William didn’t like waiting, but it was the only option he had available. The gevai had approximately half of a ship that could get to the dwarven forward outposts, and half a ship couldn’t carry much of anything. Even if it had been completed, it would have brought only a small compliment. Even though gevai possessed a large amount of personal power, attacking a fortified position with much inferior numbers wasn’t on the top of William’s list… even if the ship was finished.
William wished they could have captured some of the ships in the latest attacks, but they only really had prepared one viable tactic against the dwarven ships, and that was using magically enhanced shells to sink them. Otherwise, without William being at the location of the battle personally, there wasn’t much else they could do. The dwarven tactics didn’t leave much room for the gevai to launch a boarding operation. If the dwarves chose to try to land on the shores of Cruonia, it would be different- but all they had been doing was attacking ships and then bombarding the harbors.
Waiting cost the gevai in lost income from fishing and trade… but after another few months, when the second period of waiting ended, William almost wished for more waiting.
The news of dwarven ships reached William shortly before he could sense them on the water. This time, the dwarven ships did not fire before they were spotted. William hoped it was because they were not planning to fire… but given the time of day and the number of ships he knew they had merely been spotted ahead of time.
The half-dozen steam ships might have slipped past the notice of the watchmen under the cover of night… but the larger one was clearly visible both from the large figure floating on the water and the massive clouds of smoke above it.
William stood one some of the recently fortified battlements at the edge of the harbor, looking out. William turned toward the commander of the harbor defenses, a fairly young gevai, as such things went. “Have the men find targets but hold their fire until-”
William’s words were cut off by the first bombardment of cannon fire from the dwarven ships. Most of the shots hit the newly enhanced walls for only minimal damage, but some hit buildings further back.
“Nevermind. Have them fire as you see fit.” William hadn’t wanted to shoot first. He knew there was no real chance of so many ships showing up in the dead of night and wanting to negotiate… but he had still hoped they might leave. The commander distributed William’s orders to fire at will- or really his own orders, since William had said to fire as he saw fit.
The first bombardment wasn’t so bad, but William noticed one important thing. The largest ship, the one that was nearly a fortress… hadn’t fired yet. It wasn’t for lack of cannons, either. William could sense them… though only just barely. The ship was covered with a large number of magical wards, at least one of which limited his ability to project his ki senses onto the ship itself- beyond the surface, anyway. He might have been able to do more if he was closer.
In the first return volley, one of the smaller dwarven ships was hit by several of the special cannon shells and sunk. William saw a number of the others took at least some hit, even if they weren’t significantly damaged. Of concern, however, was the very little damage that was had on the largest ship- even though it was hit by more cannons.
William considered giving out orders, but he couldn’t think of what would be best. More importantly, the situation might change and he didn’t want to tie the commander down. “You’re in command. I will be taking independent action.”
“Yes, sir!” The commander saluted as William jumped over the battlements out to the harbor below.
William had promised not to take any cannon fire- and he intended to keep that promise. He would be relatively non-visible, and cannons weren’t made to fire at individuals anyway. As the second volleys of cannon fire ran out, none of them went anywhere close to William. There were dozens of cannons on each side- though the fortress ship seemed to have as large a share as either the rest of the ships or the harbor defenses by itself. However, over the space of a harbor, the chance of any cannon shots even getting close to William was negligible- especially since he was watching all of their trajectories with his ki senses.
William muttered to himself- and Chris. “Gotta do something about that big ship before-”
Of course, it chose that very moment to fire. Dozens of cannons fired simultaneously, impacting against the harbor walls. Huge chunks of stone crumbled and fell into the harbor or collapsed into piles. The cannon emplacements were slightly more fortified, so only a few of them were taken out… but William didn’t like the way things were going.
He sprinted across the water, staying well out of the line of fire of cannons- especially those from the fortress ship. He headed toward its bow, planning to board it… but as he approached he felt the impact of a number of bullets on his ki defenses- and more flying past him. Why were they even paying attention to the surface of the water? William admitted his robes weren’t exactly camouflaged against the sea, but why would anyone look? Of course, it soon became obvious they were looking for him. After all, he’d used basically the same tactic before.
William thought about risking approaching closer, but the shots would only get more accurate- he couldn’t afford to take too many bullets if he wanted any ki left for anything else. Besides, seeing the mana flowing around the ship, he had the feeling he might not be able to board the ship at all. William pulled back his arm… then tossed Chris with all his strength.
The blue crystal staff went whirling end over end, arcing up in the air the remaining thirty meters toward the ship. The decks extended above the water at least a half dozen meters as well, and Chris was flying toward just over the railings… before he struck and bounced off of some sort of barrier.
William immediately changed his trajectory. That meant that Chris would be on his own, but there were better things for William to do before retrieving him… like stopping the smaller steamships that were retreating out of the harbor.