“Uhyahyahyahya! Country? A major power at that? This is a blast!”
The one laughing out loudly like that was Solon, who had been drinking the wine which he got back from Eladia after Souma intervened, in little sips. His face was red due to the alcohol, and his articulation didn’t work all that well. It was apparent that he was severely drunk.
“Now listen, boy. A country is supported by three pillars.” Solon said.
“T-Three pillars, you say?” Souma stammered.
However, for some reason Souma was overpowered by the words of that drunken old man.
Solon thrust out his right hand in front of Souma’s face and raised only his index finger, “Indeed. The first one is the pillar of『Fortune』. This isn’t represented by just gold and silver treasures, but the power of everything, including productivity. No matter what bright idea one might have, without property it’s impossible to realize it. No matter how powerful the army might be, it won’t be able to fight on empty stomachs. That’s the exact reason why 『Fortune』 is the first pillar.”
Next Solon raised his middle finger, “The second pillar is the pillar of 『Military』. This represents one’s military force. Even if one has the pillar of 『Fortune』, without 『Military』 they will be merely devoured by another country. Also, 『Military』 can only exist for the first time when having 『Fortune』. Therefore, these first and second pillars become indispensable for a country. If these two pillars exist, a country will become somewhat feasible. However, if your aim is to become a new major power, you can’t lack the third pillar. Namely, the one you’re missing right now, boy.”
“What’s the third pillar then?” Souma reflexively leaned forward.
Solon raised a third finger, his ring finger, “The pillar of 『Trust』.”
Souma still didn’t understand the meaning of those words, but for some reason they strongly reverberated within Souma’s heart.
Next to Souma, who partly looked dumbfounded, Shyemul flared up at Solon, “Not having trust, don’t blurt out such fucked up things! I trust Soma! The zoan warriors have approved of Soma’s authority as well!”
“That doesn’t encompass the level of personal trust of you and the zoan, girly.” Solon cut down Shyemul’s rebuttal with a single stroke. “『Trust』 connects the people with the country. If you have 『Fortune』 without 『Trust』, the people will greedily devour 『Fortune』, and it will become a trigger for disputes. Even if you might have 『Military』, it will become foolhardy, undermine authority, and pointlessly create enemies. Even if it’s possible to create it with just two pillars, it won’t be stable, just like the legs of an incense burner and a jar. Only after putting all three pillars together, will a country gain stability for the first time.”
“How do you obtain that 『Trust』 pillar then?” Souma asked.
Solon answered concisely, “Through law.”
Upon Souma parroting him with a murmur of “Law?”, Solon nodded once and continued his words, “A king demonstrates his justice through the law, clarifying the rewards and punishments. By having the justice exemplified, the people will know the direction they should head for. If they know that they will be righteously rewarded and punished, the people will advance while observing the law.
Indeed, you might have established the great cause of founding a country where all races can live equally. However, nothing will happen by just shouting that with a loud voice. Look closely at the city! Do you think the different races can live together equally? Do you!? This is no more than them being together in the same place.”
Solon’s words truly sounded painful to Souma.
Currently the city of Bolnis was simply using Holmea’s law without change. If it came to races other than the humans, he had been entrusting it to the individual discretion of those that had become the representatives of the respective race. That was the true state of affairs.
“So I must create new laws, right?” Souma asked.
“Of course. However, just making them bears no meaning. If you’re trying to truly obtain the pillar of 『Trust』…” Having said this much, Solon suddenly hesitated to go on.
“…? If I’m trying to obtain it, then what?” Souma questioned Solon with a puzzled look.
In response Solon avoided meeting his gaze for some reason, “Ah, no…umm. Hey, don’t take me seriously. It’s just the rambling of a drunkard. Just nonsense. Uhahaha! Looks like I drank a bit too much. Excuse me for my rudeness.” It was a discomposed manner of speaking, unthinkable from how he firmly had talked to Souma until then.
Even when Souma repeatedly asked him to let him hear the rest, Solon dodged the topic and never explained beyond that. Not just that. Seemingly shrinking back from Souma, who insistently kept asking him, he left on that day as if running away, and stopped showing his face in the feudal lord’s mansion in the days after.
“Yo, old man. Recently ya seem to be in a bad mood,” said the familiar owner of the wine shop to Solon, who had just come in to buy some wine.
“Yeah? I’m the same as usual.”
Being told that with an expression looking as though he was about to click his tongue at any time, those words lacked any kind of persuasiveness.
The troubled wine shop owner said while scratching his head, “Didn’t ya buy only cheap booze before, saying that anything’s fine as long as ya can get drunk? Since a while ago the amount decreased, but ya had started to buy good wine. Ya had a good expression as well, ya know old man?”
Now that he mentions it, the wine I have been buying might have changed, if I remember correctly. However, that’s because my financial situation improved after becoming a teacher at the orphanage, allowing me to drink good wine, right?
“And yet ya’ve recently started buying cheap booze again. I felt bothered because it looked like yer mood was somehow bad.”
Solon dropped his eyes on the wine bin in his hand. Certainly, although you can buy this in quantity, it’s nasty, cheap booze. Solon snorted, “Have wine shops nowadays reached the point of selling meddling instead of wine?
Due to Solon’s bitter tone, the wine shop owner’s face became troubled. Solon was annoyed at himself for not being able to return anything but such an attitude despite guessing that the owner said it out of kindness, and proceeded to snort once more and turned around.
Bolnis’ main street, which approached evening time, was bustling with people. At first when Souma’s group had occupied the city, the people had vanished from the streets, but recently the number of people in the city had increased, growing beyond what it was like before the occupation. And, the majority of those, who had gathered in the city most recently, were men, dreaming of getting rich quickly with the development of the plains or in the battle against Holmea that might take place soon, and prostitutes as well of merchants who tried to make business with those men.
Because of these people, the city brimmed with a liveliness unlike what it was in the past.
“The mountains and rivers are extending with no end to the sea of clouds. And yet, there’s no one aware of the ambitions hidden in this chest of mine…” As Solon took little sips of the wine he had just bought, he walked in tottering steps among the people while reciting an impromptu poem. 1
Suddenly a voice was hurled at Solon’s back, “Excuse me, but aren’t you Sir Aurelius?”
Solon instantly sobered up due to the name that stirred bitter memories of the past. Once he looked over his shoulder, he found Romania’s General Lobnas disguised as a peddler standing there.
Solon clicked his tongue quietly. In order to not meet with Lobnas who sometimes visited Bolnis to investigate the developments in the city, he had so far been secluding himself at home whenever Lobnas came to the city. However, because he had been avoiding the feudal lord’s residence recently, that encounter took place as he didn’t know about Lobnas’ visit.
“You’re mistaking me for someone else. I’m merely a recluse enjoying his drink.” Solon said over his shoulder, ignored Lobnas calling him to a halt, and blended quickly into the throng of people.
One of his attendants addressed Lobnas who had been staring in the direction where Solon had escaped for a while, “Do you know that old man, sir?”
“Yeah―― There’s no doubt, that’s Sir Aurelius.” Lobnas answered.
His formerly dark brown hair had become pure white, and it seemed as though his body had become one head smaller as well, but his face matched with the one from Lobnas’ memories.
“It’s only natural that you don’t know him. By now it’s a story from thirty years ago. Sir Aurelius incurred His Majesty’s displeasure after he remonstrated His Majesty strongly. Bite me, for him to have drifted to a place like this…” Lobnas was deeply moved.
On the other hand, Solon, who had escaped that place, finally eased up on his speed after making sure that Lobnas wasn’t chasing after him. Afterwards he put the wine jar to his mouth in order to soothe his thirst.
“The wine has become disgusting…” He muttered.
The wine, which had been delicious until just moments ago, now felt like a bitter liquid. Even his pleasant drunkenness had already been blown away. All of it because he had been forced to recall a name he had forgotten.
Just as Lobnas thought, this old man calling himself Solon had worked in Romania as Aurelius Elbaggis. Moreover, the Elbaggis House are long-standing retainers of Romania since the time of the founding king. Even in Romania, it’s a prominent, noble family which had brought forth many prime ministers and ministers until now. Even Solon himself, who had been its family head, was a person who had a such a close relationship with the present king Doldea that he studied together with him while sitting at the table next to him, and who was said to someday contribute to Romania by becoming a minister and then prime minister, shouldering a responsible position in the country.
However, from the time when Doldea was enthroned as Romania’s king after losing his father, the relationship between the two, which could be very well described as bosom buddies, started to have cracks.
The ambitions, which sprouted within Doldea, were the cause for that.
The two countries, Holmea and Romania, which could call themselves the big two of the continent’s west, had an era in the past where they were one, big country. For that reason, successive generations of kings of both countries desired to annex the other country with military force, and there were many who were obsessed with the ambition to revive the old, big country. And Doldea was also one of those who ended up succumbing to that ambition.
Back then, as a man who was still in his thirties, he had a youth of just having started to hit his stride. The passionate King Doldea recruited soldiers, and improved the arms, beginning to steadily prepare an invasion into Holmea.
In contrast to that, Solon advocated that Romania should first properly secure its border with Holmea, subjugate the surrounding, smaller countries through benevolence and authority, make the citizens feel at ease, rear the soldiers, and boost the national power, before conquering Holmea.
However, not knowing when he would be able to subjugate Holmea with Solon’s plan, King Doldea, who wanted to accomplish a great deed during his reign, threw Solon’s advice to the wind, and invaded Holmea at the head of the army himself. And then, the one who stood in his way was Darius, who was referred to as the strongest general of Holmea. King Doldea suffered a crushing defeat in front of General Darius who lay in wait in perfect condition.
And not just that. General Darius swiftly returned his soldiers to the west, invading the Solbiant Plains. And by subjugating the zoan, who had become an obstacle to the plains’ reclamation, he provided Holmea with a vast, reclaimed land.
Romania, which had lost many officers and soldiers due to the previous defeat, had no other option but to look at that enviously while doing nothing. It was a truly bitter situation for Romania.
And for Solon this crushing defeat brought about deep sorrow, too. His only son had been killed in this campaign. And to top it off, his son’s young wife passed away soon afterwards out of grief.
However, King Doldea tried to cover up his own blunder in spite of such a devastating defeat. As if the previous, foreign campaign’s objective hadn’t been the suppression of Holmea, but to thrash the arrogance of that country, he held a grand victory party.
King Doldea, who had ascended the throne only a short time ago, likely harbored the worry that his authority might waver if he admitted his own blunder.
However, because of that, Solon finally ran out of patience. Solon disturbed the party, where everyone participated while gorgeously dressed up in order to emphasize the deliberate victory, by wearing mud-smeared, shabby rags and with a bright red face from alcohol. And not only that. He harshly blamed and criticized King Doldea’s blunder in front of the many generals.
King Doldea got enraged at this. However, beheading Solon on the spot would be equal to admitting his fault. Moreover, many generals mediated, too. Considering Solon to have gone mad because of the loss of his son, he was sentenced to house arrest on top of a relief from his duty as minister.
Soon afterwards, Solon said, “The alcoholic poisoning got to my head,” and relinquished all of his territory and estates to King Doldea. And after getting drunk in the capital and behaving disgracefully, he ran away from Romania a short time later. All for the sake of escaping King Doldea’s retribution.
Solon, who recalled that bitter past, spat out as if to get it out through his mouth. However, a bitter past is nothing that would vanish from something this small.
“That damn idiot Doldea…!” Remembering the face of the man whom he once called friend, Solon spat out. “Even after becoming a senile old fool, you’re still clinging to the throne. You want to carve your name into history even going as far as killing your soldiers and tormenting your people…!?”
Even Solon was aware that Romania and Holmea shared a relationship where they have to decide the victor and loser someday. However, if they recklessly defeat the other with armed force, it will only hurt the soldiers and citizens pointlessly.
Even King Doldea was a young man who was seriously worried about his country in his early days. However, the moment he took the crown, he got intoxicated by the huge authority brought about by it, and went insane.
Compared to that, Solon recalled Souma’s face. To put it bluntly, inexperience is a good aspect for a ruler. Even though he knows weird things, there are also strange moments where he doesn’t know the most natural things. I’m sure, that boy is a fool who will get heavily injured by tripping over a pebble at his feet while walking with his eyes looking up at the sky. However, that guy understands his own lack of experience. That’s why he’s trying to take lessons and takes advice modestly even if it’s a harsh remark from a simple, old drunkard.
“Damn Doldea, follow the example of that boy a bit, won’t you?” After spitting that out, Solon suddenly realized. “No, no, it’s the same with the boy as well. It’s obvious that people change when they seize a huge power. That’s the same for every single influential person in power. Like hell I’m going to get involved with such fellas ever again!”
He felt like his heart would waver if he didn’t voice it out.
“Ah～ How very irritating. Booze, I need booze. If I get drunk on some booze, everything in this world will be of no consequence, right?” He drank wine in order to drown out the irritation inside himself. However, for some reason he couldn’t get drunk, no matter how much he gulped down. In a flash he had drunk almost all the wine he had just bought.
Only this much won’t be enough by far.
Am I going to buy wine while resolving myself for the trouble of running into Lobnas, or am I going to bear with the remaining wine for tonight?
The feudal lord’s residence towering within the dusk was reflected in Solon’s eyes as he was worrying what to do.
“Hmm…I’m sure the boy should have a lot more good wine. I suppose I will sponge some off him.” He wobbly staggered towards the feudal lord’s residence.
In preparation for runners with urgent messages, the residence didn’t raise its drawbridge even at night, only placing guards at the front gate. Solon crossed that drawbridge while slowly swaying. On the way the guards asked him for his identity, he was let through after saying, “It’s me, just ole me.” Originally the guards must call visitors to halt and ask for the reason for their visit, but because he had been treated as Souma’s teacher so far, even the guards couldn’t handle him too roughly. Reluctantly they assigned a soldier under the pretext of guiding him, doing no more than looking out that Solon didn’t do anything strange.
“Lord Soma, Sir Solon has come visiting.”
At that time Souma was groaning while sitting at the desk in his office.
“Mr. Solon, what’s wrong?” Souma asked.
“I got some spare time. So I dropped in for a little bit.” Solon cackled.
Hearing him, Shyemul, who had been practicing writing next to Souma, lifted her face, groaning in displeasure, “Soma is busy right now. If you just came over to mess around, go home. Just go away.”
However, those thorny words were repelled by Solon’s thick skin.
“Aye, you’re busy? Then, look, I will quietly wait over here. Don’t mind me, don’t mind me.” After receiving permission, he sat down in a corner of the room, and was about to drink some wine by pouring it into a cup. However, even when he turned over the wine bin, nothing more than a single drop trickled out of it. “Oh my, what happened here? Man, how troublesome, how troublesome.”
Due to Solon unnaturally repeating that he was troubled, Shyemul said in a sharp tone, “There’s plenty of water in the pot over there. Drink all you want.”
“Ooh, you’re telling this old man to drink unboiled water? What a coldhearted fellow you are.” Solon began to cry even crocodile tears, pretending to be a miserable old man.
“Shyemul, please bring some wine for Mr. Solon.” Souma said after watching the exchange between the two with a wry smile.
Shyemul frowned at that, but being told so by Souma, she had no choice. She left the room quite unwillingly, and then returned with a wine bin in hand after a short while.
“I will give you this, so behave yourself and don’t annoy Soma.” She said.
“Ooh, sorry for this.” Receiving the bin with a broad smile, Solon immediately tasted it.
However, he frowned at once. The wine Shyemul had brought was one of the poorest quality they had. Moreover, its preservation had been apparently bad as well, making it taste very sour, on the verge of being vinegar.
Seeing Solon grimacing, Shyemul snorted lightly as if saying, “Serves you right,” and returned to practicing characters while ignoring Solon.
Thinking that it was better than having none at all, Solon slowly drank the wine. However, seemingly bored of just drinking silently by himself after a short time, he called out to Souma who was writing something with utmost effort, “Hey, boy. What’re you doin’ there?”
For a short while Souma hesitated whether it was fine to answer Solon’s question, but then said, “I’ve been wondering whether I should make some laws.”
Solon admired him. It looks like he took the words of a drunkard like me seriously and is trying to establish laws.
Having his interest piqued, Solon stood up and peeked at the paper at Souma’s hands.
“What’re those characters?” He inquired curiously.
“Ah, those are the characters of my country.” Souma replied.
It was only natural that Solon couldn’t read them. Souma had been writing in Japanese because he couldn’t use the characters of this world.
“I can’t read it like this, now can I? Boy, read it out loud.” Solon instructed him bluntly.
Souma restrained Shyemul, who tried to threaten Solon by baring her fangs because she was angry over his haughty attitude, with one hand, and smiled bitterly at Solon, saying, “But this is not at a stage where I can read it to others yet.”
What Souma was writing right now was something like a draft to the bitter end.
Even though Souma possessed the knowledge of modern Japan, he was an outsider in regards to lawmaking. Besides, while calling it laws, it was things like democracy and separation of powers which Souma remembered, but whatever the circumstances might be, he couldn’t possibly believe that those would be accepted by the people of this world, if he hammered such things out all of a sudden.
Accordingly he had been thinking of making something based on the laws of Holmea, and thus removed the provisions protecting the interests of titled nobility and royalty, abolishing the regulation to punish even the relatives of a criminal such as their family, guaranteed the freedom of trade and migration for the people, and added elements of the laws in modern Japan.
However, with that alone it was more difficult than he had expected. Even if he wanted to consult with someone, there was no one well-acquainted with such laws in his proximity. Much less to say about him being the only person in this world knowing the elements of modern Japan which he was trying to add to the basic laws. Out of necessity Souma had no choice but to do it on his own.
“Stop putting on airs. It’s not like it’s going to decrease from me knowing about it.” However, despite experiencing such troubles, Solon readily told him to show his draft.
“Well then, starting with the preface…”
The laws of most countries used that preface to declare that the rule over the land had been granted to the king by the gods and that the king himself was a holy, inviolable being. However, what Souma stated at the very beginning was a complete antithesis to the common preface.
“『The country doesn’t exist for the sake of the king, the officials, the generals, or the soldiers, but solely for the sake of the people.』” Souma read.
Solon listened attentively to that for a while, then he suddenly picked up his wine cup, which was filled to the brim, and drained it down in one go.
“Puhaaa～! Delicious!” Solon smiled all over his face, seemingly very pleased with the wine.
“That’s quite the interesting law. I think it’s good.” Solon firmly stated.
Souma, who had worried whether his intuition as modern Japanese would be really accepted by a human of this world, felt relieved after obtaining Solon’s stamp of approval.
“So, what about the next line?” Solon urged Souma to continue.
Souma continued reading out loud the laws he had thought of. In response Solon nodded to them one-by-one, and occasionally added his own opinion.
“Hmm. Isn’t the law fine like this?” Solon commented.
“I see. ―What about this then?” Souma presented the next.
“Uh huh. I get the intention, but it’s difficult to understand like this. How about trying it in such a way?” Solon said.
“But, won’t it be weird in that form?” Souma asked back.
“How about this version then?” Solon suggested.
Gradually both began to exchange opinions while facing each other from the front.
“It’s about these military regulations. It’s a capital crime to kill a citizen. It’s a serious crime to steal from others or hurt others. It’s a minor offense to threaten others. Speedily dealing with all of those at the tribunal, isn’t that too severe?” Souma inquired.
“In emergencies such as war, it’s no problem if you approve punishment on the spot, even without a tribunal.” Solon retorted.
“No, I’m wondering whether the details of the punishments themselves aren’t a bit too severe…” Souma amended.
“You fool! How are they severe!? That’s why I’m telling you that you’re too naive, boy!”
On that day the two’s heated discussion continued until late at night.
It’s said that Solon and Souma bumped heads every night in Souma’s office for a while after that.