Countless tiny patterns were engraved on the trunk of the Ancient Tree of Life. Every single pattern was only the size of a thumb, and each one was emitting completely different mana fluctuations. There was even a wisp of soul aura on these patterns.
That wisp of soul aura, along with a wisp of mana, was bound to the inside of each narrow carving.
These were the life patterns of the Dark Elves. Every Dark Elf would come here after getting their first magic pattern and would carve their own life pattern onto the Ancient Tree of Life. Each life pattern belonged to a Dark Elf, and sealed within was a wisp of their mana and soul aura.
The Ancient Tree of Life would protect these life patterns. As long as the Ancient Tree of Life didn't wither, these life patterns couldn't be destroyed.
The only other possibility for the disappearance of a life pattern was the fall of their owner. After their death, the mana and soul aura within the life pattern would dissipate, having lost their source.
The fall of a Dark Elf would lead to a life pattern disappearing from the Ancient Tree of Life, but right now, a wide area of the Ancient Tree of Life was devoid of life patterns. This meant that at least several hundred Dark Elves had fallen.
An old man standing in front of the Ancient Tree of Life frowned and instructed with a deep voice, "Go and convene the Elder Council."
Half an hour later, in a huge treehouse, a group of Dark Elves with heavy expressions were gathered around a round table.
The seat of honor, the seat of the Great Elder, was empty. On its left, an old Dark Elf with white hair and a white beard was sitting. He was the 2nd Elder of the Dark Elven Clan.
Then, in order, were the 4th Elder, Elsa, and a few Dark Elven Deacons.
On the right side, Jers' father, 3rd Elder Broust, was sitting there followed by the 5th Elder and a group of Dark Elves Deacons.
Apart from the Great Elder, who was still in the Lightless Dreamland, everyone was present in this Elder Council.
Once everyone was seated, the 2nd Elder took the initiative, worry plastered all over his face. "I believe everyone already knows the reason behind this Elder Council's meeting. A legion went out hunting and was completely annihilated. 663 life patterns disappeared, it could be said that this hunting team disappeared without a word. Not a single piece of information made its way to us.
"The Dark Elves are never afraid of fighting, falling in battle is the supreme honor of Dark Elves. But this time, 663 Dark Elves and their Nightjars fell without even bringing any information back as if they had suddenly disappeared. What do you think?"
Since the Great Elder wasn't there, the 2nd Elder had to be the one to raise the issue.
The 4th Elder sitting beside the 2nd Elder was a middle-aged woman. At this moment, the 4th Elder had an icy expression as she coldly said, "The number of times such a situation has happened could be counted on one's fingers. I believe everyone understands why? Every time it was due to those damned two races, it must be the same this time!
"Only those two races know us well enough to make it impossible for the hunting team to pass on any information. They understand our methods, and if they start something, sneakily attacking a hunting team is definitely within their capability. And in my opinion, it must be that group of evil Ash Beastmen."
Elsa, who was sitting beside the 4th Elder, agreed with her words. "Indeed, these years, our relationship with the Ash Beastmen has been getting stiffer. They must be the culprits behind this. We had best send some people to scout the Ash Beastman Clan, we might be able to find some clue."
The 2nd Elder nodded, saying with worry, "This would be far from good if it was the work of the Ash Beastmen. Their Clan has greater power than our Dark Elven Clan. If they are attacking us so boldly, then they might already be quite confident in inflicting heavy losses..."
The 3rd Elder, who was sitting across the 2nd Elder, had a solemn expression as he raised an objection. "I don't think so. If we provoked the Ash Beastmen while being uncertain, those guys with Abyssal Bloodlines would definitely make use of that as an excuse to fight. On the contrary, I think this is a big conspiracy against us.
"Our clan has been peaceful for so long, how come something is happening now? Even if it was the Ash Beastmen, why haven't they done this before? This was such a ruthless move, it must have been a premeditated sneak attack!
"Everyone, our Clan has been peaceful for so many years, how come there is unrest now? What matter disturbed our peace lately? Or it might be better to say, what changed in our Clan? That must be a sign!"
The 3rd Elder had a heavy expression, while others expressed approval when they heard that. Everyone contemplated what happened to the clan recently.
"If there was any change, it was those few outsiders." The 5th Elder, sitting beside the 3rd Elder, sneered.
The 3rd Elder's face was ashen as he heard those words. "Hmpf, turns out it was those outsiders, no wonder. I knew these outsiders had malicious intentions. A few days ago, I sensed someone disturbing the peace and discovered that these outsiders were actually casting spells within the clan, injuring some of our clansmen..."
The sinister-looking 5th Elder was started as he said, "What! They actually dare to cast spells within the clan? And injure our clansmen? They are lawless! Why haven't we captured them yet? That matter happened after they appeared, yet they also dare to attack our clansmen? It must be a plot of these outsiders!"
The two Elders' words, when added to the 3rd Elder's take on the matter, immediately startled the Deacons and made them infuriated. They all started questioning why these outsiders hadn't been captured.
"Let's capture them!"
"These outsiders must have a plot!"
"Damnit, they must be behind it, what happened to our Clan must be related to them!"
The large conference treehouse was in an uproar in an instant.
Elsa suddenly started panicking. She couldn't understand how the discussion suddenly landed on Merlin.
'Damnit, what's up with these people, why are they putting it on Mafa Merlin? These people don't know how terrifying he is! Heavens, do they want to bury our Clan? It's no good, I must stop them!'
"3rd Elder, I already explained that it was your son Jers that made the first move. Mafa Merlin only defended himself. How could that be considered disturbing the peace of the Clan?" Elsa hurriedly stood up and questioned the 3rd Elder.
The 3rd Elder calmly nodded. "Jers' skills being inferior is his matter, but I saw that outsider knock Jers down, with the intent of killing him! This is a serious violation of our Clan's regulations. I believe Her Highness Elsa understands."
Before Elsa could even speak, the 3rd Elder's words sharply changed, "But since Her Highness Elsa is testifying, we can only let this matter be investigated and temporarily put it aside for the time being. But I want to ask Her Highness one more thing."
Elsa froze, unable to react for a bit. 'Since when is 3rd Elder so easy to speak to? Fortunately, Mafa Merlin isn't involved. It seems that 3rd Elder already understands that they shouldn't become enemies with Mafa Merlin and is prioritizing the interests of the clan.'
Elsa sighed in relief, while the 3rd Elder asked with an emotionless expression, "Your Highness, I know that it is extremely dangerous when out on a hunt, but this time, Your Highness led a thousand people. Why did only less than ten come back? Moreover, you brought back those outsiders. I already asked those loyal clansmen, and the main cause for the huge loss was those outsiders. I hope Your Highness can give us a reasonable explanation."
Anger flashed on Elsa's face, but before she could speak, the 4th Elder pulled Elsa back and said with a cold face, "This matter has already been reported to the Elder Council. I believe everyone knows that not only did they meet an Orachiss during the hunt, they also mistakenly entered the Night Valley, even meeting the genius, Duncan, from a millennium ago. Who here could affirm that they would be able to return alive from these kinds of circumstances?"
Elsa hurriedly added a sentence, "That's right! Not only did we return alive, but but it was also all thanks to Mafa Merlin's help! If it hadn't been for his assistance, none of us would have returned alive!"
The 5th Elder said in a neutral tone, "This is your side of the story, who knows if that's true?"
The 3rd Elder glanced at the 5th Elder and admonished him, "How could you doubt Her Highness' words! Her Highness Elsa definitely wouldn't lie!"
The 3rd Elder then turned towards Elsa and said, "Your Highness, I would like to ask you a few questions, and I hope you can answer them truthfully." He didn't wait for her answer as he continued, "Your Highness, were you inexplicably attacked by the Orachiss after meeting those outsiders?"
Elsa hesitated, she looked around, but ultimately couldn't help but nod.
"Then, Your Highness, did the outsiders lead you into the Night Valley?"
Elsa immediately reacted, "That's the case, but..."
The 3rd Elder waved his hand, interrupting Elsa's explanation with an icy expression, "And after these outsiders came to the Clan, some things happened in succession. They first got into a conflict with clansmen not even a few days after arriving, and then elites of our clan disappeared. Everything is connected to these outsiders!"