The Divorcee is a Wicked Black Belly Chapter 122: The Unexpected
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When Tsai Po decided to return to the island, Nian Zhen and the rest went with him. When they got there, they found Paradise Island in utter chaos. And Tsai Po's house it seemed was the hubbub of all this panic.
After the trouble started, the locals went to find Tsai Po and when they couldn't, they literally fell apart. The anger was slow to simmer but when it did, no one was safe.
Paradise Island had over five thousand inhabitants. All of them were pirates, three generations for each family, even kids as young as three. Most of them have been to all kinds of situations, encountered the meanest and vilest humanity out in the open sea, murdered even their friends for profit, but no one had ever seen or encountered a sea monster as frightening and difficult to kill as the twin-headed snake.
Things like that, they only happen in legends, they argued among themselves. Sea monsters were the kind of bogeymen pirates like them tell about to scare their kids or to pad up their pirate creed. An enormous, twin-headed snake that practically engulfed the island in poisonous mist was one of those tall tales pirates like to talk about when they're drunk or having a personal crisis. Sea monsters like a twin-headed snake were make-believe. Imaginary creatures like that didn't attack in the early hours of the morning by making you gag or spew out acid as it disgustedly slither about trying to murder you in your sleep.
But make believe turned out to be real and the captain, the unelected leader of this band of little island runaways, was nowhere to be found. Perhaps the snake ate him but no matter, because the instincts of self-preservation that was the DNA of all pirates finally reared its ugly head and what followed it was ugly. Words were said, followed by action and bodies were thrown here and there, many of them dead.
It was an ugly scene made even uglier by the fact that when the crazies saw Tsai Po, alive and well apparently, they went even crazier and tried to attack him and his companions. Nian Zhen instinctively grabbed Castor while pulling out his sword. An Ning meanwhile took out her sword and without another word swung it at the people rushing at them. The sword gave out a strange light then a loud boom sounded. The next thing they knew, the crazies were on the ground, groaning and moaning with pain. They stared up at An Ning whose eyes glittered at them with a dangerous light. The crazies got up on their hands and knees and ran to the gates screaming their heads off.
The group watched them leave. Nian Zhen was still shaking with anger, still clutching Castor to him. Tsai Po was pale, his hands around his niece tightening until she unconsciously winced. An Ning looked at Tsai Po with a frown.
"I think we'd best stay around for a few more days until you've got everything sorted out here," she said. "After that, you're coming with us."
"No," Tsai Po said. "This is my island. No one will drive me away from my property."
"I think they'll turn on you if you don't do something about it quick," Nian Zhen opined. "They wouldn't need a lit tinder either. Anything will do until they run out of reasons to blame you."
Tsai Po was silent. He glanced at Smilla, who was looking up at him with a worried face and sighed, not saying anything.
"Let's go back," Nian Zhen said. "It's not safe here anymore."
"I'll tell the crew to move the Whimsy some distance away," An Ning said, frowning at the silent Tsai Po. "You want me to clean this up?"
"Can you?" Tsai Po asked wryly, not really expecting a serious answer from her.
"All of you return to the barge," An Ning commanded. "I"ll follow you after I've cleaned up here. I won't be long."
All of them gaped at her.
"You're...you're not...you're not," Tsai Po stammered, too shock to voice out his thoughts.
"Kill them?" An Ning said amused. "Of course not. There are other ways than violence, you know."
They looked at her skeptically, not believing what she said, which made An Ning laughed out loud. Nian Zhen, however, didn't look pleased.
"Why do you have to clean up after him?" he grumbled. "Wasn't it enough that you got rid of that monster? You don't have to do anything more to save their ass, do you?"
Tsai Po reddened as his words sank in.
"What do you want to do then?" An Ning asked.
"I'll send out word that Pirate Island is open for war. I'll pay the victor who can flush these assholes out. That's one way of cleaning up trash. I don't want you involved in this anymore, Ning Ning. You've done enough."
The last words were directed towards Tsai Po, who gritted his teeth, sighed then nodded his head reluctantly.
"Thank you," he said gruffly. "It's my responsibility and I dragged you into it."
"Your responsibility is towards your niece," Nian Zhen corrected. "She doesn't want you to remain here while she leaves with us. And frankly, I don't think there's a man or woman here for that matter who will look at you too kindly after what happened. Selfish people reveal their true selves in a crisis. And that means your staying here is not an option anymore. You're coming with us to Chengdi, Tsai Po. And that's an order from your king."
"My king?" Tsai Po asked, with raised brows.
"Do you have a choice?" Nian Zhen asked, sidestepping the question.
Smilla gripped Tsai Po's hand tightly, her face tense and scared. Looking at her, Tsai Po reluctantly nodded his head.
"Alright, but only until I get the island back on its feet."
When they reached the Whimsy, it was already late in the afternoon. Nian Zhen went and spoke to the captain about changing course back to Chengdi while An Ning and Castor showed Tsai Po and Smilla to their cabins. It had been decided that Tsai Po will share a cabin with Cas and Smilla with Pollux. An Ning left Cas and Tsai Po while she and Smilla went and knocked on Pollux' cabin. There was no answer. An Ning knocked again and when the door remained shut and no response was heard from Lux, she pushed it open and went inside.
The cabin faced the port side and had a vast and uninterrupted view of the ocean. The portholes were unlocked, the curtains pushed wide aside so that the afternoon light streamed inside. The cabin was clean and ominously quiet. An Ning opened the door to the bathroom. Inside was clean, quiet, unoccupied.
An Ning hurried back to the room. The cabin was too small. There was nowhere a girl of thirteen can hide in, except outside.
An Ning ran outside, the strips of white gauze already fanning out behind and in front of her. She unceremoniously opened the doors to each six cabins, startling its occupants. Hank, who was looking after Terri, gaped at An Ning like she was a demented beast as she went inside the bathroom then out again into the next cabin, which was his.
Hank followed outside and watched as An Ning tore through the cabin like a tornado, not even closing the door behind her as she pushed open the cabin next to his. Kari, who was lying on the bed, woke up from her nap, watching groggily as An Ning checked her tiny cabin from top to bottom, followed by a girl who watched her with large, frightened eyes.
An Ning again went back to Castor's cabin. Cas was sitting on the table, playing with his phone while Tsai Po was in the bathroom. Tsai Po, who was taking a shower, gawked at An Ning as she barged inside, not even blinking at the blinding sight of his nakedness. Then she ran out again, followed by Cas this time who was screaming at her to stop because she was frightening him.
"Mom! Mom! What are you doing? What happened?" Cas asked, grabbing her arm.
An Ning screeched to a halt and turned her head. Cas felt a coldness washed down his spine as he met his mother's eyes.
"Your sister is missing," An Ning said, then broke free as she came to the cabin she shared with Nian Zhen. The cabin was as she left it this morning. The unmade bed. The clothes on the floor. The empty bathroom.
An Ning and her entourage ran to the upper deck. Nian Zhen was talking to a man of about thirty. The man stopped what he was saying when he saw An Ning. Nian Zhen turned his head but the smile froze on his lips when he saw An Ning's expression.
"Lux is missing. We have to get back onshore and look for her. I don't care if we kill everyone on that island, I want my daughter found," An Ning's voice was calm and level but it was the way she said it that froze everybody to the bones. It was the voice of unquestionable command. A fearless voice. The voice of a queen's inexorable will.
The strips of tape gathered around An Ning as she leapt across and landed on the docks with one smooth movement.
"You search the houses," she commanded, looking back at the people gathered on the deck and gaping at her. "I'll go look on the other side."
"Ning Ning! Wait!" Nian Zhen shouted, leaping to the gangplank, with Castor following him.
"There's no time," An Ning's voice was impatient. "Nian Zhen, kill anyone who stops you. I don't care if we massacre the entire population of this god-forsaken island. We must find Lux. Nothing else matters besides that."
There was the distance of the dock between them but Nian Zhen could feel the cold fury emanating from An Ning's body like a roiling tide. He could feel it because the same fury was coursing through his veins. That somebody dared to take his daughter Pollux. Unlike An Ning, he didn't care if the island went in flames as long as Lux was found and her abductor punished. He was willing to kill and incinerate the world to protect his family.
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