Ah, it's a dragon.
The scales were rainbow coloured too.
The difference between this particular dragon's scales and Cai Hong's hair was that the colours were not shifting and the hue of the colours were more subdued.
"Humanssss Ssso you are the onessss to come and hunt me?" The dragon hissed at us, it's voice deep and rumbling.
I heard the Lance guy gulp from all the way over here.
"Oh no, not at all umm Mister? Mister dragon We er We were only here for this monster nest, that's all!" The leader of the party spluttered.
"Hmmm Issss that right?"
"Yes, most definitely! We'll leave now in fact!" Arza added in hastily from behind Lance.
The dragon gave a hoarse chuckle that rumbled at the back of his throat, the entire cavern shaking from his laughter alone.
"Did you humanssss not know That I've claimed thisss place as my own domain?"
Ah that is probably why father and brother were desperate to get rid of it. No one would be at ease if a dragon had claimed a part of your neighborhood as its own.
With how the family business is completely in Elaria's hands, they're most likely trying to resort to some other illicit business on the side to try and get out of Elaria's thumb.
But what kind of trade would they be conducting all the way out here?
The only ones that will engage in trade in this part of the region are Dark Sect members and monsters. Last I checked, there shouldn't be any Dark Sect enclaves around here.
Or I could be wrong about that.
Damn it, more work for me to do.
But if the problem is monsters, I could just send my disciples here to take care of them.
Yep, I'll say that it's a test of their independence and a quest from me. Surely they would be able to root out any other monsters around here.
I'm still a busy man Er Boy, after all.
As for Dark Sect members, I'll still have to deal with them myself since I don't want my disciples' hands to be stained with human trash.
Ah, I almost forgot about the dragon that's right in front of me and got distracted.
The dragon lowered its head to take a closer look at us, "Hmmm What sssshould I do? These spidersss were under my protection too Now I have no more servantssss..."
I think this is a good opportunity to mention that this dragon is not a Myriad Colours dragon.
It seems like father and brother had been mistaken, or rather, I had expected too much.
This is a Rhyme dragon.
They're known for their multi-coloured scales as well but it does not shimmer like the Myriad Colours dragons' do. Their multi-coloured scales serve as an attraction to other lesser monsters, making most of the less intelligent ones think the dragon is some kind of treasure to be protected and obeyed.
They're also one of the most vain dragons in existence.
No surprise this one took these spiders as its underlings since they breed fast and are quite resilient to boot.
Now the real question is what else is it doing here for both my father and the Adventurer's Guild to issue out a Request to investigate and subjugate it?
Perhaps I should try and make this Rhyme dragon talk until he reveals his purpose here? Other than just living here, of course.
I still can't believe I had thought there really was another of Cai Hong's family here.
I guess I was just too paranoid to have been led to believe another Myriad Colours dragon had shown up.
Having one appear on the Earthen Plane is already a big enough deal, but two? Yeah, probably not really much of a possibility there.
It's not like I'm a magnet for such events to occur, right? Nah, no way.
No, no, no. That's not a flag, I'm just stating facts. Facts, ok? That's different. Yes, totally not raising a flag over there.
Oh where was I? Oh right, the dragon.
"What What do you want then?" Henry asked with a quivering voice, his voice a pitch higher than normal.
"Hmm How about All of you sssstay here and replace my lost minionssss? That ssshould be good enough compensation. Good deal yessss? Your miserable livessss in exchange for the honour of sssserving me."
Did I mention they're incredibly vain? I meant that they were unbelievably full of themselves.
Lance fingered his estocs nervously, "Ummm Could we compensate you in some other way? We er We kind of have other things we need to take care of"
The dragon laughed again, "Heh heh In that case, you won't have any thingssss to take care of if you're dead, yessss?"
I raised my hand, "Mr. Dragon! I don't mind sssserv-- I mean serving you!"
He looked at me with one of his large serpentine eyes, "Ho? You look like a ssssmart little kid I sssuppose I can keep you around for when I feel like ssssnacking."
"Oh but could I just ask," I continued, trying to look my part of a very inquisitive and innocent child. "What does Mr. Dragon do? Mr. Dragon is so big and strong, you must have done a lot of amazing things! Many people must like you! Are you really awesome?!"
What do you do to get information out of people with over-inflated egos? You keep inflating them bit by bit and they'll blow up eventually, scattering all the candies around like a pinata.
"Heh, heh, heh. You have good eyessss kid. Thissss dragon is the big bosssss of this whole area! Even those ssssilly humanssss in the forest that wear those weird and dark robessss pay me tribute!"
Ah, so I guess there really is a Dark Sect lurking around these parts after all.
"Not to mention There issss also that monster village at the foot of this mountain near the valley. Weird little bunch that likessss to do tradessss with humanssss too. They too, pay thissss great one tributesss! Do you understand how great thisss one isss?"
Or Why not both I guess?
Guess I'll have my disciples going after the monsters while I take care of the Dark Sect.
I should go and check them out before sending my disciples after them, just to make sure no other problems come up.
Heh, both father and brother think they can make use of me like this? I'll destroy their backdoor out of my sister's rule then, see how they like that?
First I'll find out what products they have been trading, especially since two different parties are involved.
The Dark Sect should be dealing with monster parts, cultivation materials and foodstuffs but what could the monster village want that they will engage in trade with humans?
Definitely not gold, they have no use for that.
Food? But the monsters have access to ample food supply around this area.
Cultivation materials is a possibility since they can directly absorb the Pure Elemental Quarks to strengthen themselves but
They can't be trading Practitioners can they?
Or maybe not just Practitioners but humans too?
I pulled out my map again to inspect it, realising that had we taken the normal route, we would have encountered both the Dark Sect members and monsters along the way.
Since this was nothing more than a recon Request, there would not be a full party formed just to undertake it in order to increase the party's speed. This factor makes them prime targets for ambushes.
They set me up.
Not just them, it seems like someone in the Adventurer's Guild is in cahoots as well or else there will be a big issue when Adventurer teams go missing.
Someone is covering up the missing persons within the Adventurer's Guild itself, that means father and brother were probably operating a separate group independent of Elaria and has gained followers.
This does not seem good.
Something nudged me on my shoulder.
"Hey kid, did you even hear what the great me ssssaid? I told you to ssstart grovelling at my feet you sssstupid little--"
I grabbed the talon he had poked my shoulder with and clenched, shattering it into powder.
"What? What did you do, you sssstupid--"
"I said, shut up."
I punched my fist towards the dragon's neck, an invisible bullet of air blasting straight through the oversized lizard.
Blood splattered the back walls of the cavern as the head became separated from its body, soaring through the air to crash on the ground near the other three Adventurers.
The dragon's body took a second longer to realise it was missing a head before crashing down lifelessly on the floor.
"I'm going to look for those two places while you guys wait here," I announced to the other Adventurers. "Any problems with that?"
All three of them shook their heads quickly.