Chapter 216: Sentry Island
Translator: Translation Nation Editor: Translation Nation
"Quick, quick!" Several horses rode over. Admiral Chen Ping led the group of soldiers. His face was pale.
Chen Ping was originally a small-time bandit. He killed and plundered in order to make a living for himself. This went on for many years until he was recruited under the Emperor's banners. That year, Chen Ping led a hundred and eighty men to attack the bandits' camp and captured their general. The Emperor called him extremely courageous and promoted him to a Deputy Admiral. All the way until peace was restored within the country, he had fought in at least twenty battles and escaped with his life more than a few times. He managed to accumulate several achievements as a result.
It's a pity that his qualifications weren't high enough since he was of a low birth. Hence, he was unable to rise up to more than a third rank official. He also didn't receive any noble titles. When the peace times started to descend upon the nation, he started to fear for his post and position. At this point, however, his face was filled with killing intent.
"He's just a mere High Scholar, and he dares to slap me across the face like this? Without asking for permission, he killed my brother-in-law." At this point, Admiral Chen Ping's anger wafted in the air as held onto the reins of his horse tightly, speeding on his way.
There were about six thousand men within the navy camp, but very few horses. Most people traveled around the camp on foot.
Chen Ping rode over to the Captains' tents and slowed down. The dozen soldiers following him were on horseback as well. A soldier standing guard outside the Captain's tent saw the Admiral and wanted to greet him. As he opened his mouth, he saw the look of ferocity written across Chen Ping's face and so the soldier held his tongue, not daring to speak out.
Chen Ping led his soldiers and entered the tent, his footsteps were loud and heavy. However, there was nobody within the tent apart from several low-ranking soldiers cleaning the area.
"Where are they?" Chen Ping asked fiercely.
"Admiral, the Captain has already left for sea." Someone knew that this situation wasn't good and replied softly.
"The audacity!" Chen Ping turned around to leave and headed straight for the pier. At this point, the sky was dark and misty, with rain drizzling down upon them. There were several busy soldiers now in the pier, as the wind blew strongly. The waves were crashing hard against the breakwater. When he looked across the ocean, he could see a fleet of ten ships on the horizon, drifting further and further away.
"Admiral, what should we do? Should we send another fleet after them?"
At this point, the rain increased in intensity and slapped down hard on the backs of everyone exposed. Chen Ping squinted his eyes and looked into the distance before looking at the waves, watching the fleet moving further and further away. He hesitated for some time, as his eyelids quivered. He then snapped back to reality and replied, "You can kill a soldier, but you must never humiliate him. I shall wait for them to return and settle my scores with them when they do."
The entire sky was pitch black, and the waves were crashing fiercely as ever. The ships were rocking violently against the tidal waves. Wave after wave smashed hard onto the hull of the ship.
Although the ship was rocking violently outside, it still seemed somewhat stable within the cabin. Pei Zi Yun lit up a candle, and a low-ranking official stood beside him, watching him write his letter to the Crown Prince. Since they were at sea, it was impossible to get this letter out immediately. The only time they could send this letter was when they next met a merchant ship. They could then order the merchant ship to deliver this letter to the Crown Prince.
The low-ranking official helped Pei Zi Yun with his ink and quill, with a certain hesitation on his face. He looked somewhat worried as well as he voiced out, "Since master Top Scorer wishes to fight the pirates, I should inform you that there are more than a thousand of them. According to the military law of numbers, we are on the losing end by taking only a fleet of ten ships. Why didn't you use the entire navy to fight them? Even when a lion attacks a rabbit, it uses all its strength."
Hearing the official's words, Pei Zi Yun laughed out, "If these pirates were disciplined and skilled, even with a thousand men, we wouldn't be able to gain the slightest advantage and win."
At this point, Pei Zi Yun then placed the quill down on the table and turned to the official and asked, "Let me ask you, who do you think is the mastermind behind this group of pirates?"
When the official heard this, he hurriedly replied, "This humble subject has done a little investigation into this matter. It seems like a group of Japanese farmers who had gone into exile and several merchants looking for ill-gotten gains. They managed to recruit normal civilians with the lure of profits."
"You are mostly correct, and have the main idea."
"When it comes to the Japanese pirates, there are two aspects to it. The first group of people are those who came from poverty as a result of the chaos within the homeland. These people are desperate and have to turn to crime in order to survive. The second group of people are those who aim to make huge profits from this illegal trade. They thus banded together."
"On the other hand, we have several merchants and seafarers who are guilty of perpetrating this as well. Most of them realized the amount of profit they could earn from plundering and pillaging, and thus they joined the pirates."
"The root of this matter is to gain the upper hand in the sea trade, and so they formed up many alliances among themselves to maximize the amount of money earned."
"The core of the policy to exterminate the pirates was to reduce these alliances."
"In opening and legalizing sea trade, and building up harbors, this would mean that trading the legal and proper way would also see a certain amount of profits. This caused many Japanese to lay down their arms and turn to the path of legality."
"Many merchants and seafarers started trading the legal way, so as to not risk their lives."
"Half of these Japanese turned away from illegal plundering as well. The other half, however, remained. These are the Japanese who had been exiled and can't return to a clean way of life."
"The core of their formation is made up of actual warriors. The merchants support these warriors through funding, in exchange for a share of the profits. Then there is the civilian population who joined in. However, their support has been significantly reduced at this point."
"The actual number of existing pirates is only one or two thousand at most."
"We have a thousand men, who are well trained and skilled in combat. They will be enough to deal with the pirates."
"What's most important is that Chen Ping is a fourth ranked official after all. Even with the imperial banner, I won't be able to kill him, neither will I be able to control him. Besides, I won't be able to control the full fleet of six thousand soldiers."
"Rations and supplies are another problem. With our current strength of a thousand men, the rations provided by the Governor can last us up to a year. If I were to take the full fleet of six thousand men, the supplies will only last us for two months."
"Why should I waste my limited resources on a massive army, which includes an Admiral who wouldn't listen to my orders, when I can take a concentrated and efficient, smaller group?" Pei Zi Yun spoke up to this point before realizing he had an idea. He then picked up his quill and started scribbling again.
Although there were occasional bumps within the cabin caused by the waves, Pei Zi Yun wrote steadily, his words were as neat and magnificent as ever.
"Top Scorer Pei, that's an extremely good plan." The official spoke out.
Pei Zi Yun laughed as a knock came from the door outside. A soldier carried a tray of dishes, "Your excellency Pei, your meal has been prepared, please enjoy."
The tray of dishes were placed on the table as the official spoke out, "Top Scorer Pei, please enjoy your meal."
He then asked, "The soldiers realized they were served meat in their meals today. Are we preparing for an attack?"
"Naturally." A gleam appeared in Pei Zi Yun's eyes. It was fierce and bright, which made anyone fear looking at him in the eyes, "The reason I acted so swiftly and decisively was not just to kill that overstepping Lieutenant. It was to ensure that the pirates didn't have enough time to react."
"The reason the Navy has been unable to kill the pirates was because there's always been someone within the navy providing information and reports to them. It's also because of Admiral Chen's incapability, and his lofty and overly dignified ways of launching attacks."
When the official heard this, he was slightly suspicious as he asked, "Master Top Scorer since we have the cover of rain and wind, why don't we attack the Golden Islands?"
"The Golden Islands is the main camp for the pirates. If we were to attack their sentry island instead, won't we alert them to our plans? Besides, the sentry camp is mainly used as an outlook post, and there aren't many people on that island. If we were to attack it, we won't do much damage to them, and would waste our resources." The official asked.
Pei Zi Yun finished writing and placed his quill down. He then walked over to the window and pushed it open. Instantly, wind and rain could be felt on his face. He could even see flashes of lightning in the distance.
The sky was filled with dark grey clouds as the waves crashed repeatedly against the hulls of the ships. Pei Zi Yun's ship was in the lead and was surrounded by many other large warships as they cruised onward.
Pei Zi Yun spoke out coldly, "I am not an official of the navy. I've just borrowed the imperial banners from the Governor, and thus have the authority to act. Why did I kill Liu Xiang? It was to show my authority, and that each and every soldier has to obey the authority of this banner."
"However, this particular symbol of authority is extremely fragile. The second I lose control of it by just a little or show a certain sign of weakness, everything will collapse around me. You don't actually think that just a mere banner would enable to command and lead an entire army, right?"
"Using numbers to our advantage would almost certainly guarantee us a victory since our troops are more disciplined and better trained. I need a victory today in order to stabilize the troops I am leading and to secure my command. Hence, I shall attack the sentry island which would guarantee a victory."
"Once I win this battle, my command would be relatively stable."
Pei Zi Yun then stopped speaking before continuing, "Let's have our meal together, for we will be involved in a big battle later tonight. Give the order out to hold the position once the island becomes visible. Do not attack until the command has been issued. We need to establish an advantageous position."
When the official heard this, he replied in admiration, "Yes!"
The winds and rain continued assaulting the entire naval fleet. Chen Pu was dressed in his raincoat as he stood on the deck and looked far ahead into the distance. He could then see a small island amidst the rain.
It's just that the sentry island was extremely small, and the shadow of it could faintly be seen. From this distance, they could see the island, but the people on the island would not be able to see them yet.
"Immediate pass the message to master Top Scorer." Chen Pu immediately ordered after seeing the island.
"Yes!" The soldier hurriedly turned around to report the matter.
"I know of the situation. Official, inform Captain Cai to ready the soldiers and tell them I shall be with them shortly. Lower the sails, and stop moving forward. We don't want to alert them to our presence until we're ready to attack."
The official then responded, "Yes!"
Seeing the official leave, Pei Zi Yun then retrieved a communication talisman. He touched the middle and saw the entire room light up in a bright ray of light. After waiting for several seconds, he was connected.
Pei Zi Yun looked in and saw a shadow emerge. At this point, a huge wave swept against the hull, causing seawater to splash onto the deck. Several people started to lower smaller boats into the water and were completely drenched by this onslaught of waves. However, they weren't encumbered by this.
"Just some time ago, the sect was discussing moving the entire sect to an island." Just as Pei Zi Yun was thinking about this, someone came forward and spoke out, "Sect Leader."
Since using the communication talisman would deplete energy, Pei Zi Yun didn't waste time beating around the bush, "What's the situation on the island, where can we dock?'
"Sect Leader, the sentry island isn't very big, and such huge vessels can only dock on the north-west or south-west areas. This is because only at these two areas are the waters deep. Hence, you can dock your ships there." Someone spoke out on the other end.
"I still need you to lead the way. I'm coming from the northwestern direction, and am preparing to reach the island. I need you to link up with us soon, and meet us there." Pei Zi Yun spoke out before continuing, "Also, have you established a map of the island, along with the situation of the pirates?"
"Sect Leader, ever since we received the order from you, we've managed to accomplish the tasks you commanded. The people here on this sentry island are not all pirates. Most of them are sea merchants and seafarers. We are here on the island, along with these pirates." The person replied, "We are extremely familiar with the situation here. Hence, it's not going to be difficult."
Hearing these words, Pei Zi Yun stood up. "Prepare to respond. Remember to address me as "young master" later on."
As he spoke, he changed into his raincoat and walked onto the deck.
At this point, commands were issued across every single warship. The naval soldiers had put on their leather armor. When it came to sea battles, wearing heavy chain armor was tantamount to seeking death. Just a fall would mean they would sink all the way to the bottom because of the weight. Thus, leather was the preferred material.
Pei Zi Yun looked across the ocean and could clearly see the islands. Cai Yuan Zhen wore an expression of ferocity and determination on his face. He stepped up to ask, "Master Top Scorer, how should we take this island?"
Pei Zi Yun ordered, "Head for the southwestern end of the island. The waters there are deeper. Anywhere else, the bottom of our ships will crash into the seabed. Take your group of soldiers and prepare to start for battle. Look out for small boats heading your way, a group of people will receive us. You are not to attack them."
"Yes, your Excellency." Cai Zhen Yuan received the orders before ordering his own men, "Turn the ship towards the southwestern direction. If you see any small boats, do not attack them."
The waves started getting fiercer as the ship altered its course of direction. At this point, the pirates were still unaware of their presence. After moving for some time, they encountered a small boat heading towards them.
"Alert!" Although they had received prior warning, the soldiers still drew their blades.
As the boat drew nearer, someone stood up, "Young master, we're here!"
Hearing this, Pei Zi Yun ordered, "Throw down the ropes and let them climb aboard. Prepare for battle."
"Yes, your Excellency."
The raindrops were still assaulting them unceasingly and the winds blew hard upon them. However, every single soldier was well prepared for this. With fearsome looks etched on their faces, they moved quickly. Pei Zi Yun sighed to himself, "Indeed, it hasn't been too long since the chaotic time, for these soldiers still have their edge."
Soon after, the ropes moved and brought several men onto the decks. They then knelt down, "Young master, we've arrived."