A/N: This marks the opening of Chapter 3 「Chapter of a Dragon Rearing its Head」
Uwalalupus was a huge mountain range located slightly closer to the west than the center of the continent. It was a harsh land with snowstorms blowing across the ground in winter and lofty peaks always covered by snow even during summer. Utawalupus, the name of the mountain range, was said to originate from an ancient language on the central continent meaning “World Wall.” In other words, for the people living in the central areas of the continent, the Utawalupus Mountains were equal to the end of the world.
However, as the humans’ range of activity expanded with the passage of eras, the people noticed that another world was spreading out on the other side of the Utawalupus Mountains. And the ones they found there weren’t spirits and mythological beasts appearing in legends, but people looking just like them. Learning that, the people comprehended for the first time that Utawalupus wasn’t the world wall, but just a wall dividing continental areas. And then the people of the continent’s center christened the newly discovered world as the West out of conceit over being the center of the world.
But, although the area was summarized with the word West, its extent was vast. First, wilderness spread at the base of the Utawalupus Mountains. Various smaller and larger savage tribes had settled down there. It was a dangerous area full of endless disputes between the tribes.
Further away from the mountains lay an alliance consisting of eight small countries ― called Eight King Alliance. That alliance consisting of different races and customs was bound by the rule of all for one and one for all in war times.
West of that Eight King Alliance was a region that ought to be called the central part of the West. The two large countries Holmea and Romania, who were both fighting each other over the western hegemony, and the small country Buljeboa, located in the northern mountainous district and caught between the other two countries, could be found in that region.
And then, further to the west than the western central part, Ocean State Jeboa which prospered through the sea trade in the Benes Bay. If you went even further west, you would find a kingdom called Shpamul on an island in the ocean.
The huge area including these countries was referred to as the West.
Now then, the history of wars in the West began with the collapse of a single big country. That country, which majestically ruled over the western central area with the neighboring countries obeying it, was torn apart due to a family feud between the two princes of Holmea and Romania. Split into two parts afterwards, the remnants of the big country respectively called themselves Holmea Kingdom and Romania Kingdom. Both crossed weapons on countless occasions as archenemies unable to allow the other to exist in this world. Moreover, both countries annexed one adjoining, smaller country after the other in an attempt to eclipse the other. During that process, some small countries chose the path of cleverly changing allegiances back and forth between Holmea and Romania, whereas others chose the path of resisting both by banding together.
The result was the current power distribution in the West.
The West had spent its time with nothing but going through such wars, but more than thirty years ago the area welcomed peaceful times after a final battle where the present king of Romania, Doldea, was crushingly defeated by the great general Darius after having invaded Holmea. Of course, smaller skirmishes continued to take place, but at least wars with entire countries on the move had abated.
However, even though they enjoyed this peace, everyone living in the West was aware of the deep resentments furiously seething beneath the surface which had the potential to blaze up in a devastating fire that would engulf the entire West in a flash, as long as the slightest trigger gave reason. Still it was impossible to know just when that trigger would be finally pulled.
Once again, this West was about to be ravaged by the flames of war.
One day, an unexpected visitor arrived at Holmea’s royal court. It was a bald, elderly man. His height was so low that he could be mistaken for a child, and his body was as thin as a dead tree. However, there wasn’t a single person in Holmea who would look down on this old man. That’s because this man had run the domestic and foreign affairs under the previous king while craftily making use of his shrewdness. It was the Great Prime Minister Ponpius, also referred to as the right hand of the king.
However, Ponpius had retired from his position upon the death of the previous king more than twenty years ago. Ever since then he had secluded himself in his territory, never making any attempts to appear in public.
The lords arrayed in the audience hall had been engulfed by tension over the sudden visit of such a personage. Even Holmea’s king Warius Sadoma Holmeanis was no exception. He was also nervous due to the abrupt visit by the former Great Prime Minister, and was repeatedly fiddling with his thin moustache for a while now.
Ponpius first extended his seasonal greetings and excused himself for the impoliteness of not having shown himself over a long period of time. Warius forgave him for that with generous mercy, and asked for the reason for his visit.
In response, Ponpius asked back as follows:
“In regards to this, Your Esteemed Majesty King Warius, who do you believe to be the enemy that must presently be dealt with utmost priority by Holmea?”
Warius, who had been frightened in his heart of the possibility of being confronted with some difficult problem or disastrous matter, felt let-down due to this question.
“It’s Romania.” Warius declared full of confidence.
It was something even a child would know as long as they were Holmean. However, Ponpius shook his head resolutely.
“That’s not so.” Ponpius further declared to the surprised king and his lords, “The enemy Holmea must currently defeat the most are the rebels of Bolnis. ―And, the 『Divine Son of Destruction』 leading them!”
However, that statement was received with bitter smiles by King Warius and his lords. By this time five years had already passed since Bolnis, the westernmost city of Holmea, had fallen into the hands of the zoan and slaves commanded by a man calling himself “Divine Son of Destruction.” But, it was no more than a single provincial city that had been conquered by them. Far from gathering strength and attacking other cities, the zoan and slaves had hidden themselves in Bolnis, seemingly satisfied with their accomplishment.
In the eyes of Holmea, this was no more than a measly revolt by the zoan, who were already on the decline, and various slaves. They were opponents Holmea would have suppressed long ago if not for their archenemy Romania watching for any opportunity with eagle eyes.
Recalling the face of General Darius, who had asserted the danger of the slaves just like Ponpius was doing now, King Warius became sullen. According to the reports, Darius was still bringing up the rebels’ danger with his vicinity at every opportunity.
“We have certainly heard your proposal, Lord Ponpius. Was that the only business you had with us?”
Due to Warius’ way of speaking as if telling him that this topic was already over with and that he should quickly get lost if he didn’t have anything else to say, Ponpius beckoned the servant standing behind him over. The servant stepped forward while reverently holding a scroll placed on a cloth decorated with extravagant embroideries in both hands. A single chamberlain accepted the scroll, asking King Warius for further instructions with his eyes. Warius jerked his chin as if to tell him to read it out loud.
And what the chamberlain read with a clear, sonorous voice after untying and unfolding the scroll were the numbers of visiting caravans, the population of the respective social classes, the numbers of gold and silver coins, and the quantity of grain beginning with wheat. The present lords were puzzled by the overly huge figures, wondering what country might be meant here.
Ponpius, who was assailed by questioning looks, waited until the time was ripe, and then answered, “All of these numbers belong to the occupied Bolnis.”
Upon that answer, King Warius partly rose to his feet from the throne, and the lords started a commotion, unable to believe it. The numbers, which had been read out loud just now, were nothing that could ever be expected from a mere provincial city. Just the harvest amount of wheat was already so high that it rivaled all of Holmea.
“Did I get you to understand? Bolnis is no simple provincial city anymore. It boasts a grain harvest that might be called comparable with an entire country, and it’s bringing forth various, unusual products one after the other.” At that point Ponpius changed the topic all of a sudden. “By the way, it has reached my ears that an unusual liquor has recently become your favorite, Your Majesty?”
Just as Ponpius said, King Warius was crazy about a certain liquor these days. It was branded as Golden Wine because of its beautiful, amber-like color, and the people saying that it was like drinking fluid gold coins due to its staggeringly expensive price.
“Your Majesty, do you know that Golden Wine is something called 『Whiskey』, produced in Bolnis?”
King Warius was shocked. Ponpius intensified his verbal attack even further.
“That’s not all there is. The glass containers you’re using while partaking in that liquor, and even the soaps and ornaments which are nowadays popular among the noble ladies; all of them are items produced in Bolnis. A huge amount of gold and silver is flowing from our country into Bolnis to pay for all those things.”
After confirming that the impact of the news he had provided had plentifully sunken in among the lords and King Warius, he continued, “Your Majesty, you must not look down on Bolnis as a provincial city occupied by zoan and slaves. If they were to augment their military forces using those huge assets and grains, they could very well become a big threat for our Holmea.” Ponpius altered his strict voice into a softer one, “However, if you change the viewpoint, Bolnis is something like a ripe fruit that has become just ready to be plucked. If our Holmea could obtain it, it would truly turn into the sweetest nectar. Using those tremendous grains and funds, Holmea will become able to raise an army of a million soldiers. If we do that, our sworn enemy Romania won’t even qualify as a threat anymore.”
And then Ponpius said as if whispering sweet dreams into his listeners’ ears, “The unification of the West is Holmea’s long standing desire. In order to accomplish that great feat, you have to attack Bolnis first, Your Majesty.”
Overwhelmed by Ponpius’ words, King Warius nodded with a humming. The more he considered and examined what he had been told, the more he agreed with Ponpius’s argumentation. After nodding several times, King Warius stood up from his throne.
“Announce it to everyone: We shall accept Lord Ponpius’ proposal. Everyone, you are to make any effort in order to slay the rebels infesting Bolnis.”
“”By your will, Your Majesty!!”” All the lords and chief vassals present in the hall said in a chorus.