rhythm of standby.
Thereupon the zoan immediately stood still on the spot. However, the dwarves and dinosaurians that still don’t know the drums’ signal yet end up late as they wonder what the rhythm means, resulting in them finally stopping as well after seeing the response of the zoan. Moreover, once Garam has Shishul play the signal of standby once more, only the dwarves and dinosaurians among the zoan, who don’t take even a single step, start running by reflex and the scenery of them stopping in panic could be seen all over.
“Well, they only started. It’s inevitable.”
To Garam, who smiles wryly, Souma also returned a wry smile.
A rude voice could be heard speaking to Souma from behind.
It was the dinosaurian warrior, Jahangil Hesam Jalji, who lied on his belly on top of an even rock located slightly away from Souma and the others.
“When will the battle start?”
Souma honestly answers to Jahangil who asks with a really sullen voice,
“Yes, we are still waiting for the move of the country called Holmea.”
Jahangil says this as he seemingly has already lost interest again, and widely opens his large mouth with its fangs and yawns. But, a short time later he calls Souma once again, still denouncing him as a brat.
As Souma regards himself as brat to begin with, he doesn’t mind. However, a dangerous aura resembling bloodthirst leaked out of Shahata, who accompanied Souma as his guard, each time he was called brat. While soothing Shahata with a bitter smile, Souma replies frankly,
“What is it?”
Even though he had called out to Souma by himself, Jahangil stayed silent for a short while as if searching for words and then suddenly said,
“… I see. I have heard so as well.”
In reality he had received the warning to be careful around this dinosaurian warrior from Garam and Zurgu. Since both of them, whom Souma believes to be the strongest zoan warriors, have gone as far as saying 「Never get close to that guy when both of us are not present」 in unison, he suspects that Jahangil must be quite the impressive warrior.
“That’s right. I’m strong.”
Seemingly pleased by Souma’s reply, Jahangil opened his nostrils widely and took a rough breath through them.
“Good grief, what’s the deal with that guy…”
Having heard the exchange between Jahangil and Souma behind him, Garam said at a low volume so as to not be heard by the two. Implicitly one can feel his anger of Join the others in the training if you have that much spare time.
Due to that, Zurgu revealed a face with a wry smile as if he already gave up and said,
“He apparently approved of Sir Soma to a certain extent, but he likely won’t abide obediently in the coming events. However, it looks like he’s determined.”
“… What do you mean?”
“Look at his tail.”
Shishul plays the drums of charging.
The tip of his tail fiercely shakes back and forth.
Shishul plays the drums of standby.
The fierce tail movements stopped all of a sudden and then it swayed slowly while waiting for the next drum.
Zurgu lightly shrugs his shoulders as if saying 「I told you, didn’t I?」 as Garam, who’s next to him, muttered that. Getting irritated by that for some reason, Garam revealed a malicious smile.
“As expected of an experienced person. It seems you are pretty clear about your past self, no?”
Zurgu grimaces after Garam took a dig at the time when Zurgu hesitated to follow Souma.
“Don’t say anything stupid. I had a high opinion of Sir Soma from the beginning. — Right, Shishul?”
Shishul, who was asked to agree with her uncle like that, placed a finger against her jaw, pondered for a short while and then said,
“Certainly, uncle valued Sir Soma from the start. At any rate, it was to the extent of him looking forward to how much he would make you cry, Sir Garam, once he stole Sir Soma from the Fang Clan.”
“… Oh. That’s a very interesting story.”
Garam glares at Zurgu.
“S-Shishul! You betrayed me!?”
“Hasn’t it been you, uncle, who told me that I will be able to obtain his real trust if I treat Sir Garam with more respect than my own clan, now that I became Sir Garam’s adjutant?”
This was truly a fine example of not knowing what to say. Shishul, who talked down her uncle, puffed out he small chest towards Garam as if saying 「How about that!?」, however Garam pressed a hand against his forehead, apparently getting a headache, and said,
“Everyone is waiting for the next instruction.”
Noticing her brethren, who are looking her way wondering what happened due to the drums not being played for a long period of time, Shishul played the drums in a fluster.