Chapter 244 (Part 2): Meeting a Shark
Translated by Gumihou
Edited by Onionpi
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The incredibly moved and excited Zhang Tianming clearly has a lot of questions, but before he could voice any of them out, one of the veteran sailors seated at the helm of the boat said cheerfully, “My lord, shall we head over to the Bohai Sea now? Look, there’s the Bohai Sea just yonder there. This bloody flood is so mother**cking overwhelming that we can’t even see the seawall anymore. Looks like it would take at least 10 days or half a month before the waters would recede. Even then, we have to see if God would give us face by letting us have a few more sunny days.”
Duan Tingxuan said, “Very well, let us go. Pick a few of the locals and tell them that we plan to go fishing. Let them contribute their strength as well since the people of Jinzhou are suffering from food shortages as well.”
There was not a single objection from the disaster victims. Though the majority of these people have no idea just what kind of status Duan Tingxuan held, they instinctively understood that he was a great official of some sort. Since he wanted them to go fishing in order to supplement their diets, what was there to quarrel about? Moreover, to these simple commoners, having such a benevolent official who looks after their welfare like this was already a great comfort.
The boats steadily made their way towards the sea. However, instead of making him happy, Duan Tingxuan’s mood became heavier. Seeing an entire town submerged underwater filled him with unspeakable sadness.
It was summer now, so how could it not rain continuously for another half a month or even a month? Only one day of torrential rain would be enough to set this whole place flooding again. Would they have to wait until autumn for the flood to subside? When the time comes, just how long would the emergency provisions last? How long would they have to keep providing emergency provisions? Perhaps, once he went back to the Capital, he should propose to the emperor to send ships to Luzon and Ryukyu to collect food? There’s also the Northeast Plain mentioned by Su Nuan Nuan. Could it really become as big a crop producer as Huguang?
It took them some time to reach the deep sea area of Bohai Sea. Duan Tingxuan and Zhang Tianming spent the time speaking about the geographical environment of the Northeast area. This Zhang Tianming used to be quite the traveller in his youth and had even seen Lake Baikal with his own eyes. When he heard that there was a possibility that a large number of crops could be produced in the Northeast area, he began to comb through his own memory more carefully. However, the only thing he could recall was that though the north did have miles of fertile lands, it was situated in very remote areas. Which was why he did not really believe that it was feasible to cultivate those lands for commercial use. While the three of them, Su Nuan Nuan included, of course, debated heatedly over the matter, someone called out, “Fish… big… huge fish, ah. Oh, my heavens, how could such a large fish exist…”
Su Nuan Nuan immediately stood up, and spotted the black shadowy figure moving rapidly just beneath the waves. Suddenly, a triangular fin arched over the waves. From the size of the fin alone, one could tell that this fellow was quite a big one.”
“It’s fine, it’s fine, that’s not the Great K’un.” Zhang Tianming sighed with relief. Duan Tingxuan was incredulous. “The K’un? Is there such a thing in this world?”
Zhang Tianming smiled, “This humble official has no idea if the fish I saw is the K’un mentioned within Zhuangzi – Free and Easy Wondering . After all, no one actually saw it turn into a Peng bird. The only thing we know is that this K’un fish is really huge. The K’un beached itself onto our shore a few years ago, and the villagers all came with knives and buckets, hundreds of them came out and carved till their buckets and basins are full, but even then, there was still meat left on the fish. The thing was as long as several humans standing on top of each other’s heads. Luckily it is dead now, otherwise, who knows how many metres it might have grown by now. Only, I’m afraid that the reason why we have no news of such a large fish is because the people had been swallowed up by it, ships and all.”
Su Nuan Nuan’s face was all 囧囧 as Zhang Tianming continued to describe the huge fish. Brother, ah, the K’un you’re talking about is just a whale, you know? Moreover, whales are much, much gentler than sharks. Do you know how fortunate you and your villagers had been?
She was still thinking about this ridiculous K’un when she heard shouts urging the navy to row ahead, the younger fishermen were already dreaming about catching that huge shark for dinner. Su Nuan Nuan was so frightened by their reckless behaviour that she nearly rushed over to yell at them to stop. However, before she could say anything, an old fisherman already a step ahead. “Stop! Are your brains water-logged? That fish is very fierce and dangerous. It eats people you know!?”
This shocking remark was enough to dampen down the excitement to a manageable level.
At least there were still some sensible people in this world, thought Su Nuan Nuan with relief. However, before she could fully breathe out a sigh of relief, someone shrieked, “That fish is heading over! It’s coming to eat us! What should we do?”
Su Nuan Nuan choked a little and looked over. The black shadow that had been loitering nearly five hundred meters away was rapidly rushing towards them. Who knows whether it had smelled blood or heard them making a commotion, but the powerful and steady movement of this Deep Sea King was enough to make these small-time fishermen weak in the knees.
“That beast is too arrogant.”
Su Nuan Nuan, who had been trying to devise a way for these network of boats and fishermen to capture this big shark when a certain little marquis seated next to her roared. She turned around, wanting to tell this husband of hers not to stoop to the shark’s level and bristle up at every random challenge. They could just think of a way to drive this fish away first okay? What if the death of one fish just attracts more of their bloodthirsty friends? Even a whole fleet of them won’t be able to deal with a school of man-eating sharks, ah.
Before she could say anything, however, Duan Tingxuan’s form blurred out of existence. He was already leaping to the prow of the boat, nearly frightening Su Nuan Nuan to death. She shrieked, “Tingxuan you come back here. Don’t provoke that fellow. What if you attract all his friends…”
Perhaps it was the strong winds, or the roar of the waves, or perhaps even the roar of the blood in the little marquis ears, but Duan Tingxuan acted like he did not hear anything. At any rate, high-level martial artists were just too daring for their own good.
The speed of the shark was incredible, it was almost on top of their boat now. Duan Tingxuan leapt off the boat, and, honest to God, began leaping on top of the waves like a water strider. When he leapt onto the back of the shark, the flexible sword flashed from around his waist and, without so much as a ‘by your leave’ or ‘how do you do’, slashed into the body of the shark below.
[Gumihou: … I’m feeling sorry for the shark now]
 Zhuangzi – Free and Easy Wondering – Zhuangzi is a fable based study of philosophy. Chapter one of this book opens with ‘The Tale of the Peng Bird’:
‘In the dark sea of the north there is a fish; it is named the K’un. The K’un is so huge no one knows how many thousand li he measures. Changing, it becomes a bird; it is named the Peng, so huge no one knows how many thousand li he measures. Aroused, it soars aloft, its wings like clouds hung from the sky. As the sea shifts, it turns to set its course toward the dark sea of the south, the Pool of Heaven.’
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245 – Showing Off
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248.1 – Unexpected Windfall
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248.2 – Unexpected Windfall
249 – End of Mission
250.1 – Back to the Mansion
250.2 – Back to the Mansion
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Translated by Gumihou from kitchennovel dot com.
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