Wizard! Chapter 478
William had weighed the possibility of a few dozen dwarves getting loose against the possible benefits. He didn’t know what sort of containment facilities the diviners had… but he supposed it didn’t matter too much. He hoped there were no issues, because that was best for everyone. He would get a chance to learn elven, they would get what they wanted. Everyone would be happier. If they somehow messed up and some dwarves caused trouble… Well, William didn’t see them accomplishing much wandering around on their own. Free wandering dwarves were likely to be met with all sorts of trouble. Plus, it would give William an excuse to act against the diviners. William preferred to not need to act against them in any way, but at least he could make up for his losses if things went horribly.
William was unimpressed with the first volume on the elven language. Not that there was anything wrong with it, but learning a language from a book wasn’t the best method possible. He had expected better, but he realized that his expectations were founded purely on his desires and not sense. He couldn’t expect anyone to speak a language that hadn’t been heard on the continent in most of recorded history- to the point elves and dwarves were basically legends before actual dwarves showed up once more.
William thought he could learn elven fairly quickly, even from a book. He knew a number of other languages already. He wondered if there were multiple languages spoken by elves and dwarves- though from what he knew of the dwarves, at least, their numbers had been reduced enough they all ended up with the same language and had mostly continued that way even as they expanded to more islands.
Unfortunately, William couldn’t just wait around a few months learning elven. The book had taken some time to arrive at his location, so he only had a few weeks to study the basics before he had something else he had to take care of. The various ships were finished with repairs, so now it was time to pay a visit to the dwarves.
William stood on the metal coated deck of the fortress ship with Admiral Kovach. He would have preferred Jordan leading the troops- but Jordan could only do one thing at a time. Perhaps a few things, but either way Jordan could not concurrently take care of shore defenses and an assault on the dwarven forward outpost. Besides, it was best not to risk Jordan’s life to an accident.
If this were a different world, William might have said the same about risking the king’s life, but it was not. In this world, kings were strong. They were expected to go into battle- and as this was the first foray into a foreign country, it made sense for him to go.
The dwarven forward outpost was actually much closer to Cruonia than any of the other dwarven territory. It was on the order of a few days from Tigershark point, compared to over a month from the dwarven home islands. Even so, no gevai had lived there in recent history- or any history that William knew of. In fact, the islands hadn’t even been claimed, or even known about. There were two times that the ships passed over dark shadows in the water. The dark shapes below the surface made it clear why the islands had never been found. Without the formations dissuading attacks, they likely would have lost their ships. Perhaps the fortress ship could have survived if the gevai fought bravely, but the ships weren’t set up to attack monsters below the surface of the water.
The elves and dwarves must have been quite lucky to have survived the long journeys to their new homelands. William could only imagine how many strong elves and dwarves had still died on the way so that the others could continue on…
None of that mattered now, however. Now, gevai were going to invade dwarven territory for the first time in a very long time. This time, however, the dwarves were the instigators of the war. Even given the threat the forward outpost represented, William would have left it alone if the dwarves had been willing to talk about peace. Since they hadn’t, he couldn’t just leave the threat nearby.
On his ships were approximately a gross of gevai. On land, it would be two platoons. William had evaluated the dwarven soldiers combat abilities. He was under the impression that the soldiers sent had been above average in combat prowess, and he would have rated them as at least two to three times as effective as humans. He still rated gevai at a dozen or more, however.
At the dwarven forward outposts, there were less than a gross of soldiers holding down the fort. That counted the crew that was currently incarcerated, as well as a few cooks and smiths who weren’t combat trained.
Of course, most of the fighting wouldn’t be hand-to-hand. The dwarves would have cannon emplacements, but on the other hand part of their defenses assumed they would have some ships remaining- and they didn’t. All of them were either sunk or under William’s control, except perhaps one or two that were on route between the forward outposts and the dwarven home islands.
For all of Morsut Cragarm’s faults, he kept good track of his personnel allotments and kept good knowledge of the defenses. Now, that knowledge was going to be used against the dwarves. Perhaps that might be for the best, because William hoped it would result in fewer casualties on each side.
“Land ho!” came the call from the crow’s nest.
William had been expecting the call to be soon, but as they approached he found he wasn’t prepared for what he experienced. It was strange to see for the first time places he had so many memories of. Currently, he could barely see anything of what was really there. He saw the walls built up on a large island, walls he knew had cannons defending them. Even if he was on top of the walls, he wouldn’t see much more. There weren’t many buildings to be seen… not on the surface anyway. Dwarves were dwarves, after all. Why build tall buildings that could be bombarded by cannon when they could build down into the core of the island? That was where most of the facilities were… though since it was a military outpost, they were relatively small compared to a city, or even a large town.
William turned toward Admiral Kovach, “You know the plan. Approach confidently, but be prepared to come under fire at any point. I will be going on ahead.”