Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation
“What do you guys think?”
Zhang Heng looked for Billy and Dufresne and told them about Carina, believing that it was unnecessary to this matter from his crew.
“The black market alliance is no secret. I talked to a few of my friends this morning, and they verified everything that Carina told you. She’s right about the alliance taking advantage of us. Before the black market alliance was established, the Sea Lion could usually sell their loot at a third-tier price. Right now, although we aren’t as capable as the old Sea Lion, I know in my heart that we have a huge potential to become one of the strongest pirate crews on this island. In the future, it won’t be a problem for us to sell our loot at a third-tier price. Right now, however, we can only sell them at the lowest price possible. I’m afraid our crew isn’t going to be too happy about this,” said Dufresne.
“First, let’s not talk about old pirates like us. All our recruits chose to join us because we have a corvette, and they saw an opportunity to earn more for themselves. When they find out about selling the loot that they’d they risked their lives to get for a low price; I’m afraid we might not be able to handle them. If we want to grow bigger and stronger, we will need to start thinking about recruiting better pirates from other more powerful crews. But before we can do that, we must make sure that money is not an issue on our ship,” said Billy in the most straightforward way.
“The other pirate crews have started to contact our members. All of them assume that we will not do well in our first voyage and they are trying to convince them to leave us and join them. How much we sell out loot for doesn’t seem to be the only problem we face…”
“…and, I look too young for a captain. I lack experience. To make matters worse, the first thing I did after I became a captain was to recruit a female pirate. Everyone must surely think that I’m just another short-term captain,” said Zhang Heng, filling in what Billy had to say.
“That’s about it. You have to know we all trust you 100%. Not only have you saved our lives, but you also managed to stay calm whenever we are greeted with danger. The journey from Charleston to Nassau was enough to prove that you are more than qualified to become our captain. However, as for others who have not sailed with you before, you can’t blame them for not giving you their full trust. What’s happening right now is unfair to you. Usually, new captains would have more time to prepare for the next voyage and bond with his crew members.”
“Having a battleship placed us in a position of great advantage. At the same time, it has also dragged us into a great deal of pressure as well. On this island, many are simply waiting for us to turn into a joke. If we fail to acquire a good amount of loot during our first sail, we will start facing the problem of people quitting our ship. Not to mention the difficulty of recruiting new crew after that.”
After an hour and a half, Billy and Dufresne left Zhang Heng’s room, nodding to greet Anne and Carina before they left the house. Carina was still shaken up, having told Zhang Heng everything last night. However, Zhang Heng informed her that he wanted to discuss the matter with his crew members before giving her an answer.
Instead of returning to the hotel, Carina decided that she would stay for the night to get the answers she wanted. That said, Zhang Heng was genuinely impressed by what she had achieved. Since her youth, she was carefree and worried not about her life. Before her father was sentenced to prison, she was no different from the nobles and ladies hailing from the upper-class. She would attend proms, operas, and constantly had hi-tea with her friends.
Last night, she looked for three stools, put them together, and simply slept on it for the whole night. When she woke up the next morning, her neck was sore to say the least. Eventually, she had to spend the entire morning tending to her painful neck. Once Billy and Dufresne left, Carina instantly ran to the first floor, tidying up her messy attire before knocking at Zhang Heng’s door.
Carina took a deep breath and entered the room.
Zhang Heng’s study was sparsely decorated. Besides a table, a couple of stools, and a newly made bookshelf, there wasn’t much else. There wasn’t even a single book on the shelf yet. When sunlight poured into the room through the window, it landed on Zhang Heng’s shoulder and colored his hair a bright gold. Zhang Heng was using a parallel ruler on his nautical chart when Carina entered the room. He looked no different from the time when he studied in the library.
Carina was shocked upon entering the room. She had seen countless pirates throughout her stay in Nassau and discovered that most of them were rude and uncultured. Sometimes, it was hard for her to communicate with them properly, but to her greatest surprise, Zhang Heng was unlike the conventional pirate. Through the conversation that they had last night, she noticed that Zhang Heng could be reasoned with and was also extremely observant.
If it were not for the gun that was strapped his chest and the scar from a knife on his arm, Carina found it hard to associate him with the typical pirate.
“The time is set. We will set sail in three days.”
Zhang Heng’s voice tugged her back to reality. Immediately, Carina’s heart started to thump faster. This island was different than before. There were only a handful of powerful pirate groups left that had not joined the alliance. Most groups on the island were poorly equipped and severely lacked the workforce to match. In other words, it was unlikely that they would be able to acquire anything valuable. If Zhang Heng rejected her offer, her trip to Nassau would be all but wasted. Not only would she stand a chance to lose her father, but her family might become broke as well.
“My helmsman and quartermaster suggested that I should negotiate with the alliance to increase their prices. They don’t believe that you can carry out your promises. They might say yes to you if your father is with your right now, but you have to know that you lack experience. This is something that you have never done before.”
Zhang Heng’s reply was like a boulder landing on Carina’s heart. Though she had prepared for the worst, she still found it hard to accept that she was seen as a miserable failure. She then slouched on the chair and started to cry her heart out. Two months of effort had brought her nowhere. She thought that the Jackdaw might be able to help her to solve her problem, but it seemed that she was wrong. All she could feel right now was despair.
Of course, Zhang Heng felt sorry for her, though he was left with few other options. Choosing a reliable trading partner was a very delicate decision among all captains. Since Billy and Dufresne placed little hope on Carine, he had to find out for himself if she was really worth his time. To his surprise, though, Carina stopped crying after a minute and lifted her head. There were still tears in her eyes, but the helpless look on her face was gone.
“There must be a way. Is there something else I can do?”
“Yes. If you can prove yourself to my crew, you might be able to get yourself a deal.”
Zhang Heng then pointed to a mark on his nautical chart.
“Do you know what this place is?”