Chapter 398: Wang Liang Weeping in Joy!
Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
Another bolt of lightning stabbed down from the dark clouds, waking Wang Liang from his stupor. Having just avoided disaster, Wang Liang had no time to rejoice, and he quickly issued a string of orders.
"Furl all the sails except one!
"Helmsman, keep watch on the situation ahead!
"All sailors, man your posts! Whether you can survive will depend on your luck!"
Loop after loop of rope kept Wang Liang firmly tied to the main mast. It was precisely because of these loops of soaked rope that Wang Liang was able to protect himself in the storm and issue order after order.
The once young and tender young man was now a tanned captain. Only Wang Liang himself knew just what he had experienced over the last four to five months.
Of their original number, less than one-third were left. Even quite a few of the Wang Clan's guards and the guards that his father had dispatched had died.
The storms, strife, schemes, assassinations, doubts, ruptures, hunger, and attempts to make him step down… Wang Liang had already lost count of how many times they had happened.
Wang Liang had narrowly escaped with his life time after time in this journey of unprecedented danger.
By now, all that confidence and complacency he had when first leaving the port had been washed away by the waves into calm and indifference.
When they left, he had basically been clueless about sailing, but now, he was most experienced captain in the entire fleet!
To a normal person, becoming so accomplished in just four or five months was something worthy of bragging about for the rest of their lives.
But Wang Liang did not think so.
Life had honed this person, had created this person. His only advantage was studying—continuous, all-out studying that put aside even sleep and food.
From the helmsman to the sailor, all the crew members had been his opponents in studying.
"Watch out! The second wave is coming!
Although he had avoided one disaster, the calamity was far from over. Before the might of Mother Nature, the abilities of humans were insignificant. Whether one was an expert of the True Martial realm, the Profound Martial realm, or an ordinary sailor, all were equal before the boundless might of the world; all were the same.
Before the might of Mother Nature, all people were tiny ants.
Once one fell from the ship and dropped into the bottomless ocean, even a Profound Martial realm expert could only die.
In order to survive, everyone had to be of one mind and work toward the same purpose, crossing the ocean on the same boat. But…
Wang Liang was not worried about the infinite might of nature before him, but the unfathomable and elusive minds of men.
In these four or five months, they had roved across the ocean, stepping onto island after island and each time returning in disappointment. In these islands, Wang Liang had not found any of those meteorites that Wang Chong had spoken of.
From the initial trust and anticipation for treasure to the disappointment, suspicion, and calls to step down… To a few of the higher-ups in the fleet, the secret of the meteorites was no longer a secret.
But everyone had their doubts.
Even the hearts of the Wang Clan guards began to sway and be lured over to the side of his opponents.
How could someone who had never voyaged across to the sea, never been abroad, know that these places thousands of li away had meteorites?
If these meteorites existed, why had other fishermen on the sea never discovered them?
In sum, this was just a load of nonsense.
The doubt toward Wang Chong, the doubt toward Wang Liang, the doubt toward the goal of this fleet, had never stopped. Moreover, as more and more sailors died, the doubts increased.
Wang Liang's position as captain was incredibly precarious.
Wang Liang already knew that another failure or lack of results would give him a fate the same as all the others: being cast into the depths of the ocean to become food for the fishes.
The wave crashed down, snapping Wang Liang's train of thought, snapping the calm of the fleet. Several more screams rang out, and then several more figures were swept off the deck and into the sea.
Boom! Wang Liang's mouth was open as he readied himself to issue a new order and adjust the fleet. But then there was an incredible boom, like the hand of some invisible giant had slapped the bottom of the ship.
Wang Liang felt a pain in his chest, like the ropes were tightening around his flesh. He felt like all his organs had been jolted out by that massive strength.
"No good! The ship's struck a reef!"
A panicked voice could be heard amongst the lightning and thunder. This was the last thing that Wang Liang heard as his vision went dark.
The crashing of waves slowly penetrated his consciousness. After what seemed like both the twinkling of an eye and ten thousand years, Wang Liang finally began to stir.
The ocean water was slowly washing over his body, surging up and then pulling away. A tiny creature seemed to be crawling over his body.
Wang Liang gave a few painful coughs and then spat a mouthful of water and wet sand. Upon opening his eyes, he was greeted by the blue ocean and a beach.
Several tiny crabs about the size of a fingernail were climbing over his hand and body.
"…How did I end up here?"
His chest fiercely ached while his head felt swollen. Wang Liang couldn't understand how he had ended up here.
His last memory was that the ship had apparently struck a reef, sending him flying.
"Was I sent flying off the ship?"
Wang Liang suddenly felt nervous, a hint of fear creeping into his heart. In this vast ocean, no ship meant that one could only wait for death.
He struggled up from the ground, only to be immediately struck dumb.
Several hundred zhang away, a massive ship had crashed into an upright cliff. Leaning up against the cliff, the ship was half underwater and not moving a bit.
Wang Liang was completely frozen. The ship had run aground, which meant that they hadn't struck some hidden reef last night, but a cliff?!
Wang Liang couldn't even speak.
The ship hadn't disappeared and he hadn't been abandoned. This was absolutely worth being happy about, but the ship had still run aground.
Fortunately, the ship had not sunk. As long as they worked to repair the leaks in the hull, the ship could continue its journey.
Putting aside his thoughts for now, Wang Liang began to arduously make his way onto the island. His current priority was to find the other members of the crew.
Since the ship had run aground here, the other crew members couldn't have gone far.
Walking onto the island, Wang Liang began to take the measure of this place he had drifted onto. This was a solitary and deserted island. Strange rocks, two or three people high, were standing across the island, a strange forest of stones.
Perhaps it was an illusion, but when the sunlight shone over him, Wang Liang felt like the tips of these stones had a metallic luster.
No, it wasn't an illusion!
As his gaze swept over a few of the nearby rocks, Wang Liang felt his entire body quiver in excitement. Beneath the mottled surface of these strange rocks was not the brown stone he expected, but the sheen of metal.
This was the classic sheen of metallic ore.
Wang Liang had specifically researched such things for this venture, so he was incredibly familiar with the color and appearance of metallic ore.
"Could it be…"
A thought flashed through his mind and Wang Liang could feel excitement welling up. But Wang Liang did not act lightly. After all that honing, from hope to disappointment, and then to hope, and then disappointment…
Wang Liang was already used to it.
It was just metallic ore, not necessarily the meteoric metal that Wang Chong spoke of. On this voyage, he had encountered metallic ores, but they had been iron ore or copper ore of varying quality.
This variety had broadened Wang Liang's horizons. However, this place was so far from the mainland and required such a long journey that extracting these ores on a large scale was far too unprofitable.
If the metallic ore before him was of that sort, then it was worthless.
"I hope, I hope that I've found that other kind of ore…"
Wang Liang put his hands together, his heart uneasy.
He knew that he could not go on much longer. It wasn't that he was unwilling, but the fleet could no longer continue under these conditions.
There had been no results or harvest, morale was low, and their stores of food and water were running out. Even their sturdy junks had taken heavy damage.
He was afraid that there were not many chances left.
He took in a deep breath and calmed down. With a clang, Wang Liang finally pulled out the Wootz sword on his back.
Wang Chong had gifted it to him before the voyage.
The meteoric metal could not be differentiated from other metals by its sheen, and Wang Liang was certainly no master blacksmith who could distinguish metals at a glance.
But Wang Chong had taught him the simplest of methods.
If the slash of a Wootz Steel sword could cut all the way or even several feet deep, then it was just ordinary and worthless ore.
But if it could block the slash of the Wootz Steel sword, or if the Wootz Steel sword could only make a shallow cut, then this metal would unquestionably be the meteoric metal!
This was the simplest method of assessing whether a metal was meteoric metal.
If this metal could block the slash of a Wootz Steel sword, then even if it was not meteoric metal, the quality of this metal was still incredibly close to meteoric metal.
A gleam of cold light appeared under the sunlight. Carrying Wang Liang's apprehensive thoughts, the sword slashed at an exposed part of the strange and rugged rock.
Though just an instant, this moment seemed to last forever in Wang Liang's eyes…
When he saw that the Wootz Steel sword in his hand had only sunk half an inch into the rock before being unable to cut any further, Wang Liang was dumbstruck.
All the sound in the world seemed to fade away. The entire world became silent, and time seemed to stop for a moment.
Half an inch, half an inch…!
Wang Liang seemed to stop breathing.
Wang Liang seemed to go crazy, his eyes turning red as he frenziedly slashed his Wootz Steel sword at the rock.
Half an inch, half an inch, half an inch, half an inch…
From top to bottom, Wang Liang's Wootz Steel sword had left cut after cut on every part of the rock. But without exception, these cuts were only half an inch deep, and sometimes even less.
The incredibly sturdy Wootz Steel that could cut through iron like mud could only cut half an inch into the surface of this strange rock.
As if provoked, the red-eyed Wang Liang suddenly scraped away the mottled stone surface of the rock. Glossy black, glossy black, it was all glossy black…
Scraping away the brown stone surface of this strange rock, he discovered that it was all glossy black metal beneath!
Wang Liang threw away his sword, his eyes completely red. He raised his hands and roared in laughter at the sky.
"Hahaha, success, I've succeeded!
"I've finally found the meteorites!
At this moment, Wang Liang's voice could be heard across the entire island. He laughed so hard that he began to cry.
After all the countless tribulations and challenges, after all the narrow escapes, he had finally found the meteorites that Wang Chong had spoken of.
He had finally surpassed himself and accomplished the truly inconceivable!
At this moment, all the blood and tears were finally worth it!