Wizard! Chapter 477
The fleet admiral, Morsut Cragarm, knew a large amount of very useful information. This wasn’t going to stop William from killing him- but it did make William more confident about the situation. Unless there were large secrets kept from the fleet admiral… there were no more ships to attack Cruonia. At least, not for some time.
He learned the dwarven forward outposts were fortified- but also the proper procedures to arrive without getting destroyed. It would help to show up on dwarven ships- even if he was a bit later than scheduled. That would have to wait a short time.
Morsut had also had sufficient details on their previous attacks. In the recent series of port bombardments, they had lost two out of three ships- and the third that had returned had been been damaged severely in only a few shot. Morsut had even scouted Tigershark Point from a distance, and received reports on the new construction. Then he had attacked anyway- fully expecting everything but the fortress ship to be sunk. The other ships were only there to be a distraction to draw some fire. He had correctly predicted that there would be limited amounts of the special ammo… but William didn’t like his willingness to sacrifice people to win- especially when he didn’t have a good plan for winning beyond that sacrifice.
William gathered the details of the assault and ran them by Jordan, just to see how things could have gone. Jordan’s first question was, “Can I not attack?” That was the case even discounting William himself. Of course, for the sake of the idea, Jordan still came up with a better strategy. It involved not entering the harbor, because it was obviously set up as a kill zone. Sabotage was the best option- if the dwarves had been able to sneak in to destroy the ammo supplies, their relative one-to-one fighting prowess wouldn’t have mattered so much. Jordan still maintained that not attacking- or at least choosing a different port- was the best option.
William agreed, but Morsut had been confident in his victory- or at least his own survival. He was one of those who sought glory in battle- but William had learned a long time before that battle wasn’t glorious.
The trial for Morsut Cragarm was a sham. William got all of his own facts directly from Morsut’s memories, but he couldn’t make him admit the truth. Well, he wouldn’t. William would bet that he could manipulate Morsut so that he would speak whatever William wanted, but that was the problem. There was a difference between making him spew out statements he knew were true and actually binding him to speak the truth. It might help his status with the dwarves, but William felt that manipulating another’s soul was somewhere on the same level of wrongness as destroying it. He wouldn’t know for sure until he actually did it and felt it… but he didn’t mind not trying it out. If he was going to do that, he wanted it to be for a better purpose than making a trial with a set result seem more believable.
The only real crime Morsut had was ordering attacks on Cruonia- ‘the demons’, from his perspective. Even so, William didn’t neglect to mention his failures as a fleet admiral, and his personal feelings. William conducted the ‘trial’ in dwarven- loud enough for the dwarves throughout the prison to hear clearly. He had an interpreter for those gevai watching in person. After all, the trial was also to show the gevai the dwarves were being punished. By laying all of the blame on Morsut- and another officer who had died when his ship sunk- the other dwarves were innocent. At least, as far as such things went in war. William was trying to move the gevai past the “slaughter everyone” phase of their history. He wanted Cruonia to be seen in a better light than the gevai had traditionally been.
William was still stumped on what to do with the dwarven prisoners. He was working on plans to have them shipped off to various other prisons around the country. That would reduce the immediate problem of crowding, but it was still a problem. Supporting a gross of dwarves was not terribly expensive on the scale of a country, but was he just going to keep them around forever?
He hoped that diplomatic relations would be established and he could return them to their homes- and he wouldn’t mind making a little bit of profit off of it. The profit didn’t have to be money, and in fact he would really be willing to trade the dwarves for peace. However, he also didn’t want it to appear that he would allow himself to be walked over. That was another part of why he had already executed Morsut Cragarm. He would be worth more as a hostage- but killing him was a statement.
Then William received an offer from an unexpected source. The reclusive group of gevai diviners and archivists asked if they could have some of the dwarven captives to learn dwarven from them firsthand. William was surprised that they would make such an offer, but he supposed it made sense. They reveled in gathering knowledge- the ki scroll with the basics of the language wouldn’t satisfy that desire completely. In fact, it might have brought it to their attention.
William had some reservations about the idea. The diviners planned to take the dwarves to an unknown place. William wanted the option to retrieve them, and he also wanted them to be in good condition. After all, it was best to return hostages healthy and happy- at least as much as anyone who had been imprisoned for a time could be. At the very least, he wanted them not tortured.
Fortunately, they easily agreed to William’s stipulations- and he even managed to get them to release some copies of what they had on elven to him. He would receive one volume at a time, based on how long the dwarves were with them. After all, just having the dwarves around didn’t mean they could instantly learn the language, and since William reserved the option to retrieve them they wanted to make sure it was a fair trade.