The declaration of Holmea’s King Warius to subjugate the rebels spread like a wildfire across the whole country. And whenever people met, be it in a section of the royal palace, a bar, or the corner of a street, all they talked about was the upcoming subjugation.
The ones knowledgeable about the royal court and the cities’ impromptu debaters all focused on when the subjugation force would sally forth, when the rebels would be defeated, and who would raise the biggest achievements, whenever they talked about this topic. As obvious from this, the majority of the people judged that the rebels would be definitely subjugated by Holmea this time around, seeing how Holmea went at it seriously.
However, that was only reasonable. Rebels occupying a single provincial city, or Holmea, a country called one of the West’s leading powers. The outcome was as clear as day, if they went at each other directly.
And yet, whenever that topic cropped up, someone always mentioned the name of a certain person. Thereupon, the people would usually grimace as if they bit into poison, look around them to check whether no one was lurking in the small covers around them, and then whisper among each other so their words would be drowned out by the wind. About the rebel who rose in revolt against Holmea after inciting the zoan, who were on the verge of annihilation, and the slaves. About the aggressor who routed the subjugation force, captured an impregnable fort, and assaulted a city that had never been attacked. About the devilish person who repelled even Darius who was once called Holmea’s strongest general. And about the terrifying Goddess of Death and Destruction, who had hidden herself so far, and her divine child.
Today they were once again whispering about it somewhere, asking, “Won’t that 『Divine Son of Destruction Soma Kisaki』 do something dreadful once again?”
“Jeez, even though they don’t need to bother with us in the first place.”
The one complaining grandly like that was that very Souma Kizaki, the one called “Divine Son of Destruction.” Five years had already passed since he fell on the Seldeas Continent from modern Japan. He, who had been a normal senior high school student back then, had grown into a young man, having already greeted an age of 20. His body, who could very well be described as frail, nowadays gave one the impression of even being somewhat tough. However, his facial feature still had strong traces of the past, reminding one of a slightly dreamy, honest boy. Moreover, his childishness could also be felt in how he referred to himself with a boyish pronoun until this very day. This apparently bugged himself as well, and thus he had changed to an adult way of referring to himself for a period of time several years ago, but it’s said that the people around him had regarded this as a very questionable move.
“To me it sounds like a child, which still has its eggshell clinging to its back, pushing its limits.”
Those were the words of the only person who couldn’t read the mood, when everyone else was refraining to comment on it. It’s said that Souma returned to his previous pronoun after feeling secretly hurt by this.
“I really hate this. It will develop into battle again, won’t it…?”
On the streets he was rumored to be a murderer lusting for blood and destruction or a scoundrel trying to take over the world, but Souma himself rather hated such things. Even though there existed the lord’s chair installed by the previous feudal lord, he had deliberately created a circle of flat floor cushions in the audience hall, and was also sitting on a cushion next to those he had called together, because he believed, “Being the only sitting in a chair in an elevated position seems arrogant, and I hate that.”
Besides, even with the hostile relationship with Holmea, Souma’s real intention was to keep developing the city as far as possible, and then after amassing enough power to overwhelm Holmea, gain independence without a fight by brandishing that might.
The one chiding the lamenting Souma was a zoan girl with a beautiful, chestnut-colored fur.
“Good grief, for being my 『Navel Master』, that’s far too pathetic. Isn’t battle the best place to display your honor as a warrior?” The zoan girl with the name Fagul Garguss Shyemul said boastfully while throwing out her abundant chest.
She was a female warrior who had offered her everything to Souma while also being the divine daughter of the Beast God.
“Umm…just so you know, I’m no warrior.”
“I’m fully aware of that. What I’m talking about is a matter of spirit.” Shyemul cut down Souma’s excuse with a short rebuttal. “In the first place, you said it yourself, didn’t you? That it will sooner or later come to battle as even Holmea would become unable to ignore us if we were to become strong.”
Souma didn’t know what to reply to this after being offensively told that he couldn’t stay hesitant and weak forever.
“Rather than that, what are we going to do about the countermeasures from now on?”
The one wedging himself into the conversation of the two was a black-furred zoan with a sword cut running down from his eyebrow, across his nose bridge, down to his right cheek. His name was Fagul Garguss Garam. Not only was he Shyemul’s older brother and a great hero hailed as the strongest warrior of the plains, but also the Great Clan Chief controlling all zoan of the plains. In his position of holding such responsibilities he probably wanted Souma to quickly give instructions as to what should be done, and not joke around with his sister.
Souma put on a serious expression again. “I think Holmea is only at the stage of having recognized us as enemies which they must defeat. It’s not like the fighting will start right away.”
When it comes to a full-blown battle, a considerable time is necessary to formulate a strategy, mobilize the soldiers, prepare the provisions and arms, drill the new recruits, etc. No matter how big a country Holmea might be, I don’t think that they will lunge at us at once. However, the same can be said about our side as well.
“Anyway, let’s call the zoan warriors together in a hurry.”
“Predicting this, I have already dispatched several warriors with confidence in their speed to every clan. The fast ones might come as early as next week, I expect.”
The one reporting this was a red-furred zoan with his left eye crushed, leaving only an ugly scar behind ― Kraga Bigana Zurgu. In the plains he was a warrior of such caliber that he could line up next to Garam, but in contrast to Garam, who emitted a calm aura, he was a man making others feel a ferocity that had a tinge of animalistic brutality, which was unequaled even among the zoan. However, betraying that impression, he possessed a skillfulness that he wouldn’t overlook taking care of such arrangements, which also earned him Souma’s deep trust.
Souma nodded once in satisfaction at Zurgu’s smart preparations, and then turned his face towards a dwarven warrior with deep creases running across his face which was covered by a thick beard. This man had a height that didn’t exceed that of a human child, but his build looked as sturdy as a rock.
“Dvalin, I’d like you to form a dwarf warrior unit. It’s not possible to let the workshops rest, but there won’t be any point if we lose. Please adjust the staff over there while bearing this in mind.”
Dvalin, who was the Warrior Leader of the dwarves and a skilled artisan managing all workshops by himself, replied with nothing but a short “Mmh,” as typical for the eccentric dwarves.
The dwarves beneath Souma were warriors and at the same time precious craftsmen. Currently they were rearing up new craftsmen by showing the ropes of their techniques to humans, but so far the core of each workshop consisted of only dwarves. If those dwarven craftsmen were drawn out to fight, the productivity of the workshop would plummet.
It’s easier said to adjust that than done, Dvalin grumbled in his mind.
Unaware of that, Souma gave instructions to the next person. “Pipi, please urgently form reconnaissance units, and scout out Holmea. If it’s your people, sky-based reconnaissance deep into Holmea will be possible. ――However, please do not try the impossible by flying too deep into Holmea. Also, make sure to always scout in groups of two.”
The one energetically answering with a “Got it!” was Pipi Toto Gigi, one of the winged race, who possessed wings with beautiful cobalt blue feathers on both arms. However, although you might call her a girl, that would only apply to her outer appearance. Harpyian, who specialized in flight, had small bodies, looking like children to humans. And despite this, she was a fully-fledged adult woman.
“Mr. Marchronis, please call in the volunteer soldiers from the pioneer villages. Also, I’d like you to organize and train those soldiers.”
The one Souma faced next was an elderly, male human. Many sword cuts were carved into his face as if to tell a tale about his past combat experiences. His name was Marchronis. He was a veteran soldier who had formerly served as company commander adjutant in the Holmean army.
“Consider it done. I will handle it together with Setius.” Marchronis acknowledged while mentioning the name of his subordinate who wasn’t present in this place.
“How is the situation of our stock on provisions and war funds?”
The one who suddenly had that question thrown at her by Souma was a woman with unkempt, ruffled, orange hair that had a tinge of red. Signifying her post as finance bureaucrat, she wore an attire of fine quality, but she was a woman who gave one the impression of being somehow unfashionable.
“R-Right…away! Just as you have ordered Lord Soma, we didn’t neglect our preparations so as to be ready whenever the fighting were to break out. Yes!”
Using a shrill voice out of nervousness, this woman was called Michena. Ever since being discovered by Souma, despite having been a lower-ranking official, she was leading all bureaucrats as the woman who was single-handedly in charge of Bolnis’ financial affairs. Calmly and silently carrying out her work was her forte, but her being bad with sudden developments was the one flaw in the crystal.
“How about the preparations of the aforementioned provisions?”
The one addressed by Souma after Michena was a young man with a plump body and reddish brown hair. His name was Marco. He was a cook under the direct control of Souma.
While making the flab of his cheeks, which had become fatter than several years ago, quiver, Marco answered with a gentle voice, “I have prepared looots together with everyone. ――But, since it’s a rare chance, I really wanted you to sample it at ease. I’m confident in its taste, you know…?”
Him grumbling about wanting others to sample his food at ease without a shred of tension, even though a war would begin from now on, suited his character to a tee. While revealing a wry smile at that, Souma ordered Marco to further increase the production. At present he had assigned widows and war orphans to the production with the objective of giving them work, but he instructed Marco to hire additional laborers if the need were to arise. Michena, who had been told by Souma to help out with the arrangements at such a time, was on the verge of tears as she was already busy even under normal circumstances, but Souma intentionally took no notice of that expression of hers.
And then, when Souma tried to address another person, he noticed that the other party was nowhere to be seen.
“Eladia, what happened to Jahangil?” Souma asked Eladia, the beautiful elven Head Court Lady standing behind him, while looking around restlessly.
With her beautiful face, which not only didn’t change but instead felt like it had become even more refined compared to five years ago, clouding over out of bewilderment, Eladia answered, “Well, in fact, I had called out to him, but he ended up going somewhere…”
Suddenly, the sounds of countless light metal pieces jingling as they knocked against each other, and heavy, lumbering footsteps could be heard in the venue. Everyone’s faces became fed up at that with only Souma’s face breaking into a smile as he said, “Oh, he finally came.”
“It looks like a war is coming! My turn has come at long last!”
The one saying so with a voice teeming with excitement as he entered the hall was a dinosaurian ― a race similar to a crossbreed between humans and reptiles, standing on two feet and an overall height of two melt. His name was Jahangil Hesam Jalji, a warrior who was recognized for being the strongest under Souma’s command and was one of the Tyranno species, famous for being the most ferocious among the dinosaurians.
Jahangil, who violently hit the floor with his tail, had put on his war attire as if Holmea was going to attack anytime soon while grasping his favorite chained iron balls in his hands. His late arrival was likely owed to him carrying out these war preparations.
“Umm…you will need to wait a bit longer until the battle starts.”
Once Souma told him that while feeling somewhat apologetic for betraying his expectations, Jahangil only blinked his eyes for a little while.
“…Is that so?”
As always, it was hard to read a dinosaurian’s expression, but his tail, which had been striking the floor in excitement until moments ago, flopped down on the ground powerlessly.
“According to the information, Holmea has just begun to prepare and plan their attack on us.”
“I see. The war is still far away, huh?”
It looked as though his expression hadn’t changed, but his disappointment was obvious from him meaninglessly kneading the iron balls in his hands. Souma, who had started to feel like running away due to that, continued speaking in an attempt to smooth things over, “Besides, we also have issues we must address in a hurry.”
Everyone present looked puzzled, but Souma stood up, deliberately not answering their implicated question.
“Is Mr. Solon at that place again?”
Eladia confirmed Souma’s question by lowering her head slightly. “Shall I call for him through a court lady?”
“Hmm. ――No, I will go meet him. I want to borrow his wisdom for a bit.”
Turning down Eladia’s offer, Souma started to walk off. As if natural, Shyemul followed him from behind, but her face clearly showed her displeasure.
“Say, Soma, what kind of business do you have with that shitty geezer?”
With a bitter smile, Souma answered Shyemul, who was as hostile towards Solon as ever, “First we must extinguish the fire currently smoldering beneath our butts.”