Several fat sausages looking and fish shaped ships floated leisurely over the crude settlement which could barely be even called a town. Surrounded by a ring of sharpened logs, the small town was populated by barely three thousand people. Mud and thatch houses were hazardously built on the dirt ground filled with puddles of mud and waste.
The only proper looking building that was made out of stone and logs belonged to the town's overseer and garrison, an Imperial noble called Wickebine Osthan. It was a small stone keep and sited on a small slope at the east corner of the walled town and he was the Lord and Master of the people on this island of exile.
Located north of the Empire of Bluewood, laid a large untamed island. The Empire named the northern island as Exile Island where certain people of noble birth who had committed crimes against the throne was thrown there to live out their lives in exile. The settlement was run by Wickebine and a small detachment of Imperial soldiers and it was a place where no one leaves once they step foot there.
The people no matter what their previous lives were had to work to eat, or they can starve to their deaths and no one will even care. Scions and princess that never had to work or do anything ever once in their lives had to toil the fields, chop trees, mine ore, and even hunt or capture monsters, especially young wild dragons or eggs in this untamed land, to be send back to the Empire.
Now, Wickebine Osthan stood on the only tower of the stone keep, half naked and wearing a pair of well worn leather breeches and stared up at the underbellies of the floating ships in awe and shock. He had seen many things in his life but this was a first time seeing a ship that could fly. And he was not the only one, as the whole settlement had stopped whatever they were doing and stared with different expressions on their faces.
"Lord Osthan!" His second in command, a once promising young officer in the Imperial Army but had the unfortunate luck to have incurred the jealously of some of his more well connected peers and ultimately, he was sent here to watch over the exiles. "W- What are those flying things?"
Wickebine could only stare in surprise as he too had no idea what they were, news from the mainland to Exile Island was not really frequent, with only a ship coming once or twice a year. "Mata! Order the guards not to do anything stupid! Tell them to stand down if they want to live pass the day! Send my orders, now!"
"Y-yes, at once!" The youngster ran off down the tower and soon his voice rang out in the tiny courtyard, ordering the soldiers to stand down.
"Could this be the Un Ann?" Wickebine wondered as the last news he heard many months back was that there was a demonic rebel nation that killed the Emperor. "Have they conquered the entire New World?"
Tri State Exploration Fleet, Flagship Victoria, Command Bridge
Duchess Manarva had a bored look on her well maintained face as she leaned on one hand on her chair, watching the combined fleet of both Tri State ships and Iron Kingdom ships slowly descent over the island. She could see the blurry outline of the mainland in the far distance on the magical viewing crystal and on another viewing crystal, the poor and rundown looking walled town was displayed.
"This... place looks no different from the slums I grew up in," Her personnel aide, Aulus, remarked as he eyed the viewing crystal. "How can such a place be rich in resources if even its town looked so barbaric?"
"Oh, little Aulus, don't judge a book by its cover," Manarva said in a lazy voice. "Why, did you not notice the trophies laid out on the gates of the town?"
"Hmmm?" Aulus took another closer look before his eyes widened. "Oh... is that... what I think it is?"
"Yes," Manarva sat up straight and leaned closer to the viewing crystal. "It's the skull of a dragon... and not just one!"
"H- How are they capable to hunt down a dragon?" Aulus had a look of disbelief on his face. "Could it be a mutated drake breed?"
"Well, we will find out when we question the people down there!" Manarva said with a smile and she stood up. "Order the ships to deploy the landing ships... And prepare my launch! We will go down and take a look at these... barbarians!"
Sleek looking Tri State troop barges and the boxy shaped Iron Kingdom transports hissed out from the respective airships and they landed on partially harvested grain field. The farmers working on the fields fled in terror at their approach, dropping their tools and ran towards the walls of the settlement.
Soldiers rushed out from the transports and barges as they landed, the hatches dropping down and forming ramps. Tri State soldiers were dressed in silver cuirass and morion style helmets over a set of white puffy sleeved uniform and flared black pants with a silver stripe. A steam tank was strapped to their backs with other equipment and hoses were connected to long poleaxes and the soldiers formed up into a phalanx of blistering spears.
The Iron Kingdom soldiers were dressed in black plate mail over dark navy blue coats and wore black shakos on their heads. They carried a similar tank of compressed steam that was hooked up to long rifle like weapons that ended with a sharp spike. After forming up next to the Tri State soldiers, an officer from the Tri State gave out and order, and both forces started marching across the grain fields towards the settlement.
Wickebine scratched his balding head as he watched the two phalanx of soldiers trampling over the grain fields outside the town. He stood on the wooden walls, with the rest of his detachment of a hundred odd soldiers, and wondered what was their purpose in coming to this godforsaken place.
"Leave the gates open!" He yelled down from his perch on the wooden walls which served to keep out the lesser creatures of the island. "And no one touches their weapon! I want to live till tomorrow at least!"
The soldiers hurried removed their hands from the hilts of their swords and tried to not to fidget as they watched the unknown soldiers bearing two distinct flags, one silver with three golden triangles forming into a larger triangle and another in black or dark blue with two silver fists holding on to rod or spear, the details too far away to be clearly identified.
A bugle came from the unknown force as they stopped just beyond the walls and for a moment both sides stared at each other. A small group of soldiers with marks of leaders on their armor and helmet walked forward and stopped just beyond the opened gates. Wickebine let out a deep breath he was holding in before he climbed down the rickety ladder and cursed, planning to chew out whoever was the one that built the ladder but stopped when he realized that it no longer mattered.
He walked out to meet the waiting soldiers with a small group of close aides. He adjusted his rarely worn armour which seemed too small for his size and forgoes his red plumed helmet which he was certain would no longer fit his head. Thumping his chest in salute to the unknown soldier, he asked in a firm and polite tone, "Greetings strangers! What brings you here to my humble town?"
A grizzling looking soldier with scars on his face stepped forward and made a salute of sorts, but the words that came out of his mouth were illegible to Wickebine's ears. Both sides stared at each other silently as they wondered how to communicate with each other when an ornate flying boat appeared overhead.
Wickebine stared with his mouth open as the grey silver ship landed behind the phalanx of soldiers and a group of people appeared. The most eye catching of the group was a middle aged woman wearing a white uniform. A rich looking cape was dangled over her shoulders and a long silver hilt sword hung off her belt.
She led the group forward, removing her black gloves along the way and handing them over to an aide behind her and she stopped before Wickebine, the corner of her lips slightly raised in a smile. She was not pretty, but her looks were striking enough to make one unable to forget her. And her eyes were sharp and piercing despite the small smile on her lips as she looked up and down Wickebine, making him feel conscious of himself.
Seemingly satisfied, she snapped her long fingers and a cloaked member of her entourage stepped forward and gave a bow to her before he reached out to tap Wickebine on his forehead, making him jump back in surprise. He felt a chill down his spine from the light tap and goosebumps rose as the cloaked person started mumbling and chanting.
"Magic!" Young Mata reached for his sword as he sensed the cloaked figure chanting but he froze when he met the cold piercing eyes of the woman whose smile widen. "I- Ah... I... erm..."
"Stand down!" Wickebine stretched out his arm to stop his men from drawing their weapons. The phalanx of soldiers dropped their spears as one when they saw the hostile movements. "Peace!"
Mata dropped his hand away from his hilt and his faced flushed as he looked away in embarrassment. For a moment, he felt a sense of danger when he looked into the eyes of the noblewoman and fear took over his mind, making him froze in fright. He just realized that despite her age and looks, she was a very dangerous person!
The woman made a dismissive gesture and the soldiers once again raised their spears back up and she gave an appreciative nod to Wickebine who felt he just barely picked up his life. Finally, the mage finished his strange incantations and he handed a pendant to the woman before shoving another pendant with a large blue crystal towards Wickebine.
Following the actions of the noblewoman, he wore it over his head and suddenly, he felt he could understand what the other party was saying! "T- This level of magic?"
"Can you understand me now?" The woman asked and Wickebine jerked his head up in surprise. He could hear her words, but was unable to understand her words, but yet, in his mind, he could understand her at the same time! The woman gave the pendant a shake before turning to the mage and asking, "Is this magic even working?"
"Y- Yes!" Wickebine replied, his mind racing as the implications of such magic meant that whoever this person was, her prestige must be very high up to have such a powerful mage serving by her side. "I hear and understand your words, my Lady!"
"Good!" The noble lady nodded once before introducing herself. "I am Duchess Manarva of the Tri State! General of the Air and Commander of the Combined Forces of the Tri State Air Navy and the Iron Kingdom Forces on... this side of the world!"
"I- I welcome the Duchess here," Wickebine felt a trickle of cold sweat down his spine. What was the Tri State and Iron Kingdom? He has never heard of such nations or kingdoms before in his entire life. If they were not the Un Ann, has another power house on the mainland emerged while they on this island remained ignorant of the happenings outside world? Wickebine wondered before he asked in a polite tone. "What may this... lowly one be of service?"
"Now, tell me..." The Duchess gestured around her surroundings. "What kind of hell hole is this?"