Chapter 228 A Bold Plan
Zhang Heng interrogated the captain, chief officer, and the sailors separately. This was to prevent them from working with each other and fool him with some story. He then compared all the information he collected to verify the authenticity of their stories. Half an hour later, he was about to unveil some shocking news. He quickly gathered Billy, Anne, and the rest of the ship’s senior staff. He even looked for the chief carpenter to join the meeting.
“You wish to return to Parrot Island?!”
Billy was taken aback by Zhang Heng’s decision.
“According to the information from our prisoners, there is one navy battleship, the Kent, docked at Parrot Island. Their defense is at their weakest right now. Perhaps we can take this opportunity to rescue everyone from the island. It’s a double-edged sword. We can also retrieve the gold bars at the bottom of the sea!”
“How do you plan to do that? Judging by Jackdaw’s current condition, I don’t think we can survive another battle. If our ship is fine, we wouldn’t have needed Coral Island to eliminate Miranda in the first place. Once we arrive at Parrot Island, we can’t use its terrain to aid our battles anymore. This time, we can’t just beat them by coming up with another plan to outsmart them.”
Though Billy was interested in rescuing all the pirates stuck on Parrot Island and retrieving the gold bars, he figured the risks were simply too great. Zhang Heng didn’t respond to Billy’s concerns, and instead, turned to Gale, the chief carpenter.
“With enough materials, how long would it take to fix the ship till she’s combat ready?”
“If I have all the materials and manpower I need… six days. No. I can complete the task in five days.”
“Where are we going to get the materials we need?” asked Dufresne.
Zhang Heng then pointed at Miranda.
“Cannibalize her, and we will have enough parts.”
“That is a good idea! If that’s the case, two days would do it, captain,” replied Gale.
“Time is not a problem. The navy sent five ships to pursue us. We managed to eliminate one. Now, they have four ships. They’d all agreed to return to Parrot Island in two weeks to kill the remaining pirates. One day has passed now. Let’s say we take a week to fix the ship. I believe we should have enough time to return to Parrot Island and fight them.”
Zhang Heng’s plan convinced Billy. Truth be told, the navy didn’t just carelessly leave only one ship to guard Parrot Island. With Jackdaw’s current condition, it would be a miracle if they returned to Nassau. The prospect of Jackdaw returning to Parrot Island simply didn’t cross their minds. One navy vessel was more than enough to keep an eye on the marooned pirates. Zhang Heng’s plan might sound ridiculous, but it was doable. The pirates of Jackdaw were elated when they defeated Miranda and even had even stocked up enough rations to carry on with the voyage. This, of course, didn’t make up for the losses that they sustained.
This time, the entire pirate entourage had almost been entirely defeated by the navy. Not only did they lose their ships, but the gold they worked so hard to get were also about to fall in navy hands. However, if they managed to save all the pirates and take back all the gold bars, it could be a huge turning point for them.
“I think this plan could work. We can start preparing for the next battle.”
Soon, everyone on the ship had gotten wind that Zhang Heng was to return to Parrot Island. Just as expected, no one went against his decision. This plan for retribution had everything to do with the pirates’ honor and 5,000 pounds of gold bars. Very quickly, everyone gave up resting and began all the necessary preparations for their next battle.
Since he had all the men he needed, Gale decided to clean up the entire ship. It was littered with all manner of filth, and the hull was smothered by a thick layer of barnacles and seaweed. By clearing them off, Jackdaw could at least speed up by half a knot, a crucial increase in facing their next fight.
While everyone was working hard to patch up the ship, Zhang Heng was nowhere to be found. When Anne finally found him, he was sitting on a rock, gazing at the sunset. His mind was 200 lightyears away from the beach. From afar, he looked like someone from another world. Anne looked for an empty spot and sat beside, passing a bottle of wine to him.
“The repairs are going well. We should be able to complete the whole thing by morning. Gale says the ship will become even sturdier after the repairs.”
“Great. We’ve spent a little too long on this island. It’s time to leave.”
Zhang Heng sipped a little wine and passed the bottle back to Anne. The calm sea breeze blew in their hair as they silently gazed at the setting sun.
“How about you? Are you doing okay?”
“Aren’t you going to talk about the storm? Everyone said that it was a miracle. They said the Goddess of Ocean, Thetis, must have blessed us. We both know that’s not true. We all heard Seth’s story. I know you engraved the name of the Celtic god on our mast during the storm, right? What’s her name again? Betty, was it?”
“Yes. Look. Don’t worry. I won’t let our Jackdaw end up like the carrack. I just… I don’t remember the last time I sat down quietly to enjoy the sunset.”
During those critical moments, Zhang Heng did indeed use the shell. He did not have a bitter past, and he was no angry teenager as well. In the end, he had to immerse himself into the world of literature to trigger his anger. He chose the novel, Les Misérables. The main character, Jean Valjean, was jailed for nineteen years just because he stole some bread to help his sister feed her seven hungry children. Before meeting Bishop Myriel, he had been through unspeakable torment, and it made him hate the world and all that was in it.
The method was very effective. Not only did Zhang Heng manage to summon the storm, but he even led Jackdaw to escape their enemies. That was the very first time Zhang Heng came in touch with Betty. He finally knew the reason why the goddess didn’t look for him. She wasn’t trying to be mysterious, nor was it bad timing. It was because she was in a weakened state. After convincing Seth on the carrack, she did not have enough strength to show herself anymore. It wasn’t until Zhang Heng took the shell and engraved her name on the mast that she finally managed to recover some of her power.
According to her, she was way weaker than she used to be. One didn’t have to go as far back as a thousand years when she was at the top of her prowess. Just a hundred years ago, she was even stronger than her current self. That was why Zhang Heng couldn’t control the storm to speed up the ship. The most he could do was to ensure that Jackdaw got out of the storm in one piece.