In a certain corporate room, in a certain dwarven capital city…in a certain shareholders and investors meeting in a corporate run castle
(Before entering the room two big placards are on the door, reading as ‘employees only’, and ‘dwarves only beyond this point’.)
“So I’d like to open up the shareholders meeting. I’ll be conducting this meeting,” Presiding Dwarf A says while standing at the head of the massive table.
Around it many dwarves are all in business suits. All of them look to the president with undisguised admiration from a huge string of dozens of years of success. These are the leaders of ‘a certain unnamed underground corporation’. They also all have beards, except for the women but very few dwarven women hold office in this room at least and even in the rest of their society dwarves are still mostly run by male roles.
Still, they appreciate beauty and nice looking ‘secretary type outfit’ dressed dwarf young women in short skirts and women’s suit coats stand around the room serving water and expensive wine. Everything including the hot secretary dwarves screams that you have to have tons of money to even glance inside this room.
Besides the secretary type young women dwarves, all other dwarves are mostly middle aged dwarves in leadership and investment positions.
“So, before we go over your projects and accountability I’d like to also propose a toast! Our hostile takeover of Mine 63B7 has been successful! Our investments have already been paid off, and the population is in the dark over our hand in the takeover. They think we’re ‘protecting them’ now still. We now have a second active mithril mine. Congratulations everyone!” the president dwarf said.
He lifts his glass of wine.
Then the other dwarves also applaud and are clinking glasses together. Some of them were still laughing over the protection comment though.
“Yes, we have it now. Our shares are up and so are our dividends. This is going to be a breakout year gentlemen! Now we can pursue our real agendas. This is awesome, good job everyone!” the second largest shareholder.
It took a minute for things to settle down. There was still a lot of applauding, and gold induced salivation.
To the dwarven investment company this was big news.
“OK, so let’s go one by one to account for your projects. Remember there isn’t any shame in not making any gold in the preliminary work phases. That’s because we can make plenty of gold if we can secure wins and have our strategy be the dominant strategy. But we can’t make gold if we lose the battles or let the enemy win in conflicts or hostile takeover events. We need the preliminary losses to mean something in other words,” the lead dwarf said.
The dwarves listen attentively.
They go in order around the table starting from the right side.
The sounds of champagne and expensive beer being opened are still sounding in the background by the serving girls.
“So I’m working on the ‘buyout’ of Kingdom XY, in project code name ‘Blue Steel’. Project is estimated at 43% completion. We’re on target for both success and budgetary projections. All opposing elements have been placated, bribed, or neutralized. We’re going to be ready for the next phase soon,” Executive 1A stated.
“Good, good job that’s ahead of schedule by 4 years. Thanks for your hard work.”
“Oh no, thank you. Because you believed in my work and gave me a chance we can do this, plus your great leadership.”
“Oh you are too awesome. That silver tongue will get you every where,” the boss joked, “as long as the other hand delivers.”
The other dwarves laughed.
“Now, although you have to make sure you buy out the king’s decision rights before the transition of power. Human kings don’t last very long, so keep your eye on the ball. Even if you get ahead of schedule if that happens your early start can be flushed down the tube.”
“Got it thanks.”
“So I’m working on Project Grain for Gold. The project is in the second stages. But already things are on track. We haven’t made the project work for the intended target. But unexpectedly we already made things work for some unexpected secondary targets. It’s so cool. This project is awesome. At first I thought no kingdom would be stupid enough to trade their monetary gold supply and vaults for grain, but then when I realized how we could flip trigger events like famine and invasion it was totally awesome,” the executive stated.
Despite such crazy words, the other executives aren’t reacting funny.
But any normal person would.
But then someone’s hand was raised.
“Sorry I’m kind of new. I was appointed last month to replace such and such on their sudden ‘heart attack’. I didn’t get a briefing on the Grain for Gold Project. Can I get a quickie version of that?”
“Sure, sure no problem. Congratulations on your new position by the way!”
“Oh you are too kind. It’s thanks to you that I was given a chance also.”
“Don’t worry about it. Basically it’s just amassing a country’s grain and holding some shortages that aren’t noticeable. Then we ‘help’ need triggers arise.”
“Need triggers? Like?”
“Don’t worry about that part, you don’t need to know.”
“But trying to find that particular part was what gave our dear friend his heart attack.”
“Oh right. Sorry about that. I don’t need to know anymore,” the curious executive, who is no longer curious, states.
“Good. Next please.”
An older looking dwarf uses his cane to help stand. He looks older than the other executives and has a beautifully polished white perfectly combed and groomed beard with gold jewelry dripping all over his body. “Project Moon Axe is in the 3rd out of 4 phases. We’re estimating a 60% success rate. We anticipate the needs of the project will eventually run pay dirt, but we’d hit a few snags. We don’t have any particular things to address right now. We hope to surprise everyone next month with some great investor portfolio updates!”
“Eh? Is that all?” the lead executive asked.
“Yes it is.”
“But this project is 2 years overdue. We’re expecting a result from it.”
“Right, about that…sorry President. We did hit another snag.”
“What?! Another one?!”
“It’s not my fault! It seems that using cat type beastmen in the mines has unexpected extra hidden variables involved!” the older executive reporting is sweating a lot. He wipes his brow with a handkerchief.
“Right. But you told me this thing was a for sure deal,” the president retorts. He’s remaining calm but his eyes narrow like daggers at the other one.
“Well this project has all the makings of a good project. Cat beastmen have some of the best night vision out there! Also, when their women have kittens there’s a substantial chance for twins or triplets more than any other demi-human race, which can double or trouble individual investments. This makes them perfect mine slaves! We can save on mine light bulbs this way and have ‘energetic’ workers due to the cat type beastmens’ natural hyperactivity…”
“…but you keep hitting snags.”
In the background two dwarves were also heard whispering…
“I didn’t know catgirls had high chances of twins or triplets? Is that true?” one asked another while the boss was rebuking the delinquent investment manager.
“I-I think it is true. If it is maybe I should do a catgirl project. Damn, I could be missing out…” he whispered back over the back of his hand.
The delinquent manager continues talking to the CEO dwarf.
“Of course, they are high spirited, because they are catgirls! But that’s only proof that we’re on the right track. If they weren’t spirited then they wouldn’t have such awesome physical stamina for keeping up with the rigors of slave mining! So that detrimental attribute is actually a positive attribute instead! So this just makes me more excited.”
“It’s only positive if you can turn it to your advantage,” the CEO muttered while the other kept giving excuses.
Some of the others are shaking their heads sadly. Some are sighing. And a couple are outright cringing and worriedly glancing at the CEO.
“But you promised me last time that that would be the last postponement. You promised me you could deliver!”
“I am! I w-w-will. You’ll see! Cat girls are awesome. We can make them into awesome workers. We won’t have to pay mages for light spells in the mines anymore either. The mines labor costs are primarily due to the mages involved in support work!”
“Idiot! You overlooked that the same mages also have to reinforce the walls and supports much more than the light spells. So you overlooked something important again.”
“I-I d-didn’t! My math is good! Just look at the report!”
“You know I only let you in on this investment company because your brother assured me your projects worked in the past,” the CEO said.
“I…” the other one stuttered and stopped in mid-sentence.
“Can you deliver cat type beastmen mine slaves anytime in the next 3 months?” the president asks.
“I t-th-think maybe 8 months.”
“OK maybe 7! Yeah I’m sure 7! Maybe…possibly…yeah if I do…this and that, then possibly it could work…I’ll definitely get some cat girls ready for you then.”
“Why are you looking at me like that?”
“The project isn’t to get cat girls. It’s to get gold stupid. Catgirls aren’t the focus. Why are you so obsessed with them?”
“I meant gold; I don’t care about cat girls at all. You’ll see. I can totally give up catgirls for gold.”
“Are you sure?”
“…uh, you are just asking hypothetically right?”
A hand was raised nearby.
Everyone looks at the guy sitting near the catgirl obsessed goldfinger dwarf.
“You know boss…I hate to be the one saying this since you know I don’t like being a whistleblower…” the younger dwarf looked antsy and nervous.
“Go on…speak your mind,” the CEO even flashed a nice smile.
“You know, not to speak ill of anyone’s projects. But this guy’s jewelry are all catgirls too. His earings are in the shape of catgirls. His rings even have catgirl faces on them. And even his necklace and suit lapel are…”
“They do not! What are you doing?! You can’t rat me out to the boss?!” the obsessed dwarf nearly yelled.
“Silence!” the CEO dwarf sharply raised his tone.
The room was silent again.
But now other dwarves could see his jewelry really did all have catgirls on them.
“You know, I interviewed your butler 2 days ago.” The CEO said it while giving him a long hard long.
He loosened his tie as he’s sweating ferociously from stress.
“Eh?! Y-you did?! Wh-w-w-what for?!”
“I wanted to check on you. I was worried about your safety,” the president said.
“Well I’m doing fine…”
“Your butler says you have 17 sexy cat girl maids. And that you want more.”
“Damn! He’s got 17?! Fuck…he’s got more than me?! What the hell?!” one of the other older dwarves is suddenly crying.
The dwarves next to the second guy scotted a few inches farther away from him, in case its contagious.
“Oh jeez…another one,” someone muttered while shaking their head.
“I-is this contagious boss?! I’m worried,” someone said.
“N-no, it’s not contagious. And to be sure I’ll definitely start confiscating sexy catgirl maids if this becomes an issue. I totally am doing this for your good, and out of my own good heart,” the CEO coughed.
“So should we have those 17 catgirls confiscated? That’s maybe keeping him from focusing on his work. And maybe we should do some quality assurance to make sure his project is running smoothly,” the CEO’s first counselor stated.
The others are curious now.
“Wait, how did he get 17 anyway? I’ve heard there is something called a black magic market using some special 8 ball blessed by the gods, but it’s hard to get access to. Is that where people are getting all the catgirl sexy maids?” the Chief Financial Officer asked.
“I don’t have sexy catgirl maids. Screw that. I’m only doing product research using d-def-ective goods I salvaged out of the good of my own heart,” the original delinquent defended.
“Wh-why did he say that? I don’t really have any cat girl maids…” one dwarf said to another.
“I know right? Why does he get cool stuff like that and we don’t?”
“Yeah I know what you mean, why should I slave away all the time with my projects on slim profit margins and this guy gets to live large instead?” another dwarf chimes in.
Suddenly there’s a small potential mob forming.
“I swear there’s no 17 catgirls! Those are um…illusionist projections!” the guilty one said while sweating.
“Liar! Your judgment is conflicted! You are a traitor to all dwarves! You worship cat girls more than gold!”
“Ah, fuck…” the older one looked down guilty.
The whole dwarven council is in uproar and looking at him as if he’d just killed a baby, they are appalled.
“Why is everyone looking at me like that?”
“He doesn’t even get it does he?” one executive is whispering to another.
The president then activates a small mana stone near the presiding table position.
In a matter of seconds, a few dwarven guards come in.
“You called boss?”
“Yeah, execute this filth…”
“Uh, not at the table though. Take him out back,” the CEO stopped them from splashing red spaghetti with their axes on the expensive investors round table and conference room.
“I meant execute him now though. Don’t arrest him and no trial either. I want decapitation! Now!” the president ordered.
Then he walked over and whispered to them. “Oh and have the catgirls delivered to the address on the back of this business card.”
The room is quiet after the older guy is dragged from the room, kicking and screaming.
One of the younger executives picked up a clip on earing that had fallen off the old foolish dwarf. He held it gently in his hands, possessed by its power but scared of catgirl infection at the same time. He pocketed it in his handkerchief quickly.
TL note; I still couldn’t see any Smeagol remarks here in the original translation but I swear there should have been.
“Let that be a lesson to any of you that don’t really love gold enough. We at Gold Forge Corporation intend to rule the world, and get all the gold in it. I want all of you to be honest with me. Also that guy had five times going way past the deadlines and pleading for massive delays. Next project. Also beware of Catgirl Syndrome. I expect all of you to get vaccinated for it this week,” the CEO announced.
One younger dwarf clears his throat and stands up. It was his turn for his project next. “So, um…yeah…my name is Vin. I’m 89 years old, single, adventurer and executive. My hobbies are…”
“Get on with it please. We don’t need your personal life and this isn’t a Gokon meeting. Fuck, what’s up with all the low intelligence stats here,” the head boss replied quickly looking tired.
“Right…my project is called Project Moonbeam. We intend to…”
“Wait a sec. That project wasn’t in the executive summary reports,” the CFO huffed to the main CEO.
“Oh right. Sorry about that. Well that’s because it’s a last minute addition. We looked at the previous projects payout and at the same time discovered this new opportunity. The gold payout for this investment is more than double the other projects potential. Also it will have a much stronger dividend percentage wise. And we think it will also be more stable!” the young guy states.
“Wait,…more stable you say?”
“Yes, absolutely. We intend to pursue this new project, but hand off the other one to a trial group of new executives, so neither is wasted. We can seize both of them if we play our cards right. That way neither project is lost.”
“But we may not have all the manpower for two projects at the same time,” someone said.
“Actually we worked that out. We found some untapped resources in Quadrant 3A7. They are an offshoot colony that has high skill pool but low economic resources, and yes they are dwarves like us. But they have similar values as us and are related to our dark dwarf sub-race, so we won’t have to worry about snitches or goodie goodies. We will be able to use them to keep both projects going. Plus, the one project is located near their lair!”
“Wow, that’s interesting. And you think you can really pull it off?” the president asked the young dwarf.
“We can do it if we can handle one hurdle. But you will need to manage the manpower carefully. For that reason, I wanted to get your advice on it. The project is good if this small hurdle can be overturned. But that hurdle is a bit more than my talents can handle. We’d need some outside mercenary help, and we’d need the backing of whatever resources you, the president can deliver to us on this…” the younger executive sounds hopeful and has a strategically huge smile.
“OK, what’s the hurdle?”
“Well there’s this citadel of fae located here in the mountain at this section of the mountain range.”
“Which section is that again?” the CFO asked.
“Hang on a sec. I’ll bring up the map on the wall viewer so you can have a better look of the area,” the younger executive states pleasantly.
“OK, do that please. And it’s fae you say?”
“Yeah, they have some kind of refugee camp for humans or something that they are doing there. And most the population are the refugees they are trying to feed, not the fae themselves. Hell, fae even have low health stats compared to other races, so I’m not worried either way. Just look at the numbers we put together on average fae health, and human stats compared to our superior Aryan dark dwarf racial stats. I don’t get it myself, the fae seem to be wasting so many resources on the humans in this sector. It’s like a service project to give them jobs or rehabilitate them. But that’s silly right? Why would anyone think humans could be rehabilitated. Honestly its insane!”
The room laughed, trying to comprehend how someone could trust humans. All of them think it sounds ludicrous.
“Oh right…what are these other 12 or 13 other monolith structures similar to the fae city surrounding the main central spire city?”
“Oh that? We’re trying to get more data on that. But we think those are some kind of religious sites surrounding the main fortress city. They don’t seem to be cities like the other ones though, so I’m not worried about that part. The activity on them seems low and we think they are abandoned. But the whole area is literally chock full of mana stones all over the place. There’s vast mineral wealth all over it too. Honestly the fae haven’t tapped into any of it! It’s surrounded by fields of the stuff outside of it! And nobody is trying to dig it up!”
The room is quiet, with drooling dark dwarves.
“You say they don’t know it’s there?” the president asked.
The younger guy shrugged. “I don’t get it either. They ACT like they don’t know it’s there, but whether or not they know or don’t know they don’t seem to be enthusiastic about how much money they are sitting on. This place could have the biggest mine potential we’ve seen since the Pak Rhenath Mine story.”
“The Pak Rhenath mine? Isn’t that just a story?” one dwarf asked.
“My grandma used to read that story to me for bed when I was a kid. I thought it was a fairy tale,” another said.
“No, could it be…” others are starting to comment as it gets restless.
“I don’t know if it is or isn’t. But I’ve met people who swear they were from family lineage of guard caravans that protected it, millennia ago. But either way, there aren’t many mines with that much potential. This thing is the real deal though!” the younger executive explained with twinkling eyes.
“Have you…verified this with geomancers?” the presidents 1st counselor asked.
“Absolutely! Believe me I don’t want to land us in risk unless I know it’s worth it. We used two different geomancer firms to confirm it. Both were practically drunk with greed and want in on the project. I’m just glad I put that dark elf assassin clause in their contract for if they try to steal this from us or beat us to it.”
“Hm, sounds almost too good to be true,” the 2nd counselor grumbled.
“Yeah, I know the feeling. But if things keep up the way they are I may need to hire more people to help me count all my gold,” the president emphasized.
Some of them laughed at the president’s comments. And some of them weren’t brownnosing but really laughing.
“It all hinges on if you can deal with the fae and that center spire stronghold full of refugees.”
“Refugees huh? I think we can work something out for that. Good work. I like it! I love this project. Hell, we could go down as the richest dwarves of our era with this!” the president proposed another toast for the new project.
*Dwarves of all sub-races are scientifically proven to be weak to gold sickness.
**For reasons unknown some dwarves are also vulnerable to Catgirl Syndrome. Although on paper their immune systems say otherwise, unexplainable catgirl nerd circles have developed in near fanatical obsessionism in them similar to psychological phenomenon of humans’ obsession with mahout shoujos.