Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation
After sailing for 21 days, Zhang Heng could feel that they were getting closer and closer to their target. A few days ago, a pirate ship attempted to plunder the Goddess’ Spear. Unfortunately, the pirates were defeated, and the Goddess’ Spear managed to seize all their weapons. It was going to be hard for the Jackdaw to loot their ship since they were now more robust. After a short exchange of fire, both parties sustained some damage on their boat. In the end, the pirate ship was forced to flee the Goddess’ Spear when their secondary mast was destroyed. Once again, the Goddess’ Spear managed to survive yet another battle against pirates.
After that, the Jackdaw crossed paths with the pirate ship that fought the Goddess’ Spear. Billy knew their helmsman, so, they were willing to tell the Jackdaw what they knew about the Goddess’ Spear.
There were about 50 sailors on Goddess’ Spear. Their ship was equipped with 17 cannons. 9 of them were acquired from the pirate ship that they defeated earlier. Otherwise, they had keen sailors who knew how to fight well. The only drawback about the whaling ship was their speed. Having a hold filled with blubber and wax, they could go no faster than a humble 5 knots.
If everything went well, the Jackdaw was set to catch up with Goddess’ Spear in about half a day. Unfortunately, the weather on that day changed all of a sudden. They could see menacing dark clouds billowing above the Jackdaw. Immediately, Merck, the person that in charge of maneuvering mainsail, instructed his people to climb to the top of the mast to tuck away the mainsail as the wind grew stronger. Some pirates started praying to the goddess Thetis to keep them safe.
As for Zhang Heng, he stayed within the captain’s quarters and studied the nautical charts, not forgetting his promise to Laeli. Whenever he passed an inhabited island, he would put a mark on the chart. First, he would eliminate the islands that were too small. Islands that lacked essential resources and islands that were too exposed were also crossed off the list. He also made sure to exclude islands that were too close to the busy shipping lanes.
In the end, there were three islands left for Zhang Heng to pick. He planned to pay them a visit after plundering the Goddess’ Spear. As he put away the charts, the ship suddenly shook violently.
When he first entered this world, he would stumble around whenever the ship encountered a great storm. As of now, he became a lot more steady, as long as the storm wasn’t too severe. This was the result of his continuous fencing practice on the ship. To prevent himself from falling, all he needed to do was to adjust his center of gravity according to the way the ship moved in the storm.
Zhang Heng opened the door of the rocky ship and walked to the gunwale. Large raindrops, coupled with salty mists, hit his face with a fury. On the deck, Billy was talking to the watchers.
“Is everything okay?” asked Zhang Heng.
“I was about to look for you. Everything is fine so far, except for a small problem to our northeast.
“The Goddess’ Spear?”
“I’m not too sure as well. I’ve been watching them for a while now. It seems like they have stopped moving. I think we’ll find out soon enough. We should be able to catch up to her in about thirty minutes.
“Be careful. We need to avoid pulling up to its side. After knowing what the Pelican had to go through, they might use the same trick to defeat us. They would deliberately make their ship look deserted to bait us. Technically, we shouldn’t cross paths with them this early. Again, something might just happen to them in this period. After all, Goddess’ Spear isn’t the only threat around here.”
“Hold on. I will bring a team of scouts,” said Anne.
At that, Zhang Heng simply nodded his head. All he could do right now was wait. At the same time, the entire Jackdaw prepared itself to go into full combat mode. Unfortunately, due to strong headwinds, they spent 40 minutes before they could catch up with the ship in front of them. Before they pulled up to it, Zhang Heng used his binoculars to check on it.
Unlike the ordinary ships that passed by the Caribbean Sea, the ship in front of them seemed to be uniquely designed. The stern was round in shape, and it had four thick masts as well. However, her mainsail was broken. Its tall citadel and poop deck had it looking like a large ‘U’ from is side. Zhang Heng even noticed that the ship’s hull was covered in barnacles.
Having determined its characteristics, Zhang Heng knew that this vessel wasn’t the Goddess’ Spear that they were looking for.
“That’s… a carrack?”
Billy was too sure as well. After all, the carrack, a type of vessel hailing from Spain, had gone extinct in the 17th century. Widely used in the 15th and 16th centuries, its unique design enabled it to carry more goods on board. The carrack’s large number of masts allowed it to move faster than its counterparts and was usually plyed the long-haul routes. When Magellan traveled around the world, four out of five of his ships were carracks.
However, it usually costs so much to build that few actually owned the type. Besides, maneuvering the vessel was no easy task as well. When it went against the wind, its unnaturally tall forecastle and poop deck would be continuously battered by the winds. The carrack was used right until the Elizabeth Era, where it slowly went into retirement. Not too long after that, carracks were gradually replaced by galleons. Even an old experienced pirate, the likes of Billy had never seen a carrack before.
“She sure has aged well,” said Billy.
Although he saw what looked to be words engraved on the stern, it had been well eroded by time and the rigors of the ocean, and was no longer legible.
“I don’t think there’s anyone on board. I’ll go with you.”
Zhang Heng shouted out loud to Anne, who was getting ready to launch a small boat. Other than Zhang Heng and Anne, Billy brought another four pirates with him as well. They had five oil lamps with them. The carrack was merely a stone’s throw away, but the rough sea kicked up by the storm caused the seven to have a tough time getting to it. When they finally got to the ship, they saw that the gunwale’s rope had already rotted away. Luckily, Billy brought a grappling hook with him.
Once the hook was set in place, Anne volunteered to climb onto the ship first. Zhang Heng, Billy, and the other four pirates followed right behind her.
“The deck is fine!”
Anne used the oil lamp to look around the ship. Now, Zhang Heng could finally confirm his speculation. This ship did not belong to this era. Though it had cannons, they were too old and outdated to protect it from the weapons of the day. As compared to the Jackdaw, the carrack’s guns were like toys.
“Let’s move in pairs. Search the ship. Safety is our priority.”
As Billy got on the ship, Zhang Heng started to delegate tasks, where each pair would search a different part of the ship. Then, Zhang Heng entered the captain’s quarters.