“Aren’t you worried about the Demon King coming back?” asked another dwarf.
William smiled lightly, “Oh, an excellent followup. Let me tell you all about that…” He backed up so he could easily see all of the dwarves without turning his head too much, “You see, I’m not too worried. After all, I exploded his soul into a bunch of pieces. Sure, there were a few fragments that still reincarnated and needed cleaning up, but we took care of that.” William glossed over the fact that he, personally, hadn’t destroyed any of the fragments- but he trusted Marek’s work. “Some of them even reincarnated as humans, can you imagine that?” William laughed, then turned serious. “Say, you don’t think any of them could have ended up among the dwarves, or maybe the elves?” William did his best to look horrified at the thought. “That would be terrible! He might try to start a big war where everyone got killed. That’s what he was doing in his human incarnations.”
The dwarves looked skeptical. William shook his head.
“Just think about it. Tell others you know to think about it, once I return you to your people. Yes, that will happen- but not immediately.”
William visited the other crew members, doing a similar sort of thing. He wanted them to think of him as a person- to believe that demons could be people. He doubted their perception would change instantly, but he wanted a chance for peace. It wouldn’t be possible if they thought gevai were all horrible murdering demons. It was also useful to let them know that communication was possible. As for what they would actually do… that was out of his hands.
Their captain, Kengrer Bonemaker, wasn’t willing to talk much. Unfortunately, William also couldn’t leave him together with his men. Even so, he was treated well enough- better than prisoners of war would expect, and the dwarves had certainly been involved in acts of war. William couldn’t be sure what he would do- or what his superiors or the leaders of the dwarves might do. He also couldn’t be sure if that potential fragment of the Demon King really was among the dwarves- or more than one. If so, he would have either perished already or found some way to heal or at least stabilize his soul.
Then there were the elves. William didn’t know much about them- except they seemed to have found another continent or sufficiently large island, and the dwarves he’d gathered memories from didn’t know much more than that. The elves and dwarves didn’t have a particularly good relationship, but nor were they at war. Others might have known more, but that was all William had.
William stood on the dwarven ship, looking at the crew. He had already said what needed to be said, but reiterating a point was very helpful for memory. “Your ship has been loaded with enough supplies to reach your base. Your cannons have been confiscated, but I have full confidence your ship will be able to avoid any dangerous engagements along the way. Report to your superiors what I have told you, and that the gevai are willing and able to communicate peacefully. If they choose not to do so… let them know of my promise that any further aggression by the dwarves will be seen as a declaration of war, and will be met with retaliation in kind. Until we come to some sort of resolution, the presence of any dwarven ships except at the designated meeting point, starting next month, will also be seen as an act of aggression.” William held out a scroll- with a waterproof case, “This document also contains much the same information I have told you, written in my own hand.” William had needed to rewrite the document dozens of times to get something that didn’t look like it was written by a child, and full of as many mistakes. Just having memories wasn’t enough, though they certainly helped.
William watched the ship from the dock as the crew prepared for its departure, and then it departed. Once it was past the horizon, he turned away.
He knew many people would be upset if they knew he let a full dwarven crew leave unscathed. Many people had lost friends and family on the ships that had been attacked- and an annoyingly more vocal group were merchants who had lost money. However, there were many reasons for William to act the way he did. If possible, he wanted to avoid another war.
It would be better for Cruonia to not go to war again so soon after their own civil war. Actually, it was better for everywhere to not go to war again- ever. He doubted he could avoid that, but it would be better if war with the dwarves could be avoided. Maybe diplomacy would win over ancient grudges. He could hope, anyway. If the information spread that demons were called gevai- and were actually people, there might be some chance of that.
If the dwarves suppressed that information or chose to attack anyway, he did plan to annihilate or capture all of their ships- depending on what was most easily done- and he could even lead an attack on their islands… with captured ships or ones he would be constructing.
While he could easily take on a ship alone, and there were only at most a dozen or two of the steamboats anywhere near Cruonia, William couldn’t be everywhere. However, cannons could be almost everywhere. They hadn’t captured enough cannons to do that- only a couple dozen- but it was easy enough to start reproducing them. The powder and shells had been the biggest issue, but Theo and Lila had analyzed the makeup and there was already a small bit in production.
A few cannon in each port wasn’t going to be sufficient to annihilate a ship with dozens of cannon without a lucky hit- assuming the cannons were all the same. William didn’t plan for equivalent cannons to be the same. While cannons already had sufficient destructive power, the important part of the equation would be accuracy. If they could actually get a direct hit or two on the dwarven ships, even their magically reinforced iron hulls wouldn’t do much good. For that, Lorelei had come up with the perfect enchantment- though since she wasn’t around William and Lila were the ones to implement it.
The cannons- actually the cannonballs- would be heat-seeking. The dwarven steamboats couldn’t move without their boilers. A cannonball headed toward that part of the ship would cause immense damage. There were a few more things about the ships that could be used to more accurately target them, though any change in direction came at some cost of power. Some upgrades to the cannon themselves, however, would help with that.
William thought the enchantments were wonderful- and hoped they wouldn’t have to use them. Right now, it wasn’t his decision. It was up to the dwarves.
All William could do was sit and wait… and hope they did nothing or sent a representative to have a real talk. He had to be personally available for that, because he was the only one who spoke dwarven- though he was going to teach others as much as he could. That would still take time. Hopefully, he had it.