Wilton looked at Carina. “What is it? Don’t you want them?”
Carina simply bit her lip, not saying anything.
“It’s no problem. We’re all civilized people–we don’t force anyone to do business with us, miss.” Wilton waved his hand, and immediately, one of his men grabbed a Gentle Breeze sailor, dragged him to a wooden pole, and tied the helpless man to it.
Wilton took one last bite from the apple and threw the core on the ground. He wiped his hand on his clothes before taking out his dagger again.
“What are you doing?” gasped Carina as she felt a sinking feeling in the pit of her stomach.
“Did you know, ever since I was a kid, I’ve always been curious about the inner workings of the human body?” Wilton pried the sailor’s shirt open with his knife.
The poor freckled boy was only around sixteen to seventeen years of age. Carina remembered him. He was called Booker, and her uncle had recommended him some time go. The two worked together on the Gentle Breeze. Booker was a cheerful lad who always wore a pleasant smile on his face. Right now, however, he looked terrified, more so when the knife slithered down his chest.
“What do you want?!” Carina hissed.
Wilton smiled slyly, letting the blade linger on the boy’s abdomen. “As I said, I just want to make a deal that’s mutually consented.”
Carina’s eyes looked like they were about to burst into flames, but there was nothing she could do–Wilton had two pirate ships and around 200 men while she was all alone. There was this one guy who reported this to her, but he was just a docker at the exchange of secondhand goods. Carina had no other choice but to agree to Wilton’s terms.
“How much do you want?” sighed Carina, eventually giving in.
“That’s more like it. If only you said this earlier, then there wouldn’t have been any problems, eh?” Wilton kept smiling as he put his knife away. Just when everyone thought that the danger had passed, Wilton suddenly swung around, and something in his hands flashed. Before anyone could react, he plunged the blade into Booker’s stomach!
Booker howled in pain, and a look of wild excitement flashed across Wilton’s demented face. Instead of pulling away, he shoved the knife upwards until finally, the boy’s stomach was sliced open, his guts spilling out like a crushed snail.
Never in her entire life had Carina ever witnessed such barbaric savagery. She instinctively covered her mouth, mind saturated with fear.
When she was younger, Carina had her fair share of pirate-related horror stories. The civilized world regarded these men who roamed the seas as beasts and thugs. When she came to Nassau, however, she realized that the truth couldn’t be further from the tales she heard. Pirates were humans too, and of course, they had feelings. In fact, most of them were very reasonable, where some were even smart and polished like Zhang Heng.
So, her impression of pirates was reversed entirely; that was until Wilton showed up and reignited the terrifying impression of pirates buried deep in her mind.
Fresh, warm blood dripped from the knife and Wilton’s right arm. He stepped backward and tilted his head as if admiring his handiwork. “It’s fascinating. Did you know that even if a person’s stomach is cut open, they won’t die immediately?”
When Carina looked at him again, her demeanor had completely changed. She asked in a shaky voice, “Haven’t I already agreed?”
“Yeah, except for this one,” Wilton answered as he wiped the blood off the blade with a handkerchief. “This is not for sale. After all, other than making money, I have to find some way to have my fun, right?”
Wilton flashed his teeth at Carina. Next to him, Booker’s cries were getting weaker and weaker. Wilton’s soulless smile would make anyone’s blood run cold.
“Don’t worry. I won’t ask for an unreasonable price. Right now, a strapping black slave is worth five gold coins. I’ll sell these very experienced sailors to you for only ten gold coins. The captain is worth twofold. I think that’s a very fair price. Apart from the four of these here, there are also twenty-eight men on the ship. That makes thirty-two people in total. Oops… it’s now thirty-one. So, that’s a total of three hundred and twenty gold coins.”
Carina tried to calm herself, but she could hear her voice trembling whenever she spoke. “I don’t have that much money on me right now.”
“That’s going to be a problem,” smirked Wilton with a cocked eyebrow. “Tsk, tsk. I’ve given you an excellent price. I’m afraid I cannot do any better. But, if you really don’t have enough, you can consider buying half of them. I can present the goods to you for you to pick whichever you like. What do you think? It all sounds pretty good, right? You get to decide their fate, and the ones you select will be eternally grateful to you. As for those who remain…”
Wilton paused for a second. “They will hate you, of course. But nevermind that. I will help you solve this problem. Consider it a value-added service for the transaction.”
“No, I want them all–not one less,” Carina insisted.
“Didn’t I make myself clear? Depending on how many coins you give me, that’s how many people you’ll get. There’s no room for bargaining here,” Wilton shook his head.
“I may not have that much money, but I have a piece of property in the colony. Give me some time; I will get you your money.”
Carina felt wholly dejected and humiliated. Not only had her ship been so rudely snatched away from her, but one of her crew had been tortured and mauled before her eyes. Right now, she was forced to agree to the trade, and even begged Wilton to give her time to amass the ransom.
Wilton rubbed his chin as he considered Carina’s offer. After a while, he walked up to her, used his knife to pick up a lock of her hair, and leaned in to sniff it.
Carina felt goosebumps all over her body. After what he did to Booker, who knew what the madman would do next. Carina stayed as still as she could, eyes closed and praying that the ordeal would be over soon.
After half a minute, his demonish voice echoed in her ears, “It’s our first time here, and we are not very familiar with this place. It just so happens that we need a guide. How about this, you become our guide, and I will agree to your request.”
“Who do you think I am?!” Carina’s eyes flew open, shocked, and outraged. “A prostitute from one of those brothels?!!”
“It doesn’t matter. A virgin comes with its own advantage. If you serve us well enough, who knows, I might even return that cargo ship of yours.”
Carina was shaking even more violently now, unable to tell if it was from her anger or fear.
Just as she was about to give up all hope, a familiar came from behind Wilton.
“I don’t think she likes having strangers being so close to her.”