Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation
It was a beautiful day when the Jackdaw unmoored and left port.
The skies were painted a light blue hue; the sea calm and its breeze gentle. Flocks of seagulls hovered above the masts.
A crowd had gathered at the port to watch the ship’s departure, a rarity for a new pirate gang.
In the past few days, Zhang Heng overheard about the happenings on the island. Some of the gambling houses had apparently set up a pool specifically for the Jackdaw’s maiden voyage, betting on how much he could loot during his first sail. Most had put their bets on him coming back empty-handed, meaning that many were less-than optimistic about his debut.
After all, a ship’s performance and firepower did not represent everything. An excellent captain could win a headwind battle regardless of his equipment at hand, and the probability of an inexperienced newcomer like Zhang Heng losing even in the best of situations was very high.
Today, Billy arrived before anyone else. As the helmsman of the Jackdaw, he was done delegating the ship’s tasks to everyone and had completed the necessary preparations for their maiden voyage.
Being the captain, Zhang Heng was last to arrive. Anne came with him as well.
Quite a few gave out wolf calls at the sight of the two walking down the pier together. Discounting the time that Anne was on the Golden Swallow, there had never been a female pirate in Nassau, what more, one that held the important position of the boatswain. Today was to be considered a historical day for Nassau.
Considering that the girl had been living in the same house as Zhang Heng, people could not help but let their imagination run wild.
So, when Zhang Heng and Anne showed up together, all kinds of lewd remarks were spewed. Such was the nature of the human creature. The fact was, the girl had given many of the islanders a sound beating; they knew all too well of how extraordinarily strong she was. Be it as it may, the obscene tendencies of the human mind led them to believe that she must have used her body in exchange for the position on the ship.
James stood among the crowd with raging and envious eyes. He was the first person to be acquainted with Anne, and at that time, she was just the daughter of a wealthy family living with her mother, a lass with whimsical fantasies of becoming a pirate. It was he who had lured and encouraged Anne to run away with him to Nassau. Of course, he knew what the actual situation here was like. He waited until all of Anne’s money was spent, to the point that they were driven from pillar to post. He hoped that she would find no way out and eventually marry him.
He had coveted Anne for the longest time, not just her body but also her father’s fortune. Although father and daughter were not on speaking terms, James simply needed to wait until things fell into place. When Anne was pregnant with his child, her father would surely be indisposed to ignore his own grandchild.
The first half of this plan had gone smoothly. Even though Anne kicked James in the crotch and ran away from him, he was very confident that like the vast majority of rebellious teenage girls, she would still have to face reality at the end of the day no matter where she ran to. When the penniless red-haired girl could no longer stand the hunger or find shelter from the rain, she would come back to him indefinitely.
Never would he have imagined that halfway through his plan, one Zhang Heng would appear. Not only did the boy let her stay in his place, but he even took care of her meals and living expenses. James did not believe that there would be anyone that kind on this island–unless Zhang Heng had the same motive as he did.
When James found out that he had a competitor, he was both shocked and pissed, naturally wanting to confront Zhang Heng. But when he found out that the boy was a seaman on the Sea Lion, he quickly abandoned the idea. Everyone in Nassau knew the name, Blackbeard. James had to think twice if he could actually endure Blackbeard’s anger for harassing his crew.
Eventually, he decided to wait until Zhang Heng went out to the sea before he would sneak up on Anne. He advised her to leave the house and return to him, but the girl did not show any signs that she wanted to. After a few times asking her, James could very clearly feel Anne’s resentment toward him, building up, getting stronger with each passing day. The truth was: if not for the fact that both of them had been companions for a long time and had arrived at Nassau together, Anne’s kick would have come even earlier.
That afternoon, James had to lie on the footpath for half an hour before he was well enough to get himself up. Although he still had not given his intentions, he knew that in the short term, he didn’t stand a chance.
Right now, seeing Zhang Heng and Anne together, James became the loudest among the crowd. But unlike the joyous few who had come to watch, he was so mad he began swearing, which only yielded angry glances from the people around him.
“I already warned you,” Zhang Heng lamented to Anne, “that these kinds of things would happen if you walk with me.”
Anne could not care less, though. “What’s there to be afraid of. If I have the balls to be your boatswain, then why should I care about what other people think? Besides, these guys are only brave enough to run their mouths. None of them can fight worth a damn. When we come back with a full load, their mouths will be sewed shut for sure.”
“Are you that confident in me?”
“That’s because you have the strongest boatswain on the island.”
Billy and Dufresne were worried that Zhang Heng and Anne would be affected by the jeering of the people on the shore, but when the moment they saw the expressions on the pair, they realized that they had nothing to worry about.
With the anchor cast-off and the sails propped, the Jackdaw slowly departed the port in the gentle breeze. Billy was at the center of the deck when he glanced at Zhang Heng, who was standing at the bow. The latter nodded, before the Jackdaw’s helmsman clapped his hands to draw the crew’s attention. “I received news from the shore that there a Spanish merchant ship with a load of perfume is on her way to New York. We all know how popular these things are in the New World–which is why we came out to sea immediately. That ship is not far from us. If everything goes well, it will take us less than a week to catch up to her. If we succeed in our quest, every one of us will get at least 100 silver coins. Let’s work hard together to take our first victory!”
Upon hearing this, the rest of the crew grinned in eagerness. Nothing could motivate them more than a fat, juicy prey. They could not wait to get the battle started.
Billy was very satisfied with the morale and enthusiasm displayed by the crew. But having been out at sea on so many voyages, he clearly knew that this was only because they were just at the beginning of their journey. As time went by, the endless monotony a seafarer would face out in the high seas would cause many to be restless. As a result, morale on board would fall–especially when they could not locate their target for days on end. Anxiety would begin to set in, and that would mark the beginning of their troubles.
Billy’s only hope was that the Jackdaw’s first voyage would go well.
Zhang Heng returned to the captain’s quarters after setting the course. He took out the necklace that Simon gave him from the drawer.
[Name: Hunter’s Blessing]
[Function: Increases the chance of encountering prey]
This thing could finally be put to use.