I teleported to the road leading out of town, leaving those three Adventurers back inside the cave to wait for me.
Before I left, I had explicitly told them to watch over the dragon and spider corpses since I would be coming back to collect on those later. We'll need them as proof for the Request completion confirmation later and I plan to keep them as crafting materials afterwards.
I could've just put them in my storage ring but I figured giving them something to do while they waited for me was a better idea.
Once I orientated myself to my destination, I immediately activated a cloaking Technique and flew towards the direction of the forest, my senses tuned to root out the Dark Sect hidden there.
I contemplated the idea of just burning the entire forest with them in it, but decided that was too extreme a solution.
I would first do some investigations about their activities and make sure they're all gathered in one spot first before wiping them out. It's easier to hunt rats when they're all inside their hidey hole than when they're scurrying about all over the place.
It didn't take me long to find them.
They had chosen a clearing a few meters away from the main road, deep enough such that anyone travelling on the road wouldn't be able to see them but still close enough to strike at anyone passing through.
Some of the flora were tied together expertly to better conceal their entrance too, with two guards standing by it and another one further behind to no doubt serve as an alarm should they be attacked.
I must admit that they were hidden quite well, if you were searching from the ground that is.
But I suppose they had intentionally made it easier to be seen from above so the Rhyme dragon could find them easily. Perhaps they were afraid that the dragon might actually burn down the entire forest if he couldn't find them out of frustration.
A reasonable precaution.
But one that plays in my favour now.
I swooped down to the forest canopy, hiding myself amongst the leaves as I peered down at these troublemakers.
It seems like most of them were in the midst of preparing for something, probably they were under the assumption that they had new victims on the way to investigate this dragon menace.
I counted at least fifty of them, but the number of campfires and tents scattered around the place suggested at least another ten more.
Within the centre of the clearing, there seems to be some sort of excavation going on though for what purposes I was unable to discern. My guess is that they found some artifact within the area and are probably studying it or performing another of their chuuni rituals on it.
Thinking back to the Request, if they had a mole within the Adventurer's Guild, they would know by now that we had accepted the Request and left the town.
At least, that's assuming they were communicating through telepathy which suggests a Practitioner hiding inside the town, justifying Elaria's distaste of Practitioners.
An ordinary party without a teleportation Technique would take about a day or so to reach here, so right now they're probably not expecting any activity on the road.
That means their full strength will probably only appear tomorrow when they're expecting us.
I took note of all the key points within the camp before chancing a closer look.
Can't get too close in case they have inscribed some form of alarm around the perimeter that alerts them of intruders.
I could just destroy it in the event of one being present, but I wouldn't know if any of them might be good enough to sense its destruction. Last thing I needed was for all the rats to start scurrying away into the forest out of fear.
Spotting a Dark Sect member that wore different robes compared to the rest, I circulated a Technique that allowed me to enhance my hearing.
"Listen up," The man said in an authoritative tone. "Our business partners have sent someone our way to take care of. This isn't the usual stint as we have to get rid of this one by hook or by crook. If we don't, we don't get a bonus since the damn monsters ahead of us will probably finish it for us and they'll get a fat paycheck instead, you guys want that?"
"Screw those monsters!"
"Yeah! They're always taking the good stuff!"
The man raised his hand for silence, "Yes, we all know how despicable those monsters are. What's more, our rewards this time are quite significant."
The crowd leaned forward to hear his words.
"Three hundred gold and guaranteed authority in the new town order if we manage to kill this little kid!" The leader yelled, presenting a picture of me.
The only problem was that the picture was obviously taken out from one of Odriana's doujin that featured a half naked man leaning over a similarly half naked me.
The Dark Sect members became silent, I did not need to see their faces to know that they were currently looking at their leader in disgust.
I guess father didn't have the time to have my picture taken so he used one of my elder sister's drawings of me as a bounty poster.
Not sure how motivated these people will be after seeing such a picture though
"Sir Er Sorry, but Which one?" One of the group asked.
The leader looked visibly confused at the question, "What are you talking about? There's only one guy isn't there?"
"Sorry sir Maybe you have the wrong picture?"
The leader turned the page around and gasped when he saw what was on it.
"Ignore that! Ignore what all of you just saw, you hear me?!" The leader roared, tucking the picture away inside his robe's sleeve.
He fished out another picture, this time with only me printed on it.
Huh I guess I was wrong about father giving him that picture. It seems he's also a fan of Odriana's works, who would've known?
"It's this kid! Remember his face! He should be coming along the main road tomorrow! Don't underestimate him because he's apparently a very strong Practitioner!"
The crowd began to mumble amongst themselves.
"Sir, you're joking right? That kid looks like he's eight years old There's no way he can be a Practitioner, much less a strong one."
The leader shrugged, "I'm just as doubtful as you are, but that's what our business partners told me and since they're offering that much gold, there must be some truth to it."
One of the Sect members chuckled, "Maybe he's protected by some expert that he has stored in his Cultivation Point or his storage ring! Ahahaha!"
Another one joined in, "Yeah, and that expert happens to be injured or something and needs to recuperate within that space huh? Hahaha!"
"Oh! And the expert cultivator wouldn't happen to be a little girl from some other world huh?"
"Nah, that's just pushing it. I say it's some decrepit old man who is on his last legs and wants to pass his legacy to some 'special Practitioner'!"
The leader clapped his hands, "Alright, alright. You idiots can laugh after we actually finish the job and get the money! Now back to your stations and brief your own group about our target! I don't want any screw ups tomorrow!"
The leader turned away without waiting for a response, disappearing back within one of the tents.
Well, that disperses any doubt that they were after us.
I'll have to leave dealing with them for tomorrow, I still have that group of monsters to scout for and I'm down to my last hour of sunset.
Those monsters are more important since my disciples will be the ones to deal with them and I wouldn't want any mishaps.
I flew away from the campsite leaving nary a trace.