Duke Pendragon - Chapter 188

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“Good. Tell Lord Moraine to only chase the first one of the three to approach us.”

“Yes!”

The crew member in charge of communication used a large metal plate to signal towards Viscount Moraine’s battle ship, which was located behind them. Light signals flashed in response, and the two combat ships quickly spread to both sides.

‘It’s finally starting…’

Raven drew in a large breath and turned towards Isla.

“What about the baroness and the girls?”

“I have already evacuated them to the cabin below deck, my lord. Johnbolt is guarding them.”

“I see. Are the boxes ready?”

“Yes, my lord! All are on deck.”

The deck was filled with boxes. They had been crafted when leaving York Town in order to draw people’s attention. Of course, they were not actually filled with gold coins.

“Good!”

Raven nodded lightly.

Then, the barrelman shouted urgently from the top of the mast.

“Port! Pirate ships spotted in the shadow of the island! One sailboat! Six galleys, no, eight galleys! Distance is about 5 nautical miles away! On the mast I can see… Red Skull! It’s the Red Skull Pirates!”

Raven turned his telescope towards the port side as well. With a sailboat in the middle and galleys surrounding it, the group of ships were heading towards them. A large red skull was painted on the main sail of the sailboat that revealed their identity.

“Starboard seven nautical miles! Two sailboats! Six galley ships! Zagielka! It’s Zagielkaaa!”

At the barrelmans shouts, Raven turned towards the captain and shouted.

“Captain! Pretend to escape towards the strait!”

“Yes, your excellency! Tacking! Tacking!”

The crew moved at the captain’s roar. Having been roughly informed about the operational plan beforehand, the crew were able to efficiently perform their tasks as instructed by the captain, who was an experienced skipper.

Soon, Raven’s sailboat began to turn directions as if not knowing what to do. Then, it started to head towards the strait.

“They have narrowed the distance to three nautical miles on the port!”

Raven turned his head at the barrelman’s voice. The pirate ships began to be visible to the naked eye.

“It’s the channel from here on out! We are going to be beating!”

Fwooosh!

The large sailboat began to shake.

***

“Kuhahahahahaha! They’re scared! Look at them run!”

Captain Griezmann of the Red Skull Pirates burst into laughter as he observed the three merchant ships entering the strait. As soon as the merchant ships spotted them, they had quickly turned with their tails between their legs.

“Captain! The Zagielka bastards are picking up speed!”

“What? Those fucking bastards! I’ll shove a hippopotamus up their ass!”

Griezmann let loose some harsh words, but he was gritting his teeth. The three pirates had promised to attack jointly, but it was clear that Zagielka was trying to seize the gold first.

“What about the Winter Storm bastards?”

“Um, well, that’s… they are heading towards us?”

“What? Why? Why are those bastards coming here? No, w, what about the 7th regiment…?”

“They seem to be following behind Winter Storm?”

Griezmann became restless at the pirate’s words. He had taken a severe beating from the Winter Storm Pirates in the past.

“F, fuck it! Anyways, this guy, that guy, all of the pirates are fucking sons of bitches!”

“But aren’t we pirates too?”

“Shut up, you fucking twat!”

Griezmann became flustered and shouted with a mouth full of spit.

“You fucking clowns! Speed up! Full sailing! Full sailing!”

The Red Skull Pirate’s only sailing vessel, Red Skull, picked up speed.

“What about the galleys?”

“What the fuck do you mean!? Tell them to stick close to the island and follow behind!”

Sailboats could not enter the coast where the water was shallow and coral reefs were plenty. But the paddle-powered galleys became more mobile in shallow waters of the coast. In other words, if the vessels of the allied pirates chased the merchant ships toward the coast, the galley could intercept them and handle the rest.

Of course, it was up to the sailboats to prepare the meal.

“Hehe! We just need to take care of it before we exit the strait. You should rather get done in by us, you bastards. At the end, there’s an orc-eating monster waiting for you!”

Griezmann shuddered unknowingly, recalling Toleo Arangis, the Orc Eater.

***

“The 7th regiment bastards are following us, captain!”

A pirate cried out in a frightened voice.

But John Myers answered calmly while holding the helm.

“That is all right. We will be at the strait soon. The 7th regiment sailboats will not be able to continue full sail like they are now. Starboard tack! Abeam! We will soon head towards the headwind!”

“B, but the wind is too strong! At this rate, the ship could be capsized…”

The pirate spoke without hiding his anxiousness after confirming the wind vane.

John Myers turned his head slightly.

“Who am I?”

“Wh, what?”

The pirate was surprised to see the gentle smile on the captain’s face. John Myers continued with an even thicker smile.

“I am, John Myers.”

“…..!”

The short phrase shook the pirates. Their confidence in the captain returned.

The man who was holding the helm was John Myers, the High Lord of the Sea, the Pirate Count. He was called the greatest captain of all pirates in the sea.

“Spread the sails! Full sailing! Full sailing! We will break through the channel and catch up with Duke Pendragon’s ship!”

“Yes, captain!”

Captain of captains, John Myers, and the Winter Storm Pirates, busily got to work.

***

“Hmm? What are they doing?”

Isak, the Ghost Blade of the Seas, became astonished at the sight. The Winter Storm Pirates had suddenly picked up speed after arriving at the entrance of the strait, which was known for its narrow, rough waters.

“Hoo… John Myers, are you trying to get yourself killed? Or are you that confident about your skills?”

Viscount Moraine’s mouth curled up. He was well-acquainted with John Myers. John Myers had commanded the only pirate ship that succeeded in escaping the pursuit of the 7th regiment combat ships after entering the waters of Merlade.

“I think he is trying to catch up with the governor’s ship.”

“I supposed so. We are behind him, so there are no obstacles in his path. He must be trying to full sail towards the governor’s ship.”

“Ha! That rat-like bastard…”

Isak gritted his teeth.

But Viscount Moraine remained calm.

“Leave them be. We will follow behind.”

“Yes, sir.”

Even though they were ordered to head in full speed towards the middle of a strait’s narrow entrance, which was filled with hidden dangers, the response of the 7th regiment soldiers was completely different than the pirates’. Their trust in Viscount Moraine as their captain and skipper was almost religious.

No matter how great their enemy was, there was no way that their captain could be outsailed by the captain of a mere pirate ship.

“We will pressure them even more! We only have one purpose! We will continue to drive the rat bastards’ ships until they near the governor’s ship!”

“Aye!”

Whoosh!

At the sound of the strengthening wind, the smile on Viscount Moraine’s face became deeper.

“Hoo-hoo! Good, very good. Now, shall we enjoy the scene of moths jumping straight into the fire?”

***

“P, port, starboard, pirate ships are approaching from all sides…! It looks like they will be nearing half a nautical mile in a little while!”

“Understood. Report as soon as the distance narrows down to half a mile!”

Raven quickly observed the surroundings.

Three pirate ships were closing the distance, sailing at almost the same speed as the merchant ships.

“B, behind! Enemies spotted coming from the downwind!”

The shouts of the barrelman resounded once more.

“Distance? How many are there?”

“About one nautical mile! Three ships! All three are from the Winter Storm!”

“Good.”

Raven gave a big nod and jerked his head around. He shared a gaze with Isla, and Isla shouted in a loud voice.

“Open the cage! Griffons standby!”

“Open the cage! Griffons standby!”

One of the griffon riders from the duchy recited Isla’s words, and a soldier quickly waved two flags in a pattern toward the other merchant ships.

Click!

The iron doors of the griffons’ cage lifted up.

“Kiyaaah!”

The griffons spread their wings after finally regaining their freedom.

“Heuk!”

When dozens of monsters as big as bulls appeared, the sailors retreated in fear.

Woosh!

Isla released his spirit, and the riders calmed the griffons.

Kiee…

The griffons quieted down, and Raven shouted towards the top of the mast.

“Barrelman! Distance from enemy ships?”

“H, half a nautical mile! Ships on the starboard side and the port side are in half a nautical mile! The rear is soon to enter the range as well!”

At the barrelman’s words, Raven flung himself towards the mast and started climbing.

“Ohh!”

The sailors burst into admiration at the sight. They had not expected the young duke, who appeared to be a frail, young master, to skillfully climb the mast like a flying animal.

“Hmm.”

In an instant, Raven climbed onto the mast and observed his surroundings. He was forced to frown in the face of the strong winds, but his eyes were able to recognize the pirates that were in pursuit.

Three ships from the Winter Storm Pirates were nearing the merchant ships with fluttering flags of Jolly Roger. The flags were based on a black background, and a skull was drawn above two crossed bones. Behind the three pirate ships, the 7th regiment combat ships were hot on their tails.

“Elkin! Begin the operation!”

“Yes! Let’s go!”

“Yes! Captain!”

Isla and four griffon riders quickly climbed onto their respective griffons.

“Kiyaaaah!”

The griffons spread their wings and began to climb into the air one by one.

A sailor sent a flag signal to the other merchant ships, and griffons started to rise from the two ships as well.

“Get ready!”

“Heave-ho! Heave-ho!”

At Raven’s words, the crew moved the fake gold boxes from the deck towards the griffons’ large talons. The griffons grasped the boxes with one talon and swerved towards the left and right of the vessel.

Fwoosh!

Due to their unfamiliarity with strong sea wind, the griffons faltered for a moment. However, they had grown up in the Ancona Mountains, which were known for their strong winds. The creatures quickly regained balance and spread their wings wide to keep pace with the speed of the sailboat.

“Now! Show them hell! Griffon unit! Head out!”

“Hmph!”

Isla and the riders spurred the griffons with their feet.

Kiaaaak!

Fifty griffons rose to the sky from the three merchant ships.

“Huh…”

The sailors were unable to conceal their shock at the magnificent sight. Even though they had spent decades on the ocean, it was the first time they had seen griffons launch from a ship.

Their hearts pounded in awe.

As did the hearts of the pirates who were pressuring the merchant ships of the Pendragon Duchy. Of course, their hearts were pounding for a different reason.

***

“W, w, w, what is that?”

Captain Griezmann of the Red Skull Pirates became shocked. Contrary to his question, there was no way he was unaware of the identity of the dozens of creatures emerging from the three merchant ships. After all, he had spent decades as a pirate of the sea.

“G, g, griffon?”

“Guwahh!”

The pirates became dismayed at the ridiculous situation. They froze for a moment, then a massive panic descended.

“W, why are there griffons here?”

“Fuck, how do I know? Captain! What are you going to do?”

“W, what the fuck do you expect me to do! Roping! Slow down!”

Griezmann urgently shouted.

“W, we can’t! The wind is too strong!”

“Motherfuckerrrr!”

Griezmann was completely horrified by the sight of the griffons. After circling the merchant ships several times, the giant creatures were now headed towards them.

“Bow! Get your bows! Shoot! Shoot them down!”

Under Griezmann’s orders, pirates raised their bows and began shooting in a crazed manner. But even though the griffons were flying at a low altitude of less than 200 yards, the arrows were not able to reach them due to the strong winds.

“Fuc… Huh? W, what the fuck is that?”

Griezmann’s eyes widened in shock.

Now that the griffons had neared, he could make out something hanging from their talons.

“Barrel? N, no, I think it might be a box.”

“Even a fucking child would know that. W, why would they… A, are they trying to drop it on us?”

If the boxes contained large rocks, the ship would suffer considerable damage. If it happened to destroy the mast, they would end as prey for the 7th regiment.

“D, don’t tell me…”

Griezmann and the pirates trembled in fear.

Woosh!

However, as if to laugh at their thoughts, the griffons flew past the mast and positioned themselves in front of the ships.

“Huh? W, what?”

Griezmann narrowed his eyes with a blank expression. But something even more surprising occurred.

Woooosh! Thud! Boom!

Instead of aiming at the ships, the griffons were dropping their baggage in the sea.

“What the hell are they… Hmm?”

Griezmann murmured blankly at the unexpected development, then looked towards the water in confusion.

Large black spot began to form in the direction that the ship was heading towards.

“That’s… sniff!”

As the ships neared the black stains, the wind carried over a bad smell. Griezmann sniffed in puzzlement.

Soon, his eyes threatened to pop out of his sockets in shock.

“O, oil?”

Beating – ship moves on a zig-zag course to make progress directly into the wind.  wind vane -  an instrument that tells you the wind direction.

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