The Thief (Part 1)
The moon shone dimly between the clouds.
Even though it was a season for new sprouts to bud, there wasn’t any sign of the cold passing.
The weather of the Old Capital was capricious. Even though the temperature was comparatively higher this year, people were still chilled to the bone.
The mornings were considerably better, but in the evenings, it was still wise to dress up warmly. Due to the heavy rain and snow yesterday, the price of firewood had increased, rather than decreased.
Truthfully, during evenings like this, having a drink and a delicious side dish was something to be desired.
Ever since he found the store at the beginning of winter, Nicholas had already become a “slave” to Izakaya Nobu.
Oden, karaage, sashimi, and boiled tofu. Every delicious dish came with superb ale. On a cold day like this, he wanted to try out something he never ordered before, a dish called “Shio Nabe”.
Nicholas was heading to the store. However, the nature of the walk was unpleasant.
His frown was mostly caused by the old man, dressed in a priest’s garb, walking beside him.
「Nicholas, why are you frowning like that?」
「Oh, nothing. I’m just heading to this store I know of. It’s where we go after work to hang out and drink some ale.」
Deacon Edwin’s mouth and white moustache twitched upon hearing Nicholas’s words.
The old man, who had a smooth bald head and a beard as thick as his moustache, had just been posted in a small church just next to Nicholas’s guard barracks.
He had a skinny body like that of a dead tree, but with an unexplainable amount of energy, and he was known to be a diligent clergyman who moved about vigorously.
「Isn’t it fine to drink? After work is done, of course.」
「Mmn. After work ends.」
Nicholas leaked a small sigh while answering.
It was impossible to expect to drink with a clergyman.
If Edwin had come after his work ended, he could have quenched his thirst with ale before returning to his post. However, this wasn’t something he could suggest to his companion. He was a clergyman, after all.
If Hans was available, he would have passed the job to him, but that man was off duty on such a day. Lucky bastard.
Without a choice, he had to turn back after coming to the store to obtain information. However, to go to Nobu at this time and then return, it would be dawn by the time he finished his drink.
To begin with, that fellow who caused trouble at night was bad enough.
If there wasn’t a report of a thief breaking into Izakaya Nobu a few minutes ago, Nicholas would have finished his work by now.
Additionally, because Edwin overheard it and wanted to observe, it became even more troublesome.
The informant was also pointlessly drunk, so the case seemed like it was already settled. Something valuable was stolen and the thief escaped long ago.
Even with the deacon accompanying him, there was nothing that Nicholas could do.
This old man was walking fast despite his small stature, so Nicholas had to adjust his speed and was unable to enjoy the spring month properly.
In the meantime, Izakaya Nobu came into view.
Light leaked out of the familiar glass door, and fun laughter could be heard.
Edwin stopped and stroked his beard.
「How is it strange, deacon-sama? Izakaya Nobu looks the same as usual.」
「Yes, no matter how you look at it, the store is doing business as usual.」
「Isn’t that good then?」
「Normally, can one open their business properly after a thief broke in?」
“If it is Taisho and Shinobu, then probably.” was what Nicholas wanted to say but he swallowed his words.
Even though those two were eccentric, a thief had indeed broke into their store. Was it possible to run a business as usual?
Somehow, he felt that it was not an ordinary incident. When he looked towards Edwin, it seemed that the old clergy was of the same opinion. Silently, both of them nodded.
They approached the sliding door as quietly as possible and opened it.