Wizard! Chapter 531
The appearance of an Eclean fleet was soon confirmed by a scout ship. According to their report, the fleet numbered around three gross. Of particular note were a half dozen fortress sized ships, as well as a few dozen significantly sized warships of various sorts. The remaining majority of the ships consisted of about half smaller support ships… and the other half troop transports.
That put the estimate of troops around a dozen great gross- the population of a city, if a somewhat small city. Though in years past such a city might have been considered quite large. The actual comparison with a city wasn’t as important as the size of the army. Was it big? Absolutely. Was it impossible to deal with? Not at all. The human countries had fielded more troops during the last human-demon war. If that was all there was to it, even with William relatively conservative military all they had to do was keep good on the dozen gevai to one human ratio and they could have a solid victory without even drawing too heavily on the further points of Cruonia.
That was, of course, assuming several things. First, that he could keep the ratios up. That would depend on several things, including how many Eclean soldiers were equipped with guns. Gevai were tougher than normal humans. In many cases they could take a bullet or two without trouble… but that was only if they weren’t hit in critical areas. If they got shot with a handful or a dozen bullets, the damage would add up even if they didn’t get hit in a vital organ- and a bullet through the heart or brain could kill a gevai just as well as a human. Then again, it was possible to use magic to defend against them, though not as easily as arrows. Guns just lowered their advantage if brought in sufficient numbers. However even if the entire army was outfitted with the best guns available, William was confident in Cruonia’s victory… but it would be hard to avoid the damage to Cruonia’s buildings and civilians that would be part of the war. The final problem was what actually concerned William. Those might not be the only soldiers coming.
Unlike the League, Eclea was an established power. They weren’t just figuring things out, and had solid records dating back many years. Their current forces could cause significant trouble, but there was no way for them to conquer Cruonia or even keep a foothold long term, not without more troops. That meant there would have to be more… unless their target wasn’t Cruonia.
That was another possibility, and one that they had no way to test without waiting. They might be intending to attack somewhere else. Nothing in particular would stop them from moving south to attack Ustil, or trying to move past them to attack Liaoyang. However, that wasn’t the most probably because they were both human and had little conflict in the past. Ostana was likewise off the table, because there wouldn’t have been a need for so many non-troop ships to be included if they were just planning to land in Eclean controlled waters and march troops over land. That would also prove much more expensive than just raising the troops on the mainland, if a bit less secret. The ships, meanwhile, would have been harder to keep under wraps. It was also possible that they intended to attack the Subterranean Allied Colonies, but that posed the same issue of ships being irrelevant.
It was possible they intended to attack the dwarves or elves, but that would be an extremely long journey with no chance to resupply without starting war with a half-dozen countries at once. Nowhere outside of Eclea would willingly let those ships dock and resupply, and if they took supplies by force there was no way they could handle the repercussions that would follow.
There was one final target they could be going for. Jordan didn’t think it was likely, and William agreed. They could be going to attack Eclea. That is, relations between the two parts of Eclea could have deteriorated to the point they were having a civil war. That was possible- but the earlier disagreements hadn’t seemed that major. Then again, they didn’t have a clear picture of what was happening in Eclea so maybe it was bigger than it seemed.
Even with all the other possibilities, Cruonia seemed like the most likely target. If they were wrong… they wasted some money and manpower on relocating troops and evacuating civilians. Even so, with the fleet actually spotted it wasn’t an unreasonable reaction. Not that they had waited to actually see the details. All of southeastern Cruonia had already been mobilizing for most of a week.
Ustil was already an ally with Cruonia, so they had been informed of the fleet as soon as it was detected, even though the actual details weren’t known. After the fleet was spotted, they informed the other countries of what they had seen. That came with the risk of Eclea finding out they weren’t entirely surprised, but they could probably keep the information secure from Eclea for at least a week… at which point their target would start to become clear unless they relished spending large amounts of resources on an active military that wasn’t actually doing anything.
Soon enough it wasn’t just Cruonia that was mobilizing troops. Though it was far too late to raise an army, every country had enough of a standing army to hold off for some time if necessary.
If Cruonia was the actual target, while it wasn’t likely that the other countries would jump to defend them they could still count on some support. Ustil had a smaller military and was more suited to rely on their harsh terrain to defeat attacks, but they would not refused to send aid if requested. William wasn’t sure exactly what the reaction of the other countries would be, but he knew he would be spending the next weeks spending much more time doing diplomacy than he usually preferred.