Chapter 440: A Prologue!
Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
The chill of winter had still not completely faded, and the spring air was still cold.
The capital's Qiaolong Street was packed with people while white vapor roiled above. Qiaolong Street was one of the most resplendent places in the capital. A sumptuous and imposing restaurant towered over the rest, with rows of large red lanterns hanging down from its roof. A hubbub could be heard within:
"Captain, I drink to you!"
"Captain, I'll also drink to you!"
"I, Tie Gouzi, very rarely admire anyone, but now I admire Captain! What's a young hero? Captain, of course!"
"Hahaha, Tie Gouzi, does Captain need your admiration? There are so many of our brothers here, and which one of them doesn't admire Captain?"
"Captain saved my life. In the future, anyone who dares to oppose Captain will be my enemy!"
"Come, come, come! Stop saying these pointless things. Everyone, drink to Captain. The depth of your devotion will depend on what's left in your cup."
"Hahaha, Tuzi, stop messing around! Captain gets drunk after a single cup. Stop giving me trouble!"
The second floor of Drunken Sparrow restaurant was packed with a large party. Many red-faced individuals were surrounding a young man who was mature beyond his age, all of them incessantly toasting to his health.
Though the man was still young, he had the look of a veteran, so he did not refuse any of these toasts. However, he seemed to be rather self-disciplined, only taking a shallow sip for each toast. He would only barely moisten his lips before moving the wine cup away.
Thus, despite this 'one against many', the young man remained untoppled. He prevented himself from getting too intoxicated while also maintaining his demeanor.
This had been their first gathering since the return from their voyage. Everyone had regarded this matter with extreme importance, with almost every member of that voyage coming today.
"That's right. Captain, when is our next voyage?"
Though the table was in a lively mood, an expert who had been hired for the first voyage finally couldn't restrain his question. This question was the question on everyone's mind, and in an instant, everyone put down their wine cups and looked toward Wang Liang, their eyes burning with fervor.
Any voyage would be fraught with risks: the various trials of weather like thunderstorms and typhoons, and also the treachery of the human heart.
There had been schemes and deception, and many people had died on the journey, but the rest had been richly rewarded.
Thus, in spite of all these things, everyone was still hoping that they would set off for another voyage.
"Now that you bring it up, this is actually why I gathered all of you here!"
As he said this, Wang Liang's gaze turned serious, and he slowly put down his cup.
"I've decided that once a little more time passes, we'll set off on another voyage!"
His words cast the entire room into silence.
Everyone was dumbfounded, even that hired expert who had brought up the question. Everyone could still remember.
When they had last parted, Wang Liang had stated clearly that there would be no movements for four to five months.
He had just randomly brought up this question so that he could learn of a definite time. He had not held any hopes that Wang Liang would actually begin to prepare for another voyage.
After a short moment of silence, the room suddenly exploded with deafening cheers.
"I was waiting for Captain to say this."
"Whenever you set sail, remember to call me over. No matter where Captain is going, I, Tongtou, will wholeheartedly follow."
"Right! Right! No matter where Captain goes, we'll follow with all our power!"
In the room, the crowd's faces were flushed from alcohol. They were in an exuberant mood, even happier than they had been at the start.
Although Wang Liang was still young, he had gone through lightning storms, cyclones, massive waves, hidden reefs, shallows, and internal conflicts among the crew. His performance in each one of these perils and natural disasters had won over these people. Each time, he had led them out of danger.
In the great ocean, the strength of a human was tiny. Any warrior would find it hard to contend against the might of Mother Nature. In these dangerous circumstances, someone who had the ability to bring the party out of danger was more important than the strongest warrior.
This was why these people regarded Wang Liang so highly.
In a ship crammed with people, no one was so important that they couldn't be missed, except for Wang Liang, whose existence was irreplaceable.
Without him and the navigation map he had drawn, none of these people would even know how to find those islands.
There were no landmarks on the boundless ocean.
Wang Liang silently took in the love, respect, and passion of the surrounding crowd, and his eyes slowly began to lose focus.
As expected, I still belong on the sea! Wang Liang quietly thought to himself.
After returning from the sea, he had originally planned to do as Wang Chong advised and rest at home for a while. But after spending the winter at home, Wang Liang felt like his heart was empty.
Life in the capital was peaceful, easy, comfortable, but Wang Liang had not obtained that relaxation that he had originally longed for. He only felt emptiness, like he had lost something.
After thinking about the matter for a long time, Wang Liang finally realized what that thing missing in his soul was.
It was the winds of the endless ocean, the salty water, the constant rumbling of thunder, the storms, and the shouts of people at work.
Those veteran sailors had once said that once people spent more than a month at sea, the sea would become a part of their lives.
At first, Wang Liang hadn't believed it.
But now, Wang Liang believed.
This one adventure had made Wang Liang suddenly understand that this comfortable and peaceful life in the capital was not what he wanted.
He wanted excitement, danger, the endless might of nature, the boundless horizons of the ocean, and the feeling that he was struggling for his life.
And it was at that instant that Wang Liang was suddenly enlightened.
From this moment on, his life would probably never be a peaceful one.
"…This is the life that I want!"
As Wang Liang listened to the cheers and shouts from the sailors around him, he felt something slowly awakening in his body. A smile slowly crept onto his lips.
He loved this feeling of blood rushing throughout his entire body. Only by being with these sailors who had gone through joy and sorrow with him could he feel alive.
These thoughts only persisted for a second. Wang Liang quickly regained his composure.
"Don't get too happy yet!"
Wang Liang faintly smiled and said, "It will take at least two months to finish preparations. The fleet needs to be repaired and the crews need to be replenished. Clothes, food, rope, sails, water… all these things need to be taken care of. We'll have to spend at least half a year at sea, so none of these can be in small quantity."
"No problem. What does Captain need us to do?"
The crowd began to speak up enthusiastically. As long as they could go to sea, it didn't matter that they needed to wait a while.
"This is also why I gathered you all. Our preparations last time were insufficient, so this time, no matter what, we have to carefully think things over and thoroughly prepare ourselves. But these things are not something that I alone can get done, so I'll need everyone's help," Wang Liang said.
"Captain, relax; if there's anything we need to do, just give us the order," the crowd shouted.
Just when the party was at its liveliest, a massive boom came from the floor below, silencing the crowd.
A racket ensued.
"What's going on?"
The crowd put down their wine cups and began to frown.
This restaurant was one of the best on Qiaolong Street. At the start of this party, the management had been informed that they weren't to be disturbed unless something unusual happened.
And there was nothing normal about this situation.
"What's going on? Didn't we already tell them? We said to not randomly disturb us."
"Call the manager over and ask!"
The sailors showed their unhappiness on their face. Anyone who had their private party disturbed would be displeased.
Wang Liang felt that something wasn't right. But before he had time to think, the sound of somebody climbing the stairs broke his train of thought.
"I'm sorry, I'm sorry!"
The manager of the restaurant was faster than imagined. It only took a few moments before the blue-clothed and rough-skinned manager appeared at the stairwell and before the partygoers.
His head was bowed very low as he apologized, and he added, "Dear guests, I truly am very sorry. Today, this little store has been reserved by someone. Please, guests, leave as quickly as possible!"
The manager's words instantly soured the faces of the crowd. Clearly, someone had reserved the entire place and was starting to drive people out.
"What joke is this? That we didn't drive people out is already rather good of us, and now someone dares to drive us out?"
"Manager, do you not know when we got here?"
"Are you making a joke here? Do you not know how many people are here with us!"
To be driven away while they were getting drunk instantly infuriated the crowd, but Wang Liang had managed to suppress his anger.
However, hearing such a rude request still made Wang Liang a little angry.
The Wang Clan was a clan of ministers and generals, and given their current status, it was easy for them to reserve an entire restaurant and drive everyone else out.
But Wang Liang had not done this. This was their first gathering since the start of spring, and Wang Liang had only reserved a part of the tables on the second floor. He had left the first floor and a few banquet rooms on the second floor for others.
Wang Liang was not one of those domineering people, yet the manager's sudden request that they leave had still piqued his anger.
"Manager, just who…" Wang Liang patiently began, but before he could finish, he was interrupted.
A rude, domineering, and threatening voice resounded in the room, bringing with it the thick scent of sheep. As the voice faded, peng! A bronze-armored boot thudded onto the second floor.
The entire restaurant seemed to tremble at this step!
Everyone in the restaurant instantly paled!