Translated and Edited by: ynlucca.
This was the hardest chapter to translate by far…
The next day, after finishing up with afternoon classes, the school was finally over.
“–Why am I the one in charge of General Affairs, huh?”
A voice echoed in protest in the student council office. The culprit was Hinako Sakura, who returned after recovering from her excitement fever. She was the 99th Secretary of General Affairs.
She had medium-length crimson hair, was 5 foot tall (155 cm), and had a distinctive cowlick dangling on top of her head. Her beauty could be summarized into the word ‘cute’, which paired well with her lively personality and popularity.
“There’s something definitely weird here! I can’t accept this! Why am I the secretary, and this guy is the vice-president?”
“It’s because Kuzuhara-kun is very talented.”
“That’s a lie! I was in his class last year, and I couldn’t even find the ‘E’ in Excellent when it comes to him! Actually, I couldn’t even find him! I can’t believe someone so gloomy is the vice president, no matter how much I try to wrap my head around it!”
How could she say these things in front of the subject, huh?
“Wait?! Shirayuki-san, don’t tell me he’s got some dirt on you… Maybe a picture you couldn’t show anyone or something…”
Shirayuki was famous for being extremely honest, so there’s no way in hell, not even if it froze over, that she was lying.
“… Got it. So your choice is simply based on merit, and no other factors whatsoever?”
Sakura smiles, showing that she believes her friend.
“Kuzuhara-kun… Let’s compete for the position of vice-president!”
“Sorry, that’s a hard pass.”
I don’t wanna waste any energy on something so useless. However–
“–Oh? Oh my? Are you running away? Are you chickening out?” She poked my cheek while wearing an extremely annoying face.
Usually, this kind of cheap provocation is passed off lightly.
So I wonder why it stirred me up so badly.
“Y-Your stare doesn’t scare me a-at all…!”
“Sakura-san. Acting strong while you’re cowering in a corner of the room isn’t very convincing, you know?”
With all that, Sakura and I had to fight for the position of vice-president.
“Haah… So what’s the game?”
“Fufu, I’m glad you asked! Since we are suuuper talented students of the prestigious Hakuou high school, let’s compete using our intellectual power!”
“… Intelligence? Are we going to do a quiz?”
“Tsk, tsk tsk! Ah, this is troubling. That’s why ordinary people are so shallow!”
“… Shirayuki, can I shut this brat up?”
“I understand how you feel, but please hold on.”
While I exchanged a few words with Shirayuki, Sakura rummaged through the shelves at the back of the classroom.
“Kuzuhara-kun, how about this game… Shogi!”
She said, pulling out a board and its support legs.
“Shogi, huh? Sakura, you–” Shirayuki was interrupted by Sakura’s index on her mouth.
I have a small hunch that shogi is her specialty.
“I’ve got no issues with this. I was fairly good at it when I was in elementary school.”
“Pfft! …‘When I was in elementary school’, he says!” She giggled while covering her mouth.
“Haah… I don’t know what to do here.” Shirayuki sighed as if to say ‘good grief’.
After a bit, we finished setting up the pieces.
“Good luck.” Sakura and I said that to each other and bowed, and the game had finally begun.
I won the pre-game, so I was first.
For now… Let’s go with…
Since I was more of a Static-Rook kinda player, the first thing I do is to poke at her pawn with a ‘two-step’ formation.
A minute had passed since the opening of the game, and things went by without a hitch.
“Hoho… You seem to know the basics of shogi, at least.”
Then five minutes had passed. I traded some pieces with her in exchange for more development on the board.
“O-Oh, I see… This is some quite aggressive striking, huh…”
Then ten minutes had passed. I had taken her Rook, Bishop, Silver-Piece, and her Knight with a third-line strike.
Fifteen minutes had passed. I managed to pull off a risky suicide attack and ‘shut that brat up’, just like I wanted to.
“Eh, no, you’re lying…” She then went dead silent.
It was her turn, but nothing she could do would turn the tides in her favor. Even if she managed to play her best, I’d win in 14 moves.
After a long, long stretch of silence, she said with an almost-whispering frail voice–
“Arimasen…” That was the traditional word for giving up in shogi, meaning she had no more moves to make.
After gloating so much at the start, she’s trying to get off easy with a respectable way out. I dare her.
“What is it? I couldn’t quite get it.”
“Mmhrg… I… Lost…” She winced, bowing slightly after the end of the match.
This is bad… I think it’s gonna become a habit. I have to say, teasing Sakura tickles my sadist-bone quite well. Kind of like bullying a small animal.
“Haah… Kuzuhara-kun, I understand very well why you’d want to bully Sakura-san, but please leave it at that.”
The referee Shirayuki stopped the game, so let’s not tease Sakura any further.
“S-Shirayuki-san! Who the hell is he? I’m a sixth-dan amateur, so I can’t believe how one-sided was this fight… Are you a pro by any chance!?”
Oh, so that’s why I’ve noticed something subtly strong in her. She was a dan, and to become a sixth-dan amateur, you had to win a national tournament.
That’s a Hakuou student, alright. Albeit an oddball, she had some amazing feats to back her up.
“Unfortunately, Kuzuhara-kun is not a professional, am I right?”
“Of course, I’m not.”
Don’t look at me with that ‘could it be’ look. I’m really not a professional, okay?
“Well, anyway, you understand now? He’s tremendously talented.” Shirayuki said gently.
“… No. Not yet.”
Sakura hadn’t given up the position of vice-president yet.
“Shogi is just a game for nerds! You can’t measure intelligence by that alone!”
Oi. Apologize to all Shogi fans across the world.
“… What is true intelligence? I explored the depths of the Amazon forest to find the answer.”
“… Ah, I see.”
“Academic skills? Nope. General knowledge? Nay. A flash of genius? Nonsense! No, it’s none of those things at all! Listen to me, Kuzuhara-kun, true power could only be one thing… Memory! And we’ll compete with this–”
Sakura pulled out a deck of cards from one of the shelves at the back, scattering them on the long desk used for visitors, all while making sound effects with her mouth.
“We’ll play ‘Concentration’! It has to be this game.”
“… ‘Concentration’…” Shirayuki and I muttered in dismay.
Is she doing this on purpose? Oh, Sakura-san, this is the only competition that I can never…
Her challenging me with a memory game is, to put it bluntly, like challenging the last boss of a game when you’ve just booted it up.
Or so I thought… I had a bad feeling about this.
“… Sakura. I’ll accept the match only under one condition.”
“Hm, what is it?”
“You’re the one deciding again, so at least let me decide who starts first. It would be unfair otherwise, no?”
“Oh, I see… You understand that in ‘Concentration’ going second is advantageous, huh. With that in mind, I didn’t expect you to be so brazen as to ask for a turn. As expected of you and your brazen personality.”
She’s so noisy.
“Well, you’ve got a point. If it’s just that… Fine, why don’t we make an exception? I’ll give in to your request.”
“Okay then. I’ll take the first move.”
I immediately turn two cards over and pull a pair – 7 of spades and 7 of hearts.
“Whoah… Lucky me…”
I pull another two cards and got a second pair – 11 of diamonds and 11 of clovers.
“Ooh… What a good start.”
Pulling another two cards, I get my third pair – 5 of hearts and 5 of spades.
“I’m soo lucky today…”
Without stopping my hands for a moment, I combined all pairs of the game.
“… Okay, I won.”
On the first turn rotation of the game, I formed all pairs.
“N… No matter how much your memory is good, Kuzuhara-kun, you can’t know what you’ve never seen before… Maybe this is–” Shirayuki said, and we both stared at Sakura with a cold glare while a drop of sweat rolled down her cheek.
“Oi, Sakura, what do you have to say for yourself?”
“… I deeply apologize…” She prostrated herself on the ground.
She had used a marked deck, so you could tell the pairs apart by looking at the verse of the card. For example, the cards had a massive cross pattern on the back. Though if you looked closely, this card’s seventh cross on the pattern was actually not a cross, so if you turned it around, you’d get yourself a 7.
Completely defeated, Sakura turns to Shirayuki in a daze, wearing a very anxious face.
“S-Shirayuki… Sniff… I’m just a slug, a small insect with no value. Even a nerd like him managed to beat me…”
Sakura’s head lay on Shirayuki’s lap whilst tears streamed down her face.
“Shh, it’s okay, you’re not a slug…” She stroked Sakura’s face gently.
I’m… A little envious– No, wait, wait!
That was close. I almost lost my cool there. Shirayuki’s motherliness is… Scary.
“Ugh… hic. I had to get up early and prepare all of these games, but it’s all wasted effort…”
I was wondering why there were so many games here. Apparently, it was her doing. What tenacity…
After she finished crying, Sakura stood up with a bang.
“Kuzuhara-kun, you idiot! You annoying cockroach! Extremely talented in useless things!”
While spitting throwaway insults, she ran out of the office.
“Hah… She’s like a storm in a bottle.”
“Sakura-san… She’s cute as a little child.”
“You’re acting like her mom, Shirayuki-san.”
“Fufu… Then you’re her father.”
The silence was loud.
If Hinako Sakura were to be our child, that would mean we…
“That, erm, was a mistake. I misspoke… Please forget about it.”
With a crimson-flushed face, Shirayuki went silent for a while.
Thank you for reading!
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