Chapter 93: Hello, Development (2)

Nothing in life is easy.

A visionary plan. Talented people. Active support.

Even when all the conditions were met, there were times when good results didn't happen even when the conditions were good. Like right now.

“What? Attacked by pirates?”

“I’m sorry, My Lord. There’s nothing else I can say.”

Milton was shocked by the report.

Max had enthusiastically set out to accomplish the assignment given to him by Milton. Max had spent a lot of money arranging ships and crew members and by collecting information, he had even secured the necessary weapons that might be needed. Once all of that had been completed, Max had personally gone on the voyage himself. This amount of effort had been the direct result of his loyalty. 

And so, on the first voyage attempted, Max had gone directly to the Gloucester Kingdom and made contact with seven merchant companies. With this, even if it wasn’t an exclusive trade with Waterport Kingdom that Milton had originally wanted, it could still be considered a successful maiden voyage. But even after that, Max had made two more trips to Gloucester Kingdom and expanded the business and made more deals with merchants. He was even planning to create a merchant company run by the Forrest family and having a branch be located in Gloucester Kingdom. 

Just when it seemed as though everything was going smoothly, something happened on the third voyage. On their way back from trading with Gloucester Kingdom, Max’s ship had been attacked by pirates. Not only had they plundered all the goods and the money, but Max had also been taken hostage. And…

“Those bastards said that if we want to get our Chief Administrator back, we have to pay them 20,000 gold as ransom.”

Squeeze. 

Milton’s grip crushed the corner of the table. 

“So you’re saying that’s what those scumbags were spouting?”

“Yes, Marquis.”

“Those XX sons of b*ches…”

Milton’s head seemed to be steaming with anger as he burst out of his seat and shouted. 

“Get me Jerome. I’ll teach those f*cking pirates a lesson!”

Milton was determined to personally go out to sea. 

***

“Captain, that Marquis said he’ll pay the ransom.”

“Really? Puhahaha… good. Very good. Should we just change our route to here?”

Red Beard, the captain of the Red Pirates laughed out loud. 

Red Beard, he was originally a pirate who was active in the Southern part of the continent. But, once he heard that there was a lot of trading going on in the Western coast of the continent, Red Beard had quickly made his way over. 

He had his men hide and watch the harbor to see when their target would come. Everything moved quickly once he had learned that the target of the rumor had arrived at port. With familiarity, they had attacked the target in the middle of their route and taken both the ship and the goods on it. He had wanted to kill all the people on the ship in order to get rid of witnesses. However, one of the targets spoke up…

“Wait, instead of killing me, it’d be better to demand ransom from Marquis Forrest.” 

At first, the Captain thought it was bullshit, but the more he listened, the more it seemed plausible. 

“I am Max, the Chief Administrator for Marquis Forrest. If you kill me, you won’t get a single silver coin, but if you keep me alive, My Lord will pay the ransom.”

At first, Red Beard laughed it off.

“How hilarious. A noble paying ransom for a commoner? That little…”

“20,000 gold.”

Max flatly interrupted Red Beard. 

20,000 gold was a lot of money that even the pirates who were mocking him turned silent.

“Why not at least try? It’s not like you would lose anything.”

All of a sudden, Max had taken control of the conversation and was tempting the pirates. 

“Hm… fine. You said 20,000 gold? It won’t hurt to try.”

Max clenched his fist the moment Red Beard said this. 

‘He’s hooked.’

It had been the worst possible scenario the moment the pirates had attacked, but he couldn’t die like this. Max still wanted to use and expand his talents in this world. That was why he had told the pirates about the ransom and persuaded them to keep him alive. 

He had used 20,000 as bait but, would Milton actually pay that ransom for him?

However, this wasn’t the main thing. The important thing was that they were nothing more than pirates, and they had dared to hold hostage one of Milton’s men. This was Max’s trick. 

‘Once My Lord comes, those pirates won’t even be a problem.’

Milton Forrest had written a new legend of invincibility during the war against the Republicans.

Although Max didn’t know much about war, he was certain that the pirates would be annihilated the moment Milton arrived. So, it didn’t matter whether the ransom was 20,000 or 200,000 gold as long as he was able to create a hostage situation. This was the plan Max thought up on the spot. But…

“Captain, no!”

Suddenly, one man appeared and tried to snuff out Max’s plan.

“Squid, what?”

The man nicknamed Squid was skinny and had small eyes. He was so skinny that he was almost just skin and bones that just by looking at him, it was difficult to believe that he was a pirate. 

He replied while staring at Max.

“That punk is trying to play a trick on us, Captain. He’s trying anything to live.”

“Huh? Of course he is. So what? It doesn’t matter to us as long as we get our ransom, right?”

“But we’re not even sure if they’ll pay the ransom. Have you ever seen a nobleman pay 20,000 gold just for a commoner? It’s definitely a trick, Captain.”

“You think?”

At Squid’s word, Red Beard seemed to be rethinking the hostage situation.

Seeing him like that, Max urgently shouted.

“He’ll definitely pay it! My Lord really thinks highly of me.”

“But still, isn’t 20,000 gold a bit too much? It’s not like we’ve captured a beautiful woman, you’re just a punk…”

Seeing Red Beard beginning to get suspicious, Max unwittingly yelled.

“My… My Lord loves me.”

“What?”

“His… his preferences lean in that direction…”

In life, there are moments when you just spout nonsense. That day seemed to be today for Max. 

‘Damn it, am I finished?’

Thinking that there was no way they would believe the nonsense he just said, Max was disheartened.

“Hm… I see. I heard there were noblemen who were like that before.”

But it seemed like Red Beard had thought it could be true.

“Fine. We’ll keep you alive.”

“Captain! I’m telling you, that bastard’s just playing a trick on us! Urk!”

Smack!

As Squid continued to comment, Red Beard stopped the unnecessary comments with a single punch. 

“You punk. Didn’t I say we’re keeping him alive for now? For now. But if it’s all a trick, then I’ll kill him later, alright?”

“Ugh… but we can’t be sure…”

“Tsk, you got balls… I’ll deal with this, so you just shut your mouth and navigate!”

Red Beard approached Max.

“If you’re lying, know that you won’t die peacefully. Got it?”

“Y… yes.”

Towards the end, Squid had almost ruined his plan, but now, it was going as Max had wished.

After that, Red Beard tried to kill the other sailors, but Max managed to save their lives as he convinced Red Beard that he'd only get the ransom if the sailors were alive. Red Beard was happy because today, he had finally heard back that Milton was willing to pay the ransom.

“Where should I exchange the hostages? I’m guessing a place like an uninhabited island would be best?”

Squid quickly tried to stop him.

“No, captain.”

“What? Why are you telling me no again?”

Red Beard didn’t like Squid constantly saying no to everything he said.

But Squid spoke to him desperately. 

“Captain, you don’t know what those nobles might do, how can you directly exchange hostages like this? What’ll you do if they bring a Knight and try to kill us?”

“Hm…”

Almost as though he was convinced by Squid, Red Beard nodded. 

“Now that you mentioned it, I was suspicious about that as well.”

‘At least try not to sound like you’re lying.’

Red Beard made Squid’s blood pressure rose, but that wasn’t the important thing. Truthfully, Squid was nervous about this whole hostage situation thing, but since it was happening anyway, it was important to be as thorough as possible. 

“It’d be best to do it in the sea, Captain. Each side will meet in the middle on rowboats and make the exchange between hostage and money. So that way, even if those bastards tried to trick us, we’ll be able to get away.”

“Alright. That sounds like a good idea. Let’s do that.”

Squid let out a sigh of relief at Red Beard’s words. But a corner of his brain still thought something was wrong.

‘I’m still not sure about this.’

Squid still felt nervous about this deal, but it wasn’t likely that Red Beard would listen to him. Sure, Squid also loved money enough to wake up from deep slumber for it, but it wasn’t more important than his life. 

“No, I can’t do this. It’s a bit early, but let’s carry out the plan.”

Squid muttered with a determined expression. 

***

The middle of the night with the moon covered by the clouds. 

Red Beard and his pirates moored their ship on the uninhabited island they used as their base and slept. Even if they were pirates who lived and died in the sea, they still had to have a base on land. The pirates, who were authorized by a country, sometimes used a port as their base, but real(?) pirates like the Red Pirates quietly had their base on an uninhabited island. 

In order to start their ‘business’ in the region, Red Beard had searched for and taken over a few uninhabited islands as their base. Since it wasn’t possible to continue to carry the wealth plundered from other ships on their own ship, it was normal to hide the wealth on an uninhabited island and sell them all at once later. And when the pirates sink into the sea, that wealth becomes the so-called ‘pirates’ hidden treasures.’ Sometimes adventurers who hear such rumors would search through uninhabited islands looking for it.

Anyway, after stepping on land after a long time, the Red Pirates relaxed. First, they imprisoned Max, their prisoner of war, and then brought out a keg to the beach and started roasting meat over a campfire. 

“Let’s drink and eat as much as we want today!”

“Drink! Drunk! Dead!”

“Wahhh!!”

Handling a ship required a high degree of teamwork and mental strength. It may be surprising, but on the sea, pirates didn’t dare to drink enough alcohol to lose their focus on the sea. They never knew when a storm would hit, nor when a reef might appear. So they were always focused. But, things were different once they were on land. 

"Oh oh oh... we are seamen~♪ brave seamen~♪"

“The brave seamen that girls love the most~♪”

The merrily singing pirates were so drunk they were full of weak spots. No one was standing guard and all of them were drunk.

There was no way there could be a threat in this uninhabited island in the middle of the vast sea. Okay. Normally, there shouldn’t be.

***

“I found them.”

Bianca had been searching across the ocean using a seagull.

“Where are they?”

“They’re on an uninhabited island a bit far away from here, drinking and their singing sounds like pigs squealing.”

“So, you’re saying they’re drunk?”

Milton gave a broad smile.

This was one of the best opportunities. Milton had been worried about how he would find the bastards and rescue Max, the hostage, but if the pirates were all drunk together, then there was no need to worry.

“Jerome.”

“Yes, My Lord?”

“Ready the soldiers. We are ambushing them.”

“Understood, My Lord.”

“Miss Bianca, you said they were on the uninhibited island’s beach?”

“Yeup.”

“Can you guide our ship to the other side?”

“Yea, I can do that.”

Bianca released the seagull from her Familiar magic and found a dolphin to cast her spell on.

On the dolphin’s back glittered the Luminescent magic and it became the perfect guide.

“Done, follow it.”

“Thank you, Miss Bianca. Follow that light.”

“Yes, My Lord.”

It was risky to travel during the night because the ship might hit a reef, but that wasn’t an issue when Bianca was using the dolphin to guide them along a safe path. And so, Milton’s ship was able to safely travel to the other side of the uninhabited island where the pirates were drinking. 

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