48 Hours a Day
Chapter 109 - Black Sail XIV
Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation
Since Zhang Heng was scheduled to settle down here for at least ten years, so it was crucial for him to understand his surroundings better. To do that, he toured the entire Nassau for a few days, conversing with everybody. This included fishmongers in the market to drunkards from the taverns, the prostitutes on the street, shrewd businessmen in the trade center, and pirates that roamed the streets. The conversations could be either constructive or unpleasurable.
Nevertheless, throughout the entire process, Zhang Heng spent a total of 19 silver pesos. It was completely worth it, as it enabled him to peer into the window of life in Nassau.
To the eyes of many, pirates were a band of lawless thugs poised to commit all sorts of heinous crimes. Technically speaking, they weren’t wrong, were those who chose the life of pirates were not exactly ‘clean’ in the first place. This was a reason why outsiders automatically assumed that a city managed by pirates must be made up of sin and chaos.
After digging his feet and feeling the sands around the place for some time, Zhang Heng no longer agreed with this conservative view. With thousands of hot-headed pirates in town ready to pick a drunken fight with anybody, nobody expected the city to be peaceful. This had turned Nassau into a disorderly mess. However, if one was willing to look beyond all the street fighting, there was actually order amongst chaos.
Around 63 years ago, the first batch of European migrants settled on Nassau, soon turning the place into a city and even building a castle for their king. In commemoration of King Charles, the town was christened as Charles Town. Not too long after that, the island’s residents realized that city expansion and catching fish was far less lucrative than luring ships to the reef. When these vessels ran aground, they would plunder everything they came across. With the venture raking in massive profit, most men on the island began to turn to piracy. Soon, when that wasn’t enough, they headed out to hunt for ships instead of waiting for them.
At the same time, the geographical advantage of The Bahamas attracted other pirates here, where its maze of islands became the perfect camouflage from the navy’s prying eyes. It also proved a perfect stop for pirates from the Caribbean to stock up their vessels and in turn, disposing of all their stolen goods as well.
That was how the place called Nassau was born, a name inspired by an English prince. Ironically, it had now turned into a pirate sanctuary.
After years of development, Nassau came up with a unique trading system. Every pirate captain that docked in Nassau would sell their stolen goods to black-market merchants, who in turn laundered the goods and sent them to Charleston, New York, and Boston. Such an operation provided them an obscene amount of profit without them having to risk their lives.
And that was the main source of income for Nassau. Its brothel, casino, and taverns were mostly frequented by pirates. There were also professional appraisers setting shop on the island, responsible for evaluating the value of the plundered goods. Other than that, tipsters on the island would sell whatever information they had about merchant ships to the resident pirates. The fishermen on the island were mostly there to feed the pirates. Lastly, prospective arm dealers and slave traders were active on this island as well, if you knew where to find them.
When it came to the ruler of Nassau, there was none.
However, one organization on the island was responsible for maintaining its law an order. It consisted of black market merchants, pirate captains, and ultra-rich landowners.
Zhang Heng suspected that he had to be part of the organization if he ever wanted to build his own force. Unfortunately, this would prove difficult, to say the least. Excluding the landowners, the rest of the organization’s members were considered the pioneers of Nassau, owning swathes of plantations, workforce, and armory.
All he had right now was 20 silver pesos.
The same rules applied when becoming a black market merchant, where one needed deep political connections to smuggle goods abroad. Most black market merchants came with very impressive backgrounds, often using their family’s influence to mingle with the colony’s governor. A significant amount of money was also needed to bribe the officers manning the harbor. Achieving any one of those things would prove to be a tall order.
That said, becoming a pirate captain was definitely a more viable option. That, however, did not mean that it was going to be an easy task. Legendary pirate captains notwithstanding, a captain with the ability to convince pirates to join their ships would usually require an impressive set of skills.
Zhang Heng knew that it was going to be a long journey ahead of him. He decided not to rush it as he had plenty of time to learn everything he wanted to learn.
Four days later. The Sea Lion gathered its crew and prepared to set sail. This was Zhang Heng’s first time setting foot on a real pirate ship.
The barque he was on this time belonged to Frazer once, and it was one of Nassau harbor’s best vessels. It carried a proud complement of 30 cannons. 24 were 9-pound cannons while the rest were 12-pounders, powerful enough to defeat most who dared cross their bow.
For this voyage, the Sea Lion was on a mission to plunder a Dutch supply vessel and a Spanish merchant ship. Thanks to Zhang Heng’s prompt use of his gun during the raid, he managed to save three of his allies. This move had earned him the respect of many who were aboard. He could have run away to safety like what Marvin did, but had instead rented a house in Nassau.
All signs pointed to him becoming a full-fledged pirate! He was ready.
His heroic stint of saving his mates made him quite the star of the ship, continually receiving nods of approval from the crew. Seeing the opportunity at hand, he requested that Owen help him improve his close-quarters combat skills. Through other pirates, he found out that Owen had the best skills among all when it came to the dagger.
Owen was used to be a navy officer with a bright future. Due to an incident, however, he happened to offend a superior. In retaliation, he was sent to a hostile environment to complete an impossible mission. Out of frustration, Owen killed his superior. He was hunted down like prey, and in the end, forced to leave his hometown, eventually ending up in Nassau as a pirate.
Unlike his counterparts, Owen had the tendencies to be a little too upright at times, a remnant from his days in the navy. As a consequence, he found it really hard to fit in with the pirate community in the beginning. Once the pirates knew him better, however, they were more than willing to become friends.
In every combat, he was always first to charge at his enemies. His valiant ruthlessness was unrelenting, gaining him the highest respect of the pirates. When the previous pirate chief was killed in battle, everyone on the ship unanimously voted him as their new chief.