Chapter 392 - Retreat

Bakayarou!!” The head of the pirates was extremely angry and he slashed his knife down heavily at a tree that was about as thick as the width of a bowl in order to vent his fury. That tree snapped in two. It looked like the quality of the Wokou’s knives and swords were pretty good.

At the front, there was a short pirate who had a head shaped like a pig and tiny beady rat eyes paired with a wretched looking mouth. His eyes flickered and he bowed toward the group leader, “Lord Watanabe, it looks like these Great Ming pigs are very familiar with this mountain terrain and have the advantage. We are good at fighting battles at sea and open land and fighting in the forest is not our strength. The forest here is thick and deep and there are too many places to hide. I don’t think our enemy is merely a bunch of weak and useless peasants. If we confront them, I’m afraid we won’t get much out of it. How about...we first retreat and then decide later on?”

Smack! Before he finished talking, a heavy slap hit his face. Watanabe Hiroshi hadn’t vented all of his suppressed anger. He glared at the other pirate with cruel eyes and howled, “You bastard! Are you saying that our fellow brothers just died for no reason ah? We haven’t even seen the shadows of our enemies and more than thirty people have died. If the other groups find out, will I have any face left? Not okay! I need to catch these bastards, rip open their bowels and tear out their hearts in order to vent my fury! Chase after them! Not a single one is allowed to escape! Slaughter them all!!”

The Wokou pirates held tightly onto their knives and swords and crept forward nervously as they looked all around them. At a crawling speed, they slowly advanced through the forest. The trees in the area covered the sky with their canopy and the area seemed very gloomy and dark. Occasionally, a ray of sunlight would come through, casting varied shadows on the ground…

This time, the Wokou pirates were more scattered as they advanced. They had been divided into small groups that went forward slowly. Each group was only around five to six meters away from the next, so that if any group got attacked, the other ones could easily reinforce them.

The commander of the bodyguards was currently hidden on a tree that had a trunk that was as thick as three men. The tree’s numerous leaves sheltered him completely and kept him concealed perfectly as he waited in ambush. Beneath the tree was a small trail that a group of Wokou pirates was walking on. The team leader of the group raised his head several times in worry to look at the trees but didn't ever spot him.

When the group of pirates finally passed by the tree, the commander silently slid down a rattan from the tree and crept behind the last pirate in the group. He used his left hand to cover the pirate’s mouth and right hand to use a short dagger to slit the man’s throat. That Wokou pirate opened his eyes wide and his body twitched as he silently died.

Commander Zheng dragged the pirate’s corpse into a bunch of shrubbery that was about as half as tall as a man and the thick vegetation easily hid the dead person. The pirates in the front still hadn’t realized that they had already lost one of their members and continued carefully on through the forest with their backs bent over.

The commander continued on with his sneak attacks and managed to kill an additional two pirates. At this time, the captain of the small group suddenly turned back to look and discovered that his group had decreased by half. Surprised, he was about to open his mouth to holler. Before he could scream, Commander Zheng stuck his dagger into his boot and unsheathed his sword to immediately attack the pirate.

The captain of the group didn’t have the time to call out a warning now and instead had all of his attention on using his sword to guard. The commander of the bodyguards was highly skilled and an excellent swordsman. His sword whirled in feints and attacks as he confronted the pirate. The pirate was flustered by the rain of attacks and hastily fought back. If he didn’t have the two other members of the group helping him, he likely wouldn’t have been able to counter even one of Commander Zheng’s attacks. 

The sounds of fighting drew the attention of two other nearby groups, but Commander Zheng was lightning fast. After striking first like a whirlwind, before long, the three pirates had soon become three dead corpses. By the time the other two groups came over, the commander of the bodyguards had long scrambled up a nearby tall tree. After jumping and traveling a bit, he had disappeared into the thick forest and only left the two pirate groups to confront the gruesome sight of their dead comrades.  

Similar situations were popping up throughout other parts of the forest. However, the other bodyguards could not compare to the skill of the commander, so they all quit their attacks while they were ahead. All of them conducted ambush attacks from the back. When they were discovered by the pirates, they immediately fled into the woods to throw off their pursuers. Once free, they approached other Wokou pirate groups and resumed their sneak attacks.

Yu Hai was using himself as bait and started off at a group of pirates that was on the very outskirts of the large group. He first created some noise to attract their attention and then led them to some nearby traps. 

Although the villagers of Dongshan Village weren’t very good at hunting, there were a lot of small game to be had on the outskirts of the mountain and in the outer forest. All of the villagers, when they had time between farming, knew how to dig some traps to catch animals. Occasionally, they were able to catch a couple animals to add to their dinner tables.

When the villagers made their traps, they would always leave a secret sign next to them to prevent their fellow villagers from falling into their traps. However, the Wokou pirates obviously didn’t know what those markings looked like! Yu Hai quickly ran around the trap and then stood next to the trap to provoke the chasing group of pirates.

When the Wokou pirates noticed that he didn’t look like a skilled martial artist and instead was dressed in clothes of an ordinary villager, they relaxed. His obvious actions provoked them and the captain of the small group yelled a command and then ran straight for Yu Hai. The other pirates weren’t willing to seem cowardly and also followed their captain from behind... The result was pure tragedy! The captain of the small group felt the ground beneath his feet move and then he fell into a very deep pit and was skewered in the leg by a sharpened bamboo stake. He let out a piercing scream. Furthermore, two of the other pirates who came with him weren’t able to stop themselves in time and also fell into the pit trap. They weren’t as fortunate as the captain. One had been stabbed through his bowels and blood quickly seeped into his clothing. The other pirate had been skewered through his neck and, within moments, stopped breathing.

The remaining two pirates in the group stood at the side of the pit, stunned by the recent events. Yu Hai, who was standing on the other side of the pit, took advantage of their hesitation and thrust the pitchfork in his hands into the chest of the captain, who had a surprised look on his face. The originally injured captain had also lost his life in seconds.

Yu Hai’s face was cold as he stared at the remaining two Wokou pirates. His calm expression did not betray the fact that his heart was actually beating very fast in his chest. He was wondering whether these two pirates would chase after him. If they did, he absolutely could not confront them head on and he was currently considering the best way to escape.

Who would have thought that these two pirates had lost all of their courage? They threw down the knives in their hands and sped back away to flee, as if Yu Hai would kill them immediately if he caught up with them…

At this time, the commander of the Wokou pirates was incredibly irate and furious. In about an hour’s time, he had lost an additional third of the men under his command. If he added on the previous losses, over half of his men had already been killed with this excursion. The sticking point was that he still hadn’t seen what their enemy looked like!

The aide next to Watanabe Hiroshi opened his mouth again, “Lord Watanabe, we can’t continue on like this! We should retreat from this mountain forest and then decide what to do next! These villagers all left in a hurry so they absolutely do not have enough food on hand. In less than three days, they’ll need to come out to find food to eat. At that time, we can strike when it’s advantageous for us and capture all of them!”

Watanabe Hiroshi had a frosty look on his face and he was obviously not happy about this idea. The aide’s eyes flickered a bit and he continued, “Lord Watanabe, this aide had already researched this area. This village is called Dongshan Village. Although it’s not very large, it’s very wealthy and prosperous. When we first arrived, I noticed that these villagers didn’t bring a lot of things along with them, especially the very heavy grains. What was our purpose in coming? It was to get loot and grain ah! Let’s first return back to the village and round up everything that is worth money and all of the grain to take back to the ships. At that time, when we have the most loot in our holds, won’t you still be looked upon highly by the other groups here?”

After Watanabe Hiroshi heard his aide’s thoughts, he decided that it was probably for the best. He coldly huffed and said, “Let’s watch and see how long these Great Ming pigs can last! Let’s go, retreat!”

Hai——Lord Watanabe is wise! I heard that there are quite a few ferocious beasts in these mountains. If these villagers don’t die of starvation, they will probably end up dying under the jaws of some savage beasts!” The aide flatteringly smiled at the commander of this group of pirates.

Commander Zheng had been secretly following this entire group of pirates from behind. When he saw them leave the woods and start setting up camp outside of the village as if they were going to stay there for a long time, he couldn’t understand their reasoning. He frowned a bit and wondered, ‘Are these Wokou pirates too secure in their own superiority now? Are they not afraid that the authorities and army will come over and capture them all at once?’

However, he couldn’t know that the authorities and soldiers were currently under the command of Commander Sun and Fang Zizhen and were being used to encounter the attacks of thousands of Wokou pirates. General Yamaguchi was very perplexed by this turn of events. He had originally thought that this mission was top secret and he’d be able to strike suddenly and obtain a certain victory. How did the Great Ming authorities react so quickly and defend at such a good timing for them? Was there someone in his ranks who had let out this secret and allowed other people to warn the docks in time?

In actuality, once Yu Hang got the news, he rode the little gray donkey at a speed that rivaled a Ferghana horse’s to the docks. At this top speed, he was able to get to the docks before the ships of the Wokou pirates arrived. Currently, the construction on the Tanggu Docks had almost been finished.

The almost completed harbor had wide streets paved in basalt and there were neat little rows of two-story shops on either side of the streets that all had white walls and tiled roofs. These shops all looked very tidy and sturdy. There were some shrewd merchants in the area who saw an opportunity and decided to buy some of the shops that had good locations. They were currently in the midst of nervously decorating them for their opening. Among these merchants included the Zhou Family, who had already bought five to six shops. The plan was to renovate all of these into one large building so they could build a branch of Zhenxiu Restaurant right at the harbor! 

Originally, the Yu Family had been planning on using their connections with the Zhou Family to buy some shops at the harbor. Later on, once they had a godparent relationship with Fang Zizhen, who was in charge of constructing the docks into Tanggu Harbor, the county magistrate naturally allowed them first pick of the shops in the harbor for the sake of currying a good relationship with Fang Zizhen.

Fang Zizhen took over the decision making and bought ten shops that were directly across from the Zhenxiu Restaurant the Zhou Family wanted to open for his goddaughter. The deeds were all written up and ready. A few of these shops had already been rented out to other people and those people were currently renovating the insides. The management of the harbor estimated that the harbor would be ready to open in about three months. Naturally, these people didn’t want to waste any time on the opening of their stores!

There were still a few minor matters at the docks that needed to be wrapped up. When Yu Hang got to the harbor, he very quickly found Fang Zizhen, who was currently inspecting a construction area. He didn’t take the time to catch his breath before he ran up and yelled, “General Fang, Wokou pirates are coming to attack, please prepare immediately!” 

Fang Zizhen noticed that Yu Hang’s face was stark white and full of worry. He seriously said, “Don’t be in a hurry and carefully explain! What do you mean by Wokou pirates? Where did you get this news from?” 

Yu Hang shook his head and explained, “I can’t slow down! If I’m any slower, the Wokou pirates will start to land and attack! My younger sister went into the ocean to swim today and was taken by the little dolphin further out. She discovered a giant fleet of ships and all of the people on these ships wore different clothing than we do and also don’t speak the same language as us! When she got closer, she discovered that the direction they were headed in was towards Tanggu Town and the surrounding areas. Younger Sister had heard the older folks in our village mention what Wokou pirates in the past had done. They are vicious and cruel, so she hurried back to inform everyone. General Fang, time is of the essence, please send people to Dongshan Village to help! My family’s younger sisters as well as parents and relatives are all waiting for you to rescue them!”

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Myst's Thoughts

Sanguine’s Thoughts: Yu Hai is so brave...

Translator: Sanguine