Lorelei really was sorry that the humans had seen the body taken out. Relationships with humans were just starting to improve, and if they continued to improve there would be less worry of war… and that meant more time to spend on important things, like research. “So, what is your proposal?”
The ambassador from Ustil was the first to speak, “We have a proposition that we think will benefit both sides.” In normal negotiations, he might have taken longer to get to the point- but neither the king nor the queen were overly fond of wordy proposals. “We have heard that dwarves invaded your shores, and you have taken prisoners. We wish to acquire some of the prisoners, for the sake of learning the dwarven language.”
Lorelei looked over at the representatives from Ostana and Liaoyang, “You are here for the same reason, I assume?”
They nodded. “We had thought to share our findings with each other anyway. It seems that it would be better for us if we had the option to communicate with the dwarves instead of immediately engaging in violent altercations.”
Lorelei paused, considering. “We will have to discuss the details.” While she found nothing wrong with the idea of them learning the language itself, there were many considerations to be had. The prisoners would need to be treated well- for the sake of Cruonia’s image, if nothing else. Of course, if the humans and dwarves started up diplomacy, they might decide to work together against the gevai. Right now they were at peace, and had even started to trade, but that didn’t mean they might not change their minds. Human memories were short, and in a dozen or two years they might forget the horrors of war and how costly it could be to their own people. On the other hand, it was possible the human’s somewhat positive feelings toward the gevai could influence the dwarves instead. The most important point wouldn’t be mentioned. That was, unless the dwarves had another forward outpost completely unknown to the other, there wouldn’t be any dwarves visiting human shores for some time. Not if they properly fortified the captured dwarven outpost, anyway. Since the lines of supply to it were much shorter on the gevai side, they could do more with the islands in less time. Plus, they controlled most of the ships capable of traversing between the dwarves and the continent.
William looked out at the steamship that had just arrived at the Western Cruonian Islands. It had a navigator who knew how to traverse the deep sea between those islands and the dwarven islands. Now William knew the details as well- but the dwarf himself was in a pretty sorry shape. William didn’t think there was any permanent damage, but he’d needed to do it even if there was. The latest ship had come with the intent of bringing back news- hopefully one of dwarven victory. He wasn’t sure how they could have expected that to actually be the case, but rational expectations weren’t necessarily standard for any sort people- humans, gevai, or dwarves.
Should the ship return to the dwarves? He wasn’t planning to let the dwarves go free. Instead, if the ship was returning he would be on it. They had already made their stance on diplomacy clear. On the other hand, he could try diplomacy once more… and give them the chance to build up their armies and cause real trouble. Sure, he could increase defenses in Cruonia as well, but then he would just be sitting around, waiting. The dwarves would continue to increase in anger against the ‘demons’. That was just speculation, but William highly doubted most of the dwarves even knew that diplomacy had been offered and that they had rejected it. All they would know is that they had lost contact with their sons, and they would probably never return.
If William wanted to actually start diplomatics relations, he might have to force it on them… or at least force them to hear about the possibility. He couldn’t think of a good way to do that without causing a ruckus. However much he wanted to do so, he knew that a dozen ships full of gevai troops couldn’t take on an entire country. Even if the dwarven population wasn’t as large as the humans, they controlled many islands of varying sizes. Unfortunately not even the admiral had accurate census numbers, but their numbers had definitely returned to full country size, and a higher population than Cruonia.
Theo looked up at the fortress ship. It was pretty impressive… though that was because he was still small. He was also taking into account the modern technology standards. If he compared it to some space ships he had worked on… well, it didn’t look like much. Even so, he knew it would be an excellent source of research on magical formations. Working with such things was the best way for him to learn quickly.
Theo knew the entire ship was built for war, but there wasn’t much to do about that. He wasn’t planning to work on any cannons- and Headmistress Lorenz took care of those anyway. Theo was more interested in the defenses and formations for warding of deep sea monsters.
He’d already studied one of the steamships, but this one was much bigger and had different formations. He wished he had as much time as he wanted, but William only gave him half a year. After that, there was going to be work done on it to make it harder for the dwarves to breach the defenses. Then William was planning to take it across the deep sea. Theo didn’t know much about the dangers there, but if krakens were anything like the legends, he was content to stay on land forever. While problems on space ships could result in lack of oxygen with little hope of survival, at least there weren’t many monsters. Actually, Theo wondered if some of the legends had been true… or if this world had different rules.