Chapter 25:

Lagoon pathways hotel

En Passant Grandmaster

At the Lagoon pathways hotel, Gyro sat in his hotel room as he set up a group chat on his laptop. Twelve other people were present in the chat.

"And care to explain why you've called for an emergency meeting?" a shadowy figure growled.

"You know why I called this meeting, did you not see the headline!?"

"About Hagemi Shousen agreeing to participate in the tournament? Why is that a big deal? We can't stop her, nor are we going to send someone capable of beating her just to put your fears at ease."

"NO! It's worse than that! The REASON she's participating is why we need to mobilize at all costs!"

"The 'reason'?"

"Yes, she said in her post that she is participating because she's quote, 'found a worthy adversary that could stop her from winning the whole thing'! There could only be one person she's referring to, Mimoko Inoue!"

"Mimoko Inoue? Who is she?"

"An unrated-"

"Then cease the pointless drivel. I'm on a different time-zone here and have business to-"

"You don't get it at all, Manny! This girl has the potential to become one of the greatest chess players of all time! We can't allow that!"

"Heh? Why you so scared over a little girl? Anyone can beat a little girl," a shadowy figure sneered as he stroked his long hair.

"Haruki, you want to say that again?" a shadowy figure snarled as she slammed her fists down.

"Hoh? You gettin angry, Svetlana-tan? In that case, turn off the shadow filter so I can see your pretty face. Seein you angry always turns me on."

"Я разобью тебе лицо вдребезги [I'll smash your face to bits]!"

"ENOUGH of the bickering!" Gyro shouted.

Svetlana and Haruki went silent as Gyro began speaking again. "As you all know, the DESPER cannot force someone that is higher rated than its holder into a match. Should someone like that refuse to play, the DESPER will treat the encounter as a draw and deactivate. It is also unable to force someone rated 500 points higher than you into a match as a bargaining chip unless said person agrees to it and. After witnessing Mimoko Inuoe's skill first-hand, I can confirm that only the Ultima-master could beat her."

"Only the Ultima-master?" a shadowy figure asked.

"Yes, though perhaps some of the top players like you might be able to stop her. But if she confirms my fears and beats Hagemi at the tournament, she'll become an overnight unstoppable force! She'll get a high rating and we'll be unable to drag her into DESPER matches as a hostage!"

"So it is now or never then for you. Well, you have some luck. I'm currently in Osaka and should be able to just make it in time to the venue to not get a bye point for the 1st round. As such, I'll be logging out of the meeting to register."

"Thank you, Peter. How about the rest of you?"

"I'm in Washington. I'm also swamped with senate duties. In fact, I need to leave now," Manny stated as he logged out.

"I'm not in Japan so I can't make it, though I understand your concerns as does my father. Do you have anything else you wish to discuss?" Svetlana asked.

"You really are cute when you go from angry to soothing. So how bout ya-"

"HARUKI! Don't provoke her! In fact, you SHOULD be able to make it."

"Ah, but I got a date-"

"'DATE'!? Like any woman would date you!" Svetlana roared.

"Yes, it is quite unsavory what you do to women," Gyro glared.

"Comin from the guy who took ole Cypress into his team?" Haruki sneered.

"ANYONE can be good at chess, whether they be a kindhearted pacifist, or a scumbag like you."

"Well, considering we've all killed, wouldn't we all be scumbags?"

"My definition of scumbag differs from yours then. So are you in or out?"

"Well, might as well pop by to check out that Mimoko girl. If she's hot, maybe I'll get rid of her for ya later."

"'LATER'!? If she gets a rating-"

"Nah, I'd beat her to a pulp and land her in a coma for the rest of her life. I just pulled up her profile, she'd be an easy mark."

"So you're out then. Well, good day to you then. Seems like me and Peter will have to do everything then, unless one of you would like to assist," Gyro said as he glared at the other shadowy figures left in the chatroom. Not one of them spoke up, prompting an annoyed sigh from Gyro. "Very well, though as for other business I do have two things to discuss. The first is regarding a powerful new business partner and the second is regarding the oni-tiger-"

"ONI-TIGER!?" Svetlana shouted as she slammed her fists down.

"Yes, it seems he took out Inojin and is close with Mimoko Inoue and Hagemi's son, Yuusuke."

"I will depart for Japan immediately! Register me for the tournament, I don't care how many byes I'll have to take!"

"Well you're sure-"

Before Haruki could finish, Gyro booted him from the meeting. Despite that, Gyro surmised Haruki would show up due to Svetlana’s presence and turned his attention towards the remaining members in the chat. None of the agreed to come, so Gyro decided to move onto the other topic of discussion.


Maida checked her watch as the train arrived. "Hmm, it seems not everyone is present. Well, we shall all board as planned anyway."

"I thought Tanabe-kun was here though," Mimoko glared as she looked around.

"Leave him. We don't-"

"YUUSUKE!" Hagemi roared as she charged up to Yuusuke.


"THAT was for all those blunders you made against that masked freak!" Hagemi glared as she dragged the unconscious Yuusuke with her onto the train.

"Guess we didn't miss it," Okisato nodded as he arrived at the platform.

"You better not have! Now get on," Mimoko glared as she dragged Okisato with her onto the train.

As Okisato got on, he stared at everyone present. In addition to himself and the four other original members of the chess club, Maida, Hagemi, Numakawa, a large male student, and a female student with no stand-out features were all accompanying them. The large male student looked more like an adult male in his mid to late 20s, but he was actually just a 16-year old 1st-year named Rodeo Gorou. He had ventured into the chess club after hearing about a tournament. Though he had won the mini-tourney, his overall skill as a chess player was still largely unknown.

The girl on the other hand was a 2nd-year named Yuzuha Zenihara. She didn't appear to have any stand out physical or personality traits. The word she best used to describe herself was "generic". She was also a part of Okisato and Yuusuke's homeroom class, and had primarily come to the chess club to learn more about chess for Maida's homework assignment. While she was a complete beginner, Mimoko had wanted to take her for the experience, and since the other new club members were unable to come on such short notice, Yuzuha was allowed to come.

"YO! Welcome to da chess club, juniors. I'm your senpai and cute streamer extraordinaire, Iori-chan! So, mind tellin’ me what ya joined for?" Iori grinned as she waltzed up to Rodeo.

"I joined for the money. My family's poor and could use the money."

"A prize hunter! Well, we could all use some of that moolah. So think ya have what it takes to win?"

"I got muscle from workin’ on the farm, and they say brains are muscles so hope that carries over."

"And what's your favorite piece?"

"Rooks I guess, they're the toughest ones, right?"

"There you have it, now moving on to YOU! What's your chess story?" Iori asked Yuzuha.

"Hi, I'm Yuzuha Zenihara. I've never played chess before, but I want to learn more things about it."

"A knowledge seeker! And what's your favorite piece?"

"Uh, I don't know, um I guess the horse, because I like horses."

"Well, hello fellow knight lover, and that's it for the exclusive interview with our newest members! Make sure to like and subscribe!"

"What about me!?" Numakawa cried.

"We already know about you, four-eyes!"

"Well you all laugh, but I'm studying on the way. By the time we arrive, I'll have surpassed each and everyone of you!"

"I doubt you'll surpass Inoue-senpai," Okisato glared.

"Over Expectations often lead to disappointment."

"Th- This is going to be my first tournament... W- What if I do poorly?" Utami trembled.

"Don't worry, the most important thing is to have fun. Don't worry about winning or losing, just enjoy the experience," Mimoko smiled.


"Yeah, you kids have fun. Don't worry about the financials or logistics. I'll take care of that," Hagemi smiled.

"I believe the school is obligated to pay for these things," Maida stated.

"Oh, even better. Make that balding lard pay for it all."

The train ride was completely uneventful. When everyone arrived, Yuusuke woke up and groggily staggered off, begging for everyone to keep him away from his mother. Rodeo offered to carry him, but he declined due to pride, though had no issue with Rodeo simply supporting him as they walked along.

Once all the luggage was unloaded, Okisato took notice of Mimoko’s chess bag.

"This is a deluxe chess bag. I got it as a present for my 18th birthday a few weeks ago. I've always loved playing chess, but never really decided to try playing professionally until my parents got me the bag,” Mimoko stated.

"So you've never played at a tournament before?" Okisato asked.

"Nope, though I have played online a bunch. I also read up on all the tournament rules and regulations beforehand and came well prepared."

"Not bad, though boards and notes are usually provided, so why bring your own set?"

"For downtime and good luck."

"Well, I won't argue with that."


The group stared in awe as they set foot inside the hotel. The hotel's interior was adorned with dim lighting and forest scenery as well as waterways that could be ridden by boat. The overall atmosphere was like a peaceful nighttime lagoon, hence the hotel's namesake, Lagoon pathways.

"YO! It's like they put a real nighttime lagoon in here!" Iori shouted as she pulled out her phone.

"Ishikiridoro-chan, remember that there are strict rules regarding phones, and idle chatter is forbidden during the match," Maida glared.

"Yeah, yeah I know."

"So when do we start playing?" Rodeo asked.

"First we all register, then check-in to our rooms. Once that's done, you're free to mingle until the opening ceremony at 6:50," Maida nodded.


As soon as the registration and check-in were complete, Okisato and Mimoko began wandering around the place.

"This sure has an ambient atmosphere, have you played here before, Tanabe-kun?"

"Yeah. This place is one of the most frequent places for chess tournaments along with the Triple cedar hotel in Tochigi. Though this place more frequently hosts late night format tournaments."

"'Late night format'?"

"Normally, tournaments start on Saturday mornings, but this specific tournament, The Knightlife classic, starts later. It's also only 5 rounds instead of 6."

"So is that how tournaments work at this place?"

"No, just the nightlife classic. Next week, there will be a 5-round blitz and standard 6-round tournament at Triple ceder, and the week after that, a standard 6-round tournament here at Lagoon pathways. Those two places tend to alternate weekends when they host tournaments, so we'll be coming here a lot."

"Do you think any of our club mates will get paired against each other?"

"Not sure, but probably unlikely since there’s a team prize for this tournament. Not to mention we registered Gorou-san and Zenihara-san in the junior section and Enoki-san and Iori-chan in the intermediate section so I doubt they’ll play each other. The rest of us are in the open section where anyone can play. But even then, we all have different skill levels so I doubt we’ll play against each other. At worst, we’ll have to play against each other,but even then, the team would still get points.

"Will the Desperados be here?"

"Likely, but since this is an official tournament, they aren't allowed to use their DESPERS, at least that's the hope."

"So they could still use them?"

"It's unlikely, but possible during the final round."

"Why then?"

"Because if there's a high-stakes match, the WWCF wouldn't mind making it more of a spectacle."

"Seriously, what's with the WWCF?"


As soon as the clock struck 6:45, the pairings for the first round were posted. Okisato scanned the names before heading into the room. He immediately noticed that both Gyro and Zanni were competing in the open section, and that Nyoan was competing in the rookie section. There were also a plethora of high-rated players competing in the open section, likely due to Hagemi’s declaration.

“This looks good. Inoue-senpai’s already competing against a 2647 rated grandmaster. If she beats him and continues to get paired up against these types of opponents and beat them, she’ll get a high rating. Then the Desperado league won't be able to touch her. Even losing or drawing to some of these folks would still net her a high rating. Though there was one name I saw that will likely give Inoue-senpai some trouble, but he might not play her do to taking a bye this round. Well, guess I'll worry more about myself," Okisato thought as he entered the room.

Mario Nakano 64
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