Though the line of attack with the Eternal King himself continued to have major successes, other Cruonian battle fronts weren’t as successful. New Eclea had deployed massive battleships with equally massive guns, capable of ripping through the hulls of most ships, magical or not. Cruonia was not without their own responses, but they couldn’t stop New Eclea from slowly gaining a wider radius of control.
While New Eclean supply lines lengthened and Cruonian ones got shorter as they pushed closer, it was still worrying for Cruonia. Their scouts had reported airstrips on some islands, and they couldn’t let them get close enough to field bombers. While most Cruonian forts could handle air assaults, it wasn’t likely that they would limit their assaults to military outposts.
Cruonia couldn’t reasonably evacuate the entire eastern half of the nation, and even if they did the destruction of infrastructure and the cities themselves would be devastating, even if the inhabitants survived elsewhere.
The effective range of airplanes was a few to a half-dozen gross miles. That was about half the distance of the ocean between Cruonia and New Eclea. That didn’t mean they could actually threaten Cruonia from halfway across the ocean- that was just how far they could fly with a full load of fuel. If they were to actually accomplish anything in a military fashion such as a bombing, their actual effective distance was perhaps a third of that. After all, they would be carrying heavy ordinance and would also have to be able to return to their base of operations.
This gave Cruonia some leeway, and as long as they kept New Eclea from constructing any airports close by they would not have that particular worry. The eastern ocean didn’t have terribly many islands within that range, so they only had to do their best to fortify and defend them. But of course, New Eclea didn’t plan to make that easy.
“Stop the submarine,” William commanded.
“What is it, your majesty?” the dwarven helmsman asked while slowing the submarine.
“Mines?” the helmsman scratched his head and looked at the display. “Sea mines? I don’t see anything but a few schools of fish…” he squinted his eyes, “They seem natural to me.”
“They are… but there’s a huge field of mines out there,” William waved his arm.
“They’d be shielded against magical detection, then?” the dwarf shook his head, “We worried about that possibility… but of course we’ve never seen it. How certain are you?”
“I’m looking at them right now. Of course, they might not be mines. They could be some other arrangement of magically concealed underwater devices.”
“…I’ll not test that. How far are they? How many?”
“Perhaps a gross. A half gross of yards away, but with a handful of yards in between each. I wouldn’t try to slip between them.”
“Sorry for all the questions, your majesty, but… any idea how they activate?”
“Good questions need answering by someone. I’m the only one with the information, so it’s not a problem.” William didn’t mind being talked to as if he was a person instead of just a high ranking position. It had taken the crew some time to get really comfortable with him, with his position as Eternal King being one of the reasons. Even though he wasn’t king of their country, he was still in an authoritative position over them. “As for how they activate, I’m not entirely sure.” William closed his eyes for a few moments, “Whatever it is, it’s not extremely sensitive. It can take some pressure… though if it couldn’t it might have had trouble with the schools of fish. I can’t tell for sure without spending quite some time. I might be able to disable one for research, but for now we should go around. Even if I could detonate them, they would just alert the island of our presence. It has to be close, because they couldn’t afford to leave sea mines all over the place.”
“If you’d guide us, then…”
It wasn’t too difficult to go around the minefield. It only blocked the most direct path from the previous island. William carefully looked for any more traps and tricks… but didn’t find anything. That didn’t mean it would be easy to take over the island. As far as William was aware, this was the largest island near New Eclean’s proper land- at least along the route they were going- and it was equipped with a massive fort and an equally massive number of troops.
While William was confident with his ability to take out many troops… he could handle a gross all together at a time, he wasn’t looking forward to getting shot at by a great gross or more troops at once. Of course, he wouldn’t. Even though they had so many troops, they could only fire at him together if he was standing out in the open. He didn’t plan to stand still for that long, and since it was a fort it had many places to take cover. It was perfectly equipped to drive off a force of invaders- whether that was a fleet of ships or the troops they might be carrying. However, a single strong individual… would still unless they could dodge bullets.
William wasn’t sure if he could bend and weave his way through a hail of anything more than a dozen or two bullets at once, but he wasn’t going to try that regardless. The best way to dodge things was to never be where the attacks were going to be. If he could move fast enough that they couldn’t track him- which also involved changing directions unpredictably- then it didn’t matter if their accuracy was otherwise perfect.
Even at a half gross of yards William actually had time to react to bullets being fired, as long as he made a decision of how to move before the trigger finished being pulled. Meanwhile, he doubted that even well trained soldiers would be able to aim to hit him in the pair of seconds it might take him to reach them from there.
But of course, all of this only applied if William were to face the army head on, and he couldn’t fathom why he would. He could take his time to deal with him, taking out a few dozen here or there before disappearing. He would be able to detect them around corners- and he could even knock them unconscious or kill them from safe points. It might take him a few hours at that rate… but he thought he should be up to the task. He could also wait for his army to arrive but wasn’t interested in delaying even a single moment. Every moment there were people in the world actually using the destruction of souls was another moment he couldn’t stand to let happen.