A month had gone by without any sort of response from the dwarves. As far as William was concerned, that was good news. It gave time for the gevai to work on things… and even if the dwarves were just massing forces for an attack, any bit of time he could get was helpful. Maybe they wouldn’t attack, but they also hadn’t sent anyone to engage in diplomacy either.
It didn’t take William long to figure out exactly why the dwarves only had a small number of steamboats. They were incredibly expensive. It wasn’t the ships themselves- that was just a lot of metal. It wasn’t so hard to get when one controlled a very large country. Unfortunately, there were many different magical formations, most of which took something expensive- and always more rare- than iron.
Building the ship larger wasn’t actually much more expensive. A dwarven sized ship wouldn’t have worked for gevai in the long term, but heightening the rooms some wasn’t too hard. It did require a larger boiler, which Theo helpfully pointed out before they even began construction. The first versions of the gevai ships would probably be inferior to the dwarven ones… but better than the sailing ships they had, at least for certain purposes.
The most important part was the wards to keep away sea creatures- though William knew that they wouldn’t be perfectly safe. Knowing what areas of the sea to stay away from would be helpful, but the gevai didn’t have that information yet. William hadn’t even gone through any memories of navigators- at least not from the dwarven home islands to their forward outposts near Cruonia. Between those outposts and Cruonia was relatively safe… but there were still a few areas that were avoided, even with the wards. William had gotten that much at least from the crew of the captured steamboat. The memories were more vague than he would have liked, but he really didn’t want to cause any permanent damage. Besides, he didn’t particularly enjoy rifling through other people’s memories.
William was teaching a handful of diplomats dwarven. He wasn’t expecting immediate fluency, but he at least wanted the chance of communication by people other than himself. Unfortunately, he couldn’t spend all his time on that project. He still had kingly duties to attend to, and even if Lorelei could adequately accomplish anything that needed to be done, many gevai were more comfortable if orders came from William’s own mouth- even when it was indirect. They could have deceived people by saying Lorelei’s order’s were William’s, but it wasn’t a state of emergency… and if they were found out people would be upset. Even though her authority was equal to his, people didn’t care about that as much as whether or not it was actually the Eternal King. Even on Earth many people hadn’t been entirely happy with women in authority positions, even if they said they were- and this world and Cruonia especially were much more… traditional.
Lorelei also had things she wanted to do besides help run a country, which was why she was so eager to search for candidates to help with that. Since she merely examined candidates and William appointed them nobody had much to say- though William didn’t have much actual selection to do since he just went with whatever Lorelei thought was best. Lorelei was very good at reading people, so he knew she would find people both qualified to do a job… and who would actually do it with minimal issues. No one appointed would be perfect, but it would be better to have them than not- which couldn’t be said about an unfortunately large portion of people that had political positions in many countries.
Theo occasionally stopped by classes in the dwarven language, but he was too busy to attend all of them. Besides, most people weren’t comfortable attending classes with a child. Theo didn’t like attending classes as a child either. He couldn’t wait until he was an adult, but unfortunately only time would fix that.
At least he found himself taken seriously by some people, and he was doing real work. Most of that work was spent figuring out how to accomplish what he actually wanted, but it was still satisfying.
For example, building steamboats… simple, right? Just get some sheet metal, sculpt it, slap in a boiler and a paddlewheel and call it a day. It was so simple but… even sheet metal was a problem. Cruonia only had a very basic level of industrialization, certainly not enough to make precision machined parts- but even less precision pieces weren’t easily produced.
That meant Theo had to start with the production methods, and each of those relied on something else, and so on. It seemed endless, but Theo was glad to see that there were shortcuts that could be taken. He didn’t like “magic” to be the solution, but he preferred to think of magical formations as nonstandard power and machinery. It was all still based on rules, after all. It was even based on physics, though there were some methods of obtaining and using energy that he hadn’t thought possible. Maybe they hadn’t been, in his previous life. Without mana, who could really tell?
Theo found himself completing piles of blueprints, not that they were on blue paper. He was glad to just have any sort of paper, because he’d been stuck with parchment before he’d been found by the Eternal King.
The Eternal King- Josef Rutten- preferred to go by William. At least, in private. Theo was fine with that, but he found it hard to understand him. Theo knew that not all of the things said about him could be true- even ignoring directly conflicting rumors- but it was hard to say he wasn’t intimidating. Sure, he was friendly and open with Theo- but it was also true that he could kill Theo with pretty much just a thought at any time. Not that he threatened that, or even hinted at it. In fact, he never brought up his personal power at all to Theo. Headmistress Lorenz, however, had brought it up. Theo knew how powerful she was, so when she said that William was stronger Theo knew that actually meant something. It wasn’t just physical prowess and magic, either. There was also ki, something about which Theo had very little understanding- though he’d had to start training that as well. It was much preferable to physical training, but the fact that she thought he needed so much personal protection ability worried Theo.
Even if he was somewhat intimidating, Theo still thought William was a good person. He wasn’t sure how he felt about the whole thing where he had taken over as king… but from what he could tell the country was better off. Even the significant loss of lives probably would have been worse if William hadn’t done anything and just let the humans and gevai fight. He also wasn’t going around killing dissenters, which was pretty good for a dictator- though Theo hoped that wasn’t just because he’d already killed all of the dissenters. Theo was still reserving judgement, but he felt that someone who was spending so much effort on starting up school was probably not bad. Theo still wasn’t going to work on cannons, though. He wondered if that was why he was being called to meet him now…