Chapter 141 - Pirate Archipelago (1)
As the two people ran onto the deck, there were passengers who didn't know the situation yet. If a battle occurred, it made no difference if they hid inside or outside. However, Randolph and Theodore couldn't understand the nonchalant faces of the weak.
The black sails of the pirate ships were approaching them from the horizon.
"What, did they come as a group?" Randolph looked around with a confused expression.
'...Rather, the atmosphere is strange.' In contrast, Theodore doubted the whole situation.
It was because his sensory perception was silent and the reactions of the surrounding passengers were consistently strange.
The pirate ships were already close enough to be seen by the other passengers. Despite this, the passengers on deck were still busy chatting among themselves while eating snacks and drinking. Meanwhile, the way the two of them were looking around made them seem like hillbillies.
Under these circumstances, the pirate ships continued approaching, and with the wind blowing, the ships were close enough for arrows to fly. If the pirates shot arrows from this position, the deck of the passenger ship would quickly become bloody.
However, arrows didn't come flying, and Theodore heard a voice calling from behind, "Hey, Young Man!"
He looked back and saw a middle-aged man smiling strangely at him. Theodore kept an eye on the pirate ships while cautiously asking the middle-aged man, "...Did you call me?"
"Yes, you are stiff. I'm guessing that this is the first time you and your companion have been on this ship."
"Hahaha! I knew it. People who visit this ship for the first time are always confused by this situation. Pirate ships suddenly appear, but the other passengers don't react at all. People will naturally be confused!"
Just like a fool playing with knives, the middle-aged man chuckled. However, Theodore and Randolph didn't laugh and continued to gaze at him with cold expressions. Thinking the two people were angry at him, the middle-aged man exclaimed hurriedly, "Oh, I don't mean that you are stupid!"
Theodore ignored his excuses and asked, "Then that means this is related to the secret of this ship?"
"T-That's right. I guess I'll explain."
The middle-aged man was pushed by the pressure of the two people and opened his mouth while sweating. It wasn't a direct pressure, but the tense atmosphere of a 6th Circle magician and master level aura 1 was more than ordinary people could endure.
Rather, the middle-aged man was quite good to endure that slight pressure as he started the story.
"Simply put, this isn't a passenger ship but a cruise ship."
"That's right. While it is true that the final destination is the Soldun Kingdom, the destination on the way is a little special."
The middle-aged man regained some strength as he mentioned its name-the Pirate Archipelago. A group of islands which didn't belong to any country got this name after pirates settled on them. It was off the east coast of the Kargas Kingdom, and a few days northwest from the archipelago was the Solun Kingdom. Those who existed within the boundaries of the law didn't know about this lawless land.
"Pirate Archipelago? In the end, it is just a base for pirates."
It was as they said, but the middle-aged man didn't accept it. "Then there would be no reason for the ship to visit it."
The middle-aged man, who identified himself as a merchant of the Rommel Company, explained the reason. Perhaps it was his hobby to add some atmosphere or because he was shaken by the pressure of the two men, but his voice had a foreboding tone as he told the story.
'Hrmm, I got involved in something more complicated than I imagined,' Theo thought.
If the man's explanation was correct, the Pirate Archipelago only started this 'tourism industry' 50 years ago.
The islands, which had originally been uninhabited, became a gathering place for refugees and outlaws from various countries. Among them were once promising swordsmen and criminals known for their superior dexterity. As they lived together in one place, they turned into a big force and became pirates to make up for the barren soil and scarce animal husbandry. They were villains who raided private houses on the coast, fishing boats, and merchant ships in order to feed their families on the island.
However, the Pirate Archipelago face an unexpected demand. As a lawless zone located on the outskirts of the law, it was charming to some people. Those who dealt with prohibited goods and those who weren't satisfied by money alone started to change the Pirate Archipelago.
"It was the birth of a whole new form of entertainment." The middle-aged man clapped and nodded. "You can enjoy all types of luxuries and things that are prohibited, such as forbidden merchandise or slaves from foreign countries. It is literally the island of pleasure."
Was this the cause of the heated atmosphere? Theodore looked at the passengers with sunken eyes and sighed. The pirates weren't enemies but guides who had come to take the tourists to the Pirate Archipelago. No hostility was felt so his sensory perception remained silent. Theodore's eyes narrowed as he grasped the situation.
'Should we turn this upside down?'
Before that, there was a man who expressed this thought.
[Young Master, should we do something?] Randolph's Hidden Voice growled like a beast, clearing Theodore's head.
Theo glanced at the middle-aged man who had gone to join the others and shook his head.
[That isn't possible. According to him, this ship and the pirates are in cahoots. There aren't many people who don't know the situation, and there is no guarantee any of them will join us. More than anything else...]
[More than anything else?]
[There is no way to survive if the ship sinks from the fighting.]
'Losing' wasn't something the two people worried about. It might be arrogant, but the they were entitled to think that. If they didn't worry about the damage, it would take a short time to sink six ships into the ocean.
However, there was bound to be disapproval from the captain if they asked to move to the shore after that. This was why Theodore avoided a battle at this point. Randolph knew this, but momentary passion had clouded his eyes.
Theodore whispered to him, [Just endure it for now. There is a proverb from the East that is used in situations like this.]
[What is it?]
Before answering the question, Theodore stared at the people in the distance. His keen hearing picked up all the words they spoke, despite the distance in between. The captain of the passenger ship and the leader of the pirate ships... It was a mutual brotherhood that was disgusting.
Theodore gazed coldly at them and replied, [Go into the tiger's den to catch the tiger.]
* * *
After the captain and pirates finished their greetings, they returned to their respective ships and connected unknown chains to the passenger ship. Then the five pirate ships turned and started to pull the passenger ship in one direction!
'What the hell is this?'
Even Theodore, who didn't know much about ships or navigation, thought it was ridiculous.
There were five pirate ships, but the weight of the enormous passenger ship far exceeded the sum of all five. It was said that the burden was reduced by buoyancy, but then it would be better for the ship to move on its own.
In the end, the pirate fleet pulled the passenger ship.
The wind blowing into the sails slowly added speed to the six ships. The ships increased in speed as they escaped from the heavy waves. 5 knots to 10 knots, 10 knots to 15 knots... It didn't take long form them to reach full speed, and this was with the large passenger ship attached to them!
"T-This is ridiculous!" Theodore was shocked by the incomprehensible phenomenon and approached the front where the chains were connected. Randolph followed behind, but Theodore forgot about him.
'Perhaps there's some weight reduction magic on the chains?'
This question caused Gluttony to poke out its tongue. Despite the tongue sweeping the surface, no information popped up. In other words, this was a pure chain with no magic. However, Theodore kept searching without giving up. If these chains were ordinary, something else might be the cause. A magician's curiosity blazed in his eyes.
How long did he ponder for? Then Theodore's eyes finally noticed something. The pirate ships pulling the large passenger ship with the chains looked like galleys, and they were showing an uncanny pace.
-...Bothering me to work as soon as I wake up.
'Stop complaining. If you stretch out your tongue, can you reach that place?'
-Hmm? Gluttony glanced at the pirate ship and replied in an excited voice, -It is a little dicey, but I can just reach it.
Simultaneously, Theodore stretched out his left hand.
The red tongue quickly popped out from the hole in his left palm. It was a bold attempt, but no one could see it properly. The waves were constantly breaking, creating water vapour and limiting visibility. The tongue stretched downwards from Theodore and succeeded in touching one of the pirate ships.
The information window Theo had been waiting for popped up.
[Pirate Ship No. 17 (Ship)]
[This is a galley built six years ago. It was made by excellent craftsmen from materials which are strong against sea breeze and salt, giving it a long life and high durability. Due to the weight reduction and strength enhancement spells engraved on the surface, it is 30% faster than normal galleys. However, the worth of this ship is due to the 'divine protection' on it.
* This ship is rated 'Rare.'
* It can't be consumed. Please reduce the size. You can eat it if you separate the areas where magic is engraved.
* When consumed, the digestion time is 55 minutes and 17 seconds.
* When consumed, the proficiency of weight reduction spells will increase.
* When consumed, knowledge of 'navigation' will be acquired.
* The blessing of an unknown existence is hanging on it. The ship will gain additional acceleration, and the wind and waves will always be favorable toward it.]
'...An unknown presence!'
Theo didn't care about the other information as he gazed closely at the ending words.
Frankly, the weight reduction magic or strength enhancement magic wouldn't increase the speed of the ship that much. The secret of the speed was something which couldn't be comprehended with Gluttony's Appraisal, due to 'someone's protection.'
'Indeed, we are going somewhere strange.'
Even though there was a demand, a large-scale lawless zone like the Pirate Archipelago was bound to experience some damages from this tourism business. Regardless of how many benefits there were, the planners always needed to be alert to the emergence of variables which couldn't be controlled. It was now that the reason finally showed itself.
There was a deterrent that the central continent couldn't touch easily. Just 'who' was the one who blessed the pirate ship?
'I was avoiding trouble and then this appeared.'
Maybe the place they were heading to was more dangerous than the warlocks of the Orcus Company.
1. The author previously states that everything about Randolph is master level, except for the fact that he hasn't awakened the Aura Ability. So the author just calls him master level when it comes to things like this.