Wizard! Chapter 509
William wished he had satellite maps. Did he need that sort of detail? Absolutely not, but it would have been nice. It would have been quite useful hunting for islands, but on the continent things were more or less at peace.
Liaoyang had split into three countries… or perhaps it might have been more appropriate to say that the various powers in Liaoyang had conglomerated into three proper countries instead of a loosely organized one.
The northeastern part of Liaoyang had cordial relations with Ostana and Ustil, and nearly completely ignored Cruonia. The mountains prevented any easy direct passage between the two, so William supposed that was well enough. They did still have ambassadors, but they were mostly present to report back in case something important happened.
The northwestern part- or at least the ‘emperor’ there- had a feud with Ostana… though the two countries had no direct access to each other so William wondered why they even bothered. Perhaps it would be used as an excuse to move through the eastern regions and take over. William was on watch for that.
The southern part of Liaoyang was causing trouble for both Ustil and Cruonia. They wouldn’t let their ships dock in port, and took no care to stop piracy. William suspected the government was even involved behind the scenes… but if he sunk enough pirate ships they would give up… or at least run out of ships. They had briefly prepared for a land assault on Ustil. William wasn’t sure whether they had actually started the assault and then realized that they were going to just lose everyone to the desert or whether they thought better of it. Ustil didn’t exactly bother with border guards.
William was disappointed. Everyone had been getting along with Cruonia just fine until them… for some definitions of fine. For example, Eclea had been sending ships out into the eastern oceans, but they still avoided Cruonian waters. As long as they never actually did anything but just remained separate from the other countries, William didn’t mind. He still kept a close watch on them.
The mixed settlement no longer had many dwarves- they had all been returned to their homeland, but William was pleased that a few of them took a chance to return. The total number of dwarves and humans living within Cruonia’s borders was only a few gross, but that was more than zero.
Within his own borders… the remaining lords were all content and happy. At least, those who weren’t pretended to be- but most of them were. It wasn’t as if they couldn’t become richer just because they had to do it a bit more slowly. They weren’t likely to run out of resources either. Cruonia was about the same size as all the human nations combined- but with a population around one part in a dozen. That left a lot of free land.
It also made train tracks proportionately more expensive… but he didn’t have to worry about his term being up and policy changing. He defined policy… though not alone. He had many advisors that he listened to, though the decisions were ultimately in his hands.
There was one problem he would have to deal with sooner or later though. Magical beasts caused trouble when expanding. Gevai had no trouble fighting them- in fact, it became a pretty good industry. The question became, though… could they deal with all of the magical beasts? Should they wipe them out?
William’s answer to the first was that they probably could… and the second that they probably shouldn’t. It wasn’t a concern for the next dozen years, but at some point he would have to protect them. He didn’t want anything to be wiped out. The problem was… they were dangerous. While people were capable of fighting magical beasts, there was a larger gap between regular citizens and most magical beasts than humans from Earth and lions or other large predators.
Then there were dragons. While other magical beasts often learned about the dangers that people posed to them, only causing trouble when they entered new territory… dragons sought out people. Or rather, large concentrations of magical materials. William didn’t want to have to activate the full capacity of the few fortress ships he had, but he wanted to be able to without worrying about a dragon coming. He also didn’t want to have to worry about them attacking trains, once they had enough cars and enough magic all in one place to be noticed.
William thought running a country was a mess. He just wanted to go do wizard things, but he couldn’t very well do that if there was constant war… and anything as frequent as a few dozen years would basically qualify. William had done a pretty good job of avoiding war overall for his nine dozen years in his current life. A relatively short war with the humans, a big civil war, and a half-war with the dwarves? That wasn’t so bad. Unfortunately, he had to walk a fine balance before keeping an army ready for war and having an army large enough that others felt threatened. Fortunately his army seemed smaller for being comprised of gevai. It was also the case that at least half of the time they weren’t in active service but working in civilian jobs.
A year after the initial elven ship had returned, they sent some permanent ambassadors. That group did not involve Galen. William could understand why. He had been inches away from destroying his soul. He was still angry at him just for being part of the Demon King. Sure, he had felt all the regret and sincerity in his atonement… but that didn’t make William’s own feelings on the subject go away. It was best they stayed far apart.
Like all ambassadors, the new group were basically spies. Not that they did any snooping around- at least not the kind that actually involved sneaking about at night- but rather they passed information back to the elves. They even opened up trade- as much as a single ship per year could be counted as trade. Still, some people appreciated exotic goods. William wanted to get his hands on some of their magical equipment that seemed to be living plants… but the elves weren’t willing to part with it easily.
Because of the group of ambassadors and their assistants, there were always a handful of elves in Cruonia, but William knew exactly where they were at all times. Keeping close track of them wasn’t out of distrust so much as respect for their abilities.
That was why the reports of elves being spotted in other places around the country was so strange. They hadn’t come with the ambassadors, but no other elven ships had been spotted. Perhaps they had a secret route where they could land on an unexpected part of the continent. That wasn’t impossible, but that made William wonder how they got so far inland without being spotted.
Then they might be spotted once or twice, and disappeared. William considered that the reports might be false- gevai far enough away to be confused for elves somehow- but there were several problems with that. The general body types were just far too different… and gevai skin was completely different colored than elves.
Magic could conceal looks- but the disturbances in mana would cause great amounts of suspicion. Perhaps it was a group of very talented people disguising themselves for unknown purposes. William wasn’t sure, but when dwarves started being seen… the height difference was significant enough to be certain something strange was going on. He just had no idea what.