Wizard! Chapter 491
William decided to give the dwarves one more chance… partly because it would take him some time to put together his expedition. He sent one more group of dwarves back to deliver his offer of peace to the dwarves. These dwarves were more sympathetic to his cause… but not his favorite bunch, because he wasn’t sure that they wouldn’t be killed to keep them silent, if someone really didn’t want the dwarves to know about the chance of peace. He’d expected at least some kind of message otherwise, even if it was “kill yourselves and we won’t have to do it for you” or something to that effect.
He told the dwarves to spread the word to as many people as they could. Whether or not they actually did so or chose to listen to him once let free wasn’t under his control. Hopefully they would at least mention that he said the Demon King had been destroyed, but he couldn’t be sure what a month of travel might do to change their minds.
Three months passed without a response- which was enough time for the dwarves to spend a month debating his message and send a ship each way. Since he received nothing, he would have to go deliver the message himself… as he had expected.
Sending someone else was no good. While he had plenty of competent subordinates and friends, none of the others had so much strength in a single person… and would also be guaranteed to reincarnate, as far as such guarantees went. Not that he planned to die.
He was bringing two dozen ships, approximately. A fleet similar in size to the dwarven one, but he had some advantages that they would not. First, they would not have many ships of that caliber left, and he would be avoiding their fortifications. Once he was on land, he would have five gross of gevai soldiers, enough to take on any army that could be quickly mustered. In fact, at the strength of a dozen men they should be able to combat head on with almost any army the dwarves could muster period. Even if the dwarves were above the human average, William’s troops were as well. He also needed to outfit fewer troops… and while that was somewhat included in the standard “dozen to one” consideration, with a “small” powerful force he could avoid any confrontations he didn’t wish to face.
Each ship needed a competent navigator- even if they were travelling together in convoy, storms and other situations where they might be separated were unavoidable. William produced the best sea maps he could, with landmarks. There was a reason countries didn’t like good maps getting out… and that was war. Unfortunately for the dwarves, a number of maps had also been captured. After all, their own men at least needed good enough maps to navigate. They hadn’t expected their men to all fall unconscious and be unable to destroy the maps- and while that wasn’t true for every ship, it was true on enough of them that actually had such maps… and for the maps in the dwarven forward outpost.
The land maps were more vague, but William knew enough to be able to find- or avoid- main roads on the dwarves’ main island and find his way toward Dhugulir.
William had his men practice magic to increase the fuel efficiency of their ships. It wasn’t much- most of them couldn’t keep up magic for long, and mana was limited. Even so, they would be able to save a few days of coal over the trip. Each man worked in pairs for two hour shifts, watching the furnaces and shoveling coal. Every sailor knew enough about what was required to handle it competently, and if something actually went outside of expectations there were more practiced gevai they could go to.
Unfortunately they couldn’t use magic to increase efficiency for the entire trip. There were several areas marked as danger zones, and creating mana fluctuations in the area didn’t seem like a wise idea. It was best to completely avoid the attention of the creatures in those areas. Formations were run at minimum power in those areas, except the wards to dissuade creatures from approaching.
William wasn’t sure if he wanted to know what the dangers in the areas were- he wasn’t even sure if the dwarves knew. In most of the places, anyway, they were merely listed as danger zones. While passing through them, everything became eerily quiet- even if it probably wasn’t necessary. Nobody wanted to speak a word when it might summon a gigantic creature to eat them.
The journey was timed such that storms wouldn’t likely be a problem- and William found it actually worked out that way. There were some points with larger waves, but nothing enough to threaten the ships or even make them lose sight of each other.
William was very glad for the memories of some navigators. He wouldn’t have thought to regularly check the surface of the ship otherwise. However, because of that he swept the fleet with his ki senses at least daily, paying special attention to the undersides. One day, about two thirds of the way through the journey, he found what he had been warned about.
The dwarves called them metalsuckers, though that wasn’t a fair name. They stuck to the side of the boats and would suck on anything– dissolving it with their mouths. According to what he’d learned they actually couldn’t handle that much metal, and would die off- but not before incurring damage to the hull.
These particular creatures latched on while the defensive wards were down for travelling through a danger zone. It would have been several days before the wards went back up, and by that point they would have significant damage from the dozens of large fish attached to each ship. William caught it less than half a day after they must have attached, and that meant all it took the gevai was ropes and someone willing to dive, stabbing them to kill and detach them. The hulls of the ships incurred visible, if minimal, damage. William resolved to check more often- even if it meant waking up in the middle of the night. It wasn’t that much effort to check, though he couldn’t possible keep a constant eye on the entire fleet. William just hoped that the metalsuckers were the worst of the problems they encountered.