“So then, how will you decide on who participates in the final competition?”
After Sophie and Tio had gotten back from washing their hands, Shirley recalled what they had originally been talking about as she watched them enjoy their new type of pastry.
“Oh, what was it again? Marco said he’d bring it with him tomorrow…….”
“An adventure board? He looked awfully confident as he said it.”
Adventure board. It’s a tactical board game officially adopted by the adventure guild that uses a wide variety of different pieces. Players are meant to act out as adventurers and develop tactics for overcoming monsters that the pieces are meant to mimic.
“…….that brings me back.”
“Really? I’ve only heard about it until now.”
“Unlike human opponents who generally share the same tactics regardless of what country they come from, every type of monster is different and requires a different strategy to handle them. Unfortunately drawing on theories has never been too helpful, and it’s usually faster to just head to the site itself and evaluate the enemy yourself.”
“Huh, is that so?”
It would be a different matter if you were talking about a tactical board game like chess which mimics a real war between humans, but there are too many random factor elements to monster encounters from the wild differences in power between individual monsters and the random encounters in the field that can throw off even the most carefully laid plans.
The adventure boards were only officially adopted by the guild in the beginning. It was quickly branded as useless for actual combat however and was quickly relegated to hobby status for any adventurers looking for a way to kill some time.
“It’s become pretty widespread as a form of entertainment despite being branded as a failure. A few guests are playing it right now over at that table, and there are a couple of big tournaments held every year.”
“That’s what it looks like? I wasn’t really interested at all, but the pieces look really detailed.”
Since its rise in popularity, new rules, pieces, and playing boards have been added on to adventure boards to make the game more fun. Adventure boards as they currently are aren’t too different from chess with one player acting out as adventurers and the other player playing the role of the monsters. The players move each of their pieces across a 9×9 board.
The girls looked over towards the table where two adventurers were playing just in time to see the adventurer player take the monster player’s extremely detailed dragon piece with their own extremely detailed warrior piece.
“It was apparently very popular before even I was born…….but that Canary is able to turn anything into a profit.”
“……..eh? Did the chairman invent this!?”
“If you ask her about it, she will boast about how she made a perfect copy of chess that is better than the original.”
Even if you call it a failure, Canary wouldn’t be known as the Golden Witch if she wasn’t still able to turn a profit off it. As much as that witch’s personality vexes her, Shirley had to recognize her astute mind.
“So on that note, is this Marco boy good at adventure boards?”
“I think so. He’s in the adventure board club.”
The school had recently introduced clubs giving students group activities they can do together after classes have ended. The adventure board club is one of the more popular clubs because of how relatively easy it is to pick up, how inexpensive the game is allowing the purchase of multiple boards on a school budget, and how it gives you opponents to play with that wouldn’t normally be available if you had a board at home. As a side note, Sophie and Tio were not members of the club.
“……since we’re trying to decide who is going to run, I think it’d be better for us to just have a race.”
“Yeah but…….the teacher said we shouldn’t do anything that could get us hurt before the sports meet outside of practice.”
“I see……they said that?”
Shirley praised that teacher inside her heart for having the foresight to prevent Sophie from getting injured. She didn’t really care about Marco though.
Marco and Sophie are around the same level physically. If then the main goal is to avoid anybody getting hurt rather than deciding who can run faster, the best solution is to settle things in a game with a clear winner and loser unrelated to the sports meet.
“Your teacher didn’t have you decide things today though?.”
“For some reason, they said we could take care of it later.”
There are various kinds of schools out there…….Shirley just assumed this was one of those things.
(……adventure boards though? That will put Sophie at a disadvantage.)
From what Shirley could tell, it looked like a game of tactics more dependent on how well you can move the pieces on the board rather than any real academic ability. In short, it’s a game that gives an overwhelming advantage to more experienced players compared to other games of tactics.
Since Marco regularly plays adventure board at his club, he will almost certainly be able to bowl over an amateur like Sophie tomorrow.
“I tried thinking up a better idea, but Marco was so set on it I just gave up.”
“Mm……and everyone else thought she would be good at adventure board because of how smart she is……but she’s never played before…..”
So judging by what’s been said so far, it seems like Marco is forcing Sophie into a contest in his specialty.
For him to to go this far to squash Sophie’s wishes……perhaps he really does need to be taken care of? Shirley was more than half serious as the thought crossed her mind.
“I borrowed a special board and some pieces from school, so even if it’s just one day, I have to practice all I can.”
“…….Sophie, would you mind waiting for a minute?”
Even if you call it a game though, the idea that Sophie would lose to Marco in a contest of the mind is nothing more than a joke. But before Sophie could leave for her room driven by her burning spirit, her mother called her to a stop.
“What is it Mama?”
“It will be difficult for someone who just started the day before to challenge an experienced player. So I was thinking about getting you a tutor who can teach you the finer points of the game.”
“A tutor? Do you know someone who plays adventure board Mom?”
“I do although I only learned this about him recently. He apparently won this year’s tournament as well.”
The first placed winner! Sophie unconsciously felt herself getting nervous as soon as she heard that.
Shirley really wanted to teach her herself, but she had never played either. With things like this, having a joint mother-daughter lesson so they could learn the game together didn’t sound too bad.
Imagining that joyous scene in her mind, Shirley nodded her head before starting on her way towards the dining room door.
“I’ll be right back. I heard he’s at the guild right now, so he might have some free time.”
Shirley quickly jumped out of the inn before leaping onto the roof of the building next door. She took the shortest route possible in a straight line towards the adventurer guild across a sea of rooves. When she came back down on the ground and opened the guild’s door, she quickly found the conspicuous bull head she was looking for in the center of the building.
“Pardon me Asterios. Could I have a moment of your time?”
Asterios is an A-rank adventurer currently on relief from the front line while he is entrusted by the guild with the training of any new adventurers. He was now listening patiently to Sophie’s story in the dining room of the inn.
“Yes, I see. Assuming then that you are fine with me, it would be my pleasure to help.”
“Really!? Thank you!”
“Please accept my thanks as well. Dedicating your time for my daughter’s sake……”
“Raise your heads both of you. It is not as if either of you are strangers to me. And this too may be fate at work.”
Even so……Asterios gave the mother and her two daughters a light look.
“Your children have grown since last I saw them. I noticed how Kyle and the others had also grown one or two levels in the short time I’ve been gone as well. The young grow up so fast.”
Shirley nodded her head as if to agree with him, but from Asterios’s point of view, she was included in that group of young people.
(It is difficult for semi-immortals to change how they are, and yet, in a few short months her spirit has calmed greatly from when it was as sharp as blade’s edge.)
This is most likely all thanks to the influence of many people, including Sophie and Tio, who have had a positive effect on Shirley. Asterios found himself smiling without realizing it.
“But, it’s surprising…..I didn’t think Uncle Bull specialized in adventure boards.”
“HaHaHaHa! It’s no trouble. There was nothing wrong in what she said!”
Uncle Bull. Sophie quickly tried chastising her sister, but Asterios waved off the new nickname with a boisterous laugh.
“When I was still a newcomer, the adventurer in charge of training me also taught me how to play. Adventure board was very popular back then, so I had no shortage of opponents. As time passed, it came to become a game I enjoy even today.”
“Hmm……is it really that interesting?”
“I’ve seen other people play it, but I have never tried it out myself.”
“Yes well……it depends on the person.”
Asterios murmured aloud while arranging the pieces on the board sitting on the table.
“Let us begin right away. Your mother has informed me you do not know how each of the pieces move……..”
“M-Mm. Could you teach me…….?”
“I’m a little interested too. Can I watch?”
“……I’m curious as well (in my daughters’ well-being).”
“Of course. Then we will start with piece movement……”
Asterios went over each of his pieces: the hero, warrior, rebel, magician, archer, magic swordsman, monk, heavy soldier, and spearman, going over how each of them moved and their roles in the game. Afterwards, he explained the pieces on Sophie’s side: the dragon, goblin, wolf, ogre, griffon, foreign mage, treant, golem, and fiend.
The real draw of adventure board is that the role of the pieces is slightly different between the adventurer and monster sides. The way to win can be roughly simplified as just having to take the enemy’s dragon piece if you’re the adventurers or the hero piece if you are the monsters.
“Now then, let’s play a game to see how well you understand.”
“I-I will do my best.”
Sophie played several games with Asterios from that point on, but as expected, she could never break his winning streak. This is the natural result when you have a newbie taking on a master.
“Astounding. The growth displayed from one game to the next…… Your daughters have a knack for tactics Shirley.”
But Asterios complimented her for her rapid improvement over the few games they did play. He couldn’t know how skilled Marco was at the game, but there aren’t very many children out there who can measure up against more experienced adults.
Shirley’s chest swelled with pride as she watched Sophie and Tio sit across from each other at the table playing another game between themselves. There were several other adventurers currently staying at the inn who had gathered around the table as well closely watching their game unfold.
“Moving the spearman there……okay! Fear my ogre’s wrath!”
“Muu…..bullying somebody who’s playing for their very first time.”
“Heheh. I just started today too you know. And as an older sister, I can’t let my younger sister surpass me that easily.”
With that being said, the superior player between the two sisters was clear to see. For Shirley, seeing Sophie excel in something made her as proud as if she had done it herself.
If she had her way they would both be declared winners, but games like this simply don’t work that way. And while this struggle for victory between sisters played out for all to watch, the door to the dining room swung open as if somebody had kicked it in.
“With the premonition for the birth of a new abicipant, I appear!!”
“Go away now.”
“So rude right from the beginning!?”
A girl with golden hair and a set of black horns came barreling into the room. It was Canary who was carrying her own adventure board that glittered like gold and came equipped with pieces carved from diamond. For the record, abicipant was meant to be an abbreviation for Adventure Board partICIPANT that she came up with as she walked through the door.
“It has been some time witch. Do you perhaps also enjoy playing adventure board?”
“Of course. Who do you think you’re talking to? You know I created adventure board yes? ……well, I mostly just copied it off of chess.”
“……so then what are you here for? If you don’t mind, I’m a bit busy watching my girls enjoy their first game together.”
“Obviously I came to play as well……woah hold on!? Why are you trying to get rid of me!? Hey, don’t go pushing on my back!!”
Shirley immediately began escorting their guest out of the dining room……but Canary managed to work her way out of Shirley’s grasp before she was forced out of the inn and wrapped her arms around one of Shirley’s legs.
“C’mon~, it’s fine right~? I want to play too~. And there was something I needed to speak with you about anyway~.”
“Then say what you have to say, and go home. Trouble is always sure to follow whenever you’re involved.”
“…….it’s a very important message for you, but it’s my decision on whether or not I tell you. I might pass it on though if you play adventure board with me.”
Shirley was actually taken aback a bit when she saw how serious Canary was about this. She wondered why it was that this witch wanted to play so bad as she raised her gorgeously decorated adventure board in front of her face.
“Hoh, if it means that much to you, I will be happy to play with you.”
“Huh? Oh, no, you’re too strong……I mean, I was really thinking a good match between me and Shirley was in order, yes.”
Somehow, everyone understood. Canary wanted to immerse herself in the pleasure of grinding a newbie into the dirt. Even if she did invent the game, she always will be that crude, immature woman…..and despite being the inventor, she was apparently not confident enough in her skills to be able to challenge Asterios.
“Fine……I understand. I’ll play you if you insist it has to be me. I should warn you I’ve never played and don’t really know how the pieces move though.”
“Oh ho, even better! You should’ve told me that earlier! Come, take a seat. You can practice with me to your heart’s content.”
Shirley resigned herself to another one of Canary’s whims as the guildmaster began setting up the board in a good mood.
“So, what’s this all-important message? If it’s nothing, I’m going to leave here and now.”
“Oh, I almost forgot. Shirley, and you too Asterios. Come by the school tomorrow. We’ll talk more then, but there’s something about this year’s sports meet I need to speak with you about.”
On a note completely unrelated to the plot.
“Oh…..if I move my griffon here, your hero will have nowhere to go, and it will be my victory.”
“Canary rule ACTIVATE!!”
“…….Canary, what the hell. You can’t just flip over the board because you’re about to lose…….!”
“But I didn’t lose! I activated the Canary rule, a special tactic allowed only to me who invented the game!”
Despite being the game’s inventor, Canary was so weak at the game that she ended up losing to Shirley despite this being her first time ever playing.