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185 Slave Hunters

 Gou Dan was hidden above the trees and carefully peering at a nearby sight through the dense foliage.

A group of people were having a conversation around a fire, all of them carrying unusual weapons.

There were some carriages parked nearby. Some were carrying loads covered in sackcloth and could not be seen, but the other carriages were clearly carrying empty cages where the coach should be.

In other words, those people were slave hunters.

And like their name would suggest, a group that captures slaves.

Such an abnormal group mostly appear amongst humans only-aside from humans and orcs, other species did not possess the concept of slavery.

That being said, orcs would only enslave the tribes of foes whom they had slain and found worthy of respect in the battlefield.

After all, orcs were not like humans-they live in barren lands and were lacking in fertility. Considering their crudely straightforward behavior and their lack of detailed craftsmanship meant that they would only ever hold faith in the God of War or the God King of Beasts, and never the God of Harvest.

That was also why their kind were always short of food, and even the flesh of the foes they defeated became one of their most important sources of food. Without industrial revolutions and no lack of labor, they naturally wouldn't want to enslave beings as humans would.

In fact, having slaves was a meaningless waste of food for their own tribe, yielding no benefit in relative to its cost and no function at all.

But humans were different.

Even under circumstances where they need manual labor to develop land, most nations and nobles saw slaves as a form of property akin to livestock.

Moreover, owning slaves of other rare races were a symbol of personal influence and wealth.

Amongst those, the rarest was the wood elves.

In terms of human aesthetic values, wood elves of either gender were elegant and beautiful in appearance, a rare humanoid race that could exist in harmony with nature. As such, they had an indescribable spirituality to them.

Moreover, most of their individuals lived up to three thousand long years, possessing talents no human could hope to reach in many aspects including magic, archery, and the arts. If anyone could get their hands on one, with a little discipling they could be passed down like an heirloom...

Nonetheless, it has been a long time since humans get to capture any real wood elves, and it was even rumored that the price on one in the black markets now was Illum Crystals, ten times the weight of said captured elf.

And since those slave hunters had shown up here at the Trinia Forests, their target was naturally the wood elves whom the legends claimed were living in the heart of this place.

"Are those guys crazy?" Gou Dan muttered quietly.

Even a village kid like him knew the reason why there weren't any wood elves for sale in the slave market was not because humans couldn't find them. The forests the elves were rumored to live were just a few vast woodlands after all, and should the humans come in sufficient numbers and sweep it, they would always reach the elves.

The problem was that not many humans could win against the elves even if they found their dwelling place. With their long lifespan, the wood elves could learn various skills, and by adulthood they would become learned mages, archers who never miss, or patron of the arts who have the finest taste in art and cultural upbringing.

In terms of combat ability alone, any adult elf was an equal match, or if not better in comparison to the cardinals of middling churches. They were all powerful hunters with rich experience, and while most cardinals would own formidable sacred arts, they might not actually best veteran knights if caught off guard.

Therefore, Gou Dan could not help being perplexed when he saw the slave hunters.

Who could have given them the courage to come here deep within the Trinia Forests to catch elves?

While he began posting in the forums informing Edward and the others regarding present circumstances, he also warned them not to take reckless actions.

Ultimately, the slave hunters were behaving too weirdly. If their ability was to be judged by their appearances, a single adult elf could wipe them all out thrice over...

It would take an army of ten thousand fully armed, supported by a guild of mages and a sacred choir to actually stand a chance against the wood elves. And that actually includes the conditions of the opposing elves not having elite units such as Listeners, the Moon God's sentinels, and Silver Dragons...

And the reality was that even though the humans could gather such an army, the elves would already have learned about the attack before it happened thanks to their bonds with the forests. In turn, they would just pack up and leave, and all the humans would get is empty villages of treehouses.

As a matter of fact, humans studying the cultures of other races believed that this continent would have been ruled by the elves instead of humans, the latter of whom were now occupying more lands and flaunting their might. The only reasons stopping the elves was their poor gestation cycle where only up to two were born to a small tribe over centuries, along with their pacifist patron deities.

***

In reply to Gou Dan's post, Edward and the others had sworn that they were definitely not going to do anything reckless.

Gou Dan, however, knew very well that those characters loved flirting with danger and getting their own demise ever since they had become undying Players, their once passionate curiosities completely exploding into overwhelming impulse.

It wouldn't mean a thing even if he warned them.

In theory, when a normal person sees a button labeled 'Don't touch or you'll die', they would try their hardest to hold back the curious impulse to touch it. On the other hand, a Player would try their hardest to touch said button and see what would happen no matter how hard others would try to stop him...

And soon enough, Gou Dan could see several familiar names hovering in the air above some nearby bushes.

But when Gou Dan was about to meet up with them and enlighten them about the seemingly confusing details included in his post, he suddenly felt something.

Pasting himself to the tree, he charged the Emerald Heart which he had obtained after becoming a Junglewalker, fusing his presence completely to the natural environment around him. Anyone would have trouble finding him even if they were standing right in front of him.

And before long, certain figures that were hidden relatively well but less so than Gou Dan began appearing around the slave hunters...