"..." Akaiji's expression showed him to be rather surprised, as if confused about why the great Yao would seek the answers to what he already knows. I mean, he was a great and powerful, honourably immense dragon. They knew all the things.
Maybe he only wished to further practice in his exquisite use of this primitive monkey-talk-?...
"Magnificent Dragon Master Yao... This one will elucidate." More strangely dramatic tones. "Honourable Human shortnames Myf and Meg were most quick in discovering Honourable Magistrate Zheng. In turn, Honourable Magistrate Zheng had been most quick in discovering that not honourable murdering pirates were discovering slaves in his people, and honourable ghosts were discovering not being honourable ghosts. These are the most important discoveries that were discovered..."
Akaiji stopped for a moment. And stared. Stared at Yao.
"...Vast apologies, great one... Is this humble one being incorrect in his endeavours of ill confusion?"
...He... He did it? The crab knew when he was being confusing! Somebody get some fireworks in here!
"Paid for boat. Made contact with the weeds once more. Made a skilled smashing of the fortress and the pirates. Made of caverns. Six slaves but could be more. Strangely, poor choices for slaves, even considering primates. Most confusing. One commented that her brain and the brain of all her related females could see the futures and talk with the other brains. Most confusing." He shrugged. Those whiskers were ticking like clockwork. "A pagoda castle house. We smashed with skill also. Two leaders, and then one. We sat on the wizard, vicariously, until he informed us of a muscular female dog with a mask and a list of people she wanted. Most, most confusing. Her name was Hong. Had some relation to Shang Lao of Zhaoge. Relation unclear. Wizard being sat on was not effective in his projection of information. He was a dirty dirty horrible disguising honourable softskin thing, I said so, and prospected that we should stabulate it. Magistrate Zheng may or may not have carried out such a task. Most confusing."
"Honourable non-primate with awkward meat lumps alchemist Hui endeavoured to accompany us upon our conquest of the second problem. She was most helpful, but she did not have any insight into the strange operations of the inn. She also did not have any more information on the terrible abominations designated unholy Blobadoo and repugnant Squiglers. She did undestroy my face, however, and that was most appreciated. The woman at the in had the face long squishy tentacles of a mollusc instead of the hard pointy inside face tentacles of a human. Most repugnant. The necromancer was a stone that this one destroyed. Most confusing. It contained the Blobadoo. Most repugnant. Gave the smaller stone to honourable human Ganzorig. Most flammable."
"These were... confusing events... my great honourable master. Apologies."
The Celestial Dragon twisted and coiled on its pillar, listening to the Crab's confusing words with interest. Finally, after a brief pause to consider the Crabman's, uh, 'explanation.'
"...What are Squiglers and Blobadoos? I am unfamiliar with such terms."
"They're the wretched names we've given to the nightmarish, horrific-" Meg paused to control herself. "The creatures we encountered, honorable master Yao."
"Squiglers had tendrils. And impersonated a primate... I have tendrils of a kind also, but this specific combination suggests a more unnatural origin, Master Yao." Akaiji still spoke as if it was being tested. Since, you know, if the swirly headed drunky ape human Ganzorig new these things, how could their honourable and infinitely wise master not? "It's ability to impersonate a huu-man female, and also it's ability to impersonate one's thoughts, further prove this hypothesis. In hindsight, this one should have realised the situation with the Golden Way primate females managed to engage courtship with comrade Shun without correct romance procedure. On two occasions. A most disturbing power, Great And Powerful Master Yao. A most disturbing creature."
"Blobadoo was the second creature we encountered, within the stone." It continued hurriedly, as if dutiful. "This one does not know it's ancestral origin. It was both armed and consisted of an unusual acid. An unusual acid at least capable of melting the face of a crab person. This one has no further information. A most horrid creature, His Infinite Wisdom."
"Honourable short hairy soft comrade Ganzorig may know more, for he was the one who first recalled their true names."
"Uh. I dunno what most people call them, but those names just felt right to me, at the time." Ganzorig held out a parcel for Yao to see, "Oh yeah, but that Blobadoodle was also near this rock." He unveiled the small black monolith with a flick of his wrist. "It was surrounded by dead foxes and shit. Uh. Your Awesomeness." He did some kind of curtsey.
"Is there any way your honor could destroy that thing-" Myfanwy requested, shuddering after Ganzorig revealed the mini pillar. "Seeing as we could not...[I]did not[I] have the strength to?"
"I apologize, Grand Master," Meg spoke. "I performed less than what is expected of me." She silently berated herself, recalling the horrors she had faced. "I was overcome with fear, just as I was when I-" she cut herself off and tried desperately to choke back her tears. "I am sorry," she managed.
Yao's Lionfolk reacted with snarls as Ganzorig unveiled the small black monolith and even the Celestial Dragon himself seemed to recoil, somewhat, as the abhorrent thing was displayed.
The Dragon was silent for several moments, before it chose to speak again.
"I am unfamiliar with the nature of that... thing, and equally so with the creatures you describe. As vast and deep as my profound knowledge is," oh, Dragons, "I am not all-knowing." He sounded a bit glum, before getting a bit more chipper. "However, I am certain that there are those of my kind who do know, and this obscenity you have found and the creatures you describe warrent further investigation, as does this Hong woman. Zhaoge does not lie within my jurisdiction, and thus it is currently beyond my authority to sent you there on my behalf. I shall petition for the permission to do so while investigating the nature of the creatures you describe and the... object... you have found."
Yao nodded towards one of the Lionfolk which cautiously proceeded to take the monolith from Ganzorig, the proud creature's fur bristling and its teeth baring as it approached the hateful thing. Monolith in tow, the Lionman made his exist.
"I apologize for subjecting you to such horror. I did not anticipate that combating outlaws would somehow entangle you with monstrous things. I would greatly appreciate your continued assistance in pursuing this matter, although you are as ever and always free to opt out without any loss of honor. There is no shame in turning back now. There is no rush in choosing, either. I imagine it will be several weeks before I am granted the authority to send you to Zhaoge, and you may give me your answer then. You shall, of course, continue to be generously rewarded for continued service, just as you shall be for your service to this point." Yao proceeded to ring a gong with his tail, which induced two Lionfolk to enter the room carrying a chest between them. Silently the two proceed to open the chest and to remove and distribute to each member of the group small and highly decorated boxes containing platinum coins.
"Your payment for services rendered so far. The equivalent of 2,500 gold coins, each," Yao explained. "Should you wish to go to Zhaoge on my behalf, I shall pay you twice that sum - half before you depart, and half upon your safe return. Naturally I shall have Xun handle your transportation to and from the capital.
Thank you, again, for your assistance. I am sure your actions have made a difference. I am sure the spirits you freed from torment thank you as well, and shall remember their debt."
Sat on a park bench with a furrowed brow and a troubled frown Meg clutched her coin-box, her fingers softly tracing its intricacies. She stared her box up and down almost disappointingly. Twenty-five big ones, she thought with her eyes fixated on her money. Was this all she got, or was it more than she deserved? She shifted her weight on the bench, growing uncomfortable. How could she have let herself slip? How could she have let herself feel that fear? She clasped her hands around her box tighter with these thoughts. How could she have failed so miserably? Clenching her teeth she struggled to repress memories she had done so well to forget. Images of fire and blood crept in her mind, visions of vicious smiles and sounds of grisly screams filled her thoughts. Her head swirling, she bent her neck and curled up her body, sobbing into her thighs. Her eyes drained onto her legs as she let out what she was feeling. Shame, regret, and fear could only scratch the surface of what her body ached with. Why this? Why now? All she could do was ask herself, over and over, "why?"
In the time that had passed, Akaiji had come to realise that life was rather simpler when you knew your god on a personal basis. It's no wonder that his comrade primates were so unfocused and so easily confused. He would have volunteered for the next mission instantly, had he not been fearful of accidentally forcing the others into the task out of their strange non-linear ideas of honour. The coins didn't even mean anything to him. Yao probably knew that, and likely just gave them to him as to make a show of treating him the same as the humans.
When he returned home, he dwelt in his underwater grotto for so long that his hide began to grow green and grey with the build up of algae. It felt strange talking to his fellow, mechanically minded crab and shrimpfolk after so long. They were efficient, for certain, but lacked a certain spark of willpower. They did what they did because they couldn't do anything else, and Akaiji was disturbed to find himself unable to respect them for that.
A return to the lands above was in order.
A communal plant area. The land-trees rigidly refused to move in the air-waves, alrough it made for a spectacular mess of ripped leaves upon the floor.
One of the comrades. Female primate was leaking something. Akaiji's eyes remained in the gloom of his helm whilst he examined the strange animal's behaviour from afar.
He didn't feel like provoking a change in her actions with his being there, but knew all too well that he could not sneak about so easily in this alien terrain.
The lumbering shadow placed down a tiny box infront of her, and then just gazed blankly for a second, before lumbering slowly away again.
A box identical to her own. Exactly four of the platinum coins were missing.
Well, I guess that was how you'd go about appeasing a Dragon...