I looked at the two bodies that were dangling on the tree branch, their faces so disfigured I doubt their own mothers could recognise them.
"It seems I was too late in subduing those monsters last night" I sighed.
"It is no fault of yours Master, this is merely an unfortunate circumstance," Lian Li consoled me.
"Poor things" Manami commented, her hands dutifully covering Cai Hong's eyes from seeing the gruesome scene in front of us.
I used a Technique to pull the corpses of our drivers down from the tree, laying them down on the ground to inspect them.
Their faces had various slashes across them, the size and shape resembling claw marks.
Almost none of their facial features remained and there was a huge gaping hole in their abdomen, their intestines visibly missing.
"I guess the monsters must have killed them for food and left them there for dessert," Eris concluded, prodding the corpses with a stick.
"Hmmm? Master, there are traces of them being bound at the wrists," Diao Chan pointed out.
I scratched my chin, "Curious, perhaps the monsters used vines to immobilise them before devouring them. That means they were rather intelligent? Interesting"
"Can Cai Hong see now?" My cute little dragon asked.
I directed a gout of flames towards the bodies to incinerate them, "Not yet, Cai Hong, just wait for a bit more."
"So what da' we do now? Take over the carriages and use 'em?" Eris suggested.
"Well, that might be an impossible feat since" I gestured to the similarly dead horses that lay near the trees.
"Should we teleport back then, Master?" Manami suggested.
And waste this valuable chance of vacation away? Hell no! Not that I'm going to admit that out loud though. Got to think of another excuse
"Well, it's a good chance for us to bond," I pointed out. "There's a saying that to understand your partners, you'll have to get out of your comfort zones to see who they really are. Out in the wilderness is the best place for people to connect with each other."
All the girls turned their heads to stare at me with a weird look in their eyes.
What? Was what I said unbelievable?
"I agree with what Master said," Lian Li said after a while. "We will surely umm Connect with each other on a very personal level."
Manami giggled, "Ufufufu~ Indeed. This big sister will take really good care of Master~"
Cai Hong hugged my arm, "Cai Hong stay with Papa!"
Eris nodded as well, "This one humbly thinks that it will serve as a good training opportunity."
"Kukuku~ Maybe Some interesting things might happen on our trip too~" Diao Chan commented with a mischievous smile.
Kiyomi tapped her chin with a finger, "Hmm Considering how I've been cooped inside the town all this while, I'm in no hurry either."
I clapped my hands together, "Well, let's go pack up our things and go then. We'll also have to report that our drivers were killed by monsters to the Guild."
We moved back towards our campsite to pack up before we leave, or at least that was the plan before a group of eight men showed up on the road on our way back.
No prizes for guessing what they're here for.
"Ey laddies! Lookie what we got 'ere!" The big muscled leader laughed, showing his mouth full of missing and crooked teeth. "Some beauts and a little weener! I think we hit the jackpot laddies!"
Ah bandits, how I miss having to deal with just you guys. I'll definitely pick you guys over hundred eyed tentacle monsters anyday.
I stepped in front of my disciples, "We don't want any trouble. We have money, just take it and leave us alo--"
"Lookie at 'im laddies! Little weener's thinkin''ee can tell us wat ta' do?" The leader growled, staring at me with clear mockery in his eyes.
Ah I guess it is a little difficult for bandits to take a little kid's words seriously. Perhaps showing them that I am a Practitioner might scare them off?
"Hehehe Hey boss, could we have a go at them girls after yer done?" The bandit beside the leader grinned. "Haven't had a chance to try a fox youk-- Nine tails?! And two of them?!"
All the mirth the bandits had immediately dissipated, all of them suddenly looking ready to run.
I almost forgot the fact that Manami and Kiyomi are supposedly powerful beings in the eyes of normal mortals.
To normal people, both my fox disciples would be seen as Elite Practitioners. Needless to say, an Elite Practitioner is more than enough to take care of a normal ragtag group of bandits by themselves.
And since there's two of them right behind me, unless all of them are swordmasters, I highly doubt they can even touch the hems of their clothes in a normal confrontation.
The leader glanced at my two fox disciples before looking back at me, "Huh A youn' master of a Noble House, eh? Tsk Fine, we'll jus' take deh moneh and go."
If only that stupid monster was as reasonable as you guys are. Not that I regretted a single moment of banishing it back from whence it came.
Before the leader could take another step however, Kiyomi had moved to stand in front of me to block his way. Her arms were crossed in front of her chest and by how her tails were pointed upright stiffly, she was prepared to attack him.
"I think not. For someone as weak as you to be strutting around like you own the place is unforgivable. Unless you beg for Master's forgiveness, do not, for a moment, think you can leave this place unscathed."
Oh no Kiyomi, please don't set a bad example for the other girls. I know you like being the dominant one but there's a time and place for everything. What if Cai Hong or even Diao Chan learn from you and start being mean to other people?
They're fine just the way they are, you know?
Ah, but I suppose having your disciples defend you is a rather Empowering feeling.
My eyes darted to the bandit leader's waist, where he had already unclasped his sword slightly.
"Hmph Don't push yer luck, youkai. I'm just not in da' mood for a fight. If aye wanted to, yer would be down on all fours and beggin' for me mercy instead."
I noticed one of Kiyomi's tail quiver as she unfolded her hands, "Really? You're the one that's pushing his luck right now, one last cha--"
I tossed a pouch of coins towards the leader, it didn't contain much but it was enough for all of them to get a decent meal at least. He caught it with a hand, though his eyes still remained on Kiyomi in case she moved.
I guess he really does have some skill to back up his claims at least.
"Just take it and go. You're wasting my time here," I shooed him.
The leader hefted the pouch with his palm, testing its weight before breaking out into a cruel smile, "Heh A'least yerr owner knows a bit of what's about. C'mon laddies, we're gonna git sumthin' good wit this!"
I watched them leave as they trudged along the path, a few of them throwing glances towards my disciples as they went. None of them bothered to hide the obvious lust behind their gazes.
"Master, why?" Kiyomi finally asked after they went out of sight.
"They are just a bunch of people who have resorted to doing these things for survival, there is no need for us to stain our hands with the likes of them," I lied smoothly.
Kiyomi looked like she wanted to protest more but Manami had approached her from behind and patted her shoulder.
Seeing her sister shake her head at her, the white fox decided to cease her protests.
Looks like Manami has also become understanding of my motives. I know I was doing the right thing!
"Alright, we've wasted enough time as it is," I called out, bringing their attention back to our predicament at hand. "Let's get packing, even if we're taking this easily, I still want to cover some ground today."
My disciples nodded and moved to prepare for our long journey ahead.