Chapter 428: Elder Cousin, Younger Cousin!
Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
Everyone's faces were red from the cold, but their eyes were bright from excitement.
One after another, the cooks, the sailors, the riggers, the helmsmen, the guards, the bowmen… they continued to disembark from the ships. After everyone left, a young man, his face honed by the wind and frost, finally appeared on the first ship.
This youth didn't seem very old, but his eyes were those of a calm and time-tested veteran. They weren't the eyes a young man should have, and were more appropriate for a middle-aged man of thirty or forty who had a story to tell.
"I'm finally back!"
Wang Liang let out a cold breath of air. Taking in the dense, lively, and amiable crowd of sailors as well as the familiar yet empty harbor cloaked in white, he internally sighed.
Though he had set out from here only half a year ago, it had felt so long that it seemed like another life.
He had seen and experienced far too much on this adventure.
Breathing in a lungful of cold air, Wang Liang raised his robe and began to descend the wooden ship stairs. The steps creaked as he walked, each creak resounding in every sailor's ear.
As they watched Wang Liang walk down, everyone in the harbor—the sailors, the riggers, the guards, the cooks, the navigators, the archers, the crossbowmen, and the lookouts—began to cheer.
Each pair of eyes was filled with passion and worship. It was like this descending youth was some famous and influential figure.
Wave after wave of cheers rose up from the crowd, and not even the snowstorm or the bitter cold could stop them. Even the guards of the Wang Clan momentarily forgot who Wang Liang was and, just like everyone else, cheered him on as their most important captain.
In their hearts, his identity as captain was clearly higher and worthier of respect than his identity as Young Master Liang.
He had finally disembarked, his feet meeting solid ground. As he met the numerous eyes, Wang Liang finally spoke his first words after stepping onto the mainland: "We've returned! Just like I promised you all. You will all receive what you want, and that is 'fortune'!"
The already-excited crowd instantly grew even more passionate. Those shining eyes inspired absolute trust in them. Every one of them was a most loyal follower and guard of Wang Liang.
Anyone, anyone… if anyone wanted to harm Wang Liang, they would tear that person to pieces!
Just when the crowd was most excited, the clopping of hooves came from the distance, drawing their attention.
This galloping was faint at first, but it quickly became a great rumble, a stampede of horses heading toward the harbor.
"Look over there!"
Someone pointed into the distance and shouted. In a flash, everyone looked in that direction, where they saw a black and grandiose tide surging toward the harbor.
At the very front, a golden eagle cried out, its wings cutting through the snow like metal.
And right under the golden eagle was a youth of sixteen or seventeen wearing a fur coat, his brows straight and his eyes bright, leading the group. Though he was young, this youth's every movement seemed to carry a certain majesty that made other people trust him.
"Young Master! It's Young Master Chong!"
The Wang Clan guards were the first in the crowd to recognize him. Others soon followed. There were currently few people in the capital that didn't know the Wang Clan's Qilin son.
Quite a few of the members of the fleet had joined because of this youngest scion of the Wang Clan. Of course, some of them had come because of his reputation, but even more because of the legendary Wootz Steel weapons, and others because of his astonishing wealth.
"Elder Cousin, you've finally returned!"
Wang Chong rode his horse through the snow. As he approached the frozen ground of the harbor and the iced-over water, he was able to pick out Wang Liang in the very back of the crowd with just a glance.
He galloped past the crowd, dismounted, took a step forward, and then embraced his cousin.
"Hahaha, I'm back, I'm back…"
Wang Liang also laughed and hugged Wang Chong back.
This ocean adventure had truly been arduous, one in which he had barely escaped with his life, almost dying at sea. Yet now that he had smoothly returned home, the person Wang Liang was most grateful to was Wang Chong.
If not for Wang Chong, he would never have left the walls of the capital. Perhaps he would still be in the marketplace, making his flying birds and selling his little toys.
If not for Wang Chong, he would have never known about the marvelous world that existed outside of his home, or the vastness of the ocean.
If not for Wang Chong, he would have never found out that in the very depths of his heart, this was what he had always wanted!
The current him was the truly authentic him!
He didn't want that dull life. Even without superb martial arts, even without the backing of his clan, he could still rely on his own wits and ability to win the loyalty, protection, and respect of others.
"Younger Cousin, I didn't let you down. I brought back what you wanted."
Wang Liang let go and pointed behind him to the large ships floating in the harbor.
Many people had died on this voyage, and they had suffered from no small number of thunderstorms and hurricanes. Their greatest harvest had been stored in the large ships behind him.
Although Wang Chong had told him that those were meteorites from beyond the heavens, none of them had been tested. Whether or not all those deaths and hardships had been worth it ultimately hinged on Wang Chong's confirmation.
Hearing Wang Liang's words, Wang Chong also turned to look. However, what Wang Chong looked at was not the decks of the ships, but that the decks were much closer to the water than normal ships.
"Elder Cousin, I've troubled you. Let's leave these matters to others. We'll go back first. You've been gone for so long, and I'm very interested in hearing about your voyage," Wang Chong said.
The Wang Liang in front of him was a completely different person from the one who had set out. His face, neck, and hands had all been tanned by the scorching sun on the ocean, and the coarse, weather-beaten skin was completely out of place on a descendant of a great clan.
Wang Chong had never expected to see such a composed and dignified person.
Even if Wang Liang didn't say it, Wang Chong could feel that Wang Liang had many stories from this voyage.
"Wait a moment!"
Wang Liang stopped Wang Chong. Confronting Wang Chong's flabbergasted gaze, Wang Liang was quiet for a few moments and then pointed at the members of the fleet before them.
"These people set out with me on this voyage and nearly lost their lives. I promised them that once I returned, I would grant them a great fortune!"
"Hahaha, so that's what it was about. Relax; I've already made preparations. What do you see over there?"
Wang Chong pointed behind him.
Following Wang Chong's finger, Wang Liang saw many horses and multiple teams of two carrying heavy chests made of crude copper toward them.
Wang Liang began to count: one, two, three… There were more than ten of these chests.
Wang Chong snapped his fingers. A horseman pulled out a saber with a clang and cut off the lock on one of the chests. Putting a hand into the chink of the lid, he lifted. In an instant, a dazzling golden light spilled forth.
That copper chest was full to the bursting with dazzling gold.
Seeing those chests packed with gold, the crowd excitedly cheered. Some of the more impatient ones even began to rush over.
Wang Chong led a horse over. This time, Wang Liang did not refuse and mounted the horse. Behind him, Wang Chong snapped his fingers, at which point all the clan guards, the guards sent by his big uncle, and the experts sent by Elder Hu and Elder Ye rushed toward the large ships in the harbor…
Wang Chong brought Wang Liang to his own restaurant to welcome him.
The entire restaurant was empty, and the table was piled high with fine foods and wine. After the windows and doors were closed and some charcoal fires lit, the atmosphere in the room quickly changed.
While winter winds howled outside the room and snow piled down, the room was a bastion of warmth.
Wang Chong and Wang Liang, these two cousins, sat across from each other at the table. Old Eagle sat on the side, an eagle perched on his shoulder.
Wang Liang took a pot of warm wine out of the stove. He first poured himself a cup and then poured a cup for Wang Chong. He then took a piece of piping hot and tender beef from the food pot and took a big bite.
"Great, it's delicious!" Wang Liang effusively praised, and then he began to chew, occasionally taking a drink of wine.
"You didn't use to drink alcohol," Wang Chong suddenly said as he watched Wang Liang.
The Wang Liang of the past would have never done something like this, but now he did it as if it was natural. He was not like the scion of a great clan but a sailor who had spent a long time at sea.
"Haha, if you experienced what I experienced, you would also be like this," Wang Liang laughed heartily. As he spoke, he continued to eat his beef and drink his wine.
"What in the world happened?" Wang Chong asked.
He had suppressed this question for long enough already.
Wang Liang did not hesitate, immediately recounting his experiences at sea. Even though Wang Chong had expected it, he still couldn't help but feel deeply moved by Wang Liang's tale.
The ocean was an abyss!
In that place, far from land and far from virtue, one was infinitesimally close to a hellish abyss, and one's character would undergo the harshest of trials.
There, Wang Liang had to face all sorts of problems, both external and internal.
As he drank, Wang Liang described his experiences, but it was only when Wang Chong heard that the Wang Clan guards he had dispatched to protect Wang Liang had mutinied that he profoundly understood just how complicated the situation Wang Liang had faced was.
The ocean could make the best of people into the worst and the worst into the best, and it could provoke the greatest potential in the most incapable of people!