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« SAO:NA - Chapter IX: The Greater Good

Sword Art Online: New Aincrad
Written by: FedeTkd
Published:
Chapter 10: Empty Hands

SAO:NA - Chapter XI: Free Man »



Floor 51st, September 11th, 2026

Step.

Step.

Step.

A small squad of legionaries walks across the Blackwood Forest. There was mist covering the air and time by time, sounds made by animals could be heard in the distance. They walk slowly looking everywhere, hearing everything. They were in persecution of the rebels that formed the guild known as KoB, the Knight of the Blood. After the attempt of escaping the mines, they ran to the upper floors as quick as they could. But not quick enough. The soldiers get closer and closer to them.

Little did the soldier knew, that nearby, among the tall grass, covering their backs with brown leaves, the runaway KoB members were hiding. Kirito, Sinon, Leafa, Sybil and some others remained silent hearing the steps of the soldiers nearby. The crack of small branches in the floor. The splash of the puddles. They prayed so soldiers to leave quickly so they could escape, all of them, alive.

Kirito was with his new Gladius next to his face. He closes his eyes strongly, nervous. Sinon looks to Leafa next to her, hiding behind a fallen tree. She was sobbing. Sinon places her finger against her mouth, telling her to stop making that sound, to be quiet. She nods her head, agreeing. But soon she starts again.

The captain in the front of the squad raises his closed hand telling the soldiers to stop. They do so, making the outnumbered Knights even more nervous. Everything could be heard, as the time seemed to stop. Each second was an eternity.

The captain lets down his fist and they keep on walking. But even as the Knights relaxed for a moment, Leafa could not. She couldn’t look the soldiers from her position behind the tree, but she heard the steps nearer and nearer, though they were far away from her. Her experience in the mines had changed her, as if she was another person. She was weak, timid and she could easily frighten.

She closes her eyes trying to imagine they weren’t there. But it was useless; she only became more and more nervous. She couldn’t stand the situation and that made her imagine the legionaries were closer than they actually were. She gets up and begins running at full speed while screaming.

Sinon: “LEAFA!”

“Catch her!!!” the captain shouts.

A soldier follows her as Sinon begins running after him. Behind her, a soldier aims his spear and gets ready to throw it.

The members of KoB stop hiding. Kirito is the first one, and attacks soldier about to attack Sinon. He impales his sword to his back and makes him fall to a puddle on his feet. The battle continues as the ohter knights ambushed the legionaries. Using the surprise factor, they have the advantage, even when the soldiers outnumbered them.

Leafa runs as fast as she can but she wasn’t wearing any footwear, a great disadvantage considering rocks, mud, water and any other things on the floor that made her slower. The soldier behind her manages to grab her neck, sending her to the ground. She crawls with her back on the floor, while looking to the player breathing heavily.

“You made me run. I fucking hate running!”

He attempts to attack her, but Sinon appears out of nowhere. She jumps to the player and grabs him. With her dagger, she wildly stabs him repeated times on the neck while screaming every single time her blade impaled his body. Blood colors her white skin. The player dies, as the cait sith stop stabbing him and looks to Leafa, gladly to see her safe.

Kirito backstabs a player with his blade. He looks nearby, as most of his men were easily defeating most soldiers, but they were still outnumbered. He grabs the gladius of the soldier his just killed and impales another soldier with his backhand sword. He can see that near him, a knight is killed, impaled in the chest after a strong hit with a shield that left his body vulnerable to attack. Kirito rushes next to him and kills the last soldier with a huge slash across his chest, ending the battle.

Sybil, Issin and the other two salamander players get near him.

Issin: “We have to take Tynn from here. Far from any soldier.”

Sinon: “More come. We must go.”

She said while arriving with Leafa. A trumpet was heard from the distance. It was a sign of calling for the soldiers. They were indeed getting close.

Issin: “Shit.”

Kirito: “There’s no time for it. We’ll be captured.”

Issin: “Doesn’t fucking matter. We’ll join him soon.”

Issin begins running, followed by the other two salamanders. Sybil looks at Kirito and then follows them. The black swordsman pats his cousin on her elbow and they follow the rest.

---

Floor 50th, September 11th, 2026

“Form them up!”

The soldiers form up the four captured KoB members in front of the headquarters for Thanos’ men, near the city of Luccinea. The general himself appeared before them once he found out they had prisoners.

“General.” The captain says.

“Captain Vorhes, these are all out prisoners?” Thanos replies, disappointed to see just four men formed.

“Several more are dead in the Mines. The plan suggested by Hikami was useful.”

The general approaches the prisoners. Each one was in chains and their faces were covered with bags. He approaches, eager to see if any of them was Kirito. He takes the bag of the first, it was Harry One. He removes the one of the second prisoner, Kunimittz. Thanos is again disappointed. He goes to the next one eager to see if he had luck with the last men. He didn’t, it was Klein. He goes to the last of the line and the smallest player captured. Thanos could notice she was a girl. He takes the bag out of her head; it was Asuna, looking seriously towards him.

Both stare to each other.

“You don’t know how I am?”

“General Thanos, the Shadow of Death.”

"You’re Asuna, the Berserk Healer?”

She doesn’t respond. Thanos smiles.

“You’re as proud as stories tell. But your beauty, wasn’t as well detailed.” He turns to the captain. “Where is Kirito?”

“He fled, with a handful of men. Valon and Hikami give him chase.”

“Where’s he going?”

“I don’t know.”

Thanos takes Claiomh Solaris from his inventory and places the edge near her neck. Though afraid, she doesn’t back off.

“I think that if he found out I killed you, he’ll appear sooner or later before me…”

“Tch…”

They remain looking at each other for some seconds. Thanos looking deeply to her eyes, but he finally removed his blade.

“…luckily for you, you’re more useful alive. Send them to the cells.”

The soldiers take them to the cells and put them all together in a small one.

“The people need to know about this, General Thanos captured the rebels. Captain, arrange a meeting in the market.”

“I already arranged it for this afternoon. But…” He extends to Thanos a message, who grabs it.

It was tied up with red ribbon, carrying an “M “ as a symbol. Thanos immediately recognized it, the symbol of General Magnus, his rival inside the legions and one of the players attempting to snatch the crushing of the KoB rebellion from him. Thanos almost throws it away, but doing so would be considered an insult for another general. Something Hao wouldn’t like. He proceeds to open and read the message rapidly.

He gives the message back to the captain, pushing him while doing it.

“Fucking piece of shit…”

---

Floor 52nd, September 11th, 2026

The Knights continue for several hours going to the upper floors. Exhaustion had already begun to take more and more from them. All worn the same rags they used as camouflage and all of them were walking barefooted; therefore they couldn’t run as fast as the soldiers could. They had few weapons, those they had taken from the corpses of players they had killed before. They advantage still was their speed and they were more skill than the soldiers. But the soldiers outnumbered them.

Leafa falls to the ground. Sinon stops next to her.

Sinon: “Kirito!”

They all stop. Kirito walks back to see her cousin.

“She needs a moment.”

Issin: “She needs to fucking move!”

Kirito: “How quickly could you run after several weeks in that place!?”

Sybil: “She’s not the only one needing rest. We haven’t stopped since we started.”

Kirito: “Well find higher ground. It’ll be easier to defend if we’re attacked.”

Issin sights.

Kirito: “Can she run a little more?”

Sinon: “She’ll make it.”

Kirito: “C’mon then.”

He walks to the front accompanied by the salamanders while Sybil and Sinon help Leafa get up to continue.

Kirito: “Her weight increases with each step we take.”

“Perhaps it’s time to light weight...” Hizen, one of the salamanders, suggests.

“Four of us already sacrificed to save her. I won’t see anyone else.”

Issin: “I’ll free her before we share fucking the same fate they had.”

Kirito turns around looking to Issin.

Kirito: “We move to the upper levels to find Lamorak and the others. All of us. Speak that again and the soldiers will be the last of your concerns.”

---

Floor 51st, September 11th, 2026

Hikami and Valon find Tynn’s corpse, accompanied by another small clutch of Thanos’ men.

“This isn’t one of their leaders.” Hikami says

“He’ll still serve as a warning.” Valon takes out a small dagger from his index finger and begins writing FVG on his forehead. “The Kingdom’s might isn’t easily defied.”

“Their numbers decrease.” He looks around, where the first squad of soldiers was slaughtered. “But ours do it faster.”

“We’re still more.”

“Kirito and his men are proven warriors. Some of them were even prisoners inside SAO. A hand full of your men is nothing against…”

“Kingdom Soldiers know much about death, and how to deal against it. Don’t compare them with common players.”

“Players…Yes. But they’re far from common.” Hikami replies, stressing the A from far. “If we move without proper force and our rank of dead will grow. Your men are too scattered. But if a single men could go to floor 50th and return with reinforcements…”

“Send message to the other squads and don’t rest.” Valon interrupted him, ignoring Hikami’s advice. He didn’t trust the Salamander and he wanted the honor of defeating Kirito for himself, a colonel. Not for a simple soldier.

The other legionaries take the body of the KoB member, tie his legs with a rope and lift him up, leaving him hanging from a tree as warning.

“Valon…”

“We’ll see this to its end. In the name of General Thanos!” He then looks to Hikami. “Attempt to break your charge and I’ll put a sword in your fucking back.”

---

Floor 53rd, September 11th, 2026

The Knights had found a place to stay and rest for a moment, but it wouldn’t last long. They didn’t know how far the soldiers were. Most of them used that time to sleep; even Leafa could get some good sleep after all what had happened.

Sinon sat next to her and placed her hand on her face, arranging her long bangs on her face.

“You’re safe now. You’re safe.”

She gets up and walks out of the group of sleepers, trying to move as silent as possible, without making a single sound capable of annoying them.

She doesn’t notice when she walks next to Issin that his eyes were half opened, and he was watching Leafa.

Thinking…

Sinon quickly gets next to Kirito. He was standing watch far from the players, with his AI daughter resting on his left arm. He was thinking about what had happened to them, and what would happen.

He turns around once he hears Sinon getting close.

“You can rest if you want to?”

“I won’t see anyone of us die.”

“You’re thinking about Asuna.”

“I can’t get her out of my head. She and Klein. They’re dead or worse. And I could do nothing to save them.”

“Impotency. Horrible felling.”

“I’m considering going back and saving them.”

“It’s madness. Even for you. Kirito I know what you’re capable of, but It would be stupid to attempt that.”

“And I’ll leave my girlfriend and best friend in there?! It was my fault. I should’ve helped them when I could. I was afraid. I couldn’t protect my own friends! They trusted me and I…!

“Shhh…”Sinon hugs him from behind. “You did what you must. Not even The AEsir.”

“That gives no comfort to the dead.”

“I know. But we’re yet alive. They sacrifice was for us. We won’t let their sacrifice be without reason. The same as the death of Lis and so many others. The best thing we can do now is keep on breathing and fighting, so that we can avenge their deaths.”

Kirito grabs her hand and they turn around facing each other looking straight to the eye.

“True…We have to…”

Leafa: “AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH”

Kirito: “SUGUHA!”

Both of them run back to the place where their comrades rested.

Issin stabs a soldier, while Leafa cried out.

Kirito: “ISSIN!!!”

Issin was stabbing a soldier in the ground but the shout makes him turn around, as a solider was about to attack he’s back. He’s faster and rolls in the ground, getting up after setting distance between them.

Kirito and Sinon run and join the battle. He pushes with his shoulder the soldier that attacked Issin, but another comes to attack his back. Kirito quickly turns around, blocking the blade and changing the attack to the opposite direction after the blades stop clashing against each other, slashing the leg of the soldier and sending him to the ground. Another comes and The Black Swordsman engages battle with him.

In the meantime, Leafa looks around. Issin and Hizen fighting two soldiers. Kirito cutting down another soldier with a slash to the chest. The last KoB member is disarmed and tries to take the soldier hand to hand, but the legionary slashes his throat open. Blood came from the huge cut as he falls to the ground. Leafa screams and Sinon hugs her. The same soldier turns around and gets ready to attack them, but he suddenly falls to the ground. Sybil appeared just in time to push him. She starts fighting with her own gladius, but the soldier is stronger and manages to block her strikes and punch her strongly in the face, sending the sylph girl to the ground. She gets up quickly however and begins struggling with the soldier, who tries to cut her head in half. Sinon grabs a dagger from a dead soldier and stabs Sybil’s attacker, but this doesn’t stop him, who puts a strong elbow directly to her face, making her fall to the ground. The soldier turs around to kill Sinon, but Sybil slashes his back. The legionary again turns around with a wide slash, forcing Sybil to elude the blow sending her arms up but leaving her belly unprotected. His opponent stabs her on the left side of her stomach, making her cry in pain. Kirito comes out of nowhere and slashes the throat of the player, killing him.

Sybil cries in pain and gets on her knees.

“Sybil!” Kirito says.

“She risked his life, to save my own.” Sinon says.

“We’ve got to cure her.”

“There’s no time.” Issin says. “More soldiers come.”

“Sinon help me with her. We’re not leaving anyone behind.”

---

Floor 50th, September 11th, 2026

In the market of Luccinea.

From fifteen to twenty dozens of player gathered in front of large stage. Thanos stands there with several soldiers accompanying him, including his captain Vorhes and his best soldier Lyn. Unluckily for him, his biggest rival was as well. General Magnus was his name. A prideful, important general sylph with great influence and highly approved and supported by the council of the Legions. Magnus himself was closer to Hao than Thanos, as he was one of his first members of the guild.

Thanos and Magnus had several fights, discussion and struggles between them since the spriggan joined the guild, always search for an opportunity to snatch glory and laurels from the other, to rise in power and position. Of course, they hid this from the people, showing a nice and warm personality to the other in public. But secretly hated each other deeply. Thanos found out his rival would appear on this meeting and that he also had arranged and prepared it by the letter Vorhes gave to him. A weird thing, considering Magnus was making him a favor, paying the high cost of the presentation, beside other necessary things he paid for. But, Thanos didn’t care. That was his shining moment. He had great news to deliver to the players.

He stands to the front with Claiomh Solaris on his shoulder and speaks to the impatient and curious crowd.

“Good citizens of the Kingdom, your presence here in this place is grateful. It’s testament of your courage and faith. Faith not only on me, but also on our King and the council of the Legions, represented here by noble General Magnus.” He extends his hand, looking to Magnus in the distance, who nods his head to the public. The crowd shouts his name in respect. “A man worthy of a celebration, with his own gold he bought your distraction with Gladiatorial Games in this city’s arena.”

He begins an applause, which is joined by the other players.

“And I return your attendance here, with welcome news of Kirito’s imminent capture!”

Another applause, this time to Thanos. It was way louder than the one to Magnus.

“And an advanced offer. The lives of the few remaining most trusted men of Kirito.”

Vorhes enters to the stage with Klein, Asuna, Harry One and Kunimittz formed in a line shackled in both wrist and ankle. They were also chained to each other. They’re forced to get down on their knees.

Thanos continues his speech.

“These players. These slaves were responsible of the deaths of many of our soldiers and innocent players, leaving them out of our glorified Kingdom in the roots of its rising. And they’ll pay for it…”He raises his giant blade in the air. “…WITH BLOOD!”

The crowd screams agreeing.

Thanos turns around facing Magnus.

“General Magnus, you paid for this ceremony. In return for that, I offer you any of their lives.”

Thanos didn’t have to do it, but not showing gratitude to the man known to pay for the ceremony would be considered an insult among the legions and the citizens. Vorhes offers Magnus the blade. Magnus smiles, grabbing it and advances showing the shining steel of the sword to the nervous prisoners. He thinks of which player should he choose, while the four KoB members look on him.

Magnus looks to Thanos.

“Thank you for this great honor and for your tireless pursuit the rebel Kirito…but I can’t accept it.”

He returns the blade to the Vorhes, making the entire crowd wonder why he had made that decision.

“I can’t accept it because doing so would strip the people of Aincrad of deserved enjoyment. I won’t let these men die here in the honor of single man and with the enjoyment of a few. But rather in two days, in the arena BEFORE ALL OF AINCRAD!”

Thanos notices then. It was Magnus plan beforehand. To snach the prisoners from his hands, he rapidly thought of a way to solve that problem.

“It’s a shame since they won’t be punished here, in front of the player who cared to come here today.”

Magnus smiles.

“We’re politicians, aren’t we? We can come with a position that satisfies everyone. Choose a single player and we’ll make sport of him now, torturing him to death. ”

“Alright…”

He turns around and points his blade.

“That one…”

The blade pointed straight to the player next to Asuna, Harry One.

His men remove his chains with Asuna, and take him.

“We should make it slow.” Magnus says. “So that every player here enjoys cutting his flesh. To make long the game.”

“FUCK ALL OF YOU, KINGDOM CUNTS!” Harry One screams, but he’s punched several times by Vorhes.

They take Harry One down of the stage and the other three down as well, but back to the Headquarters of Thanos. He stops Asuna while going.

“Don’t you think I’ve been merciful with you. I delayed your death to savor it well.”

“My life.” She responds. “Our lives are gladly given. For Kirito and our comrades.”

“News heard with joy, as he’ll hear my own when I tell him of your fall in the Arena. And after he falls in desperation, I’ll take his head so that he can gladly join you alongside the rest of KoB. Dying without honor. Without glory. And your names forever lost to history of Aincrad.”

---

Floor 54th, September 11th, 2026

The sun had already set in the horizon.

The Kirito and the other had arrived to the 54th floor, but they were walking slower since Sybil got wounded. She was unconscious; therefore she had to be carried by both Kirito and Sinon. She was losing lots of blood. The system was programmed to kill a player when he had lost certain amount of blood, so she didn’t have much time.

They hadn’t seen soldiers since the last attack, and then night would make the search harder still for the tired legionaries. Still, that was nothing to be compared to how the six knights faired the whole day. Going through the four levels in a single day was extremely stressing and tiring. Their heads felt were about to explode any minute. But none complained and they still had one floor to cover.

Issin: “Water!”

He runs to small pool of water and just lays his body in the edge and starts drinking. Tynn joins him. The other four players get near it and start drinking as well, after delicately placing Sybil in the floor near the pool.

Kirito takes a bit of water on his hand and manages to make Sybil drink unconscious.

Issin: “She fought well. I hope there was wine here to send her properly on her way.”

Sinon: “You say that as if he was already gone.”

Hizen: “That’s why he’s saying the truth.”

Kirito: “We’ve already discussed this.”

Issin: “Think it. There’s more blood on the ground behind us than inside of her. Even if we carry her she won’t survive.”

Hizen: “But he could leave a trail. One the legions could follow.”

Yui: “We can’t just leave him.”

Issin: “No. We can’t.”

The all look to him, noticing what he truly meant. They’re all shocked to hear this.

Kirito: “You’ll kill her?”

Issin: “I would do nothing but cutting the thread where she dangles. A kindness.”

Kirito gets up.

Kirito: “You won’t touch her!”

Issin: “Then do it yourself. Put her out of misery as you did Asuna and Klein.”

Kirito doesn’t like that and puts a hard punch to his face sending him to the ground. Hizen helps him up; Kirito grabs his gladius as they did the same with their own weapons. They look each other seriously. Each of them could attack the other in any second. The girls stood frozen, until one of them speaks.

Leafa: “Many players survived worse. She can live, if her wound is sealed by fire.”

They calm down.

Issin: “Fire would draw them here.”

Sinon: “Then we have to be quick. And leave before they arrive.”

Hizen: “And if we don’t?”

Issin: “We don’t have enough men.”

Kirito: “No we don’t.” he notices what he has to do. “Find Lamorak, and bring everyone. We’ll join you as fast as we can.”

Issin: “I fear it won’t be fast enough.”

Issin and Hizen run towards the upper floor, leaving Kirito and the other four girls on the pool.

“Light the fire. Get ready.”

---

Floor 55th, September 11th, 2026

Galant sits down on a chair in a tavern, placing both feet on the table in front of him and his glass of bear on his belly, leaning back. Since taverns started to appear, he generally spent time on them when he wanted to rest and drink.

He takes a sip of his drink. The day had been long. He’s last mission for Hao was to help General Zar, the commander of the frontlines and Hao’s most victorious General. Galant didn’t greet him, but rather he helped a squad against a rebel group of Pookas in the north of the floor who had been causing trouble to them. The difficult part of that, was finding them. After spending like five hours searching, they finally did. The battle was the best part, and the easiest. Even with few soldiers they could defeat them, even if the Pookas were the double of them.

The mission was fine for him, but the payment…was another thing. Very little for a guy like him. If he needed more coin, he needed to face more monsters. But few could be find on that level. And even if he did search for them, it was a waste of time, as he wasn’t searching for Mordread and his guild.

He had few Yrd left. And even still he wasted it drinking beer, sake or any other alcoholic drink.

Tring to forget about that, he enters his menu, the new part of “News of the Great Aincrad War.”. That recent section had been added since the GAW started, and it related the last happenings of the War.

The first title of the list read: “The Legions search for the rebel guild of the Knights of Blood, after a failed attempt to breach the mines.”

“Son of a bitch.” He curses under his breath.

He enters the article and reads the subtitle.

“Four captured. Among them, two leaders: Klein the second in command and Asuna, “the berserk healer”.”

Galant makes a long sight. He knew that would happen. He told them and they didn’t care to hear. Well, here stood the results: their forces were slaughtered inside that hellhole of a mine and few survivors were tracked down by the legions.

Galant had told them it was stupid to fight against a giant such as the Legions and Hao. They’re too strong for them. Just attempting to would result in their deaths. He understood their position, it was an absolute and unfair monarchy, but at least they were alive. They could continue doing it peacefully. Galant was goddamned sure he would, even at the cost of freedom.

He even disagreed several, according to him “non-ethic” methods. Torture, executions, Crucifixion, and many more. He also refused to join as General for that reason. He wouldn’t torture anyone, unless they were members of the Dark League. The only reason he was in the guild, was it make his stay in Aincrad easier. But nothing else bonded him to Hao and his army.

He thinks back of Kirito.

He had briefly seen his fight, but that time was enough to know he fought with all his will. With all his heart. With all his soul. He’s skill was to be compared with any other strong player Galant himself faced before, and probably even matched his own. If they were to fight, he wouldn’t know who would result victorious. But it was way beyond that feeling he had when he spoke those words.

“I won’t let my sister stay in the hands of my enemy”

He well knew that strong, bound and determined look. It was his own look; back three years ago in the battle against Cerdic. When he had good friends by his side and…when he was in love with someone.

He looks to the purple ribbon on his wrist. The love he once had with Sakura was comparable to the one Kirito had with Asuna. That symbiotic feeling that he can’t live without each other. The happiness felt by every single second spent with her. A hand on her long hair dancing with a soft breeze of wind. Their lips together in loving embrace.

The love he had was equal to the love they had.

Kirito and he were the same. And very different as well.

He finishes his drink and sights. He was drinking to set aside heavy thoughts but it worked the other way around. He was about to get up when a message arrives on his menu.

It was from Hao himself.

He entered and began reading.

The glass on his hand falls to the ground after he finishes and shatters after it brakes.

It was a job for one of the generals. It was worth ten times the normal amount he gained for a job. But he had to do something…that could be difficult for him.

He closes his eyes, thinking.

“It’s better if I do it rather than anyone else.”

He replies.

“I accept it.”

---

Floor 54th, September 11th, 2026

Kirito places his hand of the wound as he headed the blade of his Gladius, making it shine red.

Kirito: “Yui how is she?”

Yui: “She’s fading.”

Kirito: “Leafa, find something to hold between his teeth, so she doesn’t scream.”

Leafa runs to find something that could be used to help Sybil so she doesn’t scream.

“Once we’re done, we must extinguish the fire and move quickly.”

Sinon looks him, noticing that same look on his face.

Sinon: “I know that look. And the guilt inside of you.”

Kirito: “No one deserves it.”

Sinon: “We choose to do this. Even fucking Issin.”

Kirito: “Thanos doesn’t send his men against Issin. He sends them against me, and all suffer because of it.”

Yui on his shoulder taps his cheek.

Yui: “Yes! It’s because of you, that we’re free.”

Kirito smiles for the first time in the day.

Kirito: “Thank you, Yui.”

Sybil: “What’re you guys doing?”

The three look at Sybil, who had woken up of a moment.

Kirito: “We must close you’re wound.”

Sybil: “You’ll use fire? That’ll hurt.”

Leafa arrives with a small branch of a tree she found on the floor.

Kirito: “It will. But we’ve got no other choice.” He looks to the girls. “Hold her strongly.”

She takes a deep breath and Leafa places the branch on her mouth.

“Don’t scream.”

He places the red and heated steel of the blade on her wound. She struggles a bit but keeps the breath inside, and doesn’t make a single sound. After Kirito removes the blade, she passes out.

“The fire, quickly.”

Sinon runs next to the fire and grabs whatever she can find, to extinguish the flames. She throws leaves and earth to suffocate it until it was finally quenched. The smoke of the fire rises to the sky, leaving a small of burning leaves behind. They remained silent, hoping no one saw the fire and no one herd them.

“Through here!” They hear in the distance.

Kirito: “Grab my sword. Go!”

Sinon grabs his gladius and starts running the same way Issin and Hizen did. Leafa follows her. Kirito grabs Sybil, placing her over his shoulders and follows his friends.

---

After some time running, they find something suspicious. They decide to stop, and none of them makes a single sound. He puts down Sybil, sat against a tree and Sinon gives him his blade, getting ready for the worst.

He hears the sound of cracking wood and points his blade there.

It was Issin.

Kirito lets his sword down, annoyed since he didn’t announce himself. They all relax once they realize it was him.

“Where is Hizen?”

“We avoided the first squad of soldiers. But we couldn’t do the same with the second one. I lost him as we fled.”

“What path?”

“The one that you’re travelling.”

“We have to go west, and hope to miss them before changing our course again.”

“And if we don’t.”

Kirito approaches him.

“They’ll learn, that a wounded animal still haves teeth.”

They share a handshake, before Kirito grabs Sybil and they run the path he suggested.

After a ten minute walk, blood falls in Issin’s arm. He looks up, before all of them do so.

Issin: “Fuck the Aesir.”

Up, hanging from a tree with his arms tied, was the body of Hizen, dead and bloody cut a hundred times by the soldiers and left there as a warning to them.

Kirito: “Back the way we came.”

They start going back their steps, but after just a few they hear sounds. Voices of people, several coming their way and herd stronger by each second.

Kirito closes his eyes, and when they reopen, a clutch of Legionaries were running towards them. He lets Sybil down to the ground, and starts fighting with Issin.

He parries the blade of the first soldier and then changes the flow of the blow, slashing upwards and taking the player’s hand along with the blade.

Issin kills a player with a strong lash to the belly. Hikami tries to take him, but Issin places a fist to his face before he manages to touch him. He was going to kill him, but another soldier appeared. Issin blocks the blade and grabs him, sending him to the ground and starts beating him. He raises his blade to finish him off, but he suddenly stops as blood comes out of his mouth. A sword pierced thought his back, and after it’s withdrawn, he falls to the ground. It was Colonel Valon.

“ISSIN!”

Kirito takes a soldier, but all his blows are blocked by the shield until the gladius slips from his fingers. The soldier tries to cut him down, but the KoB leader is faster and blocks his hand, then grabbing his body and throwing him to the ground at his back. He looks up and two soldiers were about to attack him, and they would have, if he hadn’t throw the other there. The one of the left approaches, but Kirito once again blocks the arm with his hand and places a hard right uppercut to the soldier. He grabs his hand and throws him to the ground. Another soldier tries to impale him with his spear, but Kirito blocks with his left forearm, and punches the soldier back with his right shoulder, grabbing the Lancea as his new weapon. He then takes the Pugio dagger still sheathed on the player belt and stabs his jaw with it, killing him. He turns 360º and impales in the belly an upcoming soldier, what sends him up alongside the spear, as Kirito fall to the ground. The weapon brakes in half and he grabs each one of them with each hand.

Kirito rolls blocking a blow of a soldier in his left, and then impales the chest with his right hand spear. While he was in the ground, Valon tries to attack him. He rolls in the ground to the opposite side, eluding the thrust of the blade. Sinon appears with a blade in his hand and attack him. But with her skill she’s not match to Valon, who places a strong fist directly to her face, making her fall to the ground. Valon turns to attack Kirito again but when he does, half of the spear impales his chest, making him fall to the ground. Hikami approaches his wounded commander, and is witness of Kirito taking more soldiers and decimating their remaining forces with all his rage.

Hikami diced to help him up.

“Didn’t I fucking warn you?!” He helps him to escape.

They two manage to run far enough. Hikami places him on the ground against a branch of a fallen tree.

“It’s a serious wound.” He tells Valon. “But you could live if…”

“Call the remaining squads.” He replies.

“It wouldn’t make a difference. Kirito is processed by the AEsirs themsel…”

“KIRITO IS HERE! PREPARE ARMS!”

“Shhhh. You’ll draw them to us!”

“And we’ll fight, until the last drop of our blood…”

Himaki covers his mouth with his hand.

“I won’t fucking die this night.”

He stabs him more in the wound with a dagger, killing him.

Kirito kills the last soldier and gets to his knees, next to Issin.

“We must move quickly, before move come.”

He tries to help him up, must Issin doesn’t let him.

“I’m done running.” He says, after Kirito gazes at the huge wound left by the blade. It was impossible for him to heal from that.

Leafa and Sinon got next to them. Issin looks at the sylph girl.

“Don’t fucking let this be for nothing. Live, and see more Legionaries fall…”

He dies with his eyes opened.

Kirito nods his head and gets back up, giving his gladius to Sinon. Leaf got to her knees, and closed his eyes, while sobbing.

They take Sybil and continue on their way.

---

Floor 55th, September 12th, 2026

Sun rising.

The KoB Knights haven’t seen signs of the Legionaries since the last attack. Something good for them considering they wouldn’t survive another attack like the last one. Just Kirito could fight and take the soldiers, but even he could be outnumbered. Sinon didn’t have experience with blades, rather fighting with a bow. Close quarters was her doom. Leafa wasn’t still able to fight, shocked and weak by all the things she’d suffered. By last Sybil was a good fighter, but she wasn’t also able to fight with that wound. She was paler and closer to death by each second.

After a long travel by the woods, they finally find a clearing. In the distance, they can see the large mountain.

“Muspel.”

“How far?” Sinon asks.

“Half a day’s journey.” Yui adds.

They’re about to continue, when they hear voices at their back. Turning around they could see the shades of several dozens of men, more than all the groups that attacked them together. They couldn’t see clearly their number because of the mist covering the map. But they were surely near and approaching.

Kirito looks at Muspel, he breathes deeply while closing his eyes. He reopens them once he exhales.

“Take Sybil.” He tells Sinon. “I’ll hold them back for as long as I can.”

Kirito gets ready to go, but she responds

“No. “He looks to her surprised. “I’ll stay by your side.”

He keeps his sight on her. Sinon knew they wouldn’t manage to get further without him, and she also believed that her place was next to him. The same as was in the battle against Death Gun. If they would fall, it would be all together.

Kirito nods.

“Leafa.”

The sylph girl grabs her and sits Sybil down against a tree. She does the same next to her with a small dagger on her hand.

Kirito and Sinon got ready. They look each other once and nod, before finally start waiting for the soldiers, who came nearer and nearer. Kirito prepares a sword skill as the shadows start becoming clearer.

Out of the mist, single shadow a sylph male player with a green armor and same color eyes appears, followed by other players of different races.

It was Lamorak, who can’t believe what his eyes laid upon, the same as Kirito and the three girls. Lamorak widely smiles.

He approaches them, as do Agil, Rekon, Silica and others. Lamorak greets Kirito, touching his arm twice. Lamorak went to see the other two. Agil comes and gives him a hand shake and smiles to Sinon. The rest also approach and begin greeting. Lamorak gets to his knees in front of Sybil and lifts her head up, who after looking at him smiles. He also smiles to Leafa, who was happy to see him.

The four players finally relive that huge burden. The nightmare was over.

Kirito turns around and looks to dormant volcano. The deep guilt finally was gone and a bit of bright hope could be seen inside eyes.

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