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Of course, for the zoan who are related to the upcoming battles, but even for those among the former slaves who could somewhat foresee how things would pan out, this refusal of Souma was something very improbable.
Holmea’s punitive force might already be on its way. It would just be waiting to gather as strong of a military force as possible in order to deal with the zoan and former slaves in one go. In order to survive, there should be no way that he can refuse the participation of the former slaves and fight with just the zoan.
Anxiety, doubt, distrust and bewilderment.
All these emotions jumbled together and noises leaked out all around the square. Everyone wanted to hear his real intention behind this refusal, but Souma continued to remain silent as he just gazes at the stirring crowd.
Due to Souma looking as though he won’t open his mouth no matter how much time passes, people perceive that he’s waiting for everyone to be ready to listen to what he has to say. Eventually, it reached the point where everyone quieted down in order to hear him out.
Souma, who actually felt that everyone present is waiting for his words, starts his speech with a calm voice.
“All of you are misunderstanding. Is everybody thinking that this is a worthless slave revolt? Do all of you think this is really just a trivial act of revenge that will end as soon as Holmea’s royal army appears to suppress you?”
For those that experienced the hardships of slavery, revenge against the humans was nothing but justice. It was their ritual of rehabilitation for the sake of regaining their own pride and making them feel like a person again.
However Souma concluded that this was something worthless and trivial.
Due to that, the former slaves felt enraged, believing that their emotions were looked down upon.
On the verge of that rage being about to erupt, Souma said powerfully,
“But, it’s different! Our fight isn’t something so tiny as a rebellion or revenge!”
The people who were about to turn their anger at him were bewildered.
Contrary to their initial thoughts that he’s making light of them, he says that it’s not so. On the contrary, he says that the fight isn’t such a small thing instead.
Nobody could comprehend the meaning of Souma’s words and confusion spreads.
And, as if taking advantage of that confusion, Souma hurled sharp words,
“Everyone! Look at the appearances of those next to you!”
Being induced by Souma’s words, all of them looked around themselves.
“The ones you might find there are zoan, dwarves or dinosaurians.
But, no matter to which race they might belong, the ones you see there are people who had their pride, feelings and beliefs hurt. They are people who were injured by irrational violence.
And, that also applies to you yourself.
You were the weak who got injured, had the freedom of your mind and body stolen and had your dignity trampled underfoot, with the only reasoning being that you are from a different race.
Once you close your eyes, you likely see the figure of your tyrannical master who whipped you as if you were a piece of cattle. Once you listen carefully, you probably hear the jeers of the overseers trying to break your spirit.”
Upon those words, some touched their scars, traces of the whips which even now remain on their back. Some rubbed the wounds on their wrists caused by a prolonged wearing of handcuffs. Moreover, some covered their ears trying to shut out the jeers they can hear even now reverberating in their ears. And some hid in shame the brands burned onto their bodies.
However, Souma reprimands those people.
“But, you are injured weaklings no longer! Now at last you have recovered your dignity and freedom with our own hands and have become the strong!”
These people had a dark shadow cast on their heart after hearing their own painful past exposed, but they also felt a single bright ray of hope from those words. No matter how intentionally fabricated this hope and shadow may have been, they cannot help but cling onto the single ray of hope.
The former slaves all across the place nodded deeply due to Souma’s words.
However, finding this level of reaction insufficient, Souma even further appeals to them,
“Are you weak!? Or strong!? Which is it!?”
In reply to that, at first several people shout 「We are strong!」. And, hearing that, even more of those in the surroundings raise their voices in agreement one after the other. Similar to a ripple spreading across a water’s surface, it spreads to all those present in the square.
Those who hung their heads in shame after recalling their painful past when they were slaves, threw out their chests with pride and shouted loudly with their cheeks flushed.
Watching that spectacle for a short while, Souma chooses a suitable time and raises a hand slightly.
That’s all he does.
That’s all he does and yet the stirring people fell silent.
It’s not like they were given detailed instructions or were ordered to do so by someone. But even so, before realizing it themselves, they were captivated by every single move of the small human child standing in front of them and looked forward to every word coming out from its mouth.
“Then I will ask you, who are strong! What’s the enemy we should fight!?”
Until just a little while ago, no one doubted that the humans are the enemy.
However, due to the words said so far by Souma, they already sensed something like a premonition that there’s no way for the answer to be that easy. Hence, none of them can find the words to answer Souma’s question as they look at each other’s faces.
Souma affirmed that there’s no one that can provide an answer and made grand gestures as he yelled,
“Is the enemy the slave dealers who whipped you? No! They’re nothing more than small pieces of trash! Then, is it the Holy Faith that labelled you as inferior races!? No! They’re a bunch of retards that believe in the ravings of a madman who died ages ago! In that case, is it the human race itself!? That’s not right either!”
That was a denial of the existing way of thinking.
He lists one after another those that would come up as enemies by the former slaves present in the square and rejects all of them.
“Those are wrong! Your way of thinking is mistaken!”
Being denied like that, it created doubt in their own way of thinking. Doubt becomes anxiety, and anxiety turns into fear. And in order to escape from that fear, people search for something they can rely on.
“Why is that so!? Won’t slaves disappear if the humans disappear? There’s no way for that to be true! Once the humans disappear, the next race in power will turn the other races into slaves. If that race disappears as well, the next race will do just the same again. Even if all the other races perish, slaves and those who oppress those slaves will be born among the remaining race.
Your comrades, who are now at this time standing shoulder-to-shoulder with you and with whom you shared the joy of being released from slavery, will change into tomorrow’s slaves and their tyrannic masters.
Can you allow for such thing to happen!? No, it’s impossible to tolerate that! That in itself is wrong! That’s what must be corrected!”
And then, Souma thrust a big answer into the hearts of those who are searching for something they can rely on, into the hearts of those having lost their way.
“The enemy we should fight is this world! The structure of this mistaken world itself!”
That’s something preposterous.
It was something far too outrageous.
It’s such a silly, grand thing that would normally be laughed off as simple-minded foolishness.
However those words strongly carved themselves into the hearts of the people present.
“Does the sun change its brightness depending on the race!? Does rain pour down distinguishing between races? Does night descend after choosing a race!? Does the ground come in contact with people after differentiating them by their race!?
No, of course not!
Originally all people on this world were equal. That truth got distorted in this world by the greed of people who managed to get a hold of power!
However, the truth is different!
Your souls, your will is free! And, no matter what race it might be, there’s no inferiority or superiority between them, no ranking depending on lineage and blood relations! Everyone is equal!”
Freedom and equality.
Those words which are unfamiliar to everyone’s ears, appeared to be something extraordinarily fascinating for some reason.
“In order to protect the equality, freedom and dignity you gained! For the sake of the comrades standing next to you! For the sake of your loved ones that might be standing next to you! For the sake of the children that might come after you! For those reasons—”
Completely changing from the passionate words up to that point, Souma revealed a gentle smile and said,
“Let’s create a country.”
Those words were absorbed by the hearts of everyone listening, like water that was sprinkled on parched soil.
And, putting a bit more passion into it than just now, Souma says once more,
“Let’s create our own country. Our own country of freedom and equality! With these hands of ours!
This is not a mere rebellion! It’s no revenge either! Those wanting to fight for such things are unneeded! After all, this is a fight for the sake of creating a place to call home!”
However, completely changing over, Souma distorts his expression in sadness, shuts his eyes and averts his face.
“But, that’s a path filled with suffering. Those who profit from twisting the world, will definitely try to get rid of us in order to protect their selfish desires.
Those people will be mighty enemies. If we fight against those people, many will likely get hurt and lose their lives.”
Souma turned back his averted face in the direction of everyone again, and thrust a firmly grasped fist into the sky.
“However, at the end of those sacrifices there will definitely be our country! Our home!”
The harsh reality that was thrust at them and the dream that can be found at the end of it. The hearts of the people are shaken grandly the steeper the difference between those two is.
Souma takes the small bag and wooden shackles out of Shyemul’s hands, who stood next to him. First he showed the wooden shackles by hoisting them high up into the air.
“Even so, if you fear death and wish to survive going as far as discarding your dignity and freedom, you can place these shackles around your neck by yourself and return to the filthy slave pens! Live while being abused and whipped like cattle!”
The wooden shackles that was tossed by Souma rolled on the ground with a clattering sound.
And next he hoists up the small bag into the air.
“If you fear the fighting and wish to escape, you can take these silver coins and run away from the city! Keep running away until your death, in fear that the humans might hunt you down at any time!”
The small bag that was thrown by Souma fell to the ground and the silver coins from within noisily scattered on the ground.
“Well now, choose!”
Souma’s voice echoes throughout the square that become still as death with the people being overwhelmed by what they were told.
Everyone was bewildered.
Due to being unable to comprehend the contents that diverted from this world’s common sense.
Even though they can’t understand it, they sense an inexplicable enthusiasm welling up within themselves.
In this square that is dominated by such heavy tension, a single dwarf moves.
It was Dvalin.
He pushes his way through his comrades and proceeds to in front of Souma.
Everyone present on the square observed what Dvalin would do.
Even Souma, who acts bravely while looking as if he will pop with a snap once touched, invested all of his very small amount of courage and also waited for Dvalin’s words.
He might get scolded. He might get ridiculed. He might not even get accepted as worthy by the other side.
Souma waited for the dwarf’s words while trembling in worry in his mind, just like a sinner that’s about to receive their final judgement from their god.
And then, Dvalin quickly breathed in and shouted with a loud voice,
“I don’t need any wood or silver!”
He pushes out his burly right arm with its palm turned upwards towards Souma.
“Give me iron!”
The wood relates to the shackles and the silver is about the silver coins.
And, the iron is about weapons made out of iron.
Dvalin didn’t ask for the shackles to become a slave again, nor did he request silver coins in order to flee, but instead demanded an iron weapon for the sake of fighting.
Guessing that, the dwarves and dinosaurians all at once started to move.
“Right! Give me iron as well!”
“Hand us iron as well!”
“Iron! Give me iron!!”
As they shouted, everyone thrust their tightly grasped fists towards the sky.
Unable to contain themselves due to the violent emotions rising up from deep within their chests, they are furiously stamping on the spot and continue to shout themselves hoarse.
Being affected by that zeal, even the zoan joined in by thrusting their fists into the air and shouting severally.
“”Give us iron! Give us iron!!””
Souma, who is completely bathed in those wildly enthusiastic shouts, noticed that the figure of Shyemul, who had stood next to him, had vanished before he realised.
No, Shyemul was still there.
The reason why he thought that he can’t see her is because Shyemul, who stood there in order to protect Souma, had unnoticed fallen on her knees. Deeply lowering her head towards Souma, her cheeks were wet with tears overflowing from her eyes.
“Oh, Soma, my 『Navel Master』! I consider it my pride to have offered everything of my soul, heart and flesh to you. You are definitely my 『Navel Master』! You are definitely my everything!”
Shyemul’s thoughts seemed to have gone haywire.
As though she’s burning up, blood is rushing to her head giving her a high that feels as if a great joy is being released from all the pores across her body.
Once she looks directly into Souma’s face in that state, she was frightened by the premonition that something that she had suppressed within herself will be released. Desperately covering her face, she was unable to do anything besides repeatedly saying the name of her respected and loved 「Navel Master」.
That’s why she didn’t notice.
That the face of Souma, who looks down on her who waits upon him, was warped looking as if he will burst into tears at any time.
“Hmm~, I wonder what I will say to everyone tomorrow?
『Holmea’s royal army is a wreck. Let’s daringly tell them that they are scum!!』, something like this is no good, isn’t it?
Then, 『Gentlemen, I like emancipation of slaves. Gentlemen, I’m fond of emancipation of slaves. Gentlemen, I love emancipation of slaves!』, this is, as expected…
It feels like a waste to dismiss Me●lgear’s G●ne’s speech. The speech of the red one that can move six times as fast is cool as well, isn’t it…?”
The chirping of a small bird
Shyemul: 「Don’t 『Ah… Shyemul』 me, Soma! I definitely told you to not overdo it!」
Souma: 「Huh…? When did it become morning? (Somehow it feels like I watched anime and manga all night long.)」
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