I entered the restaurant with the elderly woman who introduced herself as Thales and was shown to a seat by the window.
“What do you want to eat, Elle?”
“I can’t decide because it’s my first time here. What do you recommend, Mrs. Thales?”
“I like white fish, so I often order a fried white fish set meal.”
“Then, I will have that.”
When I promptly decided, Mrs. Thales showed a troubled expression.
“That is quite a cheap meal, you know? It’s my treat, so you can order something more expensive.”
“The price doesn’t matter when it comes to delicious food.”
And as soon as I heard the name of the dish, I wanted to eat it, so I had no intention of changing.
In the end, Mrs. Thales ordered the same thing.
As the two of us were chatting, I heard a curious conversation from the seat behind me.
“Hey, another person went missing.”
“Yeah, it’s already the fifth one. No matter how you look at it, that’s too many.”
A fifth missing person…?
My heart trembled at the disturbing words. When I strained my ears, wanting to hear more details, Mrs. Thales let out a deep sigh.
“That story again…”
“You know of it?”
“Do you not know of the disappearance incidents?”
“No. Could you please tell me more if possible?”
“I don’t mind.”
According to Mrs. Thales, the disappearances in the town of Meil started this month. Precisely, two weeks ago.
The first was a young woman who had been selling flowers.
The second was a young boy on a family trip.
The third was a vagrant in a back alley.
The fourth was an elderly woman who lived alone.
“It’s said that a young sailor from a cargo ship went missing yesterday.”
I couldn’t see any connections between the missing people.
“Do the missing people have anything in common?”
“They were all being investigated by people from the garrison.”
“Still, you really didn’t know, huh. I thought it turned into a pretty big rumor already.”
I hadn’t heard about any disappearances in Meil around the village I had stopped by on my way here. But thinking back, there were certainly many people talking about Meil there. Speaking of which.
“The old grandpa from the stables at the entrance of the town told me that the town is having some problems.”
“Oh, Old man Gregory did? He should have explained it properly.”
“He just didn’t want to say anything unnecessary to a tourist.”
Maybe he simply didn’t want to say it himself, though.
I heard the voices from behind me as I sipped on my tea again.
“Hey, do you think they were kidnapped by that fellow?”
“It’s possible. The disappearances happened after that fellow came here.”
That fellow? Who are they talking about?
I was curious about the person they were talking about and was about to ask Mrs. Thales when the waiter came with the set meals we ordered.
“Thank you for your patience!”
“Thank you very much.”
I couldn’t help but be curious about “that fellow” the male customers mentioned.
I thought about asking Mrs. Thales, but she seemed preoccupied with her set meal. I was in no mood to ask her.
“It looks delicious.”
“Yeah, it’s very good. Eat while it’s warm.”
I mumbled, “Thank you for the meal” to my fried white fish set meal, while thinking I could ask her about it after I finished.