Release that Witch Chapter 800
A flat yet spacious concrete ship slowly made its way into Clearwater Bay and berthed in front of Simbady.
Its size was much larger than that of the small boats which occasionally appeared in the Silver Stream, and its weight made it practically impossible to be rowed by manpower. On its top stood two long metal cylinders that puffed out billows of black smoke. Its sides were painted an eye-catching tangerine color, which together with the smooth gray deck made the ship look like a belly-up rainbow trout at first glance.
Like most of his brethren, Simbady had never left the desert, and rarely if ever saw the ocean. Thus, when he saw that this ship was not made of wood, he could not help but exclaim in marvel.
There was a stir of excitement among the ranks.
Osha's supervisor immediately snapped a whip towards their heads. "Keep your mouths shut! Line up and get on the ship, faster!"
Simbady felt the crowd begin to stream forward. With the people behind him jostling, it was impossible not to move. As he was carried by the momentum of the crowd on to the ship, a slight fear arose in his heart.
Perhaps, he should never have left Silver Stream Oasis to come to this foreign land. Though there was an endless supply of water here, there was a chance that the Three Gods could not watch over such a remote place, and therefore would not hear their cries for help if the ship carried them into the abyss of Styx's River.
"Hold on to me and watch your step!" Molly's voice caused him to regain consciousness.
A delicate hand wrapped around his palm and led him on to the gangway. Every now and then, someone from beside him would fall into the water with a splashing sound.
Though the people on the pier would quickly pull them ashore, to fall into the river in this sort of weather essentially meant that they lost the qualification to work.
When they pleaded to be reallowed onto the ship, the standard reply they received was a lash from a whip.
Simbady remained close to Molly and followed the flow onto the concrete ship. As his foot met the deck, he did not feel the wobble he had expected. The ship was completely still, and it felt no different from walking on land.
When the gangway was withdrawn, the honcho of Osha clan, Thuram, appeared on the high platform in the middle of the large ship and drew everyone's attention. "Do y'all still remember what I said? The chief values order and discipline above all else! Take a look at your clansmen who fell into the water. The original plan was for everyone to board smoothly and receive a work opportunity, so that you may obtain ample food even in the Months of Demons. But now, they'll have to starve until the next opportunity comes about! This was all caused by your stupidity!"
"It was nothing but a fall. All they need is a change of clothes...," an Ironsand citizen retorted, but before he could finish his sentence, two supervisors had pressed him down on the floor and subsequently tossed him into the water.
"Discipline is everything! There's no collective that accommodates the individual, only individuals who submit to the collective!" Thuram rebuked angrily. "Unlike the clan wars of the past, it's no longer lurking enemies who are being eliminated, but rather your own kin! Take this as my first lesson to all of you and remember it!" He paused before continuing, "Of course, those who lost their jobs today will only go hungry for a while. However, in the future, anyone from the Sand Nation or tribe who doesn't observe order shall be banished from this evergreen land!"
As his voice fell, a booming noise erupted from the metal cylinders and rolled across the sky above Port of Clearwater.
The giant metal wheels on both sides of the hull gradually began to rotate. After a violent shake, the concrete ship slowly sailed out towards the mouth of the river.
" Thank you. If it wasn't for you..." Simbady glanced at Molly.
The latter laughed and narrowed her eyes to slits. "It's nothing. It just happened that I was ahead of you in the order."
"Really..." He lowered his head with some embarrassment.
He and Molly were both members of the Fishbone clan, and they had conversed with each other on occasion. He had always been fond of this hazel-eyed, black-braided-hair girl, but having heard that she already had a sweetheart, he had thought it wiser not to reveal his feelings to her.
After some silence, he gazed at her while she leaned over the side of the ship, curiously observing the scenery on both sides of the river. He could not help asking, "Are you not the least bit worried about where we're going?"
She turned her head back. "Blackwater Valley?"
"Indeed. I've heard from the other clansmen that it's close to the Choke Swamp and Rotten Wasteland, and has been cursed by the Three Gods. Anyone who enters without permission will never be able to come back alive."
"So, did they apply for permission?"
"Eh, about this..."
Molly laughed involuntarily. "Don't they hope that as little people as possible get this job, so that their own clansmen may receive more money? You've also heard from Lady Drow Silvermoon that so long as you do things according to the chief's instructions, you'll never have to worry about the material needs of your family, while your tribe will also receive resource subsidies." She puffed out a mouthful of white air. "Besides, do we have a choice?"
The last sentence truly shut Simbady up. Indeed, the first clans to willingly follow Osha to the Southern Territory of Graycastle were predominantly small tribes which found it hard to continue in the Silver Stream Oasis. Fishbone was one of them. The oasis which they had occupied was currently being devoured by the desert, while the increasingly dry tributary of the Silver Stream made it impossible to guarantee the survival of the clan. In order to survive, they either had to join another big clan, or venture towards the Southern Territory.
"Thinking positively, at least the chief has fulfilled his first promise. We no longer have to worry about starving to death in the desert, right?"
Simbady could not refute this point. According to Lady Silvermoon's explanation, even those who were not able to attain a job out at sea would be able to receive a basic ration. As long as they could perform odd jobs for the reconstruction of the Southern Territory, they would not starve to death.
"Besides, there are Osha people following us to Blackwater Valley. You don't have to worry too much." Molly laughed and pointed at a ruined port in the distance. "Look there... the land allotted to our clan should be near to that black tower, right? It'll be great if we can stay here forever."
Simbady looked towards the direction she pointed at. The Port of Clearwater appeared to have been divided into two. Half of it was a burnt-down wasteland which seemed to have been forgotten and deserted, with damaged houses and scorched wooden frames everywhere, and the courtyards were filled with weed. Conversely, the other half already possessed a budding vitality. Here, the Ironsand people had set up a series of tents, and people could be seen moving within the camp area. The damaged houses were being knocked down one after another, while freshly whittled wood was continuously being transported into the area.
Molly's smile caused a surge of anticipation to rise in his heart.
"Perhaps, after I'm done with the next three months of work and return here, near to the tower will be a line of brand-new wooden houses?"
The being-reconstructed town slowly disappeared in the distance, until the ship began to bobble up and down on the waves. The only scenery at present was the clear and boundless skyline.
They had entered into the ocean.