The New Kingdom of Mecca, Reachfield, United Nations Forward Operating Base
Clarie Banner of Ashmere stood with her mouth gaping at the giant construct that was held upright by chains and scaffolding. Beside her stood Professor Hamlot and her two classmates, Berringer and Uwen who too like her, were all stranded in this strange land.
They had been rescued and also imprisoned for a while before they were granted limited freedom. Now, their rescuers had brought them on a ride onboard a very fast and noisy strange airship that was totally unlike anything they had ever ridden nor seen to another place.
All four of them immediately recognized the colours and markings of the Protectorate war jack before them. The condition of the war jack surprised them was how badly beaten up the war jack was, with many holes and twisted metal on its body.
In their time under the watchful eye of their rescuers and jailers, they had come to learn their local languages and vice versa. Their overseer started asking them questions in regards to the Protectorate's war jack which they could only answer vaguely. Even Clarie with her knowledge of steam jacks from her time working in her father's workshop could only answer what she knew.
What further surprised them more was the wreckage of a Protectorate airship! From crumpled hull, to the ripped out hole where the internals could be seen, to the many holes and mangled plating, made them realised that these people were not simple despite their low knowledge of magicks and they don't even seem to use much steam technology at all.
Clarie had no idea what kind of weapons the people of this forgotten land has that could inflict such horrifying wounds on the Protectorate's airships. She like the others could only stare in awe at the sight of the mangled hull that had been painstakingly transported and pieced together at one place.
"Captain? A moment of your time?" Dr. Sharon had a worried frown on her face as she entered the tent and found Captain Blake seated behind the folding table. "I heard what happened to the Meccan nobles and the looting of the cities..."
"Ford told you?" Blake asked coldly. "It's just war..."
"No... he didn't..." Dr. Sharon gave a sigh. " And I don't need to hear it from him when everyone knows about it..."
"I see..." Blake replied. "So what of it?"
"Don't you think your methods had overstepped the law?" Dr. Sharon asked. "Why did you make such an order? This is a war crime!"
"War crime?" Blake shook his head. "Only if you lose..."
"What happened to your ethics?" Dr. Sharon growled. "Have vengeance made you mad?"
"Mad?" Blake shook his head again. "The ones that are mad here are the locals... Killing, pillaging, rape and destruction!"
"What I had done is barely even a scratch off the surface of their foul deeds!" Blake said while he clenched his fists in anger. "If you want to compare war crimes, you are barking at the wrong tree!"
"Captain!" Dr. Sharon smacked the table with her palms. "You know fully well what is right and what is wrong here! Don't shift the blame!"
"What blame?" Blake retorted back. "I am going put law and order to this whole world filled with murderers and rapists!"
"You want to rule the whole planet? There is a limited to your vengeance!" Dr. Sharon was shocked. "How much bloodshed do you want to see?"
"Vengeance?" Blake growled. "Yes... I have vengeance in my heart! I want to hang those bastards by their balls and peel their skin off!"
"The time of being meek is over..." Blake stood up and turned away from Dr. Sharon. "We had played the fool for the most part. And these... people... really think of us as fools to be played!"
"Even so, how many lives do you want to sacrifice for your personnel vendetta?" Dr. Sharon's eyes narrowed in anger. "How can you use the lives of your people so selfishly?"
"Lives? What about our own people's lives? It is high time these elves do something for their own planet!" Blake's voice lowered. "The elves' blood shall be the foundation of a new world order!"
The New World, New Protectorate Territories, City of Hensink
The outlying lands around the coastal city of Hensink had changed drastically over the time it had been occupied by the Protectorate of Ramuh. The nearby forests had been chopped down, the wood used as fuel to fire up the dozens of clay kilns that had popped up all around the city to produce charcoal.
Protectorate prospectors using both magic and physical means further scouted out the surrounding terrain for resources and minerals. The new local converts were placed into existing mines to boast their output while the spoils of war of metal armour and weapons were melted down into various metal components.
The walls of the city had been broken down by steam jacks, the construction worker robots variant of the war jack. The lumbering metal beasts tore the old stone walls down to their foundations, and beams of metal were hammered into the ground, creating new foundations. Metal plating formed the outer shell while the internal were filled with packed sand, creating a wall of iron.
Weapons onboard the airships were offloaded and installed all along the iron wall. Towers blistering with steam cannons popped up all over the city's perimeter as the Protectorate forces dug in. The offloaded airships picked up the packed crates of resources and started their perilous journey back to the Old World.
Sea of Clouds
Arcs of lightning lit up the protective runes of the flying island fortress. The bubble barrier flickering wildly as each bolt of lightning crawled over its surface like a crackling snake. The magic barrier powered by thousands of magic crystals plowed through the storm with ease while hundreds of magic crystals crumpled to dust with each strike of lightning.
Dozens of airships hurdled within the protective confines of the flying fortress's barrier as they traveled through the dangerous weather unimpeded. Within the flying fortress, inside a massive tower that overlooked the entire surroundings, sat the Iron Lords, Commanders, Captains and the Crown Prince of the Iron Kingdom around a long table.
"Prince Yemen," Lord Ableman, advisor and second in command of the expedition fleet tapped on a piece of scroll on the table. "These are the estimated figures of supplies and other necessities the fleet would require per month of operations."
The Crown Prince barely took a glance at the scroll and instead, he asked. "How long more before we leave this... unpleasant place?"
Lord Ableman kept his displeasure away from his expression and instead he turned to look at the fortress commander who stood up and bowed, "My Prince, we estimate another week or so before the fleet exits the Sea of Clouds."
"Can we hurry it up?" The Crown Prince asked. "There is nothing but clouds and more clouds. It's either dark and cloudy or raining just every other day! The more time we waste here, means the more time the Protectorate has to lay claim on the New World!"
"My Prince," The fortress commander replied. "The fortress could only travel so fast in the storm..."
"How about the Fleet?" The Crown Prince pointed out. "Can't we send the faster ships out first to secure a foothold for our arrival? You old men are just wasting precious time sitting here doing nothing!"
The Iron lords and commanders looked at each other unhappily before the senior most of all, stood up and answered stiffly, "My Prince, the fortress could only move so fast... and the fleet requires the magic shields of the fortress to protect them from the raging storms outside."
"If we launch the air fleet," The senior Admiral had an unhappy frown on his face, said. "We could lose as much as half the fleet to the unstable weather!"
"Tsk!" The Crown Prince sighed before he turned to Lord Ableman, "So what now? Are we just all going to sit here and just wait?"
"No... my Prince..." Lord Ableman sighed inwardly. "We will continue your studies... Now, if you look at the scroll before you..."
"Leave this matters for later!" Prince Yemen snapped. "What I am concerned about is the Protectorate having a head start of months before us! You do know how in dire need of magic crystals every nation are?"
The lords and commanders all nodded their heads in agreement. The resource situation in the Old World had reached a point that over usage of magic crystals had caused the demand to soar and led to over hunting of monsters and over exploitation of dungeon resources. The reason why steam technology managed to rise was also due to the rising cost of magic crystals within the Old World as the nations scrambled to find an alternate source of power.
The cost of running the Flying Fortress was exorbitant, especially the need to maintain the magic barriers that protected it. Magic crystals was required to power any magical runes, devices and spell formation. Without magic crystals, all things magical would not be able to run, hence the nations jealously stockpiled all the magic crystals they could get their hands on, as they had become a strategic resource for their magical artifacts.
Now with news of the Protectorate airships returning from the New Worlds with hull brimming with magic crystals. It led the other nations into a mad rush for to cross the dangerous Sea of Clouds to grab the riches before the other nations claimed them.
Prince Yemen wanted to grab as much of those resource as possible. He wanted to show to his Royal Father that he was someone destined to be great, that was why he was feeling very impatient. The Protectorate of Ramuh had been a torn in their sides as they shared a border, which constant raids from the Protectorate leading to piracy, to kidnapping of villagers or stolen life stock.
Yet, his Royal Father had not retaliate and instead chose to be passive over the incursions from the Protectorate. He had once said that the Protectorate of Ramuh was not a nation, one that could fight single handedly as the citizens were all fanatics.
But none of the other Great Nations wanted to wage war as they knew if they did so, their stocks of precious magic crystals will dwindle and making them weaker before the other Great Nations. The Great Nations were all adopting a policy of outlasting one another out or until their people came out with a new energy source that could replace their reliance on magic crystals.
Even the dungeons were jealously guarded and husbanded by each Great Nation as it became their only reliable source of magic crystals, but even so, the quality and quantity of the magic crystals that came out of the dungeons were dropping, making the Great Nations nervous.
The news of the New World was a pleasant surprise to the Great Nations as they knew who could control the most out of the New World, meant their rule would continue while those who failed, would see their reign disappear into the dust of time.
This was a reason why the Iron King had sent fore one of the Iron Kingdom's greatest military asset, the flying island called the Iron Fortress and the crack Third Iron Fleet. The flying island with natural veins of aetherium was dug out from the ground and reinforced with magic and iron to create the ultimate fighting fortress to rule the skies.
Networks of pipes running hundreds of meters were dug within the island and linked to veins of aetherium. Once heated, the aetherium trapped in pockets of reinforced earth and iron, carried the island into the air while large bunkers of fuel and magic crystals and water reservoirs ensured the island could fly near infinitely.
"The New World must fall into the hands of the Iron Kingdom!" The Crown Prince declared. "There can only be one master! And it shall be me!"