Ryuuou no Oshigoto! - Volume 17 - Chapter 5.11

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There are so many strange things about this title match.

It’s being held in a building that’s deep in the mountains and far away from civilization.

I was told that it's a certain company’s exclusive resort, but word is that it used to be a specialized medical facility. The place even popped up as a haunted hotspot online. Seriously?

Transportation to the site was all chartered without anyone using public trains or bus routes whatsoever.

The Opening Night Party was a dinner for the players and people directly involved.

It goes without saying that no public gatherings for analysis and commentary are happening, and no events for the fans. Internet reception in the area is so poor that broadcasting a live stream of the match in real time wasn’t an option. It will be recorded and broadcast at a later date.

The title match’s name———Empress.

At the request of the Empress Title Holder, King Yo Okito was selected as the observer.

“Anyone else, and I die.”

Empress Sainokami had stated her wishes on a visit to the association office while pressing a shaving razor blade against her carotid artery.

That’s a threat, isn’t it ……?

A current title holder acting as an observer is an irregular among irregularities, and I never got any explanation for that.

One more thing.

Another pro was summoned to the arena at the Empress's request.

Crown Yaichi Kuzuryu. Me.

The same coalition of five newspaper companies sponsor the Crown and Empress Tournaments.

They explained to me that it was a collaboration between the titles! and asked me to write a review about the match for the newspaper. …… But anyone inside the Shogi world can tell that nothing about this is business as usual, and I’ve got a pretty good hunch who made me come out here and what they’re trying to do.

I could’ve said no. My own Crown Title Match is right around the corner.

But it wasn’t just Ika who wanted me here, it was the challenger too. So I’m on my way to an arena where someone I’d rather not see is waiting.

“Aha! ♡ You caaame! ♡♡♡”

The extremely limited Opening Night Party has started. It’s been about two years since I last saw the girl smiling at me from ear to ear, Ika Sainokami.

Honestly, I’m surprised how coolheaded I am sitting across from the girl who tore Big Sis apart with her Tomahawk strategy.

The people sitting here with us probably have a lot to do with it.

This table was built for four, and we’re a strange bunch for sure. It’s hard to put the atmosphere here into words as we eat.

Sitting next to Ika is the observer, Okito-sensei.

The Empress Challenger is next to me.

Two tables are usually set up for this type of dinner party so that the players don’t have to talk to each other right before the match, but ……

“Seriously, Ika …… What are you trying to pull? It’s weird enough to have the title holder and the challenger sitting at the same table, but dragging Okito-sensei and I into it is———”

“Don’t be like that, Yaichi. I wanted to introduce you to my papa. ♡”

“…… Papa?”

I’m the only one completely shocked by this revelation.

The other three are sitting at the table like it’s just any other day. Furthermore, there’s only one other man here.

Huh …… No, that can't be …… Could it?

The challenger, dressed in black, looks over at me and says as if talking about tomorrow’s weather forecast.

“Him right there, King Yo Okito. He’s Ika Sainokami’s biological father.”

The challenger———Ai Yashajin-Dual Women’s Title says the shocking truth matter of factly in the middle of cutting up her rare Kobe steak.

“They’re not registered as such on paper and have never lived under the same roof. But genetics prove they are in fact father and daughter.”

“How ……?”

How did you know about this? I try to ask, but my head is spinning so fast I barely got the first word out.

Okito-sensei did mention it to me before.

He said that he had a kid about my age who was a Shogi player. And he only found out about the kid two years ago.

So I assumed …… Okito-sensei’s research partner Mirai Futatsuzuka 4-dan was the one.

Then again, Okito-sensei never said they were a pro and Ika and I are the same age.

It lines up …… Everything lines up, but…!

“A-Ai! You …… You knew about this and still gave the go-ahead?!”

“Yes, I did.”

The thing that is most important for an observer is neutrality.

That’s why they can’t be a Master, apprentice or sibling apprentice of either player. Even if they’re not in the same Shogi family, siblings related by blood and spouses of the players involved never work as observers or match recorders.

“Because checking to see if the rules about Shogi family restrictions apply when the child wasn’t aware of their parentage would be a pointless waste of time. Actually, I’m more worried about her feeling extra pressure with him in the room. Plenty of kids couldn’t concentrate on class at school if their parents were in the room. Sainokami strikes me as that type.”

Ika grins at her biological father the whole time Ai spoke, but I guess she never picked up on the irony.

Okito-sensei, sitting diagonally across from my second apprentice, quietly asks, “Why did you know?”

“My match against her in the Women’s Throne Tournament is what tipped me off,” says Ai as she points at Ika with her fork. “I won because her formation broke apart in an aerial battle. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I did once I analyzed the match afterward with Awaji’s deep learning software.”

It was right before Ika’s match against Big Sis.

Her behavior was more erratic and she obviously wasn’t feeling well. Ika’s winning percentage was at an all-time low.

Thinking back on it now …… That’s a lot like what happened to me when I started playing consecutive matches against Awaji.

“Ika Sainokami had absorbed tons of deep learning software—based match records and was in the process of molting. Her outright rejection of pure Ranging Rook Party players was even stronger than mine, yes? But, I digress …… The important thing is how did a regular Women’s League player get their hands on match records created by deep learning software?”

Pro players are much less apprehensive about using software these days.

When it comes to developing said software, though, it’s a different story.

I know of one player who recognized the potential of deep learning software early on, incorporated the technology and sees its ratings on the same level as the Shogi gods.

Yo Okito.

“Looking into it once I figured that out wasn’t difficult. Even without DNA testing, comparing your features and body types using pictures online was enough to label you as father and daughter. Awaji could tell in less than a second.”

“Acknowledged. Deep learning software particularly excels at analysis via visual materials.”

“I’ll be putting it on the market at some point.”


Okito-sensei seems very interested in that aspect. All I see is households being wrecked on a worldwide scale ……

“By the way, were they delicious?”


Ika had lost interest in the conversation and was shoveling food into her mouth with her fork like a toddler when Ai asked that question. She looks up and says, “The meat? Hi-hi-hi! Hell yeah, they’re all delish———”

“No. I’m talking about the match records I released.”

“…… !!”

“One hundred of the best match records Awaji produced, and the most pivotal ones came with analysis …… But you haven’t read any of them, have you? Big words don’t seem like your strong suit.”

I’m the one who chose the records and wrote the analysis, though.

Ika lets out a big, “IHIII!” and shudders from head to toe.

Then, after licking all the meat juice off her chin with that long tongue, she burps with satisfaction and says, “Gi-hi-hi …… Oh, they’re tasty, all right! The flavor went so much deeper than any of the ones Papa gave me, that’s for sure.”

“How nice. Then, shall we dance to our heart’s content tomorrow?” says Ai Yashajin-Women’s Dual Title getting to get feet and holding out her right hand like an invitation out onto a dance floor.

“The depth you tasted is nothing but the tip of the iceberg. I’ll teach just how deep it really goes. The darkness …… the deep, deep abyss.”

The girl attempting to claim half of Women’s Shogi’s six major titles then flips her long, black hair over her shoulder like a glossy wing.

That’s when it all dawns on me.

The reason why I don’t feel anything when I see Ika’s face.

I, Yaichi Kuzuryu, and my apprentice Ai Yashajin have uninstalled our humanity by peering into the darkest depths of Shogi. We have become just as inhuman as Ika Sainokami———

“Let me show you the dark abyss from which there’s no return.”

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