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“Boy, your memory is really bad～” Muttering that with a voice as if utterly amazed, Solon hit Souma’s head with the textbook in his hand. Souma hung his head without any rebuttal.
Next to him, Shyemul ground her fangs. If not for Souma’s strict instructions, it wouldn’t have been weird for her to have leaped upon Solon long ago, tearing him apart.
“You damned geezer. There’s no need to hit Soma’s head to teach him reading and writing, is there!?” Shyemul said.
Solon snorted lightly, and replied, “Humph! I’m just driving the words into the boy’s head due to its weak memory. I’d like you to at least be thankful.”
Shyemul ran out of patience due to his way of talking. As she bared her fangs with a growl, about to bite into Solon’s windpipe, Souma held her back in a hurry. However, even though he might have really been killed in an instant, Solon, far from acting timid, foolishly laughed at Shyemul who was restrained by Souma. Shyemul ground her fangs in mortification at that.
Most recently, Solon had been visiting the feudal lord’s residence whenever he had some free time.
Then again, if Shyemul was allowed to voice out her opinion, she would put his visits off as “He’s just coming to sponge free booze.” Certainly, it’s a fact that Solon demanded wine at each of his visits. However, just what kind of change in his mental attitude had taken place? Even though he hated it this much before, he was now teaching Souma reading and writing at times.
“Boy, say what you like, isn’t your memory kind of bad? The orphans are much better in this regard.” Solon said.
However, Souma’s studying of writing and reading felt slow and didn’t proceed, obviously surprising Solon.
Even without having this pointed out by Solon, Souma himself fully realized that fact. He managed to memorize the basic 32 characters long ago. However, once it came to forming words by joining them together, Souma reached his limits.
As Souma was at his wit’s end, unable to memorize the words no matter what he did, Eladia showed up while carrying tea utensils.
“Everyone, I have prepared some tea. How about taking a little break?” Eladia asked.
What she had prepared wasn’t the common tea in this world, which only added flavor with herbs and dried flowers, but the zoan-styled tea. Her thoughtfulness of having prepared wine for Solon, who complained that wine was better than tea, was admirable.
Eladia first handed the tea, which she had just brewed, to Shyemul.
“Hmm, I think it’s not bad.” Shyemul said with an unconcerned expression after taking a sip of the tea.
Afterwards Eladia distributed the tea to Souma and Solon, too.
Until now it had been Shyemul’s task to brew the tea for Souma. However, recently Eladia had taken it over.
That happened after Eladia said following, “Watching tea being brewed by Lady Shyemul doesn’t allow me to calm down at all.”
Thinking that she said something weird, Shyemul asked for the reason, and Eladia replied, “Lady Shyemul, you are Lord Soma’s first servant. No, by now it’s no exaggeration to say that you’re one in body and soul. Seeing someone like that doing miscellaneous chores is painful, as it looks as though you’re forced to do so by Lord Soma.”
Because Shyemul was frantically holding back for her mouth to break out in a broad grin due to that, she tightly pursed her lips.
While pretending to be very unwilling about giving up this task, she solemnly announced, “I see. In that case it can’t be helped.”
Zurgu, who happened to be present by coincidence, looked at Garam, who was likewise present, with a very indescribable expression.
“…Don’t say anything.” Garam denied any further comments with a face as if he had chewed a hundred bitter insects all at once.
However, Zurgu continued without minding that, “Isn’t your sister way too easy?”
“That’s why I told you to not say anything, didn’t I!?”
Shyemul, who didn’t notice anything even though the two had that exchange behind her, merrily taught the way how the zoan brew their tea to Eladia. After that it became the task of the elven court ladies around Eladia to brew tea for Souma.
Souma, who slurped the tea poured by Eladia, griped alongside a sigh, “The characters of this world are too difficult. The pronunciation and the characters don’t match at all…”
Solon, who felt challenged after hearing that, frowned. “Haaah? Don’t make up some weird reason for your bad memory, idiot.”
“B-But, the top component of 『Table』 and 『Wall』 consisting of the same 『gare』 character, to me that sounds a bit weird…” Souma tried to reason.
“What are you saying? The top part1 of 『Table』 and 『Wall』 is the same, no?” Solon said.
Both were confused as what they were saying didn’t mesh.
At that point, Eladia, who had been listening to their conversation, lightly furrowed her slender brows.
“Lord Soma, can I have you talk about something slowly?”
As told by Eladia, Souma voiced out some suitable words like “Testing testing.” As he did, obvious bewilderment appeared on Eladia’s face.
“Excuse me, but Lord Soma, just where did you learn those words?”
Being asked this, Souma suddenly realized. Come to think of it, at the time when I had just fallen into this world, I struggled as I didn’t understand Shyemul’s words either, but before I noticed, I became able to talk here normally. It became commonplace during all the business, but considering it very carefully, it’s mysterious.
“You know what I’m talking about, right?”
Once Souma looked at Shyemul as if seeking for help, she bent her head slightly to one side, and said, “I haven’t heard anything from the Elder except her asking the Beast God to have you tied to this world so that you can live. Didn’t you receive the language at that time?”
Shyemul apparently didn’t know either. Even if he wanted to personally ask the Elder, she was currently staying in the village of the Fang Clan since she was at an advanced age. Hence, he couldn’t meet her right away.
Accordingly, he tried asking Eladia who had noticed something.
In response, she first hesitated to speak, seemingly lacking confidence, but after prefacing it with the words, “It’s just my guess, but…” she said, “…Lord Soma, what you are using to talk seems to be the language of the age of gods ― a language used by the gods and their familiar spirits.”
“Language used by the gods?”
“Indeed. ――All the languages in this world are born from and branched off the language of the age of the gods. It’s the essence and origin of all languages. It has been said that you understand any language and can communicate with anyone, if you’re able to use the language of the gods.” Eladia explained.
Souma abruptly remembered. When he bought Dvalin from the slave trader, he was the only who could understand Dvalin’s words inside the carriage on the way to join up with Garam and the others. He didn’t pay much attention to it back then, but thinking back on it now, that might have been because he talked in a language unknown to Shyemul.
Eladia placed a hand on her cheek, and continued with a baffled look, “However, even the oldest of the elders in my village could only speak a few words. I certainly didn’t expect for you to have been so skilled at the language of the gods that you could talk to anyone without feeling any discomfort…”
While listening to that, great joy welled up within Souma’s body.
I got a cheat ability!’
I can talk with anyone in this world, no matter what kind of language they might use. Isn’t that a really wonderful ability? After falling into this world, I have suddenly been on the verge of dying, was given a blessing I can only consider to be a curse, and secretly shed tears about my abysmal misfortune compared to the protagonists of the light novels I read in modern Japan. After coming this far, it’s the language of the gods.
Speaking of gods I met in this world, there’s only that ill-natured goddess. Because of her I had a bad impression about the gods, but it might be fine to revise that a bit, Souma even judged.
“Lord Soma. I think it might be rude, but is it alright for me to try a little something?” Eladia requested.
Once Souma readily consented to her suggestion, she told him that she would like him to tell her what he heard since she was going to say something from now on. Eladia impishly laughed at Souma, who got fired up a bit thinking that he mustn’t miss a single word in that case and tried to focus himself on just listening, and then said, “I’m yearning for you.”
Souma’s face became bright red as if boiling due to the sudden bombshell announcement. Without being concerned by that, Eladia repeated the same thing five more times.
“What did you hear?” Eladia asked.
Her expression clearly tells me that she’s enjoying my reactions, Souma believed. I’m sure she is making fun of me. There’s no way for a beauty like her to have such interests in a child like me. If I accept her words at face value, it will turn into a splendid disgrace. I should reply calmly here.
Depreciating himself like that was very typical for Souma who was unfamiliar with women.
In order to calm his emotions, Souma cleared his throat once, and then replied, “You merely repeated the same thing five times, didn’t you?”
Upon that answer, everyone present looked surprised.
“This is a surprise. At the very least she had been using the elven language and a language of the continent’s center.” Solon commented.
“I had absolutely no idea what she said, but to me it certainly didn’t sound as though she had repeatedly used the same words.” Shyemul supplemented.
Only at this time Shyemul agreed with Solon, somehow forgetting to flare up at him as usual.
Eladia poured cold water on Souma who was somehow deeply moved that he possessed such an amazing ability, “As expected, you can’t identify the different languages by sound, Lord Soma. Isn’t that the reason why you can’t learn reading and writing?”
“…W-What do you mean?” Souma asked in shock.
“Language had no characters during the age of the gods. Characters were born in order to write out language after it branched off the language of the gods and developed, depending on the race and area. For that reason, no matter how much you understand the language of the gods, it looks like you won’t be able to understand characters.” Eladia answered.
Now that she mentioned it, Souma remembered how he was actually in dire distress over learning to read and write right now.
“If you can’t understand the languages’ differences, I think it will be hard for you to learn their respective characters, since they were created containing those differences.” Eladia further explained.
For example, at the time of trying to write the word ringo (apple) in English. Most people would likely be able to recall the spelling apple after temporarily converting it into the pronunciation of appuru (apple). However, for Souma, who heard all languages in the same way, it’s something like suddenly having to recall the spelling apple from the word ringo (apple). This was quite difficult.
Souma sensed how his good impression towards the gods of this world, which was on the verge of finally improving, sharply declined due to this.
Even Solon, who could understand the cause for Souma’s rough time when it came to learning how to read and write, lamented, “With this it will likely become a chore for the boy to learn reading and writing.”
In the end Souma couldn’t learn the languages of this world after this.
In later years it became a famous story that the Divine Son of Destruction Soma Kisaki could speak with emissaries that visited from all kinds of countries and areas without needing interpreters, yet on the other hand, when it came to reading and writing, it was limited to his own name at the most.
Due to both Solon and Souma donning sullen looks, wondering what to do about this, Eladia said with a smile, “Please have a peace of mind, Lord Soma. I am here for you.”
Because Eladia had associated with humans from various areas as a high-classed prostitute, she had learned several languages. Even when restricting it to the ones she could read and write, she said she learned a few languages of the continent’s center in addition to the Deas language which was mainly used in the western regions.
It wasn’t just her knowledge about those languages. Even in Solon’s eyes, there was no room to doubt her loyalty towards Souma. Moreover, he could sense her wisdom in all her words and deeds.
As a person, who will bear the duty to read and write for Souma, she might truly be the most optimal person. However, Solon thought, I feel like she’s too clever.
He had the experience that clever people often omit the useless things for the sake of easily grasping the heart of a matter. However, as far as Solon could see, the boy called Soma had times when he discovered something within things that would be called worthless and useless by others due to his standpoint which was different from them.
Even the other day when I created something that became sodium hydroxide by coincidence, a normal feudal lord would likely show no interest in something accidentally created by an old drunkard. And even if they showed interest in it, they surely wouldn’t come up with an idea on how to use it.
I wonder, isn’t that rather something we ought to be told by this boy exactly because it’s something that might be omitted as unnecessary in our value system?
Once he thought as much, Solon wondered, Isn’t a honesty to the extent of being tactlessly frank more necessary for the person, who will read and write for Soma, than wisdom?
After having reached that conclusion, Solon’s eyes stopped at Shyemul who was timidly sitting close to the wall, probably because she felt alienated as she couldn’t join the conversation.
“Hey, beast girl. Come here for a moment.” Solon beckoned Shyemul over.
“Don’t talk to me, shitty geezer.” However, Shyemul turned him down.
This was the very definition of being unapproachable.
“As a matter of fact, your master has become very troubled.” Solon baited her.
She didn’t want to talk with Solon who irritated her in various ways, but she couldn’t afford to ignore him now that he brought up Souma. She drew near to Solon, asking, “What’s this about?”
“This guy can’t learn reading and writing. This will turn into a problem.” Solon replied.
“Isn’t it no problem even if he can’t read and write?” The zoan are a race that doesn’t possess characters. For this reason, they didn’t feel any inconvenience in not having characters. This was also one of the reasons why the humans slighted the zoan as savage race, but that was yet another story.
Solon exaggeratedly shook his head at Shion who didn’t understand the circumstances.
“Well, in fact it is a problem. A big problem. You zoan don’t know, but humans make promises by using writing. However, the boy won’t be able read those. That will become a very big issue.” Solon explained plainly as if talking to a child, “For example, I tell you to sign a paper because it’s written there that I hand you one cow over. You won’t be able to read the letters. Let’s say you would sign it, believing what I said. However, opposite to what I have said here, it’s written that you hand over ten cows to me.”
“What was that!? You intend to deceive me!? I won’t make any such promises!” Shyemul yelled.
“It was an example, an example! However, in human society you would be asked, Didn’t you sign this? Others would say that it’s your fault as you wrote your name on a contract where something like this was definitely written.” Solon explained.
Shyemul wasn’t fully satisfied with this.
“Just believe me that it’s like that for humans. ――And, that means someone, who can read characters instead of the boy, will be necessary.” Solon further said.
“Hmm, I understand somehow. But, it’s fine as long as there’s a human that can read instead, no?” Shyemul asked back.
“However, at this point yet another problem rears its head. What if the fellow, who can read characters, betrayed the boy?” Solon asked.
“What will happen then?” Shyemul didn’t know.
“Well, of course that person will lie to the boy about what’s written. In that case, the boy will be troubled once more. It’s difficult, isn’t it? In order for it to not turn out like this, the person, who can read characters, has to be someone that can be trusted to never betray the boy.” It was vague, but Shyemul, who comprehended what Solon wanted to say, nodded her head.
Making sure of that, Solon switched the topic while feigning innocence, “By the way, beast girl, I have always thought that your loyalty towards the boy is magnificent.”
“It’s nothing that significant.” Even while placating Solon like this, Shyemul’s nostrils twitched proudly.
“I want to ask one thing of you. Is there someone who won’t betray the boy no matter what happens? Someone where you can say they definitely won’t betray him even if they are begged by their family or the head of their clan, and even if they are threatened.” Solon said.
“In that case, it’s me without any doubt.” Shyemul threw out her chest in pride as if saying “Ahem.”
Souma, who had somehow predicted the outcome, looked at Shyemul with a very complicated expression.
“Ooh, I see, I see. ――Let’s start from writing down the characters first then.” Solon answered.
Shyemul stared in wonder and said, “Eh?”
“First you’re going to write every character twenty times. Once that’s done, I will have you learn simple words.” Solon joyfully prepared pen and paper as well as the character table, which Souma had used for his practice, in front of Shyemul who was confused by the sudden development. Unable to say that she didn’t want to do it after this course of conversation, she stared at Souma with a very miserable face.
“Soooomaa…” Shyemul cried.
“Umm…do your best, Shyemul!” Souma encouraged her.
Even Souma, who fully understood the difficulty of learning the characters, pushed the studying upon Shyemul as if taking advantage of it. Shyemul felt shocked and hung her head due to this betrayal of her Navel Master to whom she swore loyalty.
“Come on, what are you doing? It’s for the sake of the boy. Hurry up and get going!” Solon motivated Shyemul, who was indefinitely staying hesitant, with rough words.
Once he did, Shyemul suddenly lifted her face, and yelled, “You’re right. It’s for Soma!”
Shyemul switched her thinking. Recently I feel inadequate compared to those around me. No matter how much effort I put into it, I fall short in martial arts and knowledge to them. But, I was told that it will be definitely useful for Soma if I learn those characters. Then I swear on my own honor, I will learn them.
Having reached that conclusion, Shyemul tightly grasped the pen.
“Alright! Shitty geezer, I just have to write these twenty times each, right?” Psyching herself up as if heading for the battlefield, Shyemul grasped the pen and faced the paper.
Solon walloped the head of Souma who looked at Shyemul with a smile because he was released from studying.
“Hey, boy! Make sure to be able to at least write your own name!” Solon roared.
In the end it resulted in Souma practicing characters at the table next to Shyemul.
At their side, Solon cut the paper with a knife, bundled it together, and created a booklet by binding it with a string with familiar hand movements.
“Oi, beast girl. Take this.” Solon threw the book to Shyemul.
Catching it, Shyemul tilted her head in confusion, wondering what it was.
“Studying is something where you won’t last unless you believe that you must do it, want to do it yourself. Write whatever you want in this booklet. Make sure to freely write everyday about what you want to do and remember in advance on that day.” Solon instructed Shyemul.
“I see. ――There’s something I want to write about. Please teach me how I can write it.” Shyemul replied.
“Hohohoho! Very well. What is that you want to write about?” Solon asked.
The small booklet in Shyemul’s hands at this time was called one of the biggest discoveries of the modern area when it was found in the distant future. It was reported throughout the world as shocking news as “Shyemul’s Memorandum.”
This “Shyemul’s Memorandum” was regarded as an excessive glorification of the Divine Son of Destruction Soma Kisaki, but assuming one bore that in mind, it was no exaggeration to call it a super first-class document for researching the ancient history of the Seldeas Continent ― and especially the Divine Son of Destruction.
However, what was written on the very first page of this precious document was the following sentence, written in characters that looked like wriggling earthworms, “I will do my best for the sake of Soma.”
It was something very heart-warming, making one imagine the appearance of Shyemul of how she was desperately studying reading and writing.
Solon, who complacently looked at Shyemul studying characters with utmost effort, stretched his hand out for a wine bin to drink some booze with that sight as an appetizer. However, the wine bin that should have been there had vanished, and Solon’s hand grasped empty air.
Looking around him while wondering, Where did my wine go?, Solon’s eyes met with Eladia’s who had nonchalantly cleaned up the wine bin alongside the tea utensils.
Eladia smiled sweetly at him, and said, “Sir Solon, you had enough wine already, right? I have allowed myself to put it away.”
It was Eladia’s blunt revenge for having the heavy responsibility of reading and writing for Souma snatched away from her right in front of her nose.
The head of the financial officials, Michena, arrived at the place where Souma and Shyemul were practicing characters. It was for the sake of giving Souma her regular report about the situation of the financial affairs. Souma stopped the pen in his hand for a while, and carefully listened to her words.
Considering the embezzlement by the previous financial officials, it was a justified measure to obligate Michena to give regular reports.
However, nowadays it has mostly ceased being something formal. It was owed to Michena having already gained this much trust from Souma.
Michena definitely didn’t possess outstanding abilities. However, she was highly evaluated by Souma for her work ethic of managing the financial affairs honestly.
Souma owned calculation abilities that stood out compared to the humans of this world, even if they were limited to his math knowledge as a senior high school student, but being able to calculate and being able to manage financial affairs were two different pairs of shoes. Having been able to discover Michena at an early stage of his rule in the city was doubtlessly a fortune for Souma.
“Umm, these numbers are…――Sorry. I’m still not used to these 『Arabic Numerals』…” Michena lamented as she ended up stumbling over the Arabic numerals many times during her report. Michena, who had closely grown accustomed to Arabic numerals to such an extent, surely believed that to be ground-breaking, but in the end she had a hard time with the numbers.
“You moron!” A rebuke was hurled at Michena. “By just learning a mere ten numbers, you can describe such a great amount of numbers. What else could you use if not these?”
It was Solon who criticized Michena with a very angry look.
He had also been taught the Arabic numerals by Souma in order to teach them at the orphanage, but different to Michena, who was even now struggling with them, he absorbed them at an astounding rate, and had already become capable of teaching them to the orphans.
And it was also Solon who insisted on using the Arabic numerals for the city’s financial affairs.
“B-But, this zero or whatever it’s called, I don’t understand it at all… I mean, it’s nothing, right?” To a modern person it was very common, but Michena apparently couldn’t get used to the concept of zero.
“Nonsense! This zero is actually the very essence of what is called 『Arabic numerals』. It expresses that nothing is nothing. I was even deeply moved then I heard of this! Boy, you’re a genius!” Solon praised Souma without holding back, but unfortunately it hadn’t been him who came up with the idea of zero.
“No, it’s not my idea. If I remember correctly, it was the Indians who invented it, wasn’t it?” He stated while not being completely certain.
“Ooh, I want to meet that Indoman2 person by all means!” Solon exclaimed.
When Souma explained that they were people who lived hundreds of years before Solon was born, Solon felt vexed and only stamped his feet.
After smiling wryly at the disgraceful behavior of the drunkard, Michena put up a serious expression, and brought her report to a finish.
“To be honest, the current situation can’t be called good in any way. Not only did a part of our pioneers disperse, but the wheat tax yields plummeted because we promised tax exemptions and hastened the relocation to new lands. Also, in addition to Jeboa still continuing to beat down the prices of wheat, the successive establishment of new workshops and the investments into glass really hurt our expenses.” Souma looked glum due to Michena’s honest report. However, the report didn’t finish at that. “But, the stock-farming of cows and the cultivation of soya beans, which we had the new pioneers start, are proceeding well. And I was told by Sir Yoash that he’d like to soon have an audience with you, Lord Soma, about not only glass, but also soap and distilled liquor.”
As expected of the “Big Simpleton of the Shapiro Company.” He has sharp ears, Souma smiled wryly.
“Alongside his request for an audience, he sent a large amount of money as a deposit for the purchase of glass. However, no matter how you look at it, it’s too much. It’s very likely a prior investment into soap and distilled liquor. Sir Yoash seems to be anticipating that those products will sell quite well.” At that point Michena’s expression loosened up. “The harsh situation will likely continue for a good while. But, if you allow me to voice out my personal opinion, it feels very pleasant right now.”
She apparently felt that it was quite worthy to be able to participate in Souma’s effort to launch a new power in this city of Bolnis.
And, that applied all the more to Souma.
“Okay, thanks. ――For now there’s still a long way to go, but sooner or later it will end in a country. On top, I want to aim for it to be a major power of established reputation.” Michena warmly smiled at those words of Souma. Shyemul nodded repeatedly.
However, as if to blow away the atmosphere which was wrapped up in a gentle delight, a laughter could be heard.
“Uhyahyahyahya! Country? A major power at that? This is a blast!”
It was Solon.
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