1

Following Joe Parrot, they arrived at a harbor where a lot of ships were anchored. They went to the office where the harbormaster was stationed. Two soldiers guarded the door.

John had left behind a majority of their members on standby near the port. It was not convenient to move around in a large group. But their current seven-men group was still considered large by the guards. They were barred from entry and were asked the purpose of their visit. After informing the guards of their purpose, they were informed only two persons were allowed to enter. So, John entered with Joe Parrot. The others waited outside.

Inside the office, they saw a man behind a desk. Another soldier was standing behind in a ready pose. It was easy to assume the sitting man was the harbormaster.

"What can I help you with, gentle...," The harbormaster was writing something when John and Joe entered. He spoke while looking up, and stopped himself after noticing Joe. "Joe, it's you again! How many times do I tell you that I can't give you back your ship no matter how many times you beg?"

"This time it's different, Mister Percy," Joe replied. "As you see, I brought someone with coins."

"Coins?" Percy said skeptically as he looked at John.

John nodded. "Yes. My kind harbormaster. I understand this man owes a debt of three hundred gold coins. I'm willing to settle it for him so you can release his ship back to him."

"Really? You are an outworlder, aren't you? Do you truly have that many coins?" Percy asked.

John didn't reply. He simply took out the coins in his inventory and laid them on Percy's desk. Percy's brows went up in a surprised expression.

"Splendid! So, now I can have my jewel back, can't I?" Joe asked expectantly.

"Well. I must say I do not expect this," Percy said. "If it was yesterday, then everything will be peachy. Unfortunately, the ship is already scheduled as one of the items to be auctioned today. It is a hassle to go through the process of canceling it. I'm afraid I cannot accept these coins, but maybe you can use them to buy back the ship in the auction."

"What? How dare you auction my jewel!" Joe uttered in agitation.

John gestured for Joe to calm down. He then said to Percy, "You said that you don't want to go through the hassle of canceling it. This means that you can. Perhaps we can come to an agreement?"

"Hehe. If you are willing to pay double the amount of his debt. Maybe I can consider it."

"How about you do it as a favor to me?" John said.

"Hahaha!" Percy laughed. "Why should I bother with a favor from an outworld...,"

The harbormaster stopped midsentence. The reason was that John had just equipped a title. The title was Themisphere Chief Strategist. He got this title when he was appointed one when the Verremor invasion happened. He was not a member of the Themisphere kingdom faction like Jack and Jeanny, but this title gave him the recognition that equaled a Duke or a Lord Commander of this country. Every Themisphere native would give him the same amount of respect as when they met ones with those ranks.

Aside from having the effect of making the natives respect the title-bearer, this title also gave all the natives who carried out John's strategy a 20% increase in damage, damage reduction, healing received, and overall speed. However, this title only affected Themisphere natives. It didn't work on other forces.

"Sir–sir chief strategist...!" Percy said and stood up. The soldier behind him was similarly anxious about finding out a big shot of the kingdom was in this room.

"I'm... I'm sorry! I didn't realize that it is you," Percy said. He had heard about the chief strategist who had managed to repel the recent orc invasion with his strategy. Every citizen of this kingdom owed their freedom to this chief strategist. He had heard the rumor that the chief strategist was an outworlder. He simply dismissed it as a bad rumor. Now only did he realize that it was the truth.

"At ease, gentlemen," John said. "So, can you give me a face and remove the Grey Jewel from the auction list? That will be greatly appreciated."

"Certainly, Sir. I will deal with it immediately once I process this debt settlement..."

Percy was just about to grab the coins on his desk when John beat him to it. John dexterously split the coins into half. Percy was slightly taken aback by his action. "Uh... Sir chief?" He asked.

"Can you consider doing me a favor and giving us a discount?" John said. "I believe you can negotiate with whoever owns this fine gentleman's debt to give leniency on the debt, maybe cutting the debt to half for example."

"I..."

"I know I'm asking a lot. Here, I will add fifty more gold coins, making it two hundred gold coins. I'm sure this will help you better in negotiating. Now, if you don't mind. Can you please sign the release paper for this fine gentleman's ship?"

"This..."

"Mister Percy, please understand that I'm on a secret mission given directly by Prince Alonzo, your future king by the end of this week. So, you will understand my hurry. And I need this fine gentleman's ship for that secret mission. I believe you don't want to be the one explaining to the prince about the failure of this mission, do you? Because if I don't get that ship leaving this harbor within the hour, this extremely urgent top-secret mission will definitely fail. Do you want to be the one responsible for it?"

"No... No! I wouldn't want that. I will process the release immediately."

"Good man. We will be waiting by the ship. Please don't make us wait too long."

"I won't, I won't."

John turned and walked toward the door then, followed by Joe who was grinning widely. The parrot on his shoulder flapped its wing excitedly while uttering, "Good man! Good man!"

When they were outside, Joe asked, "Is it true that this mission you are undertaking comes from the prince?"

John turned to him and lied, "Of course!"

"Cool!" Joe uttered.

"What is cool?" Will came and asked. Joe told him. He and the parrot on Joe's shoulder soon parroted 'cool' as well.

"Now, let us prepare and make sure we don't f*ck up this royal mission, shall we?" John said. "Which one is your ship?"

"Come!" Joe said and took the lead again.

They came to a very large ship. Its hull appeared to be multi-decked with many gunports. It had three tall masts. The fore and main masts used square-rigged sails, while the rear mast used lateen-rigged sail. The ship had an overall grey color. A seashell figurehead decorated the front of the ship.

"A galleon?" John said after seeing the ship. "Your ship is a galleon?"

"Yeah, did I not tell you that?" Joe said.

"Are you sure you can maneuver such a large ship around the whirlpools-filled water? Won't it be better to use a smaller ship?" John asked.

"That's where you are wrong, mate. If the ship is too small, it will be too light. It will be easier to be affected by the waves. If I entered the vicinity of the whirlpool with a light ship, it will be easily sucked in by the force. No, we need speed, but we also need weight to resist the pull. My Grey Jewel has the balance of both weight and speed required for the task. That's why we need it."

"If you say so," John said, and then added a warning, "Just remember that you will face the wrath of a prince, and future king, if you fail."

"Don't worry. Have confidence in Joe!" Joe exclaimed.

"Have confidence! Have confidence!" The Parrot supported the sentiment.

Not long after, Percy came. He gave a paper for Joe to sign and then gave instructions to his people to release the chains locking the ship to the pier.

"Everything is done, sir chief strategist. I wish you success on your mission," Percy said.

"Very well, good harbormaster. I will put in good words about you to the prince, or the king maybe by the time I return," John said.

He then sent messages for everyone to gather. Everyone was just hanging out nearby, so it didn't take long for them to arrive. Everyone was rather amazed after seeing the ship. This large ship could easily take in more than twice their number, perhaps even five hundred could fit inside if they didn't mind being a little cramped.

John was already aboard when they gathered. He called everyone to board the ship. Once everyone did. He gave the signal to Joe. Joe was already at the helm. He seemed eager to set sail as well. He shouted instructions to the only crews who knew about sailing, Will, Billy, and Rough Criminal.

John gave him several players to command while the others watched. This was a good chance to let them learn about how to control and sail a ship in this world.

The ship was indeed fast despite its size. Before long, the port city of Thepuergua was already very far away.