When Ekaterina knocked on the door of the office, Ivan opened it. His eyes widened when he saw Ekaterina together with another person.
“My Lady, are you with a guest today?” He said, taking the baskets from both Ekaterina and Flora in a swift move.
“Yes, I invited her to join me for lunch. I’m sorry for asking this at a working place, but could we eat here?”
Ekaterina knew that Ivan couldn’t decide whether she could or not, but raising her voice to directly ask Alexei from here was an improper behavior for a noble lady.
“Your Excellency, Young Lady arrived. She wants to have lunch with her school friend, and she’s asking for your consent.”
The reliable servant Ivan considered Ekaterina’s thoughts and delivered her message to Alexei. Alexei’s answer was, “I don’t mind if she wants to do that.”
Next to Ekaterina, Flora looked around the office, uncomfortable.
Naturally, encountering the office of a president of a massive trading company with all of his executives (or the prefectural governors and directors?) in a school would make any student feel like they had entered a different dimension.
Alexei, who was at the center of this room and dominating all of the dignified adults, seemed to exist in a different world from Flora’s point of view. To repeat it once again, this scene was not normal.
Since Ekaterina kind of forcefully invited her here, she felt somewhat apologetic. However, on the other hand, other students wouldn’t lay a finger on her here. This was an absolutely safe place.
Compared to yesterday, the number of people in the office increased by one. The additional person was Balthazar Forli, the head of forest agriculture. His tanned skin was as prominent as Harris who was born in a desert nation, proving that he had personally walked through the great forests in Duke Yurinova’s territory to know everything related to the forest like the back of his hand. His hair was completely white and his face was wrinkled, reminiscent of an ancient warrior. Balthazar was 65 years old, the oldest of Alexei’s executives. He was the comrade of the same age with Alexei and Ekaterina’s grandfather, Sergei.
When Balthazar heard that Ekaterina was offering her handmade cooking to them, he was speechless for a while before muttering, “...I feel as if I’m living in another age.”
Catching his words, Ekaterina thought:
(I guess it’s because I’m completely different from that shitty grandmother?)
Balthazar rarely left the forest. But this time, he came to report the emergence of a giant dragon which Ekaterina had heard before, and discussed how to countermeasure against it.
So today’s lunch was most likely going to be a power lunch with a meeting. Unfortunately, it didn’t have yesterday’s harmonious atmosphere. Ekaterina felt more and more apologetic to Flora.
“I received a report about the appearance of a dragon, but I have confirmed it with my own eyes.”
Balthazar’s report started with that sentence, shocking Ekaterina and Flora. The girls held their breath.
What a wild on-the-spot investigation principle!
In her previous life, everyone would make a fuss if they heard, “I received a report that a big bear appeared nearby, so go and check if it’s real.” Yet Bathazar had to make sure of something even more dangerous than that? Since they were talking about a dragon, it should be in the heart of mountains far from human habitation, right? The average life expectancy of this world might be completely different from Ekaterina’s previous life, but for a sixty-five years old man to do that feat was amazing.
“So how was it?”
Brother wasn’t surprised at all! He didn’t even comment on it!
“Young Lord, I believe that is the ‘Occult Dragon’. Different from other dragons, it was the most ancient monster representing the King of the North… It wasn’t something that humans could eliminate.”
Wait a minute! The content of the report smells too much like a teenager's delusion! Yet Brother nodded with a grave face, for real!?
And Brother, your elder subordinates are calling you, ‘Young Lord, huh. It’s a bit cute. Hey me, this is not the time to focus on that.
“Since its appearance, it has become difficult to carry out logs. I was thinking of cutting the trees from a different section than planned. We could also wait for the Occult Dragon to leave or decide the orders. Either way, we need to make a decision.”
...The choices were all completely realistic, huh…?
“Harill, what do you think?”
“I recommend waiting. I believe the people making the orders could wait for half a year. If we declined them, the profit margin would be too thin for us since we already paid the expenses to open the shipping route.”
Harill’s conclusion and reasoning were concise and his immediate answer was precise. What a reliable man.
“Forli, what about you? Will the dragon move after half a year?”
Forli made a troubled face. “...I can’t predict it. I’m sorry. Unlike other demon beasts, the Occult Dragon is said to have more intelligence than humans. Some believed that it could speak human language and transform into a human. And some others believed that it was the kings of demon beasts. It could lead all demon beasts at its will.”
A dragon that leads demon beasts at its will?
That rang a bell in the memories of Ekaterina’s previous life. She frowned and fell into a deep thought.
“I had no proof, but I think the Occult Dragon is trying to find out how we will approach it. In recent years, deforestation has progressed rapidly due to the rising needs in building materials and fuels. It was probably displeased by that. Not only the Occult Dragon, but the appearance of various demon beasts is increasing. I don’t think it’s purely because the Occult Dragon leads them here, but because we are destroying the habitat of the demon beasts by cutting down the trees.
If it’s keeping us in check by showing its appearance, it won’t move even if we wait. If we try to cut the trees in another section, it may move there instead.”
Alexei’s expression turned stern. “If Forli, the revered forest man said so, then we shouldn’t be too optimistic. This matter won’t end depending on how we make decisions this time. We should be prepared for the day when the Occult Dragon’s anger will come. That time, it will most likely turn into an all-out war.”
“I’m afraid to say that what you said is possible.”
Wow, this conversation is a bit… wah.
Maybe that Occult Dragon was the last boss in the empire’s destruction route!?
It didn’t have that name in the game, though.
The game didn’t discuss this kind of thing to the player. So this world already gave hints at this time!?
…What kind of relationship did that game have with this world? What about game development, programming, etc… Let’s stop thinking about it.
(If I manage to resolve this, will I break the empire’s destruction flag? I don’t know… But I remember something about deforestation.)
Ekaterina dared herself to open her mouth.
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