Published at 18th of November 2019 04:31:32 PM

Chapter 269
'Are they prisoners?'

That was Noah's first thought .
He could recognize the strength of their bodies, they were all between the second and third rank, yet they seemed malnourished and exhausted, they resembled commoners while they moved .
'What are they excavating?'
All those people wearing metal collars were digging holes on the ground with their bare hands, some of them were covered in blood, Noah couldn't imagine how much work they had to do to injure their hands with the terrain .
The chains linked to the collars didn't allow them much freedom, they were fixed on the ground, forcing those prisoners to work in a circular area based on the chains' length .
Noah didn't find anything wrong with learning more about the situation, he had escaped precisely in order to stop hiding, he felt no need to avoid that encampment .
A layer of mental energy enveloped his figure as he moved forward toward the tents .
Noah soon discovered that the one in front of him wasn't the only camp, many more of them entered his field of view as he gazed toward the sea in the distance .
'The area there is quite crowded, is it because of the sea?'
The camps were more populated along the coastline while the ones more inland had had only a few hundreds of people, it was normal for Noah to think that the sea was the cause .
He walked casually toward one of the chained people and waved his hand to greet him .
"What are you excavating?"
Noah asked the first man in sight .

The man had his head lowered and completely ignored Noah, he was only focused on digging the terrain .
'Is he ignoring me or is the chain that forces him to work?'
Noah arched one of his eyebrows as the saw that the man didn't answer .
His gaze eventually went on the collar and then on the chain .
Inscriptions could be seen on both those items, their brilliance flickered under the daylight, they seemed to be applying some unknown effect to the chained man .
He was about to ask another question when a rough voice sounded from one of the biggest tents .
"Hey, you! Don't talk to the slave!"
'Mh? Slave?'
Noah first gave another look at the chained man and then he turned toward the voice .
A half-naked burly man who was still halfway through the entrance of the tent was looking at him in an angered manner .
"Who are you? These mining fields belong to the Empire!"
'Mining fields?'
Noah's eyes shone with a cold light as soon as he understood that there was something valuable there .

He performed a bow to the burly man and wore a wide smile before speaking .
"I wasn't aware of that, I'm just a traveler with very little knowledge of this country and it is my first time seeing an actual slave . I hope you can forgive this misunderstanding . "
Noah's words slightly eased the man's temperament but he was still somewhat wary of him .
"You better get going, you can't disturb slaves when they are working, we have a schedule to keep up with . "

The man snorted and folded his arms around his chest, his muscles became more evident that way .
'I can't understand his level but I don't feel any danger either, he should be as strong as me . '
Noah took out a jar of Ivor's wine from his space-ring, after his prolonged habitation with him, Noah had become used to stashing some for himself .
When he opened the lid, the scent of strong wine filled the area .
Noah took a slight sip from the jar but his attention never left the man, he was wondering if such a good wine could attract his attention .
Luckily for him, the man was immediately interested in Noah's jar, his eyes followed its movements in Noah's hand .
It couldn't be helped, Ivor's wine was of the best quality and extremely expensive, Noah was sure that a cultivator in such a remote location couldn't have access to something so precious .
"Hey, where did you get that? It's my first time smelling something so delicious . "

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"Oh, it's nothing much . Wine is a passion of mine and I like to keep a reserve of the most delicious ones . "
Noah lied casually, he waited for an invitation from the man as he continued to drink from the jar .
However, the invitation never came, the man simply limited himself to stare at the jar while licking his lips .
'Why doesn't he just ask for it?'
"Would you like to taste it?"
Noah became tired of waiting and took the initiative .
The man's eyes lit up at that question and he happily moved the curtain of his tent in a welcoming gesture .
"Yes, please! You can come inside if you don't mind . "
Noah nodded and entered the tent, the man stood still on the entrance, waiting for him to cross it .
'So, that's how the life on the borders of the Empire is spent . '
Noah suppressed a surprised gasp as the scene inside the tent unfolded itself .
There wasn't much, only a small table, a few chairs, and a large bed .
However, on the bed, there were two naked women with a collar on their necks .

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Also, the tent seemed to have some kind of inscriptions on its surface, Noah guessed that they were meant to suppress the noise .
'Slavery doesn't cover only the working field then . '
"I'm sorry for them, I wasn't expecting visits . I will send them away immediately . "
The man clapped his hands and ordered the women to leave the tent, they didn't even dress as they went outside .
"Are all slaves cultivators?"
Noah asked loudly as soon as the women left the tent, they were cultivators too .
"Well, yes . Mortals die too easily, they aren't worth their price in the long-run . "
Noah nodded in understanding while he moved toward one of the chairs and placing his jar on the table in front of him .
"I've heard that the defeated countries provided slaves to the Shandal Empire but I have greatly underestimated their quantity . Did you win many wars?"
Noah wanted to gather information about the Empire, he had planned to spend a long time in its area of influence after all .
"Hmph! Almost every country in the central area of the continent has surrendered to the might of the Empire, if it wasn't for the Utra nation and the Papral nation, we would have conquered the whole landmass already . "