Definitely pounded this one out quick, despite the length. It certainly didn’t go in the direction I was expecting, which made it more fun to work on. I think we’ll be releasing SS12 tonight too, so stay tuned for that!
Chapter 15 – The Empire’s Pride
Papaldia Empire, Imperial Oversight Army, Eastern Fleet
Admiral Poquetoire observed the eastern sea. The skies were clear, but the breeze over the ocean was dry and pleasant. Currently, they were about 100 km from the Kingdom of Fenn.
There was something on the horizon.
“Something that looks like a ship has been spotted! It’s approaching us!”
“?! It’s huge… and I don’t think it’s with Fenn…”
A small mountain was moving through the water. Was it a ship? He wasn’t sure what to think, but it was much larger than anything he had ever seen moving on the ocean.
“All hands, prepare for battle!”
The huge, castle-like gray ship rapidly closed the distance. It was so fast!
“!!! Could it be… even faster than our ships?!”
The unknown ship came close and began sailing parallel to our fleet. It was all alone.
“Admiral… what do we do?”
The 3rd foreign affairs department head Kyeos had ordered them to punish Fenn in front of all the visiting officers and thoroughly intimidate their countries. If there were any interference, get rid of it. He was absolutely certain that the giant gray ship neither belonged to an allied country of Papaldia nor to a private citizen. Considering it as an enemy, it was only a single ship, no matter how big it was, so it couldn’t possibly be superior to the 22 ships in a superpower’s fleet. He also only saw a single, humongous cannon equipped, whereas his fleet consisted mainly of 50-gun ships-of-the-line, with no ships having fewer than 30 guns, and there were even some 80-gun ships.
Failure did not seem possible.
Furthermore, the enemy’s single cannon reminded him of the Fenn navy’s flagship, which had a piece of shared technology from the civilized areas. This was the thing: the superpowers all used cannons with a range of 2 km, while all the other non-superpower countries in the civilized areas only had access to cannons with a range of up to 1 km, and explosive shells weren’t available on the market, so both the power and range on Papaldian cannons were superior. If this was a technology share cannon, then it was completely inferior to the originals.
…At least, that should have been the case, but… Poquetoire couldn’t think of a country that could manufacture a cannon as abnormally large as that one. Regardless, the ship had clearly come from Fenn, so Admiral Poquetoire was determined to enact Papaldia’s will and attack it. The enemy ship had come within 1.5 km of the fleet, and its main cannon was still pointed straight ahead.
“It’s completely within our range… the fools… Fire magic cannons!!!”
Smoke consumed the fleet.
The sound of cannons firing echoed over the sea. Still flush with confidence after obliterating Fenn’s palace navy as easily as stealing candy from a baby, the 22 ships in the eastern fleet of the superpower Papaldian imperial oversight army threw all their might at the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force’s guided missile destroyer Myoukou.
“Reporting! All shots… missed the target.”
The trajectories of the cannon shells were quickly verified, and they confirmed that there were no hits. Since the coordinated broadside missed, there were gigantic splashes of water all over.
“The enemy ship has retreated outside the range of our magic cannons.”
For something so big, its acceleration was monstrous, as evidenced by how fast the enemy ship separated from their fleet. After the first broadside missed, they decided to retreat out of range while the fleet was reloading.
“Shit… it’s so fast!!! What the hell is that ship?!” Admiral Poquetoire scoffed in wonder.
He could see a number of lights blinking on the deck of the enemy ship; he wondered if they were trying to tell him something. However, they were already in the midst of attacking it. The fleet pursued the ship aggressively… but they couldn’t catch up.
“We are unable to approach within firing range of the enemy ship. Our distance is slowly growing…”
Once the enemy was about 3.5 km away, it once again matched its speed and bearing with the fleet’s.
“Tch, making fun of us… keep monitoring the enemy ship, set course for Fenn’s capital, Amanoki!!! It’s just one ship, they can’t stop us!”
They couldn’t catch up to it, but it still stuck to them like an obnoxious fly, so he decided to just ignore it. The lights on its deck blinked furiously… he ignored those too.
The giant cannon on the giant ship started to move.
“Enemy ship has fired!!!”
The shell hit right in front of the fleet, erupting into a giant pillar of water.
“What ridiculous power!!! And they can reach us from all the way out there?!”
The admiral, captains, ship’s officers, and all the crew were stunned at this display. That ship was faster, and it had a longer attack range; at this rate, they’d simply eat outranged attacks and slowly crumble. However, department head Kyeos’s orders were absolute. To abandon the operation without fighting would hurt the dignity of the empire and be equivalent to rebellion. The entire fleet would be punished if they ran in front of the enemy. Poquetoire wouldn’t abandon his duty to his country. He still had 22 ships. The fleet once again set course for the Myoukou.
An instant later—
The enemy’s cannon sounded.
The ship-of-the-line Paos, sailing at the front of the fleet, had part of the base of its primary mast blown away. That mast creaked loudly as it tipped over and toppled the ship’s other masts.
“Ship-of-the-line Paos has lost its masts, it can no longer move!!!”
“What?! Only the masts were hit from that blast?! A-Are they possibly…!!!”
Leaving the incapacitated Paos behind, other ships continued to head towards the enemy ship.
That terrifying sound once again swept over the ocean. This time, the ship-of-the-line Galius had its masts destroyed.
“This… this is preposterous!!!”
Cannons were very inaccurate weapons. To counteract that, 100-gun ships-of-the-line were invented. However, the enemy ship was targeting the swaying masts and actually hitting them! And their reloading speed was incredible!
There were waves on the open sea that caused both ally ships and enemy ships to shake. Shooting from an unstable platform all but guaranteed that long distances attacks were fruitless. A single degree of variance would cause enormous deviations in the actual landing points. But this enemy was spitting in the face of such an obvious fact.
The Mahmese lost its masts.
The Kummashroe lost its masts.
The attacks continued, a chain of impossible feats right right before their eyes. The Papaldian oversight army could do nothing but watch. They were hopelessly outmatched, and by only a single enemy ship. They wondered if they might be dreaming. Would they suddenly wake up in their beds? That was how nightmarish this situation was. The enemy’s unparalleled accuracy had already decimated about half of the fleet’s masts, and it continued to keep its distance.
“…They don’t want to sink us, do they…” murmured Admiral Poquetoire, after which he came to a decision. “…Retreat! Any seaworthy ships, withdraw while towing a crippled one. This operation has failed…!”
They couldn’t abandon their immobilized allies, and it was clear that, if this situation continued, there wouldn’t be any ships that could sail by the end. But Admiral Poquetoire had also surmised that the enemy’s objective was not to kill or wound anyone, so he ordered the retreat.
Damn it… if only we had a dragon carrier…
If they had air support from wyvern lords, that could have changed the entire situation. Admiral Poquetoire considered such things as they withdrew. His report for this battle… even if he submitted it accurately, no one would believe it.
The first naval battle between Japan and Papaldia ended with Japan’s complete victory. Papaldia suffered no injuries or casualties. It was the first naval battle in the entire history of the world that was settled without any deaths.
Kingdom of Fenn, capital city Amanoki
Let’s rewind time a bit.
After witnessing the JMSDF’s and Japan Coast Guard’s casual thrashing of the Papaldian wyvern lord squadron, all the military officers visiting from countries outside the civilized areas were in a state of awe.
“What… what an amazing magic ship!!!”
“They’re so powerful! What happened completely surpassed my expectations!”
“Those peerless wyvern lords were swatted like gnats!!! …What exactly are those ships?!”
“Apparently they belong to an emerging country named Japan…”
“Could it be…? Are they descended from the ancient sorcerous empire?!”
Those officers were watching the sea from the coast. While they were terrified of the gray ships that were powerful beyond imagination, at the same time they also wondered if they could ally themselves with them. Perhaps… the country that owned those ships had power that even surpassed the Papaldia Empire’s. Since they attended Fenn’s Military Festival, maybe they were on friendly terms with the Kingdom of Fenn. If their own countries became friendly with Fenn, and by extension the country that owned that monstrous flotilla, maybe they could get out from under Papaldia’s thumb. Freed from having to condemn their own citizens to slavery and gifting their own land away. If only…
When the Sword King Shihan rejected Papaldia’s demand to cede land to them, they were all sure that Fenn would be razed to the ground. However, now that they learned of Fenn’s new ally, they could understand why he had done that.
After what would later be known as the Naval Battle of Fenn, Japan would quickly establish diplomatic relations with numerous countries.
Papaldia Empire, 3rd foreign affairs department
Department head Kyeos was so furious after reading the report that it seemed probable for blood to start spurting from his head any moment. This was all because Fenn refused the empire’s generous offer to receive their land as tribute. They even rejected the offer to lease the land for 498 years, an arrangement with significant benefits to both sides.
“You’ll regret insulting the empire, Fenn…”
This became the mantra of the 3rd foreign affairs department. The Papaldia Empire held dominance over five countries within the civilized areas and 67 outside of them, countries both large and small. For such a grand empire to be mocked by some barbarian country was not something they could forgive. It would be a problem if the manacles of fear were to come undone. That being the case, the 3rd foreign affairs department had deployed the 22 ships of the imperial oversight army’s fleet, along with two squadrons of wyvern lords.
The wyvern lords were to terrorize the Military Festival and plant fear into the military officials attending from other countries. The fleet was to mercilessly attack the capital city of Fenn, Amanoki, and burn it to cinders, thus demonstrating to all the other barbarian countries the cost of defying Papaldia. However, the actual result was pathetic.
The wyvern lords, sent to attack by air, went missing, their communications abruptly cut. No one knew what happened to them, but they were probably all dead. They initially conjectured that Gahara’s wind dragon riders came to Fenn’s aid. However, while wind dragons were powerful, their numbers were also few, so it was improbable for them to be able to overwhelm a squadron of wyvern lords to the point that they couldn’t communicate anything back to command.
Shortly after that, information came in that they had encountered the Fenn palace navy and unilaterally annihilated them! Their fleet suffered no damage. As expected, this was the obvious result of clashing with barbarians. The real problem came with the next report.
“Imperial oversight army, eastern fleet – defeated.”
This news caused the department to erupt into chaos. Furthermore, the admiral must have gone insane, since his report stated that they only faced a single enemy ship. This was the admiral’s report:
- Encountered a colossal gray enemy ship
- Fired on enemy with magic cannons, enemy retreated outside our range very quickly
- From 3.5 km, enemy ship fired warning shots at formation, enemy’s range and firepower far surpasses fleet’s range
- Enemy’s speed eclipsed fleet’s speed, could not get within firing range
Up until this point, he could already hardly believe the report.
First, the part about how this ship was both larger than the empire’s ships, but also faster. Obviously, the bigger the ship, the more water resistance they had to overcome. The Tears of the Wind God used in the empire were, to be honest, the best in the world; aside from possibly the Holy Mirishial Empire, no one else was capable of crafting Tears as potent as Papaldia’s. Not only did Papaldia have access to mines of magic gems of the highest purity, they also had the best refineries. In other words, it was unimaginable for a giant ship to be faster.
Second, firing warning shots from 3.5 km. Among the superpowers, the maximum range they could achieve for cannon shells was 2 km. To nearly double that range, coming from a country outside the civilized areas at that, was simply not possible.
Even if such a hostile ship were to exist, some fantastical super-advanced warship like in the admiral’s report, there was no point in firing warning shots. If they had decimated the fleet and left a few alive to tell the story, they could easily start widespread panic in another country. If the enemy got scared off by the warning shots, then they’d lose their opportunity to demonstrate their power.
Last, the final straw that led him to believe the admiral had lost his mind was this part:
- The unknown enemy ship fired 11 times. All shots hit a different ship’s mast, rendering that ship immobile.
- The enemy did not attempt to sink any ships. Our flagship withdrew completely intact.
…How dare he submit this farce of a report. The ocean was unstable. There were waves. Any slight shaking would cause a magic cannon shell to miss its intended target. Achieving 100% accuracy was impossible outside of the ancient sorcerous empire. Furthermore, to precisely hit only masts, he was almost impressed with how wild the admiral’s imagination was.
Beyond that… no, let’s stop. This kind of report was simply a list of ludicrous excuses. Some barbarian country couldn’t possess such an advanced weapon. He was highly skeptical of anything the admiral or his men claimed. And because the admiral might interfere, he would have to wait until later to conduct a detailed investigation on the enemy and their ships.
The one thing he could take away from this report was that there was an enemy out there flinging mud at the empire, and those enemies had to be crushed. But, because he didn’t know who those enemies were, there was nothing to attack. They had lost this round. This news would certainly reach the emperor. Next time, the homeland would send its elite fleet. It was very likely that another superpower was backing this mystery enemy.
In order to research this new “enemy,” the 3rd foreign affairs department began to collect information.
Papaldia Empire, 3rd foreign affairs department, reception window
“My sincere apologies, but you cannot meet the department head today.”
The officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs had returned as scheduled to meet with the department head only to once again be obstructed by the clerk.
“Why is that?! We had an appointment!!!”
“A rather complicated situation has recently arisen… I am very sorry, but we are currently not meeting with emerging countries outside the civilized areas. Our schedule is not open. Please contact us again in another month, or later.”
Unknown to them, Japan itself had caused this sudden increase in workload, leading to a lack of personnel to meet with them, so the officials once again despondently returned home.
After Fenn’s Military Festival, Japan established diplomatic relations one after another with countries outside the civilized areas. Up until now, they had to leave Japan to explore and apply to negotiate for diplomatic ties, but now, after the Naval Battle of Fenn, countries came to them one after another on old-fashioned boats. Although the Japan Coast Guard was now inundated with work, the number of countries that established diplomatic relations with Japan increased to 22, and they had begun trading in earnest.
Papaldia Empire, 3rd foreign affairs department
“What did you say?! You aren’t sending us any slaves this year?!” the foreign affairs official shouted at the ambassador of the Topa Kingdom (outside the civilized area).
“We have decided to stop enslaving our citizens to send to you,” the ambassador returned while breaking into a cold sweat.
“Hmph! In that case, your country alone will be suspended from the technology share arrangement!!!”
The empire was very slowly sharing its obsolete technology with countries under its care outside the civilized areas. This allowed those countries to slowly increase their national power… but since all the other countries in the area also grew at the same rate, this didn’t upset the balance in power. If one country was excluded, there would be a difference in the speed of development between countries, which would lead to that country slowly declining in national power instead.
The technology share was only one of the empire’s diplomatic cards. If they wouldn’t listen, he would next threaten to stop the export of tools and nails and other essential items until they gave in… or, that was how it should have gone.
The Topan ambassador let out a disgusted chuckle. “‘Technology,’ is it… Even still, we refuse to send any slaves to the empire. Please end our participation in the technology share. Will this be satisfactory? We have… already established ties with the Japan.”
It would have been previously unthinkable for Topa to act this way. The ambassador snorted with a smirk, ending the conversation.
Foreign affairs department, dining area
It was now break time, so the officials chatted while they ate.
“Lately, the barbarian countries have been rather defiant, haven’t they?”
“It’s true, over the past month or so, they’ve undergone a remarkable change in attitude.”
“Aah, before, they were always so scared, getting overwhelmed by our requirements. But yesterday, one was all ‘we have now allied with Japan,’ acting all haughty! Even though they’re just the stupid Scios Kingdom!”
“!! I just heard something like that from the ambassador of Topa. Topa, of all places, telling us they don’t need our technology! Their reason was also that they have ties with that ‘Japan.’ Have you ever heard of ‘Japan?’”
“I don’t this so.”
The clerk who managed the reception window, Raita, yelled out in surprise. Everyone in the room turned to look at him. After that, he had to prepare a bunch of reports for all the officials.