“Hey! Don’t struggle, Soma! I can’t apply the medicine like that, now can I!?” Shyemul, who had been applying an ointment on Souma’s back, scolded him for thrashing about. However, Souma, unable to scream due to the overwhelming pain, powerfully flapped his legs each time Shyemul’s fingers touched his back.
Having finished the punishment, Souma had been immediately brought to the feudal lord’s residence. Around that time, Shyemul, who had finally regained consciousness, jumped to her feet, calling Souma’s name as she sobered up. And then, seeing that Souma was sleeping next to her while lying on his face, she felt relieved for a moment, but as soon as she saw the wounds on his back, she raised a scream that was difficult to describe.
She immediately snatched the ointment away from the elven court ladies, who had been providing medical treatment, and started to apply it to Souma’s back with a face looking as if she was going to burst into tears any time soon.
“Lady Shyemul, please cool the wounds on Lord Soma’s back with this.”
Receiving a cloth that had been moistened with well-water from Eladia, Shyemul speckled Souma’s wounds with it as gently as possible. Even with only that, Souma had to frantically stifle his cries of pain. Fortunately, Souma’s injuries were apparently limited to those caused by the beating, seeing as there were no abnormal swellings or pain as it could be seen at times of bone fractures. Only that beating had been so heavy that Souma couldn’t get up at present, but everyone still breathed sighs in relief.
At that point, a single elf announced a visitor with a hard voice, “Lord Soma, Solon has come for a sick visit.”
The room became noisy. The atmosphere in the room, which had been filled with concern for Souma who had been injured up to such a degree, changed as if poison had been mixed into it. And it became even worse once Solon was led into the room after receiving Souma’s permission. There was no need to mention Shyemul here, but even Eladia, who seemed as though she was keeping her composure, appeared seemed to seethe with rage in her heart, going by the fact that she had the court ladies position themselves in front of the doors and windows, almost as if cutting off any path of retreat.
But, if it came to Solon who should have realized as much, he was far from nervous or scared, but rather even seemed to be happy.
“How is the state of the boy’s wounds?” He asked despite having been the one who beat Souma with a stick.
Due to this, Shyemul threw away the jar with the ointment, and took the machete into her hand. The elven court ladies also moved as if to surround Solon, in order not to allow him to get away.
“You bastard! I will lop off that wrinkled head of yours!!”
Souma sharply spoke to Shyemul, who was just about to jump at Solon, “Stop, Shyemul! I will get really angry if you do anything to Solon!”
Shyemul stumbled forward a step, and then stopped because of Souma’s words.
“But, this geezer has…”
“Mr. Solon did the right thing! How does blaming him for that connect with your honor, Shyemul!?”
Shyemul was at a loss for words upon Souma’s rebuke. Even she herself knew that her anger towards Solon wasn’t based on justified indignation, but her personal feelings.
Souma further yelled at the timid Shyemul, “The one who has turned me into her 『Navel Master』 is 《Noble Fang》. Shyemul, if you stop being 《Noble Fang》, I can also stop being your『Navel Master』! Never show yourself in front of me again!”
Shyemul was on the verge of tears due to Souma’s words that ought to be taken as an ultimatum. Being told by one’s Navel Master to stop regarding them as such was so much of a disgrace for a zoan warrior that it went beyond imagination. Being told to cut off one’s head on the spot would have been a million times better than this.
Souma softened his expression and asked Shyemul, whose eyes had become like that of a puppy abandoned inside a cardboard box inside the rain, “Shyemul, can I still be your 『Navel Master』?”
At the end of a long wavering, Shyemul finally dropped her shoulders, giving up. “…Of course. Soma, you’re my 『Navel Master』, and I’m still 《Noble Fang》.”
“Okay, I’m happy to hear that.” Souma further said to Shyemul, who had become completely dispirited, “But, it’s also because you’re with me that I can do the unreasonable. After all I rely and trust in you as much that I’m absolutely sure that you would rescue me in any situation, Shyemul.”
“Humph! Even if you butter up to me by using such flattery, it won’t do you any good!” Shyemul turned away, apparently sulking, but her mouth ended up twitching as she frantically suppressed a smile.
Solon watched that pleasant exchange between navel master and retainer with his eyes narrowed, but noticing that, Shyemul snapped at him, “Don’t giggle over there, shitty geezer! Apologize to Soma right away! Otherwise, get out of my sight!”
Souma was about to soothe the yelling Shyemul, but Solon made his move first. He went down on his knees on the spot, and bowed his head very deeply towards Souma in a fluent motion.
“First allow me to deeply apologize for having beaten you.”
Everyone stared in wonder due to the apology which was atypical for Solon, an insistently, contrary person.
“Though that be so, it was something necessary for the creation of the country you have been aiming for.”
The question, “What does that mean?”, was visible on the faces of all present, except for Souma and Solon.
“You had announced that you will build a country where everyone can live equally. At first, this lowly me believed that the equality you were talking about referred to treating all races equal under your rule.”
It was only understandable for Solon to have assumed so. It was an era where rivaling warlords defended their own local authority, with many different powers competing ruthlessly. While everyone was trying the seat of emperor, a man had risen in revolt in one country while bringing together different races, beginning with the zoan, and declared that he would build a new country. It was only reasonable to believe that he was harboring the ambition to grab for supremacy.
“However, I was mistaken.”
It was during the time when he created the original draft of the laws together with Souma that he realized his mistake. Souma clearly specified that the country belonged to the people as first, principal law. That meant nothing less than Souma being obligated by the laws to serve the people, unlike a powerful authority such as a king, who would lead a country.
Different to other countries which advocated the rights of the king and gods as first principal, the people in power were clearly bound by the laws, restricting any arbitrary government. In other words, it meant nothing else than placing the laws above kings or gods.
“In short, it will be a rule by laws, unrelated to a king’s or god’s authority.”
That was a constitutional principle that was only normal in modern Japan.
In the past, Solon lost his son in the war against Holmea that should be called a reckless action of Romania’s King Doldea. It was also the reason why he had to escape Romania back then. In the eyes of Solon, the idea of a constitutional government that prohibited a king’s recklessness through laws was so deeply impressive that it made him truly shudder.
“A country with the laws as cornerstones. If you treat that as the country’s essential, the laws mustn’t be allowed to be shaken, no matter what happens. To say nothing if it comes to military regulations.”
The majority of the soldiers were young men. Such men, who had difficulty to restrain their strength and desires, would heavily tend towards pillaging and rape once they lost their restraint when they fell into an extreme state where their life and death were on the line, such as on battlefields. For the sake of that not coming to pass, one had to enforce military regulations during peacetime and admonish them strictly.
At the time when that famous Sun Tzu was told by the King of Wu that he would like Sun Tzu to display his battle commanding while making use of the royal harem, Sun Tzu put two of the king’s favorite concubines, who didn’t obey his orders, to the sword without listening even to the king’s request to stop it. This was a historical fact called “Sun Tzu’s command of the princess soldiers,” said to have made the strictness of military discipline known.
Moreover, the great general Han Xin, extolled as a distinguished leader, imposed rigid military rules, sentencing Yinghe, a general, to death for just arriving late. It was also said that he sentenced the messenger of Han Gaozu, his lord, who tried to make Han Xin stop the capital punishment of Yinghe after hearing of it, to death for the crime of riding his horse inside the military camp.
Souma, who had known of those historical facts, couldn’t do more than hang his head upon Solon’s words.
At that point, Solon loosened his hard tone and expression, “Be that as it may, a body that has no warm blood flowing through it is just bones ― a mere corpse. If you govern while only abiding by the severity of the laws, the country will become solid, but at the same time brittle.”
Solon was very impressed by the idea of a constitutional government, but he also realized its dangers. As of yet, the laws of this word weren’t as detailed as those in the modern era. Ultimately they were broad directives, and only signified the punishments that would be handed down upon them. Even the laws created by the amateur Souma were the same as they used those directives as base.
If they were to enforce such faulty laws too strictly, it would result in chaos instead. Qin Shihuangdi, who would become the first emperor of China, was also a constitutional government advocate, and imposed the laws rigidly, but that ended up throwing the country into chaos instead.1
“There’s also something called benevolence when handing down a judgment while harboring a lenient, kind spirit. In my humble opinion, it’s only when you make the warm flesh and blood called benevolence move through the body called laws that a country will be alive for the first time.”
At that point Solon hardened his tone again, “However, if you overdo it with benevolence, it will become a poison. In the eyes of someone like me, laws and benevolence are like the two wheels of a chariot. Keeping both at the same size will allow you to travel straight ahead. But, Lord Soma, you have only shown benevolence, but not the strictness of the laws. This is just like a chariot traveling with two wheels of different sizes. In such a case, the country will sooner or later divert from its path, tumbling down into a quagmire. Furthermore, the people, who still don’t know how it is to be ruled by laws, will likely regard your reign as something that’s no different from other countries. Like this they won’t understand a law-based rule no matter how much time passes.”
Solon revealed a cruel smile, “Showing the severity of laws is very simple. Mercilessly behead criminals. Whip them, and beat them with sticks.”
Souma was overwhelmed by Solon’s smile and words. The idea that he should imitate the historical examples of Sun Tzu and Han Xin also crossed his mind. But, if it had been something that could be decided so easily, he wouldn’t be in this miserable state right now.
Solon sighed at Souma who firmly pressed his lips together while tightly clenching his fists, “Having said that, Lord Soma, you aren’t a person capable of that. ――In that case, serve as a role model. Punish yourself more strictly than anyone else. If the people see you strictly adopting the laws on yourself, I am certain that they will consider your measures so far as being owed to a benevolence based on moral principles, and not as you taking the laws lightly.”
The method of hurting myself is manifold better than hurting someone else, Souma thought, and at the same time suddenly noticed. Did Solon possibly carry out the punishment unyieldingly in that place while even going as far as expressly drawing the enmity on himself after taking my character into consideration?
Souma looked into Solon’s eyes, trying to see through his real intentions. In response, Solon smiled gently, and bowed towards Souma once more.
“However, no matter what reason I might have had, it’s a fact that I beat you with a stick, Lord Soma. Please calm your anger by just taking this wrinkled head.” Solon offered his head with a laudable attitude.
Shyemul gleefully yelled, “Alright! I will cut it off!”, at that, but Souma held her back with a wry smile.
If he killed Solon here after going through the arduous ordeal of getting beat by a stick to thoroughly enforce his laws, his perseverance would come to nothing. Very likely Solon knew that, too.
“You mustn’t, Shyemul. ――Also, Solon, please stop with the bad jokes.”
Sure enough, Solon lifted his head and cackled, “I only get stiff shoulders when acting so formal.” And not just that. He shamelessly made another demand to Souma.
“By the way, boy, give me a promotion.”
At this time, Solon hadn’t been assigned to a clear, official post. That’s because Souma believed it to be better to have him in a vague position like advisor, where he could act freely, rather than giving him a formal post, considering Solon’s character.
Exactly because Solon had apparently understood that reasoning as well, it was unexpected for him to request an appointment after having come this far.
Solon eloquently explained to the surprised Souma, “From now on, this city will likely develop more than ever before. Accompanying that, many capable people will gather in this place. However, among them will be definitely those who will try to butter up to you, boy, while using sweet words.”
Even if such people were to discover flaws or complaints towards Souma’s government, they wouldn’t speak up out of fear to incur Souma’s wrath. In such a case Souma would lose the opportunity to reform his reign, even if he wanted to. But, if he appointed Solon, who had beaten Souma with a stick albeit for the sake of enforcing the laws, to a responsible post here, people would likely become able to propose their ideas without fearing to fall into disgrace.
At the same time of admiring Solon’s suggestion, Souma wondered whether Solon’s lacking desire for a post so far hadn’t been owed to him having waited for such an opportunity.
However, before Souma could ascertain it, Solon said in a frivolous tone, “Well, leave the rest to me. You have shown the severity of the laws with your own body, boy. You won’t receive any unfounded slander for entrusting the judgment to someone else.”
Following his words, Souma left the majority of the judgments to Solon henceforth, but no criticism towards that could be heard. Moreover, it’s said that the people quietly accepted his judgments, even when Solon strictly enforced the laws, as there was the precedence of Souma having adhered to those laws himself as well.
“You understand, boy? If you look up to heaven, you will neglect what’s beneath your feet, and if you look down at your feet, you will miss the changes in the sky. People aren’t skilled enough to do two things at the same time. Gazing into the far distant sky is something only you can do, boy. It’s fine to leave the things at your feet to others. That’s yet another duty of those standing above others.”
Deeply impressed by Solon’s words, Souma bowed his head.
If he had finished at this point, he might even be regarded as a wise man. But, we were talking about Solon here. He directed a nasty smile at Shyemul, who was still looking sullen as she was unable to rein in her emotions yet despite logically understanding that each of Solon’s words were reasonable.
“How about that, beast girl. It looks like I’m more useful to the boy than you are. Are you going to kill me despite this?”
Having been ridiculed, Shyemul quickly bared her fangs, “If you go this far, be judged by the law first!”
It was only natural for Shyemul to shout. Until now Solon had acted as he pleased. While causing problems on many occasions, he got through them unscathed because of Souma’s mediation. If one were to closely illuminate those troubles according to the laws, it should be indispensable for him to get punished as well.
However, Solon replied with a look as if nothing happened, “I’m sure there’s plenty of cases where you’d want to do that, but look, the boy has already made his verdict. Who am I to overturn it at this point in time?”
What Solon said was reasonable. Just like with the case of the bar brawl between zoan and dwarves, it wasn’t easy to overturn a sentence handed down once, no matter how much of a mistake the judgment might have been. On the contrary, doing so would shake the law’s weight and Souma’s credibility. However, since it was the perpetrator himself saying so, it had a nasty streak.
Shyemul ground her fangs while looking enraged. Souma calmed her with, “Now, now, calm down, Shyemul. Think of this as being for my sake.”
Once she had been told so, Shyemul couldn’t insist on her opinion any longer.
“But, let me tell you!” However, meekly withdrawing at this point wouldn’t allow her seething anger to subside. Shyemul extended her claws, thrust a finger at Solon, and shouted, “I hate you with all my heart!”
Shyemul had apparently been very upset by this chain of events. Excluding her writing lessons and official occasions, Shyemul continued to bluntly exhibit her antipathy towards Solon. She was rebuked many times by Souma for that, but it was said that Shyemul, who obeyed Souma’s words in most matters without any question, stubbornly didn’t yield in just this case.
In later years, Souma, who considered it to be inexcusable, apologized to Solon in her stead. However, Solon said with a cackling laughter, “Once you’re in a high position, you’re only surrounded by people who will line up flowery words while having an insincere smile stuck on their faces. Isn’t her treatment very delightful, compared to such people?” Moreover, Solon continued, “Your Majesty, you should understand this very well, shouldn’t you?”
It’s said that Souma nodded deeply in reply to this.
Standing on the gallows yourself.
On the continent of Seldeas it was a proverb, meaning that you should take the initiative first by yourself before compelling others to something. Most people didn’t know of it, but this was an idiom derived from the historical fact of how “Great Sage” Solon beat the “Divine Son of Destruction” Soma Kisaki with a stick in the city of Bolnis.
Traditionally it was considered that the military forces of the “Divine Son of Destruction” devoted themselves to the limits of destruction, atrocities, and pillaging in every place they attacked, and that the people, who were bound by rigid laws and a cruel regime, couldn’t even breathe.
However, if you take the ways of the world back then into account, it wasn’t unusual for occupied lands to be devastated and looted at all. Rather, when it concerns the period from the ancient times to the medieval times, it was a matter of course for the soldiers to violate and loot the assaulted villages and cities. Also, it wasn’t rare for the king, who won, to approve of pillaging for a fixed period of time as reward for the lords and mercenaries who participated in the war. The rampageous behavior of the soldiers, who were given permission to plunder, was something unpardonable.
Still, as understandable from the previous historical fact, the “Divine Son of Destruction” Soma Kisaki imposed strict, military regulations on his own military forces, and it’s said that they were firmly prohibited by military rules to pillage and rape the citizens, even if they were ordered to pillage as military tactic, as he put an special importance on protecting the people of conquered territories.
At those times, this was a conspicuous exception. Moreover, it doesn’t seem that it was merely an official stance, either.
There’s an anecdote left behind. It’s about a time when zoan and dwarves were eating and drinking in the bar of a city they had just conquered. When they tried to pay their bill after finishing their food and drinks, the bar’s owner, who feared to offend the conquerors, didn’t want to accept their money. Thereupon the soldiers’ faces turned pale, knowing that they would be punished if they couldn’t get him to accept the money, and paid the bills by prostrating themselves in front of the bar’s owner.
Even from this anecdote, it’s obvious that even the soldiers at the lower ranks in the army of the “Divine Son of Destruction” obeyed the strict military regulations.
As a matter of fact, many of the documents about the reign by the “Divine Son of Destruction” have been lost over the course of the history of a thousand and several hundred years, and the full story of his rule hasn’t become clear yet. However, if you put the few remaining documents together, it’s not a cruel government towards its people as it has widely spread among the public that stands out, but rather a constitutional state with its authorities strictly abiding to the laws that feels exemplary to me.
Going by those facts, there are some among the historians who regard the reign of the “Divine Son of Destruction” Soma Kisaki as bud of a constitutional government doctrine that would later expand throughout the continent’s west.
However, those evaluating the “Divine Son of Destruction” Soma Kisaki as pioneer of that doctrine are limited to just a very small part of the historians. Many of the other historians declare that this is merely for the sake of denying the rule of the surrounding countries by the “Divine Son of Destruction” Soma Kisaki.
Also, as if proving that, it’s said that the neighboring countries and the church at that time violently opposed and slandered the idea of a constitutional government the “Divine Son of Destruction” Soma Kisaki as if he was advocating to reverse heaven and earth. It was thought as if the reign of the “Divine Son of Destruction” Soma Kisaki would overturn the system of governing as a denial towards the continent’s social structure at that time.
However, the old system being unable to accept something new and denying it is commonplace. You can’t deny that the ideology of the “Divine Son of Destruction” was a bud for a constitutional government doctrine with only this much.
Taking that into account, there’s another reason, the biggest one, why you can conclude that his ideas aren’t a bud for a constitutional government doctrine. That’s the simple fact of “Divine Son of Destruction” Soma Kisaki himself having later on trampled the laws he established underfoot.