“This must be the place.” [Ryouma]
The bar I was pointed to was located at the end of a narrow alley from the main street.
There were a lot of spectacular shops in front of the street, but this bar was plain all the way through. It’s an old building, so it looks really desolate, but from all the laughter that could be heard coming from inside, business seems to be going just fine.
There were swing doors for the entrance that reminded me of those from western films. I didn’t have to push them to get in. I just went past them.
…It might be because this is a child’s body, but it could also be that these swing doors are placed just a little too high. What an odd height.
The store extended deeper than one might think at first glance. It was surprisingly big. Although I found the seats a bit too close to each other, there were over 30 of them.
“Ah~? Why is– *hiccup… A kid in a place like this?” [Drunk 1]
“Maybe he’s here to pick someone up?” [Drunk 2]
“Hey~! Someone’s wife is in a bad mood.” [Drunk 3]
I came here without worrying about it, but I guess coming to a bar with a body like this really does make me stand out.
When the drunk men saw me, they started talking with poor articulation.
Various gazes fell on me impolitely.
Some were suspicious, others were amused, and then there were those that were mischievous.
The place stank of liquor and tobacco. I better finish this quickly and go back.
Or at least that’s what I was thinking, but with all these people, I have no idea which guy I’m looking for.
Considering the location of the store and the atmosphere about it, this seems to be a place where only locals and regulars gather, so maybe someone from the store knows who I’m looking for.
“…Our bar doesn’t serve liquor to children.” [Bartender]
I walked to the counter. The only person tending the bar had ‘get lost’ written all over his face.
Although I didn’t come here to drink, I wouldn’t exactly mind drinking… I decided to show him my status board a little.
“…So, you have the divine protection of the God of Wine, eh?” [Bartender]
“I’m looking for someone. Is there a person named Asshimo here?” [Ryouma]
The man pointed with his chin toward a corner of the store.
“Thank you very much.” [Ryouma]
I left a medium copper coin at the counter and went to the table he pointed me to. There, 8 men were seated around two tables for four that were lined up right next to each other. These guys are probably all couriers. Their group is a mishmash of various races and age groups, but they all have one thing in common: they all have big muscles.
“Sorry to intrude, but I heard there’s a person called Asshimo-san here.” [Ryouma]
“What? You have business with me~?” [Asshimo]
When I spoke up, the person seated closest to me turned around. A human in his later twenties. He’s drank quite a bit, but he seems to be in a good mood. This is a good opportunity. I introduced myself and explained the situation.
“You want to ask about Pedro~?” [Asshimo]
“Yes. Can you tell me when you last met him?” [Ryouma]
“Sure, sure. Sure. But you know… Isn’t there something you gotta do first when asking something~?” [Asshimo]
His gaze dazzled as liquor was poured into an empty mug.
“Will ale be fine?” [Ryouma]
“Oh, thanks—!?” [Asshimo]
“Good for nothing bum.” [???]
The man sitting beside him hit him, causing the happy tone in his voice to change into that of pain.
“That hurts, chief…” [Asshimo]
“Don’t try to swindle money out of a kid like this. You’ve drank too much. Sheesh.” [Chief]
“Sorry about that… I last saw Pedro two days ago.” [Asshimo]
“In this town?” [Ryouma]
“Yeah. I saw him the morning two days ago. We happened to bump into each other when I went out to eat breakfast… We talked, so there’s no doubt it’s him.” [Asshimo]
“Do you know where he went after that?” [Ryouma]
“He was in the store first and was also the first to leave. I don’t know where he went afterwards. But he did say he was headed to Kereban as usual.” [Asshimo]
“So he did use this path. …Do you have any idea why he might have been unable to reach Kereban today?” [Ryouma]
“None, unfortunately…” [Asshimo]
Another person spoke. This one was a much older man, who was probably past fifty.
“I know Pedro too and he’s used this path ever since he was a wee lad. I’m from his dad’s generation, so it’s a given that I know. He knows how to handle a horse and knows what areas are dangerous. Besides, Asshimo. You saw him in the morning, didn’t you?” [Old Man]
“Yeah. We met early morning. The sun was up already, though.” [Asshimo]
“So he couldn’t have found himself in an accident because it was dark. Do we have anyone who came back from Kereban today?” [Old Man]
“I came back today.” [Eyewitness 1]
“Did you see anyone stuck?” [Old Man]
“I saw a lot of people taking a break. But I didn’t see Pedro among those. He knows me too, so he should be able to recognize me if he saw me.” [Eyewitness 1]
“I passed by too, but I didn’t see him either…” [Eyewitness 2]
There were eyewitnesses in town, but none of them saw him… The odds that something might have happened just increased.
“Maybe something happened and he went back to Gimuru?” [Old Man]
“The client says he visited his house, but he wasn’t there either.” [Ryouma]
“So he couldn’t have come back to town then.” [Old Man]
“Maybe he stayed at an inn?” [Asshimo]
“Are you seriously saying that? What’s the point of doing that? That’s a waste of money.” [Old Man]
“…Ah, it’s no good. I drank too much and my brain just isn’t working.” [Asshimo]
“Hey, Asshimo. Are you sure there wasn’t anything else? I mean there’s no way you guys really just ate together, right?” [Old Man]