Classroom of the Elite Volume 11 Epilogue Part 3
The match began, and time flowed by without so much as a word from either of us.
As the sun began to set, the only sound was the repeated clatter of the white and black pieces on the chessboard.
But that didn’t last for very long.
There was no need to spend much time on the match since it was already at the final stages when it began.
And before long, the match ended. Sakayanagi quietly let out a sigh as she stared at the board in front of her.
A way to avoid checkmate was nowhere to be found.
“As expected of you, Ayanokōji-kun. It’s my loss.”
It had been a life and death match, move for move.
It didn’t seem like she was discontent or anything, she just acknowledged her loss with satisfaction.
“You sure are honest about it.”
“Do I look like some haughty lady who can’t acknowledge her own defeat?”
I’d be lying if I said I couldn’t see it.
“What I wanted to know was where things stood between the two of us. Who stood above the other. I’d never sit here and complain about the result.”
“Though, while I may have won, this was just a recreation. There’s no guarantee that the match would’ve progressed like this at that time and at that precise moment.”
I couldn’t discount the possibility that it was a move I had managed to think of due to the extra time given to me.
No, even more importantly—
“This match was the outcome of the advantageous situation Horikita had created during her match with Hashimoto. As far as I see it, I intervened while we still had the upper hand. I don’t think it was a very fair match.”
The match had only developed the way it had because Horikita had passed her advantage onto me. The fact that Sakayanagi had been able to overcome that while at a disadvantage was a testament to how strong she truly was.
If we played each other from scratch, there was no guarantee that I’d win.
Even if she proposed to have a rematch with me, I’d want to avoid it if I could.
“Is that your way of comforting me?”
Sakayanagi chuckled, finding my response strange.
“That’s not it. I was just objectively stating the facts.”
“I’m satisfied with this result. Isn’t that enough?”
If she was satisfied, then that was certainly alright. That being said, it still didn’t make me feel better.
“When this special exam was announced, you could’ve chosen to face me directly by restricting the one-on-one event even further. If you had proposed something like that, I still would’ve accepted. But even so, you didn’t. Why was that?”
Of course, it would’ve still been a random battle fought using only seven of the ten events, so there would’ve been no guarantee that it’d get chosen. But, if the two of us had come to an agreement surrounding both of our one-on-one events, the chances of everything working out would’ve been rather high.
“The reason is simple. As you must have reasoned, there was no guarantee it would be chosen. Also, if you indiscriminately competed with me in this one-on-one match, the people around you would surely be suspicious. I wanted to avoid letting either of those things happen. Though, it was taken advantage of by the Acting Director in the end.”
Sakayanagi had planned out the special exam while also being as considerate to my circumstances as possible.
That was probably the reason why she had gotten so furious over Tsukishiro’s intervention.
The seven events chosen today and the order they were chosen in were most likely not randomly generated at all.
It simply hadn’t been a fair match from the start.
“Besides, Hashimoto-kun was the most talented chess player in Class A, and yet he lost to Horikita-san after being taught by you. That just means that I lost in that respect as well.”
Sakayanagi peacefully bowed her head to me.
“Ayanokōji-kun. It was a pleasure to face off against you. The answer I was looking for is clear to me now. You are certainly a genius. Your skill is by no means fake.”
“You don’t plan on taking revenge with chess again?”
“Do you want me to?”
“…No, I don’t.”
“Fufu, how honest.”
The fact we managed to have this game just between the two of us was, in and of itself, thanks to the extremely rare situation we were in.
The special exam was over and tomorrow marked the beginning of a long break. Thus, we had been able to find a place without anyone else around.
“As for the reason why I’m not planning on taking revenge… Honestly, I got the impression that you and I are fairly evenly matched when it comes to chess. If we played ten games, it wouldn’t be strange if we each ended up with five wins and five losses. Would you disagree with that?”
“No, I agree completely.”
Interestingly enough, our true abilities were a perfect match.
If we were to face off again, it would definitely play out the way Sakayanagi predicted it would.
“But, I get the feeling that the winner of this first bout was you, Ayanokōji-kun. I think I would’ve lost back then, during the critical moments. Well, you have a slightly longer history with chess than me, after all. Perhaps that made the difference.”
A slightly competitive look showed on her face, emphasizing the importance she placed on winning.
“If I were to take revenge using chess, that would take the fun out of it. For me, chess is a leisure activity, and I’d like to keep it that way.”
As she spoke, she picked up one of the knights from the chessboard.
“Seeing as though you brought up my history with chess, that means you did see me back then after all?”
“Yes. I was watching as you relentlessly overwhelmed your opponents in the White Room. I’ve been fond of chess ever since, believing the day would come when I’d face you myself.”
The hunch I felt when I saw the list of events Class A proposed had been spot-on.
That, it wasn’t a mere coincidence that chess had been chosen as an event.
“Well then— let’s hurry back, shall we?”
“I’ll put it away. Just sit there and wait for a bit.”
“Thank you very much. I’ll gladly take you up on that.”
I went and returned the pieces and board back to their original places.
“It’s with regret that must I say this, but I will be keeping my distance from you from now on. If I were to continue fixating myself on you, our classmates would probably start to suspect something. Furthermore…”
“I’ve been dying to get to know you for so long now. To me, you’re like a childhood friend I’ve never met; One I’ve always, always chased after. If it’s easy for us to compete with one another, it would probably end up losing some of it’s value to me.”
A faint smile appeared on her face as she looked at me with affection in her eyes.
“Though, knowing Acting Director Tsukishiro, this is no time for students to be fighting amongst each other anyway.”
A perfect example of the school getting its priorities backward. Under normal circumstances, this school is supposed to have students fighting one another.
Even if we competed in similar ways later, there was no guarantee that he wouldn’t interfere again at some point.
It’s probably more accurate to say that he’d do whatever it takes to get in my way.
In that respect, I was grateful that I only needed to be careful of him now.
If I was surrounded by enemies on all sides, the exhaustion that would come with it would be considerable.
The two of us left the library.
“Come to think of it, this is the first time we’ve left the school together like this.”
“Now that you mention it, you’re right.”
There was always somebody else together with her.
Moreover, the idea of the two of us walking side-by-side together like this wasn’t the most natural one out there.
“I must apologize for being such a slow walker.”
“You don’t have to apologize for that.”
Her walking speed was certainly slow, but it was because of her handicap.
And strangely enough, today, I felt thankful for that.
If I walked as I usually did, I would reach the dorms in no time at all.
“What are you thinking of doing from now on?”
“It just depends on what Tsukishiro does next. He may just be filling in for your father, but he’s still the director. Ordinary methods won’t work for him.”
“You’re right. Given the current situation, Father’s reinstatement doesn’t seem like it’ll come easily after all.”
“What are you planning on doing?”
As I asked, Sakayanagi pondered for a bit.
“For the time being, I’ll spend my time enjoying myself as I always have. If Katsuragi-kun starts opposing me again, I’ll act as his opponent. If Ichinose-san comes chasing after my position, I’ll have fun crushing her back down as I play with her. If she got herself expelled, I’d have the pleasure of watching as Class B falls apart as well.”
She smiled like a little girl who was innocently playing with her dolls.
“I didn’t foresee Ryūen-kun’s move but… If he’s come back to the battlefield, I’d like to face off against him as well. Thinking of it, it seems like it may not be such a boring school life after all.”
“That’s good to hear.”
“What about you, Ayanokōji-kun?”
“I’d like to avoid doing anything that would make me stand out if possible. Other than that, just keep making Horikita do her best.”
“And I’m sure she’s going to have quite a lot of growth to show for it. I’ll look forward to it.”
Someday, Horikita may just be able to get her name on the list of opponents that Sakayanagi was willing to take seriously, right alongside Ichinose and Ryūen. If that were to happen, Sakayanagi would surely enjoy her school life here all the more.
“…There’s one thing I have to apologize for.”
“Earlier, I told you about why I wanted to avoid a one-on-one match with you, but that was a lie.”
She had said it was to avoid putting me under the spotlight, her consideration so to say.
But now she withdrew that statement.
“To tell you the truth, I just wanted to be together with you, even for one second longer.”
As she spoke, she extended her right hand out to me.
I took it, thinking it was a handshake, but when I squeezed back, she put her left hand over, enveloping mine.
“People learn of warmth when they touch each other, and that’s a very precious thing. The warmth of another human is by no means a bad thing. Please remember that.”
“What do you mean?”
“It’s a belated message from me to you.”
Before I was able to understand what she was saying, she slowly released my hand and started walking once again.
“Come now, let’s go back.”
It didn’t seem like she was willing to explain it any further.
Together, we watched the sunset as we slowly made our way back home.
“Oh, by the way, have you heard? Yoshida-kun from class A—”
We didn’t have the type of relationship where we’d reminisce about the past.
There were no objectives or ulterior motives. The two of us simply exchanged tales about our daily lives.
All the way until the very moment we arrived at the dorms.
Volume 11 is done. I’ll be doing the Afterword as well tomorrow and making a post on it here soon as I move onto Year 2 Volume 1 (most likely), as Volume 11.5 has already been completely translated by my close friends over at TLGTranslations. The Table of Contents will be updated later to account for the changes to everything and the upcoming volumes. Look forward to it then! I don’t have much else to say here since I’ll be making a main post that will go on the main webpage tomorrow where I tell everyone of the plans to come and everything else regarding the completion of this volume and everything else.
This part made me like Sakayanagi a little bit more than I used to. Before I just felt like she was super cliche, but now I feel like she’s super cliche, but I’m more okay with that. Definitely a fun way to end a volume, and I really like how the author didn’t just make it so that Kiyotaka as the blatant winner and actually made Sakayanagi a reasonable force to Kiyotaka’s skills.
Thanks for reading everyone. Really, it means a lot.