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Souma had something else he needed to tell everyone while their enthusiasm was still lingering.
“The upcoming battles are going to involve many people. Leading everyone with my powers alone will be tough. Accordingly, I plan to appoint several people as generals and have them lead their respective army corps.”
Everyone answered with cries of astonishment and wonder. When it came to being a general, you’d be respected greatly by those around you. Naturally, everyone was waiting for Souma to reveal the names while harboring secret hopes that they might be chosen.
“First off, Jahangil Hesam Jalji!”
The first to have his name called out was the strongest warrior of the dinosaurians, Jahangil.
“I appoint you as Dragon General! I will rely on you as an army inspector and entrust my personal safety to you and your men as an elite guard unit!”
A stir occurred among those knowing Jahangil when they heard about this choice in personnel. No matter how unmatched in bravery dinosaurians might be, less than seventy had assembled under Souma’s command. Having them protect Souma as elite guards while taking their fame and individual prowess into account was near perfect as a personnel assignment since their existence as mighty warriors would also boost Souma’s dignity.
But, the problem lay with Souma assigning Jahangil as army inspector in addition to the bodyguarding. Army inspectors made sure that an army adhered to military discipline, and depending on the circumstances, they counted as a police organization within an army ― what was commonly called military police in modern society ― with the authority to make arrests and hand out punishments. Many of Souma’s men found it hard to accept that Souma would assign such an important position to Jahangil.
And their thinking was understandable. When speaking of Jahangil, it’d be no exaggeration to claim that he was the one disconnected the most from military discipline as he usually lazed around in the garden of the lord’s residence all day long without doing anything, or rather, while doing whatever he pleased.
Then again, Souma himself was also against this appointment at first. In reality, it was no one other than Solon who had strongly endorsed Jahangil for that post. When Souma got confused by his recommendation and questioned Solon about his reasons, he received following response:
“Even if you tell that man to unconditionally observe the rules and regulations of our army, it’ll only make him shun them even stronger. For this very reason, I’m asking you to assign the heavy responsibility of army inspector to him. If you do that, it’ll stir his own dutifulness, and he’ll take the initiative in adhering to military regulations. Moreover, it’ll also lead to the other people realizing the importance of military rules, if they see him actively following them as one who had previously done whatever he felt like.”
Souma could agree with that line of thinking. Of course, that alone wasn’t enough to clear all of his worries. Thus he didn’t forget to install a fail-safe to prevent Jahangil from going ballistic.
“Meflazard, Niyusharl, Palsharl!”
Next Souma called out to Jahangil’s three sons. The three reacted by straightening their backs and having their tails stand on end.
“You three will act as your father’s assistants. Please do your utmost to carry out your duty.”
Souma hoped to have Meflazard, who was no inferior to his father in ferocity, act as threat to have Jahangil adhere to military rule while having Niyusharl, who was taciturn but reliable, and Palsharl, who was lenient towards the other races, act as deterrents against their father and eldest brother who tended to go berserk.
Next Souma called the name of a dwarf who was shouldering a halberd.
“Dvalin! I appoint you as Earth General! I shall leave the dwarven heavy infantry in your hands. Also, Norðri shall become his second-in-command!”
Dvalin indicated his acceptance by silently hitting his breastplate while Norðri, the Warrior Leader of Marven’s dwarves, laughed heartily with his beard trembling.
“I will have all dwarves participate in the battles as heavy infantry, but above that, I pin a lot of hope into your work as combat engineers who are going to build fortified encampments and weaponry. The dwarves’ high technological skill is the very reason why we can place so much trust into our battle encampments.”
After the dwarves silently responded to that by ramming the pommels of their halberds and warhammers into the ground, Souma shifted his eyes to the beautiful forest fairies next.
“Eladia Oldwood! I appoint you as Archer General! I leave the elven combat archers in your capable hands. Also, I will call upon you whenever we require negotiations and audiences at the front. Audiences and negotiations are bladeless battles. In some sense, you can even describe them as crucial battles that are much crueler than fighting an enemy on the battleground. Please take care of that side!”
Even though Eladia should be very elated about the momentous task assigned to her, she didn’t allow it to show on her face as she accepted her post with a bow that carried her usual elegance. Matching that, the elves behind her plucked the strings of their bows.
“Pipi Toto Gigi! I appoint you as Bird General! Although I call you general, you will only have less than twenty brethren under your command. However, I believe in the tremendous impact of the harpyians’ strengths. You’re excelling the other races in your quickness as messengers thanks to your wings and reliability as scouts. Because of that, I assigned you as a general in spite of you leading less than twenty soldiers. Please internalize the meaning behind that.”
Pipi knelt down on one knee, and exhibited her allegiance by spreading her wings, which were trembling out of excitement, as if to cover the ground. The other harpyians imitated her in this.
“Marchronis! I appoint you as Human General! Moreover, I shall add Setius as your second-in-command on behalf of his wish. Your duty will be paramount. The people of this world regard us as rebels who oppose humanity. Even if we found a country, it will become one filled with all races other than the humans. For the sake of avoiding such a development, we must show the world that humans fought together with us to become one of the powers to found our country. I want you to devote all your force to that end!”
Marchronis, the former company commander aide at Holmea’s fort in the plains, revealed a daring smile on his face that was riddled with many sword cuts. Meanwhile, Setius, who had been a platoon leader at the same fort as Marchronis, looked astonished. Both drew the sword hanging at their waist halfway out of its scabbard, just to let it drop back in with a click.
With this, the five races of dinosaurians, dwarves, elves, harpyians, and human each had a general appointed. The only race, other than the marmen who weren’t under Souma’s command, not mentioned so far were the zoan. Those zoan currently fielded the biggest military force on top of having supported Souma from the very start, making them fairly influential. When it came to a general who would lead the warriors of such an essential race, they’d hold a lot more authority and responsibility than the generals who had been named thus far.
That alone made everyone to be on tenterhooks about who would be named next as the next general. And the name crossing everyone’s mind was Fagul Garguss Garam. Garam was the brother of Shyemul who was generally accepted as first retainer of Souma, and enjoyed Souma’s deep trust. He was the clan chief of the Fang Clan, which had accepted Souma first even among the zoan of the Solbiant Plains, and he was also the Great Clan Chief who led all the zoan of the plains. Moreover, when it came to a hero with high fame as the strongest of the plains, anyone would agree on him being the perfect choice. Rather, it was unthinkable for anyone other than him to become the zoan general.
“《Mad Claw》 Kraga Bigana Zurgu!”
However, the name Souma put into his mouth was that of Zurgu. While everyone was equally surprised by this, only Zurgu alone answered, “Aye!”, with an oddly convinced face.
“I appoint you as Beast General. Moreover, I will add Manuyn Banuka Bararak as your second-in-command!”
The young chief of the Mane Clan, Banuka, showed his surprise as he hadn’t expected for his name to appear here.
“The zoan warriors can undoubtedly be regarded as the main force of the army led by me. I won’t exaggerate if I say that victory or defeat will be decided by the efforts of the zoan. Even if everyone else perfectly carries out their duties, the defeat of the zoan will spell out defeat. Both of you, I want you to strive hard while understanding the responsibility I have imposed on you.”
In contrast to Zurgu who pushed out his chest as if telling Souma to leave everything to him, Banuka, who had been assigned as second-in-command while Garam had been disregarded, acted very hesitant, constantly checking the reactions by those around him. Moreover, voices could be heard stirring among the zoan as if they had been infected by Banuka’s discomposure.
Souma shouted so as to drown out all the noise, “And, 《Ferocious Fang》 Fagul Garguss Garam!”
The zoan went quiet out of surprise over Garam’s name being called out. The six generals of each class had already been decided. Hence, there was no race left to be led by a general. So why was Garam’s name mentioned at this point in time?
Everyone awaited Souma’s next words full of doubt and hope. And then, after taking a deep breath, Souma announced, “I appoint you as marshal who will supervise and command the other six generals!”
The zoan thrust their hands in the air and broke out in loud cheers. Garam himself remained dumbfounded for a while as he couldn’t quite grasp what Souma had said just now. In the meantime, the zoan around him slapped his shoulders and back, giving him their rough blessing.
Finally comprehending the situation, Garam glared at Zurgu who was standing next to him while acting like a know-it-all.
“Hey, Zurgu! Did you know about this!?”
“No,” the other zoan casually shrugged his shoulders, “but I thought that it might turn out like this.”
“Then tell me ahead of time.”
Even though Garam knew that he was merely venting his anger, he felt like wanting to at least make that one complaint.
But, Zurgu narrowed his remaining eye while grinning broadly, “That’d be boring, wouldn’t it? ――Besides, the look on your face just now…”
Zurgu snickered with his shoulders trembling as if he had to suppress an urge to burst into laughter. Seeing him like that, Garam felt like walloping him a good one for real.
But, before he could put that in practice, Shyemul showed up and told him to come stand on the pedestal with Souma. Being seen off by Zurgu who waved his hand as if driving off a puppy, Garam climbed on the pedestal together with Shyemul.
“If possible, I’d like you to inform me of such things in advance,” was the first thing Garam said when opening his mouth.
Souma put on a troubled expression and answered, “Shyemul told me that it would be better to stay silent about it.”
Garam immediately glared at his little sister. But Shyemul folded her arms in front of her voluptuous chest, and explained with a triumphant look, “《Ferocious Fang》, you’re unexpectedly a sissy. If we had told you in advance, you’d have likely claimed that it’s too much of a responsibility for you and recommended 《Mad Claw》. Hence, it was better to have you accept your fate by confronting you with an official appointment like this.”
Garam was up and about to yell, “Are you an idiot, girl!?”, at his sister who was praising her own idea as being magnificent, but barely managed to restrain himself.
Souma addressed the fuming Garam, “Garam, I have created the military infrastructure and launched the policies that will allow us to win while predicting the general flow of the upcoming war. But, war is an unpredictable beast. You never know how things might pan out. Thus I need your judgment as a great warrior to read the notions of that beast and deal with the unpredictable. When push comes to shove, command the whole army in my place and save all of us.”
Being told all this by Souma, Garam definitely had no choice but to accept his fate. And yet, he still allowed himself to spit out a sigh.
“Got it. ――If you’re fine with me, I’ll devote all my power to this task.”
Souma smiled broadly at Garam’s reply.
“Very well, Marshal. Please give the order for departure then.”
Garam planted himself next to Souma, facing everyone on the plaza. While feeling their looks resting on himself, Garam raised his voice, “My brethren! And my war buddies of different appearance! Let us go to war!”
Then he pumped his muscular right arm into the air, “Depart!!”
“”Yeaaah!!!””, everyone shouted in response.
Ascertaining that with his own eyes, Garam turned his face back to Souma, “By the way, Soma.”
Souma tilted his head, asking, “What is it?”
“With this I have become the marshal, correct?”
“Yes, what about it?”
“Then, what is your position in this whole war business?”
Souma froze for a while, his eyes widened. Next, he opened his mouth in surprise.
He hadn’t thought of this at all. As his mind had been preoccupied with appointing the generals of the respective races and the marshal above them all in order to get their army sorted, he had completely forgotten to consider his own role.
Given that I made Garam marshal, I have to hold a position above that. Besides, lord of Bolnis might be a bit too lacking. I’ve received the title of Clan King, but that’s ultimately a position limited to the zoan and as such ill-suited to lead a joint army of six races. On the other hand, I’m not really eager to call myself king.
“Umm…what should I do?” Souma asked with a cramped smile.
Garam and Shyemul sighed simultaneously.
“As always, you’re acting like a birdbrain.”
“Could you please stop embarrassing me, my dear Navel Master?”
The two siblings, who represented the zoan, rolled their eyes.
The guard standing watch on the bridgepoint of the Conte spotted that around the time when the sun was starting to sink in the west. The bridge had been a picture of peace ever since the revolting slaves retreated after finishing their raid on the Copper Mine Marven.
He had also heard the stories about the soldiers of the slave army amassing in Bolnis once again, but last time it had taken them quite a number of days to reach this place after departing the city. Thus he suspected that their reappearance at the Conte would be a matter of the future for now.
Because of that belief, he and his comrades were now chatting carefreely, despite having fearfully stared in the direction of Bolnis back when the revolting slaves had only retreated.
“Hmm? What…are those…?” One soldier among them asked while pointing at the western sky.
When his comrades shifted their eyes in that direction, they saw several small shadows dotting the western sky.
“Birds, right? What about it?”
“What? Aren’t those fairly big for birds?”
The soldiers, who were riddled with boredom, all gave random comments and speculations as if to waste some time. But, that lasted but a short time.
Once they realized the true identity of those shadows which had gradually grown bigger as they approached, the soldiers went pale and started to raise their voices.
“H-Harpyians!? E-Enemy attack! An enemy attack is incoming!!”
The guard station at the bridge point quickly went abuzz due to the warning of an enemy attack. But, at that point it was already far too late. Where the flight speed of harpyians, who were said to cover miles on end with their wings, was concerned, arriving right above the guard station quicker than Holmea’s soldiers could ready their defenses was as easy as child’s play.
The harpyian girls, who fluttered above the station in a pack, had small jars with the size of a baby’s head dangling from their feet. Sparks of crimson flames were scattered from the lids of the jars, fanned by the violent flight wind.
“Everyone, follow me!” Pipi screamed with the shrill voice of a human girl, just to charge at the shed located near the bridge in the next moment.
And right before crashing into the shed, Pipi let go of the leather strap affixed to her jar and launched herself back up into the air again.
The jar, which followed the law of inertia, flew at the shed, clashed against its wall, shattered, and scattered its black liquid into the vicinity. What the jar contained was nothing other than oil. And that oil caught fire in the next instant, allowing bright red flames to lick all it had touched.
Furthermore, this wasn’t the end of it. Following Pipi, one harpyian girl after the other tossed her fire jar in the same way. And because of the harpyian bombing, the shed went ablaze in the blink of an eye, black smoke quickly billowing up into the sky.
That was the beacon tolling the beginning of war between “Divine Son of Destruction” Soma Kisaki and the western powerhouse Holmea.
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