T/N: Holmea State -> Holmea
Darius Brutus is a general.
However, even if he’s called one, humans from foreign countries probably wouldn’t know who he is. But as long as the discussion is limited to Holmea, it’s no exaggeration to say that if one is talking about a general, it’s equal to talking about Darius Brutus.
The Brutus family that gave birth to Darius is one of the most highly ranking noble families in Holmea. If one pursues their family line long enough, ties to the royal family can even be found. Being born as the eldest son, he was obligated by birth to fight by leading others. In his first decorative battle at the mere age of ten, a person excelling at battle among the knights serving the Brutus family was attached to him as chaperone, but he had suddenly been entrusted the command of fifty soldiers.
It’s said that the very young Darius felt a strong responsibility towards controlling the lives of the soldiers with a single of his orders.
After that, he strived diligently in his own studies without showing a hint of haughtiness due to his lineage. Not only did he polish his own martial arts and subjected his strategy reading to a strict analysis, but he also worked with the common footsoldiers. For the sake of staying in touch and understanding the true character of the men he was leading, he talked with them, had meals from the same pot as them, and recognized them for their achievements without paying any heed to their heritage, even though he is the son of a high ranking noble.
This is a quite strange behaviour for a noble at that time. It’s said that Darius’ retainers didn’t look too kindly upon it either.
However, in exchange for that, Darius’ popularity among the common soldiers was high.
In contrast with many nobles that didn’t treat ordinary soldiers as anything but disposable pawns, Darius, who held the lives of the soldiers dear and kept in mind to battle steadily with little danger, was a welcome existence for the common soldiers.
Hence, when the soldiers fought under Darius, they exhibited strength at a frightening level. Whereas many soldiers would have deserted under strenuous enemy fire once defeat seemed inevitable under other generals, the soldiers under his command would keep fighting tenaciously and overturn many of their predicaments, bringing victory to Holmea.
Before he even realized it himself, Darius was extolled as the best general of Holmea and appointed as Holmea’s Grand Marshal.
The grand marshal was the military’s supreme commander who had been given full authority over the army by Holmea’s king. It was such a high position that if there was no qualified person, it would belong to the king.
One might say that Darius’ greatness is easily understandable with that much.
But, even an amazing person like him couldn’t defeat the approach of old age.
“There’s no accomplishment in some senile old fool like myself forever resting on his laurels as the grand marshal.”
It’s been five years since Darius said such and relinquished his title of grand marshal to the king. In short, he wanted to excuse himself from such a high post because he thought he has grown old and weak.
Certainly, his hair has turned a pure white and wrinkles run deeply through his face, which indicates that he is getting on in years.
But even so, it’s said that Holmea’s chief vassals, once they heard that statement, were puzzled out of their minds as they wondered what kind of nonsense he was on about.
The figure of Darius walking gallantly by clad in dignified armor as his white hair flutters in the wind was by no means the image of a senile old man. It might be owed to his daily training, but above that, the vitality which surges out his body made them feel as such.
Even now, five years later, that hasn’t changed at all. Darius, after dumping the heavy responsibilities of grand marshal, was overflowing with energy to the extent that his friends told him that it seemed like he was getting younger. That’s only reasonable, since he zealously went about the military drills of his private army and his own training when he had free time as the grand marshal, in order to vent some of his frustration for being stuffed into a room of the royal palace.
Regarding that, his close subordinates say in unison the following:
“I think that person is a general through and through.”
Everyone would somehow find a way to agree with that comment.
The one called Darius was such man.
Today as well, Darius is doing his practice swings in his mansion’s courtyard with a wooden training sword with his upper body undressed. At that time an old butler turns up at Darius’ training spot.
“Master, guests have arrived.”
Due to that, Darius gave the wooden sword one final swing while giving out a sharp breath.
“Let me see. I believe that I had not made any arrangements for anyone today, but who is the one that came asking?”
Darius stabbed the wooden sword into the ground, picked up a cloth he had hung over the branch of a nearby tree and wiped his body which had sweat rising up as steam.
“It’s some insolent fellows that have come by visiting without making any prior arrangements. However, I have humbly come by just to confirm with you to make sure, master. Allow me to take it upon myself to deal with them.”
Darius calls the butler, who was heading out after a bow in order to seemingly turn away the visitors, to a halt.
“Wait, just what is wrong?”
This butler is a person who has served the Brutus family for a very long time. Although they share a master servant relationship, he’s also a close childhood friend of Darius. Darius guessed the identity of the visitors that came from the unbefitting attitude of that butler he knows well.
“I see, so those guys came? — It can’t be helped. Guide them to the detached study.”
The butler admonishes Darius because of that.
“Master, although I know that it’s impertinent, being associated with such lowly fellows stains master’s name…”
“I know what you want to say, but this sort of people are a necessity as well.”
The butler looked to still not be satisfied with the reply, but if the master he serves goes as far as saying so much, it will be insolent to go on further with his worries. The butler bowed very deeply and left.
Having finished wiping his sweat, Darius changes his wet clothes and heads by himself to the detached room that his guests have been guided to.
This study that was created in a detached part for the sake of focusing on reading and writing was actually used to receive guests that he couldn’t meet too openly, rather than for its original purpose.
He went through the door that had a rather solemn design, and saw that his two guests had already arrived in the study and were waiting for him.
Darius sits down on the couch placed in the room’s centre with a calm gait while saying,
“Did I make you wait?”
The first one who caught his attention is a tall woman who likely gets often mistaken as man. The woman has tied her fiery red hair into a bundle and allowed it to flow down her back. Because she’s wearing a man’s attire, he ends up mistaking her as imposing young man on a first glance. But, once he looked at her chest, it became quite obvious that she’s a woman. As she deeply bows her head to Darius who finally arrived, her chest, which bulges as if it had been stuffed with big fruits from the southern countries, sways droopingly.
However, Darius’ gaze immediately went beyond the woman and faced the other person next to her.
“No, it is us who should apologize for our sudden visit, Your Excellency.”
The one who said that with a bow was a pretty boy who lets out a decadent atmosphere just like a male paramour kept by noblemen’s wives.
A dangerous light is dwelling within his eyes that are as narrow as a piece of thread. Olive brown bangs hang down the right half of his white, beautiful face. On his slender body, which staggers just with him standing, is a large cloth similar to a toga of Ancient Rome twined around atop a jacket-like tunic. Even his lower feet were completely covered.
“Tutu, I’m well aware that you have a bad knee. You don’t have to force yourself, please sit down.”
“Then I shall accept your kind offer.”
Once the pretty boy called Tutu says that, the woman circles around behind him with a flowing motion and moves the wooden wheelchair that was parked there, matching up with him sitting down.
At the moment Tutu sat down on the wheelchair, the cloth that had been put on both his shoulders fell down without delay.
Thereupon his arms, which were hidden below the cloth, become visible.
No, if you are to appraise it more precisely, it became visible that he has no arms. Both of them are gone past his shoulders. As the only thing there are the tunic’s sleeves with nothing in them, they slowly sway dependent on his movements.
The woman put the fallen cloth back onto his shoulders and stood behind Tutu in silence.
Because she’s nothing more than Tutu’s servant, even Darius won’t do something like deliberately offer a seat to someone who doesn’t exist.
“That’s rare Tutu, isn’t it? For you to directly visit my mansion.”
“I’m deeply sorry. I feel ashamed to have everyone experience such a discomfort.”
He used a far more classy manner of speech than his outward appearance suggested, but Darius didn’t consider that to be strange. He doesn’t seem to be anything more than a pretty boy, but his age doesn’t fit his appearance at all, Darius suspects.
For Darius, who is a high-ranking noble, to have made acquaintance with such a shady person of unknown birth started when drunk subordinates of Darius picked a fight with the woman who is currently accompanying Tutu.
The five soldiers that found fault with her, albeit being heavily drunken, are brawny man who had been always thoroughly trained by Darius. However, she beat up those five soldiers in the blink of an eye. It was right when Darius, who had arrived after hearing of the turmoil, tried to control the situation.
When Darius, interested in her skills, invited her for tea using the pretext of an apology for his soldier’s behaviour, it was this Tutu that she introduced as her master.
At first Darius wasn’t interested in anything besides the woman’s skill. However, while speaking with Tutu at the tea place, Darius’ interest immediately shifted to Tutu himself.
The height of discernment sensable from each and every single of his words. The extent of knowledge comprehendable by the customs and manners of areas Darius had never even heard of.
However, what drew Darius’ interest towards Tutu above all that were Tutu’s own personal connections that are widely spread within the dark society and his understanding of humans’ often not so overly respectable occupations.
Very likely my subordinates were caught by this guy’s trap, Darius realized.
His objective is to sell his own resourcefulness to me like this.
“Won’t you let me hire you?”
And, accepting that, Darius bought Tutu’s resourcefulness.
That because it was a quick wit that was hard to get for Darius.
No matter how friendly his relations are with the common soldiers, Darius is a high-ranking noble. Since he can’t deny that there’s a big gap between commoners and nobles, he wouldn’t actually be able to reach a relationship with the common soldiers where they truly speak their mind. To say nothing of that being all the more true if the other party are criminals who should be censured by Darius, who rules the public order.
“It will be an unexpected delight for me as long as I’m allowed to work under you, Your Excellency Darius.”
Like this it was decided that Tutu would work as Darius’ spy. Since then, Tutu’s work satisfied Darius as expected, no, even above that.
However, even with Darius appointing him to a responsible post, he remains a lowly fellow of unclear family background. Tutu even directly showing up in the mansion like this was rare, as he was afraid of harming Darius’ reputation.
“Today I came to report about the state of Romania as was requested by you, Your Excellency.”
Saying so, Tutu lightly jerked his chin at the woman standing behind him and she presented a prepared bundle of papers to Darius.
That was a previous request to Tutu by Darius. It was a report from a secret investigation after having hidden in the neighboring country Romania.
Romania is a major power touching the eastern border of Holmea. Both countries were bitter enemies who repeatedly battled many times in the past over the hegemony of the whole area around this part of the continent. 「Romania laughs if Holmea cries and Holmea laughs if Romania cries」 is an oft-said saying that well demonstrated the relations between both countries.
Darius takes the documents into his hands and his eyes can be seen following what was written in silence for a while.
“… Hoo, that damned Romanian king. Is he trying to split Holmea apart?”
The documents listed the names of nobles, who are keeping in touch with the hostile Romania while belonging to Holmea, and details times they do things like exchanging letters with Romania.
“It is indeed as you say. Lord Rastiatos and Lord Legnacis, those two have frequently exchanged letters.”
Darius places a hand on his chin and recalls the locations of the territories of the two nobles mentioned by Tutu.
“Both of their territories are next to Romania, aren’t they? Does that mean they are also trying to build friendly relationships with Romania just in case something were to happen?”
“Yes. Therefore I believe it to be fine to ignore it unless the situation in Holmea declines.”
For the feudal lords around the national border, who don’t know when they will be invaded by the neighboring countries, it was a matter of course to form friendly relations with the neighboring countries for moments when it truly came down to crunch time. Gossiping about each and every one of them is quite capable of driving such feudal lords away to the neighboring countries instead.
“In that case, the problem is Lord Boldain.”
Darius mentioned the name of a noble who is exchanging letters at around the same frequency as the two previously mentioned while having a territory in a place quite far away from the border.
“Given that he is someone who likes to waste money, they either took hold of his weakness or he got charmed with gold coins, or perhaps even both.”
Darius revealed a ferocious smile upon Tutu’s words.
“A shitty pig selling his motherland…”
Tutu smiles wryly as he imagines the tragic last days awaiting the noble on whom Darius had zeroed in on.
Darius, who also finished the exchange of various information after that, nodded while looking satisfied.
“As always, it’s a splendidly written investigation report. You are always a big help.”
“No, this much is not worthy of your words of gratitude towards me.”
Due to Tutu adopting a humble attitude upon his words of thanks, Darius lifts the corners of his mouth into a broad grin.
“However, if it’s information at this level, it would have likely sufficed for you to simply send a messenger as usual. Did you visit today with some sort of special information that should be conveyed?”
“Goodness gracious, I was found out, wasn’t I?”
Tutu shows an embarrassed smile like a small boy that had his actions of mischief exposed. However, he immediately put on a serious expression and said in a whisper,
“Would you be able to understand if I said it’s about Bolnis’ case?”
I wonder from where he obtained that information. He has sharp ears as usual.
“I just heard the story from someone in the royal army this morning. I’m told that sub-race slaves caused a revolt in Bolnis and that the zoan took advantage of the confusion and occupied the city, or such.”
Although one might call it a slave revolt at the level of taking a city, it’s something that happened because of a part of the sub-races. This sort of revolt expanding in one go like a wildfire is frightening, but as the ones who staged the revolt are sub-race slaves, the humans in the area aren’t likely to join their cause. As such, it should be fairly easy to put down the revolt if a punitive force of reasonable size is sent.
It’s impossible for Tutu to not know about something like that.
Darius continued speaking while carefully observing just what Tutu’s anxious about.
“Even though it might be a part of the sub-races, ignoring this will result in encouraging the sub-race slaves within the country. Also, because it’s in the province, farmers, who harbor dissatisfaction towards their lords, might see this as chance and plot a rebellion as well. In any case, they should be crushed promptly.
It’s very likely that’s also His Majesty’s wish.
Recently there haven’t been any big battles either. This will allow the young men to earn meritorious deeds. I suppose it will become a good chance to have them gain some experience.”
“General, would it be alright for me to give you a single piece of advice?”
Tutu said at that point while interrupting Darius’ words.
“You must not take this time’s matter of Bolnis lightly.”
Darius knit his brows and stared into Tutu’s face, but there was no hint of him telling a joke.
“Here’s what I humbly prepared in advance”, he says as the woman behind Tutu hands a new report to Darius.
“It’s the details about Bolnis and the defeat of the zoan subjugation unit that happened at the Hognareah Hills the other day.”
Reading the report, Darius’ face is filled with an expression of surprise.
“… Is this true?”
Darius said with a face as if he couldn’t believe it after finishing to read.
“The one who wrote it is Company Commander Aide Marchronis who guards the fortress in the Solbiant Plains.”
The name mentioned by Tutu even sounded familiar to Darius. If I recall correctly, he’s a veteran soldier who climbed to the rank of company commander aide from being a wandering mercenary.
What Tutu submitted was a part of the petition addressed to the lord of Bolnis for the sake of requesting relief reinforcements and some lacking medicinal supplies by Marchronis. The report wrote about the details of the fire ambush, summarized by him, after he interviewed the soldiers that had barely returned alive to the fortress.
Tutu had obtained that from somewhere.
“For the zoan to repulse our army with an ambush like this, it’s unbelievable for that to be improvised…!”
Darius had fought against the zoan on countless occasions while leading an army, but so far it never even happened once that the zoan used fire in an ambush.
“Certainly, it is as you say, but this is a fact. Besides, since Bolnis has fallen, there’s likely no doubt in regarding the fortress as already lost as well.”
Tutu leaned his armless upper body half forward and drew closer to Darius.
“General, this counterattack by the zoan and the slave revolt; there’s someone pulling the strings in the shadows.”
“A spy of Romania…?”
He can’t think of anyone in this area but Romania that would try to put Holmea into a disadvantageous situation.
“That I do now know. However, the person pulling the strings in the back of the chain of events; not only did this person repel the subjugation unit with this ambush, but they also captured the fortress in a flash and forced Bolnis into capitulation by using the slaves faster than the news reached us. Such an act is nothing that should be possible for an ordinary person.”
Due to Tutu’s words, Darius folded his arms and sank into a gloomy silence.
After taking enough time that allowed one to fully count to twenty, Darius finally unfolded his arms and said,
“It seems like the youngsters will complain about an old man like me butting in again, won’t they?”
Reading his decision within Darius’ sarcastic manner of speaking, Tutu bows his head very deeply.
“I believe that to be a wise judgement.”
“Very well. I will report to His Majesty and depart to the front myself.”
After getting on the wheelchair pushed by his servant, Tutu left Darius’ mansion through the backdoor.
Tutu was carried and placed by the woman on top of the load area of a covered wagon he had wait for them in a backstreet. He languidly laid his body on a cushion created by tucking straw into a sheet. And then he carefreely watched the woman and the male wagon driver affixing the wheelchair on the load area.
Tutu, who soon felt a dryness in his throat, gets a leather water bag that was stored in a corner of the load area by stretching out a foot while lying sprawled. Removing the stopper of the water bag with the nails of his toes, he skilfully brought it to his mouth with just his feet and and began to drink the delicious-looking water by inclining the water bag.
Having finished drinking, Tutu inserts the stopper of the water bag again and notices the woman, who finished affixing the wheelchair, looking his way with scrutinizing eyes.
“Master, it’s not limited to someone looking somewhere. Please stop with that sort of conduct.”
Saying that, the woman closed the entrance of the load area covered by a canopy with a thin cloth, called out to the driver and had him move the covered wagon. Tutu smiled wryly with an embarrassed look as the wagon started to move slowly accompanied by slight vibrations, but he realizes that there’s another emotion dwelling in the woman’s gaze.
“Damia, is there something you want to tell me?”
The woman in male clothing called Damia opened her eyes widely in surprise, but after hesitating for a bit, she said,
“It’s about the leader of the zoan and slaves that caused a revolt in Bolnis.”
When Tutu jerks his chin as if telling her to continue, Damia voices out her question.
“Isn’t he the 『Hero』 you told me about, master?”
“Someday a 『Hero』 opposing the Holy Faith will appear and a great war will take place.”
Those were the words Tutu told her before.
The Holy Faith, which is currently conquering this continent, is too radical.
It’s declaring that the other races ought to be despised and weeded out for the sake of making the humans into the supreme race. Because the current power of the humans is strong, they are able to get away with that, but the resentment accumulated as the other races endured such treatment will probably trigger something that will shake the entire continent in due time.
At that time someone, who will try to overthrow the Holy Faith, will appear among the various races.
That was Tutu’s prediction.
Doesn’t this time’s revolt by the zoan and slaves look exactly like what was foretold by Tutu? Damia wondered.
However, without answering Damia’s question, Tutu asked her a question in reverse.
“Say, Damia. What do you think the empire gains because of the Holy Faith?”
After thinking for a little while, Damia hit upon an idea and replies,
“Isn’t it a reason to invade the countries of the other races?”
“That’s nothing more than what’s visible on the surface.”
However, Tutu denied her question with a brief comment.
“The human obtained enemies and pride due to the Holy Faith.”
A sarcastic smile forms on Tutu’s lips.
“The humans aren’t strong like the dinosaurians and can’t freely move about in water like the marmen. They don’t possess a high technological skill like dwarves. They aren’t as beautiful as the elves either. They can’t run quickly like zoan. Nor can they fly through the sky like harpyians.
Everyone probably believed in the innermost depths of their hearts that the humans are the most inferior among the seven races, right?
However, the Holy Faith arbitrarily decided the other races to be inferior. There’s no reason to it either. They are simply saying that the humans are superior and the other races inferior. With that it was plenty enough for the humans who were tormented by an inferiority complex.”
Tutu snorted quietly as if to say “How absurd.”
“Moreover, the Holy Faith demonstrated and drew up a conflict that’s easy to understand by everyone, be it humans or the sub-races. By fabricating such a clear enemy, namely the sub-races, and bestowing the emotional prop called pride, the empire concentrated the power of its citizens and built up a powerful nation with a centralised authoritarian rule.
This is what the empire gained through the Holy Faith.”
Thereupon Tutu takes out one bundle of papers from a box that was stuffed with various letters and shows it to Damia with his toes.
“This speech of the revolt’s leader in Bolnis is truly interesting.”
It was a report detailing the 「Proclamation of Iron」 held by Souma which was sent by a spy whom he had stay hidden in Bolnis.
“These guys are a mixed army of the zoan and the slaves, who were released by the zoan. Right now they have gathered under one banner in their fear of the humans, but their respective objectives are different. The zoan probably want to protect their own sphere of daily existence. However, the slaves’ objective is to return to their homelands, extract their revenge on the humans, and various other conflicting ones. With this one won’t be able to control them, right?”
While being here, a place far away from Bolnis, Tutu accurately saw through the problematic issues of Souma and the others.
“The easiest method to instigate the zoan and former slaves into fighting is to view Holmea State and the humans as enemies. Telling them Defeat Holmea, kill the humans. That’s very easy to understand. However, the leader of the zoan didn’t do that. Do you know what this means?”
While Damia shook her head to the left and right slightly, Tutu grinned broadly and said,
“If this guy accepts the things called 『Freedom』 and 『Equality』, that’s also saying that he will befriend even humans.”
Damia opened her eyes widely as if saying “You don’t say!”
“What a cunning fellow he is! While having created an enemy for the sake of unifying his allies, he leaves room to become stronger by possibly swallowing up the humans that used to be enemies if they accept their point of view. Something like the Holy Faith doesn’t stand a chance in comparison to this fellow!”
“This guy is a hero? You shouldn’t say such stupid things. This guy isn’t such a petty person. This guy is a far more frightening person.”
Tutu, who laid sprawled, suddenly got up and gazed at the reports spread out on top of the loading area with an intense concentration.
As if he could discover the figure of Souma giving the 「Proclamation of Iron」 there.
“This is surprising. I wonder in what kind of environment this guy grew up? I wonder what kind of education this guy received? How did he come up with such idea? I can’t imagine it at all.”
Tutu doesn’t know.
About Souma coming from a different world and him being a Drop Child.
How that in that world the strongest country is a multiethnic one that governs immigrants of different nations under the words of freedom, equality, and the country’s own justice.
About there being a dictatorship that unifies its people by appealing for them to band together and work for a common cause and by creating false enemies outside the country, even though its economy and agriculture are failing.
“Then you intend to kill the leader of the revolt, master Tutu?”
That was also a question implying that Tutu can kill him easily without something like inciting others. The reach of Tutu, who is capable of at least that much, extends far and wide.
However, Tutu shook his head.
“I want to watch the situation for a while, you know?”
“Isn’t it bad to have spurred on General Darius then?”
No matter how resolutely they go for it, in the end it’s zoan, who are on the decline, and slaves who caused a revolt without thinking of the consequences. Their next opponent is a punitive force consisting of Holmea’s regular army. Their equipment and proficiency cannot be compared to something at the level of a defeated provincial city’s garrison. Much less to say, that the one leading them will be that General Darius. I guess it will finish without him being able to even wait and see what happens
However, Tutu slightly snorted with his nose as if belittling someone and said,
“If they are crushed by the likes of General Darius, they are insignificant.”
“The likes, it is…?”
General Darius is without doubt Holmea’s best general. For this reason Tutu curried favor with Darius going as far as treading on thin ice. However she didn’t comprehend her master’s aim in evaluating that Darius as “the likes of”.
“The likes, it is indeed. This leader picked a fight with the world as an opponent. Since we are talking about him trying to take on the world, he needs to win easily against someone at the level of General Darius. If he’s unable to achieve something even at that level, it would be best for everyone if he were to exit the stage quickly.”
Damia was lost.
Does my master possibly have expectations towards this zoan leader? Or is he merely trying to give him a crushing defeat?
“I have no doubt that General Darius will lead the punitive force. Well then, I wonder what this guy will do with Holmea’s best general as his opponent? What will he be able to show us?”
The face of Tutu talking like that sparkled with joy and anticipation, just like that of a boy receiving presents for his birthday.
The matter of Holmea’s western city Bolnis having surrendered to the zoan and slaves was reported at the council with Holmea’s King present just before noon of this day.
Holmea’s king Warius Sadoma Holmeanis was angered by this. With his overwhelming rage, King Warius unleashed his next words
“Impale the heads of those zoan and slaves on every road there is!”
This furious wrath doesn’t stem from just the zoan, who he despised as mere beasts, and the sub-race slaves causing a revolt. King Warius’ birth festival would soon take place. He likely considered the fall of Bolnis that happened in this period as the worst possible insult towards him by the zoan and slaves.
With King Warius’ rage being like this, the punitive force that was centered around Holmea’s national army was formed hastily.
And, the one who was chosen as its supreme commander was the former grand marshal Darius Brutus.