Was hoping to translate some on the plane but ended up sleeping the entire flight.
Luo Huai Yuan was in a very bad spot at the moment!
If he had to describe his unfortunate experience, he would call it shit hitting the fan!
After arriving at the Fu Province, Xie Mao had told Luo Huai Yuan the details. It turned out this matter required Luo Huai Yuan to appear in person because the copper mine Xie Mao discovered was in Ryukyu, which was separated from the Grand Xi by the ocean.
Ryukyu was located in the eastern part of the Grand Xi’s ocean territory. It wasn’t one single landmass, but was composed of several small islands.
Xie Mao’s information pinpointed the copper mine on one of the islands.
Ryukyu had its own government but was filled with internal unrest year round. Because of its location with Fusang in the south and Little Ryukyu in the north, it was often invaded by outsiders. It was mostly people from Fusang, but there was also no lack of so-called pirates. The situation was extremely complicated.
Due to the Grand Xi opening its ports, Ryukyu’s situation had gotten a lot better. The monarch was also doing his best to have friendly relations with the Grand Xi. Using its location as a transfer station for the overseas trade, Ryukyu’s economy started healing. Of course this was still just limited to Ryukyu’s main island. The surrounding smaller islands were still in chaos.
To put it simply, those with slightly more influence was able to occupy the territory as a king. However, there was nothing to be had on these small islands. Normally, no one would occupy those places.
Another situation was that pirates needed a den for their stolen ships. It was pretty good to occupy some deserted islands. Then there was the black market on the seas. The black market was born during the embargo. Due to Ryukyu’s central location between the northeast and southeast seas, it became a transfer station for smuggled goods. After a few rounds, this black market became famous in the area.
Under the Grand Xi’s embargo, Ryukyu’s black market was especially rampant. After the embargo was lifted, due to the already established market, the place was only a little less prosperous than the Fu Province’s port.
The largest black market was located on an island called Yeluo. The influence behind this island wasn’t clear. Apart from being independent of Ryukyu, it was said to have an extremely powerful military force. Even the people from Fusang who often plundered the seas didn’t dare stir up trouble.
Xie Mao and Yan Zhi had their own affairs on land, and naturally couldn’t go overseas easily. Therefore, they sent letters over to the Yun Province to have Luo Huai Yuan make the trip personally. Of course this wasn’t the main reason. The main reason was because Luo Huai Yuan had always wanted to set up a path of retreat for himself. A path that would allow his family to escape if things didn’t work out internally.
Ryukyu’s environment was complicated but if managed appropriately, it could still be a good option. With his own influence, it was possible to live a carefree life as a local ruler.
This was why Luo Huai Yuan would personally make the trip. He had to see for himself.
The circumstances required it!
Since he had made up his mind, Luo Huai Yuan made the arrangements and set sail with the merchant vessels. He first went to Ryukyu’s main island to understand the local customs and circumstances before following the merchant vessel to Yeluo Island.
On the way to Yeluo Island, the ship he was on got attacked.
Luo Huai Yuan didn’t bring too many people this time. There was only Xiao An Zi and two trusted guards.
This was because the ship was being escorted by one of the navy’s warships and also because Ryukyu had always treated merchants with courtesy despite the internal strife. He hadn’t been planning on making any major moves this time around, and was merely going to take a look. He didn’t want to draw any attention and dressed himself up as a merchant. He didn’t expect to be so unfortunate.
When the merchant vessel was taken, the navy’s escort hadn’t been present.
This had to do with one of Yeluo Island’s unwritten rules.
Yeluo Island had its own military force. They had started off as a black market and naturally weren’t willing to interact with government troops. Therefore, Yeluo Island always welcomed merchants and their ships, but no other armed forces were allowed entry.
Although the Fujian Navy had an outstanding reputation, this wasn’t their own territory. They had to abide by the local customs. Furthermore, Yeluo Island wasn’t far from Ryukyu’s main island. It was only around half a day’s trip. Yeluo Island’s might was sufficient to scare off any small plunderers from acting on the merchant vessels in the area. Therefore, this route had always been very safe.
However, this time was the exception. The merchant vessel was plundered by a group of pirates.
Otherwise, Luo Huai Yuan wouldn’t be cursing his garbage luck. It was normally very safe but only he managed to run into pirates. Wasn’t this garbage luck?
The merchant vessal had its own guards but they had probably grown complacent due to having been at peace for so long. Perhaps they didn’t expect to get plundered here. Along with the pirates’ fierceness, there was almost no resistance before the ship was captured.
Luo Huai Yuan wanted to run but had nowhere to go. They were surrounded by open water. He admitted that he didn’t have the ability to doggy paddle back to the shore. Therefore, after considering things, he chose to behave.
It wasn’t like this never happened before. As long as they didn’t meet black-hearted people, most of the merchants weren’t in danger. They would at most suffer a little and lose their valuables. This was because the pirates had grown smarter. They knew not to kill their golden geese. They were after riches to begin with. Furthermore, these merchants all had considerable status. If they could ransom them off, it would be another sum of money earned.
Therefore, after the initial chaos, the people on the ship all calmed down. Of course, they weren’t calm in their hearts. Although they knew money wasn’t worth their lives, their hearts still inevitably ached at the thought.
The people were gathered in the hold by pirates holding blades. Luo Huai Yuan squatted obediently within the crowd. Xiao An Zi and his two guards seemed to have been locked up elsewhere.
Afterwards, the doors to the hold were shut tightly. Someone was guarding outside and the ship seemed to be moving. No one knew where they were going.
The atmosphere was very depressing. Some merchants looked gloomy. Some looked worried and several started crying loudly as though their mom had died. Those people had probably invested all their wealth, hoping to turn a profit with this trip. Unexpectedly, they encountered such misfortune on their very first voyage.
There were many such people. Those who were lucky could double their money but those who weren’t ended up sleeping with the fishes. This wasn’t something rare.
There was a lot of profit and opportunities in overseas commerce, but there was quite a lot of risk. However, with the deterrence of the navy, it was rare for merchants to be plundered. Those who were plundered were usually smaller merchants trying to save on the navy’s escort fees who set out privately on small ships.
This truly saved them the fees, but they would have to rely on their luck. If they encountered pirates, they would lose much more. Of course, these people weren’t in the wrong. Everyone hoped to get lucky. The size of one’s bowl limited the amount of rice that could be eaten. Those without ability should give up early.
It wasn’t clear how long they sailed. Regardless, the sky gradually turned dark.
Enroute, Luo Huai Yuan had cursed the nuisance influence behind Yeluo Island countless times. They clearly weren’t mighty enough but still wanted to act tough, causing their innocent group of little merchants to suffer calamity.
There were quite a few merchants in the hold discussing this matter. Some of them were more experienced, or were perhaps comforting themselves and others, but they all started discussing Yeluo Island with the people around them.
From what they were saying, Luo Huai Yuan got a better understanding of the influence behind the place.
It turned out that many years ago, Yeluo Island was a place where snakes mixed with dragons. The refugees and pirates of various countries gathered there. This bunch of people gradually formed a pirate organization that survived by plundering merchant and fishing vessels. The leader of this group Luo Qi was a rather powerful person. He wasn’t willing to remain a pirate. Using Yeluo Island as his base, he slowly developed the territories nearby into a major black market.
The black market on the ocean didn’t originate from Yeluo Island. However, Luo Qi was the one who expanded to to a certain scope.
This naturally involved many power struggles between influences. The group headed by Luo Qi had to deal with Ryukyu’s main island as well as pirates from other places. Luo Qi spent countless efforts to be able to develop things so quickly.
Since they used to be pirates, their hands were naturally stained with blood. Perhaps they had sinned too much, for Luo Qi’s descendants were few. It was said he had over thirty concubines and abducted women, but he only had one daughter.
This daughter was called Luo Qiong. Because her dad was a pirate leader, Luo Qiong was also rather formidable. In the surrounding territories, she was known as the “Jade-faced Shura”.
The story naturally didn’t end there. It started when Luo Qi passed away from grievous injuries.
After his death, Yeluo Island’s influences were in chaos. There wasn’t a traditional successor and all the subordinates wanted to establish themselves. Of course there was also a loyal faction that supported Luo Qi’s daughter Luo Qiong. However, Luo Qiong was only sixteen and she was also a girl. Along with her father having just passed away, it was hard to support everything by herself.
They all wanted to take this developed black market for themselves. It was said Yeluo Island was chaotic for a long time. Finally, the bloodline successor Luo Qiong’s faction was no match and retreated to one of the other islands. After Luo Qiong left, the remaining people started struggling even harder. No private merchants dared head that way during that time.
As things were about to settle down, Luo Qiong’s faction suddenly swooped back in and snatched Yeluo Island like a bolt from the blue.
The incident seemed to have settled down and the black market slowly recovered its former glory. Everyone discovered the one in charge actually wasn’t Luo Qiong, but was a person called the “fourth lord”.
The fourth lord was Luo Qiong’s new husband. After she got married, the “Jade-faced Shura” faded from the public’s eye. She handed her authority over to her husband and focused on being a housewife. No one knew who this fourth lord was or where he came from. He had always been extremely mysterious.
This matter astonished everyone. They felt that this “fourth lord” was a good investor. By capturing her heart, he had gotten his hands on a strong power.
Of course, there were those who thought otherwise. Luo Qiong’s faction had been clearly outmatched. To be able to make a comeback and take over Yeluo Island, this “fourth lord” must have some ability.
Reality proved that such thoughts weren’t without reason. Under the “fourth lord”, Yeluo Island quickly developed unstoppably. Its scope grew larger and larger. Luo Qi’s rabble in the past couldn’t compare at all.
This “fourth lord” not only cleared out the pirate influences nearby, he even forbade pirates from plundering merchants coming to Yeluo Island for business. Naturally there were those who violated the rules. However, those people were thoroughly beaten down by the fourth lord. Due to their fear, the pirates nearby gradually started obeying this unwritten rule.
On the other side, Yeluo Island’s black market started becoming more like a regular market.
In the past, the black market was a place where snakes and dragons mixed. There were many occasions of people being forced to buy or sell. Scams, cheats and even outright stealing were all things that happened. Now, Yeluo Island’s law and order was well-kept. Those mischiefmakers would suffer extremely harsh punishment if discovered and be banned from Yeluo Island in the future.
Of course, the merchants also had to pay a price. A percentage of their profits would be given to Yeluo Island as protection fee. The black market had such a fee back in the day, but since it wasn’t regulated, there would always be people getting bullied into paying higher fees, or not being guaranteed safety despite paying, which caused discontent amongst the merchants. Now that Yeluo Island had order, the fees were also publicly disclosed. Everything went according to the rules.
That’s right. Rules.
With rules came order. Yeluo Island went by the book. Whoever dared violate the rules would have a tragic outcome.
This time, the pirates who plundered them had violated Yeluo Island’s rules. The outcome was really uncertain.
More and more merchants joined the discussion. The more they talked up Yeluo Island’s influence, the safer they seemed to feel. People needed some source of hope when they were in danger. This prevented them from falling into despair.
“These pirates are definitely new. They didn’t know the rules!” A forty year old merchant said.
He spoke with certainty. This discussion had been started by him. It was clear he put quite a lot of trust in Yeluo Island.
“What’s wrong with these people? Why didn’t they figure out the situation before rushing into action? What sort of pirates are these?” A merchant agreed.
“Who knows when they’ll let us go? The earlier they let us go and return our goods to us, the more we would be willing not to report them to Yeluo Island.”
Perhaps it was due to their terror or perhaps they talked Yeluo Island up in their despair, the merchants’ words were getting more and more preposterous.
They didn’t consider that they were in the hands of pirates, and were even dreaming of not suffering any losses, having the pirates send them off as their granddads.
Some experienced merchants looked at them with weird expressions but it wasn’t convenient for them to refute. They were all on the same boat, and were all hoping things turn out that nicely.
There were over thirty merchants on this ship, all thinking different thoughts at this moment. Compared to the others, Luo Huai Yuan sensed a hint of danger.
There was no lack of daring people in this world. However, there were extremely few pirates who dared plunder in the territories around Ryukyu, under the noses of Yeluo Island and the Grand Xi’s navy. Were these people that daring? They offended two parties simultaneously. Were they so confident in getting away unscathed?
Was this really some noob who didn’t understand the rules? Or were they vicious people who didn’t care about the outcome?
Luo Huai Yuan felt the latter was a little more likely.
The reason the overseas trading could stabilize was because the pirates focused on plundering wealth and not murdering merchants. They understood not to kill their golden geese. They grew them like vegetables, harvesting some every now and then. This way they could fatten themselves and not need to worry about provoking any influences to annihilate them.
The actions of these pirates now seemed to contradict this logic. For the sake of covering their tracks, would they kill them to silence them? In the vast ocean, killing people and throwing them overboard made for a well-kept secret. Who would know that they had plundered a vessel going to Yeluo Island? They would get the wealth and none of the responsibility….
Thinking of this, Luo Huai Yuan couldn’t help but shiver.
He concealed the panic in his eyes and appraised the situation.
There were many merchants gathered in the hold with barely anyone guarding them. They merely closed the door? Were these people careless or were they certain no one dared to run? They weren’t wrong. Were would they run to in the middle of the ocean?
Luo Huai Yuan could sense that there were guards outside the doors. The discussion inside was so loud and were filled with condemnation of the pirates. However, no one came inside to stop them.
Were that that composed or did they view them as a bunch of dead people? Noises made by them prior to death could be ignored.
Luo Huai Yuan felt more afraid the more he thought about it. There were some who thought the same way.
For example, there was a skinny old man in his fifties next to him sporting a goatee. When they happened to meet each other’s eyes earlier, Luo Huai Yuan had clearly seen fear.
“The situation isn’t good.” The old man gripped his beard, the veins popping out of his hands.
Luo Huai Yuan’s expression was gloomy as his mind turned rapidly.
This was the first time he was in direct danger ever since he reincarnated. Only now did he feel that the struggles he faced in the past weren’t a big deal. After all, his status was still there. Even if someone wanted to harm or kill him, they had to have sufficient cause and do it in a roundabout way.
Now he faced a bunch of vicious pirates. They wouldn’t care about status or reason with you. They just wanted to cruelly kill you and erase the evidence. The saying about a talented scholar encountering soldiers is probably referring to such a situation.
Perhaps he was mistaken? Perhaps…..
At this moment, the ship swayed, seeming to have come to a stop.
Luo Huai Yuan remained still for a while but didn’t feel the anchor being dropped.
Dropping an ancher caused a large movement. The fact that they didn’t do so meant they hadn’t reached land. Why were they stopped?
There was no longer time for Luo Huai Yuan to ponder this problem. The doors were opened and a group of vicious looking pirates rushed in. They wore various strange clothing and were all sturdy. They held flashing blades in their hands and their actions seemed a little unusual.
The person in the lead spoke unintelligibly in some language and someone stepped forward to herd the people in the hold. One of them spoke Chinese and had everyone stand up and head to the deck.
Some merchants wanted to talk things out but no one bothered with them. The waving blades made them all file out obediently.
Many torches had been lit on the deck, making the surroundings bright as day. There were many pirates standing around. They surrounded them with sinister faces.
Some people had already sensed something was wrong. They were terrified and asked them what they wanted. The old fellow next to Luo Huai Yuan quietly sighed that his life was coming to an end.
Another group was herded onto the deck. Luo Huai Yuan saw Xiao An Zi and those two guards. The three of them looked a little wretched and their hands were tied. Those pirates probably knew these people were all part of the merchants’ retinue and they naturally weren’t as weak. Therefore, they were extremely strictly guarded.
One of the pirates stepped up and spoke in rough Chinese: “My subordinates tell me some of you are saying we’ve violated Yeluo Island’s rules, and the “fourth lord” won’t let us off? Weak pirates like us are naturally afraid of the “fourth lord”. Oh right, we’re also afraid of the navy. For the sake of sparing us some trouble, I’ll have to apologize to you all in advance.”
This person wore an eyepatch. He smiled malevolently and his teeth were bright under the torchlight. Right as he finished speaking, his subordinates started pulling people from the crowd.
The deck immediately turned chaotic. Many merchants wanted to beg for mercy or use goods to buy their lives. Others weren’t able to endure the scene and started crying…
These pirates were vicious as expected. They completely ignored all arguments. When they pulled one over, the blade rose and fell. A tragic cry would sound out and the person was thrown overboard. They didn’t care whether the blade did the job. They threw them in the water after cutting them.
The surface of the ocean was filled with the struggles of survivors. However, before long, more tragic cries sounded from the water.
The night was cold as water and the moon was shining.
The moonlight was cast upon the ocean, resulting in a silvery reflection. It was clear the surface had become turbid, though no one dared wonder whether it was blood.
Suddenly, an earth-shattering voice rang out, causing everyone to look over startled.
They saw a rather huge person with his head high and chest out. His manner was imposing without anger and he didn’t seem ordinary. His voice was ringing and forceful. He pointed at the pirate leader with one hand and his other was behind his back.
“Take a good look at who I am! If you dare touch me, there will be no one in the heavens or below the earth who can save you!”
The little fatty is coming to talk crap again. However, he has no choice but to try and survive. The pirate leader is familiar. Everyone can guess who it is.