The glorious sounds of cannons had stopped. All that was left was the sound of cleanup. Clunking of boots on stone and stone on stone. The walls of the fortress had huge gaps at numerous points. Around two dozen gevai had lost their lives in the battle, out of around a gross of defenders. As the defenders, that was a significant toll… but Commander Louis thought it was acceptable losses. Not preferred, of course, but nothing could be done about it. Not with their current defensive setup, anyway. Maybe with underwater defenses further out…
Occasionally, a dwarf would arrive at the shore- or the base of the walls, which was the same thing. They would be offered surrender, and then killed if they refused. Most surrendered, since they couldn’t hope to face armed defenders on their own with only waterlogged clothing and perhaps a belt knife or cutlass. Many more never made it to shore. Those in armor who had been prepared for man to man combat were among them, except for a few lucky souls who clawed their way up the watery sides of the island under the water.
There were none of the over two dozen dwarven ships left sailing- and none had escaped. Not that it would have done them much good if they had, since they likely didn’t have enough coal to reach anywhere else. Commander Louis would have liked to have captured some ships, but it just didn’t work out that way. They could have prepared ships of their own and tried boarding actions, but with so many enemies it was just asking to get the few ships they had in the fortified harbor destroyed. Losing a few ships wasn’t worth possibly gaining a similar number, without even counting the lives of the men on board.
Commander Louis didn’t think he could have done much better… unless the Eternal King himself got involved. He’d captured an entire fortress ship himself- after disabling a number of smaller ships. That was far beyond Commander Louis’ capabilities, even if he had been strong enough to compete for a position as a lord.
He knew the Eternal King wouldn’t be happy. The Eternal King had expressed his desire to enter diplomatic relations with the dwarves. Even so, Commander Louis followed his orders for if they didn’t come to parley. So, while the Eternal King wouldn’t be happy… he probably wouldn’t hold it against Commander Louis himself. The same couldn’t necessarily have been said of the previous Eternal King.
William wanted to punch something, but he restrained himself. The only things around were the excellent people who managed the communications center and of course the phones themselves… neither of which he wanted to damage. What he really wanted to damage was a dwarf, or several dwarves. Not dwarves in general, but specific ones that he just hadn’t met yet. Probably on the dwarven council, and leaders of the military.
He wasn’t sure what they were thinking. The first group had failed completely, so twice as many ships? That was bound to fail as well, even if they caused more damage. In the dozen years where there hadn’t been any communication he had hoped they had given up on the issue, but apparently they had just been building more ships. William didn’t think the could afford much more than what they had just sent, though he supposed they might have more efficient production methods. Either way, the ships weren’t cheap.
If they had been willing to do nothing, William would have been happy to do the same… forever. However, since they showed their determination to attack again- and William confirmed with Commander Louis that they hadn’t flown a flag of parley or peace even when approaching the island that had formerly been theirs- he wasn’t just going to sit around and take it.
He had a fleet constructed. Counting the captured dwarven ships, it was a similar size to the fleet that just attacked. Sending it to attack fortified dwarven positions was suicide, even if they didn’t make special preparations like underwater torpedoes. However, there was no need to attack fortified positions. He wasn’t planning to destroy civilian ports or anything… but he had gained enough knowledge about dwarven affairs and the layout of their islands to do something else.
Regardless of whether or not the dwarves could build good fortifications, not everywhere would be amazingly fortified. It was just impractical. More importantly, they hadn’t been at war very much in the recent past. There had been some scuffles among the dwarves themselves and with the elves in the past gross of years or so, but mostly peace.
Islands on the outer edge of their territory were fortified, but that wouldn’t be a problem for William. He could just avoid them. That wouldn’t have been possible if he hadn’t gotten memories and intel from various dwarves- and the lucky capture of a few navigators in the latest attack helped even more- but he did have that information. That meant he could circumvent the most heavily fortified areas to strike at the core of the dwarves. That was no good for an extended military operation, but William wasn’t planning to try to conquer the islands. All he wanted was to meet the dwarven council… and possibly capture or kill them. Maybe he would off the top ranking dwarves in the military while he was at it. He planned to be flexible in his approach.
All he knew for sure was he was going to kill whoever thought it was a good idea to go to war with him. They would most likely be in Dhugulir, the dwarven capital. Such a place would be defended… but not as well defended as it might be. It was the political and economic center of the dwarves, but not their military center. More importantly, even if they were able to seal themselves off, William would be able to deliver the message. Agree to peace, or suffer the consequences. Though, he’d start with a softer message… if he could get a chance to talk.