Drawn Mochi Volume 4 Chapter 14.2: Around the Open Gate*5

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 Ms. Croix stares at Mr. Argent again. This time it’s a little stronger.


 Then… Mr. Argent’s eyes seemed a little dim.



“Are you…Tougo’s secretary?” (Fida)



 And Mr. Argent leaned forward a little, looking interested in Ms. Croix.



“Yes. I am taking care of his personal needs and acting as a secretary.” (Croix)


“Hmm. You seem pretty smart. And above all, you’re beautiful. That’s fine. When Tougo is in the care of the Argent family, please come too.” (Fida)


“Oh, that’s too kind of you to say. I never thought that Lord Argent would say that to me.” (Croix)



 Ms. Croix said that and laughed, and Mr. Argent also laughed seemingly like in a good mood.



“Hmm…well, I can’t help it if that’s the case. Think about it some more.” (Fida)



 …Ah, good. For the time being, a temporary withdrawal was allowed. That’s good.



 If we are allowed to temporarily withdraw, let’s go home now. We leave the reception room so as not to be rude…



“However, my thoughts will not change. It would be too much of a shame to leave you buried in the Redgarde family. I would like you to play an active role under our care. That’s what I think.” (Fida)



 Mr. Argent said with a grin as we were about to leave.



“I will speak to the Redgarde family. You don’t have to worry about anything. Please come to my house. These are the conditions, and I expect a positive answer.” (Fida)



 We managed to get back to the inn.


 When we returned, Laocles kept a close watch on the outside of the window, the hallway, and the next room, and Ms. Croix also checked the inside of the room for some reason… Then, finally, they let out a sigh and relaxed our posture.



“…I’m tired.” (Tougo)


“That’s right. *sigh*, what can I say? It’s really exhausting, isn’t it?” (Croix)



 Ms. Croix says this as she loosens her hair and shakes her head. Her long blonde hair had traces of how it was tied back, and it curled into soft waves, making it look prettier.


 …While I was staring at Ms. Croix’s hair, Laocles also started taking off his armor next to me. Yeah. He also looks tired. That’s true. The armor is heavy. Yeah.


 And most of all, I was tired, too. I don’t know, it’s like I’m under a lot of pressure. …I was nervous, I didn’t know what was going on, I felt helpless, and I was very, very tired. I went back to the inn and sat down alone with the two of them and felt like, “Oh, I’m so tired.”



“Um, I want to decline the offer.” (Tougo)



 I was quick to conclude. Yes, I want to decline. My conclusion was the same as it had been from the beginning. And with this exhaustion added to it, my decision to turn down the offer was firmly made in my mind. No, this is no good.



“I guess.” (Laocles)



 Laocles, looking unusually tired, finished taking off his armor and sat down next to me.



“…Argent called that talk a ‘business meeting’, but you’re not for sale. You can refuse.” (Laocles)



 Ah, yes. That’s what I think.


 Maybe I was stuck at that point. This wasn’t a “business meeting” for me. Maybe it’s about whether he’s going to buy me or not… but I don’t like the idea of him buying me.



“Indeed, that crusty old fart who is drunk on his own ‘I can do anything’ perspective is the worst character. He has power and money for no reason. Ah, totally…” (Croix)



 Ms. Croix is also unusually foul-mouthed. But it’s nice to see Ms. Croix having a venomous tongue, too. I want to draw a tired Laocles and a venomous Ms. Croix. I want to draw. Let’s draw. I immediately took out my sketchbook and began to draw.



“Oh, are you going to draw now?” (Croix)


“Yeah. I felt like drawing…” (Tougo)



 I can talk while I draw, but it’s not every day that I get to see a venomous Ms. Croix and tired Laocles, so I have to do it now.



“…Hehe, that’s just like you. Hmm, I’m glad. Looking at you makes me feel less tired.” (Croix)



 Well, I hope you don’t soften up. Just a little more, um, just until I draw it, please keep that venomous expression, Ms. Croix…



 While I was drawing a little further, Laocles suddenly said,



“…I think you should decline that offer. It seems like you’re only interested in drawing. If you’re not interested in honor, status, or money, there’s no point in accepting such an offer.” (Laocles)


“Yep.” (Tougo)



 That’s right. I have enough money, I am satisfied with my house… and the recognition that is given to me is something that, umm… doesn’t really mesh with me.



“I didn’t really understand what that person was talking about.” (Tougo)



 When I said that while drawing Ms. Croix and Laocles, Ms. Croix looked at me with a startled look on her face, and Laocles only raised one eyebrow.



“I wonder what it is. I understand the words and the meaning, but… I don’t understand what they are thinking.” (Tougo)



 I remember.


 When I asked Mr. Argent about my painting. Mr. Argent… I don’t think he talked about any of my paintings.



“Maybe that’s why I’m worried. Maybe I’m anxious because I don’t know why I was appreciated.” (Tougo)



 Being appreciated means receiving a place to stay… So, if I don’t know ‘why’ I should stay there, maybe I am just anxious.


 I think being appreciated is something to be happy about, and I think I should be happy about this offer, too…


  Why, not only am I anxious, but I’m not happy too.



“Well, it can’t be helped. Even if the other person gives you a position, you probably don’t want to stay there. …And the person Argent envisions you is not who you want to be, right?” (Croix)



 As I was worrying, Ms. Croix said that and reached out her hand to my head. Just like that, she pats my head. …I feel like I’m being treated like a child, and I have mixed feelings when Ms. Croix does it to me.



“You would be bothered if someone told you to just sit in a pretty chair and smile, right? Or you wouldn’t want to be put in a beautifully crafted birdcage and told to sing a song for all who come to watch. You don’t like being asked to sing like that, do you?” (Croix)






“You are someone who wants to stay in the woods and paint, and you are not someone who sits in a high seat or sells paintings. I’m sure. I don’t think that the conditions that Argent gave you are that bad, and I am sure that there are many, many people who are looking for those conditions, but… You are not looking for them, so you can’t help it.” (Croix)



 …I see.



 An appreciation is a permission that says, “you can stay here,” or a place that says “please come here.” But this time, the place prepared by Mr. Argent is a place I don’t want to be.


 Rather than sit in a fancy chair and be told, “Come here!” Sitting in a field in the forest probably suits my tastes better.


 That’s how it is. Maybe. I’m not happy even if I get permission to stay in a place I don’t want to stay. That’s why I’m not happy right now.



“Yeah. I am still going to decline the offer.” (Tougo)



 I feel sorry to refuse the offer, and I also feel bad for the other party. But after all, the place I want to be… is not at Mr. Argent’s house.



“That’s right. You should do that.” (Croix)


“I think you should do that too.” (Laocles)



 Laocles and Ms. Croix smiled a little and said that. Yeah. I’m glad that the two of them were able to smile a little.


 …Ah, I failed to draw the venomous Ms. Croix and the tired Laocles…



“But the question is, will he let you say no?” (Croix)






“If you refuse, he might say something like putting pressure on Redgarde territory. He’s that kind of old man.” (Croix)


“…he said that he would talk to the Redgarde family. Maybe they already had some talks.” (Tougo)


“Yes. The Redgarde family may already be under pressure from Argent.” (Croix)



 …I hadn’t thought about that.



 When I thought back on it, Fay was certainly acting strangely.


 I think if it had been the usual Fay, he probably would said he wanted to keep me around. Then I remembered, “No matter what I think, it’s your decision.” I think he would have told me how he felt.


 …But this time, he didn’t say anything. He said I should decide everything.


 I thought he meant that he didn’t mind me leaving, but maybe he is afraid of the Argent family.



 Fay didn’t say anything to me so that I wouldn’t think that I would cause trouble for the Redgardes by refusing to go with them.



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