Chapter 3: Topple the Mast, Build a Trebuchet

‘Coming!’ Lightning hollered back, startling Cory out of his stupor.

The first mate fished out a monster-sized saw from one of the large wooden drawers along the walls of the hold and swaggered his way out of the room.

He paused for a moment at the doorway to look at the little stowaway. ‘You should come with me. It might not be safe down here.’

For once, the adult NEET from the real world agreed with him.

Another cannonball and this hold would flood.

Then, he’d die for a second time in his life.

He sloshed along behind Lightning, trying to keep up with his short, skinny legs.

Cory had been tall and lanky back when he was alive, so he hadn’t encountered a situation where he thought his legs were too short. Having to look up at the pirate also made him uncomfortable—he was used to looking down at people after all.

Exactly how old was this boy that he transmigrated into? Ten?

Climbing the steep wooden stairs made him breathless. Evidently, this boy wasn’t very fit either.

The chaos on the upper deck soon took his mind off his body’s mysterious identity.

It was a real battle without cool light effects or special animation to make it look impressive. Each swing of the sword and each shot of the gun resulted in a cruel burst of blood and an ear-piercing howl.

The clash of pirates and navy soldiers looked more like an untidy street brawl, with the agonising squelching of body parts and weaponry.

In Questasis, you could launch any attack that wasn’t on cooldown without worrying about your allies but reality was very different. A misplaced swing of a metal club by a burly pirate led to the fall and trampling of the skinny one next to him.

The smell of blood, sweat and gun powder hung heavily in the air as the battlefield lurched and yawed beneath them.

Lightning grabbed the shell-shocked boy by the scruff of his shirt and away from the melee, towards the relatively safe half of the ship’s deck where the main mast of The Wingless stood.

The amber-haired pirate captain, leaning lazily against a stack of barrels by the side, turned her head towards the approaching first mate. She caught Cory’s eye like a beacon of light amongst the group of pirates who were taking turns to hack at the mast that was twice the circumference of him.

Captain Regi was just as pretty as her animated counterpart, if not better. The signature purple bodice that she had been designed with outlined her feminine figure perfectly and matched the colour of her eyes.

Her eyes twinkled as she gave Lightning a sarcastic smile. ‘Nice of you to return quickly. Thought you had gone ahead and joined forces with the barnacles below!’

She sprung upright with a tap of her boots and reached out for the monster saw in Lightning’s hands. He refused to give it to her with a playful grin. ‘What do you mean? If it weren’t for me, your sickly stowaway would have been blasted to bits by a cannonball.’

It was at that moment that Captain Regi noticed the boy standing next to her first mate. He was short, his height only up to her chin, with a stunned expression on his ruddy face.

‘How’s the fever?’ she asked. Her voice was clear as a bell and full of life, more expressive than her voice-acted lines could ever be.

It took Cory a moment to realise he should respond.

By which time, the female pirate captain had reached out and placed her slightly-calloused hand on his forehead to see for herself. ‘Seems to have gone down.’

‘Un,’ was all the adult NEET in the stowaway’s body could manage.

Lightning brought his monster saw over to the other pirates who welcomed him with open arms. ‘Took you long enough!’ Butcha, the largest of the three grumbled as they sheathed their cutlasses and positioned the new weapon at the notch that was barely visible above the base of the mast.

The blonde first mate and Butcha grabbed the handles on opposite ends of the saw and began slicing through the mast.

‘That’s more like it!’ Big Beard exclaimed with a slap on the knee.

Cory’s face drained of all colour.

No, that’s not it! That’s not it at all!

‘They’re chopping down the mast of your ship,’ he pointed out weakly as some kind of nauseous panic rose in his chest.

Captain Regi nodded. ‘That’s right!’ she replied. ‘We’re going to make a trebuchet.’

With the mast of your ship?

This amber-haired character’s habit of causing all sorts of trouble made the game amusing to play, but now that it had become reality, Cory found that it was not funny at all!

‘D-Don’t you need it to be intact to get away?’

Captain Regi tilted her head, as if she was seriously thinking about this. The braids that framed her face swung along with her carefree motions. ‘Hm…’

Her purple eyes flickered to the warships that surrounded The Wingless in all directions. Cory followed her gaze and realised he had asked a stupid question.

Soldiers from one of the Hiddel Navy’s warships had already boarded The Wingless from the aft and outnumbered the pirates twice over.

Now that the other warships were closing in on all sides, escape was almost impossible—even if the mast remained upright.

Captain Regi must have thought about this before she decided to chop up her own ship’s mast. It was just him, an ignorant bystander, who didn’t realise it.

After all, the rest of her crew hadn’t objected to this decision of hers and they were seasoned sailors who had accompanied her through hell and high water.

But just as he opened his mouth to apologise for speaking thoughtlessly, the amber-haired pirate captain said, ‘I hadn’t thought about that. I just thought about taking down a few of their warships first.’

Cory almost fell over in exasperation.

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