I think it is quite foolish to only speak of results.
Results may seem to express everything, but in fact, it is only one element of the larger whole. What is really important cannot be decided through such a dualism, as winning or losing. So extreme a logic was not what made the world turn. What was more important was the process.
That winning was right and losing wrong, was a most mediocre notion. Indeed, there really was no difference between a winner and a loser. Both have gained the same amount of experience. It really was quite short-sighted to swing from joy to sorrow over results without knowing that.
And so I was not remotely regretful when I lost.
The expression Leon wore as he called my name was difficult to describe. He wasn’t sad. He wasn’t angry either. It would be more accurate to say that he was stunned, but it wasn’t quite that either.
“Um, for some reason my allowance seems to have disappeared…”
His face had a ghostly look as he spoke, my shoulders began to shudder.
All hope and despair had been washed from his face, and yet there were still fragments of an expression there that would not come off. Such a face would have sent a pang of guilt to my good heart, but I had my excuses too.
“It’s, it’s not my fault! It’s you. You just went ahead and bet on me!”
Leon’s face switched to rage as he heard my argument.
“Aren’t you the one who said you’d ‘increase my allowance’!? I believed in you!”
“Wrong! I only told you to bet the first time. I made no such orders after that. Every time after that was just your own selfish actions. As if I would have told you to do something so stupid as to bet everything with no margin!? You could have at least left enough for me to eat, you fool!!”
“You, you’re really going to say such things! I was slowly saving up that money just for today’s festival! And now it’s all gone in a flash!? Do you understand how that makes me feel!?”
“How would I know! It’s not my fault you lost your allowance! It’s only right that I should make that very clear!”
He was grinding his teeth now, but this affair had nothing to do with me, now that I had established that he bore sole responsibility for everything.
I snorted and looked away, my arms tightly folded.
I was now facing Mariwa.
Memories of my crushing defeat revived in my mind as the blood drained from my face. She had no restraint, no mercy. It was just a one-sided and very quick game. There wasn’t a shred of entertainment value there, even the spectators seemed to have found it a little off-putting.
Having finished her massacre, Mariwa now opened her mouth which looked like the gate to hell.
“Well then, we should leave now.”
I didn’t ask her where. It was quite obvious to me without having her say it.
I was clearly about to be escorted to hell. As the guard escorting me was in the shape of Mariwa, the Calibrachoa servants and guards would not stop her. Mariwa had even served as the private teacher for the eldest Calibrachoa daughter once, so she was recognized as a person with a real identity.
This was the end. I was finished. My gloomy prospects brought a shadow of despair that began to crawl up my legs.
“Um, Mariwa. Where are we going…?”
But, maybe there still was hope. I latched onto this possibility, as I asked the question. Mariwa sighed heavily as if this was the most tiresome thing.
“You wanted to walk around and eat, didn’t you?”
I had assumed that the only thing awaiting me now was a type of scolding called corporal punishment. But these most unexpected words made me pause.
“What do you mean, Mariwa?”
I could not believe that Mariwa would give me anything but the whip. My eyes widened in wonder as hers narrowed in irritation.
“There is nothing to explain. …Ahh, you there as well. You are a friend of this former Goddess of Victory, are you not? If you’ve been unfortunately involved with this rascal over here, the least I can do is buy food that is the equivalent of the original amount you lost.”
“Are you serious!”
“Yes. I’m sure you are much more knowledgeable of this area than I. Please let us know if there are any good stalls nearby. I have no intention of being so immature as to crush a child’s allowance after all.”
“Okay. That was our original plan anyway. And it wasn’t that much, to begin with.”
Ever quick to change, Leon’s face was now completely devoid of the fear it once had. He had already forgotten the despair of losing his money, and a smile returned to his face.
“Well, I’ll be. Christina, I thought she was scary, but she’s really a nice person.”
“You’re being fooled. She has you completely fooled…!”
“Miss Mariwa. What do you think of Christina’s opinions about you?”
Sometimes I would become jealous of such easily pleased simpletons. I attempted to warn the foolishly gullible Leon, but he had been hooked by the money and would not listen. Worse, he had discovered in such a short time, that Mariwa was my weakness. This resulted in him saying things he shouldn’t.
“Yes, yes. She can say whatever she likes.”
“…Hmph. Mariwa. That seemed a little too unconcerned?”
I had lost my balance and was feeling a little depressed. Looking at Mariwa closely, there was something a little different in her expression. It wasn’t the usual iron mask. The overall impression she gave with her rigid posture and businesslike manner was the same, but somehow there was a languid air about her.
“I am not on the clock now. We will have plenty of time to discuss what has happened today on a later date.”
She bluntly answered my question. Now that I recall, Mariwa had acted in a similar fashion during that one time she had canceled the day’s lessons.
Even so, I had my doubts.
“You were just saying you meant to educate me…”
“Any adult with common sense would have at least warned a child who thought they could try their hand at gambling, regardless of working hours. Now, let us go.”
“Oh, wait. Surfania and Mishuli are…”
“They seem to be enjoying themselves as they are. And they have guards, don’t they? Then it should be alright to leave them for a little while.”
So saying, Mariwa took my hand and began to walk. I started to walk too, as she was dragging me and Leon followed.
I was sure that Mariwa was holding my hand for no other reason than to avoid getting separated. And I did not want to get lost in this crowd like Surfania had, so I held onto her tight.
There was no other meaning behind it.
But, I don’t know.
“What is it?”
“…Nothing. Never mind.”
Perhaps it was just my imagination, but there was a kind of warmth in Mariwa’s hand as she was leading me forward.