BBYW Vol. 3 Chapter 23 (WN)
Chapter 23 – The Empty Port
The next day, the Lion Kingdom pirate fleet departed from their small island base.
Over 200 ships had gathered around the island. The largest ships could house more than 100 crewmembers, while the smallest ones became cramped with just 5.
The pirates numbered more than 2000 in total: beyond a pirate crew, it was a small army at that point.
That day, the Lion Kingdom fleet left the island at dawn and arrived at the Brutos port just after the clock struck noon.
Despite their perfectly timely arrival, very unlike what one would expect from a band of pirates, not a single soul was there to welcome them to the port.
“…the port is empty? What’s going on?”
The buildings were still half destroyed because of the previous day’s attack, while there were no ships to be seen anywhere.
In what now looked like the long-abandoned ruins of a port town, the only sounds the pirates could hear were the cries of the seagulls overhead.
For the Lion Kingdom crew, it was a very unexpected sight.
If Brutos had decided to refuse their demands, the port would be heavily guarded with soldiers and mercenaries, to prevent the pirates’ invasion.
On the other hand, if they had chosen to surrender, they would be eagerly waiting to appease the pirates, to improve their position as much as possible after the takeover.
Finding an empty port instead caught the pirates off guard.
“Why are you dilly-dallying! Send out the scouts!”
Prompted by a kick on the butt by Cristina, the subordinate hurriedly gave orders accordingly.
A small group of pirates approached the port on a boat. After about one hour, the scouts returned.
“Looks like all the houses and buildings around the port are empty. The people must have taken shelter somewhere.”
“What? All of them?”
“Aye, so it seems.”
According to the scouts’ report, all of the houses on the port side of the town were deserted.
Gates and doors were flung open, with drawers and cupboards emptied as if they had been ransacked: the people had probably packed their belongings as fast as they could.
“What about the people who got wounded yesterday? They shouldn’t have time to bring them out of here, right?”
“I think they were moved to the governor’s palace. It’s the only place with multiple barricades, and the guards glared at us like they wanted to kill us on the spot.”
“Hmph, so they ditched the town to play siege? I suppose they want to buy time until reinforcements arrive from the capital.”
Cristina traced a finger along her bright red lips, then blew air from her nose, convinced of her conclusion.
To abandon the port, the most vital component of a trading center, was the epitome of foolishness.
From the standpoint of invaders from the sea, however, it was a rather troublesome strategy.
They would have to land to attack the governor’s palace, which meant that taking advantage of the ships’ firepower — the pirates’ winning strategy — would not be possible.
Letting go of such a big advantage also meant being prepared to suffer more losses.
“We might as well start bombarding the port all the same, right? They might panic and come out to stop us.”
“You big idiot, if we do that we can’t use the port anymore after we take over.”
If the pirates only meant to raid the town, the destruction of its facilities would not be an issue.
This, however, was an invasion from a foreign power: once they took control of the town, it would become their base. It was in the pirates’ best interest to keep the damage as low as possible.
“Besides, Bartolo…I mean, Milady Cristina! We found this in town…”
With some hesitation, the pirate pushed “this” towards his boss.
“This” was a young boy of small stature. He looked about 12 or 13 years old, and had unusually long black hair covering his ears.
His delicate features gave him an almost feminine look: he was just the type Cristina liked the most.
“Oh my, oh my, oh my! What a polite little man we have here! What are you doing here, dear!?”
Cristina’s expression turned from a frown to a beaming smile. She smiled widely as she approached the boy, uncaring of how her makeup crumbled away.
The pressure she emanated was that of a predator eyeing its prey. The boy, as well as the pirates around them, backed away, intimidated.
“E-Ehm…please take this. The governor told me to bring this to the pirates.”
The boy gave Cristina an envelope, neatly sealed with wax. The name of the sender was indeed the governor’s name.
Cristina frowned and unceremoniously ripped the envelope open.
“We cannot agree to surrender the town. However, we will send the 10 boy slaves to you as soon as we can. In addition, we wish to offer 10,000 gold coins as truce payment. Please take it and leave the town.”
“10,000 gold coins isn’t half bad for a condition. What should we do?”
“Yes, yes…isn’t this just perfect?”
Cristina’s bright red lips turned up in a grin.
“It’s decided! Let’s bring down the palace! The governor has already given up on fighting! We can destroy them with our superior numbers!”
Cristina loudly declared her orders and the pirates agreed.
The ships laid their anchors around the port, one after the other, as the bloodthirsty pirates stormed into town.
“Oh, don’t worry, my dear little man. Until the battle ends, we’ll have fun together, okay?”
Cristina took the boy’s hand and forcibly pulled him into her cabin.
The pirates looked at the poor boy’s back and clasped their hands as if in prayer.
However…the moment he disappeared inside the cabin, the look in the boy’s eyes changed to a sharp glare.
A quick change, which only the seagull perched on the mast seemed to notice.