(Patreon) Wizard! Chapter 550

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Admiral Mavuto didn’t like sitting around waiting. They should be acting, but they simply couldn’t. The Demon King was still nearby- evidenced by the fog stubbornly remaining. It didn’t react to wind or attempts to remove the water, but it was fog nonetheless. He could barely even make out the form of the nearest ship a dozen yards away- already too close for comfort. They couldn’t navigate safely, nor would it be easy to find their quarry, so they had to wait. At the very least, though, they could keep their defenses up.

He was in the middle of organizing teams of men to go out in the boats they carried. They would not worry about suffering collisions with others, and with a few of them to each of the large ships they could cover more ground. Even if they disappeared, as long as they kept track of which ones were going in what route they could find the location of their quarry.

Unfortunately, before they were ready a loud voice rang out through the fog. It was impossible to tell which direction it came from, but Admiral Mavuto had no reason to believe it was a good sign. He both saw and felt the mana in the air moving. “Everyone, prepare to counterspell! Control as much mana as you can!” His order went out, and a moment later he was himself attempting to gain control over as much mana as he could. He would channel it into something trivial, just to prevent it from being used against them… but it was already too late. Even after just a few seconds, most of the mana had been stripped away from the area he could control, going down into the ocean below. He managed to wrest control of a small portion of what was below him, and the other trained mages did as well… but the vast majority of the mana was still out of their control.

Admiral Mavuto used the mana he gathered in one final attempt to disperse the fog… to limited success. At least, it flickered. He moved to gain control over another section of mana and did much the same… but as he reached for a third attempt, he found that all of the mana had already been either used up or gone out of his reach. He could see a small amount of it swirling about beneath the surface of the water, but that was all.

Then the waves came. By themselves, they were nothing. Waves a few feet high were nothing to ships designed to withstand dozen foot waves. If the ships didn’t have anchors down and weren’t on the move, the waves might have pushed them around, but they couldn’t have made them build up enough speed to cause any damage even if they did nothing. However, the waves came in calm winds where there had previously been none. That meant something was going on, and Admiral Mavuto wasn’t sure what it was except that he didn’t like it.

Something was happening under the water to make it move and that meant… what? First of all, they couldn’t send down the boats. While a single wave might not be a problem, they were continuous and frequent. Maybe it was just a delaying tactic but… that didn’t seem right.

The motion of the water couldn’t cause damage to the ships, so what was the point? There had to be something else, but… “No… it can’t be.” Admiral Mavuto frowned. Of course, he knew that just because he really didn’t want something to be true, as the only logical option he had to consider it. The mines were concealed in such a way that even New Eclea didn’t have a way to detect them- short of seeing them with their own eyes. That included measures for protecting them from ki senses… but nothing in the world was perfect. Maybe they had gotten lucky to see one… or one broke loose and drifted away. None of them had detonated, or they would have received that report from the island… but there were other options. Either way, Admiral Mavuto couldn’t see another option.

It was hard to give orders with the damnable chanting. It hadn’t stopped, which only meant they had to hurry with whatever they were going to do. “Order all ships away from the island! Spread out! This damnable fog can’t stretch forever! And tell them to watch for sea mines!” While they might not be able to stop the sea mines if they really were mobile… they could shoot them to detonate them from a distance. That would be better than nothing, though in the fog they would have to react quickly.

“Sir! The other ships aren’t responding! The signal appears to be jammed. We’re switching to individual communication!”

“Damn.” Admiral Mavuto shook his head. Communicating orders to a whole fleet of ships at once used a different method than the entangled system that worked with only two very specific communicators. Because of the differences, it could be blocked as the signal travelled. They still had methods to communicate from ship to ship, but the orders would be slower. The command ship would have to individually contact a handful of ships, and they would have to pass on orders to a handful more each, and so on. This put the possible response time from immediate to a minute or more all told. That was time they might not have.

Either way, there was nothing more they could do. The command ship was on the move, orders were going out… and then the explosions started. Sometimes, Admiral Mavuto hated being right.

Even so, the total losses weren’t that devastating. Two ships sunk completely, perhaps a dozen ships were severely damaged and another equal part sustained moderate damage, but compared to what might have happened if he didn’t act quickly it wasn’t so bad. They even broke out of the fog soon enough, one ship at a time. Perhaps they should have done that from the beginning- but Admiral Mavuto had no reason to do so at the time. At least they proved that the fog did indeed end… and presumably, at the center of it was the Demon King. Unfortunately, even if he was at the exact center they wouldn’t have hope of hitting it from the distance they were at, even with the best cannon. More than likely they would just waste their shots. To make matters worse the survivors of the sinking ships ended up on shore… with some of those who had survived the bombardment of the island. Nothing was going as planned.

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