Wizard! Chapter 458
If William had to describe dwarven souls, he would say they were… full of inertia. They were harder to affect than the average person, but then again these were probably not a typical representation of dwarves. Unfortunately for them, a bit of extra inertia only allowed a few of them to get shots off before they started keeling over, unconscious. William felt the bullets impacting on his ki defenses, but they seemed to be something like musket balls. Their force was more spread out than arrows, and he had no trouble handling a few of them.
After taking care of those on deck, William went around the relatively small ship knocking out the remaining crew. He could do it through doors, so none of them even saw it coming. He did start to feel the effect of the inertia of their souls, and gained an understanding of why it felt that way. There might have been something special about dwarves, but the bigger part was that they trained their bodies. The loud thumps they made as they hit the deck alluded to their muscle and bone mass, though William didn’t have time to go over it in detail.
He gathered mana and fired the signal into the air. That was just to reassure the gevai soldiers on the merchant ship- and let them know they didn’t need to try to avoid the dwarven ship anymore.
Fortunately for William the basic operation of the steamboat followed familiar rules- there was a wheel to turn that changed the heading of the ship. He didn’t have the precise control he would have preferred for docking, but there wasn’t much of anything to hit out in the open sea. There was only one ship, and he could avoid getting to close. However… he was currently much too far.
As he angled the ship, he realized he didn’t have control of his speed. Fortunately the ships were coming close together at not terribly different speeds. “Prepare a group to board! They’re going to have to jump…”
Fortunately, gevai were no strangers to a bit of jumping. They could cover a dozen or two feet without much issue. Any closer than that, and William didn’t trust he wouldn’t collide. As a dozen sailors came to his ship, he shouted over to the other ship- which looked at least mostly intact, minus a few riggings and a bit of the deck. “Loop around to gather any of those who had to jump off, then get to a port!” Then he turned to the sailors on his ship. “Gather up the dwarves and tie them up, then we can begin to figure out how this thing works. I have a general idea, but I haven’t gotten a close look yet.”
It took some time to figure out how much coal was supposed to be in the boiler, and there were a few knobs for relieving pressure that took some practice to get right, but William thought they weren’t in danger of any horrible things happening in the near future. The boiler was reinforced with magic, which was comforting. There were also a number of magical formations around the ship William hadn’t figured out just yet besides the ones strengthening the hull, but William knew they weren’t there to keep people from leaping onto the deck like a madman. Or perhaps they just had underestimated a single person arriving in unexpected circumstances.
The ship was actually a bit small and cramped. Everything was shorter, but fortunately the boiler room was tall enough for people to stand up comfortably as it was extra tall. The helm was outside, so it wasn’t an issue.
After helping the soldiers work out the basics of the ship functionality, William’s job became keeping the dwarves unconscious. They didn’t have nearly enough strong restraints to keep an entire crew of dwarves restrained otherwise. William made sure to give them food and water occasionally, but beyond that they were kept mostly incapacitated.
A few days later they arrived at the nearest port. They docked at the pier nearly flawlessly, with only the slightest scraping sound and hardly and broken pilings.
Well. William was glad that the dwarven ship was quite sturdy.
The port wasn’t exactly prepared to jail a crew of dwarves, but they also weren’t going to refuse the Eternal King in person- or even complain when they thought he could hear them. William supposed there were some perks to living in a dictatorship, especially when one was the dictator.
Unfortunately, it didn’t mean he didn’t have to work. In fact, William wasn’t sure if there was anyone else qualified to do what he was going to do.
William picked out a dwarf at random- with the exclusion of the one he thought was the captain. He didn’t think he would mess up but it was better safe than sorry. After that, he gathered his ki and prepared to lower his consciousness into the soul of one of the dwarves. Searching through another soul’s memories wasn’t a pleasant experience for them… though the weaker the soul the easier it was on both sides.
Unfortunately William needed to go deeper than just surface memories and recent memories. He didn’t intend to cause harm, but he couldn’t completely avoid it. That was why he was glad to have an entire crew- otherwise he could cause serious and permanent damage. While William had no problem killing people, damaging souls led to destroying them and he wanted to limit that as much as possible.
It took some effort to begin the process. Maybe there really was something different about dwarves. Maybe it was just that he wasn’t as familiar with them. There wasn’t a book on the subject… though perhaps he could write one. Of course, he didn’t exactly have much time to write a full treatise on the soul at the moment. That would have to wait… but he liked the idea.
Before that, though, he had to know something about dwarven souls. There was no point in pretending to be an expert when he knew he was lacking in at least one area.