48 Hours a Day

Chapter 158 - Anne’s House

Zhang Heng was unsurprised that the black-market alliance started to panic after knowing that the Jackdaw’s first voyage was a victory. When they found out that Zhang Heng had been working alongside Carina to sell off all his loot, they instantly knew that they had lost the right to negotiate with him. Naturally, they would want to look for a way to solve their problem.

Frazer was right about the Jackdaw needing time to grow. At the same time, this applied to the newly born black-market alliance as well. Redmond and Malcolm were both black-market merchants that wanted to make the maximum profit they could from the pirates. All these while, they were hoping to establish some sort of order in Nassau to end the chaotic trading era. Through a series of carefully executed plans, they managed to convince enough people to support them. Right now, most of the influential pirate crews were on their side. At the same time, some went against them.

What they were doing right now had gone against a long-standing principle of Nassau, one that its people held dearly to their hearts. This principle was the spirit of adventure. Many small-time pirates were unhappy with the current proposal offered by the black-market alliance. As compared to the organized black-market alliance, these were considered a leaderless group of weaklings with no sense of camaraderie, and therefore, were no threat to the alliance. Once the black-market alliance crossed the unstable period, these small-time pirates would be left with no option but to accept whatever deal that the alliance threw at them.

With Zhang Heng’s success, all of them saw a ray of new hope. The Jackdaw was the only pirate crew that had elected to not partner up with the black-market alliance. Things were no longer just a problem between the Jackdaw and the black-market alliance.

This was both a good and bad thing for Zhang Heng. Whether he liked it or not, he and the Jackdaw had become the center of attention in Nassau. They had eyes on them at any given time of the day. Hence, both parties could only solve this problem through legal channels. Undeniably, Zhang Heng would benefit more than the black-market alliance if they managed to solve their grievances. As long as the Jackdaw was growing, the black-market alliance would continue to be under enormous pressure. To Zhang Heng’s surprise, Malcolm from the black-market alliance looked for him sooner than he expected.

“I just did a quick check. A banquet will be held at Terrance’s mansion in six days. Malcolm has invited some of the most powerful individuals on this island. That would include celebrated captains and wealthy landowners. Malcolm apparently organized the banquet as a thank-you for their continuous support of the black-market alliance. This banquet should be safe for you to go.”

As the helmsman of the Jackdaw, Billy did everything he could to make sure that the ship and her captain wouldn’t be taken advantage of. Once Zhang Heng received the invitation, Billy proceeded to investigate the matter, telling him about his findings the next morning.

“Thank you for everything you’ve done,” said Zhang Heng,

Anne yawned as she sleepily came downstairs after Billy left the house.

“Are you planning to attend the banquet?”

“Yes. Malcolm wants to know what kind of person I am. At the same time, I want to know what exactly the black-market alliance is planning as well.”

“Ah… I have seriously no idea what goes on in that mind of yours. If it were to be me, I would just kill all the enemies that stand in my way. Why waste time and reason with them

As she went on, Anne walked to the dining table and spread some jam on a piece of bread.

“I wish it was that simple. Hey, let’s not talk about this. Did you manage to find a house that you like?”

“Harry scouted the area for me, and guess what? I’ve finally found a house that perfectly matches what I want! It’s very near to the harbor, and two restaurants located on the next street are only a 15-minute walk away. They are even open at night. There’s even an empty plot of land behind the house where I can practice my fencing skills. The house costs only 200 silver pesos. Harry said he can help me lower the price even more. I’m planning to buy the house this very afternoon if the price is right.”

“Congrats!”

Zhang Heng knew that buying her own property meant a lot to her. The reason why she ran away from her wealthy family was that she wanted to pursue freedom. Throughout her childhood, she had always witnessed her mother slogging like a maid for her father. After that, she swore to never rely on the mercy others like her mother had done her whole life. That was also why she was adamant about giving half of her loot to Zhang Heng, not wanting to owe him anything.

From the very beginning, Anne told Zhang Heng that she was only going to stay at his place temporarily and promised to move out as soon as she earned enough money. The moment she received her share of the money, she quickly searched for her own place on the island. Her dream finally came true.

“From today onwards, no one can stop me from putting my legs on the dining table! And no one can force me to finish my soup as well!”

“……..”

Initially, Zhang Heng wanted to help Anne to move over to her new house. Unfortunately, he was told that some of his pirates had started a brawl in one of the brothels. As the captain of the Jackdaw, it was Zhang Heng’s duty to head there and solve the problem. Luckily, it was not as serious as he thought it would be. There was indeed a fight, but there was no loss of life, albeit an unlucky pirate who got stabbed in the thigh. When Zhang Heng arrived at the brothel, the man’s wound was already wrapped up in bandages.

It turned out that both parties were fighting over the same woman. Initially, the woman had been booked by a group of pirates from a ship called the Hunter, but when the Jackdaw’s pirates doubled their price, the prostitute changed her mind and decided to serve them instead. Due to bruised egos on the side of the Hunter’s pirates, both parties ended up bludgeoning each other.

Incidents like this were prevalent in brothels. The solution was equally simple, where all they needed to do was to pay them a small amount of money to prevent conflict from happening. However, the pirates from the Hunter knew that the Jackdaw had returned with a windfall. Hence, greed had motivated them to demand a huge ransom from the Jackdaw’s pirates. When they refused to pay up, the Hunter’s pirates stopped them from leaving the brothel since they outnumbered them.

The Hunter’s captain stood up and adjusted his collar. It seemed like he was about to say something to Zhang Heng. However, Zhang Heng could not bother to listen to what he had to say.

“Let my people go!”

“No problem! I’ll let them go after you pay 20 gold coins as compensation for my men’s medical fees.”

“It seems that peacefully resolving this matter is out of the question. Old rules it is then.”

Immediately, Zhang Heng drew his saber from his sheath. The Hunter’s captain was taken aback, seeing how ruthless the Jackdaw’s skipper was. If both sides failed to resolve a matter peacefully, the captain from one party could either choose to duel with another captain or allow their pirates to battle each other in groups. Those were the old rules that Zhang Heng mentioned earlier. It would seem that Zhang Heng chose to mano-y-mano with the captain. If it were 20 years ago, the Hunter’s captain would have accepted the duel. Unfortunately, he was now an old man and was unfit to fight anymore. There was no way that he could defeat Zhang Heng.

“We outnumber you! Why should I fight with you?” snapped the captain of the Hunter.

At that statement, he noticed his pirates glaring at him in the most condescending of ways. Usually, a fearless pirate would never reject another pirate’s request for a duel. He had just turned himself into a coward in front of everyone.

“Group fight? Are you sure?”

Calmly, Zhang Heng put away his saber and looked at the goons that stood around them.

“I will pay three silver coins to anyone able to defeat a pirate from the Hunter. Who’s with me?”

Immediately, everyone in the brothel stood up.

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