Published at 5th of November 2020 01:59:46 PM
Yu Xiaocao, who didn’t have to corral a bunch of people anymore, finally could watch the competition with her full attention . There were only about a dozen or so short days left in the pearl diving competition . Zhuang Xiaomo was no longer able to stay calm in the face of his poor hauls . Nowadays, he seemed to have a perpetual look of worry on his face . For the past few days, Yu Xiaocao could see that Zhuang Xiaomo seemed to be taking this competition quite seriously and it was probably related to Xiaolian . The reason she thought so was because he often seemed to glance at Xiaolian with a lonely look in his eyes and then sink into deep contemplation afterwards . Yu Xiaocao decided to secretly lend Zhuang Xiaomo a helping hand .
Because there were more pearl divers in the area, it was hard to find and occupy a good spot in the waters now . Thus, Zhuang Xiaomo’s pearl diving boat went out further and further into the deep ocean . With the help of Xiaobu, Yu Xiaocao also followed them every day from afar . In a way, this was her way of keeping an eye out for him . Although Zhu Junyang had already done a lot to make this pearl diving competition safer, there was always the possibility of something out of the ordinary happening . She didn’t want something to happen to Zhuang Xiaomo and end up leaving a shadow in Xiaolian’s heart .
Other than protecting Zhuang Xiaomo’s pearl diving boat from afar, Yu Xiaocao had managed to gather many good quality pearls under the guidance of the little divine stone . The vast majority of them were larger than the first segment of a person’s thumb . Although they couldn’t be considered superior grade pearls, they were still considered above average quality . She was planning on using these pearls to make her mother a pearl necklace . As for the remaining pearls, she was thinking of embedding them into hair jewelry and hoped to get enough to make a full set of head ornaments . Her mother had always been frugal and even now couldn’t bear to spend the money to get a presentable set of hair ornaments .
As it got closer and closer to the last day of the competition, Yu Xiaocao continued to increase her collection of gathered pearls . In fact, in her collection, she had managed to get some pink and deep purple pearls! Every pearl she had gathered was worth quite a bit and she didn’t even need to bring pearl oysters up to shore to get them . That way, none of the pearl oysters she got the pearls from had to needlessly die to give up their contents .
The seafloor was the home of pearl oysters . The vast majority of pearl oysters in the deep waters of the ocean usually were opened, lazily ‘sunning’ their tender inner flesh . Thus, it was easy to see in a glance whether or not they had any pearls in them . However, these creatures were quite sensitive and would immediately close if they sensed any movement in the nearby waters to protect themselves .
However, didn’t Yu Xiaocao have the little divine stone as her cheat item on hand? Even if the pearl oysters shut themselves tightly, she was easily able to use a drop of mystic-stone water to bait them into enthusiastically opening and welcoming this ‘guest who offered presents’ . Using a drop of mystic-stone to exchange for a pretty good quality pearl was a business transaction that was satisfactory to both participants .
During the competition, Zhuang Xiaomo had a pretty smooth time . Although he didn’t get any pearls that he was hoping for so far, he hadn’t encountered any dangerous situations that he couldn’t resolve . The most thrilling time was when he had a brief encounter with a group of sharks . Luckily, those sharks hadn’t sensed him . Otherwise, it was likely that Older Brother Jiang would end up pulling up a savaged body later on .
In actuality, what had actually happened was that Yu Xiaocao had lured away that school of sharks using mystic-stone water . Sharks were animals that had a keen sense of smell . If only one lone shark had missed Zhuang Xiaomo that could easily be believed . However, if a whole school of large sharks had missed him, it would only be possible if they were all blind and had lost their sense of smell . Compared to the lure of the mystic-stone water, Zhuang Xiaomo was a much less interesting target for those sharks .
As for Zhuang Xiaomo, who didn’t know what had actually happened, he thought that he was incredibly lucky and rejoiced for a long time . However, there were many dangers in the sea that the pearl divers had to look for . There were underwater whirlpools, dangerous currents, sea snakes, jellyfish, and fierce sharks . In addition, some giant pearl oysters could also end up becoming the downfall for a pearl diver .
On the final day of the pearl diving competition, Zhuang Xiaomo had almost lost his life because of a particular pearl oyster .
Zhuang Xiaomo had managed to find a very good stretch of pearl oysters on the last day . After taking a few round trips to and fro, he had managed to get a decent haul . Jiang Sanshan grinned during one of those interludes and said, “Our haul today is quite good . Perhaps we'll get first place in the competition from a pearl found in one of these oysters!”
His previous poor luck in finding good pearls had given a blow in his confidence . Now, Zhuang Xiaomo only thought about bringing up more pearl oysters in order to increase his chances of finding a good pearl . Thus, he continued to dive and dive again into the ocean to grab more . He didn’t waste his time trying to gather the normal oysters and instead slowly swam around the reef to find the target he was looking for .
Suddenly, there was a faint sparkle of light in the dim seafloor . A shot of happiness ran through Zhuang Xiaomo . His grandfather had once said that superior grade pearls emitted their own light . Perhaps the heavens had heard his prayer and gave him the opportunity to obtain his wish?
He slowly swam in the direction of that light . In the depths of the coral reef, there was a gargantuan pearl oyster quietly resting on the seabed . Its shell opened out and a massive pearl appeared, resting inside the oyster . Zhuang Xiaomo felt his heart start to race and it felt like he had used up almost all of the air in his lungs . Although he was very reluctant to leave at the moment, he remembered the most important thing: a treasure was only worth it if you were alive to take it . He forcefully tugged on the rope around and was quickly towed back up .
When Jiang Sanshan saw that he didn’t have a single pearl oyster in his basket, he was a bit puzzled . He didn’t have enough time to ask what happened before Zhuang Xiaomo filled his lungs with fresh air and dove deep again . Using his above-average memory, he once again approached that giant pearl oyster .
The pearl, which was larger than a pigeon’s egg, emitted an attractive light inside the oyster . It was as if a witch had set a spell on it, making a person unable to take their eyes off of it .
With his current arm strength and physique, it was obvious he’d be unable to move that pearl oyster one inch . However, he also couldn’t bear to let go of the chance to get first place in the competition . Before he knew it, he was stretching his hand out to grab the huge pearl that was lying within the oyster . . . The pearl oyster, sensing that an intruder had come, suddenly closed its shell on Zhuang Xiaomo’s arm, keeping it tightly within . Zhuang Xiaomo felt like his arm was being held down by a giant vice . Now that he was back to his senses, he silently realized that he was not in a good situation . He struggled desperately to pull his arm out . The more he pulled, however, the tighter the oyster clamped down .
As the precious seconds passed by, he felt the air within his chest was disappearing . Zhuang Xiaomo knew that if it continued on, he would end up suffocating from lack of oxygen in the deep ocean . He did his best to pull on the rope, hoping beyond hope that the people on the boat combined with his own strength would be able to pull him and this pearl oyster up .
When Jiang Sanshan received the signal from the rope, he and three other strong and vigorous youths began to tug on the rope with all their might . In the past, the person below was very quickly drawn up to the surface . However, this time, no matter how hard the four of them pulled, it was as if the rope was rooted to the seafloor and didn’t budge an inch .
“This is bad! Xiaomo was probably not careful and accidentally got stuck in a crack on the reef and can’t pull his foot out . Continue to pull hard with all of your might, I’m going to dive down to take a look!” Jiang Sanshan took off his outer garment, revealing the swimsuit beneath it . He jumped over the ship with a leap . Although his diving abilities were not as comparable as Zhuang Xiaomo’s, he was still considered quite good within the fishermen . He followed the rope down and very quickly approached Zhuang Xiaomo . The sight that appeared before his eyes startled him . Zhuang Xiaomo hadn’t gotten his foot stuck in a crack on the reef like he thought . Instead, his arm had been thoroughly trapped by a pearl oyster that was larger than a bathtub .
He swam over and pulled on Zhuang Xiaomo’s hand . The two of them used their strength to try to pull the youth’s arm away from the pearl oyster . Unfortunately, no matter how hard they pulled, they were unable to free Xiaomo’s wrist from the stubborn creature . Jiang Sanshan then changed his target and began to try to pry open the oyster’s shell . However, the oyster’s shell was like a rock door that had been tightly closed and there was no way for the man to pull it open .
Zhuang Xiaomo transferred the pearl hunting knife he used into Jiang Sanshan’s hand . The man raised the knife up high and forced it down in an attempt to cut the shell open . However, the outside hull was as hard as steel . The knife only left a small white mark on the outer shell . What was to be done? The two of them were underwater with no solutions at hand .
At this time, Jiang Sanshan was unable to come up with a good idea and swam back up to get another breath of fresh air . He went back down to transfer the air in his mouth to Zhuang Xiaomo, whose face had already turned red in an effort to hold his breath . After a few roundtrips back and forth, Zhuang Xiaomo was temporarily no longer in danger of drowning in the deep sea . However, they still hadn’t resolved the biggest problem: his wrist was still trapped by the pearl oyster . The two of them tried a multitude of methods but ultimately they failed in getting rid of this ‘shackle’ .
“Saving one’s life is the most important thing, how about . . . we chop this hand off?” Jiang Sanshan mimed using the knife to sever the limb but Zhuang Xiaomo vehemently shook his head in refusal .
In terms of status, he was already way behind Xiaolian . If he lost his hand as well, how would he have the face to go to the Yu Family to ask for her hand in marriage? How would he be able to give Xiaolian a happy and stable life then? Even if Xiaolian deigned to marry down, he would feel inferior and insufficient for the rest of his life . . . but, if he had to renounce Xiaolian and had to watch her marry another man with his own two eyes he . . . would rather let his life go and rest in these dark and ice-cold waters then!
Jiang Sanshan argued silently a bit with him and saw that the youth would rather die than sever his wrist . He swam up to see if there was another way . After discussing briefly with the other three fellows, he decided to go to the other ships to ask for help . He prayed that he’d be able to find more people such that they could use their strength together to pull Xiaomo and the pearl oyster back up .
However, the ocean was vast and endless . In order to find more pearl oysters, most of the pearl diving ships were far from the others . Furthermore, the patrolling government ship had just passed by not long ago . He had no idea when it would come back again! Jiang Sanshan was full of anxiety at this point and hollered out to the sea, “Help us ah! Someone, please help us!!”
Unfortunately, the only reply he got was the sound of seagulls cawing in the air as well as the sound of the sea breeze blowing around them . Jiang Sanshan and the others had all been neighbors that Zhuang Xiaomo had saved during the Wokou pirate disaster . If Zhuang Xiaomo hadn’t persisted in convincing them and bringing them to the West Mountain to hide, later bringing them to the hidden Dongshan Villagers, it was entirely possible that they and their families would have the same fate as the other villagers in their old village: dying grievously under the ravages of the pirates . These lucky few families now treated each other like blood-relatives, so they naturally had a close bond with each other . Despair and sorrow settled within these men . Were the heavens so cruel to take another family member away from them now?
Splash! A small head suddenly popped up from the water and a pair of jet-black large eyes glittered as they looked at the small group, “What’s wrong? What’s going on? I thought I heard someone crying for help earlier!”