She was able to see the ships now, so Xiaocao slid off of the little dolphin’s back and quietly got closer to one of the ships that was currently moving. She pulled onto a rope that was dangling down and attempted to climb up. After a few tries with no luck, she asked the little divine stone silently, [Little Glutinous Dumpling, can you help me hear what they’re saying?]
The golden little kitten dimmed down the light coming off of its body and now resembled a kitten that was not even a month old now. It lightly jumped onto the deck of the ship and boldly walked towards one of the men that was dressed strangely. After it carefully listened for a bit, the little divine stone sardonically stated, [What kind of weird language are they speaking? Can’t understand a single word.]
It transmitted the language that it could not understand to Yu Xiaocao as it also made fun of the man’s appearance and dress, [At the top of their head, they shaved a section, which makes them look like balding old men. The rest of the hair on their head is gathered into a small queue and pinned into a topknot, and they have a tiny beard left at the lips. They even wear wooden clogs…]
Yu Xiaocao felt her heart fall for a second, ‘This is the dress and attire of the historical Japanese ah! These Japanese ships in the waters of the Great Ming Empire are definitely not here for a good reason! Oh right! In the historical Ming Dynasty, weren't there raids by Wokou pirates  ah? Are these the ships of the Wokou then?’
[Little Glutinous Dumpling, do you have any way to understand what they’re saying? This is a very important manner that can change the lives of many people!] Yu Xiaocao was very anxious and hastily asked the little divine stone.
The little divine stone hesitated for a moment and replied somewhat reluctantly, [With my current cultivation level and amount of spiritual power, if I wanted to enter a human’s consciousness, it’d be very difficult. Originally, I’d be able to speak very soon. If I immerse myself in the other person’s thoughts in the way you want me to, I’m afraid I won’t even be able to maintain my kitten form anymore…]
Yu Xiaocao dithered for a second and then said, [Didn’t you say that by helping me, your master, your cultivation and spiritual powers would grow a lot? Furthermore, it would also loosen the fetters on you by a lot. If you really do what I ask you to and are able to help me greatly, you will not only help my family but you will also be saving the lives of countless people. This is a very big virtue ah!]
[If only it would happen like you said! This divine stone doesn't expect much, as long as it comes out even, then I will be satisfied!] The little divine stone wasn’t convinced that it would be very helpful to its master to find out what the pirate was thinking.
However, its consciousness was linked to its master’s, so it could clearly feel the waves of worry coming off of Yu Xiaocao. Although it was quite reluctant to do so, it followed its master’s wishes. A small condensed stream of spiritual energy went into the ear of the pirate that looked like the leader of them all and read the man’s thoughts.
[These people are all from a country across the sea from us. They had a very bad earthquake in their country and a lot of people died. This warrior kidnapped some of the fishermen from our country and found out that our country is having a larger bumper harvest, so they decided to attack us during harvest time. Master, things are looking bad! Their target is...the Tanggu Harbor and all of the nearby villages…]
The little divine stone’s usage of energy was astounding. Before long, Yu Xiaocao could only intermittently hear its thoughts. After it was done talking, the little divine stone transformed back into a ray of golden light and returned back to the multicolored stone on Xiaocao’s wrist, falling into a deep sleep.
However, the information the stone found out was more than enough! She observed the direction the fleet of ships was heading towards and saw that they truly were going towards the harbor. There were around ten ships speeding in the direction of Dongshan Village. Yu Xiaocao felt scared and troubled. There were over a few dozen families in Dongshan Village, which meant that there were at least a hundred to two hundred villagers living there!
This critical information could not be delayed. Yu Xiaocao had the little dolphin swim back at top speed to bring her back to the shore. Although the little divine stone was now in a deep rest, the protections it formed for her were still active, so Xiaocao wasn’t harmed by the water pressure or force. Thus, she was able to go back faster than the ships were moving.
Yu Xiaocao first went back to the area where Xiaolian usually dove into the water. Using her intuition, she was able to find Zhuang Xiaomo, Zhou Shanhu and Xiaolian together. She dove under water and signaled Xiaolian to surface. Once they surfaced, she hurriedly spoke, “Quickly, quickly go inform the village chief that Wokou pirates are coming!!”
“Wokou pirates??” The person who spoke was Zhuang Xiaomo who was treading water next to them. He revealed an expression of disbelief and hesitantly said, “Are you sure that these are Wokou pirates?”
“Wokou pirates are very cruel and vicious. I heard the older generation mention that these pirates have no sense of humanity and will kill anyone they see and steal anything from anybody. They also rape women and burn down entire villages!” Zhou Shanhu also came over and exclaimed as she shook her head with her hands over her mouth.
Yu Xiaocao took a deep breath and forcefully calmed herself before she said, “I guarantee these are Wokou pirates. The clothes they’re wearing aren’t the type that citizens of the Great Ming Empire would wear and I couldn’t understand a single word they were saying. They looked very cruel and had large knives at their waists ah! Older Brother Xiaomo, quickly go to your village and tell this information to your village chief and then leave. You should pack up your things, whether they believe you or not, and come to our house!”
Zhuang Xiaomo forcefully nodded his head and assented, “Okay! I will warn the village chief and then come back to join you guys! If I’m late, there’s no need to wait for me and stay in danger.”
Yu Xiaocao watched as he scrambled onto land and started sprinting towards the neighboring village. She also hurriedly swam to shore and didn’t even bother to change into her clothes as she ran towards the village holding her clothes.
She suddenly thought of her godfather who was currently at the docks supervising the construction, so she said to Xiaolian, “I’ll go to the village chief’s home myself. You should go home first and tell Older Brother to ride Little Gray to the docks to inform my godfather so he can collaborate with the magistrate’s soldiers. Tell Mother and Father to pack everything that’s valuable and necessary so we can leave…”
Xiaolian nodded her head and sped off home in larger strides. Zhou Shanhu’s face was ghostly white and she was scampering along behind her. Her father and older brother were out peddling goods and it was only her mother and her at home...it was urgent, she needed to inform her mother to pack everything first. Going with the Yu Family was definitely the safest route!”
By the time Yu Xiaocao reached the village chief’s residence, she was already completely out of breath. She placed the multi-colored stone at her chest and a cool feeling trickled into her lungs. Her chest, which felt like it was about to explode earlier, finally calmed down a bit. She found the village chief and told him how she had dove deeply and swam out to sea and coincidentally discovered the pirates’ ships. She told the older man every detail she could think of.
The village chief frowned deeply and asked half in disbelief, “Are you sure they were Wokou pirates and not some fishermen from our country out there?”
“I am absolutely sure!! The ships that I saw looked exactly alike to each other and there were at least thirty to forty of them total. Furthermore, they looked very big. I surreptitiously swam closer to one by diving into the water and I could faintly hear the people on the ships talking. I couldn’t understand a single word that they were saying! Then, I climbed up from the tail of the ship and saw that the people there were wearing completely different styles of clothing than us. They also had large knives and swords belted at their waist...I heard my grandfather saying that in the previous dynasty we had attacks from Wokou pirates, so I thought I needed to tell this to you first. Village Chief, time is running out, please come up with an idea ah!” Yu Xiaocao did her best to weave a story but she was afraid the village chief wouldn’t believe her. She was so worried that her entire head was covered in sweat.
The village chief knew that although Xiaocao was young, she was quite steady and would absolutely not do something like this as a prank or joke. He thought for a bit and decided it was better to be safe than sorry. Wokou pirates were always incredibly cruel and this wasn’t a small issue!
This was the first time this year that he had sounded the large bell at the entrance of the village. All of the villagers very quickly assembled over at the entrance of the village chief’s residence and were all avidly discussing just what the village chief called them all over for. Last year, when the bell was sounded, it was right before the locust plague hit.
The village chief very simply outlined what Xiaocao had told him and instructed the villagers to quickly go back and pack their things in preparation to flee to the mountains!
When the villages heard the news, lively discussion immediately arose. A lot of people didn't believe Xiaocao’s words and thought that she must have seen things incorrectly. Some of them thought that she was making a big deal over nothing. Consequently, there were only a few people who went back home to start packing.
Yu Xiaocao felt her anxiety rising. The pirates were about to come and the villagers were still debating amongst themselves. She thought for a bit and saw the person who was the best at climbing trees, Goudan. She pointed at the tallest tree in the village and said, “Goudan, go climb to the top of the tree and look. You should be able to vaguely see the fleet of ships from up there. In any case, I already warned everyone. It’s up to you guys if you want to believe me or not!”
At the end, she also added one more thing, “Think about what happened last year with the locust plague ah! What happened to those people who didn’t end up believing the news? Now, it’s not just a matter of losing money or grain, your choices can determine the fate of all of the people in your family!”
At this moment, Goudan, who had climbed to the very top of the tree, sputtered from above, “They’re there! I can see more than a dozen ships on the horizon and they’re heading in the direction of our village! I still can’t see very clearly if they are Wokou pirates or not…”
When people heard Goudan’s shouts added onto what Xiaocao just said, most of the villagers felt more confident in her news. It was just as the village chief stated: “Better to be safe than sorry”. If the ships coming were truly pirates, getting ready and hiding in the mountains was the sensible thing to do. If they weren’t, it wasn’t as if they would lose much, other than getting scared out of their wits.
When the village chief saw everyone running back home, he couldn’t help but remind them of a fact, “Make sure to only pack what is necessary and the valuables that are light. You’re not going to be able to bring everything along. Losing some possessions is not the end of the world. What’s important is to preserve your own lives! In an hour, everyone needs to assemble. Whoever’s late, don’t blame the rest of us for not waiting!!”
Once Yu Xiaocao saw everyone moving, she waved to the village chief and then sped off to her own family. On the way, she passed by the Zhou Family and saw Auntie Zhou sighing over the few hundred chickens she was raising.
“Auntie, take the chickens into the mountain thickets. Whatever can be saved is better than nothing! Take along the valuables that you can bring along but don’t be greedy. Keeping your life is the most important thing!” Yu Xiaocao couldn’t help but give the older woman a reminder.
When Yu Xiaocao got home, she saw all of the Yu Family members, other than Yu Hang who went to the docks and Little Siitou who was studying in town, congregated in the courtyard. All of their hired workers for the pharmaceutical workshop and piggery had gone back to their respective homes to pack. Yingtao and the stewards that Royal Prince Yang had given her each had a bundle of stuff in their hands as they fearfully waited there.
“Did someone tell Oldest Aunt’s family?” Yu Xiaocao noticed that her oldest paternal aunt’s family wasn’t there and had to ask.
Yu Hai gave her a reassuring look and said, “Erya went there to tell them, they should be back very soon!” Just as he spoke, his older sister’s entire family all came in with packs on their back as they rushed into the courtyard.
 Wokou pirates - Historically, these pirates often weren't only from Japan and included people of Chinese ethnicity who were impoverished by Ming Dynasty trade bans.Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Sanguine’s Thoughts: Pirate raids of the coastal areas were a pretty common thing during the Ming Dynasty.