Chapter 1 – Story 15: Decision

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T/N: Change – God of Creation -> Creator


“Aura? Aura, you say…?”

“I never heard of such a god.”

“However, that’s without doubt a seal.”

The zoans at the place were perplexed.
Faintly shining on Souma’s forehead is certainly a seal that indicates him as a divine child. However, the shape of it doesn’t belong to the Seven that everyone knows of. Furthermore, they had never heard of the Goddess Aura of Death and Destruction that Souma just mentioned. They were wondering whether it was a joke or a fabricated story, but with Shyemul’s intense agitation over the issue, the zoans present sensed that it’s not simply a trivial matter.

“Aura is a great goddess older than The Seven.” (Elder)

The Elder suddenly appeared while saying so.
While gathering the attention of all zoans present, she walks towards Souma, with her cane making a clacking sound.

“She’s the goddess that attends to the last moments of all living creatures, great and small. She’s the goddess who witnesses the last moments of every single creature. She’s the goddess who is mother and elder sister, and is solely feared and honored by The Seven. She is the goddess that killed the Creator, and gave birth to The Seven..” (Elder)

The zoans are shocked about the existence of this goddess, this being the first time they hear of her. Until now, the pantheon that they knew of consisted only of the Creator, whose death gave birth to The Seven that included the God of Beasts, the deity that they revere. With this news about the existence of a goddess that killed the Creator overturning their common sense, their astonishment about this is unfathomable.

“Is that the truth, Elder…?”

Garam asked, in a state of shock.
Even Garam had never heard a story about such a goddess. However, the one talking about it is the Elder, the shrine maiden of rituals and the storyteller of the clan. It wouldn’t be strange for her to possess information that’s unknown to the rest of the clan, but the details being so far removed from common sense meant he wasn’t able to consent to this without confirming it first.
The Elder arrived at Souma’s location and pointed at Souma’s forehead with the tip of the cane she held in her hands.

“I have been taught about this by the previous storyteller. 『It’s a crest that looks like two snakes have entwined upon each others bodies and are biting the other’s tail while wriggling. That is Goddess Aura’s crest. You must not give praise to Aura. You must not speak about Aura. You must not allude to Aura. You must not know about Aura. That’s because that goddess is the one ruling over death and destruction』, I was told.” (Elder)

Once the Elder turned around to the clan members, she told them this completely as it was a ghost story while revealing an evil smile.

“In the end, she is the goddess that is singing in the ruins, dancing on the top of mountains of corpses and scattering death in her wake. That is Aura, the Goddess of Death and Destruction. This child is the divine son of that Aura.” (Elder)

On top of gods being a reality unlike modern Japan, it’s also a society that believes in various superstitions since a scientific civilization hasn’t developed yet.
In addition to that, the old and wrinkled Elder looks like a monkey mummy. Experiencing the realistic performance of the Elder, the weak hearted women and children screamed.

“I-It’s because of this guy! This guy has brought ruin upon us!”

A single zoan shouted that in a state of panic.
Hearing that, the zoans noisily pull back from Souma. All of them had expressions of dread due to Goddess Aura, whom they had just learned about, and her divine son, Souma.
However, fear changes into rejection and rejection changes into rage.
Presently, they were convinced that Souma was the reason for all the misfortune that has befallen the Fang Clan. In the currently helpless situation, the warriors who can’t find a means to resolve it and had nothing to point their fury towards found a scapegoat. They unsheathed their machetes, swiftly signaled each other with their eyes and tried to attack him all at once.

“Cease! I told you, right? This fellow is the divine son of the Goddess of Death and Destruction. If you kill him, we might be visited by any kind of calamity.” (Elder)

Due to the Elder’s words, the warriors withdrew with frightened expressions.
The Elder turned around to Souma and smiled broadly. She then whispered to Souma with a voice that could only be heard by Shyemul, who was next to him.

“Ka ka ka, maybe I made them afraid of you a bit too much.” (Elder)

“… Elder.” (Shyemul)

Shyemul was stunned to the Elder acting like a child who isn’t shy of mischief.
However, it’s true that a mood of overvaluing Souma had been born between the zoans thanks to to that.
The gist of it was along the lines of “I don’t understand it properly, but him being the divine child of such an outrageous goddess.. doesn’t that mean that he’s somehow amazing?”
That kind of thinking didn’t hit the mark whatsoever due to its vagueness, but that vague part also served to stir up everyone’s imagination all the more. Souma had become an enormous monster in their minds.

“Youngster, are you really the divine child of that… umm, Goddess of Death and Destruction?” (Garam)

Souma strongly nods at Garam’s question.

“Are we able to win?” (Garam)

“If you guys are really proud warriors, as Shyemul says.” (Souma)

“Can we truly achieve victory if we follow what a bastard like you tells us…?” (Garam)

“You can!” (Souma)

Souma declared.
It’s unknown whether it was a mere coincidence or a meagre blessing sent to the divine child by the goddess. At that moment, a strong northern wind swept over the area all of a sudden, and the bonfire immediately burns brightly. It’s then blown up, turning into a pillar of flames.
In addition, the shadow that grew from below Souma’s feet, totally flickered as if it was a huge monster dancing in ecstasy.

“Aura… Aura!”

“Aura, Goddess of Death and Destruction!”

The superstitious elderly, overwhelmed by fear, started to pray to the goddess. The warriors instinctively took a step backwards to distance themselves from Souma.
Garam shut his eyes and looked up to the sky.
Oh great God of Beasts! Is this your honourable will?
Oh spirits of our ancestors! Is this your guidance?
As if answering those voiceless questions of Garam, Shyemul’s voice was faintly audible.

“Brother…” (Shyemul)

Even though I told her to not call me elder brother in front of our brethren for the sake of drawing a clear line between official and private business, she’s likely feeling quite shaken by this turn of events. Once he considers that, his lips suddenly form a smile.
How interesting, he thought.
It’s the first time for my sister to be engrossed by a man this much. Because she’s prouder than anyone else, she didn’t let anyone get close to her. But, he’s a man my sister tried to help to the extent of being on the verge of risking her very life.
Once you look at it, it’s probably not a love between man and woman. But that guy did obtain the tremendously lucky achievement of capturing the heart of my sister, who didn’t deem anyone acceptable.
It might actually be interesting to take part in these fortuitous achievements.
Making up his mind to do so, Garam suddenly opened his eyes widely.

“Very well, youngster! By the name of Garam, the son of Garguss, and this Fang Clan, one of the twelve zoan clans, let us obey what a mongrel like you tells us!” (Garam)

Voices verging on screams arise from the zoans.

“Clan chief, please think it over!”

“Yeah! Something like us proud zoan warriors following a human!”

Even though multiple warriors talked at the same time, trying to urge the chief to change his mind, Garam asked them in reverse,

“In that case, oh warriors, is there anyone amongst you who can boast of being able to retake the village like that youngster?” (Garam)

To say nothing about the adult warriors, even the youths, who were filled with power until yesterday, avert their eyes with embarrassed faces.

“Look’s like there’s no one. However, that youngster is saying that he’s able to do that.” (Garam)

Garam flung off the mask called clan chief, and, showing a smile as the truculent beast 《Ferocious Fang》, the strongest warrior of the Fang Clan, he said to Souma,

“But, youngster! Resign yourself at the time when we were unable to win! I will tear off your limbs and gouge out your intestines myself!” (Garam)

Even while feeling as if he has his consciousness blown away by the raging bloodthirst that made the one directed at him by the zoan warriors a gentle breeze, Souma somehow managed to stand his ground and nod powerfully.

◆◇◆◇◆

Assembling the warriors around the bonfire, Garam decided to listen to Souma’s speech.
The warriors, who are afraid of Souma, try not to get close to him. Meanwhile, Shyemul clings closely to Souma as she tries to protect him from the warriors in reverse. This leads to a scene that looks as if Souma and Shyemul are facing off against Garam’s warriors.
As he was basked in the attention of the zoans, Souma conveyed his thoughts while choosing his words as carefully as possible.
It was only natural, but the warriors had a backlash against Souma’s speech. You could even say that they were enraged. Souma’s proposal was something running counter to their pride as warriors.
But the one who salvaged the situation in the end was Shyemul.

“If you are saying that we can win with this, I’m all for it.” (Shyemul)

If that’s said by 《Noble Fang》 who’s the proudest among them, it’s difficult for the warriors to object. However, notwithstanding, there were still some who kept hesitating.

“How could we act so cowardly!? Dying would be much better!”

Suddenly, something was thrown at the face of the young warrior who said that.

“Pfffft! W-Wh-What are you doing!?”

Once he removed the thing stuck to his face with his hand, it was a cloth dyed pitch black. When he checks the direction from where the cloth came from to look at the perpetrator of such a rude act, the one he found was the Elder.

“Then it will be fine fine to cover your mouth with that.” (Elder)

That cloth was something covering the mouths of the deceased, according to zoan custom. The zoans believed that the souls of the people were called to the God of Beast’s location after they die, leaving through the mouth. However, it’s said that when the corpse is left alone after the soul has left, an evil spirit in the shape of a bug would enter through the mouth and do awful things with the corpse. Therefore, by covering the mouths of the deceased with a cloth which was dyed black through a sap that bugs hate, it acts as something to keep away the evil spirits.
If you talk about the standard image of ancient ghosts in Japan, there’s always a triangular kerchief (it’s items called “paper triangle worn over the forehead” and “paper caps”) placed on the head of the deceased at the time of them being cremated. As something resembling that custom, having the mouth covered with a black cloth is the standard image for ghosts and apparitions for the zoans.

“I see. If dying is so much better, does that mean it will be fine for you to turn into a departed spirit by dying from the very start?” (Shyemul)

The first who reacted to the Elder’s prank was Shyemul. She covers her own mouth with a black cloth and shows it to Souma while asking 「Does it suit me?」 Souma, who doesn’t know about the standard image of ghosts among zoans, ends up being troubled with how he should react. There’s no way for the zoans present to nitpick the things their divine child does, thus he turns his sight towards Garam as if imploring him.

“Give up. Nothing will change even, if I did say something.” (Garam)

Hearing that, it’s Shyemul who took offense.

“《Ferocious Fang》, doesn’t that make me look like a complete blockhead in this situation?” (Shyemul)

“Indeed, 《Noble Fang》. I cannot help but worry about you, as clan chief and as elder brother. You had better check what kind of expressions the clanmates, who heard your words, made.” (Garam)

When Garam said so while assuming a solemn air, the clanmates, who happened to be present, all at once turned away their faces from Shyemul.

 


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