“Are we safe now?”
By some miracle, the Jackdaw didn’t sink even after two rounds of intense shelling. Instead, she limped clumsily out of the harbor.
Anne dislodged a large splinter stuck in her shoulder and asked, “Are we safe?”
When the armored ship opened fire, Zhang Heng had to stay by his post, so Anne shielded him. Although fortunate enough to steer clear of the explosion, the shrapnel from the blasts was an even more significant threat. Thus, the red-haired girl bore the brunt of all the flying debris.
It wasn’t just her busted shoulder. Her arm, calves, and cheeks also had varying degrees of chaffs and lesions. Yet, despite the pain, she didn’t whine or complain.
Zhang Heng did thank her – with the relationship they shared; there was no need for verbal expression. Instead, without saying a word, he took off his shirt and bandaged her wound with it.
“I don’t think so. If they didn’t have the upper hand, they wouldn’t have just let us off like that. However, they won’t need so many ships to fight the people on the beach, so I believe they will split up and send some after us.”
As if a demented prophecy, the silhouette of two armored ships emerged amid the thick fog of war!
They must have just turned around since they were pretty far away from the Jackdaw. Nevertheless, they caught up to ailing ship pretty quickly.
Zhang Heng wouldn’t typically worry about having a tail. With the Jackdaw’s imposing firepower and a crew to match, he could easily win a fight against two pursuing enemies. Even if the situation did go south, they could just turn away and escape.
Right now, the Jackdaw was in terrible condition. They were understaffed, having practically no gunners on board. At least three masts were damaged, and the leak in the hull was getting worse. The flood had quickly risen by three feet and was already at the danger line.
Under such circumstances, it would take a miracle for them to make it back to Nassau. They couldn’t fire, and they couldn’t flee. How were they supposed to fight? This was the same situation that hit Dufresne. Even if the Jackdaw could break through the naval blockade, she wouldn’t go any further in such a hamstrung state.
Zhang Heng couldn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel, but since he had put everything he had on this mission, he wouldn’t have come unprepared. He put Anne in charge of the rudder after borrowing her dagger. Then, he went up to the mainmast. Back when he was on the Sea Lion, he was Roscoe’s apprentice for some time and was no stranger to climbing high structures.
Even though he hadn’t done anything of that sort since he became captain, he wasn’t wholly rusty yet. Clamping his dagger between his teeth, he scaled the rickety rope ladder as quickly as he could. Once he was on the top at the crow’s nest, he saw the scratched surface where an ancient Celtic name was once engraved.
Zhang Heng took the dagger out of his mouth. Ironically, being the one who crossed out the name, he was the one to carve it back on again.
Initially, the plan was to communicate with the so-called ‘ancient Celtic god’ only after he got the Tulewood box, the safest method he could think of. Now he had no other choice.
Zhang Heng had quite a few game props in his possession, but the only thing that could be of assistance in this situation was the yet to be identified seashell.
However, nothing out of the ordinary happened after he finished engraving the name, and the two armored ships drew even closer to the Jackdaw, their gunners ready to light the fuses.
Time was running out fo Zhang Heng. That said, he wasn’t inclined to think that Betty, the ancient Celtic god, must have abandoned him. In fact, he had always suspected that the god’s objective back on the ghost ship wasn’t Seth, but him, the captain himself.
Anne’s sudden presence interrupted the god’s appearance. As a result, it had to give up on Zhang Heng and targeted Seth instead since he was all alone. From the beginning, her goal had never changed. There was a reason why she instructed Seth to steal the three notebooks. She intended to use him as bait for Zhang Heng, knowing it would draw his attention.
But if that was the case, then why didn’t she look for him again the moment he got the shell?
Zhang Heng quickly reevaluated his earlier conversation with Seth. He recalled the abrupt storm they encountered on their way back to Nassau, and he remembered Seth saying that anger was needed to control it.
Zhang Heng’s brows furrowed. Perhaps it was because his parents were never around, and he was part of the grow-up-real-fast group, that he ended up more emotionally stable.
There were times when he got mad, of course, but ever since he realized that anger only solved nothing, he rarely flamed up at every other matter that annoyed him.
When Wei Jiangyang got cheated on his first job, his friends brought him for a night out. After having a little too much to drink, he told Zhang Heng, “Zhang Heng, I think that the most incredible thing about you is that: you see this cruel world for what it is, yet you’re not disappointed by it. How do you do it? You’re just like a bystander… you are good at everything. It’s just that sometimes, you’re just too calm that it gets boring.
Zhang Heng also knew that his SAN value fell slower sometimes, but he never thought that it would be a problem for him someday.
He looked back at his life, finding that no particular baggage weighed him down, nor was there the taste of bitterness in his heart. He harbored no hate towards anybody, hence the cavalier disposition.
This was going to be tricky.
Based on his deductions, not only did he need anger to summon the storms, but it would require continual waves of rage to keep the storm going. Seth’s anger came and went quickly, which was why the storm only lasted for a short while.
So, if Zhang Heng wanted to break away from the two ships, he would need a storm that could last at least thirty minutes.
Zhang Heng had to find another way. He took in a deep breath and squeezed his eyes shut.
Half a minute later, the bows of the armored ships had almost come up to the stern of the Jackdaw. Suddenly, a flash of lightning as bright as the sun flashed across the night sky, striking a mast of one of the armored ships! Although no one was standing near it, the crew was shaken, terrified by the incident.
However, that was only just the beginning. Thunder rumbled along the horizon, and the wind started billowing from all directions. At the same time, the purple bolts of lightning grew more frequent akin to a discharging power grid. The calm seas became blustery, battering the wooden hulls with fury. Seeing that their target was mere feet away, the armored ship’s captain gave the order to open fire.
However, a massive wave suddenly came crashing onto the side of their ship, knocking the cannoneers off their posts with a mighty force!