Wizard! Chapter 513
The group of two dozen elves and dwarves slowly approached the gates of the castle. They rode at a steady pace on the backs of their dire badgers- a strange mount choice, but they seemed to be doing well enough.
William wondered where they had come from. Two dozen people wasn’t much, but that implied a ship- or more than one- had gotten to shore undetected, and then the group had travelled into the center of his country without him hearing about them. Plus, the badgers would have taken quite a bit of space. They also weren’t known to the ambassadors, which was worrying. Were they from rebel groups? William had to admit he didn’t know that much about the deeper undercurrents of the elven and dwarven nations’ politics. Then again, the ambassadors seemed genuinely surprised about the groups’ very existence- and not just their arrival.
Then again, perhaps all his questions would be answered with a bit of waiting. He watched as the group carefully picked their way along the paths through the gardens outside the castle. Then the group stopped about a half-dozen yards away from the castle gates.
The elven ambassador cleared his throat, “May I?” William nodded. The elven ambassador took a half-step forward and spoke in elven. William had taken the time to learn the basics of elven- current elven, and not the version the diviners had kept in their vaults. “Greetings, brothers. Might I ask where you are from?”
The group down below turned to look at each other. William could just hear them talking, and barely made out their words. “Is that elven? It’s not gevai…” William could make out the words, but they were strange. Even so, he recognized them even without any practical experience… it was the version of elven he had been taught by the diviners. Strangely enough, the dwarves down below spoke it too. After a few moments, the dwarf with the green beard- William could tell it had moss growing on it from up close- rode forward and spoke in fluent gevai. “Greetings, Eternal King of the gevai. I am Vamir Mossbeard, lead representative of the Allied Subterranean Territories. We apologize for not coming sooner, but we had some… misgivings… based on the actions of the former bearer of your title.”
William wasn’t sure if he was supposed to know who they were. Though, he was coming up with some guesses. “I must admit I had not long expected your arrival.” There wasn’t much more to be said. He hoped they offered something more.
The Vamir nodded. “Aye, if you had much knowledge about us… ‘twould have been a waste of efforts stretching back to ancient times. You must be wondering where we came from…”
William nodded, “Indeed. The diviners must have put in quite some effort to keep you hidden for so long. I almost can’t believe he didn’t think to look underground… then again, I didn’t either. Well, why don’t we go somewhere more comfortable? I have no desire to stand up on this wall talking.” William raised his voice, “Open the gates! Lead these fine people to the council chambers.”
The throne room was for when William needed to look down on people and be intimidating. However, if he actually wanted a discussion, there was a much more comfortable room… though his chair still raised him a bit higher than everyone else.
Once they settled in, the lead dwarf asked, “Umm… how did you know about the diviners helping us?”
“I guessed,” William shrugged, “Though it was not terribly hard with the available information. Don’t worry though, your presence here was the key component… and with that the jig is up. I suppose you knew that when you decided to show yourselves.”
Vamir lightly rubbed his beard, “Umm… well… yes. As you have surmised, we have been hidden away by the diviners every since the first massacres of the Demon King. Elves retreated to a few less known dwarven cities… and then were forgotten about. We have come here today in hopes of establishing a peaceful relation with Cruonia. Over the last dozens of years we have found you to be a very reasonable ruler.”
William nodded, “I am glad you think so. I see no problem with opening up peaceful relations with any nation that wishes to do so.” William paused in consideration, “How large is your country anyway? It can’t just be under central Cruonia… it must span most of it…” William watched Vamir’s reaction, “Or perhaps even the entire continent.”
“We do have tunnels going to many places… but we are not a threat to anyone.”
“I didn’t say you were. I just thought your industriousness was applaudable. You must have been very careful to avoid notice… perhaps you dug very deep?” William nodded, thinking about his speculations, “But you’re not here to discuss those details. You want something like a non-aggression pact? I have no problem with establishing one. At some point we will have to detail the legal boundaries of our respective countries… but I’m sure that can wait for another time.”
Vamir nodded, “Right. You are… very straightforward.”
“I can afford to be… and I can’t afford not to be. Frankly, I hate political dithering… and am strong enough to be able to avoid most of it. Now then… about that non-aggression pact.”
William was surprised that there was an entire civilization below his feet… but he pretended not to be. He didn’t actually know how big they were, but they had played their hand with their recent appearances in different places. Perhaps they were trying to get people used to their presence, but it had caused more nervousness than it would make up for. Then again, their only interaction with gevai in living memory had been the diviners, and they weren’t known for their social prowess.
Hearing about an important event had made William nervous. He had been thinking of so many things it could be. Even if it hadn’t been something malicious, he had imagined all kinds of trouble.
Instead, there was another country? Sure. Fine. Whatever. He imagined they had all kinds of metals to trade, spending all their time underground. They wanted peace. That was good. One step closer to world peace… even if William hadn’t known that was a step that would have existed a day before. Sure, all the pieces were there. The strange form of elven… or perhaps a mix of ancient elven and dwarven and a myriad of years of change. The diviners being interested in the captured dwarves… not just to learn their language.
That meant those captives might have known about the underground cities. He hadn’t searched any of their souls after that point. After all, he hadn’t been trying to find the secret locations that the diviners had. That meant there were dwarves in their islands that knew the secret… but they were apparently very good at keeping secrets if they needed to. The ambassadors hadn’t even known.
William just hoped the other nations took it as well. He wasn’t going to tell them that there were probably dwarves and elves living beneath them, but they would probably be able to figure it out soon enough, even if the Allied Subterranean Territories didn’t tell them. Even so, William tried to ready himself for the inevitable negative reactions from other countries and probably some of his own people.