Black Prince Sam assigned a dozen pirates that could swim well to dive to the spot where the Spanish treasure ship sank. Soon, the divers managed to discover where they stored the gold bars. The next problem that needed solving was how they could salvage the ingots from the bottom of the sea. The crates were located half a nautical mile from the coastline at a depth of about 20 meters.
Such depths were close to the limits a human could dive. It wasn’t just the oxygen starvation, but the water pressure would increase every ten meters. If they continued venturing deeper, the pressure would cause them to suffer from nitrogen narcosis and oxygen poisoning, which could be fatal.
Zhang Heng vaguely remembered that the deepest a human ever attempted to dive without the assistance of equipment was about 40 meters. He was puzzled as to how the person managed to achieve such a superhuman feat. People like Black Prince Sam and his allies all grew up right next to the sea. Most of them were sons of fishermen, and from a young age, they were already natural swimmers and divers.
Having said that, the divers were forced to resurface the moment they laid their eyes on the crates that contained the gold bars. Only one person amongst them managed to dive to where the boxes were and retrieved a dislodged gold bar.
“It appears that we’re going to be on this island for some time,” said Black Prince Sam.
Despite the losses the pirates sustained, their hunting trip was considered an enormous success. A total of 5,000 pounds of gold divided among six ships would see every single pirate returning to Nassau with a tremendous amount of wealth.
Apart from the gold, the Spanish ship was hauling a shipment of tobacco as well. Unfortunately, the dried leaves became useless the moment they hit the water. Despite Brook suffering the most damage in this battle, he was happy with the results. The extra 50% of the loot he would receive meant he could fix his ship and even compensate those who were wounded during the battle. And even after everything was settled, he would still walk away pocketing a large sum of money.
Everyone was envious of Zhang Heng and the Jackdaw’s luck. Although he and Brook were both chosen as bait, the enemies, unfortunately, decided to focus fire on the Swordfish instead of the Jackdaw. It was all because the Swordfish looked to be the weaker of the two. After two rounds of bombardment, the Jackdaw received no further damage. When the Spanish convoy of three fell into their trap, Zhang Heng waited until the four pirate ships attacked them before joining the battle. Amid the cacophony of artillery, the three Spanish vessels weren’t bothered to deal with the Jackdaw anymore.
When the Jackdaw played the bait, Zhang Heng made the right decision by taking every random opportunity that came to avoid taking as much damage as possible. Not only did he manage to confuse the enemies, but it also allowed the Swordfish to retreat. If Zhang Heng didn’t stall the Spanish, Brook and his men would have ended up at the bottom of the ocean.
Brook was extremely grateful for Zhang Heng’s assistance, going up to him and thanking him personally when they were all on Parrot Island. Before this, Zhang Heng had spoken little to Brook, though, having heard of his name before. Other than his notorious reputation in Nassau, he was one of the captains that vouched for Zhang Heng to join the meeting. To Zhang Heng’s surprise, he discovered that Brook wasn’t as aloof as he seemed to be after talking to him. He was actually quite talkative.
During the meeting for the battle, Brook barely said a word. Zhang Heng thought that it must be Brook’s nature to stay quiet, but as it turned out, he was wrong about him.
“I’m sorry. I’m not trying to offend anyone here, but I have some beef with Dynamite Jarvis.”
Dynamite Jarvis, captain of the Warrior, was also one of the captains that vouched for Zhang Heng. Sam had once told him about wanting to utilize this trip to solve a longstanding conflict between his two friends. It was now apparent that Sam referred to Brook and Jarvis. None would have thought that they would both clash again amid a critical operation.
“I have been friends with Jarvis for decades. I knew him long before I knew Sam. About two months ago, I received a precious lead. A slave-trading ship departed Africa and was heading towards Boston, carrying a decent amount of cargo. Most of the slaves on board were teenagers no older than 18 or 19. They were of good health and had all their teeth intact. I brought someone with me to check on the route this ship would take.
“Just as I was close to my target, a group of unknown people came out of nowhere and disrupted my plan! So, I sent someone to talk to them. Unfortunately, they were in no mood to talk. In the end, they killed the people I sent to negotiate with them! As if that weren’t enough, they wanted to attack my ship as well! Luckily, we were fast enough to flee.
“When I think about it again, I believe the group of people had been waiting to ambush me. That was how I knew that it was no coincidence. Someone wasn’t happy with me. However, I only talked to Jarvis before I set sail. So, I confronted him when I returned to Nassau. Unsurprisingly, he strongly denied all my accusations. He was furious, and he told me that I should never doubt him. At that time, I felt guilty that perhaps, I could have wronged him. After that, I assigned someone to dig deeper into this matter, and I found out that he had secretly left Nassau the night before I set sail! He also didn’t leave with his own ship.”
“So, this is the conflict, huh?”
“I just don’t understand why he would do something like this to me. We have been friends for a long time. It doesn’t matter anymore… I’m done thinking about it. I promised Sam that I won’t harm him in any way. It’s just that… from today onward; he is just another stranger to me.”
“Ah. You guys are here. Our luck just gets better! Ball found some wild goat, rabbits, and other animals on the island. I think we are going to have a feast tonight! There’s quite a bit of rum left on the ship as well. Sam suggested that we should start a bonfire to celebrate our success. We are now the first pirates to rob a Spanish treasure ship!” Eric exclaimed with enthusiasm.
“Celebrate? Now? The gold bars are still at the bottom of the sea,” Zhang Heng replied.
“Yes, but it’s not like they’ll run away, eh? Don’t worry. We will find a way to bring them all up. Do you have any food on your ship? You can contribute to the celebration as well,” said Eric while patting Zhang Heng’s shoulder.
“I can provide 30 barrels of rum and some fresh lemons.”
“Great. I will ask someone to go fishing. We can use your lemons for the garnish. Sinks the stench, I say.”
“All of you can see that I have nothing left on the ship,” said Brook.
“It’s ok. Captain Sam has solved the problem. Maybe you can thank Jarvis later. I heard that he’s willing to give you a third of his supplies.”
“Did he volunteer, or did Captain Sam make him?”
“Would there be a difference? Be the bigger man here, Brook. That incident is ancient history! Are you still going to dwell on it? You’ll recoup all your losses the moment we get our hands on the gold.”
Brook harrumphed and didn’t say a word after that.