Wizard! Chapter 543
Transportation was too slow. That was what William decided, but there was nothing to be done about it. Even if they had faster transportation, there would probably be some reason the troops needed to go further in the same amount of time… such as the enemy being faster as well. William supposed the current situation was acceptable from that perspective.
Even so, every day meant more lives lost. Even when they won engagements, they were almost never perfect and without loss of life. That was becoming even more true with New Eclea having recently deployed even more powerful battleships. Their cannons could rip through pretty much any defenses, so it became a matter of who shot first. Unfortunately, Cruonia didn’t have much in the way of weaponry to match. They just hadn’t been researching as hard in that direction… but New Eclea had been preparing for this very war. Of course, the ships that could hold the massive cannons weren’t exactly quick, but they were causing problems.
Submarines might have been able to deal with them… but once the element of surprise was lost with them they would quickly become less useful as New Eclea came up with countermeasures… or perhaps deployed something they already had. So far there had been no signs of New Eclea having anything like submarines, but they could easily develop methods to sense them and destroy them if they knew of their existence. Of course, their efforts could be countered with better stealth methods… and they could go back and forth like that forever, given enough time.
William was hoping the war wouldn’t drag out that long. While there was a short-term gain for the economy as they stepped up production for war-related things, overall growth would be slower and not as much money would be going toward developing Cruonia’s infrastructure. Money for the military had to come from somewhere, and there just wasn’t enough in the normal budget for a real war.
Every day William had to wait was one more day he wasn’t out doing something to help the war. While he could operate pretty much alone, he wasn’t exactly able to occupy a military outpost alone… and he really didn’t want to just kill everyone and leave corpses around rotting that they would have to come deal with. Thus, he couldn’t be significantly ahead of his other forces.
Uzoma was still undecided- but he could be given another week to work out what he wanted to do. If their plan was to work the New Eclean army wouldn’t be involved in the fighting until it managed to slip into the capital, or at least somewhere on New Eclea’s shores. William really hoped Uzoma agreed to the idea, because there wasn’t any other really suitable leader among the captured soldiers, and he didn’t really want to have to occupy New Eclea. That would be a logistics nightmare, even if everything else miraculously went perfectly and they accepted the occupation.
So, because he didn’t feel like leaving behind a huge pile of corpses or people who would wake up, he waited. Even if that meant being in the same port as Galen Eanlar for a week. It wasn’t that they actually had any conflict, but it was strange to be around each other. William had put a lot of effort into the whole ‘destroying the Demon King’ thing, so leaving part of him alive was weird. If William had any real doubts about his sincerity in his repentance then he would have destroyed him when they first met… but it was still awkward to be around each other. Likewise, Galen still had part of the memories of being destroyed by William, and thus he wasn’t exactly thrilled to remain to close to him for long periods.
It was one thing when they talked through letters- or over the phone. There, it was just handwriting or a voice, and William approved of all of Galen’s actions… but just feeling him around was awkward. There was that feeling of connection through their souls- initially through Chris, but currently through the tiny bits of the Demon King that William had accidentally absorbed. Having that sort of connection to someone who was definitely not himself- and not a close friend like Chris- was unsettling.
Even so, they occasionally exchanged words with their best diplomatic faces on. Again, it wasn’t like they disliked each other… not really. Since they were allies, it was best they looked like it… and not just when they had more than a gross of miles between them.
William was glad to be on the move, even though the submarine was rather cramped. It wasn’t the space itself that was the problem, but the fact that there was nothing to do but wait as it travelled. If they made a direct journey to New Eclea, it might take a week if they were being generous… but they would be making many stops along the way. The engineers operating the submarine continuously checked their instruments to make sure they were on the right course.
All William could do was sense things around them. That turned out to be mostly empty ocean, occasionally fish or sea plants… and far too often larger creatures. Seeing them as little blips on the radar was better than feeling them as they approached nearby… as little as a few yards in some cases. Of course, even if they got that close they probably didn’t even notice the submarine as it continued to move at a steady pace, doing its best to not disturb the water around them.
It was two days into the trip that they neared the first island. It had a small base on it, but it was recently established and thus nothing much to worry about. The only important thing about it would be they would be watching for ships, and reporting if anything happened. That meant William had to take it out in absolute secrecy… but before that, he had to figure out what methods they would be using to report in so they could keep up the appearance of its operation as long as possible. The longer they kept up a change of surprise, the better. Especially since the bases would be better established the closer they got to New Eclea.