Floor 55th, September 22nd, 2026
Raining at night in the city of Bluewater Bay.
“What do you want to late in the night with this fucking rain?!”
“I’m sorry.” Asuna says with a cheerful smile. “I’ll compensate you, if you want to listen to me.”
The slaver opens the door and sees Asuna more carefully, and is notably attracted by her. She was accompanied by a cloaked Lamorak, acting as a bodyguard, while the slaver had several guards next to him.
“Can you let me see your latest arrival of slaves?” She adds.
“Slaves? You must be in great need to ask for this.”
“It’s my work, sir. And I need this before the sun raises, or I’ll be in trouble with my suprerior.”
“You’re short with time, but with much coin?”
Asuna gives him a large bag with 500,000 Yrd, enough to purchase twenty or thirty slaves, depending on the price was low enough.
“This is enough. What type of player you seek?”
“Ah. I have something good for you: Gladiators. They were going to be sent to the Arena, but since Kirito and his shits destroyed it, these menare less required here. I was about to send them to the lower floors.”
“Seems today is my lucky day then.”
“Come here. Enter to my dungeons. Let’s see how much I can help you…”
Asuna and Lamorak follow the slaver inside and get to the dungeons through a small door on the floor and then a ladder. Lamorak looks to the three guards left behind; he smiles and closes the door.
Kirito appears from the ceiling and cuts the throat of one of the players slashing his throat with a knife.
The other two are about to attack him, but Agil appears at their backs and smashes their head together, killing one of them. Kana appears and draws her knifes and throws them, killing the last one.
They do all this, silent as a grave. Making sure the ones bellow didn’t notice.
“I’m sorry for the smell, but these players have been here for a long time.”
They look around.
A total of four soldiers where down there, same as up. The prisoners were either Sylph or Gnome. They were all in chains on their necks, wrists and heels. Most of them had different races, but there wasn’t a single Salamander.
Asuna keeps talking to the slaver, while Lamorak approaches a large Gnome close to him. He talks to him with Words of Power, the same language they used on spells. Only few players could talk that way.
“Your suffering here ends, friend.”
“You, Sylph, are here to free us?” He responds.
“Yeah, with some friends. Don’t worry and get ready, we’ll set you free soon.”
“Then you should know, the guy at your back knows this language as well…”
Lamorak turns around as the guard at his back was about to slash him. He ducks under the blade and pushes him back.
The prisoners grab the slaver by the neck with the chains.
Noticing that the battle started, Asuna creates a blade made of ice and slashes the throat of another guard. A third one is about to attack her but the prisoners hold him, back making sure he didn’t move and telling the Undine girl to kill him. She stabs the player several times on the chest with the dagger, finishing him off.
Kirito falls to the dungeon. As soon as his feet touched the ground, the forth guard attacked him. He parries the blade with one of his knives, getting close to the guard while he moved, grabbing his neck and smashing his face to the ladder several times.
Lamorak still struggles with the last guard. He manages to punch him strongly on the face, and as he leaned back, Kirito slashes his face with his dagger. Once he turned around again, Lamorak finishes him, stabbing his chest and killing him.
The slaves snap the neck of the slaver.
“The keys quickly! Release them!!!” Kirito shouts.
They grab the chains and open them, setting the players free.
“Your men fight well!” the Gnome from before says, this time in normal tongue.
“These aren’t my men. We all follow Kirito.”
“You’re The Black Swordsmen?” another Gnome tells Kirito.
“Yes. Many of our men where once chained, as you were. And they’ll pay for that…”
“Spill more Legions blood?” the first gnome asks.
“THEN,WE ARE ALL FUCKING IN!!!” He answers, as the prisoners nearby agree.
Lamorak smiles, and Kirito grins and nods.
“Come on brothers! Let’s leave this fucking dungeon!” Lamorak shouts.
They all agree again.
Kirito and Lamorak remain there for a moment.
“We’re lucky, to save Sylph and Gnome players. Players you know.” Kirito says.
“Finally, the AEsir fucking help us. From now onwards we don’t have to listen to the fucking Salamanders again…”
Floor 50th, September 23rd, 2026
“Cassius was always a good friend of mine. He always praised you as one of the best warriors of both SAO and New ALO, just below his highness himself.”
“He didn’t deserve leave the war that way, Governor.” Galant responds.
“”Leaving the war”. That’s a nice way to put it, Champion. His death was brutal and horrible.”
The Governor begins to walk through the streets of the city of Luccinea, rapidly and Galant follows him at the same speed. The member of the Legions talks again.
“I’m one of the few lucky survivors of the Attack on Luccinea’s Arena.”
“That’s how they call it?”
“Cassius shares the place with many innocent players to fall to Kirito’s wrath.”
“And it’ll take more unless someone stops him.”
“No worries. General Thanos is just making his numbers bigger, to make his victory more certain. Soon, he’ll find them, and they’ll fall to the might of the Legions. “
“We all hope so…”
“Many players thought you dead as well…But I’m talking to the Dimachearus Knight, the Champion of Aincrad. They need way more than a few burning wooden beams to kill you…”
“My legend has nothing to do with that. I just had sheer luck. After that I had problems in real life, and I couldn’t come back to the game.”
“Well, I’m happy to see you alive then.”
“Thanks. But, back to my point, the reason why I’m here talking to you is my payment, for the execution services on the Arena…”
“We’d pay you to execute those rebel shits. I don’t remember that anyone died by your blade.”
“It’d had happened if Kirito hadn’t appeared…”
“But it didn’t…therefore it’d unfair and illogic if I paid you…”
The Governor begins to walk away from Galant.”
“I’m left almost without Yrd, Governor!” Galant shouts annoyed. “I wouldn’t be here otherwise…” he says more calm
The Governor turns around reluctantly and enters his menu. In front of Galant, appears a small bag of Yrd. He grabs it testing its weight. It wasn’t even a quarter of what they owed to him.
“For all the time you spent on the arena inside SAO and New ALO, pleasing the crowd. Now, I have to leave, Champion!”
“Governor, wait! My Rudis was lost when the coliseum was destroyed. Without it…”
“You’re demanding me a lot…!”
The Governor stops and turns to his left. Galant looks in the same direction.
Thanos talked in front of a crowd, in the exact same place where he gave his first speech interrupted by Kirito and his men. And several days afterwards, when he exposed to the crowd the prisoners, when Magnus snatched from his hands his victory.
He was accompanied by the new Colonel Hikami, Captain Vorhes and the Sylph Lyn, one of the deadliest assassins of all the Supreme Legion. She was probably Thanos’ strongest soldier, without taking the Shadow of Death into account.
Near Thanos, there were as well several Legionaries keeping the mob controlled and others standing on the stage with the General. At Hikami’s back, several not uniformed mercenaries were. Thanos knew using not uniformed soldiers would make his Legion look ridiculous and his image would be frowned upon, but he didn’t care. He’d do whatever he needed to kill Kirito and his rebel hordes. According to his ideals, his actions justified his means.
“Discuss the rest of the matter with General Thanos.” the Governor says before leaving without saying a single more word.
“Stingy son of a bitch…” Galant murmurs before looking back to Thanos.
He walks between the people to approach the stage and see closer as Thanos continues his speech.
“We’ve all lost something or someone, result of this festering and putrefying decease of rebellion against our great Supreme King! All deeds, made with fear, blood and death. First, the attempt here, in this very market, to take my life. Second, the attack on the mines. And third, the fall our beloved Arena. In all this events, many innocent lives left Aincrad, because of Kirito and his mongrel dogs!”
Galant looks seriously to Thanos, easily noticing the speech was full of lies and deceit.
“Since these actions are taking or beloved peace, we must counter attack. We must become as vigilant as ever in this rebellion times and reveal even the dimmest shadow of betrayal or lies. Because of this any player, who dares to whisper or say the name of Kirito and isn’t a member of the Supreme Legion, shall receive the capital punishment by Crucifixion.”
Crucifixion was form of slow and painful execution in Ancient Rome in which the victim is tied or nailed to a large wooden cross and left to hang until dead.
Since Hao’s guild was based on the Roman Legions, his armies brought back this old method to kill any player who dared to defy Hao or his Legions, making fear a tool to summit the players bellow him.
Three soldiers bring a cross making a path through the crowd.
“Bring her…” Thanos says.
A girl is brought to the stage as well and forced by the mercenaries and hold against the large wooden cross while screaming loudly and in complete panic. She screamed that she didn’t do anything. She says it was all a huge mistake. She begged for her life.
“Do you listen, how she begs for her life, with the same mouth that seconds ago just had compliments for the Rebels of KoB. Let her death serve as warning, to any player who dares to conspire against the peace of our Kingdom.”
ALL HAIL HAO! ALL HAIL AINCRAD’S KINGDOM!!!
Thanos snaps his fingers.
Three players start to nail the girl to the cross with three nails and hammer, one on each hand and the last one on both feet. She screams louder and louder as the nails pierce deeper and deeper through her skin while the mercenaries hammered them while the crowd watched amused such bizarre and cruel spectacle.
Galant frowns and clenches his fists while looking seriously to the act. His eyes almost turn red by Darkness but he manages to hold it back. But even when he despised the torture and death of innocent players, he couldn’t stop it. Attempting to stop the will to the Generals or any player of the Legions was standing against the will of the King himself. If he tried to do something, he’d share a cross beside her. It didn’t matter if he was the best mercenary of the Supreme Legion. He was just a common player for them.
Hikami begins to look slowly to the crowd, until he sees Galant. He stops on him and Galant looks to him as well. They remain like that for a few seconds, until Hikami smiles to him.
Galant keeps his stare on him, but he finally turns around and leaves.
Floor 55th, September 23rd, 2026
Training on the temple.
Klein and Leafa clash blades, struggling against each other. After ten seconds, Klein, overpowers her, forcing her back. However, she quickly fights back with several wide and strong slashes. However, Klein easily parries them- She then tries to stab him, but Klein parries her blade and spins going to her back and kicking her. She goes to the ground but with her left arm manages to hand and then rolls, and with the momentum give, she gets back up and gets ready in position pointing his blade at him. Klein does the same.
“You’re getting better.” He says. “But you’re way too impulsive. You need to keep your head cool to fight better.”
“Now: round two.”
The start fighting again.
“She’s getting better by each day.” Sybil remarks. “Kirito wanted Klein to come with them on the mission to Bluewater Bay, but he decided to stay here and continue training.”
“But perhaps it’s best to keep him far from Lamorak.”
“You’re lucky to be loved so deeply by him.”
“The same as you, by Galant.” Sybil says as she leaves.
Dian looks down and gets back to craft her arrows.
The door of the temple opens. Kirito, Asuna, Lamorak, Agil, Kana and new players arrive.
The players at the temple stop training or working, and look to the one who had just arrived.
One of the gnomes, named Hogun, comes forth.
“Come here! Let’s greet each other and call ourselves brothers!”
“You’ve done the impossible!” Sybil comes approaching him and they share a kiss.
Kana walks towards her sister and hugs her.
“We have to lift a cup!” The large Gnome, named Fornjot, tells to Lamorak.
“We only have water…”
“That's for the best.” A Sylph, named Fandral, says “Fornjot’s a beast sober. And drunk, he’s a beastly stupid!”
The new group laughs.
“The little Fandral’s telling the fucking truth!”
They laugh again. The two groups start greeting each other.
“Our numbers grow…” Diana says.
“And we’ll need more weapons.” Kirito adds.
“I notice something.” Klein says. “These are all Lamorak’s fucking people…”
“Our numbers doubled in a single day. “Asuna says.
“And these players know fighting very well.”
“But who do they follow?” Klein says referring to Lamorak.
“I’ll talk to him…”
Lamorak goes to the inner part of the temple, and Kirito follows him. He gets to the room they used as butchery. He starts cutting the meat when he notices Kirito.
“This is the last meat we have. We’ll need more soon.”
“We’ve forgotten many things…”
Lamorak looks Kirito.
“…You sent me to explore and recognize if we had a good opportunity in Bluewater Bay. The ship that carried these players was one.”
“Were any others ships or dungeons which could’ve provided the same?”
“Yeah. One carried Pookas and Leprechauns. The other carried Salamanders.”
“I’d cared to know that…”
“Pookas are good with music magic and Leprechauns are in crafting. But speaking about close quarters fighting, most of them aren’t good.”
“And the Salamanders?”
“I don’t want this place filled with more Salamanders.” Lamorak says plainly. “Klein…”
“He’s a good friend, a great leader and an honorable man.” Kirito says interrupting him. “I’ll take them to hunt tomorrow when the sun rises, to see how we’ll get on with each other.”
Kirito walks to leave the room.
“They’ll prove great backup. I give you my word.”
Kirito nods and leaves, leaving Lamorak alone and angered to cut meat.
Floor 50th, September 23rd, 2026
Galant tabs the glass of beer he had on his hands while looking to the table and thinking about what had happened on the last days.
He’s interrupted when he fells a hand on his shoulder. He turns and sees Otome right next to him.
“I thought you dead.” She says with a smile. “I trapped with all those who died on the fall of the Arena.”
“I could get out somehow. But my pocket was killed. Those miserly bastards didn’t want to pay me since I killed no one. So I can’t buy you a good drink.”
“I can buy you one if you want…”
“No. With this I’m alright…” Galant drinks another sip of his drink.
Otome sits down next to him.
“What happened to your Rudis?”
“I lost it when the Arena fell. So, my job here was useless for me in both ways. Not only I didn’t get my payment and I lost my Rudis as well.”
“What happens then?”
“Without it, I’m not working for Hao. I’m just a common player.”
“You lost your freedom?”
“Somehow…But no one is ever truly free…”
“Except Kirito and the KoB knights.” Otome says approaching Galant and whispering him.
Galant looks down and shakes his head.
“Tell me something: you saw him? How was he like???”
“You’re talking about something very dangerous…”
“I’m sure I’m not the only one talking about him now. Some friends even suggested joining his cause to fight the legions.”
“There’s no such thing as a “cause”. It’ll just make innocent and stupid players die.”
Noticing Galant wasn’t on the talkative mod right now; she quickly changes the subject and approaches him.
“Well. I’ll change subject, seems you need to relax. Now tell me, when was the last time you’ve been with a girl?”
Galant closes his eyes and reminds Diana, but he tries to get her out of her head quickly.
“A long while…”
“Well…” She sits on his lap “… Forget about Kirito and all that shit…and come with me…”
She grabs her face and moves her own close to his, closing her eyes and slowly moving to kiss him. Otome was about to kiss him and Galant was about to move his face away from her lips when...
“The Mighty Galant!”
The couple turns, to see the one who said that. Hikami was at the entrance of the Bar, accompanied by two heavily armed and dangerous looking soldiers.
The Salamander begins to laugh as he approaches.
“It’s great to find you still alive, and with a girl with you.” he gets next to the couple, looking to Otome. “I’m sorry. It’s a sin to interfere between men and girls about to get intimate, but I must. I need to talk to my guild mate.”
Otome looks to Galant, who nods his head to her. Otome reluctantly leaves, notably annoyed.
Galant turns to the table again and Hikami sights impressed.
“A beautiful girl…” He says as he sits down. “Of course, you somehow never lack the attention of girls. Tell me, what’s your trick?”
“Not being you, that’s my trick. If you came here for business, what I know you have, say it and leave for once.”
“Well, all this time since Ducard’s death hasn’t made your manners better.”
“Neither your company better…” Galant says referring to Hikami’s men.
The mercenaries immediately didn’t like his comment, but they remain out of the discussion.
Hikami begins a false laugh.
“I’d be more careful. After all, these men are the hand of The Shadow of Death, General Thanos.”
“Aaahhh. Then tell me: what are you then? HIS DICK OR HIS ASS?”
Galant begins to laugh for his joke, glad of returning to Hikami the bad joke he made about Otome and him sleeping together.
He then takes the last sip of his drink
Hikami’s face changes from one of a friendly guy to a serious one.
“I’m his will.”
Galant looks to him, stopping his laughter.
“And I was ordered to restore the order.”
“By nailing innocent players to the cross?”
“Any player, who dares to whisper about KIRITO, KOB AND THEIR UPRAISING!” He says out loud to catch the attention of all the players on the bar, including a now nervous Otome. “Will share that girl’s fate.”
Galant remained calm even still.
“I don’t care about whispers, talks, rebellions, and specially, the will of your General.” Galant getting up getting ready to leave.
“Those are bold words…for a simple player.” Hikami says.
Galant stops and looks him.
“You’re mistaken! I’m a free player; a mercenary, working for your guild.”
“Yes…I know…You’re proclaimed by the King himself. You’re his personal dog for any duties required…”
Galant clenches his fists.
“And what you must have then? A Rudis! A wooden sword which was carved with his legend! It serves as proof of freedom. Show all of us! We all want to see that rare trophy...”
Galant remains looking at him.
“No…?” Hikami responds. “You don’t have it with you?”
“You well know I don’t...”
“Yes. As I know, the General would be very happy and pleased to see you…now.”
Floor 50th, September 22rd, 2026
“I’m impressed that you survived to the hell on earth of the falling Arena.” Thanos says. “But I wonder: why you didn’t appear here, to talk to us?”
“I’m sorry.” Galant says, while he remained standing up on the other side of the table.
“Galant has always been of few words.” Hikami adds, near Galant’s back.
“But, I’ve herd he makes full sentences to the Governor and the King.”
“I just want to talk the necessary and finish my business as quickly as I can.”
“You don’t like to call everyone’s attention.”
“Not while I’m outside the Arena.”
“But now it’s not the time for you to try to dissimulate and try to not catch everyone’s attention. Kirito destroys a Coliseum upon your head, and here you are! Risen like a phoenix from the ashes…”
“The AEsir truly bless you.” Captain Vorhes says.
Galant briefly stares him.
“I’m also blessed by them, now that you’re here.”
“What do you mean, General?”
“I was touched deeply by the sound of the crowd when you entered the Arena and all of them started roaring your name. Even when the hope and joy was ended by blood and death… ”he gets out from a drawer bellow the table a wooden sword. “…that, at least for me, still has a lot of value. Your Rudis. Your freedom.”
“What’s its prize?”
“Something very simple and little: an oath of loyalty, to follow my command.” Thanos walks and approaches Galant. “I want you as a symbol to calm the crowds. A former player of SAO, now sworn legionary, to bring his former comrades to the King’s justice.”
“I think you already have one of those…” Galant says referring to Hikami next to him.
“Yes. But Hikami’s talents belong to the shadows and the deceit. You’d be presented rather beneath a halo of light. In the front of my troops, right next to me, to the eyes and roar of the crowd again…”
“And If I don’t want that clamor anymore?” Galant asks.
Thanos’ smile banishes from his face and his eyes show notable anger. Galant keeps his sight on his, showing his own determination. A false smile draws on Thanos’ face. He grabs the Rudis and gives it to him.
“You’re a free player...” Thanos says while Galant grabs the blade.
Galant returns it to its sheath
“Your fate is yours.”
The knight nods.
“I’ll search for you again in a few days, and expect that you’ve made the correct decision.”
“General.” Galant says before turning around and leaving Thanos’ fortress.
“Forgive me General, but Galant can’t be trusted…” Hikami says trying to convince Thanos to remove Galant from his options, since if the Champion became one of Thanos men he’d be more important than the Salamander. He regretted bringing him to Thanos presence.
“I thought the same of you, and here you are.” Thanos replies. “But, you know him more than I do. Make your men follow him. If Galant attempts to leave Luccinea: Crucify.”