“You cannot do that!” Lobnas raised his voice, forgetting to keep up appearance, but immediately realized his verbal gaffe, and corrected himself. “No, no, no, no, I phrased it wrongly. This is going to turn into a problem for you! Please reconsider! We are talking about that ruthless, heinous King Warius. You can’t imagine just how badly he would treat you, if you were to surrender to him!”
Lobnas frantically emphasized the heartless nature of King Warius and Holmea, arguing that they’d suffer terribly if they surrendered, all for the sake of changing Souma’s mind.
However, Souma’s next words caused Lobnas to become speechless.
“But, Holmea is a leading power of the West. It’s absolutely impossible for us to win against such a country by ourselves.”
That’s only reasonable. No matter how many bad aspects it might have, Holmea is a powerful nation hailed as a major power in the West. It’s certainly not an opponent that could be bested by some revolting slaves who merely managed to put a single provincial city under their rule. But, it still would be a problem for us if they gave up here.
“You might say so, but I can’t really believe that a cruel man like King Warius would accept a capitulation just like that…”
King Warius was a man who let free reign to his emotions without sparing a thought to possible benefits or losses once he lost his temper. It was hard to believe that he’d forgive Souma who had disgraced him so much in the past.
“I’ve got an idea to deal with this. ――Don’t you think Holmea would accept our capitulation if we paid double, no, five times the tax that was paid before we took this city?”
Lobnas panicked. He had heard that Bolnis was recently producing riches that could easily rival a single country. He could clearly imagine that paying five times the tax from before was possible for the city in its current state.
Still, my aim was to have Holmea and the Divine Son of Destruction duke it out amongst each other to chip away both side’s power, but if this solution came to be, Holmea would instead gain in strength. And not only that. The far bigger problem lies with Romania having provided the funds, which have become the foundation for Bolnis to develop to such an extent, upon my own proposal.
Lobnas continued his persuasion, believing that he had to stop them from capitulating, no matter the costs.
The one who interrupted at that point was Eladia.
“Sir Lobnas, please understand Lord Soma’s distress. Lord Soma himself does not wish to yield to Holmea.”
As if to match her words, Souma leaked a quiet groan and averted his eyes. Seeing Souma’s bitterness, Eladia wiped the outer corner of her eye, apparently feeling torn and heartbroken, before continuing, “Holmea is our sworn enemy. We shall fight without fearing death. However, even if we were to oppose the mighty Holmea, we will not have any chance of winning. Lord Soma, our deeply benevolent leader, loathes the idea of us pointlessly losing our lives, and chose to bend his knee to Holmea while swallowing his bitter tears of regret.”
They must be considerably mortified. Even the zoan girl standing behind the Divine Son of Destruction is wrinkling up her nose with her whole body lightly quivering in frustration.
In reality, she was merely holding back her laughter upon watching Souma’s ham act, but unable to distinguish emotions on zoan faces, Lobnas couldn’t tell at all.
“Stop it, Eladia. It’s something I decided after we discussed it countless times.”
“But, Lord Soma! I am terribly vexed!! Why is heaven sending us no ally!?”
Lamenting over their current situation with a voice full of grief, the “heaven sending us no ally” mentioned by her was another idiom for “abandoned by heaven” or “deserted by Lady Luck” with all three meaning the same. However, Lobnas got caught on the term “ally”, his eyebrows twitching.
“If ― bear in mind, it is ultimately just a hypothetical question ― but if――” with that preface, Lobnas asked, “――there was a power allying with you, what would you do?”
“We’d fight Holmea, without question!”
Upon Souma’s immediate reply, Lobnas pondered for a short while.
Should I reveal my identity as a Romanian general here? At this rate, it’s very likely for the Divine Son of Destruction to surrender to Holmea. And even leaving that aside, wouldn’t it be a smart move to reveal that Romania had been assisting them so far, and use this debt of gratitude to incite them to fight against Holmea?
Having made up his mind, Lobnas lowered his voice and told Souma, “Please have a peace of mind, Lord Soma. You already have a powerful ally on your side.”
“Ooohhh!! Who might that be?” Souma bent himself forward, asking full of curiosity.
After putting on some airs, Lobnas answered, “It is His Majesty Doldea, the great king of Romania!”
“What did you say!? But, are you certain that a great king of such a powerful country would really lend us his assistance?”
Seeing how very surprised Souma was, Lobnas exaggeratedly hit his chest once.
“To tell you the truth, I am one of Romania’s generals. All the assistance I gave you so far was carried out upon His Majesty’s decree!”
“Oohh! That is something I didn’t know, but still, allow me apologize for having received you so poorly until now. ――Eladia, bring General Lobnas our best wine. At once!”
Lobnas mood visibly improved with Souma abasing himself and Eladia pouring him wine with flirtatious movements. However, Souma’s next words caused Lobnas to panic.
“Holmea won’t be much of a threat if Romania and us attack together from east and west!”
“Eh? No, that’s…”
Lobnas was hoping for Holmea to exhaust its military strength in a flashy confrontation with the Divine Son of Destruction. However, that hope would fall through if both of them were to attack Holmea simultaneously. Moreover, Romania was much more of a threat for Holmea than some Divine Son of Destruction who was the boss of a few revolting slaves. Lobnas knew that he’d restrain the slaves with a small number of soldiers while using all of the remaining troops to fend off Romania, if he were in King Warius’ shoes.
As Lobnas was pondering how he could change the direction of this conversation, it was Eladia who threw him a lifeline.
“Lord Soma, it would be way too impolite to expect a mighty nation such as Romania to treat us as equals. Besides, we already received a tremendous amount of financial support from King Doldea. I think it would only follow courtesy for us to attack Holmea first.”
Lobnas deeply agreed with her words in his mind while actually saying, “His Majesty is a generous man who does not pay much attention to such trivial matters.”
“Okay, how about we do it like this then, Lord Lobnas?” Eladia offered a suggestion to Lobnas. “First we are going to attack Holmea, showing you that we can take a single city. Following that, His Majesty Doldea will also attack a single city in return.”
Lobnas folded his arms and considered her suggestion.
It doesn’t sound like a bad deal. The city closest to Bolnis is Luoma. It’s a big city with more than ten thousand inhabitants, boasting firm defensive facilities. Moreover, Fort Garaff, known to be a strong fortress despite its small size, has been erected close to the city. If they’re going to take Luoma, it’s pretty sure going to become an intense battle.
Even if the Divine Son of Destruction fails in this endeavor, Holmea will be forced to devote a fairly big combat force to fend off the slaves. In such a case, they might also draw soldiers from the defenses against Romania in the east.
That was the lifeline Eladia had provided. On top of being difficult to turn down on the rational side, it’d only invite distrust if Lobnas were to further act unwilling, and could potentially herd the Divine Son of Destruction into surrendering to Holmea instead.
Having deliberated things thus far, Lobnas made his decision.
“Very well. His Majesty is a man honoring military prowess. If you, as our allies, take a city, His Majesty is doubtlessly going to attack Holmea and take a city as well to not fall behind.”
“Oohhh!! That’d be very appreciated!”
Expressing his thanks in an exaggerated manner, Souma called out to Shyemul to write this up as an official document before Lobnas could change his mind.
“Shyemul, write a letter for me.”
Thereupon Shyemul took out a pen and paper as if she had only waited for this moment.
“Okay then, let’s see…I humbly write this letter to Your Majesty, King Doldea of Great Romania.”
While Lobnas was baffled by their perfect preparations, Shyemul kept writing down what Souma fluently told her. Once Souma finished dictating, Shyemul dried the ink by blowing upon the paper, and then handed the letter to Souma. Souma completed it by putting his own signature at the bottom.
All he had to do was to pass this letter to Lobnas, but Souma’s hand stopped at that point.
Shyemul had conspicuously raised her writing skill as Souma’s attendant over the last few years, resulting in her flowing brush stroke to look beautiful even in Souma’s eyes who couldn’t read the languages of this world. Compared to her pretty letters, he couldn’t avoid but to feel like his own signature looked like a filthy abomination. The difference between the two writing styles stood out all the more now that they were written down on the same paper.
When he looked up to Shyemul, she threw out her voluptuous chest with her nose twitching as if she was asking, “Great, isn’t it?” Souma became sullen as her attitude grated on his nerves, but he immediately came back to his senses when Eladia unnaturally cleared her throat.
“General Lobnas, please pass this letter to King Doldea.”
“Huh? A-Ah, I have certainly received it.”
Souma forced the letter into Lobnas’ hand, who was confused by the rapid developments that left him in the lurch, and loudly clapped his hands twice.
“General Lobnas is leaving. Prepare everything to see him off!”
Souma urged Lobnas onwards.
“No, w-wait a moment!”
“That won’t do. If you don’t hurry, you will be dragged into the battle which would hinder you from returning to Romania!”
“No, one night should…”
I’ve made the journey all the way out here into the sticks, so it should be okay for me to at least get a compensation in the shape of sex with a beautiful elf, right!?
However, Souma didn’t allow that. With a smile on his lips, he pressed Lobnas to leave his residence and the city.
“We have to attack Holmea at once to repay our debt towards His Majesty Doldea! At this point, it’s already a pressing matter. Hence, you’d get dragged into the war on your way back if you don’t hurry now. I’m very certain of that!”
Souma expelled Lobnas, who was taken aback as his mind couldn’t quite catch up with what was going on, out of the lord’s residence. Furthermore, after seeing Lobnas standing around in front of the residence while completely lost, Souma ordered a court lady, “Bring me some salt! I need salt!”
After a short while, the court lady came back with the requested salt. Souma took it from her and sprinkled it on Lobnas.
“Peh peh peh! W-What is this!?” Lobnas asked while spitting out some of the salt that had entered his mouth.
“It’s a custom back in my hometown to pray for a safe trip by sprinkling salt to keep evil spirits away. It is essential for you to safely get back home, General Lobnas!”
Such a custom existed indeed. But it was actually an act to drive away evil – in this case the evil called Lobnas. Souma had no intention to explain this, but a perceptive person like Eladia immediately caught on to Souma’s aim.
“Oh my, I’m hearing about this for the first time. ――Lord Soma, would you please allow me to pray for Lord Lobnas’ safety in the same way?”
Getting Souma’s approval, Eladia threw salt at Lobnas while saying something. Souma and Shyemul opened their eyes widely at that.
“Peh peh peh! What did you say just now?”
Having been covered with salt from the head down once more, Lobnas asked Eladia what she had said.
In response, Eladia smiled sweetly, “I have prayed for your safe journey in elvish, Lord Lobnas.”
Then Eladia shifted her eyes to the court ladies standing next to her.
“You girls, won’t you pray for Lord Lobnas’ safe travel as well?”
The ones standing there were the elven girl Erika, who had just recently been promoted to a full-fledged court lady, and the three court lady apprentices Ilsa, Nina, and Paula. All four of them had started to work in Bolnis as court ladies due to their achievement of having rescued Souma when he got stranded in the mountains.
Blinking her eyes in surprise at Eladia’s invitation, Erika refrained while smiling wryly, but the three young girls fervently insisted on being allowed to do so. While saying something in elvish just like Eladia, the three energetically threw salt at Lobnas.
Watching the three beautiful, sweet elven girls tossing salt at him, Lobnas said in great joy, “For such wonderful girls to have taken a liking to me, I must possess quite the charm.”
“Hey, Soma,” Shyemul whispered to Souma while watching the three girls and Lobnas from the side, “to me it sounded like Eladia and the others said some things that are better left unsaid…”
After Shyemul had started to serve as Souma’s personal attendant, she learned not only the western language, but had Eladia teach her elvish as well. Going by her understanding of the language, the girls should have said things like “Speak after resolving yourself to be cut off,” or “You can’t complain even if you get cut down by your opponent” just now.
Souma nodded once with a bitter smile, “Yep. ――I remember hearing something similar…”
For Souma, who could unconsciously understand every language, the scenery in front of his eyes looked something like that:
“You’re even inferior to Genobanda, you *peep*! Don’t ever come back here again!”
“I’ll do *peep* and *peep* to that tiny *peep* attached to your groin!”
As the girls hurled outrageous insults at Lobnas while sprinkling salt,
“Ha ha ha! What lovely, cute, little ladies you are!”
It was a bizarre scene of Lobnas being showered with abuse and salt while donning a complacent expression.
Lobnas returned to Romania in good humor without realizing that he had been driven away as an evil spirit. On his way, he started to spread rumors about the Divine Son of Destruction raising an army in the cities and towns he passed. Of course, he did so for the sake of making Holmea focus on the Divine Son of Destruction.
King Doldea danced in joy when he heard Lobnas’ report about having brought back a written agreement, promising that the Divine Son of Destruction would fight Holmea before Romania and assault a city, and that this news was already spreading as rumor. And while praising Lobnas, he ordered his generals and lords, whom he had entrusted with the management of the royal army, to secretly get everything ready to invade Holmea.
Learning of Romania’s movements through a harpyian messenger, Souma disclosed his agreement with Romania to the public. This piece of news spread throughout all of Holmea like a wildfire.
The situation was recorded in the journal of Holmea’s Minister Yulfretis as follows:
“As if being informed about the landfall of a huge storm, not only the lowly commoners, but even the knights and lords fell into panic.”
And just as he said, the grand storm called Divine Son of Destruction Soma Kisaki was right about to devastate the West.