The Old World, Entrance to Waterfall Cove
The air around the opening into the cove shimmered and the air turned thick, so thick that the air turned distorted. The distortion turned the air dark grey, like the color of the rock cliff around the cove. Under the watch of thousands, the entrance of the cove vanished to be replaced by a distorted arcane optical camouflage of the surrounding cliffs, effectively hiding the entrance from prying eyes.
Magister Thorn let out a breath of relief as he shagged backwards from the effect he had put into the magical spell. The other mage techs on both sides of the cove entrance gave out a cheer as they congratulated themselves for successfully completing the masking spell that hid the cove.
Runes and arcane circuits covered the sides of the entrance all the way to the top with dozens of mana stones glowing in their slots as they powered the spell. It had taken a lot of time for Magister Thorn and the mage techs to complete the spell formation and finally, it was completed and working.
"Sir, with our supply of mana stones, it should be enough to keep this spell running for months," Magister Thorn said to Blake who was watching at the side. "It should be enough to fool anyone from a far distance... But..."
Magister Thorn gestured to the distorted air and said, "As you can see... If one comes close enough, they could see there is a spell at work here..."
"It will be enough," Blake replied. "But for our supply of mana stones, we might not have as much as you like..."
"Hmmm, if that is the case," Magister Thorn frowned. "It would affect a lot of our magical capabilities... For the magic is very weak here... Even trying to draw upon the magic of the land to cast a spell takes a serious amount of effort..."
"Get some rest," Blake said as he finally noticed Magister Thorn's pale expression. "You and the rest have done well."
Magister Thorn gave a nod before he left with the rest of the mage techs. Kaga at the side stepped forward and gave Blake the details of his next appointment. "Sir, your next appointment starts in about twenty minutes... Already the representatives of the Lowland Villages are awaiting your presence on the Floating Market..."
Blake nodded and he headed to the waiting PT boat by the rocks. Once everyone was on board, the PT boat slowly powered away from the rocky shore and penetrated the masking spell. Blake felt as if someone poured a bucket of cold water over him as they touched the spell and suddenly, the feeling was gone once they left it.
The semi translucent rock face before them vanished and the open sea appeared before their eyes. The large disorderly Floating Market sat a couple of kilometers away on their left and the pilot turned the wheel and powered through the waves towards it.
Their arrival was warmly welcomed by the people on board and Blake was led to the same open tent where he last met Ait the rabbit man, who was the leader of the merchants of the Floating Market. Blake found the tent this time was filled with people of all races. Ait came over with a wide smile that showed off his shark teeth and gestured him to the guest of honor cushion while the waiting village representatives rose up and bowed.
"Greeting Great Lord Blake!" The representatives greeted Blake as he sat down on the cushion. "Health and Happiness be upon you!"
"So what is this meeting about?" Blake asked straight to the point once everyone had sat down again, surprising everyone by his direct question.
For a moment the representatives looked at each other in awkward silence before Ait clapped his hand paws and said, "Why Great Lord so hurry?"
"Ait toast to Great Lord and everyone!" The rabbit man picked up a goblet from the table and offered a toast to Blake who grudgingly accepted. The rest of the representatives quickly followed suit and gave their praise and flattering words.
Blake waited impatiently for the sweet talk to end before he asked again, this time his impatience shown. "What do you all want? Hurry it up, I have many other things to attend to!"
"Erm..." One of the older representatives with a head full of white hair nervously stood up and said. "G- Great Lord... It... It is our wish that... we would like... To fall under the protection of your mightiness!"
Blake frowned as he rapped his fingers on the table. "Let me get this straight... You want to become my... people?"
The rest of the representatives all stood up and bowed, "Yes! Great Lord! We wish to become your vassals!"
Blake sighed as he rubbed his head feeling a headache coming. "How many villages and people?"
"Fourteen villages..." Ait helpfully provided the number. "Over one thousand people."
"Why me?" Blake asked as he stared at the hopeful grazes of the representatives.
"Great Lord helped us defeat the pirates and did not request any rewards or conditions..." The representatives said. "Great Lord also provided aid to our villages and saved our sick..."
"No other Great Lord has ever done such selfless acts for us," Another representative said. "For we are the Banished... We are the Untouchables..."
After a moment of silence, Blake reluctantly nodded despite smiling inside. "Alright... I shall lead your people!"
The representatives cheered and quickly fall on their knees and gave their allegiance. "We shall pledge our lives in your service!"
Blake waved for them to get up and said, "Stay here for the time being... My people will come find you to make arrangements regarding your village governance and other details."
"Your wish is our command!" The representatives replied as they bowed again. "Health and Happiness be upon you!"
After that the representatives left, leaving Blake alone with Ait who was showing a shark grin on his fur covered face. "Great Lord, this truly is an event for celebration!"
"Why do I feel that you had a hand or a paw in this matter?" Blake frowned suspiciously at the grinning rabbit man. "Did you facilitate this?"
"Great Lord is most wise!" The rabbit man's grin widened. "Ait just made some pushes here and there..."
"And why would you do that?" Blake asked as he stared coldly at the rabbit man. "For what purpose?"
"Ait's hearing the best! Ait hear Great Lord will be Greatest!" The cold stare made Ait feel a chill down his spine and he wondered if he made the right choice here. "Ait gamble on Great Lord! Ait think Great Lord Blake will be the Greatest Lord ever!"
Blake shook his head and demanded in a stern voice, "Than declare your allegiance to me! Swear to me upon your very soul to serve me faithfully and you shall be rewarded for your loyalty!"
"Ait?" The rabbit man was shocked. He did not expect that this short eared lord would ever demand such a thing upon him. "Great Lord wants Ait to be his slave?"
"Not slave!" Blake growled as he stared deep into the rabbit man's wide eyes. "Work for me! And you shall see a whole new world you have never see before!"
"A whole new world?" Ait was intrigued.
"Where do you think those magic crystals come from?" Blake dropped a hint to the merchant.
"Great Lord means..." Ait's eyes grew wider as he came to the conclusion. "The New World! Great Lord is from the New World?"
"Yes," Blake confessed. "And I shall turn this world upside down to take back what was taken from me!"
The Old World, Waterfall Cove, UNEF FOB, UNS Vengeance, Conference room
"So we have achieved a part of our objective here," Intel Officer Trism said to the room. "Fourteen villages within fifty kilometers radius have pledged their allegiance to our cause."
"And also a local well connected merchant," Trism added. "Who is also providing us the majority of our much needed resource to start up a manufacturing base here."
"To better make use of our current resources and manpower, I propose we move all the villages to one location," Trism said. "This will allow us to easier manage, train, and educate the new citizens."
"But we will have to build our new industrial city at the Lowlands," Trism continued. "This will still allow us to remain under the radar of the Great Nations and allow us to make us of the sea for trade and food source."
"There isn't any suitable area large enough to house a thousand or more people," Dr. Sharon pointed out. "I have been travelling up and down the coast to these villages but I don't recall any suitable site."
"No there isn't," Blake spoke up. "Therefore, we will dig a city out in the cliffs."
"An underground city?" Dr. Sharon frowned. "It would work... but our experienced workers are already busy digging an underground Forward Operating Base already... Do we have the manpower to spare?"
"Not yet," The engineer in charge replied. "Project estimated completion date is at least another four months."
"We need to find a new location for the villagers," Dr. Sharon said. "If not it will be hell for logistics and training..."
"We can have them living in the surplus cargo containers..." Blake suggested. "There is enough space within the cove... We can line them up along the rocks and beaches, add in power and water, designate toilets, and areas of washing and cooking."
"That could work..." Dr. Sharon said. "As long as there is proper sanitary facilitates and hygiene, plus proper education, we can control spread of diseases and other illness."
"Than we shall do so," Blake said. "All departments are to plan out the inclusion of new migrants into work plans."
"Dr. Sharon, I will task you to continue to be the ambassador for us," Blake ordered. "Work together with Engineering to create a workable plan for the relocation of the villagers into the cove."
"Now, for our main objective," Blake said as he tapped on the map on the screen. "I have decided our next plan of action."
"Rather than forcing our way through potential enemies," Blake drew a straight line across the territory of the Cartel, the Iron Kingdoms, and stopped at the border of the Protectorate. "We will go incognito."
"With the help of Ait, we will pretend to be merchants..." Blake gave a cold smile. "We will acquire some airships or wait for our reinforcements for Haven to arrive... and bluff our way through the enemy!"
"Q ships," Blake continued referring to the heavily armed merchant ships with concealed weaponry. "We will retrofit any airships we can get our hands on into Q ships."
"Airships will be refitted with concealed weaponry and pose as merchant ships," Blake said. "Ait will get us papers and identifications to cross borders.
"This course of action has the highest chance of success," Intel Officer Trism took over. "As long as our cover isn't blown, the Q ships can travel openly and in the direct most way to our objective!"
"Once we reached the borders of the Protectorate," Trism tapped the map between the Protectorate and the Iron Kingdoms. "A small team will be inserted stealthy into the Protectorate."
"That team will investigate and find any information regarding the Princess and the heir apparent," Trism said. "Once we have confirmation, that team will make the call to either request for more reinforcement or attempt to extract them safely."
"Once safely extracted," Trism gestured to the map again. "The Q ships will make full speed back through Iron Kingdom airspace. If the Protectorate attempts to pursuit hopefully, the Iron Kingdom forces will intercept the Protectorate for us while the Q ships make their escape."
High above the skies, a dark shape flapped its wings lazily as it circled around the skies above the coast lines. A massive raven with jet black feathers circled above the clouds, its single eye watched the land beneath it with a hint of satisfaction.
It let out a caw and vanished into the clouds, its lonely cry echoing across the lands.
-------------------- End of Book Three --------------------