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Important, so please read:
A while back I ran a survey on this series. The turnout of participants was disillusioningly low, but as thanks to the few who participated I decided to give this series the same chance to increase the release rate as I gave the other series on the Wednesday release slot, Madan no Ou to Vanadis.
As you can see from the banners above and below, I’ve added Hakai no Miko to my Patreon. And just as with Madan no Ou, I’m going to increase the release rate to weekly, if more than 40 supporters have the will to support this translation with a monthly coffee or two, and at 100 supporters it’ll go up to 1,5 stories per week. (As bonus you get to read ahead for this series and the other 3 on the Patreon)
The fans of Madan no Ou have managed to boost their release up to once per week from formerly one part every two weeks, so I believe that it’s possible for Hakai no Miko to achieve the same.
As additional incentive I’ll tell you this much: In light of preparing to build up a stock, I read ahead, and ended up binging the more than 100 stories of this arc. It was epic enough to actually rob me of my sleep, overshadowing the first arc by far.
Please don’t get me wrong, I don’t particularly mind continuing at this rate for as long as I can. But series with backers naturally have a higher priority to me than those that don’t. So if you like this series and my translation of it, consider actively supporting it, if you can.
The story about the Divine Son of Destruction having raised an army spread from the royal palace onto the streets in the blink of an eye through court insiders such as court ladies and lower government officials. Whenever people came together in Holmenia, the capital of Holmea, they exchanged rumors soaked with truths and lies.
“It looks like the Divine Son of Destruction raised an army, forestalling our sending a subjugation army.”
“I hear he joined hands with that cursed Romania to simultaneously attack this country from the east and west.”
“No, no. According to the stories I heard, they seem to have made an agreement forcing the Divine Son of Destruction to attack a city first.”
On the faces of the people exchanging such rumors were different emotions visible compared to the time when King Warius announced the subjugation of the revolting slaves in the past. Although the slaves were led by the terrifying Divine Son of the Goddess of Death and Destruction, they didn’t amount to much more than a power controlling a single, provincial city. Even though they felt a mysterious ghastliness from the Divine Son of Destruction, they couldn’t imagine that Holmea, a major power in the West, would lose. However, with the name of their archenemy Romania entering the mix, their feelings shifted from simple uneasiness to a clear sense of impending danger. And the same could be said about the central figures of Holmea.
Civil and military officials exchanged heated arguments with grave expressions at the war council that was held in front of King Warius as soon as they got the information of the Divine Son of Destruction’s army.
“It is inexcusable for the likes of filthy, revolting slaves to point their blades at our great Holmea! We should use all our forces to crush them like the bugs they are! I believe it would be the best plan to make an example of them and display Holmea’s authority!”
An enthusiastic military officer advocated in high spirits, causing a civil official to rebuke, “If you consider the matter with the gold from five years ago, it’s plain as daylight that they’re in cahoots with Romania! It’s the height of folly to send all our forces to suppress the slaves. It’s a common metaphor that a thieving cat will enter a house deserted by its owner for the sake of exterminating the mice in the fields. It is Romania we must keep a close eye on!”
Another military officer immediately objected, “We’re talking about the cunning King Doldea here. He’ll gather his soldiers after confirming whether we can immediately put down the revolting slaves. If we use that against him, we just need to return east and get ready for Romania right after suppressing the slaves in one swoop!”
This caused another objection to be raised.
“Isn’t that easier said than done? Did you forget the crushing defeat of a certain famous general who led five times as many soldiers as there were revolting slaves?”
It was a war council with all kinds of arguments being raised, but as might be expected, after one koku (approx. two hours), the officials and officers had run out of arguments to make. Thus, as if having arranged it in advance, the lords and chief vassals all looked at King Warius who had so far listened to the council without saying anything. While sensing how all their eyes focused on him, King Warius pondered what he should do.
The military forces available to Holmea were split into two big categories.
One were the soldiers referred to as the royal army. They were career soldiers who were paid by the country. Nowadays, there were few big battles as Holmea’s war with its archenemy Romania had entered a lull, but they still were elites who worked hard at their daily drills, and possessed plenty of live combat experience from subjugating bandit groups and quelling uprisings within the country. Their morale and skill were high, allowing for them to be described as Holmea’s main military force.
The other were the soldiers of the noble lords who had been granted territory. In exchange for having their sovereignty over their territory guaranteed by the kingdom, the nobles had the duty to heed the king’s call and head into battle with their soldiers. If King Warius were to call for them, the lords would assemble with their feudal armies, probably fielding 10,000 soldiers in total. However, the majority of those soldiers would consist of peasants, recruited as volunteer soldiers. No matter how you looked at it, their morale and skill would be a problem.
King Warius himself embraced the wish to squash the revolting slaves, who had stained his honor so much until now, like a fly in one go with the powerful royal army. However, the majority of that army was stationed at the eastern border as bulwark against Romania. Under the current situation, where it was conceivable for Romania to invade, it’d be a poor plan to withdraw the royal army from the east.
Of course, he also had the option to send the lords and their feudal armies to the east to free up the royal army. But, King Warius knew that the lords would hate this.
The lords were obligated to follow the king’s call and join a war with their own soldiers. However, at the same time this provided a great opportunity for them to receive rewards by obtaining achievements on the battlefield. The king wouldn’t be able to elevate the lords’ morale for defending the east where it wouldn’t be certain whether they’d get any chance to obtain achievements as it wasn’t set in stone that Romania would invade. Moreover, as the lords didn’t want to stay absent from their territories for a long time, they especially hated defensive battles that tended to become drawn-out.
King Warius made up his mind.
“He might call himself Divine Son of Destruction, but in the end he’s no more than a revolting slave. The eastern Romania is Holmea’s true enemy! First we’ll reinforce the east with the royal army!”
Romania is the real threat here. I’ll pull together the royal army, which has been deployed all across the country, and bolster the eastern defense.
“Second, we shall borrow the lords’ strength to suppress the western slaves! Notify all lords: Take up your spears and rally under my banner!”
And then I’ll pit the lords’ soldiers against the slaves in the west.
The lack of knowledge of how many soldiers the lords would field and the concerns about those soldiers’ morale were two worrying aspects, but King Warius had a secret plan.
“Inform them furthermore that we shall award enormous rewards to those achieving meritorious deeds during the suppression, and that the person with the biggest achievements among them shall be entrusted with the rule of the recaptured Bolnis!”
This caused a stir among all present vassals. Bolnis was the city which was remarkably developing the most in the West at present. Its chief industries would very likely be placed under the control of the royal family, but even so, just the taxes for the grains such as wheat, which would be transported from the Solbiant Plains while passing through the city, would already amount to a tremendous amount of money. If one became its lord, they could pocket all those riches.
The majority of the lords, who had no chances to obtain rewards from the country as big wars had lately been on the decline, borrowed the money for their living and entertainment from merchants. It was no mistake to believe that the lords would join the suppression with bloodshot eyes while leading as many soldiers as they could, if they heard of this.
And then King Warius got up from his throne, and sonorously declared, “I order the lords and soldiers! The time has come for you to show your loyalty towards me, and make Holmea’s might and authority widely known!”
The vassals immediately went down on their knees, and said to King Warius in a chorus, “”All hail His Majesty!!””
And thus King Warius’ appeal was spread all over the country by royal messengers.
All of those movements by Holmea were reported to Souma.
“Hey, Soma, you got a message from the shitty geezer.”
The only person Shyemul would insult as shitty geezer was Solon who had stayed back in Bolnis. Once Souma asked about the message’s content with a wry smile, Shyemul opened the letter, while skilfully holding onto the bridle of Souma’s horse, and read out its content loud.
“It looks like secret messages were delivered by the people we made hide in Holmea. King Warius gathers the royal army in the east, and apparently intends to send the lords’ soldiers our way.”
Souma chose some of the soldiers who had become their prisoners during the battle over Bolnis. The conditions for his selection were: them having pledged their allegiance to Souma, the ability to read and write, and the possession of a certain rank within the royal army. Giving them some money, he planted them as spies in Holmea.
But, despite the soldiers chosen by Souma having high ranks, they didn’t go beyond company commander. As might be expected, they couldn’t get their hands on information from the royal palace, but they were still able to roughly grasp the movements of Holmea’s royal army.
Souma felt relieved by what Shyemul read to him.
“That’s what you’d call great news.”
If they compare us to Romania, it’s only natural to keep the royal army, the main force of Holmea, in reserve for Romania, and try to suppress us with the nobles’ armies. But, King Warius is someone unpredictable when he blows his fuse. It was quite possible that he’d send all of Holmea’s forces our way. Just in case, I came up with strategies to delay in case Holmea were to choose this option, but it looks like my worries have been groundless.
“This is going to allow us to proceed as planned.” Souma said while cheerfully smiling at Shyemul.
Immediately following, he heard the rattling of chains right next to him. Once Souma turned his eyes towards the source, Jahangil was heavily lumbering away with a chain cast over his shoulder.
Most recently Jahangil had been in a rather good mood, but at that moment Jahangil’s dinosaurian face, which looked expressionless to all other races, seemed sullen to Souma. Immediately having an idea what this was about, Souma called out to Jahangil.
“Please don’t be so disappointed. I’ll soon have you and your brethren do your best for our case, Jahangil.”
Being pacified like that, Jahangil deeply growled as if denying that he was sulky. In the meantime, Souma and the others had arrived close to the river flowing between Bolnis and Luoma. Nowadays the area around here was called Snomuta with the bridge across the river being located in its middle. Snomuta would become a crucial, momentous area due to the battle which would take place here a little while later and find its way into the history of the West under the name “Humiliation of Snomuta.”
However, at this time the area around here had nothing worthy of mention besides a simple bridge spanning over the river. It was an empty land referred to as western landing point by the Holmenians and eastern landing point by the people of Bolnis.
Five days had already passed since Souma left Bolnis. A normal army would be capable of reaching this place here in two or three days, but they took so much time because they focused on drilling the new recruits during the march.
“Alright! We’ll stop the march here! Sound the signal to halt!”
Once Souma lifted his right hand, giving the order to stop, the drums were played with the signal for halting after a slight delay. And yet it took quite a lot of time until the whole army stopped. When Souma looked back at the soldiers following behind him, he saw some places where the ranks got jammed, and other places where the distance between the files grew too big.
According to Marchronis, the soldiers still have to go through many, many more drills.
While he was recalling that, Shyemul called out to him, “Is it really okay for us to take up a position so far away, Soma?”
Just as Shyemul suggested, there was still quite a bit of distance left until they’d reach the bridge point to cross the river. Their current location was still too far away even for the zoan to try launching a surprise attack with their leg strength that allowed them to outrun horses.
However, Souma nodded at that with a smile, “Yep, we’re just right here. I mean they’re going to burn the bridge down if we get too close to it.”
Looking across the bridge, one could see a small garrison on the Holmean shore. It was a garrison Darius had ordered to be built alongside the reconstruction of the bridge which he had burned down when retreating after his defeat. Around 100 soldiers of the royal army were permanently stationed there. They had been strictly ordered to be always ready for preventing the Divine Son of Destruction to invade Holmean soil with his troops by burning the bridge down in case of an attack.
“Okay, let’s get the camp set up while the sun is still out,” said Souma and further ordered for Marchronis to be summoned.
“Please split the army into three units. One is to construct the encampment, one is to rest, and one is to watch the vicinity.”
Marchronis confirmed Souma’s instruction curtly, and galloped towards the rear of the army after whipping his horse.
A little while later, Souma’s soldiers began to move in a hurry.
The river flowing between Bolnis and Luoma was called Conte. It was a big river carrying water from the northern mountains all the way to the southern Benes Bay. Even at its relatively shallow parts, the river was deep enough to reach the waist of an adult man during this time of the year. It was reasonably wide, so it was somewhat difficult to cross the river by foot while wearing weapons and armor, albeit not impossible.
A military station had been erected in the vicinity of the bridge on Holmea’s side. The soldiers stationed there had already gone into a state of high alert after having received news about the revolting slaves raising an army, resulting in the station being filled with an air of tingling tension.
As the soldiers of the military station hesitated to needlessly provoke Bolnis, they hadn’t crossed the bridge so far. But, under the current state of high alert, they had built two layers of simple fences that used wood tied together in a grid pattern on Bolnis’ side of the bridge. And after having brought out great quantities of firewood and oil from a small storage, which had been erected by itself in a place away from the other buildings, they had begun to burn bonfires day and night.
This was a setup with the aim to burn down the bridge by using the oil and firewood while the fences would buy them some time, even if the revolting slaves were to attack. Since the wood of the bridge itself had been treated with plenty of oil for preservation, it’d likely be impossible to prevent it from completely burning down once it caught fire.
But, despite getting everything ready so meticulously and waiting for the aggressors to arrive, the enemy had started to set up camp in the far distance, so they felt somewhat betrayed.
“Commander, do they plan to settle down over there?”
The company commander entrusted with the garrison frowned at the question of his subordinate. Even he had clearly expected the slaves to rush at them without so much as a thought. And yet he could grasp with his farsight how the slaves were about to set up a camp. As might be expected, this surprised him as well.
Crossing rivers was one of the big issues when armies marched. It was easy for the soldiers to get split up by the river, and it was next to impossible to run away inside a river when under enemy attack. Even though it was a crucial point how fast an army could cross a river during its march, the slaves had not only given up on trying to take over the bridge before it could be burnt down, but they were leisurely pitching a camp.
Even though the commander was confused by the enemies’ incomprehensible actions, he didn’t allow it to show, and remonstrated his subordinate with an especially strict look, “Don’t become careless. That might be a plan to catch us off-guard by pretending to not attack.”
If it’s the Divine Son of Destruction, he’s a tactician who’s led Holmea’s strongest general Darius around by the nose, so we cannot allow ourselves to be negligent.
The commander gave strict orders to his men, and on top of that, he strove to keep up the tension of his soldiers by personally patrolling the garrison instead of simply leaving it to his men.
However, contrary to Holmea’s soldiers who were operating under such intense tension, the slaves sent their soldiers to sleep early once they finished setting up their camp.
The company commander suspected this to also be part of the scheme to make them drop their attention, and strictly ordered for the night watch to be doubled so as to always keep the fires going. In this tense atmosphere, not only the night watch, but even the other soldiers were unable to get a wink of sleep. All of them were vigilant, wondering when the slaves would launch their night raid, and thus spent the night wide awake.
However, the night raid they were so wary of never took place.
The commander, who greeted the morning after a night of almost no sleep, felt a lot more irritated than relieved that there had been no night raid.
“Damn it! I’d rather burn down this bloody bridge and be done with it!”
Now that it had come to this, he felt like wanting to quickly burn down the bridge and then withdraw from this location. However, the bridge was a necessity for the time when Holmea would invade Bolnis. Deciding on his own discretion to burn down the bridge went beyond his authority as a simple company commander.
Being well aware that he was referring to things he couldn’t do anyway because of his lack of sleep and irritation, the commander shook his head to expel those thoughts. Just as he was getting ready to do his morning patrol, a soldier rushed into his room.
“Sir! It’s an emergency! They’ve started to move!”
Having his sleepiness blown away at once, the commander grabbed his sword, rushed out of his lodging house, and ran towards the riverbank.
‘The battle is finally going to start! We must burn down the bridge right away if they come at us. Also, I’ll also need to quickly dispatch a messenger to Fort Garaff in our back.
The commander sprinted through the garrison while pondering what he had to do next, running up to the watchtower erected near the riverbank. And the instant he saw the enemy camp from the lookout, he’s mind was blown away, becoming completely empty.
“What…are those guys thinking…?”
It was only natural for him to mutter this, partially dumbfounded. The revolting slaves forming up ranks close to the camp was still expectable, but the problem lay with the voices reaching the garrison from there.
“Ready your spears!”
A voice shouting commands in the distance, and soldiers raising their voices in response while moving accordingly. Anyone could see that this was a military drill.
“They’re training their soldiers in front of us…?”
The soldiers, who had belatedly arrived on the watchtower after their commander, snarled in anger.
“Commander, Sir! We cannot allow them to mock us like this! Let’s immediately attack them!”
No matter how inattentive their opponent might be, they still had more than a thousand soldiers. It was more than ten times the number of the soldiers stationed at the garrison. An attack would obviously be suicide, and yet the soldiers were apparently unable to make such calm judgment due to their anger and lack of sleep.
The commander almost ended up nodding in reflex, but stopped himself in panic, and instead rebuked his men, “No. This might also be a part of their plan. Listen! Don’t drop your guards at any cost!”
However, betraying the commander’s prediction, Souma not once tried to move from the spot, even after five and then ten days had passed.
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