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A middle-aged man with black hair entered the room.

As soon as he did, the entire atmosphere seemed to change, and the temperature seemed to drop by several degrees.

He wore a suit with the same colors as Nick's uniform, which showed that he belonged to the city.

The man took slow and methodical steps, and without greeting anyone, he walked towards the head of the table.

"That's Markus Julius, the strongest human in Crimson Fungus City and the owner of everything we know and love," Wyntor whispered.

"Basically," Wyntor added for clarification.

As Nick looked at Markus, he couldn't help but take deep breaths.

He felt so powerful!

Nick had never seen anyone this powerful before!

After sitting down, Markus looked around the silent room.

Everyone was respectfully looking at him in silence.

Naturally, Wyntor also stopped talking and just waited for the governor to start the meeting.

"The official meeting of all Manufacturers in the city commences," he said with a slow and deep voice.

"Introduce yourselves," he commanded.

Vernon immediately stood up and bowed politely. "Vernon Melfion, Senior Director of Kugelblitz."

After that, Aria stood up. "Aria Light, Chief Zephyx Extractor of Kugelblitz."

Then, the next person stood up. "Zarren Harrow, Senior Director of Anatomy."

All the others introduced themselves as well, starting from the strongest person and going to the weakest.

"Kallum Sondur, Chief Zephyx Extractor of the Spartans."

"Wyntor Melfion, Chief Executive Officer of Dark Dream."

"Nick Nick, Chief Zephyx Extractor of Dark Dream."

Then, one of the people at the bottom of the table spoke up.

"Zack Howitzer, representative of the common people from the middle layer."

"Nirolas Smark, representative of the common people from the lower layer."

"Gungis Landrow, representative of the common people from the Outer City."

And with that, everyone except for the governor had introduced themselves.

Including the governor, there were now 18 people in the room.

The room didn't seem as empty anymore.

Everyone sat back down, and the governor took out several sheets of paper.

"First order of business: The taxes of all Manufacturers have been paid on time and in their full amount. Continue like this."

No one answered.

"Second, after many long discussions with my advisors, I have decided to call for another general round of inspection. The inspectors will arrive at your premises within the week."

No one showed any reactions, but Nick could tell that the atmosphere in the room had become much tenser.

And Nick wasn't surprised in the least.

While the specifics of the Specters were kept secret, they couldn't be kept secret from the city.

One of Nick's duties was also to create thorough documentation about all the Specters Dark Dream owned.

That included their names, their abilities, their powers, where they were kept, how to work with them, what abilities they granted others, and many other things.

It included everything.

And these documents had to be handed to the city biannually.

This meant that the city knew everything about every Specter that was being kept in any Containment Unit inside the city.

Naturally, this kind of information was kept top secret, and there hadn't been a data breach within the last several decades.

So, technically, there wasn't a reason to feel scared about telling the city the truth about one's Specters, right?

Wrong.

There were several reasons why a Manufacturer wouldn't want to be honest.

First, if they had fewer Specters, the city wouldn't ask for high taxes.

Second, while the city allowed almost every kind of method of working with a Specter, there were still a very select few that the city didn't like.

Specters that required children to work with them were one example.

Another example were Specters that needed large-scale destruction.

Something like spreading a plague, and the more people caught the plague, the more Zephyx the Specter produced.

Another reason why one might not be honest was when suppressing a Specter wasn't very easy.

A Manufacturer needed to show that they were able to suppress every Specter they owned.

If the city found out that a Manufacturer might have issues suppressing a Specter they owned, the Specter would be confiscated by the city and handed to a more competent Manufacturer.

Kugelblitz had benefited from that policy several times.

Yet, there was one last reason why a Manufacturer might not be fully honest with their documentation.

As the strongest human in the city, the governor needed to regularly work with a Demon to become stronger, and the only suppressed Demon in the city was the Crimson Fungus.

This meant that the governor was working with the Crimson Fungus regularly, and he was also officially one of the four Heroes working for Kugelblitz.

While it was definitely the governor being in charge, people still didn't feel comfortable with the governor working for Kugelblitz.

While there had not been a data breach yet, the Manufacturers were still suspicious.

"Sir, please consider postponing the inspection," Zarren Harrow, the CEO of Anatomy, said.

"Give me a reason," the governor demanded.

"We are currently in the process of restructuring, which means moving many Specters from one Containment Unit to the other. Leading an inspector through all the Containment Units in this scenario is bound to lead to confusion and danger," Zarren calmly explained.

"Why would that lead to confusion and danger? You can simply explain that to the team of inspectors," the governor asked coldly.

"Due to a recent paradigm shift in working procedures, the documentation for the move is not centralized, and many localized reports could cloud the greater picture, leading to misunderstandings of us trying to keep information hidden from the city, which is not our intention," Zarren explained with a smooth voice.

While Zarren sounded extremely confident and calm, what he said didn't fully make sense to Nick's ears.

And if it didn't make sense to Nick's ears, it definitely didn't fool any of the other people in the room.

Except for the three representatives at the bottom of the table, of course.

Everyone knew that Zarren was bullshitting.

He just didn't want to get investigated.