The news that General Darius had been defeated in the outskirts of Bolnis spread like a wildfire, shocking everyone who heard them.
The current location is a slum located in the suburbs of Holmenian, the Royal Capital of Holmea—
It’s a plot of land that is always wrapped up by thickly humid air due to a large river that runs through the entire capital, criss crossing the area. Because the area floods each time the river swells, it’s an area that’s long been avoided by people.
In such a region, lies that small slum.
Farmers who lost their land. Criminals who were banished from the city. Refugees who escaped their homes for various reasons. The types of people living in that area were manyfold.
And, as if making the chaotic spread of its residents apparent, even the townscape is a disarrayed jumble.
The miserable shacks, which were built by patching together any building materials that could be found on hand, have various shapes, sizes and colors, without any sense of cohesion. Complex and complicated paths weave their way in-between the many houses, just as if it were a labyrinth.
Laughter reverberated from within an old thatched hut-like building located around the centre of the slum.
“Aha ha ha ha! This is a surprise! Yeah, that got me really good!”
Contrary to its partially slanted exterior, the thatched hut’s interior had been constructed properly. The furnishings installed are simple, but by putting priority on practicality, there’s not too much nor too little furniture.
What stood out especially in the shack is a bookshelf installed by one of the walls. Letters, wooden slates, and scrolls in various languages have been lined up in an orderly manner on the shelves
A single youth was literally rolling about with laughter inside that thatched hut.
“They really won! They really won against that Darius!”
The young man bangs the soles of his feet in front of the letter depicting the details of Darius’ defeat, which was spread out on top of the floorboards, in exchange for the arms he had lost.
“Hey! You were surprised as well, right Damia?”
The one being called out to is a woman with a tall figure whose fiery red hair had been gathered into a single plait, streaming down her back. Makinga slightly wry face, Damia asked her master,
“Sir Tutu, hasn’t it been in vain for you to curry favor with General Darius until now with things having turned out like this?”
“Ah, yeah. I guess so.”
Because they sold their services after getting close while using any kind of trick available, they were appointed to jobs that can’t be spoken about in public. The hardships to reach that point weren’t ordinary either. However, all of it has come to nothing with Darius losing his standing.
“Darius having fallen is painful. It’s truly the height of bitterness, I guess.”
But, considering all that, Tutu’s expression was cheerful.
“However, I can’t help fancying this guy’s side rather than Darius. Ahhh, just what kind of guy is he? I wonder what’s going on in that guy’s head? Yeah. I’m thrilled. I’m very, very excited!”
Damia sighs as if being utterly fed up due to her master’s disgraceful behavior.
“It’s wonderful that you are enjoying yourself so much, but how do you plan to proceed from now on?”
Upon Damia’s question, Tutu abruptly stops laughing.
And then his thread-like thin eyes shone sharply like a bird of prey that found its target as he said,
“Investigate everything about this guy. Name, face, height, physique, hobbies, preferences, birthplace, personal history as well as his words and deeds. — And that’s not all. What did he eat on that day? What alcohol does he drink? With what kind of of woman does he sleep? When does he take a dump? Everything. Find out all of it.”
“Will it be fine with only that much?”
Damia implicitly proposes that she’s capable of going even further. However, Tutu shook his head.
“As of yet, it’s too early. But, get ready so that we can make a move at any time.”
After receiving various additional detailed orders, Damia bowed to Tutu and left the thatched hut to prepare for her mission.
Having been left behind by himself, Tutu bends himself over the letter spread out on the floor and stares at its content with an intense concentration.
What was written there is the name of the person who led the rebels, as it was in the process of circulating throughout Holmea from the soldiers that managed to return alive.
“…『Divine Son of Destruction』, just what kind of person are you?”
There’s still no one who could have answered Tutu’s question.
And in the border city located next to the river separating Holmea and Romania—
A soldier on a kiryu rushed through the city, leaving a large cloud of dust in his wake.
“Somehow it’s quite noisy today, isn’t it?”
The peddler Hopkins, who bought dried crimson glory vine at a street cart, grumbled while wiping off the dust that had fallen on his shoulders.
“That ain’t no wonder. After all, even the soldiers are startled out of their wits.”
Due to the cart owner speaking as if he knows something, Hopkins asked while receiving the bag full of dried crimson glory vines,
“Did something happen?”
“It’s just between you and me, but according to a soldier who frequently visits us—”
With that as preface, he lowered his voice, obviously minding his surroundings, and said,
“You won’t believe it, but he said that Sir General Darius lost a battle close to a city called Bolnis. Man, even I was shocked after hearing that!”
“That Sir General Darius did? Really?”
Even Hopkins couldn’t believe such sudden news.
“Yeah, yeah, it’s true, really. After a fast messenger arrived two days ago bringing the news, new messengers arrive here almost every day.”
Besides that, the cart owner spoke about Bolnis having been occupied by slaves, that the one leading those slaves is a dreadful divine child of death and destruction and about Darius losing his standing.
Seemingly unable to endure his pressing urge to talk to someone, the cart owner chattered about various topic to Hopkins without even asking him a single thing.
Hopkins paid for the dried crimson glory vine after adding several copper coins as thanks, and turned his feet towards his covered wagon where he made his wife and child wait. Returning to the wagon, he calls out to the canopy-covered load-carrying tray, causing his wife to peek out from within with an anxious and gloomy look. While examining the surroundings, his wife asked him,
“Say, dear. It looks like the soldier from just now was in quite a rush; you don’t say…”
She didn’t voice out the next words, but Hopkins understood what his wife wanted to say even without.
She’s frightened, wondering whether we wouldn’t be chased by soldiers trying to arrest us if someone discovered that we cooperated with the zoan.
Hopkins intentionally puts up a cheerful expression, trying to give his wife a peace of mind.
“It looks like that’s not it. It seems that the people of Bolnis managed to win against Sir General Darius.”
“Against that Sir General Darius?”
“Yeah. That appears to be the reason for the soldiers’ mad rush.”
Hopkins climbed on the driver’s seat while saying “Yo-heave-ho!”
“Dear, what are you going to do? Go back?”
“No, let’s head to Romania, just as planned. I think it’s still alright, but I don’t know whether we will be found out sooner or later. — Besides, there’s the matter I was entrusted with by that kid.”
Suddenly a young boy showed up next to his wife, who heaved a small sigh due to Hopkins’ reply.
“Mum, Dad, tell mee, ish uncle Sshahata going to bee fine?”
Their son, who had become emotionally attached to the zoan who took care of them during the time they had been hostages, asked with a lisp. Thereupon Hopkins stores the dried crimson glory vine away and gently caresses his son’s head.
“Yeah, I’m sure he’s fine.”
Once again he stroked the head of his son who smiles happily due to his answer.
After that Hopkins whips the buttocks of the niryu once, causing the covered wagon to advance slowly.
While sitting on the rattling driver’s seat, Hopkins thought back about the things he had heard from the cart owner some time ago.
“『Divine Son of Destruction』, eh…? He didn’t look like such scary child to me at all, though.”
And, also in the royal palace of a neighboring country—
Even though it’s winter, a carpet of flowers are blooming profusely in the royal palace’s garden.
Flowers bloom here throughout the year. Each season, new ones are transplanted for the sake of the princess loved by Romania’s king.
A courtier arrived at the location of the elderly king, who is narrowing down his eyes and smiling as he watches the very young princess frolicking around among the flowers, showing an innocent smile.
“Your Majesty. There’s something urgent I need to inform you about…”
“What boorish fellow you are. Is it something so pressing that you would disturb mine and the princess’ relaxation time?”
The courtier brings his mouth close to the ear of the elderly king.
“A rebellion of sub-human slaves in Holmea, you say? Moreover, General Darius, who headed out to subjugate the uprising, was defeated!?”
“Indeed, Your Majesty. It seems that fellow, who defeated that Darius, calls himself 『Divine Son of Destruction』.”
“I see. — Call everyone together at once.”
Seeing off her father who left the flower garden while saying so, the small princess muttered the word she had just heard by chance, as it seemed to weigh on her mind for some reason.
“… 『Divine Son of Destruction』?”
In the royal palace of a small country where all kinds of intrigues were converging—
Even though it was illuminated by bright sunshine through the widely opened window, the currently occupied room was somehow filled with a gloomy atmosphere.
A youth is facing a wooden board hung on the wall with undivided attention. The stucco that was painted on the wooden board just a while ago was still in a state of being half-dried. The youth has drawn a beautiful landscape painting with the stucco by using colorants with a paintbrush and even his fingers.
Before the youth realized, the figure of a person bowed their head, kneeling in the darkness of a corner of the room.
“An emergency report arrived from the 『Source』 in Holmea.”
“What happened? Speak.”
The youth referred to as ‘Your Majesty’ keeps moving his hand without rest even during that conversation.
“There’s an uprising by the zoan and slaves in Holmea’s western city, Bolnis. The punitive force of 7,000 soldiers led by General Darius, which headed out to suppress this revolt, has…”
The youth dips his little finger into red colorant mixed with water and is about to paint that on top of the stucco.
“—Against a fellow calling himself 『Divine Son of Destruction』, they suffered a crushing defeat where they lost more than half of their soldiers.”
Shaking his little finger, the colorant turned into drops and fell on the stucco.
For a short while the youth gazed at the red drops that fell upon the stucco, but after letting out a single click of the tongue, he tosses the painted board on the ground. The dried stucco was smashed to pieces and scattered on the floor after the board hit the ground with a loud bang.
“For that Darius to have been defeated…”
The youth stands up from his chair and wipes the colorant off his fingers with a cloth situated on top of a nearby table.
“As for the narrow-minded Warius; I guess he had Darius demoted?”
“It’s exactly as you concluded. Darius, who suffered King Warius’ disfavor, was deprived of his rank as general and his privilege to participate in the court council.”
The youth covered his mouth with a hand, suppressing his laughter. The colorant sticking to his fingers dirties his cheek, but the youth pays no heed to that.
“What a fool you are, Warius. Darius is a color that cannot be absent in the picture depicting Holmea. Isn’t it impossible to draw a beautiful painting if you remove the important color serving as the first layer?”
The youth slovenly wrote up several letters with his hands still smeared by paint. Then he takes the candle off a candle stand, spills its hot wax on those letters and applies his seal by pressing the seal ring on his finger into the wax.
“Deliver these to the 『Sources』 in Holmea and Romania.”
Once the youth threw the letters on the floor, a figure appeared from within the darkness of the room and squirmed on the ground like a bug. And then, when the figure picked up the letters from the floor, it once again disappears into the darkness of the room after reverently holding those letters with both hands.
Making certain of that with his own eyes, the youth muttered,
“『Divine Son of Destruction』, huh? —Let’s see what kind of color it is…”
At the ocean—
A big island within the Beness Bay, located to the south of the Ocean Commercial State Jiboa.
That island, which was surrounded by a belt of reefs, is known as a perilous pass which can’t be approached easily by ship.
The figure of a single girl was visible on one of the reefs surrounding that island.
Even though it was still the cold season, where a chilly northern wind is blowing violently and where the water is piercingly freezing, the girl doesn’t wear a single piece of cloth to protect against the cold and only covers her breasts with a wide, leather belt that had shells sewn on it like the scales of a fish. Moreover, her hips, which she lowered on the wave-covered reef, are even now below sea level.
Ocean water trickles down from her silver hair that was tied up into a ponytail. She had an appearance making it obvious that she had just now emerged from the sea, but even so, without showing an inkling of being bothered by the cold, she directly gazed in the direction of the distant land.
Suddenly the girl puts her hands on the trident she had placed on the reef.
“… Elder sister. So you are over here. I was looking for you.”
The one who had her head peek out in-between the waves is a little girl that gives an impression of being slightly younger than the girl. The girl that she called elder sister separated her hand from the trident, and asked the little girl a question,
“Is something wrong?”
“Her Majesty is calling. I hear slaves of various races decently raised the standard of revolt against the humans or something along those lines.”
The girl widened her eyes slightly, but as if comprehending right away, she heaved a little sigh.
“So it finally happened, huh…?”
It’s something the girl had foreseen a while ago.
The persecution against the other races by the humans taking place on land and its relentlessness was something that made the girl frown from just the few stories that reached her ears.
It’s impossible for the other races to endure that injustice forever. Sooner or later, there will definitely come a time when all of them simultaneously rise against the humans, she thought.
However, the girl is astonished by the next words of her younger sister.
“But it appears that a human is leading that revolt.”
“A human? No way. You are saying that a human fought against the humans while leading the various races?”
Upon the girl slightly shaking her head sideways as if saying that she can’t believe that, her younger sister continues,
“Yes. They say it’s a human calling himself 『Divine Son of Destruction』 who possesses terrifying powers.”
“『Divine Son of Destruction』, you said…?”
Her heart throbbed furiously in surprise.
Even though it was a name she heard for the first time, her heart beat wildly for some reason.
The younger sister looked curiously at the girl who had suddenly sank into silence.
“… Sister? What’s wrong?”
“—! No, it’s nothing.”
Answering quickly as if to cover up the state she was in, the girl wiped away her idle thoughts with a little shake of her head and picked up the trident.
“Anyway, let’s go to Her Majesty the Queen.”
As she said so, the girl slid off the reef and dove into the sea. Her younger sister submerges her head into the sea in order to follow after her.
After the girl and her younger sister vanished into the sea, for a mere instant something like the tail fin of a huge fish became visible between the waves, but that also sunk below the sea level at once.
In a country full of hot sand—
That person woke up due to the talking voices audible from above.
It’s the rowing area of a galley that’s enveloped by stuffy hot air and an offensive smell.
Through peep holes and gaps in the deck above some rays of sunlight illuminate the dim rowing area in a spherical shape. While being tied by chains in the same manner as the slaves in the surroundings, that person slept like a log as they lean against an oar.
The thick chains tying down their huge build resound with a jangling as that person shifts their attention to above – the origin of the talking voices. Once that person did, they caught a glimpse of the sailors through the gaps of the planks talking while standing on the deck.
“—leave. With Holmea—slave revolt—that’s what I heard.”
“That’s—so, that guy—what is said.”
That person listened carefully for a short while to the conversation of the sailors, which was only audible in disconnected parts.
It looks like slaves of various races caused a rebellion against the human country with the port we are heading for next. Furthermore, they seem to have succeeded in their rebellion, gaining total control over a single city.
However, that person immediately lost interest in that.
I have been a slave by birth. I don’t know any other way of life. There’s no way that I can succeed as anything but a slave. It’s a story that has nothing to do with me.
That was no resignation.
For that person it was nothing more than a proven fact.
Believing that they have to prepare for the next departure by resting their body as much as possible for now, that person once again leaned their body against the oar blackened with dirty marks.
“—is,–divine child—what did you say!”
While entrusting their body to the immediately arriving lull of sleepiness, that person unconsciously voiced out the words of the sailors they heard moments ago,
“…『Divine Son of Destruction』.”
At last, on the soil of the Empire, located in the far-away center of the continent—
“Hey, did you hear!? It seems there was a sub-human rebellion in the western regions of the continent.”
As the young knight, who entered the room without any greetings, rattled on in such a manner, a young man, seemingly of the same generation, dons an expression as if having swallowed a bitter pill.
“Don’t you know the word ‘manners’!? Just what the hell are you on about all of a sudden?”
However, without minding that, the young knight, who suddenly plunged into the room, sits down on a chair as he pleases. He pours out some alcohol from a jar placed on the table into a cup, without even asking for permission.
It’s an overbearing behavior, but the young man only sighed as if he was fed up with it.
“It’s just as I expected after all. I was convinced that it would happen in due time! In the first place, it’s a mistake to allow the priests of the Holy Faith to meddle with the country’s affairs!”
The young man looks at the young knight, who keeps talking one-sidedly, in resignation.
“So, just what are you telling me to do about this?”
The young knight, whose face brightened up as if having only waited for those words, drains down the alcohol and slams the cup on the table.
“Of course this is about reforming this rotten Empire with our own hands!”
Due to the young knight’s cheeks blushing in excitement and not drunkenness, The young man shrugged his shoulders as if saying “Good grief.”
“For heaven’s sake—if you speak of this to anyone else, you will be sacked due to treason.”
“Of course it’s something I would only tell you.”
The young man protests with “Just when did I became your friend?”, but in return it results in him being asked “We are friends, aren’t we?” by the young knight.
While it’s something that takes place each time they meet, the young man, who realized that it’s useless no matter what he says to this person, reluctantly decides to get on with the topic.
“Let’s set aside the matter of our Empire. Do you really believe that the influence of a slave revolt in the far, distant western region is going to reach this Empire as well?”
“Of course it will!” The young knight declares in response to the young man’s question. “The influence of the guy who caused this rebellion will definitely spread to the centre of the continent! I have no doubt that a terrible chaos is upon us!”
After having finished saying what he wanted to say up until this point, the young knight suddenly began to tilt his head to the side in doubt.
“Huh? Umm, I wonder, what was it? The guy who caused this rebellion. What was he called…?”
While letting his look wander through the air for a while, the young knight probed his memories. Suddenly his face lightens up.
“Ah, yeah! It’s 『Divine Son of Destruction』!”
Like this the world finally got to know about the 『Divine Son of Destruction』.
On the hill in the outskirts of Bolnis where Souma and Darius had their showdown.
Uncountable burial mounds are lined up in an orderly manner on that hill, which is illuminated by the pale light of the full moon that had ascended high into the sky. Each of those mounds had an abandoned sword or spear stuck upright into the soil.
It’s a gravesite.
The many soldiers fallen in the decisive battle over Bolnis sleep an eternal rest there.
The hill was wrapped up in silence that seemed to be lording over the deceased.
However, it’s an odd silence where one can’t hear the sound of the wind or the chirping of any insects. Without even the squeak of a mouse, the entire hill seemed to be afraid of something.
A single bluish-white flame suddenly lit up above the burial mounds within that silence.
It’s a will-o’-the-wisp.
Taking that as a start, will-o’-the-wisps appeared all over the hill. And then, being illuminated by the will-o’-the-wisps dancing on top of the burial mounds, as if emulating a candle night, a white figure appears.
“Aaah! My cute, cute Souma!”
It’s a single little girl wearing a plain, white dress.
That little girl widely spreads her arms and dances among the will-o’-the-wisps by whirling around and around.
“The world finally became aware of you! But, this is yet nothing but the beginning. Your name will spread and become much, much more famous. Alongside terror! Alongside fury! Alongside despair! Alongside hatred!”
As if being drawn into the little girl’s outstretched arms, the bluish-white will-o’-the-wisps that are floating on the battlefield are attracted.
If one were to look from right above on this place at this time, they would likely be able to see a vortex of bluish-white flames centered around the little girl. Clad by countless bluish-white flames, the little girl spins her words as if singing.
“My kind Souma. You will likely save many people! My clever Souma. You will likely enrich many people! But, in the end you will be definitely betrayed. You will be betrayed by this world. At that time the eggshell called the false hero will break and the real you will be released from within!”
A smile cracks open widely within the little girl’s white face.
“You will definitely become a legend. You will become a legendary person feared by everyone!”
The little girl bent her white throat back, releasing a cackling.
“Aah! I wonder how dreadful are going to be. I wonder how repulsive you are going to be. My cute Souma! My beloved Souma! My terrifying Soumaaaa!!”
—However, the world still doesn’t know of his true dreadfulness.
“Yeah, yeah, I mean I don’t give a fuck even if you tell me that it’s unreasonable, Soma-sama. I just gotta go for it for as long as I can, right?”
A woman with freckles all over her cheeks grumbles.
“Lad! You are a funny one!”
An elder with a white beard laughs loudly.
“Aaaaaah. I wanna eat delicious stuff…”
A boy says with his cheeks stuffed full with bread.
Souma tries to amass his power in the city of Bolnis in preparation for the battle against Holmea expected to take place in the near future. Is his knowledge going to bring development or turmoil to Bolnis?