Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation
“No wonder Frazer kept saying that you’re the most difficult person to deal with on the ship,” Owen growled. “But you still lost this one.” He suddenly straightened his body, no longer in the injured state he so desperately played. “What a pity. If it were not for the situation deteriorating to such a new low… you must know, I did not intend to use this approach.”
Owen stomped his feet, and immediately, noises of people fighting could be heard outside the captain’s cabin.
The boatswain grinned. “You really thought that I didn’t have a backup plan, huh? Edward Teach is not here right now. When he left the boat, he brought with him the majority of the people who pledged their loyalty to the two of you. Even though there are only a few men left on the boat, the only ones willing to obey your orders unconditionally are the five men on the deck. I have eleven men. After we’ve gotten rid of them, we’ll kill you too. My story will still work. It just needs a little tweaking here and there, and I will need to add an ending. What do you think about this version: Orff wanted to keep the bad news about what happened on the shore to protect his position, so he tried to kill us but was tragically killed instead?”
The fighting outside ended sooner than expected, fizzling out while the two were talking.
As soon as Owen had spoken, the door to the captain’s cabin swung open. His two men were standing at the doorway, but there was not a trace of triumph on their faces. Instead, a mixture of fear and disbelief were clearly displayed.
That was thanks to the two blunderbusses pointed at the back of their heads.
This time, it was Owen’s face that showed a tint of despair. He knew the combat abilities of his men very well. It was eleven against five, and it all happened all of a sudden. There was no way they could lose.
It was Orff’s turn to speak up this time. “You are brilliant… one of the smartest I’ve seen in this lifetime of mine. All these years on the ship, you’ve never once let it slip. In fact, you even studied the strengths and weaknesses of our close associates. You waited until Teach left the ship, and only acted when we were at our weakest. You almost won. Unfortunately, you forgot someone.”
Zhang Heng stepped through the door and replaced the saber at his waist. The men who came in with him were the group of sailors that were the prisoners of the ship. Together, they detained Owen and eleven of his men.
“It’s you! How is this possible?!” gasped Owen in disbelief. “You guys are Orff’s people? Wait, everything that happened last night–was that all just an act? There was really no note?”
“No, but there was actually a piece of paper that drew us together,” replied Zhang Heng replied.
“Billy and the others were anxious about Orff’s and Teach’s leadership on this ship–that includes the handling of Goodwin, all the casualties, and the extreme obsession over Kidd’s treasure. They wrote down every question they wanted to ask Orff on a note and signed their names on it. They were getting ready to confront the captain and the helmsman, but before they could do anything, someone betrayed them. Kent, one of the organizers, is very close to Frazer but had, in fact, sided with Orff.
“On the surface, Kent followed Frazer’s instructions and united all who opposed Orff and Teach. He encouraged them to challenge the authority of the captain and the helmsman. But behind the scenes, Kent reported all the activities of Billy’s group to Orff. After I discovered the role that Kent has been playing, I understood the conundrum that had been bugging me. Back in Nassau, Frazer came to visit me and gave me Kent’s name. That was when I knew that Kent was not one his people…”
Owen’s eyebrows rose. “Oh?”
“Frazer wanted to expose Orff. The truth is, it was not only Orff who didn’t realize my role in this matter. In the beginning, even I myself couldn’t guess what Frazer had planned for me. He invested a lot in me but had never asked for anything in return. It made me really curious. If I didn’t play according to his script, wouldn’t that be a waste of all his resources? However, I figured it out later on that Frazer did not care how I played his game. He simply needed someone to catch Orff’s attention.”
“In a way, Billy and the others, and I serve the same purpose–to divert attention, lower Orff’s guard, and create an opportunity for you. The only thing was, my relationship with Frazer was more conspicuous. So, to take Orff and Teach down, Frazer took in another student. Too bad that person was you, not me.”
Zhang Heng took in a deep breath before continuing. “Let’s talk about the note. That actually happened three days ago. Under Kent’s persuasion, Bill and the others wrote that note. When Orff found out about it, he made Elmer write that thank-you letter that you read to frame Billy and the others. If things had gone accordingly, this should’ve spilled over three days ago.”
“Why didn’t it then?”
“Because I stopped it,” Zhang Heng answered without hesitation. “To tell you the truth, I really didn’t want any part of this enmity between you, and Orff and Teach. But Frazer crossed the line. Not only did he use me, but he even made me the scapegoat! I had no choice but set a trap for him.”
“So, you decided to join forces with Orff at that time?”
“Taking into account the distrust between us, it was not an easy task, but we still made an effort to have an open and honest discourse. Although the process was somewhat difficult, we were still able to reach a consensus in the end.”
“What do you want, eh? Maybe I can give it to you too.” Owen had not given up yet and was trying to extend an olive branch.
Zhang Heng shook his head. My request is very simple. Since Billy and the others are so disappointed with this ship, and Orff is not comfortable with them on board, why not just get them off the boat?”
“I still don’t understand. Why did Orff trust you and allow you to move freely tonight? Isn’t he worried that you are a student of Frazer’s?”
Orff who had been standing aside chipped in. “Because of that note. Last night was not just a show for you. That note is a stain on them. The only way out for them is to leave the ship. Unless they kill all of the remaining sixty-over men on the ship, there’s no way they would be able to cause a mutiny. We have an agreement between us–after tonight, I will redress them and restore their reputation.”
Billy snorted as he pushed Owen’s men out to the corridor. “Remember your promise. From today onward, we don’t owe each other anything.” Then, he turned to Zhang Heng, saying, “Captain, we’ll be waiting for you in the boat.”
Zhang Heng nodded. “Thank you.”
Everyone vacated the room, leaving only Orff, Owen, and Zhang Heng. When they had all left, Owen broke into a smile. “Captain? Incredible. You’re the biggest winner tonight, it would seem. I knew that you planned to leave the ship after one year, but I never expected you to have a team on the ready. Bill and the others are some of the most experienced sailors on this ship. Now that you’ve rescued them from Orff, they will follow you to the ends of the earth, I’m sure.”