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A group of young noblemen pretending to be a traveling caravan?

The lanky guard’s gaze subtly changed at the thought.

At this moment, he noticed a few more discrepancies…

Experts!

Every single one of them is an Expert!

The oldest among these experts appeared to be in their twenties, while the youngest simply looks like a teenager…

Even though he wasn’t an expert himself and was just an apprentice warrior, his years of experience as a guard gave him a pair of sophisticated eyes that could somewhat gauge the strength of others.

Plus, it wasn’t even hard for him to do since all these youngsters didn’t even bothered concealing their auras at all!

Upon closer inspection, this group’s overall strength was truly terrifying!

Their auras seemed to surpass even the strongest hunter in town by a significant margin, despite that said hunter having been much older and likely had already reached intermediate Iron-rank even before these kids were born.

This meant that these youngsters likely possessed, at the very least, Intermediate-Iron strength, and it’s possible some of them could even be on the verge of advancing into Peak Iron-Rank.

However, that strongest hunter in Riverwood was already fifty this year, while these youngsters were still so…young.

Attaining such a formidable strength at that age, do I still need to doubt their real identities?

Nobles!

Undoubtedly, all these youngsters are part of nobility!

Only someone from nobility could cultivate such outstanding young experts!

Unlike the common folks, these aristocrats have monopoly over supernatural powers and most of the land’s resources.

As a result, these young nobles didn’t need to struggle for their livelihood and only need to grow up step by step and grasp the supernatural powers held within their household.

Therefore, for these youngsters whose been fed with a silver spoon ever since their birth, everything about the common life was a novelty.

So to satiate their curiosity, some adventurous nobles would occasionally did things that commoners couldn’t comprehend at all…like pretending to be a commoner or traveling as a merchant caravan during winter!

After all, it is said that there are no harsh winters or snowy landscapes in the southern Kingdom of Aries. So instead, every winter, many nobles from Aries travel north to the Empire just to see some snow.

Likewise, aristocrats from the Holy Maniya Empire also have their fair share of nobles heading south to have a warm vacation during winter.

For decades, these two nations have enjoyed a state of peace, with the attitudes of their respective citizens toward each other being significantly less hostile than a century ago wherein both countries were at war.

This paradigm shift has led to innumerable interactions between the civilians of both countries as cultures from both sides intermixed with one another…

Thinking of this, a spark of inspiration lights up in the eyes of the lanky guard.

Young nobles!

He could amass a fortune if he could, even for a tiny bit, somehow please them during their stay!

And if they really enjoyed themselves, then perhaps the entire town could also benefit as well!

Riverwood has always struggled with poverty, due to it being pillaged by marauding half-orcs and being situated on the southwestern part of the Borderlands, which stood in contrasts with the more prosperous towns located on the eastern side of the territory.

Soon, the lanky guard thought about what he should do next.

Casually, as if oblivious to their real identities, he made a few stiff coughs and assumed the usual demeanor of a guard.

“Who are you people?”

The lanky guard asked in a stern tone.

The players’ spirits lifted.

Here it comes!

Having received some tips from Nightingale in advance, they knew this was the standard procedure of the town security when encountering smuggling caravans.

Everyone instinctively looked at Li Mu, who responded with a reassuring glance and then smiled at the guard:

“We are a caravan from the south. I am Rim, a commerce guild president from Aries. We plan to sell some goods in the north this winter.”

If everything went as expected, the guard’s next move would likely be him requesting some bribes from them. Afterwards, the guard should then help them obtain a permit to operate within the empire.

Li Mu thought to himself.

All this information came from Nightingale.

It is said that before returning to the Elven Forest, this awesome NPC sister often pretended to be a human or ‘commodity’ and wandered around in various smuggling caravans to save her fellow elves from captivity…

So based on her experience, Nightingale recommended that they disguised themselves as Caravans or mercenary groups since being one was the best way to systematically infiltrate the human society.

Among the two choices, the players initially wanted to be mercenaries. However after some more deliberations, they realized that being a caravan were more flexible compared to mercenary groups since it’s more convenient for doing certain type of ‘business.’

So in the end they choose to disguise themselves as a smuggling caravan.

As expected, after hearing Li Mu’s words, the lanky guard showed a pleasant smile.

“I see so you’re a caravan! It’s quite tough to run a business in winter. Come, Come! Welcome to our town…you guys should be tired now since it’s getting late. After resting, I’ll report to the mayor and provide your caravan with a permit for the empire.”

After uttering these words, the guard extended a welcoming gesture, signaling them that they could now enter the town.

…Huh?

Aren’t he going to inquire about their background?

Li Mu was slightly surprised.

His entire conversation with the guard went so smoothly that he didn’t even need to use the various explanations and excuses he had come initially prepared…

⤷ How about it, guys? It’s already getting late, so should we rest first? Or should we still explore the town and experience how the human society looks like in this game, and perhaps even inquire about how far Maple Leaf City is?

Li Mu mentally asked in the group’s chatroom.

This town is still too small.

Even looking at it from the outside, it’s probably just slightly larger than a village.

Of course, even visiting a small human village is enough to pique the players’ curiosity.

However, if possible, Li Mu wanted to avoid unnecessary delays and lead their group straight towards their real destination—Maple Leaf City!

According to the elves who escaped from the Empire, Maple Leaf City is the most prosperous city on the southwestern section of the Borderlands.

Moreover, given that this thriving city was once the elven capital, it undoubtedly holds numerous resources and opportunities for hidden questlines!

The players exchanged glances and nodded.

⤷ It’s already quite late. We’ve been on the road for so many days now, so I’m totally exhausted.

⤷ Yeah, mainly because it’s too far, and we haven’t gained much EXP. I’m starting to regret coming out to explore.

⤷ Don’t worry! Once we reach the destination, we might make a fortune all at once.

⤷ I’m curious about this village.

⤷ Let’s take a rest. We’ve been walking all day guys. This game is too hardcore…

⤷ Agreed…

The players sent such messages within the group’s chatroom.

Seeing rest of the players unanimously agreeing, Li Mu smiled at the lanky guard:

“Well then, thank you for your work.”

The lanky guard sighed in relief and then enthusiastically led the players inside Riverwood.

What greeted them was rows of houses made of black wood and blue stones that’s covered in a layer of snow.

Whiffs of smoke ascended leisurely from the chimneys atop the roof, bearing a tantalizing fragrance that could even be smelled at the ground…

The players walked through the small town, curiously examining everything around them.

Riverwood wasn’t a particularly large town, with a population of roughly only a few thousand residents.

With over two hundred players suddenly entering its premises, the previously small town instantly felt crowded with their arrival.

While the players enjoyed the town’s scenery, many pairs of curious eyes peering through the windows silently observed the caravan’s every movement after they entered the town.

Occasionally, some children would also ran out of their houses, before cheering at the caravan, only to be scolded by the accompanying guards.

After the caravan was stationed at the town square, many villagers immediately came out of their homes and approached the caravan in a curious manner. Some local residents even took out some hunted animal skins or local specialties before inquiring as to whether the caravan merchants was interested in buying their things.

Since they were playing a role of merchants, the players naturally have already come prepared for these kinds of situations.

In response to the enthusiastic villagers, some players took out surplus food from the Elven Forest and engaged in trading.

Of course, since Riverwood was quite an impoverished town, the items brought by the residents to trade weren’t that much appealing to the players.

However, although most of the items were useless for the players and only a few local specialties were deemed acceptable, they still decided to trade.

However in exchange, they asked for some information instead.

“Is there anything interesting in this region? Like any folklores or ruins?”

“You see, it’s our first time visiting the empire. So… we are quite curious about the famous Maple Leaf Territory. Also, since it’s our first time opening a trade route in this country, here, consider these goods as a gift.”

Holding the food handed to them by a player, the stout and lanky guard was slightly stunned by their inquiries.

” We’re willing to trade goods for some interesting rumors and information in exchange but it must be genuine.”

Li Mu said with a smile.

Currently, the Elven Forest was overflowing with food.

With the use of magic and an excellent environment for growing crops, their stock of food had become rather overabundant.

What players brought this time for trade was essentially the failed experimental outcomes from their crop breeding and some of the poorest quality among the yields of crops they harvested.

However, even if the players deemed this food as low-quality crops, it was still many times better compared to what the local residents usually consumed.

Looking at the bags brimming with luscious Aries sweet potatoes and fragrant, rapidly growing wheat, the lanky guard’s eyes widened in astonishment.

Nobles!

These youngsters are definitely nobles!

To give away such high-quality food just to hear some interesting news, they are probably too tired of eating such delicacies and want some life excitement instead…

This kind of wasteful indulgence, except for these young and arrogant nobles, who else would’ve done it?

Of course, he also briefly considered if these young experts might actually be spies…

But he quickly dismissed the idea.

How could it be?

It would be a really asinine decision to simply let a group of naive young nobles to undertake such a dangerous tasks!

On the contrary, these young inexperienced nobles would probably even be scammed to the bone before they could even reached Maple Leaf City.

The lanky guard shook his head inwardly.

Of course, he wouldn’t remind them of this.

Those from the nobility are terrible people, and he wasn’t particularly fond of them to begin with.

And based upon the discrepancies he noticed, his findings clearly indicated that these smugglers were indeed a group of naive indulgent young aristocrats seeking excitement!

Many commoners can’t even afford a meal, yet these damned nobles live a life of debauchery.

Ah well…I guess that’s just how the world is.

Of course, he would be an idiot if he don’t take advantage of this rare opportunity these noble youngsters had presented him.

Since these kids only want interesting news in exchange for their precious goods, then the lanky guard was more than happy to comply.

Thinking about it, he quickly racked his brain, before spewing out all the interesting news and information he thought that these young ones might find intriguing:

“Oh yes, I knew quite a few interesting things…!”

“Recently, something strange happened in the entire Maple Leaf Territory. You see, many experts have suddenly broken through rankings after years of being stuck in a bottleneck. It’s said that even Maple’s Lord, who had been stuck in the Intermediate Gold-Rank, has loosened his bottleneck.”

“Oh Ruins? There are plenty of ruins in Maple Leaf Territory! They are remnants from the Silver Age of the Elves. However, many of these ruins have already been explored by adventurers.”

“However, it is rumored that there is a hidden ruin in Maple Leaf City that no one can open. Plus, on nights with a full moon, the city experiences some various strange phenomena…”

“But it’s just an urban legend and I haven’t personally experienced those strange events myself…”

“What else…oh! there’s one more thing! The annual Maple Leaf City auction is about to begin. I heard that this time, the Lord destroyed an elven underground stronghold and captured many elves, all of whom should belong to the ‘Oakhand’ Organization.”

“And it’s said that the Lord has invited nobles from various regions to participate in the auction…”

Elves?

The players exchanged contemplative glances.

“Oakhand?”

Little Salty Cat reiterated the new term while looking curious.

“Well… it’s a secret underground resistance organization within the empire. Members are said to be elves, half-elves, and some humans sympathetic to the elves.”

The lanky guard explained before he sighed slightly:

“Speaking of these elves…their race is really pitiful. Not only do they need to constantly hide, but they also are highly sought after as slaves. Perhaps…that’s their fate. The Elves’ patron deity who made them so good-looking must be turning over their grave…”

“Anyways, I was lucky enough to see an elf once. You might not know it but they are really beautiful…its almost surreal, how should I put it…they’re like angels… It’s no wonder people wanted them so much.”

“Alas, they were already locked in a cage by the time I saw them…Oh well, it’s quite pitiful.”

“Think about it, which race would want to be treated as slaves? Alas…their long lifespans, good looks, and magical capacity, really made them so popular with the nobles and I heard that some noble Lord’s even love to raise an elf and keep them in captivity for years so that their household can benefit for a long time…”

“I would say these elves are just too kind. Oh well… a once powerful and kind race in the past, ended up like this, it’s really lamentable. Perhaps, in this world, only those who are ruthless can survive.”

“Just like the great nobles of the empire, each more greedy and cruel than the other. Hell, the more powerful they are, the worse they get! None of them are good people!”

The lanky guard spoke fervently, somewhat getting carried away. But soon, he realized he might have said too much…

Moreover, because the atmosphere was too good, he couldn’t hold back and even complained about the nobility…right in front of the nobles themselves!

Great Eternal Lord above!

He actually complained about the nobles right in front of their faces!

The lanky guard broke into a cold sweat, quickly stopping himself, then cautiously looked at the noble youngsters.

However, to his surprise, these young nobles didn’t get angry at all.

Moreover on the contrary… after hearing his words, they even displayed a notably interested and eager expression.

“About this auction… when exactly is it?”

Li Mu asked with a tone of interest.

The other players also looked on expectantly at the lanky guard and their enthusiastic gaze made him shudder involuntarily.

Sure enough, despite their youth, they are still aristocrats through and through….All these damned nobles just can’t resist whenever they hear something about elves.

The lanky guard shook his head inwardly.

After exchanging information with the players, the lanky guard left contentedly with several bags of food.

Other villagers also followed suit, exchanging various goods for information they knew.

However, the simplicity of these villagers surprised the players a bit.

Although the players said they would mostly preferred to exchange information for the caravan’s goods, many residents still freely offered the things they brought with them that they originally intended to trade after collecting the food…

Whether it was eggs, animal skins, small objects, or some game that they hunted…the residents willingly gave these items as a show of gratitude.

In their words:

“Milord, here have some eggs! how can I only give you information in exchange for these grains of yours which are all high-end commodity. My God, these are rare even in Maple Leaf City…”

“These foods are too precious; the information we shared is easy for you to find if you just simply ask around…”

“We have already gained huge benefits trading with your caravan. Although we don’t have much on hand, in exchange, please accept these items of ours since we can feel more at ease in our hearts.”

“Eternal Lord be praised! May the true god be with you forever…”

This actually caught the players off guard as this recent exchange clearly showed that not all the humans in this game are antagonists!

These villagers are quite nice people.

After trading, the villagers then warmly brought out all kinds of delicious local delicacies to entertain these generous strangers.

And after the whole town held a small impromptu festivity that lasted for several hours, the situation gradually quieted down…

After the last villager left, the players gathered within their makeshift camp.

Outwardly, everyone in the caravan appeared to be only sitting in groups of three or four, seemingly resting. However, the players were actually conversing within the chatgroup’s #voice-channel, discussing their next plan.

“So how does everyone feel?” Li Mu initied the conversation.

“How else can we feel? Trading with the residents are definitely worth it! All these information we obtained are definitely crucial intel we needed to trigger a hidden questline! Let’s see, Find that mysterious ruin, save the elves, and do some business along the way!”

Demacia replied in an enthusiastic manner.

“Then… let’s take a break for now. Tomorrow morning, we’ll immediately head to Maple Leaf City! What do you guys think? Can everyone adjust your schedules to be online at that time tommorow?”

“Sure!”

“No problem!”

“However… we need a guide. We can’t just wander around like headless flies like we’ve been doing all this time.”

Tomato suggested.

“Don’t worry about that. According to that skinny guard, he’s also apparently going to Maple Leaf City tomorrow.”

Little Salty Cat’s replied but then made a weird expression.

“By the way… I took a stroll in the town just now. Can you guys guess who I saw?”

272

【 PITIFUL ELVES

TL/N : Happy Holidays Everyone! (*°▽°*)

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