A series of ear shattering booms shook those inside the throne room wildly and balls of flames and smoke could be seen in the air where a dome of shimmering magic barrier held off the attacks. Yet despite the protection of the magic barrier, those soldiers and servants that were out in the open of the flying fortress and closest to the attacks, had their eardrums ruptured and inner organs damaged from the shock waves.
The magical barrier extended out to roughly twenty meters around the flying fortress was currently wreathed in balls of rolling smoke. The surrounding shore of the lake which the flying fortress was in was burning or covered with smoke after the bombardment.
Only a lucky few airships on the ground had managed to take off with a bare minimum amount of crew, thus evading getting blown up helplessly. Yet, those airships' joy in evading destruction soon came to a halt as soon after, streaks of exhausts coming from the rocket motors of 127 mm anti ship missiles came smashing into their sides, overwhelming their shields before more anti ship rockets slamming into their hulls and breaking them apart.
Even the returning picket airships came under attack by the tiny fliers which both the Iron Kingdom and Tri State's steam ornithopters that were hastily deployed could not match up against those unknown flyers which easily swatted the ornithopters down from the skies like flies.
Finally realizing his mistake, Crown Prince Yemen had turned pale as he and the rest watched the surprise attack unfolding around them. Magic communication had been cut off with the Duchess and normal visual communication was not working at all. His previous swagger gone as he yelled in panic, "Take off now! Take us away from here now!"
The crew in the control throne quickly followed his owns, throwing switches and levers which sent instructions down to the bowels of the fortress where the massive steam boilers operated. Steam was released into the aethurium pipes, super heating the arcane mineral until they started melting and turning into a lighter than air gas which took slowly lifted the entire flying fortress out of the middle of the lake.
As the sky fortress was lifted out of the waters which everyone inside the throne room thought it was agonizing slow, its magic barrier took several more hits and each time, the attacks came close enough to cave the barrier in, but the magic crystal bunkers inside the flying fortress were filled to the brim and rows of slaves using shovels shoved magic crystals into waiting carts that were than pushed to the magic converter arrays which sucked the mana out of the crystals to be channeled to the magic barriers.
Finally, the sky fortress broke out of the lake, trailing waterfalls as it rose over the shores of lake. Immediately, calls from surviving airships flooded the sky fortress, all asking to be docked, as the captains panicked and wanting to be under the cover of the more powerful magic barrier.
Crown Prince Yemen rejected all pleads as to allow any airship into the cavernous holds inside the sky fortress, it must first shut down its magic barrier or risk an accident. He did not want to even the barrier to be down for even one drop of sand in the sand glass as he was afraid of the unknown enemy's powerful spells.
Seeing the once powerful fleet of airships getting destroyed by spells far greater than any he has know, Crown Prince Yemen felt terror in his heart. He no longer opposed Lord Ableman's cautious advice to fall back to safety.
"Get us out of here! Retreat!"
UNS Vengeance, Flag Bridge
"Sir! Enemy is retreating from the AO!" The comms operator relayed the information to Commander Ford. "Ops is asking do we pursuit?"
"What our aircraft ammo and fuel status?" Ford asked as he left the group of Imperials to view the display screen.
"All squadrons reporting yellow," The comms operator replied.
"Tell them to finish up all munitions or dump them off before returning," Ford ordered as it was to prevent accidents from occurring with live munitions when landing. A unloaded aircraft crashing against the side or the flight deck of the Vengeance was a lot less damaging compared to an aircraft still carrying bombs and rockets. "Tell recon to continue to keep eyes on the retreating force."
Next, Ford gave the order to another operator to inform the Vengeance's Captain to stand down from combat operations as the enemy was moving out of its effective main gun range. He did not want to chase the enemy for now, as the enemy was badly decimated by the bombardment and airstrikes.
His objective was to display their power to the Imperials and it has been completed. He shall leave the mop up to the Imperials and if they had the need to fight the sky raiders again, then negotiations were open on the table, after all, rockets and fuel were not cheap!
On the other hand, there was still a critical issue ongoing within the Vengeance and Ford wanted to resolve that complication before doing any more fighting. He turned away from the consoles and faced the Emperor seated behind the tactical plot table and gave his friendliest smile.
"Now, as you all can see, my forces has totally routed the enemy..."
The New World, Port of Sunder
A small fleet of ships with usual looking wheels had just departed off the Port of Sunder. White water was churned up underneath the paddles sticking out of a pair of wheels at each side of the ships. The strange contraption allowed the ships to move at a steady pace despite the lack of winds as evidenced on the limp sails.
This idea of course came from the Great Sage, who had proposed the use of paddle wheels linked to a series of gears and what he termed as a 'by si kel' on which a person or slave sits down with their legs on a pair of pedals, that looked like some sort of work out machine.
It was easy to get the carpenters to build the parts of the paddle wheel out. The only issue was getting the blacksmiths to come out with the gear and chain system. But once that was solved, time was just was needed to have everything built and assembled.
With two pairs of paddle wheels powered by leg power, which was far more efficient compared to oars, the small fleet carrying the first troops of the Imperial Army departed the port, headed straight for Exile Island.
The New World, Kingdom of Foral, Castle Wand
A crowd spotting colorful wear had gathered around the top of the dragon tower. The crowd had their heads craned up high as they viewed the black dot slowly enlarging in skies until the shape of a massive winged dragon appeared.
The blue and red speckled scales of the heavy weight dragon glittered under the sun as the dragon spread its wings out to slow its speed and descent before landing with a surprising soft thud on the squat looking platform for dragons.
"Ha! I practiced!" The CO of the UN Air Force Dragon Division, Blue Dragon holding a rank of 1st Lieutenant to reflect his position, proudly declared as he laid down on his hunches. "So that I won't rattle the eggs too much when I land!"
"Yea, good for you!" UN Air Force Captain Stamford shook his head in mirth as he detached the safety lines off and climbed down the side of Blue Thunder's harness. He came to an attention and saluted a cheerful looking plump middle aged elf who stepped out from the crowd. "Greetings, Lord Wernburg, I hope we did not disturb your peace."
"Nonsense!" The Lord of Castle Wand which Blue Thunder had landed on replied with a welcoming smile. "House Wenburg and Castle Wand greatly welcomes you from afar!"
Word and notice from the UN Embassy in the Kingdom of Foral had already informed the Foral Nobles along the travel route of Blue Thunder well ahead of time. Many had replied with fast wyvern couriers that they would be honored to host dragon and its UN passengers. The UN Embassy which was mostly staff with the Intelligence department people had also secured a Writ of Passage for them, which was like a kind of passport for them to travel across the lands and skies of Foral.
Now after a tiring several hour flight, the tired crew led by Captain Stamford was invited in to the castle hall for some refreshment and later in the evening a welcoming feast was prepared for them, to which was greatly protested by Blue Thunder who wanted to join in the fun too but the castle hall was neither large enough to accommodate his size nor has any openings large enough for him to even stick his head in.
In the end, during the evening, he could only sulk at the squeezy courtyard, as he curled up and peered into the colored crystal windows at the party going on inside while a couple of frightened cooks roasted a whole horned beast for him. Occasionally, he rumbled some pointers to the terrified cooks on the proper cooking methods and types of spices to be used on the barbecue.
Captain Stamford, dressed in a his formal dress uniform, shook his head at the sight of Blue Thunder grouchily teaching the cooks how to do a proper BBQ before turning his attention back to the small crowd of worshiping local unmarried ladies dressed surprisingly provocatively.
He smiled and made all the right noises to the noble ladies around him before he excused himself, leaving his crew to enjoy the attention of the fairer sex while he sought out the castle lord. He found the Lord seated at the head of table, enjoying a glass of carbonated fruit drink, which a couple crates of the gassy drink was gifted to the Lord by the UN Embassy.
Stamford chuckled to himself inwardly as he had the thought of diplomacy and spy work was supported by soft drinks running in his mind. He gave a salute and the Castle Lord invited him to sit down beside him.
"I must say, this drink made by your nation..." Lord Wernburg smacked his lips in appreciation. "Tastes amazing! It is better then wine!"
Stamford smiled and replied politely, "Lord Wernburg, I am sure to have the Embassy send you a few more crates if you so enjoyed it!"
"Oh, than I shall greatly accept!" Lord Wernburg happily said as he took another sip. "Are you enjoying yourself? Is there anything you need?"
Lord Wernburg gestured to a group of ladies sneaking looks over their feather fans at Stamford's direction and smiled. "Tell me and I shall ensure you shall be greatly taken care of!"
"Ahem..." Stamford coughed to cover his embarrassment. While he was attracted to the women here, he did not really dare to do anything funny as he was on a mission. He had already warned his crew to not misbehave and also, he did not want to think what kind of diseases the women around here might carry even though he had his shots. "We are on official business..."
"I understand!" The Lord nodded, "Well, tell me what you need and if I can help, I will gladly do so!"
"It's is nothing much," Stamford replied. "We just some supplies for our journey. And we would like to know if there any dangers or interesting to look out for on our way."
"Consider it done!" The plump Lord replied before he rubbed his double chin. "Hmm... You will be heading up to Lord Cotaro's lands next right?"
"There shouldn't be any dangerous beasts along the way," Lord Wernburg said after a while. "Oh and there is word of something interesting that came the other day."
Lord Wernburg gestured towards the crystal windows to the shadowy shape of Blue Thunder in the courtyard and said, "It seemed they caught a wild fellow of yours."
"They say it was a dragon of a kind unseen before in this world," Lord Wernburg leaned close to Stamford and said in a lowered voice. "It has pitch black scales and a fierce fighting spirit!"
"But too bad as it is too wild to be domesticated and Lord who caught it, is planning on holding an auction at the Old Capital to sell it to the highest bidder!"