A Little Too Late To Notice
One hour later.
“They haven’t returned yet. Usually, they would have been back by now and gone on their next round.”
The guard said with a puzzled look.
“Indeed. And they worked so seriously and quickly up until now.”
Agreed the dwarf who was in charge of snacks.
“I’ll go and have a look.”
“You can enter the ridges if you crouch.”
However, no amount of searching led them to Maki and Chiharu.
“Stilla? It’s Kenneth and Ryan. They are nowhere to be found.”
“They were supposed to be doing this row here.”
“But they aren’t there.”
Stilla then gathered all of the dwarves together.
“What is it? We were almost finished.”
“Kenneth and Ryan are gone. Has anyone seen them? Did they feel ill and return to the inn?”
“No one went in the direction of the inn. Well, except for one wagon that was carrying straw.”
Said a dwarf who was working in the direction of the inn.
“However, you wouldn’t have been able to see that if you were working in the field.”
“I could though, mister tall man. Look, go over there and crouch till you are the same height as us.”
The guard did as he was told. The guard had thought the entire field looked like a jungle, just like Maki and Chiharu, but you could actually see clearly ahead at 140cm above ground level.
“So where did they go?”
“Hey, you said something about a wagon?”
“Yes. It was carrying straw.”
“You wouldn’t need straw during this season and it’s not the time to harvest it. Is it not strange then that a hay wagon would pass through here?”
“Yes, it is strange.”
“What if they were kidnapped?”
The guard looked surprised.
“Which way did the wagon go!?”
“I think it was in the direction of Gromble.”
The guard started to run.
“Wait. Just listen to this!”
“The mayor of Gromble likes children. Human children.”
The guard went running.
Of course, the wagon was no longer on the road towards Gromble. And so the guard went running to the inn where Grudo was.
“They’ve been kidnapped!? And there’s a possibility that the mayor of Gromble has them. Hmmm…”
Grudo started to think.
“They may still come back. However, we should consider the worst possible scenario and go to Gromble. You go on ahead and tell Edwy. Then we will meet up in the inn that the other soldiers are staying at.”
Grudo quickly prepared to leave the inn and then followed the soldier to Gromble. It was evening by the time they arrived.
The guard was waiting for him at the inn.
“The four representatives are in the dungeon today, and it is not known when they will return. Kaider and Aeris are camping down there as they go deeper.”
It was already night.
“And what of Edwy and Nyran!”
“They were held at the Mayor’s mansion up until yesterday, so they hurried off to the dungeon today and have yet to return.”
“This is not good. We cannot just go and pursue them either.”
Grudo was annoyed. He was a researcher and technician, just like Aeris. He didn’t enjoy socializing and he did not want to meet the creepy mayor. But he didn’t have a choice.
“Alright. I shall go to the Mayor’s house today. I will take two guards with me and we will check the place. You must send a messenger into the dungeon and contact Edwy or one of the others.”
While all of this happened, Maki and Chiharu were just about to wake up from their deep sleep.
“Mmm…ugh…my head hurts.”
Perhaps it was dehydration. Perhaps it was from being carried while bound up. Their bodies ached all over.
“Where are we?”
“It’s a dark, but a fancy room. I don’t think it’s an inn.”
“Maki. We must have been kidnapped.”
“Yes. This whole thing reeks of criminal activity.”
The room had a simple bed, a small writing desk and a chair. There was nothing else. There was one window near the ceiling, but it was too small for either of them to fit through.
“They clearly don’t want us to escape. But I can’t understand why they would want to kidnap us. Maybe it’s to sell us as workers. Or they know we are women and they’ll send us to a brothel.”
“I don’t think they know. At least this room is nice. But what could be the reason?”
“Chiharu. We have to get up. We’ll be at a great disadvantage in this position.”
And so they held their aching heads as they got out of bed. Just then, the door swung open.