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The New World, Empire of Bluewood Territory, Exile's Passage, UNS Vengeance

Professor Hamlot watched the crew of the massive ocean going ship that seemed more like a small island instead of a ship, navigate the behemoth into the channel. The loud roar of the single winged flying machines the crew called Vipers and the double winged machines called Cobras, came overhead from the open air observation deck, he was at with a few others.

The machines known as 'er kaft' in the locals' language had roused Professor Hamlot's curiosity greatly as whenever he had the time, he would come to the observation deck and watch the crew in colourful jackets work the machines on both sides of the long flat decks. He found the machines and weapons used by the United Nationers were seemingly more advanced and even superior compared to what knowledge he has of the Old World's steam weapons.

Even the massive ship he was on board now, serving as a consultant for the command staff, might seem to be primitive compared to an airship, the ship actually had much more advanced technology compared to the Old World's steam tech!

The only fields the United Nationers seemed to be weak in was in certain elements of magic and aetherium research. Yet, despite that, the United Nationers were highly innovative as he already spotted some magic equipment that was clearly Protectorate in origin being installed here and there.

The trio of flying machines that had turned into tiny specks in the distance had returned, and following behind them were a couple of winged creatures which turned out to be actual dragons. Professor Hamlot shook his head in amazement as he saw the graceful serpentine shapes of the dragons covered in blue trappings came flapping down and landing on the top of the flat deck easily.

In the Old World, the only chance one would be able to see a real dragon was only from the Dragon Lords. Even for dragons in the wild, were so rare that one might not even catch any news of one in ten years! And most of the nations, especially the Suugon Dynasty uses a lesser creature called a drake, which might look similar to a dragon but were not true dragons at all.

Wars had been fought over the nest of wild dragons for their eggs over the history of the Old World regularly when they were found, but most of the time the eggs did not survive the conflicts. Nations had been trying to breed dragons, but with the Old World's magic getting weaker and weaker, it was getting harder and harder for dragons to breed.

In the short year or so of time the Professor had been in the New World, he has seen more dragons in the New World than he could possibly see in more than three lifetimes compared to living in the Old World! How exciting! Thought Professor Hamlot as he made some notes on his notepad, writing on the once again, smooth and beautifully white crafted paper bound ingeniously together with tiny metal rings, of all things, into a handy little booklet!

And the ballpoint pen, without the need to constantly dab into an inkwell, nor does it scratches and breaks the paper easily, as it could write on the paper without damaging it, oh so smoothly and dries almost instantly! The more the stayed in the United Nations, the more he felt himself getting pampered by the tiniest conveniences that he did not even notice at all on the other side.

Invited by the scary United Nationer to act as their consultant on matters involving the Old World, Professor Hamlot has gotten a summarized briefing of the current situation in the New World. Apparently, the Seven Great Nations has managed to cross the Sea of Clouds in search of the vast amounts of magic crystals in the New World and encroached on the territories of the kingdoms and nations here, waging war on the locals.

He had since met the strange tall and handsome admiral of the United Nationer's ocean going fleet, whose short ears made the historian inside him screaming inwardly about finding out this strange short eared races' origins. But he kept his curiosity in check as he bowed and made the correct noises to the gathered officers which he found out to his greater surprise that none of the senior officers commanding the ship or troops was even part of the nobility!

After some discreet questions, he came to the realization that unlike what the norm for nations and kingdoms, the United Nationer's does not have any nobility! Yet there was the Princess which he heard so many people mentioned, even on the amazing 'rad dio' and the magic box displays. And the King of the United Nationers must be a noble too, if not how would the common people know how to rule?

Professor Hamlot felt that each time he gained an understanding of the United Nationers, another two questions will appear! But the questions in his heart only made him more excited as seeking knowledge was the path of all scholars!

When briefed about the quest of the great giant ship, in his heart, there was a sense of excitement and hope of being able to find his fellow citizens of the Iron Kingdom and return back home to the Old World, but yet there was also the yearning of adventure to remain with the United Nationers in the New World, whose nation appeared more than it seemed.

A naval aide assigned to him found him deep in his thoughts at the observation deck and informed him that his presence was required at the meeting room. He lingered on the observation deck for a while more, watching the dragons being groomed before he followed the aide into the ship.

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Dragon Rider Eutex was just about to end the day's patrol when he spotted a trio of fast moving objects that turned out to the highly feared flying crosses of the Un An. While he was too young to be deployed and in the battle against the Un An, he had heard many stories from other dragon riders and soldiers who survived the war.

All told tales of how much faster, deadly, and manoeuvrable the Un An's flying crosses were. They could out turn and outfly even the fastest dragon in the Imperial Dragon Corps. The flying crosses looped around in sharp turn and came up next to Eutex's lightweight dragon which was flinching away from the roar of the Un An's flyer.

He struggled with his reins and managed to subdue his Razor Wing as it panicked with the noisy flyer close by. Eutex turned his attention to the flyer which appeared to be made out of painted metal and wood, and a figure sat behind a crystal canopy. The figure waved and made some gestures that to Eutex as if wanting him to follow the flyer.

For a moment, Eutex wanted to send a crossbow bolt over to the Un An flyer as rumours that they were the cause of raids along the coast was made by them. He also briefly entertained the thoughts of escaping them, by dropping into a dive and flying away at top speed, but he remembered that either choice he made, he and his wing dragon would never make it out alive as they were outnumbered and easily out manoeuvred.

He waved back in acknowledgement, wondering what did they want and where did they come from. He flashed a couple of signals to his wing dragon whose rider signed back and they fell back obediently behind the Un An flyers which appeared to have slowed down in consideration of their dragons' speed.

After roughly half a turn of the sandglass, Eutex's eyes widened in shock as he spotted the dark smudge on the ocean beneath him. For a moment, he felt confused as he did not recall the area of the ocean ever having an island or reef. The trio of Un An flyers made a direct beeline for the shape that looked like a grey island but as the distance closed and more details became apparent, Eutex realised that the island they were approaching was not an island at all!

It was a giant sailing ship made out of iron!

-----

Professor Hamlot managed to join the conversation between the dragon riders and the United Nationers' officer in time to catch word of the situation along the northern coast. He could still understand what the Rider was saying despite the accent and local dialect as the young Rider went on about huge flying ships raiding and terrorizing up and down the coast.

From his body language and tone, Professor Hamlot suspected that the young dragon rider was putting the blame on the United Nationers for their plight or even thought they were even the culprits behind the attacks.

The short eared hooman officer, the Professor recognized as the hooman called Ford, speaking with dragon riders had replied in a calm tone as if unbothered by their hostile stance, reassuring them that they were here to investigate the rumours and also to offer their help should the Emperor requests them for it.

He then next handed over a pouch that had a letter addressed to the Emperor and his court and offered the dragon riders food and drink. The officer told them to deliver the letter to the Emperor and the ship would be anchored here awaiting their reply and that reassured them again that the United Nations has no involvement in any attacks against the Empire.

The two dragon riders seemed taken back by his friendly gesture and news. The two young riders discussed among themselves and in the end they still denied the offer of refreshments, instead, wishing to depart at once to return the news of their intentions to their Lords. The hooman Ford nodded in understanding and wished them well for their return journey and even personally saw them off at the top deck of the ship.

Moments later, the two winged shapes disappeared into the sky with an escort of the United Nationers' flying machines and the hooman Ford turned to Professor Hamlot.

"Professor Hamlot," The hooman Ford gave a warm smile as he greeted the Professor as they returned into the ship. "I have here something I would like you to take a look at and please give me your thoughts on it."

He handed over a thin stack of paper documents that Professor Hamlot took and started to flip over the pages. After a moment of reading the contents, Professor Hamlot had a deep frown on his face. "Judging from this... It would appear that these flying ships from either the Tri State or the Iron Kingdom!"

Ford nodded as he took a can of sweet cococane juice and offered it to Professor Hamlot. "Yes, just as we suspected."

"You knew long ago?" Professor Hamlot was surprised as put down the notes.

"More or less," Ford did not go into further details. "The Empire's dragon scouts and your words just confirmed our guess."

"They should have been here for a month already, I guess they are raiding for supplies and materials to build up a base," Ford said. "Our intelligence reports tell us that construction materials, food, tools, and even people were taken from each raid."

"All these would be essential if they are looking to build up a base of operations within the area," Ford said. "This means they will be here to stay for long."

"I... I apologize on behalf of the people of the Iron Kingdom," Professor Hamlot gave a heartfelt bow to Ford who waved it off. "I am ashamed that my countrymen would do such atrocities to this beautiful land!"

"There is no need for any apologies," Ford let out a deep sigh. "If there is a need to apologize, it would be me..."

"If the Emperor asks for our aid against them, or if we were attacked by them," Ford gave a grim smile. "Many will die... Many of your countrymen will die."

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