The continuation of the journey was much slower than it had been. There were less functional wagons, and more goods. Though a few wagons full of goods had been damaged or destroyed, nobody was too upset. After all, they were still alive… and those merchants who losts good were being compensated. Though there was no way to bring the entire forest dragon back with the caravan, the most valuable part was the scales. Though many had been damaged, it was only a small amount compared to the total size of the giant lizard. The bones were also valuable, but the caravan had neither time nor space to obtain those. As it was, they actually left behind many of the bulkier and less valuable goods. Even so, some people had to walk instead of riding in wagons. Though there was some grumbling about that, there still wasn’t too much, since the journey was actually going to be significantly more profitable for most now.
Even the guards shared in the bounty. Though they were paid to guard the caravan, the expected level of threats was much lower than a forest dragon. Thus, they were owed additional compensation. This often involved the owner of the caravan taking a financial hit, because there were many dangers that didn’t have valuable remains. In this case everyone came out ahead, though most wouldn’t wish for a similar thing to happen again. After all, there was a chance that they would die, and the extra profits weren’t that great. A few of the guards actually died during the battle or from wounds afterwards, and if the caravan had been a bit less defended it was possible the battle would have been lost.
William was a significant part of why the battle had been won. He wasn’t going to say that it couldn’t have been won without him, but with him things had gone much better than they would have otherwise. Perhaps another guard or two would have provided the same level of benefit as William, or perhaps not. Either way, there weren’t any other guards around, so they had needed William or risked suffering at least a few more casualties. Everyone agreed that William also deserved a share of the rewards, the same as the bonus for the guards. That made William happy, because though he didn’t need money… there was a better option. The guards were allowed to chose between a monetary reward or a portion of the scales. The scales were relatively more valuable, but would take some effort to turn into anything useful. Still, William preferred to have the scales.
Thus, he shared a wagon with a few of the injured guards. He would be walking, but with injured ribs… it was a terrible idea. Thus, he sat in the wagon thinking about what he could do with the scales. He could make armor out of it, which was the most obvious idea. The only problem was that it would be much heavier than what William was used to. After all, he usually wore just an enchanted robe, which weighed no more than regular clothing. Still, it wasn’t like he would need to always wear armor. That wasn’t ever practical. Still, it would be nice to have something for going into combat… and the scales should still be more lightweight than metal armor, at least for the amount of protection it provided. It wouldn’t be as good as on the forest dragon, of course, because it wouldn’t be supported by the massive bulk and strength it had underneath. The scales would still be very good protection, and perhaps he could get them enchanted. William was unsure if the scales could hold magical enchantments, or how well it worked if they could. He hadn’t had any particular reason to look into forest dragon scales before.
It was technically possible to add magical enchantments to anything, but that involved replacing parts of it with easily enchantable material, such as his robe having particular parts sewn in. In the case of hard things such as scales, it might take enough additional materials that it would weaken the base structure enough that there was no point, unless you were just interested in cosmetic application of the scales. In that case, though, it might be cheaper to buy actual dragon scales… if they could be found for sale, anyway.
The rest of the journey truly was uneventful, though in William’s case it was not pleasant. His coughing only exasperated the wounds on his ribs, causing them to heal more slowly. He had to take extra portions of his medicine to reduce his coughing. That was fine for a while, but eventually taking more medicine than he should would cause other complications. William hoped his ribs would heal quickly, but at the very least they should be in a better state before he had to cut back to normal amounts of medicine. Still, he was in a poor state when he finally came back to the Yu clan grounds.
The first person he went to find was his grandfather, Yu Jian. He deserved the courtesy, even if he wasn’t technically older than William. Though he didn’t let just anyone come to see him, given his status, William was always welcome. William entered the room that Yu Jian used to receive guests, only to find him in a state not much better than William’s. He wasn’t injured, but he was looking much less young than he had previously. Time seemed to be catching up to him quickly. William supposed he was actually quite healthy for his age. William wasn’t exactly sure what that was, but Yu Jian was between seven and eight dozen years old. Since Liaoyang didn’t have much interest in celebrating birthdays, William didn’t know more than that. “Greetings, grandfather.”
Yu Jian nodded. “Welcome back. You appear to be in a rather bad state. Did you get in a fight with a dragon?”
William shrugged. “I suppose you could say that, thought it was a forest dragon… which makes it technically just a giant lizard. I didn’t fight it myself, of course, or I would be much worse off. Dead, probably.”
“Oh? You encountered a forest dragon? That’s bad luck, they mostly stay away from the roads. How did things go in Ostana?”
William had sent some letters, but they never contained all of the information on what William was doing. Usually, he was involved in something that couldn’t safely be put to paper, and Yu Jian knew that. “Well, actually…” William explained about his investigations, up to and including the matter with the Hengan family and those conspiring with them.
Yu Jian sighed. “People can be so stupid. I’d like to say it was only people in Ostana, but it’s even the case here. The only difference is here we have an organization dedicated to killing a certain kind of them. The Order has been busy. After all, though wiping out those who consorted with demons has always been important… now there is a key timeframe. The Order also has less need to stay secret.”
The two of them caught up on other things that had happened in the time they hadn’t seen each other, talking late into the night as grandfather and grandson, but also as friends and peers.