Someone brought in a tray of meatloaf1meatloaf: Think the meat part of a burger, water, and even an orange.
“Good for your teeth,” Fang Tinglan grinned, revealing his own set of white teeth.
Hai Lian glanced at Fang Tinglan before grabbing the meatloaf and taking a bite. The wound on his head had been dressed, his dislocated arm treated.
“Since we’re making a deal, I’ll speak plainly,” Fang Tinglan paused. “I hope that within a year, you will help me kill someone.”
“Who.” Hai Lian didn’t stop chewing.
“I’m not sure,” Fang Tinglan answered. He spread his hand innocently when the boy raised his head in shock.
“I only know they’re hiding in Tisu’s capital Jiumeng City. Rest assured that even if I don’t manage to find the person within a year, your pay won’t be one cent less.”
Hearing the word ‘pay’, Hai Lian’s expression finally relaxed a little. He swallowed and reached for the water.
“I’ll give you 40 percent as a deposit.” Fang Tinglan pulled out a check. “Checks from Gubei United Chamber of Commerce can be redeemed at any bank or exchange entity in Tisu —”
“I only take cash,” Hai Lian interrupted.
Fang Tinglan was struck dumb. After a while, he smiled and sighed.
“You’re still only a pirate.” He stood up, retrieved his purse from a trunk in the corner, and emptied its contents on the table.
“This should work, right?”
Nobody would find fault with money. After downing a cup of water, Hai Lian put his hand over that pile of gold. He slowly pulled it closer.
“One year is nowhere near enough time to find someone in Jiumeng City.”
“You’re familiar with the place?”
“It’s my hometown.”
“Perfect, then I’ll have to ask you to show me around,” Fang Tinglian replied after a moment.
“I only know how to kill, not how to be a tour guide.”
“I’ll pay extra.”
Hai Lian shut his mouth. He raised his eyes to Fang Tinglan’s and found the other smiling gently at him.
Don’t be fooled by his friendly appearance, think of the years you spent in Jiumeng and Yun Sea fighting tooth and nail — it was rare to find someone as difficult as he was.
A warning sounded in his head.
This man had yet to reveal any weakness. He’d even shot at you only moments ago. If he asks you to kill the king of Tisu, would you still agree?
I know, I know.
But the gold under his hands seemed to fit perfectly both under his palms and in his heart. Hai Lian was rather broke.
“… Why me.” He broke the heavy silence with a single phrase.
“My family has been in the military for generations. I entered the Wulong Academy when I was fourteen. From mock battles to helping in the fields, I was first in my year.” As he spoke, Fang Tinglan turned to reveal his bandaged arm. The blood had already stopped.
“But I’m sure that if you had eaten before fighting me, I would have died.”
“And you’re not afraid I’ll kill you now?” Hai Lian looked at the now empty tray.
“I’m not blind. You couldn’t tolerate your brothers2your brothers: as in fellow pirates, not blood related being held captive and were shook by your captain’s death. Little brother, you’re only pretending to be fierce.”
Hai Lian choked, turning his head away.
“Alright. This cabin will be yours. We leave tomorrow morning.” Fang Tinglan’s eyes curved. He leaned over and put the untouched orange in Hai Lian’s hand.
Hai Lian held that orange for a long time after his new employer left. Finally, he slowly peeled it and put a piece in his mouth.
It was clear and sweet.
His first mate pulled Fang Tinglan aside as soon as he stepped out of the door. The first mate was a tall middle aged man with a sturdy build; his size far surpassed Fang Tinglan’s. An expression of anxiety spread across his rectangular face.
“Are you alright?”
“Why wouldn’t I be?” Fang Tinglan returned with a smile.
“The talk went very well. He’s familiar with Jiumeng City. With any luck, this will turn out better than expected.”
“I think you should stick to your original plan of finding him with the Bolang caravan. Pirates are naturally vicious and temperamental. They’re untrustworthy and —”
“More people will recognize me in the caravan; it’ll be difficult.” Fang Tinglan rejected the idea.
“Besides, this boy…”
“This boy?” The first mate prompted.
“No, it’s nothing.” Fang Tinglan swallowed the rest of his sentence.
After their brief tussle earlier, Fang Tinglan found this boy very interesting. But there was no need for him to tell anyone else.
“I was saying that the boy is simply another greedy fool desperate for money. When the time comes, it’ll be easy to get rid of him.”
The first mate mulled over the words “get rid of” and glanced at the door behind Fang Tingling.
“That works too. What about the rest of the pirates?”
“Isn’t the military factory in Xian province still understaffed? Send them there.”
“Isn’t that treating them too well? You should have tossed those brutes all overboard just now.” The first mate huffed and stomped in annoyance.
Fang Tinglan smiled and said nothing.
Having nothing left to ask, the first mate looked off into the murky distance and clenched a fist. He solemnly advised his captain.
“Please always remember that the kings and emperor3the kings and emperor: I’m assuming the ancient Chinese style of rule. In this case, each country is ruled by a king, and they all respect and follow a certain emperor. It seems Tisu is the empire in question and Dongzhou might have been one, but after the war, part of – if not all – of Dongzhou is now under Tisu control. are still suspicious. We can only keep matters secret for at most another year. By then, no matter if you succeed or not, you must return; otherwise, the outcome could be disastrous.”
“I know.” Fang Tinglan saluted his first mate. “Uncle Chen, since you were my father’s right hand man, I’ll leave the matters in Dongzhou to you.”
“The son of Lord Zhenhai Fang Que4Lord Zhenhai Fang Que: Fang Tinglan’s father, Lord Zhenhai is his title meets with pirates on his first voyage and is unfortunately captured in battle.” Uncle Chen finally smiled as he spoke of his former master.
“Had that happened, your father would be turning in his grave.”
Fang Tinglan laughed bitterly and shook his head.
“If Father were still alive, I wonder if he’d scold this worthless son of his.”
“Don’t speak nonsense. When your father was still alive, he practically praised you to the sky.” Uncle Chen patted Fang Tinglan’s shoulder.
“Rest up, for the days that follow will be rough.”
T/N: Welcoming Musk as my editor! Thank you Musk (*˘︶˘*).｡.:*♡
- 1meatloaf: Think the meat part of a burger
- 2your brothers: as in fellow pirates, not blood related
- 3the kings and emperor: I’m assuming the ancient Chinese style of rule. In this case, each country is ruled by a king, and they all respect and follow a certain emperor. It seems Tisu is the empire in question and Dongzhou might have been one, but after the war, part of – if not all – of Dongzhou is now under Tisu control.
- 4Lord Zhenhai Fang Que: Fang Tinglan’s father, Lord Zhenhai is his title